News Article | April 19, 2017
Doki Doki, a Japanese startup led by serial entrepreneur Takahiro Iguchi has recently initiated a closed beta testing for its communication and networking app known as Ball. The software will be tested by 100 people whom identities were not revealed. The app is inspired by the startup’s first product Baby, a social app which allows users to record and share 5-second voice messages which are made accessible to other Baby users near the location. Depending on how the user sound or what messages they chose to convey, other users can decide if they want to connect, by flicking left or right in a Tinder-like fashion. If users’ intentions match, they can become friends and are allowed to have a private voice chat instead of chatting via the public parade chat. Messages will also automatically disappear within 24 hours so that conversation with new acquaintances or old friends can remain discreet. Baby was launched in November last year and is only downloadable from the United States iTunes App Store. Its new application Ball, however, extends its voice-centric feature to create the world’s first voice social network. The service allows its users to talk as much as desired, whenever they want and wherever they want within a time range of 5 seconds. “In the new version of Baby, we will move further away from the encounter of voice to focus on the continuous process of daily chatter. The aim is to create an environment that is more suitable for voice messaging,” said Takahito Iguchi on the stage at FabCafe MTRL. To create that, the app functions by connecting users who are interested in similar topics together. For example, if one person made a comment about the new “iPhone 8”, he or she will be linked to those who are talking about the same topic from across the world. Iguchi describes the experience that Ball offers as a cafe-like space. Doki Doki, Inc. is founded in June 2014 to develop a platform where people can instantaneously understand each other. Takahito Iguchi, the serial entrepreneur behind Doki Doki became popular at TechCrunch 40 following the disrupt with Sekai Camera – an augmented reality app which proved to be a world-class hit. The company has already raised funds of about US$1.1 million from investors including Skyland Ventures, CyberAgent Ventures, and Umeda Startup Fund. Earlier in February this year, the startup has also raised 50 million yen (about US$460K) from the Kyoto University Innovation Capital (Kyoto iCAP).
News Article | April 26, 2017
SHANGHAI, April 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- UniFi's parent company Shanghai Wheat Asset Management Co., Ltd. ("MaiziJinfu", "Maizi" or "the Company"), a China-based Internet-based financial information service provider, today announced that it has received Series B funding, at the Internet Finance Development and Innovative Application Forum (IFDIA), which was co-hosted by Money Weekly in Shanghai. This year, the IFDIA Forum attracted financial experts from academic institutions like the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, senior leaders from peer companies including Tencent and Baidu, banks and securities companies, as well as reporters from over 60 media agencies. At the forum, experts from diverse backgrounds contributed insights about the future of Internet finance and its application. At the event, Huang Darong, CEO and Chairman of MaiziJinfu, said, "The new fund will be used to incubate upgraded Internet finance products as well as to further the company's talent development." Zhou Qi, spokesperson for the group of investors, spoke highly of Maizi's business model. He pointed out that Internet finance is an unstoppable tide for the industry. "At present, all banks in China are betting on Internet finance as a way to expand investment. We recognize Maizi's potential as well as its innovative spirit and we are looking forward to their development of customized financial services and intelligent wealth management," added Zhou. In May 2015, MaiziJinfu obtained A Round funding from Haitong Innovation Capital Management Company, which is affiliated with Haitong Security, one of the oldest securities companies in China. "The company's securing of funding in Round B is a strong indication of Maizi's dedication to Internet finance, and recognition of its value proposition," Huang said. MaiziJinfu, while building its expertise in financial big data marketing, has served over two million clients from diverse industries, with about 20 billion RMB of funding. Its partner list includes Ningbo Commerce Bank, Bank of Shizuishan, and Chang'an Insurance. UniFi, as part of MaiziJinfu, is a financing product designed for international students. In the US, for instance, international students suffer from financing for starting up a business or even for purchasing a car, since they do not have Social Security records. UniFi, however, provides low-interest loans to those students in need with easy procedures and high flexibility. "We are proud to say that UniFi within a year's time has become a significant financing tool among international students in the US and Canada," Huang Darong said. About UniFi UniFi is a financing product designed for overseas students. Leveraging Maizi's FinTech and Big Data, UniFi provides flexible financing solutions to students who are in need for capital support to start a business or purchase a car. UniFi aims to establish an independent credit system for overseas students who has no Social Security records, and link them with "warm and considerate financial services". Within a year's time, the product rapidly gained popularity among international students and expanded to the American and Canadian markets. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/unifis-related-chinese-internet-based-financial-information-services-provider-maizijinfu-raises-series-b-funding-300446117.html
