Payments Startup Stripe (YC S09) Joins the Billion Dollar Club

In the crowded field of online payments, venture capitalists are betting Stripe Inc. is a standout worth more than a billion dollars.

The payments startup has raised about $80 million in new funding this week from venture-capital investors including Khosla Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Founders Fund, said brothers John and Patrick Collison, the company's co-founders, in an interview. Stripe, at just over four years old, is now valued at $1.75 billion.

Zenefits (YC W13) raises $15M Series A from Andreessen Horowitz, Maverick, and Venrock

The thought of managing HR, benefits and payroll is enough to make most entrepreneurs grimace. However, time consuming and frustrating as it may be, it’s a part of the job description and something every startup and small business has to address sooner or later.

Having dealt with the paperwork and administrative headaches at startups before, Parker Conrad and Laks Srini launched Zenefits last year to take the pain of HR management out of the hands of founders and move it to the cloud. Beginning with a service that sought to automate the process of setting up and managing group health coverage and payroll, Zenefits enabled small businesses to transfer administration online, for free, and removed the need to dip into hiring budgets to hire a dedicated HR person.

However, the team quickly found that the opportunity extended beyond health coverage and payroll, as many of its early customers used Zenefits not just for its initial functionality, but as a full-on replacement for traditional HRIS or Human Resources Information Systems. As Zenefits looks to expand its coverage and help startups and larger businesses manage all HR-affiliated tasks, the company is taking on $15 million in Series A financing from Andreessen Horowitz, Maverick and Venrock to go after larger, enterprise customers and to begin tackling international markets.

Read the full article on TechCrunch

Apptimize (YC S13) raises $2.1M for Mobile A/B testing, launches a tool for non-developers

Y Combinator-incubated Apptimize is launching a new “Visual Apptimizer” that’s aimed at making A/B testing for mobile apps faster and easier — in fact, co-founder and CEO Nancy Hua suggested that it should make this kind of testing accessible to non-developers.

The company is also announcing that it has raised $2.1 million in seed funding from a number of big-name investors.

Apptimize launched last summer, pitching itself as an A/B testing platform (i.e., a system for testing out user response to variations of different features) that’s tailored to mobile. By inserting a small snippet of code, developers should be able to include multiple experiments in an app update that can be enabled and disabled at will.

Read the full article on TechCrunch

AeroFS (YC S10) releases iOS app for private clouds

In Ars Technica:

It has been a while since we last checked in with AeroFS, but the company has been busy. For those of you who don't remember, AeroFS bills itself as a Dropbox-equivalent for the privacy-minded—it allows you to sync files between multiple computers, using the AeroFS servers for authentication only. All of your data stays on your computers and is encrypted in transit, eliminating the risk that a hacked server (or an inadequate privacy policy) will compromise your control over your data.

Since exiting beta last April, the company has launched a new business-focused product called the Private Cloud. Like the Hybrid Cloud, it lets your users share data between multiple systems without ever touching a central server, but it allows you to use private servers and directory systems for authentication, keeping the entire system behind your firewall and never touching AeroFS' servers. Today, the company is announcing an iOS app for Private Cloud users, the first step toward addressing a longstanding criticism of the service—that it just isn't available in all of the places that public cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive are.

MemSQL (YC W11) raises $35M to future-proof your company’s database

In this big-data era, the database business is hot. Companies have been willing to try out new technologies to store and analyze large data sets. Such conditions have helped companies as small as RethinkDB and as large as MongoDB pull in funding in the past year.

Companies that seek high performance but don’t want to learn a whole new query language to use a newfangled database could turn to MemSQL, among others. The company targets real-time analytics. That could mean, for example, identifying the right ads to display to consumers based on the things they click on.

The technology appears to be hitting its stride, as MemSQL today announced $35 million in new funding, with Accel Partners and Khosla Ventures signing on beside previous investors Data Collective and First Round Capital.

Docker (YC S10) raises $15M Series B from Greylock Partners, IVP, Benchmark, Trinity for cloud containers

The shift to scale out architectures and an app-centric culture has turned out well for Docker and its lightweight open-source “container” technology designed for developers to quickly move code to the cloud.

