Funding roundup - week ending 10/15/10

Ronny Kerr · October 15, 2010 · Short URL:

ChaCha for Q/A, PlayFirst for gaming, SundaySky for automatic video generation, and many more

ChaChaChaCha, provider of a real-time, human-powered Q/A site, raised a $20 million Series F round of funding, led by Rho Ventures and VantagePoint. Founded in 2006, the Indiana-based company has raised nearly $72 million to date from investors like Bezos Expeditions, Morton Meyerson, the Simon family, Rod Canion, and Jack Gil. ChaCha has answered nearly one billion questions in the past two years and it sees 15 million unique users every month.

Fashion PlaytesFashion Playtes, a clothing design website for girls aged 6-12, raised a $4 million Series A round, led by Fairhaven Capital Partners, with participation from New Atlantic Ventures, Launch Capital and Golden Seeds. Since its founding in 2009, the Salem, Mass.-based startup’s total funding has surpassed $5 million. Targeting "tweens," Fashion Playtes has boosted its user base from 5,700 in August 2009 to over 35,500 unique monthly visitors today.

GamervisionGaming site Gamervision raised $1.5 million from private investors and anonymous “veteran Hollywood financiers.” Added to two previous private investment rounds, $5 million in the first and $3.5 million in the second, the latest round brings Gamervision’s total funding to $10 million. The Pennsylvania-based startup offers a website aiming to be a gamer’s paradise, collecting news about upcoming games, user reviews of recently released games, polls and community features, as well as game-centric blog posts all under one roof.


Social marketing platform Involver raised $8 million in Series C funding, led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from previous investors Cervin Ventures and Western Technology Investment. Added to a $1.44 million first round raised in September 2008 and a $1.6 million second round closed just a month ago, the Series C brings Involver’s total funding to a little over $11 million. Involver is already capital, but the new funds are necessary to expand the company.


Kabongo, developer of online educational games for young children, raised $1.1 million in equity.  Founded in 2008, the Ann Arbor, MI-based company has raised a total of $2.3 million with the help of previous investors RPM Ventures, DFJ Mercury, Illinois Innovation and Accelerator Fund. At least one study found a correlation between how much a child played a Kabongo game and higher reading test scores. Though Kabongo releases games for children aged four to seven, the company has plans to develop games for older children as well., a grocery store comparison site, raised $7.4 million in a Series C round led by returning investors Greylock Israel and Pitango Venture Capital.  The company has also replaced former CEO and founder Amir Ofer with new CEO Allon Bloch, previously co-CEO and president of Wix, a Web publishing platform. Ofer will remain President at mySupermarket. The UK-based site lets customers shop around the top four grocery store chains in the U.K.: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, and Ocado. According to mySupermarket, users can save up to 20% on a weekly £100 bill.

PlayFirstWeb, social, and mobile game developer PlayFirst secured $9.2 million in a Series C funding round, with participation from Mayfield Fund, Trinity Partners, Comerica Bank, DCM and Rustic Canyon Ventures. The San Francisco-based startup has raised a total of $31 million to fight in the currently crowded gaming space. One of PlayFirst's most popular games, Chocolatier, claims more than 800,00 monthly active users.

SeatGeekSeatGeek, a ticket search engine for music and sports fans to find the best possible price for events on the secondary ticket market, added on $550,000 to a $1 million Series A raised in July. Contributers to the round include Founder Collective, NYC Seed, Stage One Capital, Trisiras Group, PKS Capital and angel investors Arie Abecassis, Sunil Hirani, Thomas Lehrman, Allen Levinson and Mark Wachen. Founded in 2009 by Jack Groetzinger and Russ D'Souza, the New York City startup has raised a total of $2 million to date. The site specializes in ticket price forecasting, so its users know the best time to buy the cheapest tickets. SeatGeek also announced a partnership with The Wall Street Journal.

StudyBlueStudyBlue, an online study site, raised a $3.65 million Series A round led by unnamed investors. Founded in 2006, the Madison, Wisconsin-based company has raised a total of $6.5 million to date from anonymous angels. StudyBlue, like its many competitors, enables college students to list the classes that they’re taking, create notes, flashcards, and quizzes, and share with other students.

SundaySkySundaySky, developer of a platform that automatically generates videos based on Web content, raised a $9 million Series B funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners (NVP) with follow-on investments from Carmel Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners. NVP partner Dror Nahumi will join SundaySky’s board of directors. The New York City startup, which has raised $17 million to date, enables clients to quickly and easily create and distribute automatically-generated videos, based on templates and provided Web content.

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ChaCha answers who, what, when, where and why, and has emerged as the No. 1 way for advertisers and marketers to engage their audience. Through its unique “ask-a-smart-friend” platform, ChaCha has answered nearly one billion questions since launch from more than 15 million unique users per month via SMS text (242-242™), online (, Twitter (@chacha), Facebook app, iPhone app, Android app, and voice (1-800-2-ChaCha™). Working with major brands such as Paramount, AT&T, Palm, Johnson&Johnson, P&G, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Sonic, and presidential political campaigns, is one of the fastest growing mobile and online publishers according to Nielsen and Quantcast.

ChaCha was co-founded by proven innovator and entrepreneur Scott Jones and is funded by VantagePoint Venture Partners, Rho Ventures, Bezos Expeditions; Morton Meyerson, former President and Vice Chairman of EDS as well as Chairman and CEO of Perot Systems; Rod Canion, founding CEO of Compaq Computer; the Simon family; and Jack Gill, Silicon Valley venture capitalist.



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PlayFirst is a leading publisher focused on creating shared casual game experiences around lasting original brands. Committed to building casual gameplay rich in story and character, PlayFirst works with talented internal and external developers to bring mass market games to multiple platforms, including PC, Mac, mobile, handheld and console. The company's portfolio includes the world-renowned Diner Dash® franchise as well as top-selling games such as Wedding Dash™, Chocolatier™, and Dream Chronicles™.
Founded in 2004 by veterans of Internet portals, traditional games publishers, entertainment software, and technology firms, PlayFirst is funded by venture capital firms Mayfield Fund, Trinity Ventures and Rustic Canyon Partners.

Bessemer Venture Partners

Angel group/VC

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In 1911, Henry Phipps founded Bessemer Securities to reinvest the proceeds of his sale of Carnegie Steel for the benefit of his descendents. The start-up investment operations were spun out into Bessemer Venture Partners, which now operates out of seven offices around the globe.