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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

With these numbers, it’s no surprise SoftBank is investing in Latin America

After SoftBank announced its plans to launch a $5 billion innovation fund in Latin America, we reached out to the good folks at the Latin American Venture Capital Association (LAVCA) for some context, and what they told me only validates the reasoning behind SoftBank’s interest in the region. (In 2017, we reported on the growing interest in Latin America.)

Let’s start with some numbers. Venture funding in Latin American startups is up — way up — from previous years. Specifically, LAVCA’s data shows that VC funding more than doubled in 2017 to $1.14 billion compared to $500 million in 2016. While 2018 numbers haven’t been finalized, LAVCA is projecting another record year with venture investments topping $1.5 billion.

If you combine private equity and venture investing, the numbers are even more impressive. LAVCA estimates that PE and VC fundraising together in Latin America in 2017 totaled $4.3 billion, up from $2.3 billion in 2016.1

Julie Ruvolo, director of venture capital for LAVCA, said all this “fits squarely in this larger momentum that’s been building over the last year or two.”

“We’ve been seeing the continued, and increased, entry of significant global players in the market,” she told Crunchbase News. “Plus, we’ve been seeing an uptick in $100 million-plus rounds, which was a relatively rare thing in Latin America.”

Also unsurprising is the breakdown of where the majority of venture dollars have gone in Latin America. Brazil led the region across all stages of VC investment, capturing 73 percent of VC investment dollars in 2017 and the first half of 2018 (201 startup investments totaling $1.4 billion). Mexico was the second most active market by number of deals (82 startup investments totaling $154 million), but Colombia saw more money invested ($188 million over 23 deals).

Here’s a quick rundown of just some of the bigger deals that took place during that same time frame:

It’s worth noting that fintech is the top sector of VC investment by dollars and number of deals in Latin America. The region also hosts a number of unicorns, including Brazilian ride-hailing startup 99; Colombian last-mile delivery service Rappi; Brazilian learning systems provider Arco Educação; and Brazilian fintech startup Stone Pagamentos.

With all this innovation and investing going on in Latin America, there is clearly large potential. And SoftBank is now poised to capitalize on that.

  1. The fundraising and investment data LAVCA collects is specific to fund managers that have raised capital from third-party institutional investors/limited partners and doesn’t account for other types of private capital investors, like a SoftBank fund or sovereign wealth fund, corporate, etc.


Source: TechCrunch

This VC went long on HotelTonight and it paid off; here’s how.

Brian O’Malley has enjoyed a lot of success as a venture capitalist, thanks to bets on Bazaarvoice before its IPO, Dollar Shave Club before it was nabbed by Unilever, and a variety of other startups that were ultimately acquired or went public. It’s one reason that O’Malley, who began his venture career with Battery Ventures and stayed for nearly a decade, has been poached time and again, first joining Accel Partners for almost five years and, more recently, hopping over to Forerunner Ventures.

Interestingly, all three firms are investors in one company that O’Malley has known from nearly its outset and whose cash and stock sale for a reported $465 million to Airbnb, announced last week, he is still celebrating: HotelTonight, “The O’Malley family went long on HotelTonight,” he said in a call Thursday. “Now, we’re long Airbnb.”

For your Sunday reading, we thought you might enjoy an oral history from O’Malley about how he stumbled upon HotelTonight and remained connected to the company across its nine year history.

I’d originally met Sam [Shank HotelTonight’s CEO] way back. He had TravelPost,com, a travel blogging platform. I really liked him, but i didn’t think it was a ‘venture fundable’ company, [meaning I didn’t see] an explosive opportunity. But Sam is the kind of guy you file away in the back of your head. I knew I’d like to work with him sometime.

Then, I think it was the last week of 2010, I was at home reading up on new things and I came cross this announcement about this new thing called HotelTonight. I was looking at mobile services at the time. We [at Battery Ventures] were invested in Groupon and we saw how much customers loved this whole last-minute-deal angle. But it was hard for Groupon to [drill deep] across categories, given that merchant needs are different. The industry needed verticalized [players] and [HotelTonight] fit nicely in that sweet spot, so I did a little digging, and lo and behold, it was Sam Shank and his partner Jared [Simon] behind the company. I reached back out to Sam and said, ‘This is a great idea; I’d love to catch up with you.’

