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LinkedIn Snatches Up Data Savvy Job Search Startup Bright.com For $120M, In Its Largest Acquisition To Date

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in LinkedIn, Startup | 0 comments

linkedin_logoToday, alongside a fourth quarter earnings report in which it beat Wall Street estimates yet again, LinkedIn announced its intentions to acquire data-savvy job search startup, Bright.com, for $120 million. The deal, which was 70 percent stock and 30 percent cash the company said, will be completed during the first quarter of this year. In a statement today, LinkedIn said that “several members of Bright’s team,” which now numbers over 50 –particularly those on its engineering and product teams — will be joining LinkedIn in the coming weeks. However, one notices that the announcement conspicuously leaves out any mention of Bright’s founders and whether or not they will be joining LinkedIn’s team in Mountain View. Either way, what is clear is that, unfortunately for Bright.com users and loyalists, as a result of the acquisition, access to the startup’s job search products will continue until February 28th, at which point it LinkedIn will pull the plug. Why did LinkedIn buy Bright, you ask, and whatever happened to that Monster.com fella? While we can’t answer for the latter, we do know that the Bright.com purchase is the latest in a fairly short string of acquisitions LinkedIn has made over the last two years. No Yahoo by any means, LinkedIn has been methodically and strategically picking off startups that will either help expand its growing professional content network or its talent solutions products. It more or less began with LinkedIn’s acquisition of popular email-embedded contact management tool, Rapportive, for around $15 million in early 2012. Since then, as LinkedIn’s public-facing product has put more emphasis on facilitating content-sharing rather than contact-sharing, it’s picked up popular presentation, slideshow and document sharing network, SlideShare, for $119 million and made its big news reader play by snatching up Pulse for $90 million. The Bright.com acquisition, at least in this context, appears to be a return to home base, and LinkedIn’s first acquisition of any product or startup operating on its home turf — i.e. the job search and professional networking market. As such, this could very likely have been a “defensive” play to acquire an increasingly popular “competitor” before it turned into a behemoth. Granted, generally speaking, Bright.com has traditionally competed more with the old denizens of the job search space like CareerBuilder and Monster, allowing users and job seekers to search for jobs that match their interests. However, Bright’s core value proposition has been that

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Descomplica Lands $5M From Social+Capital, AngelList’s First International Syndicate To Become Brazil’s Go-To Online Classroom

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Startup | 0 comments

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 7.28.53 AMInternet penetration and social media usage are on the rise in every corner of the globe, but few can hold a candle to the level of adoption one finds in Brazil. According to the Internet Telecommunication Union, the UN’s specialized agency for information and communications technology, the percentage of people using the Internet in Brazil skyrocketed from 9 percent in 2002 to nearly 50 percent in 2012. What’s more, with over 60 million Facebook users, Brazil is now the third largest market for the social network outside of the U.S. and India. Thanks to its high level of Internet usage and the growing popularity of social media, Brazil is undergoing a digital transformation, which brings with it a number of promising opportunities. While the growth of eCommerce in Brazil gets most of the attention, Descomplica is one of a growing number of local startups that sees big potential in Brazil’s rapidly changing educational landscape. Thanks to its decentralized educational framework, Descomplica thinks that Brazil can not only serve as a sort of natural testing ground for educational innovation (and policy), but is primed for a true, online classroom. Launched in March of 2011, Descomplica has been on a mission to become the go-to, full-service online classroom for Brazil. To do so, the company decided to start with the high school market, developing a content library and set of tools that aim to help students better prepare for university entrance exams and improve their test scores. Since then, Descomplica’s primary focus has been content, or said another way, on building out an extensive library of test prep materials and study guides and offering students as many ways to consume that material as possible. While this has mainly taken the shape of online video content — as co-founder Marco Fisbhen tells us that more than three million students used Descomplica last year and more than 500K watched its live, broadcasted online lessons — the startup has been keen to diversify. To cater to the growing mobile adoption among Brazilian teens, Descomplica offers SMS-based study tools as well, and is working with “three of the four big mobile phone carriers in Brazil,” the founder says. More than 200K students are now using the startup’s SMS-based mobile education services, he added. This effort to provide full coverage for all the ways in which Brazilian students consume content led the company to develop a DVD

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Used By Wooga, Pocket Gems And More, Apportable Lands $5M To Help Developers Automatically Convert iOS Games To Android

