On this day in history, the US took possession of Alaska from Russia. This far-flung state does not get a lot of attention in the technology media, but as an Alaskan adventure is on my bucket list and I want to rack up good karma on that front, I thought I would give the state a shout out today, and give my encouragement to any Alaskan entrepreneurs out there. Vancouver has a startup scene, so you can’t use the cold as an excuse.

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BloomReach pulls in $25M to bring ‘big data’ to search marketers

BloomReach, the “big data” tool for marketers that is used by the likes of Neiman Marcus and Williams- Sonoma, has raised $25 million in a round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA). In a nutshell, the technology analyzes about a billion consumer interactions and web pages on a daily basis and automatically adapts its customers’ websites to capitalize on demand. This is the third round of venture funding for the Silicon Valley company. Existing investors, among them Lightspeed Venture Partners and Bain Capital Ventures, also participated in the third round, bringing BloomReach’s total funding to $41 million. Read more on VentureBeat. 

Fingerprint recognition isn’t just for spies anymore

Validity Sensors manufactures biometric technology that authenticates PC and mobile device users by their unique human characteristics, like fingerprints, voice, and face. Today, the company announced closing the first $10 million tranche of a $20 million round, anticipated to close by the end of the year. This money will be funneled towards shifting the focus of the business to the mobile and tablet market. TeleSoft Partners took the lead on the investment, with full participation from previous investors Crosslink Capital, Panorama Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, and Venture Tech Associates. Read more on VentureBeat. 

Bill Gates opens checkbook to send students to college

Education startup Inigral has raised $3.25 million. Inigral is the creator of the Schools App on Facebook. It is a white-label platform that universities can use to engage students once they have been admitted in a college or university, and it monitors their progress throughout the enrollment process. Last year, the company raised $4 million and was the first venture capital investment made by the Gates postsecondary education fund. The Gates foundation followed on with additional funding, along with Retro Venture Partners and Founders Fund. Read more on VentureBeat. 

I can’t grok Grokr, but it has raised $2.4 million 

Mysterious startup Grokr has raised an additional $2.4 million for a service no-one, except presumably the team and their investors, know anything about. Grokr is the project of Srivats Sampath, an Executive-in-Residence at U.S. Venture Partners and former founder and CEO of McAfee.com. He raised $1.5 million in January for Grokr, which claimed it was “unleashing the cognitive web for a post-PC world”, although no other information or developments have been disclosed. While I do not know what his company does, I do appreciate the Stranger in a Strange Land reference. Read the filing.

Like vehicles, people can be rented by the hour    

One of the beauty of freelancing is you can do it from everywhere. PeoplePerHour is a global marketplace that connects people who require services with people who have services to offer. I do not intend for this to sound dirty. The company launched a new product in August called Hourlies that facilitates the buying-and-selling of “pre-packaged” services, meaning the price is fixed. Today, the team announced the release of its iPhone app and closing a $3.2 million round from Index Ventures. PeoplePerHour is based in the London, with offices in Athens and New York City.

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