(YC W11) Raises Funding From SV Angel, Spark Capital To Improve Communication For Salespeople

Y Combinator, a startup that aims to improve communication and customer management for sales people, has raised a round of funding from Bebo co-founder Michael Birch, SV Angel, Spark Capital and David Tisch. was born from ElasticSales, a sales-as-a-service platform that provides both software and manpower that lets startups outsource their sales functions on demand. ElasticSales pivoted from SwipeGood last year. Elastic actually developed in-house to increase the performance of their sales people. But as co-founder and CEO Steli Efti explains, the startup saw a potential in marketing and developing their “secret sauce” for clients.

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Payments Startup Balanced (YC W11) Raises More Money From Andreessen Horowitz, CollabFund, And Others

Y Combinator-backed payments startup Balancedhas closed out a total $3.4 million seed round, thanks to the addition of $2 million in new funding from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, CollabFund, and a bunch of angels.

The funding is somewhat strategic, as the startup is looking to help leverage the expertise of the investors involved to help grow its payments business for peer-to-peer marketplaces. On the Andreessen side, for instance, the funding was led by general partner and former PayPal president Jeff Jordan. And investment via CollabFund could help it to get in front of other companies that are part of that firm’s portfolio.

That’s important, because Balanced was built to help marketplace companies like TheFancy, Kitchit, CrowdTilt, Copious, and Zaarly manage payments between two different sets of users. On the one hand there are buyers, for whom Balanced provides white-label payment processing. And on the other hand there are sellers or service providers that marketplaces need to make payouts to. In between there are various rules and regulations that Balanced needs to keep track of, and the company provides services like fraud prevention and holding funds in escrow while waiting for goods or services to be delivered.

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Airbnb (YC W09) cofounder Brian Chesky interviewed by Ryan Seacrest on the Today Show

The 30-year-old is the founder of Airbnb, a website that lets you turn your home into a pseudo-hotel, renting it out to business or vacation travelers on a budget looking to find a couch, room, or even a whole house to stay in.

The idea, which may sound crazy to some, has taken off since Chesky started the company five years ago: 300,000 people have rented out their homes on the site, and 4 million travelers have used it to find a place to stay in locations around the world.

He is seen as one of the driving forces in the new and rapidly expanding "sharing economy," in which more and more businesses are popping up based on the idea that people can share their resources. There are now a litany of startups based on this notion, from ride-sharing to office-sharing, and even pet-sharing.

"The stuff that matters in life is no longer stuff," he told TODAY. "It's other people. It's relationships. It's experience."

Watch the interview at the Today Show website

TiKL (YC W12) downloaded over 28M times with zero marketing spend, releases TiKL touch to talk API

For a company that has somehow stayed mostly off the tech press’ radar, TiKL has had a pretty friggin’ good year.

With $0 spent on marketing, its two mobile apps, TiKL Touch To Talk and Talkray, have nabbed a total of 28 million downloads. After taking part in Y Combinator’s Winter 2012 class, they raised a $2.1 million Series A from some of the biggest names in the Valley.

Today TiKL is unveiling the other half of its business strategy: the Talkray API.

(Before we dive much deeper, a quick bit of background on what their apps actually do: TiKL Touch To Talk is a walkie-talkie app, bringing cross-platform push-to-talk-functionality to Android and iPhone. Talkray is a broader communications app, with things like group calling and voice mail.)

Using their new API, TiKL says mobile developers will be able to easily add text chats (both one-on-one and group chats), voice calling for groups as large as 25, voice mail, image and video transfers, and just about any other feature from the Talkray app into their own applications and games on iOS or Android.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Bitnami (YC W13) launches an app store for all server software, already delivers over 1M downloads per month

BitNami, a Y Combinator company, has announced that it will focus more on being an app store for server software. The goal is to provide customers with a Google Play or Apple App Store experience that can be accessed on their own infrastructure.