News Article | May 4, 2017
Fluence Analytics, formerly Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies (APMT), announced today it has raised a Series A funding round led by Energy Innovation Capital (EIC), a venture capital firm that invests in growing companies in energy innovation. Fluence Analytics products optimize efficiency, cost and quality of manufacturing and R&D processes in polymer and biopharmaceutical industries. Analysis of the confluence of realtime data generated by the company’s products allows customers to produce materials at the lowest cost with the highest quality and yield, all while minimizing environmental footprint. The Series A funding round also included participation from other investors. Fluence Analytics patented products and services were developed with over $20MM in competitive grants and funding from investors and customers. The value of the technology is proven with two and half years of industrial production operations and the release of second generation products in 2016. “We built Fluence Analytics by partnering with industry leaders to solve the biggest challenges in polymer manufacturing. This financing will accelerate the application of analytics to realtime data sets enabling manufacturing optimization for our customers,” says Alex Reed, CEO of Fluence Analytics. “We will use the funds to grow our team and expand the range of polymer applications we support,” added Mr. Reed. As part of the financing, George Coyle, a Managing Partner of Energy Innovation Capital, has joined the Fluence Analytics’ Board of Directors. “We are pleased to partner with Fluence Analytics,” Mr. Coyle noted. "Fluence Analytics has demonstrated that its products deliver significant value to its customers, and we are eager to support the company’s growth.” “We are fortunate to have EIC as an investor and as a partner in growing our company. Their experience and contacts in the industries we serve add major strengths as we enter the revenue ramp for our products and services. They are truly a value-added investor,” says Dr. Bill Bottoms, Chairman of Fluence Analytics. About Fluence Analytics Fluence Analytics is a manufacturer of industrial and laboratory systems that produce continuous data streams. These measurements, combined with powerful, proprietary analytical tools, enable realtime optimization of process control and faster R&D for polymer and biopharmaceutical manufacturers. Visit http://www.FluenceAnalytics.com to learn more about the company’s solutions for realtime data. realtime optimization. About Energy Innovation Capital Energy Innovation Capital is the premier capital provider to energy innovators. EIC is building a platform for entrepreneurs to drive Silicon Valley innovation in the global oil, gas and energy industries. http://www.energyinnovationcapital.com
News Article | October 24, 2016
Nichols, NY, Oct. 24, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- American Racing & Entertainment, LLC (“ARE” or the “Company”), owner and operator of Tioga Downs Casino located in Nichols, New York (“Tioga”), and Vernon Downs Casino Hotel located in Vernon, New York (“Vernon”), today announced that it has raised $90 million in new senior secured debt facilities (the “Facilities”) consisting of an $80 million Delayed Draw Term Loan facility plus a $10 million Revolving Credit facility. The Facilities will enable the Company to complete a $134 million expansion of Tioga (the “Tioga Expansion”), transforming the property into a full-scale casino and hotel offering the latest slot machines, table games and entertainment amenities. Once the Tioga Expansion is complete, Tioga will be the leading regional gaming destination in the Southern Tier of New York featuring an approximate 33,000 square foot casino offering 942 slot machines and 44 table games, a 161-room hotel, 3 restaurants, 3 bars/lounges, an approximate 6,500 square foot event/banquet center, spa and an 18-hole golf course and country club (located off-site). Construction of the new hotel and event center began in September and is expected to be finished in October 2017. Tioga was formally approved by the NY Gaming Commission for its casino license on August 30, 2016. Tioga is working closely with the NY Gaming Commission and its staff to complete the remaining steps required by law and regulations to convert the property into a full scale casino and looks forward to opening the property as promptly as possible. Jeff Gural, CEO of ARE, commented, "Getting this project financed is not only a win for us as a company, but also the Southern Tier community. It will act as an immediate catalyst for economic growth by creating over 550 jobs and attracting more people to the area." He added, “Our business is already booming so I am really encouraged to see the Tioga Expansion continue to drive visitation and improve the local economy.” Innovation Capital, LLC acted as financial advisor to ARE. Duane Morris LLP acted as legal counsel to ARE. Goldberg Weprin Finkel Goldstein LLP acted as real estate legal counsel to ARE. Wells Fargo Securities, LLC and Capital One, N.A. acted as joint lead arrangers and joint book runners, with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. acting as administrative agent. Founded in 2005, ARE owns and operates Tioga Downs Casino located in Nichols, New York, and Vernon Downs Casino Hotel located in Vernon, New York. Tioga was established in 1974 as a quarter horse track known as Tioga Park. Today, Tioga offers entertainment for everyone with entertainment amenities that include 802 video gaming machines, several food venues, live harness racing, a sports bar, and live indoor and outdoor concerts throughout the year. Vernon first opened in 1953 and following its purchase by ARE in 2006, now operates 777 video gaming machines, a 150-room hotel, live harness racing, a catering and entertainment facility, and numerous dining options.
