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There were a couple memorable moments during last night’s Golden Globe Awards. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s delightful comedy, beauties Amanda Seyfriend and Anne Hathaway hugging on stage, and Jodie Foster’s inscrutable acceptance of the Cecille B. DeMille award. Whatever you took away from her mysterious words, one fact remains. Neither she, nor you, nor I, nor any member of the technology community is Honey Boo Boo Child.
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MIT spinoff Arctic Sand powers up for power-saving chips
Fabless semiconductor company Arctic Sand has raised $9.6 million in its first round of funding. The technology was first developed at MIT and consolidates multiple power components onto one chip to maximize the power of electronic devices. Arctic Sand is commercializing the technology for mass markets, like telecom, datacom, industrial and mobile. Institutional investors include Arsenal Venture Partners, Northwater Capital, and Ray Stata. Strategic investors include Dialog Semiconductor and ENergy Technology Ventures, a joint venture involving energy corporations ConovoPhillips, GE, and NRG Energy. The financing will go towards bringing the power-conversion chips to market. Arctic Sand is based in Cambridge, Mass. Read more on VentureBeat.
NASA spending $17.8M on an inflatable space station expansion
NASA has awarded Bigelow Aerospace a $17.8 million contract to build an inflatable extension to the International Space Station. Bigelow has dozens of space-faring inflatable prototypes already orbiting the planet, and it has previously signed contracts with SpaceX to transport its gear beyond the atmosphere. The contract is just one of many that NASA has made over the last few years, and these are helping create a vibrant commercial space industry. Read more on VentureBeat.
Kwarter capitalizes on rabid sports fans’ love of the game
Kwarter closed its first round of funding, sealing the deal with $4 million. The platform offers tools for building customized mobile apps that create a more interactive relationship with the audience. Features include TV check-ins, discussion forums, complementary content, rewards, social gaming, social TV analytics, and ad-serving. Partners focus on the content and design, while Kwarter takes care of the technical side. The company has gained the most traction from clients in the sporting arena, but plans to use this $4 million to enter other types of programming. T-Venture led this investment, with participation from Kinetic Ventures. It brings Kwarter’s total capital raised to $5 million. Read more on VentureBeat.
Zappos CEO invests in Zirtual, a virtual assistant service
Zirtual wants to make it easier and more affordable for busy professionals to retain an assistant. The company connects its registered clients, primarily small business owners and entrepreneurs, with virtual helpers. The startup has signed on about 100 U.S.-based assistants (most are college students) that handle a variety of tasks, like scheduling meetings and booking flights. Clients pay anywhere from $197 to $997 per month, and the virtual assistants keep a 50 percent cut. The company pulled in its first round of funding from Hsieh through his VegasTechFund, and the Mayfield Fund. Read more on VentureBeat.
Investors rain down $33 million on Janrain
The Pacific Northwest is known for being rainy, and today, the Portland-based Janrain got soaking wet with $33 million in its third round of funding. Janrain provides “user management solutions for the social web.” Its Janrain User Management Platform (JUMP) helps developers implement social logins that eliminate the need for separate user names and passwords. This not only promotes user acquisition, but also captures data about those users that can be used for analytic and marketing purposes. The company’s revenue more than doubled in 2012 and it now powers social log-ins for big brands like Fox, Universal Music Group, Whole Foods, MTV, and Samsung. This brings its total capital raised to just about $53 million. Read the press release.
Convertro’s cross-channel marketing engine seeks world domination
Convertro sounds like some sort of evil robot that tries to convert people to a religion not their own. In fact, it is an ad-tech startup (with a dizzying homepage) that offers non-cookie based tracking to gather and then analyze consumer data across multiple channels. Based on these insights, businesses can optimize their marketing campaigns and see improved return-on-investment. Customers span the automotive, luxury, retail, travel and leisure, and sports industries. Convertro has successfully converted its traction into $5 million, led by Bessemer Venture Partners and DAG Ventures. This second round of funding will ramp up sales and marketing efforts around the world. Read the press release.
Ingenious Ventures keeps the wheels on British media startups turning
Tis better to be ingenious than outgenious. Outgenious may not be a real thing, but Ingenious is. Ingenious Ventures is the private equity division of Ingenious Media, a UK-based media finance company. Today, it announced that its Media Opportunities Fund made two investments. The first company Digital Theatre streams live theatrical productions in HD and the second, called Property Network, allows people to search and share details of for sale or rent properties on Facebook. Ingenious Ventures also announced that it is seeking to raise £10 million in its second fund. Read the press release.
TrueAbility raises $750K to strip away resume padding
At some point, most people have embellished their resume. While this may be acceptable i n certain fields, technical positions often require actual technical skills that can be hard to judge from a piece of paper. TrueAbility provides a cloud-based assessment tool that recruiters and hiring managers can use to validate their candidates’ technical skills. Its AbilityScreen service puts people in a realistic environment where they can demonstrate their expertise. The founders all came from IT hosting company Rackspace, as do the investors. This seed round was led by Rackspace co-founders Pat Condon and Graha, Weston. Rackspace and TrueAbility are both based in San Antonio, Texas. Read the press release.
Photo courtesy of ABC News.