Foursquare partners with TripAdvisor

Foursquare, the former location-based social network turned enterprise location data platform, has today announced a new partnership with TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor will be using Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK, launched in March 2017, to help the platform better serve users with contextually relevant, real-time information based on their location.

Alongside the 13 billion check-ins accumulated on Foursquare’s apps since inception, the company also has analytics based on a consumer panel of more than 70 million people in the U.S. — 10 million of whom have opted into always-on location sharing. This data is the same data that powers Foursquare’s own apps, like, for example, when you get a push notification with a menu tip as you sit down for dinner at a restaurant.

Pilgrim SDK and Foursquare’s other enterprise products give other apps the ability to communicate with users with contextual relevance, and that’s what TripAdvisor is looking to do through this partnership.

TripAdvisor recently launched a new app and website that focuses on social sharing and personalized recommendations. Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK complements TripAdvisor technology, ensuring that hyper-personalized recommendations are truly accurate.

TripAdvisor reaches more than half a billion users worldwide, which significantly increases the pool of user data Foursquare can potentially access.

This comes on the heels of Foursquare’s Series F financing round, which was announced last month.

VICIS completes $28.5M Series B and launches its first youth helmet

VICIS has closed its Series B on $28.5 million, with participation from NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers via Rx3 Ventures. Rodgers joins a list of other pro footballers to back the helmet startup, including Roger Staubach, Jerry Rice, Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin.

VICIS is known for its $950 Zero1 football helmet designed for adult players. The company spent $20 million over the course of three years collaborating with athletes, engineers and neuroscientists to design and finetune the high-tech head shield, which protects against impact forces and mitigates the effects of collisions through a soft outer shell and several underlying protective layers.

With the fresh funding, which brings total investment in the company to $84 million, VICIS is bringing its youth helmet to market. Founded in 2013, the Seattle-based company says its mission from the get-go was to protect kids and teens playing football.

“There are 2 million kids in the U.S. playing youth football and they deserve the best possible protection,” VICIS co-founder and chief executive officer Dave Marver told TechCrunch. “To be able to offer this technology to kids; it’s our mission fully realized.”

The youth helmet, which retails at $495, is the first-ever to be designed for kids. Most youth helmets are miniaturized versions of adult helmets and fail to take into account the specific needs of a youth player.

VICIS’ youth helmet is tuned for the impact velocities expected in youth play; its the lightest helmet available for kids at uner 4 pounds; and it has the widest field of view of any kids’ helmet currently available.

“We feel like we have the opportunity to catalyze innovation in the youth space,” Marver said.

According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics, sports are the cause of 21 percent of traumatic brain injuries per year. Football, in particular, is responsible for the majority of the between 1.6 million and 3.8 million sports-related concussions found annually.

Research linking football to CTE, a degenerative brain disease, has proven that the sport can, in fact, be deadly, yet millions flock to the field every year. VICIS’ smart, tech-enabled helmets could help usher in a new era for safety in the popular sport.

VICIS plans to bring its technology to other sports in the future. It’s also recently inked a contract with the U.S. Army, with plans to provide the Army and Marine Corps a version of its helmet, tailored specifically for combat.

ZypMedia raises $5.6M to help traditional media companies embrace online ads

Local advertising startup ZypMedia is announcing that it has raised $5.6 million in Series C funding.

That’s a relatively small amount of money for a Series C (the company had previously raised $6.9 million total, according to Crunchbase), but co-founder Aman Sareen said, “We had the opportunity to raise a lot more, but we chose not to.” In fact, Sareen said ZypMedia became profitable last year.

So the new funding round should allow the company to continue expanding its product lineup and its team — it has plans to double its headcount in the United States and India over the next year — while still leaving room for organic growth.

“We didn’t want to be a cautionary tale [like] other previous adtech companies,” Sareen said. “We are buckling down for the long haul … We didn’t want to necessarily raise money just for the sake of it.”

Sareen founded ZypMedia with his former college roommate Ramandeep Ahuja, as well as former Current TV executive Mark Goldman, with the aim of helping local broadcasters move into programmatic advertising.

The idea is to help those media companies offer campaigns that can reach advertisers’ desired audiences across traditional and digital channels, such as display, video (including over-the-top), social media and native advertising.

“Local digital advertising has been very neglected,” Sareen said. “It’s a huge market, and our goal was to be one of the leaders. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t an easy to task, but we have been decently successful in our mission.”