News Article | November 17, 2016
New Market Size Report from CFSI and Core Innovation Capital Reveals Financially Underserved Market Grew Nearly Six Percent in 2015 to Estimated $141 Billion CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - Nov 17, 2016) - Today, the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) and Core Innovation Capital (Core) released their sixth annual Financially Underserved Market Size Study. The report, which benefited from the financial support and strategic input of Morgan Stanley and with additional financial support from CFSI'S Founding Partner the Ford Foundation, reveals that underserved American consumers spent $141 billion in fees and interest in 2015, generated from a volume of $1.6 trillion in financial activity. More information and visual assets are available at www.cfsinnovation.com. The report provides a snapshot for how much underserved consumers spend on fees and interest to borrow, spend, save and plan their financial lives. The 2015 data highlights a number of notable trends, including the move away from storefront and online payday lenders, the growth in both consumer and small business marketplace lending, and the surprisingly high cost of auto insurance for underserved consumers. "Even as financial providers embrace improved consumer financial health, a large percentage of Americans remain financially underserved -- a status that confers much higher financial costs," said Jennifer Tescher, President and CEO of CFSI. "This year's study reveals a shifting mix of marketplace trends and pressures driving those costs as an ever increasing percentage of total financial activity. In particular, auto insurance and subprime installment lending present enormous opportunity for financial providers and innovators." The Market Size Study found that the overall volume of financial activity grew from $1.5 trillion in 2014 to $1.6 trillion in 2015, a rate of 4.3%, while spending on fees and interest increased by nearly six percent. For 2015, the study reveals the following key findings: "These numbers affirm our view that everyday Americans are struggling financially, with a majority of American adults relying on high-cost products," said Colleen Poynton, Vice President at Core. "The fact that spending on fees continues to grow at a high rate shows a clear need for tech-enabled entrants to deliver low-cost solutions at scale." "Demand continues to increase for more innovative solutions that help low-income Americans improve their financial security," said Audrey Choi, Head of Global Sustainable Finance at Morgan Stanley. "We are committed to identifying opportunities to accelerate inclusive growth for all, and that starts by providing best-in-class support to the nation's financially underserved communities." This annual report sizes the market opportunity to improve the financial health of underserved consumers. At a minimum, this market includes the 67 million adults that lack bank accounts or use alternative financial services, according to the FDIC. In addition, CFSI and Core measure marketplace revenue generated by consumers who are underserved due to subprime credit scores, unscorable credit information, or low-to-moderate or volatile incomes. The report is not intended as a commentary on the appropriateness, safety, or quality of any specific product, nor should it be construed as an endorsement of, or investment advice on, any product or service included. About CFSI The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) is the nation's authority on consumer financial health. CFSI leads a network of financial services innovators committed to building a more robust financial services marketplace with higher quality products and services, specifically for those who are struggling. Through its Compass Principles and a lineup of proprietary research, insights and events, CFSI informs, advises, and connects members of its network to seed the innovation that will transform the financial services landscape. For more on CFSI, go to http://www.cfsinnovation.com and follow on Twitter at @CFSInnovation. About Core Innovation Capital Core Innovation Capital is a leading venture capital firm investing in financial services that empower everyday Americans. With offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Core leverages its deep financial services, technology and regulatory expertise to help entrepreneurs and other investors build disruptive, high growth businesses. Core portfolio companies save over twelve million customers more than four billion dollars every year. Investments include Oportun, Ripple Labs, CoverHound, NerdWallet, and TIO Networks. Follow Core at @CoreEMC and online at www.corevc.com. About Morgan Stanley Morgan Stanley is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services. With offices in more than 43 countries, the Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. Since 2006, Morgan Stanley has committed more than $9.6 billion to strengthen underserved communities. For further information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.
