Investment Round is our weekly update on which firms have secured new funding, which areas are seeing the most financing, and who is putting up the cash that enables these companies to keep pushing the capabilities of mobile marketing further.
WPP Chases Millennial Readers with $6.5m Investment in Mic
Advertising giant WPP has announced it is making a $6.5m (£5.1m) investment in the Mic Network, a US-based news outlet that focuses on millennial audiences. The deal is WPP’s latest move in a long-term strategy based around funding content production.
The Mic Network, or just ‘Mic’ as it is usually know, was founded in 2011, and now boasts over 65m unique individual views a month across multiple platforms, reporting on news and cultural events in text and video formats designed to appeal to millennial consumers.
Mic employs 165 people, with multiple channels focusing on topics like politics, personal finance, entertainment, feminism and technology, and also produces branded content in conjunction with advertisers, who include Marriott, Netflix, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs and Alphabet.
The investment by WPP comes as the holding group focuses on building a presence in digital content production. It has recently invested in Russell Simmons’ All Def Digital, which produces and distributes music and other digital content to an urban-centric youth audience, and Refinery29, a leading fashion and lifestyle media company.
Home Design Platform Houzz Raises $400m on $4bn Valuation
If you’re not plugged into the world of high-end home design, you may not have heard of Houzz, but the firm behind the platform has just received $400m in funding from investors including Iconiq Capital, Wellington Management Company, Sequoia and Zeev Ventures. The Series E financing places the company’s value at around $4bn.
The Houzz app enables users to browse photo libraries of home interiors and exteriors, purchase products from curated collections and connect with local professionals for decorating and renovation. It now operates in 15 markets, with the Houzz marketplace consisting of over 9m products from more than 20,000 sellers, and has recently introduced View in My Room 3D, an augmented reality design tool.
“Houzz’s authentic, product first, customer first focus has propelled them to become the undisputed innovator and leader in the global home renovation and design industry,” said Will Griffith, partner at Iconiq Capital. “No other company has the community, technology, breadth or depth that Houzz has created, as well as a substantial, high growth business that has been built based on demand from homeowners, home professionals, brands and vendors. We are thrilled to join the Houzz family and help the company transform how people around the world design, collaborate, renovate and shop for their homes.”
Metro Group Adds £12m to Yoyo Wallet in Series B Funding
Mobile payment and customer engagement platform Yoyo Wallet has closed a Series B funding round led by Horeca, the venture arm of German retail giant Metro Group. Along with Woodford Investment Management and Touchstone Innovations, Horeca has invested £12m in the platform, which is one of Europe’s fastest growing mobile payment businesses.
Launched in 2013, Yoyo Wallet focuses on the retailer market, helping brands to drive business growth via mobile-first customer engagement. Through either the Yoyo app or retailer-specific branded apps powered by the company’s platform, Yoyo helps retailers to segment and market to customers while also providing an engaging user experience for consumers.
“Yoyo is now delivering proven benefits to a rapidly growing number of merchants and their customers in universities, corporate campuses and the high street,” said Alain Falys, co-founder and CEO of Yoyo Wallet. “This new funding will allow us to provide the benefits of customer identification and mobile engagement to a wider array of retailers, large and small, in the UK and across Europe. We could not have found a better combination of investors to support us through this next stage of growth.”
London Fintech Startup Announces $11m Investment Round
Soldo, a UK-based fintech startup that offers multi-user spending accounts, has raised $11m in Series A funding in a round led by Accel, with participation from Connect Ventures, InReach Ventures, U-Start and R204 Partners.
Soldo offers both consumer and business banking, focusing on family accounts and spending management for small- and medium-sized businesses respectively. The company was founded by Carlo Gualandri, who previously helped create Italy’s first online bank, and provides users with prepaid Mastercard cards that can be managed through a central app.
“Since launch, we knew that businesses loved what we had to offer and bringing Accel on board as part of our Series A is testament to the hard work and dedication of our experienced team,” said Gualandri, founder and CEO of Soldo. “We’re looking forward to growing Soldo Business across Europe and rolling out our marketing strategy, bolstered by one of the world’s most notable venture firms.”