The New York-based "semantic Web" company launched a service on Oct. 28 called Glue, which connects people around everyday things, including books, movies and music, through a wide range of Web sites, such as Amazon, Last.fm, Netflix, Yahoo! Finance, Wine.com and Citysearch.
"We forget that the Web has no concept of a book or a movie," says Brad Burnham, co-founder of New York's Union Square Ventures, an early-stage firm that led AdaptiveBlue's $1.5 million Series A round of funding in 2007.
Although the concept of semantic Web technology is evolving, at bottom it refers to software that can extract greater meaning from online information and tools, interpreting, for example, specific context when someone searches for something on the Internet.
"When we get together with our friends, we don't talk about URLs, we talk about things -- about books, movies, wine," says Burnham. "With this release, AdaptiveBlue is making it possible for people to come together around the things that mean something to them, not just the pages they visit."
RRE Ventures LLC is another early-stage VC firm based in New York that recently invested in AdaptiveBlue, leading the company's $4.5 million Series B round, which closed at the end of August, says AdaptiveBlue's founder and CEO Alex Iskold.
"Our investment in AdaptiveBlue is a reflection of our confidence in Alex, his outstanding team and in their collective ability to deliver what we think will be one of the first truly useful semantic tools for the Web," says Jim Robinson, who co-founded RRE in 1994.
Robinson has joined AdaptiveBlue's board of directors. AdaptiveBlue conforms with other investments RRE has made under the theme of "filtering technologies," including startups such as SkyGrid Inc., whose technology provides customized, real-time access to online financial news outlets, and Storm Exchange Inc., whose modeling software lets clients hedge against weather risk.
"Investing in AdaptiveBlue is in keeping with our belief that ever-spiraling data sources require better tools," Robinson says. "Semantic technology is a big part of that."
Iskold, 36, is an experienced entrepreneur, having sold his first company, Information Laboratory, to IBM Corp. for an undisclosed amount in 2003.
He is also a prolific writer, with frequent contributions to tech blog ReadWriteWeb on topics ranging from advice for startups to the challenges of protecting patents in the "era of open-source ideas." -- Mary Kathleen Flynn
Just seven months after revealing its Series A funding, subscription management service provider Zuora Inc. of Redwood City, Calif., has brought in two new investors for a $15 million second round. They include Lehman Brothers Venture Partners, the venture arm of bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
Lehman Brothers Venture Partners wasn't among the assets private equity firms Bain Capital LLC and Hellman & Friedman LLC acquired in September. The unit co-led the investment in Zuora, along with Silicon Valley firm Shasta Ventures.
Zuora wants to be the PayPal for the subscription world, the popular online payment system eBay Inc. owns. It provides on-demand, outsourced services over the Web to companies that don't want to devote resources to managing subscription and billing plans, which are proving increasingly popular.
The company previously raised $6.5 million from VC firm Benchmark Capital and Salesforce.com Inc. founder Marc Benioff, who helped pioneer the software-as-a-service sales model.
Zuora founding CEO Tien Tzuo, himself a former Salesforce employee, told The Deal in March that the funding was designed to give Zuora 18 to 24 months' worth of cash flow. The company has since launched a pair of products and says it has 45 paying customers.
Since the demise of Lehman Brothers, another investment from its venture unit has come to light. The firm led a $12 million round for myShape Inc., which helps women find clothes that fit properly. -- Paul Bonanos