News Article | February 15, 2017
SAN JOSE, Calif. & VANCOUVER, British Columbia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--PayPal Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: PYPL) and TIO Networks Corp. (TSXV: TNC), a cloud-based multi-channel bill payment processing and receivables management company, today announced a definitive agreement under which PayPal will acquire TIO for $3.35 CAD ($2.56 USD) per share in cash or an approximate $304 million CAD ($233 million USD) equity value. The purchase price represents a premium of 25.2% to TIO’s 90-trading day volume-weighted average price as of February 13, 2017, and 22.6% to the 20-trading day volume-weighted average price as of January 9, 2017, the trading day immediately preceding the date TIO entered into exclusive negotiations with PayPal. TIO is a leading multi-channel bill payment processor in North America and processed more than $7 billion USD in consumer bill payments in fiscal 2016. TIO serves 14 million consumer bill pay accounts* and offers convenient solutions for expedited bill payment services to financially underserved consumers. The company has more than 10,000 supported billers and numerous direct relationships with billers, which enable TIO to quickly process telecom, wireless, cable and utility bill payments for TIO’s customers. Using TIO’s approximately 900 operated self-service kiosks, approximately 65,000 retail walk-in locations, and mobile and web solutions, customers can conveniently pay their bills while avoiding the service interruptions and financial penalties associated with missed payment deadlines. Dan Schulman, President and CEO of PayPal, said, “By acquiring TIO and integrating bill payment into our global payments platform, PayPal adds another key service in our efforts to become a part of a consumer’s everyday financial life. Worldwide, more than 2 billion** people do not have affordable access to basic financial services, making it difficult and expensive for consumers to carry out basic financial tasks, including bill payment. TIO’s digital platform, and physical network of agent locations make paying bills simpler, faster, and more affordable. We are excited by the opportunity to extend this valuable service to our existing customers and welcome new billers and customers to PayPal." Hamed Shahbazi, Chairman and CEO of TIO, remarked, “We founded TIO to make speed and access part of the bill payment experience for the underserved, and we believe that we have created affordable products to serve the needs of all customers. Our mission fits perfectly with PayPal’s vision to democratize money. As part of the PayPal team, we believe we will accelerate our growth through expanded distribution and continue increasing access to more billers and services.” Upon closing of the acquisition, TIO will operate as a service within PayPal. PayPal intends to fund the transaction with cash on its balance sheet. There will be no change to PayPal’s previously communicated fiscal 2017 guidance and three-year outlook based on the acquisition of TIO. For the fiscal year ended July 31, 2016, TIO generated $74.7 million CAD in revenue ($57.1 million USD) and $10.6 million CAD in adjusted EBITDA ($8.1 million USD). TIO defines EBITDA as earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization and adjusted EBITDA as EBITDA plus stock-based compensation, non-recurring transaction and restructuring expenses. The acquisition is expected to close in the second half of 2017, and will be completed by way of a plan of arrangement under the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia). The completion of the transaction will be subject to the approval of at least two-thirds of the votes cast at a special meeting of TIO shareholders and optionholders present in person or represented by proxy at the meeting, by: (i) TIO shareholders; (ii) by TIO shareholders and optionholders, voting together as a single class; and (iii) a majority of the votes cast by TIO shareholders present in person or represented by proxy at the meeting, excluding for this purpose votes attached to the TIO common shares held by persons described in items (a) through (d) of Section 8.1(2) of Multilateral Instrument 61-101 – Take-Over Bids and Special Transactions. The meeting of shareholders and optionholders is expected to take place in April, 2017. In addition to TIO securityholder approvals, the transaction is also subject to other closing conditions, including the receipt of approvals relating to TIO’s money transmitter licenses, the expiration or early termination of the applicable pre-merger waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, and court approval in British Columbia, Canada. The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of each of TIO and PayPal, and the TIO Board recommends that TIO shareholders and optionholders vote in favor of the Arrangement. The recommendation of the TIO Board was based on the recommendation of a special committee of independent directors of TIO. The financial advisor to TIO, Raymond James Ltd., has provided a fairness opinion to the special committee and board of directors of TIO that, subject to the assumptions, limitations and qualifications set out in such fairness opinion, the consideration to be received by TIO shareholders pursuant to