The BitNami platform provides the server infrastructure that companies would otherwise have to build out themselves to connect apps. It can cost a lot to build out such an infrastructure, and often, companies will create a homegrown system that resembles art more than science. The platform is also accessible through services such as BitNami’s own hosting service, Amazon Web Services App Marketplace and Windows Azure VM Depot. It is additionally available on VMware-based clouds, including the VMware service evaluation cloud.  BitNami could also support an OpenStack , Cloudstack or Eucalyptus environment.

Prizeo (YC W13) channels celebrity influence into funding for charities, announces campaign with Jamie Oliver

Prizeo is a startup aiming to channel celebrities’ social media influence into funding for charity... Co-founders Bryan Baum and Leo Seigal are familiar with the fundraising world, having founded the Aloysius Society, a student philanthropy organization, while at Oxford. (That’s also where they met their co-founder and CTO Andrej Pancik.) 


But will celebrities actually get on-board? Well, Prizeo has already attracted some big names. For example, the company launched a campaign with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver on Friday, where the grand prize is a cooking lesson with Oliver in London, all expenses paid. Seigal said the campaign has already raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, and “inspired hundreds of ‘messages to Jamie’ off the back of a tweet and Facebook post.” Past participants include comedian Stephen Fry and the boyband JLS (whose grand prize was “the ultimate boyband experience” with JLS and One Direction).

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Win a cooking lesson and meal from Jamie Oliver on Prizeo

NewsBlur (YC S12) scales on a shoestring, handles a huge influx of users post-Google-Reader-pocalypse

One of the more interesting stories to emerge from the demise of Google Reader is that of NewsBlur, a previously small, but very nice, open source alternative RSS reader.

NewsBlur is a one-man operation that was humming along quite nicely, but when Google announced Reader would shutdown, NewsBlur saw a massive traffic spike — in a few short days NewsBlur more than doubled its user base. How NewsBlur developer Samuel Clay handled the influx of new users should be required reading for anyone working on a small site without loads of funding and armies of developers.

Read the full article on Webmonkey

Try NewsBlur, the best paid Google Reader replacement

Vidyard (YC S11) raises $6M Series A from OMERS Ventures to build out its video marketing and analytics platform

Vidyard, a Y Combinator alumnus and enterprise startup that sells a video marketing platform with embedded analytics tools to businesses to help them track and monetise video content, has closed a $6 million Series A led by Canada’s OMERS Ventures. Existing investors iNovia Capital and SoftTech VC also participated, along with a personal investment from Eloqua‘s Jill Rowley.

Michael Litt, founder and CEO of Vidyard, said the investment round will be used to build on ”significant momentum” in its business — with plans for growth including integrating more third party marketing products with the Vidyard platform and product development work to enhance the platform’s feature set. Vidyard already integrates with third party marketing automation platforms Eloqua and HubSpot.

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Stripe (YC S09) partners with Parse (YC S11) to let mobile app developers easily accept payments in their apps and write less code to do it

Stripe on Thursday announced two mobile updates to improve the lives of app developers looking to integrate the platform into their projects. The company has partnered with application development platform Parse as well as updated its Android and iOS libraries for accepting payments in mobile apps.

The payment company says since Parse speeds up mobile app development by “eliminating a lot of the server-side boilerplate and providing pre-built libraries for common tasks,” letting developers connect their Stripe account directly makes sense. In other words, if you’re building an app by using Parse and want to accept payments, the Stripe connection will ensure you won’t have to write any server-side code.

Read the full article in The Next Web

Kippt (YC S12) goes way beyond bookmarking with new 2.0 release: Now is the way to store all content from URLs

Today, link-saving service Kippt has rebuilt itself to support the saving of content, moving well beyond simple URL strings. In the company’s view, the mere storage of a link isn’t incredibly valuable in and of itself, as the content that the link points to is in fact what you care about.

The new Kippt takes that concept, and pushes content forward. The refresh of the service builds on its previous iteration – links remain at its heart, which is necessary as “everything can be referenced by a URL.” Links are still how you input data into Kippt, but the service then turns that around to deliver something more.

Kippt can now be summarized simply: It’s the place where you can store anything that can be referenced by a URL, that you wish to store for later retrieval, whatever your need. The company specifically notes “everything from Dribbble shots to GitHub repositories” as content that it can manage.

Read the full article at TNW

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