That’s evident in today’s news that the company has raised $15 million in a Series B round led by Greylock Partners, with minority participation from Insight Venture Partners and existing investors Benchmark Capital and Trinity Ventures. Also participating is Yahoo! Co-Founder Jerry Yang, who has participated in previous rounds.

Docker will use the funding to push toward the general availability of the Docker environment, develop commercial services that pair with the open-source technology and build a team to support the growing community.

Read more in TechCrunch

Apportable (YC W11) launches SpriteBuilder—game dev tool suite that lets you write for iOS, launch on Android too

Apportable is launching a new game development tool suite today that enables developers to take iOS games and apps and get them to run on Android mobile devices.

The SpriteBuilder 1.0 suite is billed as the first Objective-C cross-platform development suite. Objective-C is a programming language that Apple uses for its OS X and iOS operating systems. SpriteBuilder compiles code in Objective-C so that it runs on Android devices.

San Francisco-based Apportable says that developers who adopted SpriteBuilder will be able to rapidly build iOS and Android games with Objective-C and Xcode, an integrated development environment for Apple-related code. Apportable claims that SpriteBuilder is the only game development suite that enables a developer to run Objective-C code as a native application on Android. That means it runs faster and more efficiently than apps that are written with other cross-platform game tools.

SpriteBuilder is available now as a free download in the Mac App Store.

Read the full article on VentureBeat

Algolia (YC W14) launches a Search API that lets you provide Apple Spotlight-like realtime search for your app or service

French startup Algolia provides a real-time search API that makes the search function on your website sexy. Now Y Combinator-backed, it’s faster than anything you’ve seen before — everything happens in real time, and results change with each keystroke.

“We first started with an offline search engine that would work well on mobile,” co-founder and CEO Nicolas Dessaigne told me in a phone interview. “It worked but wasn’t a success. Many people wanted us to run the search queries on our servers, so that’s what we did.”

Algolia is a developer-friendly hosted search engine for database objects. It will suit your needs perfectly if you run a sport results website, an e-commerce store, a movie database, a CRM, or any website that relies on small chunks of text (not big pages of text like Wikipedia or TechCrunch). Until now, there wasn’t any framework or API that was optimized for this kind of a database — Swiftype, Searchify and others all rely on big data-oriented Elasticsearch.

The installation process is very reminiscent of integrating Stripe for credit card payments — adding Algolia’s search engine is just a matter of adding a few lines of code. You can see all that in the live demo.

Read the full article on TechCrunch

MakeGamesWithUs Summer Academy (YC W12) receives 1,000 applications for their new game design course


On the MakeGamesWithUs blog:

A little over a month ago we quietly launched our new Summer Academy, a 2 month in-person course where students will design, code and ship their own original iPhone game. In the first month, we received 1,000 applications (400 final, 600 drafts). This year we’ll have 200 spots for the Summer Academy meaning we’re on pace to be as selective as top colleges in our inaugural class.

"I see a day when the traditional four-year college degree will be replaced… which is where [MakeGamesWithUs] comes in." —San Jose Mercury News

The Summer Academy is a spinoff of our wildly popular internship program where we had 75 college and high school students building games out of our living room. Between the two years we’ve run the internship, and the courses at MIT and UC Berkeley created off our curriculum over 200 students have taken our in-person courses. And thanks in part to being featured in the Hour of Codeover half a million students have started learning to build iPhone games on our website.

Read more at MakeGamesWithUs

InstantCab (YC W12) unveils new FareBack program to save riders up to 30% on trips, adds 3x more drivers

Following in the footsteps of Uber’s fare decrease for UberX, InstantCab announced a new program called FareBack intended to save riders up to 30 percent of the fare. The company hopes that this latest endeavor will increase ridership, saying that among all the ridesharing and transportation startups, it still doesn’t have surge pricing.

The company explains the process: riders who summon an InstantCab vehicle will have their entire tip, up to 20 percent of the fare, along with 10 percent of the fare, added back to their account as credit automatically applied to their next ride.

Recognizing that there may be an increase in demand as a result, InstantCab has made an effort to bring on more drivers. It claims to now have “an average of three times more cars on the road at all times.” In doing so, the company hopes to improve service and decrease wait times.

Read the full article on TNW