GreenDot : The Ubiquitous Pre-Paid Card Gets Funded at $20M

Green Dot, the market leader in pre-paid Visa/ Mastercard was funded by the Tech Coast Angels in 2001 followed by a Series A in the round in 2003 from Sequoia Capital. Sequoia followed up with a Series B round in December of 2006 where the company raised a further $20M.

Green Dot sells reloadable, prepaid cards at retail locations around the country, such as Rite Aid. Though originally conceived as a card for parents to give to their kids when they went to college, the card has found wide acceptance in many immigrant communities where there is a high demand for virtual cash, as well as with the large sub-par credit market, which does not have access to traditional credit cards.

The strength of GreenDot has been its strong distribution system. In a market where the usefulness of the card depends very much on the proximity of the closed reloading station, Green Dot, with its 150,000+ retail locations in the country is far ahead of the its competitors. The Amigo money card has a much smaller but strong base in the US Spanish speaking population, as well as a large network in South America.

With Green Dot already having a commanding 90% market share in the prepaid business, one can only speculate that the latest cash infusion will mean expansion overseas, where a pre-paid product that allows customers to buy over the internet would be very welcome.

Company: Green Dot
CEO: Steven Streit
Funding Raised: $20M+
Investors: Sequoia Capital, Tech Coast Angels

Two Fish: One more stealth gaming platform on the horizon!

We wrote about Areae just a few days ago and the news of new and interesting game companies keep cropping up like the dandelions!

Two fish is an MMO (massively Multiplayer Online Game) platform and VC’s seem to be taking particular liking to these genre! Some new ones on the horizon are Rupture, D2C, Red5 and Areae. Lee Crawford, the founder was at Yahoo Games as the Director of Engineering, so I guess he knows a thing or two about the gaming world. Lee is slated to speak about raising funds for a game company at the Game Developers conference in San Francisco.

Not sure what is the total amount raised so far, but the latest is that they have raised about $2.5M from Venrock Associates.

Aperto Networks : The WiMax service provider completes Series E $19M financing

Aperto is an important player in the international WiMax rollout. They provide the base stations and the subscriber units for WiMax and currently serves over 65 counties. Aperto has been ahead of its revenue plans for several quarters. Recently Aperto’s WiMax gear was selected for deployment in Greece, in a pilot unit in advance of nationwide rollout.

Aperto Network just completed a third trench of Series E financing round of $19 million, bringing the company’s total capitalization to $139 million.

The financing round was led by GunnAllen Venture Partners, JK&B Capital, Canaan Partners, Alliance Ventures, Innovacom, JAFCO, Labrador Ventures, and Tyco. Aporto plans to use the funds to accelerate the deployment of WiMax products on a global basis.

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American Venture TV - Real Reality Show?

American Venture Network is launching the “American Venture Television”.

Current programming on AVTV includes AVTV NEWS, a three times weekly show with editorial content, funding details through “Who Got Money,�? entrepreneur/investor profiles in the “Movers & Shakers�? segment.

The first episode seemed like a recitation of the textual information without any further details (although “the connect now” with live links is a nice touch) but I am not the one to judge the product, especially the media product, on its debut. A focused video broadcast related to niche topic like venture funding is welcome and will surely find its audience, especially since it is backed by the great resources available to its sister media property, the American Venture Magazine.

NYTimes has made slow but steady progress in offering videos. Just yesterday they announced that they will allow embedding their videos on other website and will solicit user generated videos. I see the AVTV moving in the same direction. The first step: add depth to the broadcast by including special content that can only be offered in a video, the second step: allow embedding the videos on other sites and third: include user generated videos to be posted, especially by the companies that are in the same space or are competitor of the ventures that are being discussed.

Each startup has 1000 stories to tell and the days of real reality shows of startups and venture funding, and their trials and tribulations can’t be far behind.

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