They were [running a company called] Dealbase [that aggregated and compared hotel deals] and HotelTonight was their mobile offering, so I got together with him and we set it up in a way where we wrote a [letter of intent to Dealbase’s angel investors] to spin HotelTonight out of Dealbase and make it its own company. But to do that, we wanted not just the technology but the team.

They had pretty well-known angels, so I went and talked with them, and some of them were not very excited about having the team go to this new company, so we set up this structure where Dealbase shareholders would get 50 percent of HotelTonight if they came over, and if they didn’t want to come over, we’d buy their shares. I think all of them came over eventually, though some were more curmudgeonly about it. Hopefully they appreciate it now! Then we put together a large option pool for the team and put together a syndicate, including myself at Battery, Theresia [Gouw] when she was at Accel, Kent Goldman [then of First Round Capital], and Kirsten [Green, the founder of Forerunner Ventures] was a small investor as well. And that’s what helped start the company.

At the time, I was one of the first customers, and I remember checking into one of their hotels in New York, and the hotel had never heard of HotelTonight but there on the fax machine was my booking reservation; that was the technology that was available at the time.

Then we [at Battery] led the Series A, we split it with Accel. I was already on the board from the seed round, then Theresia joined the board at the Series A.

When I left Battery [to join Accel] it was the smoothest transition. When you leave a firm, you leave behind [your companies]; your investments belong to the fund and not to you. But this was more seamless because Theresia was transitioning out of Accel [to start her own firm, Aspect Ventures] around the time that I was joining. So I think I was off the [HotelTonight] board for about a month. Then I took Theresia’s seat at Accel and [longtime Battery investor] Roger Lee went on my seat. Then at Accel, we led HotelTonight’s last round of financing.

It’s kind of serendipitous that all three firms where I’ve worked were shareholders.

[As for the outcome of the company], we’d talked about an IPO a while ago. It was growing really quickly. It’s a large business now with well over a hundred million [dollars] in [annual] revenue. It’s profitable. It has a lot of the characteristics you’d want. And they’d been approached by a variety of partners over time. But Sam and [Airbnb CEO] Brian [Chesky] have a special relationship. They’d known each other since even before HotelTonight.

And it’s great when you can clearly fill a void, and continue your mission under a bigger umbrella. Airbnb is rapidly growing a good business. It has done a great job of winning the hearts and minds of customers. But it had a gap in that it hadn’t focused on hotels and last-minute travelers, and it gets a lot of interest in those areas, so we thought the companies culturally would really complement each other, but also that the products would complement each other.

Decisions are always led by the team, and this is one where they were really excited about it, and we were super supportive of that. It’s the funny thing about all these deals, though. Yes, you can get a banker like Qatalyst [Partners] involved.  But a lot of it comes back to relationships.


Source: TechCrunch

Watch a kangaroo attack a landing paraglider in Australia – CNET

Paragliding sounds like fun until you’re greeted by an irate roo.
Source: CNET

Brie Larson dressed as Captain Marvel surprises moviegoers – CNET

Dressed in a Captain Marvel tracksuit, Larson visited a New Jersey movie theater and served fans popcorn.
Source: CNET

The best monitors for Mac mini

A new Mac mini should be paired with an excellent monitor. If you’re looking for the best display for your mini, here are the best monitors for Mac Mini, from top-notch resolutions to extra-affordable models.

The post The best monitors for Mac mini appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Fukushima's underground ice wall keeps nuclear radiation at bay – CNET

Think Game of Thrones, but this one is underground and defends against a far more realistic threat.
Source: CNET

How VR brought me inside a scary-real radioactive Fukushima reactor – CNET

Here’s what it’s like inside the melted down reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Source: CNET

Is 2019 the year of the air fryer? Combination cooking devices are everywhere – CNET

Remember when everyone was throwing Alexa into everything? That’s what 2019 looks like for kitchen appliances when it comes to air frying.
Source: CNET

Have We Reached Peak Big?

Opinion: Every industry seems bigger than ever. But a course correction could be on the way.
Source: Wired

Electric Minivans at the Geneva Motor Show, and More Car News

Plus: Lightweight leather, dune buggies, and a volume knob made from a meteorite.
Source: Wired

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