“Decently successful” means signing up partners like Sinclair Broadcast Group and Univision. It also means enlisting Archer Venture Capital as the lead investor in the new round. (Existing investors US Venture Partners and Sinclair also participated.)

“Not only have Aman and Ramandeep created a superior tech stack for delivering local advertising, they’ve also developed a really smart and defensible business model, partnering with local media companies to act as their direct sales force,” said Archer Managing Director John Hadl in the funding announcement.

And ultimately, the vision goes beyond bringing incremental revenue to traditional media companies. Sareen argued that ZypMedia’s model positions it right at the intersection of traditional and digital advertising.

“Within the next two-to-five years, digital or linear, over-the-top or over-the-air, it will jump through one platform,” he said. “Everything will use the same technology and currency.”

One of cryptos longest-running exchanges has been sold

One of the longest-standing crypto exchanges has new owners after Europe-based Bitstamp was sold to South Korea’s Nexon, marking the gaming firm’s second such acquisition.

The acquirer is NXMH, a Belgium-based PE and investment firm owned by NXC — the parent of Nexon — and it will take a majority 80 percent stake in the business for an unknown fee. The New York Times’ Nathaniel Popper suggested earlier this year that Bitstamp was in the process of being sold “to South Korean investors” for $400 million, but NXC declined to comment on the price when asked by TechCrunch.

NXC acquired 65 percent of Korea-based exchange Korbit one year ago for 91.3 billion KRW, or approximately $79.5 million at the time.

Bitstamp was founded in 2011 by Slovenian entrepreneur Nejc Kodrič with an initial €1,000 and it survived the heady early days of crypto, unlike a certain peer named Mt. Gox. Today, Bitstamp is ranked inside the world’s top 30 exchanges based on trading volume with more than 100 staff. Bitcoin and XRP are among its most traded tokens, according to data from Coinmarketcap.com.

The company has a license to do business across the EU but it also works with customers worldwide.

Bitstamp has been profitable since its early life, but Kodrič revealed the sale is down to the potential to work with NXC, which he sees as a like-minded partner.

Bitstamp has been regularly approached by suitors for quite some time. The reason why we finally decided to sell the company is a combination of the quality of the buyer, the quality of the offer and the fact that the industry is at a point where consolidation makes sense. A major factor in agreeing to the sale is that the mission, leadership and vision of the company remains the same.

We believe this acquisition is the logical next step in Bitstamp’s growth as a company and I look forward to the future with this team.

The Bitstamp CEO said business will continue as normal — he’ll retain his position as CEO and keep 10 percent of the company.

Interestingly, he told Fortune that regulatory compliance meant the deal took some ten months to close after first being agreed in December 2017 when crypto market valuations hit a peak — with Bitcoin, in particular, getting close to a record $20,000 valuation.

Bitstamp raised around $14 million in capital from investors along its journey, with U.S-based Pantera capital one of its major backers.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

Even Financial acquires Birch Finance, a credit card rewards startup

On the heels of a funding round to the tune of $18.8 million, Even Financial has acquired Birch Finance for an undisclosed sum.

Even offers products like a pre-approval API, real-time pricing, machine learning optimization, a product comparison and recommendation engine for consumers and more. Birch Finance, a TC Startup Battlefield alum that raised $1 million earlier this year, aims to help people make the most of the credit cards in their wallets by telling them which cards will earn them the most points. It works by analyzing your transaction history to identify missed rewards opportunities. Even’s plan with this acquisition is for Even to expand its offerings within the credit card space.

“The credit card market continues to expand with millions of consumers opening up hundreds of different types of credit cards every year for countless reasons,” Phillip Rosen said in a statement. “Birch already has one of the largest credit card databases and their technology perfectly complements our existing platform as we expand our offering to the credit card space. This acquisition will allow our partners to optimize the process of getting the right cards to the right consumers.”

Even’s slate of partners includes Credit.com, a personal loans marketplace, The Penny Hoarder and Transunion. With the Birch team on board, Even will enable its partners to save on consumer acquisition while also scaling its credit card recommendation platform. At Even, Birch co-founder Alex Cohen will serve as senior director of the credit card marketplace.

In a statement, Cohen said, “We saw a clear synergy with Even’s business strategy and growth plans, and I’m thrilled to join Even’s team as we expand and scale our offerings into new areas.”