the plan of arrangement is fair, from a financial point of view, to the TIO shareholders. In addition, TIO shareholders, directors and officers, including funds managed by Core Innovation Capital, Napier Park Financial Partners, Edison Partners, Inter-Atlantic Advisors and Inductive Capital, representing approximately 50.4% of the issued and outstanding common shares have agreed to vote their shares in favor of the transaction. The transaction includes customary deal protection provisions, including non-solicitation of an alternative transaction and a termination fee payable to PayPal under certain circumstances. Further information regarding the transaction will be contained in the management information circular which is expected to be mailed to TIO shareholders in March in connection with the special meeting of TIO shareholders to be held to consider the transaction. Copies of the definitive agreement and the management information circular will also be available under TIO’s SEDAR profile at www.sedar.com. In addition, free copies of the documents may be obtained from TIO’s investor relations website at http://corporate.tionetworks.com/ or by contacting TIO investor relations at email@example.com. All TIO shareholders are urged to read the management information circular as it will contain additional important information concerning the transaction. Perella Weinberg Partners LP is acting as financial adviser to PayPal, and Sidley Austin LLP and Blake, Cassells & Graydon LLP are acting as legal advisers on the transaction. Raymond James Ltd. is acting as financial adviser to TIO, and Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, and Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP, are acting as legal advisers for the TIO Special Committee and TIO, respectively. * Consumer bill pay accounts represent the total number of accounts between consumers and billers. A consumer may have a relationship with more than one biller and may have more than one account. Fueled by a fundamental belief that having access to financial services creates opportunity, PayPal (Nasdaq: PYPL) is committed to democratizing financial services and empowering people and businesses to join and thrive in the global economy. Our open digital payments platform gives PayPal’s nearly 200 million active account holders the confidence to connect and transact in new and powerful ways, whether they are online, on a mobile device, in an app, or in person. Through a combination of technological innovation and strategic partnerships, PayPal creates better ways to manage and move money, and offers choice and flexibility when sending payments, paying or getting paid. Available in more than 200 markets around the world, the PayPal platform, including Braintree, Venmo and Xoom, enables consumers and merchants to receive money in more than 100 currencies, withdraw funds in 56 currencies and hold balances in their PayPal accounts in 25 currencies. For more information on PayPal, visit https://www.paypal.com/about. For PYPL financial information, visit https://investor.PayPal-corp.com. TIO is a cloud-based multi-channel bill payment processing and receivables management provider, serving the largest telecom, wireless, cable, and utility bill issuers in North America. TIO integrates with the back office of billing systems to accept, validate, and collect payments via self-service kiosk, retail walk-in, mobile, and web solutions. With approximately 60 million transactions processed in fiscal 2016 and a processing network that serves more than 10,000 billers, TIO symbolizes fast, convenient, and secure access to expedited bill payment services. Visit www.tionetworks.com or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook. Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. This announcement contains “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking statements and information relate to future events and future performance and reflect PayPal’s and TIO’s expectations regarding the impact of this transaction on PayPal’s and TIO’s financial and operating results and business, the operation and management of TIO after the acquisition, the anticipated funding for the transaction, and the timing of the closing of the acquisition. Forward-looking statements may be identified by words such as “seek”, “believe”, “plan”, “estimate”, “anticipate”, expect”, “intend”, and statements that an event or result “may”, “will”, “should”, “could”, or “might” occur or be achieved and any other similar expressions. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties which may cause actual results to differ materially from the statements made. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, the timing and possible outcome of securityholder, regulatory and court approvals in connection with the transaction, the possibility that the transaction may not close, the reaction to the transaction of TIO’s customers and business partners, the reaction of competitors to the transaction, the retention of TIO employees, PayPal’s plans for TIO, economic and political conditions in the global markets in which PayPal and TIO operate, the future growth of PayPal’s and TIO’s businesses and the possibility that integration following the transaction may be more difficult than expected. More information about these and other factors can be found in PayPal Holdings, Inc.’