MediaFile

Online education site raises $3 mil in a round led by Groupon founders

Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell have invested in online educational site (with one complicate name) Udemy through their venture capital fund Lightbank. Udemy just announced a $3 million Series A round of financing led by Lightbank that also includes funding from MHS Capital and 500 Startups.

Udemy plans to use the money for hiring and marketing and biz development.

Udemy “the academy of you” offers 6,000 courses covering all sorts of hobby-related subjects like social marketing, how to build a iPhone app, and Art 100 in addition to more traditional topics like intro to psychology. About 90 percent of Udemy’s courses are free.

Online education is a pretty hot sector now — just go ask the Washington Post and its Kaplan division which for the most part has been the driver of growth behind the company synoumous with Watergate and newspapers . Even News Corp is getting in on the act and set up an education unit focused on technology last year.

The $3 million round follows $1 million in funding from MHS Capital, 500 Startups, and several other individual investors.

 

Tinsel town turns deaf ear to Kutcher’s request to plug his start-ups

Ashton Kutcher may have more clout in Silicon Valley than in Hollywood.

The star of movies like “Dude, Where’s My Car?” and now of the hit show ‘Two and a Half Men” told conference goers at TechCrunch Disrupt that he tried to get the studio to plug some of his Internet start-up investments on the show– but they wouldn’t do it without compensation.

Kutcher, who said he majored in biochemical engineering in college, has invested in some of Silicon Valley’s hottest companies. His bets include check-in service Foursquare, bed-and-breakfast service Airbnb, and personalized magazine Flipboard.

He also said he invested in companies that he thought ultimately would contribute to greater happiness in the world– but won’t open his wallet unless he clicks with the entrepreneur. “At the end of the day it’s about the person who runs that company, and whether it’s a person I’d want to spend some time with,” he said.

Sequoia’s Doug Leone on the spot for lunch, money

By Sarah McBride 

Nailing down a few minutes of a VC’s time can be tough, but one start-up tried a novel approach at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference: put the guy on the spot.

During the audience Q&A after TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington interviewed legendary venture capitalist Doug Leone from Sequoia, one Danish entrepreneur told Leone that his question was whether he could have a lunch date with Leone– today.

Leone begged off, citing a partner meeting, but promised lunch down the line. “Email me,” he suggested, giving his Sequoia email address.

Arrington Exits TechCrunch; Takes jab at Arianna Huffington

From the TechCrunch conference in San Francisco, this post is brought to you by Alexei Oreskovic and Sarah McBride:

Michael Arrington, one of the most high-profile figures in the world of tech blogging, has lost the TechCrunch soapbox he built. But he’s found a new way to get his point across: T-shirts

Arrington took the stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference on Monday, moments after parent-company AOL announced that he was no longer part of the company due to his new role heading up a $20 million venture capital fund.

Gina Bianchini rings up Mightybell, a social media help kit

Gina Bianchini — the bubbly, well-connected former CEO of social network Ning — is back in the social media game after a 18 months as entrepreneur-in-residence at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
Her new venture is called Mightybell and essentially is a back to basics type of social media start-up which aims to help users create step-by-step, day-to-day actions which friends and others could follow.
For example, if you’re exploring a new hobby you could follow an expert or enthusiast and read their blogs, status messages, see their photos and watch videos on how they achieved a particular goal.
“Mightybell seeks to offer creators, instigators, bloggers, organizers, operatives, entertainers, artists, teachers, guides, and everyone’s alpha friend a simple way to take new social technologies and turn them into better, more compelling experiences for people in the real world. It’s the obvious next step in social media,” said Bianchini in a statement.
Mightybell launches in beta form as an iPhone and Web-based application.
The start-up, of just 9 people so far, raised $2.1 million in seed funding led by Floodgate and First Round Capital as well as “a handful” of angel investors.

Taptu gets new funding, readies new social media B2B platform

Taptu, the social media mobile search start-up based out of Cambridge, England and Denver, raised another $3.5 million from its existing backers as it starts to focus on its it new TapForm platform to help media companies build their own social news aggregator.

Most users who know Taptu are probably more familiar with its  ‘DJ mixing’ news service (see video below), which reminds us of the Flipboard experience. You can aggregate and manage all your favorite news sources into an easy to read format on your chosen mobile device.

But with TapForm, Chief Executive Mitch Lazar plans to extend that capability to media partners and told Reuters he’s close to announcing the start-up’s first partner in coming weeks.

Crunch theater: blogger’s VC fund creates media spectacle

The tech blogosphere was on fire on Friday with a flood of constantly-updated news reports and a barrage of tweets dissecting every angle of the story.

A new iPhone? Details of the long-awaited Facebook IPO?

Not quite. The object of fascination was the preceding day’s news that high-profile tech blogger Michael Arrington has launched a $20 million venture capital fund.

The move instantly triggered a debate about the inherent conflict of an influential blog editor investing in many of the start-ups that would presumably be covered by TechCrunch — a must-read in the tech crowd.

Facebook’s No. 1 music app raises $16 mln

Rihanna is one of BandPage's most popular artists

RootMusic is not one of the better known names in the digital music business, but in just 18 months  it has built the most popular music app on the world’s largest social networking platform, Facebook.

That service is called BandPage and allows artists’ to post their video, sell  songs and promote their tours on Facebook.

Though this might seem like a service with a  relatively low barrier to entry — it is free and up to the artists or their representatives to post their videos — RootMusic has done a quietly efficient job of achieving scale and now claims some 250,000 musicians using BandPage.

Tech wrap: Breaking down Zynga’s possible IPO delay

One of tech’s most anticipated public offerings of the year could be delayed, according to a report in the New York Post on Monday. Online gaming company Zynga may hold off on its IPO until November said The Post, citing a “source close to the company.”

The delay is partly related to questions the SEC has about how Zynga measures its daily and monthly users, as well as its bookings, CNBC reported. “Zynga’s accounting measures are less worrisome to the SEC than Groupon’s, says one person familiar with the matter, but the agency is nonetheless working to make Zynga’s prospectus as accessible to investors as possible,” writes CNBC’s Kate Kelly.

Renowned venture capitalist Alan Patricof, managing director of Greycroft Partners LLC, told Bloomberg TV he thinks Zynga is merely waiting for a “hole in the market,” which he described as a one or two-week period where the markets are up and the underwriting bank “calls up and says we’re going tomorrow.”

from Entrepreneurial:

Note to entrepreneurs: Your idea is not special

-- Brad Feld is a managing director at the Boulder, Colorado-based venture capital firm Foundry Group. He also co-founded TechStars and writes the popular blog, Feld Thoughts. The views expressed are his own. --

Every day I get numerous emails from software and Internet entrepreneurs describing their newest ideas.

Often these entrepreneurs think their idea is brand new – that no one has ever thought of it before. Other times they ask me to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect their idea. Occasionally the emails mysteriously allude to the idea without really saying what it is.