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Startup | 0 comments

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 6.07.08 AMWith the methodical proliferation of smartphones into what seems like every pocket, we now find ourselves living in the Golden App Age — or App Era, whichever you prefer. However, as mobile platforms and their native app economies mature and expand, and the App Age enters Phase 2, a new generation of startups has emerged. These companies are finally providing the kinds of robust tools and services to support to continued growth of the App Ecosystem, in large part by making the lives of developers less painful, and by helping them to make a living. Capitalizing on this growing trend, Collin Jackson and Ian Fischer launched Apportable out of Y Combinator in 2011 on a mission to help developers bring their app-tastic creations to any and all mobile devices — without reducing performance or quality. Since then, the San Francisco-based startup has focused on making those lives easier by developing tools to allow app and game developers to do a wondrous and magical thing: Share the same code for iOS and Android. Said another way, Apportable’s platform allows developers building games for iOS to automatically generate an Android version of their app without having to make significant changes to the original Objective C or C++ code. By enabling app creators to quickly produce Android versions of their iOS creations, while maintaining relative quality and performance, Apportable quickly found a welcoming audience. Since launching in 2011, the startup has gone on to help a wide range of clients, like Icelandic pop star, Bjork, as well as game development houses like Booyah, Pocket Gems and Wooga, convert iOS apps to Android. Companies like Wooga, for example, have even used Apportable to create Android versions of popular games like Jelly Splash, which now boasts over 15 million downloads across platforms. With a freemium pricing model that offers basic services for free and charges $1,000 to $15,000 per developer for licenses and “premium” features, Apportable has quickly grown to a staff of over 50, and has attracted an impressive roster of investors. In July, the company raised $2.4 million from Initialized Capital and Google Ventures, among others. In January of this year, Apportable added to its platform with the release of “SpriteBuilder,” which the company calls the “first complete game development suite for rapidly developing iOS and Android games with Objective C and Xcode.” Based on open-source technology that has developed over the course

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With $1.5M Under Its Belt, Citelighter Hatches An Ambitious Plan To Help Fix The Writing Problem In American Education

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Startup | 0 comments

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 4.04.08 AMWhen Citelighter first emerged in the fall of 2011, the education startup was on an ambitious mission to help students take the pain out of online research. With the enormous amount of content on the Web, students struggle to keep track of and manage bibliographical data and relevant links that are so critical to completing research papers and homework assignments. Building out a giant learning database and browser extension, Citelighter worked to create an academic research platform that would make it easy for students to manage resources, cite online and offline content and quickly create an accurate bibliography. By searching its database of knowledge cards, students could use Citelighter to quickly find relevant materials, while teachers could encourage their classes to use its bibliography tools to prevent against plagiarism. Today, however, with $1.5 million from a laundry list of venture firms and angel investors, Cightlighter is fueling up for a change course — a move which will take down a road that has potentially even more interesting (and ambitious) implications. Having gathered a sizable and unique data set on the habits, preferences and behaviors of students as they navigate the academic research and writing process, Cightlighter is looking to leverage this information (and build on it) with the goal of giving teachers greater insight into the work habits and cognitive footprints of their students. While that may sound a little opaque or dubious, simply put, Citelighter wants to tackle the problem of writing proficiency in the U.S. educational system and, by giving teachers tools to help them better understand how students write, help improve writing proficiency across the board. The size and extent of the problem, say co-founders Saad Alam and Lee Jokl, can be found in the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress’ survey of writing skills. The study found that only 24 percent of high schools seniors in the U.S. can write at a proficient level and only 3 percent at an advanced level. This means that 73 percent of graduating seniors across the U.S. educational system enter the work force without the requisite skills or the ability to write proficiently. To address this problem, Citelighter is attempting to map out the exact steps that each individual student takes throughout the writing process, using its platform to capture and visualize that data in an effort to help teachers and students learn more efficiently. The co-founders say that,

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PillPack Takes On CVS And Walgreens By Mail, Launches A Full-Service, Subscription-Based Online Pharmacy

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Startup | 0 comments

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 7.01.00 PMAccording to studies from the Mayo Clinic, more than 20 percent of Americans take more than five prescription medications each day. This fact goes a long way to showing how big of a role the pharmacy has come to play in millions of lives. While managing prescriptions, medications, and one’s healthcare is critical, it also happens to be far from easy. No one likes these. While earning his diploma at pharmacy school, TJ Parker met Elliot Cohen through MIT’s Hacking Medicine program, and the two decided to run an experiment, through which they hoped to prove that managing medications could actually be far more simple than the process most Americans wrestle with on a daily basis. However, the two quickly learned that in order to tackle the friction within the pharmacy system in the U.S. and truly provide a better alternative, they would have to go beyond apps and smart pillboxes and actually build a better pharmacy from the ground up. After graduating from TechStars Boston early last year, Parker and Cohen finally unveiled the result of their experiments in PillPack — a full-service, fully-licensed online pharmacy. After a year of development, the startup opened up early access this fall to pilot the program with a group of early customers, and a few months and tweaks later, PillPack is today ready for its full-scale launch to the masses. Well, the masses of Americans taking more than five prescription meds each day. To put a fine point on it: As of today, PillPack is now available (read: Licensed) in 31 states, with additional states expected to roll out over the course of 2014. That’s all well and good, but, how exactly does it work you ask? Essentially, the program allows customers to have their medications shipped two them every two weeks in a (yes, two-week) roll of individual packets that are organized by time and date — rather than using those standard, ubiquitous bright orange pill bottles. Beyond their prescriptions, customers can also sign up to receive any over-the-counter medications or vitamins that they happen to be taking on a regularly basis as part of each shipment. Once they’ve established which prescriptions, over-the-counter meds and vitamins they want to receive every two weeks, shipments are sent to their doorsteps, with cocktails arriving in a chain of “dose packs,” each pack assigned to a different of the week — all of which

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