Chango closes a $4.5m Round B

Chango has announced today that they have closed a $4.5 million B round that includes their existing investors as well as lead participation from Rho Ventures (Canada) and iNovia. Roger Chabra lead the deal for Rho and this represents his first placement since joining Rho Ventures last year.

Christopher Dingle has also joined Chango from his role as EIR at iNovia (although he seems to have joined in October, so I am just catching up it seems). Notably absent from this round as well as the Series A is MantellaVP, who seem to be participating in the form of sweat equity but not in the form of capital placements as Duncan Hill is actively operating on the management team. Perhaps I am unclear as to Mantella’s model, I thought they were operating as a traditional fund but perhaps their model is changing. That could make sense as both Duncan Hill and Robin Axon have a lot to contribute in terms of operating capability.

Chango is an AdWords style platform for display (banner) advertising which is focused on low-latency ad targeting and serving across networks. As inventory has become realtime they are able to distribute highly targeted ads across that inventory. This sort of targeting was not possible in past models and Chango seems to be utilizing capital to stay ahead of the curve as more players enter the space. Chango also has the unique ability to automatically generate the banner ads being served.

The most important aspect of this deal is that Canadian capital is being put to work to power a high-potential company that otherwise likely would have closed a US focused deal. This type of growth capital was much less active just up until recently and it represents the critical role that iNovia, Rho and others are going to play in the Canadian landscape in the coming 5 years. The health of these funds is critical to our ability to create value based in Canada that can attach US and international markets with a comparable amount of resources. Albert Lai famously made a splash about the lack of growth capital in Canada in 2008 and it is my hope that the situation is now changing.

Cognovision acquired by Intel

UPDATE: We are hearing that the acquisition price tag is closer to $30m and possibly even higher. 

Another great exit for the Toronto startup community and some great news in advance of CIX in a few weeks. Toronto based Cognovision has reportedly been acquired by intel. According to DailyDOOH, which covers the digital out of home market, the pricetag was $17m.

Cognovision was the winner of the CIX pitch competition last year.

I have to admit that when I first heard the Cognovision pitch, it felt holodeck cool. It also seemed “too good to be true” — Turns out I was wrong and the company shot to ~$1m in revenue pretty quickly. Using a camera on top of a digital display, Cognovision could give you some rough estimates that covered:

  • Actual Impressions – The number of people who look at your displays
  • Length of Impressions – How long people look for
  • Potential Audience Size – The number of people who walk by
  • Dwell Time – How long people stay near your displays
  • Anonymous Demographics – Demographics of your audience (gender and age bracket)

Congrats to Shahzad, Haroon an the entire team.

John Ruffolo joins OMERS to manage new Venture Capital arm

Some great news for Ontario, and the national startup community, today. We are hearing from multiple sources that John Ruffolo will be joining OMERS as Senior Vice President of Knowledge Investing. He will start in the position on January 3rd 2011.

This position, which is focused on managing direct Venture Capital investments, has been the subject of speculation since OMERS announced that they planned to take a similar direct investment model with Venture Capital as they have with Private Equity deals, which has been a successful model for them so far. Pension and other labour sponsored funds like OMERS have historically taken Limited Partner positions in third-party funds (the VC funds you know and love already) and this hands-on approach is unique in Canada.

John Ruffolo was previously a Managing Partner at Deloitte’s Toronto office and he conducted the survey of Canadian VC GPs that we wrote about earlier.

John’s reputation is positive and his knowledge of both the past and current startup and Venture Capital environment in Canada is unique. It is great to see things moving ahead in the development of a new capital source for startups in Canada.