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), and its future filings with the SEC, and in TIO’s Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the quarter ended October 31, 2016 filed under TIO’s SEDAR profile at www.sedar.com. There are no assurances PayPal and TIO can fulfill forward-looking statements and information. Such forward-looking statements and information are only predictions based on current information available to the respective management teams as of the date that such predictions are made; actual events or results may differ materially as a result of risks facing PayPal and TIO, some of which are beyond PayPal’s and TIO’s control. Although PayPal and TIO believe that any forward-looking statements and information contained in this press release are based on reasonable assumptions, readers cannot be assured that actual outcomes or results will be consistent with such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements and information. Neither PayPal nor TIO accept any responsibility for any financial or operational information contained in this press release relating to the business, results of operations or financial condition of the other. Each of PayPal and TIO expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to disseminate any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.
News Article | October 12, 2016
Customer acquisition accounts for roughly 10 percent of a residential solar system’s total cost. And unlike PV module or inverter costs, it's a much more stubborn cost to reduce. Startup Geostellar just won $7 million in financing led by Dallas-based venture firm Matador Capital Partners to lower acquisition costs via an online platform that lets residents simulate the value of a rooftop solar system at a specific location. The startup has a database that lets homeowners judge how many solar panels their roof would best support in order to cut their electricity costs the most. Geostellar uses LiDAR (timed laser pulses from fixed-wing aircraft) and other data to compare installation options from installers and financiers and help cut down on system costs. (You can give the system a try at the company's website. We've heard that the proposed systems are sometimes oversized and incentives are not always correct. Let us know if site estimates match your reality.) When we last reported on Geostellar, CEO David Levine said he wanted the company to be the Kayak of rooftop solar. He said in a recent release, "When we’re done, we hope to be the single solar search site, the Google of solar marketplaces.” An investor in the company described the firm as the “Uber of solar panels.” At least they're not trying to be the Theranos of solar. Better if the firm could work on being the Geostellar of solar and just lower acquisition costs for consumers and vendors. As we've reported, Geostellar wants to provide every U.S. homeowner access to "a real-time, free, and independent cost-benefit analysis of solar purchase options." The firm can conduct rooftop scans with "1-meter resolution" powered by “big-data geomatics,” according to the CEO, in a previous interview. As we've reported, the platform "can estimate a typical monthly utility bill and forecast the homeowner’s savings from going solar through a cash investment, bank loan, or lease or power-purchase agreement. Calculations factor in interest rates, utility rebates and local and state incentives." Geostellar was founded in 2010 as a provider of solar simulations to installers like Sunrun, Sungevity and SunPower. In 2012, the firm raised $14 million led by NRG Energy, along with satellite company DigitalGlobe, which provides some of its data, and Flash Forward Investors. Geostellar won $750,000 from the SunShot program in 2013. NRG recently withdrew its investment in the firm, according to John Greer at Matador. Other investors in the firm include Select Venture Partners, Panacea Capital and Valentis Capital. Matador is not a traditional "cleantech" investment firm. Matador’s partners, John Greer and Wicky el-Effendi, intend to invest about $12 million into Geostellar this year. Greer said in an interview that solar power firms are finally becoming economical investments without help from the government. “We’re not greenies,” Greer said. “We would have never [undertaken] this investment if it needed tax funding or abatement to survive.” Geostellar is paid by the financing company or customer, the CEO told GTM, saying, "We procure the equipment and pay the installer." Greer told GTM today that the technology-agnostic nature of Geostellar's business and the fact that it is cash-constrained and growing fast made the investment decision pretty straightforward. Venture capitalists still occasionally get up the nerve to invest in solar despite the lagging pace of VC activity in the U.S. Among the top five biggest venture financings last quarter was Solar Mosaic, a lending platform for homeowners, which raised $220 million in an equity round led by Warburg Pincus, along with Core Innovation Capital and Obvious Ventures. Heliatek, an organic solar cell developer, raised a $90 million round last month. D.light Design, a solar lantern startup, raised $22.5 million in a Series D debt and equity round in September.
