VCs Go Mobile: Funding from Venture Capital (VC) firms to startups and companies in the mobile industry has never been higher, according to a new report from CB Insights. In the third quarter of 2013, VC investment in mobile topped $US1 billion for the first time ever in a single quarter. Also, more investment deals were struck in the third quarter than in any other quarter before with about 150 deals. Fourth quarter 2013 mobile VC funding also topped $US1 billion, and total 2013 VC funding to mobile reached over $US3.5 billion for the year. Most funding deals are struck early on in the Angel/Seed round (37% share of deals) and in the Series A round of funding (34%), likely to help these companies get on their feet. But the value of funding increases substantially as mobile companies separate themselves and move on to Series B, C, and D funding rounds. VCs handed out 55% of the $US3.5 billion they invested in mobile in 2013 during these rounds.
The appeal of the mobile industry for VCs is that a multitude of subsidiary industries are beginning to emerge. Companies that engage in well-known mobile applications like gaming and photography are still thriving. But less ubiquitous application categories like mobile payments, location-based services, and travel have all caught the eyes of investors. With so many mobile devices in consumer hands, mobile security company investment also soared in 2013. This category took the largest single share of VC funding, but that share was only 10%, meaning mobile investment was highly fragmented among a variety of mobile sub-industries. CB Insights quotes Benedict Evans, a mobile analyst who recently joined prominent tech investment firm Andreessen Horowitz, to explain this mobile VC funding phenomenon: “The whole mobile space is in flux — Apple and Android have won the platform wars, more or less, but all the dynamics on top of that are changing all the time.” (CB Insights)
GOOGLE GLASS GAMING: Mobile gaming on smartphones and tablets is a massive industry. Now, the Google Developers blog posted a video showcasing the potential for games on Google Glass. Given the success of gaming on mobile, gaming could be the application that will popularise smart eyewear for mainstream users. (Re/code)
APPLE TV: Mark Gurman of 9 To 5 Mac points out that Apple TV has now received its own product line slot on Apple’s website, rather than being lumped into the iPod product category page. Apple already acknowledged they were working on a new version of the set-top box, and this may be the first, small step toward an increased focus on TV from Apple. (9 To 5 Mac)
LENOVO RESTRUCTURING: Lenovo will officially diversify into four distinct product categories, instead of its original two. The categories will be PCs, mobile, enterprise, and content and services. Lenovo is already the top PC maker in the world, and had massive success with its mobile devices in 2013. Now, it may capitalise on its growing hardware divisions by pumping out its own ecosystem of content and services. (Wall Street Journal)
MOBILE AD COMPANIES ARE THRIVING: It’s a great time to be in the mobile advertising industry. AdColony, a company that specialises in mobile video ads, more than quadrupled its 2013 revenue over 2012 to hit a $US100 million gross revenue run rate in less than three years of existence. (Market Wired) Millennial Media, one of the largest mobile-first digital advertising firms, likely hit $US341 million in annual revenue for 2013, according to Morgan Stanley. That’s 41% growth over 2012. (Morgan Stanley)
HTML5 APPS FOR SALE: Amazon, in another attempt to lure developers of all platforms to its ecosystem, will now let developers charge for HTML5 web apps within the Amazon App Store. All HTML5 web apps used to be free, which dampened developer interest in them. (TechCrunch)
TVTAG: TV check-in services GetGlue and i.TV have merged to form tvtag, a mobile-centric, ad-supported social network that will center on TV watching. The app will have several broadcast partners but will also utilise app users as curators to provide real-time TV information. GetGlue’s old check-in features will still be there, but the new app will focus on curated TV info and discussion. It’s a new take on the second-screen. (Engadget)
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