Three media and entertainment veterans have launched BRaVe Ventures, a new enterprise aimed at identifying new technologies that are changing how people consume digital media. The firm was co-founded by Jesse Redniss, a former USA Network executive; David Beck, an executive at Spanish-language station Univision; and Gary Vaynerchuk, a prolific angel investor with early-stage bets on Twitter, Tumblr, Uber and other startups who recently launched his $25 million VaynerRSEfund for seed investing. “The entire ecosystem is in flux,” said Mr. Redniss. “Content consumption is changing, and today it’s a whole new paradigm.”
ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):
Udacity has raised $35 million, the latest e-learning startup to raise funding in a growing sector that has seen hundreds of millions invested in a bid to redefine the way people learn. Drive Capital led the round, with participation from existing investors including Andreessen Horowitz and CRV.
Massdrop, which combines e-commerce and bulk discounts with “enthusiast” communities online, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding led by Mayfield Fund, joined by its earlier backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, First Round Capital and Cowboy Ventures.
Numerify, which helps chief information officers figure out how their IT operations are performing, raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital, with current investor Lightspeed Venture Partners also participating.
IronSource, which has developed a platform that helps application developers distribute and monetize their apps, has turned to Chinese, American and European investors for a funding round of approximately $85 million.
WiserTogether, which provides treatment comparison software to employers and health plans, has raised $9 million in Series B financing and formed a relationship with medical-cost transparency company Castlight Health.
Inspirato, a travel club that rents high-end vacation homes, has raised $20 million in additional growth financing from new investor W Capital Partners. Prior investors Institutional Venture Partners and Millennium Technology Value Partners also participated.
Kabbage is expanding from small-business loans to personal ones, in a direct assault on Prosper, Lending Club and other online alternative loan services.
Science, a Los Angeles-based incubator, has purchased PlayHaven’s mobile ad network from Upsight for more than $20 million in cash, Dow Jones VentureWire learned.
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ELSEWHERE AROUND THE WEB:
Tiger Global Raising Another Huge Fund. Tiger Global Management has begun raising another $1.5 billion to invest in private companies, Fortune’s Dan Primack reports, citing sources. The new fundraise comes just five months after it raised its last $1.5 billion pool, making it the quickest fundraising turnaround in recent memory.
Foreign Entrepreneurs Face Israeli Immigration Hurdles. Israel’s tight immigration rules can make getting a work visa extremely difficult, forcing many foreign entrepreneurs to live and work below the radar, often with nothing more than a tourist visa, reports the WSJ’s Amir Mizroch and Orr Hirschauge. That means they have to leave the country every few months to renew the visa–more often than not, driving to the Jordanian border and back.
Google X Founder Sebastian Thrun Departs. The founder of search giant Google’s factory to develop and build “moonshot” technologies, who launched the company’s driverless car project and was the project lead on Google Glass, is no longer a VP and fellow at the company, TechCrunch reports. Thrun also co-founded and currently runs online education startup Udacity.
Another New Health IT Accelerator Opens. Sometimes, it seems like the health IT sector has as many incubators and accelerators as it does startups to enroll in them, VentureBeat reports. Clinical software vendor Athenahealth has opened a new one, called the “More Disruption Please (MDP) Accelerator.”
Venture Debt Giant WTI on Dangers Ahead. The 34-year-old venture debt firm Western Technology Investment has seen a few cycles, and its CEO, Maurice Werdegar, talks to StrictlyVC about the current landscape. Among the interesting tidbits: The firm has done deals with companies right out of Y Combinator, and many of the deals it’s doing are with seed syndicates.
Why Twitter and Facebook Suddenly Want to Handle Your Money. In the space of a recent week, both Twitter and Apple made major announcements about payments, and Facebook has been beta-testing its own “buy” button, which shows up next to posts and ads, allowing users to complete a purchase without ever leaving the network. So what’s behind this race to payments and why do social networks now want in? Ryan Holmes, founder of HootSuite Media, offers some thoughts in a blog post for WSJ’s Accelerators blog.
Clinkle Finally Launches App. After 17 months of jokes, $30 million in funding, a talent exodus, layoffs, and product delays, Clinkle got something out the door, TechCrunch reports. Clinkle backers include Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Intel, Intuit and Stanford’s StartX accelerator.