News Article | February 27, 2017
HealthSherpa, the premier health insurance enrollment company, today announced a new solution, COBRA Crosswalk™, for corporate partners to provide alternatives to COBRA health insurance continuation coverage for employees. The average COBRA enrollee typically incurs claims 50 percent higher than an active employee, costing employers thousands per enrollee per year. “There’s no denying that COBRA is expensive for corporations and may not be the best solution for the former employees,” said George Kalogeropoulos, founder and CEO of HealthSherpa. “The average COBRA enrollee costs self-insured corporations thousands more per year than an active employee, and COBRA premiums are very high, making it a lose-lose for the employer and the former employee. There are other smart options to meet former employee’s healthcare needs and budgets. HealthSherpa’s new COBRA Crosswalk is a comprehensive solution that streamlines communication, enrollment, and utilization of COBRA-coverage alternatives. During this time of rapid regulatory and market change, our intuitive technology and knowledgeable customer advocates are invaluable for employers and former employees alike.” Corporations benefit from the new COBRA Crosswalk because HealthSherpa supports the entire communications process with the affected employees. From customized notices to educational collateral, step-by-step instructions, user-friendly online tools and comprehensive customer service – HealthSherpa makes an often complicated, confusing process simple, streamlined and cost effective. When separated employees choose COBRA, they must continue to pay the full monthly premium as well as an administrative fee. Using HealthSherpa’s COBRA Crosswalk allows employees to enroll in quality, affordable coverage that is up to 85 percent cheaper than COBRA coverage. Alongside COBRA support, leading brands are partnering with HealthSherpa to offer cost-effective healthcare benefits to part-time, seasonal, temporary, 1099 and other non-benefits eligible employees. About HealthSherpa HealthSherpa is the best way to get individual health coverage, with experience enrolling over 800,000 people. HealthSherpa partners with large employers, insurers and more than 18,000 insurance agents to support consumers searching for, enrolling in, and utilizing high quality, affordable health insurance coverage. Backed by leading investors including Core Innovation Capital and Mitch Kapor (founder and CEO of Lotus, Kapor Center for Social Impact), HealthSherpa's mission is to help every American feel the comfort and security of having health coverage. The company delivers innovation, technology, and customer service by real people to make coverage easier to understand, faster to sign up for, and simpler to use. Learn more at http://www.HealthSherpa.com/employers.
