Funding roundup - week ending 12/17/10

Ronny Kerr · December 17, 2010 · Short URL:

Bonobos,, Kapitall, RiseSmart, Shopify, Soladigm, SpotXchange, TekTrak, Twitter, Zipcar


tektrakTekTrak, developer of phone-locating apps, raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from such notable investors as Cyan and Scott Banister, Kima Ventures, Sergey Grishin, Wasabi Ventures, PBWorks, BCITL Ventures, Barney Pell and Yoni Saban. Like other device-locating apps, TekTrak uses your phone’s GPS to pinpoint its geographic location. Unlike Apple’s MobileMe app, TekTrak can also access the device’s location history and its last known location

Early-stage, formerly Fabulis, a social network targeted at gay men, raised $1.75 million in Series A funding from First Round Capital, The Washington Post Company, Baroda Ventures and Zelkova Ventures. This is added to an earlier $1.25 million in angel financing, for a total of about $3 million raised for the site so far. The site boasts 110,000 members currently, with 5,000 new users joining on a weekly basis.

KapitallStereo Scope, the parent company of Kapitall, an online investing platform, closed $7.3 million in Series A financing from Bendigo Partners, media investor Strauss Zelnick, and ES & Partner Ventures, which is affiliated with FalconView Capital Partners. As part of the deal, Kapitall also converted more than $5.5 million of previously issued promissory notes. Bendigo partner Jarrett Lilien and ES & Partner Ventures’ Roy A. Ellis have joined Kapitall’s board.

RiseSmartRiseSmart, provider of outplacement and recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) solutions, completed a $3 million equity financing round raised from existing investors Norwest Venture Partners, Storm Ventures and angel investors. The startup last secured funding in October 2009 in the form of a $4.6 million add-on to a $3 million Series A secured a year earler. Norwest was the primary contributor in the original round, while Storm led the later add-on. Since its launch in 2007, RiseSmart has raised $11.85 million in total.

ShopifyShopify, an elegant retail platform that helps businesses build online stores, secured $7 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners with participation from FirstMark Capital and Felicis Ventures. The startup was previously bootstrapped. The best way to get an idea of what Shopify does is to look at examples of the final product. Shopify clients include Amnesty International, Tesla Motors, Foo Fighters, and The Indianapolis Star.

SpotXChangeVideo advertising network SpotXchange raised $12 million in its first-ever round of institutional funding, from H.I.G. Growth Partners. While SpotXchange has been around for several years now, the company says it is profitable despite never raising institutional funding, although the company did raise an undisclosed amount of angel funding in 2008.Founded in 2006, SpotXchange is currently the #3 video ad network in the U.S. and the #1 network in Canada and the UK, according to comScore.


BonobosMen's clothes retailer Bonobos closed an $18.5 million Series C round of funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Accel Partners. This is the company’s first ever round of institutional funding. Founded in 2007, the company managed to raise nearly $8 million in angel funding alone, and its exponential growth has proven it to be a wise investment.

SoladigmSoladigm, manufacturer of “dynamic glass” windows that tint on demand to cut down on heat and glare, raised a $30 million Series C round of funding led by DBL Investors and Nano Dimension, with help from GE Energy Financial Services, Khosla Ventures, and Sigma Partners. Soladigm’s dynamic glass can be tinted electronically and can cut HVAC usage by 25% in commercial buildings. Founded in 2009, the Milpitas, Calif.-based company has raised a total of $56.7 million.  The newest round of funding will be used to boost sales and marketing.

TwitterMicroblogging darling Twitter raised a $200 million round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, valuing the San Francisco startup at $3.7 billion. The round is exactly four times larger than the last round raised by Twitter, back in September 2009, and the company has now raised nearly $400 million from investors. In the past year, users have posted 25 billion tweets and over 100 million new accounts have been created. The company itself has more than doubled in size, from 130 to over 350 employees.

zipcarCar sharing company Zipcar raised a $21 million Series G round of funding led by Meritech Capital Partners, which contributed $20 million of the total funding. The rest came from Pinnacle Ventures. The company will  use the funds to finance the growth of its fleet of vehicles and continue its geographic expansion.

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs



Joined Vator on

Bonobos was founded in 2007 by Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly to solve a major problem in men's fashion: Men want better-fitting trousers, but they don't want to hours in retail stores paying huge mark-ups on designer goods. Brian used the world's best fabrics to make pants that fit more flatteringly, and Andy had the idea to make the customer experience top-notch by selling online with ninja customer service. Bonobos now has customers in all 50 states and over 40 countries worldwide



Joined Vator on

RiseSmart is a leader in enterprise career management solutions that drive employee engagement, improve retention, and burnish employer brands. 

Through its employee-centric career-management platform, RiseSmart Compass, and its results-oriented outplacement solution, RiseSmart Transition, RiseSmart helps high-performing organizations successfully cultivate passionate, engaged employees and loyal alumni ambassadors.

RiseSmart's innovative approach to human capital management has earned the company a wide range of awards and recognition from organizations including Bersin by Deloitte, the Best in Biz, Gartner Inc., the Golden Bridge Awards, LAROCQUE, the Momentum Index, Red Herring, the San Francisco Business Times, SiliconIndia, the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, the Stevie Awards and TIE.  



Joined Vator on

TekTrak is the team behind innovative mobile security software that protects your phone and the valuable data stored within. By harnessing the powerful Assisted GPS hardware integrated in smartphones, TekTrak is insuring no one ever loses their phone and privacy again. What started out as frustrating experience of losing a phone with pictures and data, has now become a mobile tracking and security business. Our security application allows users to remotely locate their phone, lock it, send a message, set off an audible alarm, and remotely wipe the data from the device. 

TekTrak is currently available on iOS and on Samsung Android-based devices, and will be available for other major platrofms within the next year.



Joined Vator on

What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.