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What: Tinder has announced an agreement to acquire Snapchat-style video startup Wheel.
Why it matters: With 1.7 million paying users, Tinder is attempting to break into the world of short, Snapchat-stype videos.

Tinder has announced that it is acquiring Wheel, an L.A.-based start up launched in 2015 whose app a.lows users to create and share short videos, not unlike the very successful social media app Snapchat.

It hasn’t been confirmed if Tinder will be introducing video chats to its 1.7 million-paying-users through the app, but it would be a bold move from an increasingly popular platform.

Brian Norgard
Brian Norgard, head of product and revenue at Tinder.

For the moment, the dating app (which forms part of the Match Group, which is composed of 45 different dating services including Match, OkCupid and OurTime) will welcome some of Wheel’s executives. Paul Boukadakis, Wheel’s CEO, will become Tinder’s VP of special initiatives, and Chris Shaheen, former Wheel CTO, will join the engineering team.

“We are always exploring new ways to innovate while helping our users make connections on Tinder,” Brian Norgard, head of product and revenue at Tinder, said when announcing the Wheel deal. “I’m excited Paul is joining our product team to drive special initiatives that leverage his experience connecting people around innovative content.”

Details on how much Tinder will be paying for the transaction have not been revealed yet.

What: As part of an effort to boost the beacon market, Norwegian startup Unacast announced a US$5 million Series A financing round, with European VC firm Open Ocean Capital leading the round. VC firm Investinor co-lead the round.
Why it matters: The funding brings the company’s total funding to US$6.6 million. Investment will be used to maintain the #1 position as the maturing proximity industry grows to 400 million sensors in the next years.

laThe global largest network of beacon and proximity data Unacast, which connects the physical world to the digital for online retargeting and attribution, has announced that the company has raised US$5 million in a Series A financing round, with Open Ocean Capital, a European VC firm for software and data investments, leading the round. VC firm Investinor co-lead the round. The funding brings the company’s total funding to US$6.6 million.

The number of beacons deployed worldwide is forecasted to grow to 400 million beacons in 2020. Unacast already has partnerships with 52 of the largest PSP’s, and covers 1.4m (30%) of the world’s beacons—making it the largest aggregator in the growing proximity ecosystem.

The company is adding data scientists in Oslo, where the engineering team is based, and account managers in New York, according to company CEO and co-founder Thomas Walle.

“Like Google indexed the web, Unacast is indexing the physical world”, said Thomas Walle, co-founder and CEO of Unacast.“Unacast’s ambition is to redefine the proximity and advertising industry, taking a central role in an emerging industry with a great potential for value creation. We do so by taking the role as the #1 aggregator of proximity, mirroring the accuracy of data collection in the online world to the offline world, and in effect finally understanding a customer’s physical world identity,” Walle added.

The number of beacons deployed worldwide is forecasted to grow to 400 million beacons in 2020

Huge growth set to continue

While beacon technology has been available for years, many retailers haven’t gone beyond the experimentation phase, gravitating toward real-time messaging, in-aisle ad targeting and proximity-triggered push messaging, according to Adexchanger. The beacon technology has also been criticized for its lack of scale. The real value of beacons will come when all of those disparate sources are housed in a single network, according to Walle.

Unacast connects data sets to global ad platforms through partnerships with marquee players such as Oracle, MediaMath, Opera, Lotame and Adform to enable digital ad retargeting based on accurate and deterministic physical behavior.

The new funding solves industry problem in how brands can use proximity data in targeting and attribution – at scale globally.

Thomas Walle continued, “Our goal is to connect all sensors in the world to one platform, and it was important for us to work with investors with industry knowledge and substantial lifting power. This new round enables us to radically accelerate our growth worldwide and scale Unacast’s platform to power the demand from the major global marketing platforms”

“The methodology behind Unacast proximity data is truly unique. It’s key for an increasingly data-driven marketing industry to introduce new and accurate data sets”, said Jeremy Sigel. Global Director of Partnerships & Emerging Media from WPP, the world’s largest media holding company.

“The Unacast team has a tremendous vision for merchandizing proximity data and serving the data-driven ad industry,” says Michael Barrett, Unacast investor, and previous CEO of Millennial Media.

Unacast was founded in 2014 and launched in 2015. The company has four offices, including London, New York, San Francisco and its headquarters in Oslo.

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What: Waleteros.com, a new mobile app that works like a pre-paid debit card with services such as mobile check deposits, direct deposits, peer-to-peer payments, bill payment, cash withdrawal and a platform for online purchases.
Why it Matters: This digital financial solution could be game-changing for Latinos in the United States, who make up a large percentage of the nearly 60 million Americans without a bank account. Waleteros.com is led by Sergio Carrera, former General Manager of Televisa in the United States.

Text written by Gretchen Gardner, member of Portada’s editorial team.

Underbanked: While you may not have heard word before, it’s an all-too-common phenomenon in America. According to the FDIC, an “underbanked” household “holds a bank account, but also relies on alternative financial services providers.” This often means no credit card, and a high reliance on inefficient and costly alternatives like
check-cashing stores. But luckily, digital payment platforms and online banking are transforming the way people access and use money, a trend that stands to benefit underbanked communities enormously. In the United States, Latinos make up a large percentage of the nearly 60 million people without a bank account. So could technology change all of this?

There’s An App for That

To learn more, wwaleterose sat down with Sergio Carrera, former general manager for US operations at Editorial Televisa, to get the scoop on his new mobile app, Waleteros.com, which functions like a pre-paid debit card and is set to provide basic financial services to a huge amount of Hispanic Americans.