News Article | October 10, 2016
The numbers included funding for venture capital, public market and debt financing. “Funding levels bounced back across the board compared to a weak Q2, but they are still well below last year’s totals,” said Raj Prabhu, chief executive of Mercom Capital Group.YEar-ago funding was about $6bn. He noted that the combination of slower than expected US demand, overcapacity in China, and global hyper-competitive auctions leading to lower margins has affected the entire supply chain. Most solar equities are in the red year-to-date. The exception has been the rebound of some of the yieldcos. Global VC funding (including private equity) for the solar sector almost doubled in the third quarter with $342m in 16 deals compared to the $174m raised in the same number of deals in the second quarter. Solar downstream companies raised $273m in eight deals compared to $112m in seven deals last quarter. The largest share came from the $220m raised by Solar Mosaic, a provider of residential solar loans, from Warburg Pincus, Core Innovation Capital and Obvious Ventures. Other top VC deals this quarter included the $47m raised by Heliatek, $20m raised by BBOXX, $15m raised by d.light, and 10m ach raised by Morgan Solar and Off-Grid Electric. Third quarter solar public market financing came to $880m in five deals, including one IPO, compared to $179m in four deals last quarter, according to Mercom Capital. Third quarter total public market financing was $1.8bn. The first solar IPO this year was recorded by BCPG, a solar downstream company for $166m. Third quarter debt financing came to almost $1.8bn in 24 deals compared to 12 deals last quarter for $1.3bn. Year-over-year, $4.1bn was raised in 22 deals. Third quarter residential and commercial solar funds raised came to $1.1bn in five deals compared to $1.36bn in 11 deals in the second quarter, according to Mercom Capital. Of the $1.1bn announced this quarter, $760m went towards lease and $333m went to loan funds. So far this year, close to $3.5bn has been raised in 22 deals. During the same period last year, more than $5bn was raised in 21 deals. There were 18 solar M&A transactions in the third quarter compared to 17 in the previous quarter. Solar downstream companies accounted for half of the transactions (nine), followed by manufacturers with five. Four acquisitions involved SunEdison companies this quarter as a result of the company filing for bankruptcy and selling off parts of its business. There were 55 large-scale solar project acquisitions (24 disclosed for $1.3bn) compared to the second quarter, which had 38 transactions (13 disclosed for $1.9bn). About 2.6 GW of solar projects were acquired in the third quarter compared to 2 GW in the previous quarter.
News Article | February 24, 2017
BuildASign.com, an award-winning online custom printing provider of signage and home decor items, today announced current President and CMO, Bryan Kranik, will be promoted to CEO and will be taking over day to day operations, effective March 1, 2017. Current CEO Dan Graham will stay on as a member of the Board of Directors and will assume the role of Executive Chairman where he will continue to provide strategic insight and support for the overall direction of the company. Graham co-founded BuildASign.com in March 2005 to fill a void in the fragmented sign shop market and ended up creating a multi-million dollar company that transformed the printing industry by focusing on innovative technology, LEAN manufacturing and exceptional customer service. Over the past 12 years with Graham at the helm, BuildASign.com has grown to over 350 employees at their North Austin headquarters and expanded its brand portfolio to include EasyCanvasPrints.com and AlliedShirts.com. “My time at BuildASign.com was unforgettable, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to create and grow something so special,” said Graham. “For the past 12 years I’ve been surrounded by a group of people whose talent and innovation go unmatched -- and I’m excited to watch Bryan lead them for the future. I firmly believe Bryan will continue to pioneer the print space, and I’m elated to support him in my new role as Executive Chairman." “Working alongside Dan for the past two years has been an honor and a privilege. The business he built and the legacy he leaves is nothing short of tremendous,” said Kranik. “And while his daily presence will be greatly missed, I’m thrilled to build upon this outstanding foundation and continue the growth trajectory for the company.” In addition to his role as Executive Chairman, Dan will continue his quest for community impact alongside his wife, Lisa. Together, they will work to make Austin the Social Innovation Capital of the World through their co-founded organization, Notley Ventures. Bryan has been with the company since July 2015. Prior to BuildASign.com, Kranik spent 14 years at Dell in the Consumer and Small Business divisions holding leadership roles in marketing, sales and general management. His most recent role at Dell was leading the divisions responsible for marketing and selling to small businesses. About BuildASign.com BuildASign.com is a leading online custom printing provider of signage and home decor items. Products include signs, canvas, apparel, business cards, car wraps and more. Founded in 2005, the Austin, Texas-based company has been recognized by multiple highly accredited organizations with placements in the Inc. 5000, Internet Retailer’s Top 500, Forbes Top 100 America’s Most Promising Companies, and the Deloitte Technology Fast 500. Through the BuildASign.com Giving Program, the company has contributed more than $1 million to over 1,700 local and national nonprofit organizations. It has also received national recognition for its donation of more than 337,000 welcome home banners and signs (valued at more than $10 million) to the friends and families of military service members returning home from a deployment. To learn more visit BuildASign.com.