Here’s how it works: “Waleteros is a mobile app linked to a prepaid MasterCard that aims to empower the millions of underbanked Latinos in the US by offering financial services such as mobile check deposits, direct deposits, peer-to-peer payments, bill payment, cash withdrawal and a platform for online purchases,” Carrera explained.

Users do have to get a physical card – either at one of their 60 distribution points in South Florida, or through a self-registration process available upon downloading the app that prompts the company to send a card in the mail.

Our conversation with Carrera left it clear that one of the biggest priorities for Waleteros is that it help Latinos live comfortably, save and conduct financial transactions, as he repeatedly made reference to the company as an “ultra-transparent financial solution.” He reminded us that according to the FDIC, 50% of Hispanic Americans are considered “underbanked,” which means that there is huge room for growth in the market.

And the Fees?

And Carrera and his team are adamant about keeping the fees to a minimum. “We don’t charge activation, monthly or inactivity fees like most other pre-paid cards do. Receiving a direct deposit from an employee or benefits provider is completely free of charge and we work with a network of 2400 surcharge-free ATMs.” Users can even use the app to find the nearest ATM.  And even cashing or depositing a check is free, as long as the user is okay with waiting a few days for the money to be deposited. In urgent cases, a small fee is in place to rush the transaction. The only other fee comes out to US $0.75 to send money to other Waleteros users.

Sergio Carrera, Co-CEO of Waleteros.com
Sergio Carrera, Co-CEO of Waleteros.com

Interestingly, Carrera and his team have also found a way to cater to the uniqueness of the Latino market through their B2B strategy of partnering with merchants and businesses that are in close touch with their target audience. “We reach out to different companies that are servicing the Hispanic community and that will benefit from offering our product to their existing client base,” Carrera said. The Waleteros team is even creating agreements with the significant Hispanic Christian community, “offering a personalized, digital product to Christian churches that are looking for a faster, more convenient and cost-effective way to receive donations.”

Positioned for Growth

Planning to close seed-funding in the second quarter of 2015, so far, Waleteros’s lead investor has been AGP, an angel investment network based in Miami. “For our next round, we will be looking for partners with experience investing in the Financial Technology space,” he says, and in a payment industry that “is undergoing tremendous changes,” they should be well-positioned for growth, as Carreras’ co-founders have worked in both the electronic payment and financial sectors, Carreras himself having worked at Merrill Lynch and served as the CFO at a publishing company. Waleteros expects to have 5,000 active users by the end of the year, a goal that doesn’t seem unfeasible considering the potential impact of its services.

What: Programmatic Ad-Network  Undertone, is acquiring the Argentinian  Sparkflow, an all-in-one platform for cross-screen rich media advertising.
Why it matters: The acquisition deepens rich cross-screen format capabilities for Undertone, enabling faster development and implementation of innovative, proprietary formats.  Undertone will integrate Sparkflow’s data driven creative capabilities into Virtuoso, Undertone’s overall tech stack.

18399b69368a11360a09b05b2baa5366_400x400Undertone, a company that creates digital advertising solutions for brands, has announced the acquisition of argentinian start-up Sparkflow, an all-in-one platform for cross-screen rich media advertising. The deal was on the smaller side, clocking in at “less than $20 million,” Corey Ferengul, CEO of Undertone told Adexchanger.
The transaction accelerates Undertone’s core capability of bringing unique, high impact formats to market and simplifies the process of building cross-screen advertisements, opening up new creative possibilities for marketers and agencies.The acquisition signifies Cygnus Capital, venture capital firm focused on digital economy, first important achievement.

Undertone will integrate Sparkflow’s capabilities into its Virtuoso platform, creating an end-to-end technology stack focused on the creation, data-driven delivery, and analytics of high-impact advertising formats across screens, channels, and devices. Undertone will also use the platform to create new opportunities for publishers, giving them a way to quickly develop and access innovative high value advertising formats. These solutions will be available through both programmatic and traditional digital advertising distribution channels.

Oded Lida, CEO and Founder of Digital Ventures Europe, a company that advised Spark Flow on its expansion from a very early state. tells Portada that this is a very strategic move for Undertone and a big success for the founders of Spark Flow. “They have been able to get to the top league of digital marketing in a very short period of time. The technology they have is cutting edge and Undertone identified Spark Flow as an opportunity a long time ago.”

This is a very strategic move for Undertone.

Sparkflow was founded in 2013 by Sebastián Alberto Miret, Gabriel Sánchez Catena, and Rodrigo Oscar Vazquez, a team of digital marketing and advertising veterans with more than a decade’s experience in the rich media advertising ecosystem.The platform was built for the mobile advertising era using HTML5 and responsive design to deliver formats seamlessly across devices, with unique social, video, and interactive capabilities.

“The Sparkflow platform, with its focus on building high impact, cross-screen advertising formats that are designed to capture consumer attention, is a natural fit for Undertone,” said Undertone CEO Corey Ferengul. “Sparkflow was built as a mobile first platform, which we found very attractive. The platform will empower us to bring sophisticated, groundbreaking advertising formats to market even faster, while giving our clients a seamless way of quickly delivering creative that’s both beautiful and engaging.”

“Undertone has a long history of delivering innovative market-leading ad formats designed to grab attention for brands,” said Gabriel Sánchez Catena, CEO of Sparkflow. “This makes us extremely excited about the acquisition because the Sparkflow platform is the perfect complement to Undertone’s core mission. Sparkflow’s capabilities will support, enhance, and extend Undertone’s capacity to create engaging, feature-rich experiences for brands across top mobile and desktop properties.”

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