Ning Valued at $750 Million

Social networks are hot. People like to connect, and marketers could potentially make a killing with access to your social graph. Facebook alone is currently valued at $6.5 billion. Even Google’s getting in on the action through Google Friend Connect.

Imagine, then, the value of a service to create your own social networks. Ning, the hosted social network solution from browser inventor Marc Andreessen, just raised $15 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners. This latest investment round values the startup at — get this — $750 million. That’s pretty good for a freemium service without its own advertising platform, especially since only three percent of its network creators actually pay for ad-free service.

Free self-hosted social networking scripts abound on the Internet, but the average community leader has neither the time nor the patience to install and maintain such scripts. Ning could do for social networks what Blogger once did for blogs — idiotproof them for the masses.

Nokia invests in Obopay

obopay 300x235 Nokia invests in ObopayPayments provider for mobile phones Obopay, Inc. announced that Nokia has invested in the company, an endorsement of its ongoing innovation in mobile money technology.

Obopay will use the minority investment to aggressively extend their product suite and enhance their global presence, as mobile devices become constantly more integrated into the daily lives f the world’s 4 billion mobile customers.

“This investment is a landmark in the evolution of mobile payments. It underscores the global potential of mobile money by providing convenient access to money anytime, anywhere. Given Nokia’s position as the leader in mobile communications, we could not have asked for a better investor,” Obopay CEO Carol Realini said.

Financial details of Nokia’s investment were not disclosed.

Auditude raises $10.5 Million to propel further its services

715 1225715473 Auditude raises $10.5 Million to propel further its servicesOnline video management and advertising platform Auditude has secured an additional $10.5 million in funding from Redpoint Ventures along with existing investor Greylock Partners.

Redpoint and Greylock have between them backed market-leading companies such as DoubleClick, Right Media, Facebook and MySpace. Auditude plans to use the new funds to expand its leadership position in video management and monetization for content owners and publishers across the web.

Auditude enables content owners, publishers and advertisers to benefit from the distribution of video on the web. The company combines their highly accurate and patented fingerprinting technologies with a robust ad platform to simplify video distribution and advertising. The company also has partnerships with some of the world’s largest content and publishing companies including MTV Networks, Warner Bros. Entertainment, and MySpace.

TeamPages secures more funding for expansion

teampages TeamPages secures more funding for expansionTeamPages, the online social network assisting coaches, parents, and athletes to organize their teams and athletes, has completed its second round of funding led by Burda Digital Ventures, W Media Ventures, and angel investors.

With this new injection of financing, TeamPages will further develop its newly launched League and Club Management software and expand into larger youth sport associations, leagues, and clubs across North America.

Last month, TeamPages celebrated having its 10,000th team join its community. Users include organizations like the Manhattan Beach Little League, one of the largest Little League Associations in America and intramural programs at the University of Victoria, and the University of Oregon.

The amount of funding was not disclosed. secures $5.3 million funding for helping car owners

driverside secures $5.3 million funding for helping car ownersDriverSide has secured $5.3 million led by new investor Allegis Capital with participation from original investor Catamount Ventures and the company’s founders. The funding will be used towards investment in revenue-generating partnerships with automotive services companies looking to reach car owners, and to accelerate DriverSide’s product development. The new round of funding brings DriverSide’s total venture capital funding to $8.4 million.

DriverSide also announced a partnership with Integrated Services (ISI) the maker of LubeSoft . DriverSide will build online “garages” for ISI’s operator customers, helping them provide an end-to-end ownership experience for their consumers. ISI operates in over 2,500 locations around the US.

DriverSide’s partnership with ISI is designed to help fast lube operators optimize relationships with their customers. Once created, the garage is automatically updated with vehicle service histories and is fully customized to the needs of the consumer and his or her vehicle. Automatic email reminders about servicing, recalls, parts and other ownership needs, keep consumers engaged and informed about extending the life of their vehicles.

Greystripe secures $5.5 million new funding to unify online and mobile ads as one solution

Mobile advertising network Greystripe has raised an additional $5.5 million in Series C funding led by its existing investor Incubic Venture Capital, with Steamboat Ventures and Monitor Ventures participating. The company is now aiming to solve the biggest problem in mobile advertising.

Despite massive industry projections around mobile advertising’s growth, many brands and agencies have debated the additional value in creating mobile-centric advertising formats and campaigns. Greystripe is looking to solve this issue by integrating its mobile inventory directly into industry-accepted online media buying software. This integration allows for ad agencies to simply click to add mobile and also allows for Flash advertisements, normally only available on the web, to appear on the iPhone.

Elevator Pitch contest launched

StartupNation has launched the 2009 “Elevator Pitch” contest to recognize the next great business ideas and entrepreneurs worthy of funding.

Sponsored by Toshiba America Information Systems and GoToMeeting and Citrix Online, the winning entrepreneurs will receive a pre-arranged one-hour presentation to top tier investors and give them a competitive edge in seeking investment in this challenging economic climate.

Contestants interested in competing in the contest can submit an video pitch until March 20, 2009. Video submissions should be quick-hitting business plan pitches designed to entice investors (thirty seconds and 100-150 words). The top 100 contestants will be selected by popular vote and then judged by a panel of StartupNation judges as well as an outside panel of renowned angel and seed stage venture capital investors. The top five pitchers will be announced on April 7, 2009.

Yodle secures $10 million funding

Yodle, Inc. has completed a $10 million Series C funding led by JAFCO Ventures. They were joined by Draper Fisher Jurvetson Growth and existing investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Bessemer Venture Partners. The funds will be used to double investment in product and technology innovation as well as to continue a national sales expansion.

Demand for local online advertising fueled tremendous growth at Yodle in 2008, despite the economic downturn. The New York-based company reported 700% year-over-year revenue growth from 2007 and ending 2008. Yodle now boasts approximately 5,000 customers – up from 125 in 2006.

Palm secures $100 million equity funding

Elevation Partners has agreed to make an additional $100 million equity investment in Palm. Under a definitive agreement, Elevation will increase its investment in Palm by acquiring newly issued Series C preferred stock that is convertible into Palm common stock at a price of $3.25 per share. Elevation will also receive warrants to acquire 7 million shares of Palm common stock at the same price. Prior to March 31, 2009, Palm may elect to cause Elevation to sell up to $49 million of this new investment to other investors on the same or better terms than on which Elevation invested.

“The additional capital from Elevation Partners will enable us to put added momentum behind the new product introductions scheduled for 2009 and will provide us with enhanced stability in unsettled economic times,” said Ed Colligan, president and chief executive officer of Palm, Inc.

Tagged secures $5 million in venture debt

Tagged Inc. has raised $5 million in venture debt that would allow the company to accelerate its growth and expand the services and features of its social discovery site The venture debt was provided by Horizon Technology Finance and Leader Ventures.

“The additional funds will enable us to continue to support our growing traffic, which has increased by more than 500% this year,” said Greg Tseng, co-founder and CEO at Tagged. “Horizon Technology Finance and Leader Ventures are ideal partners for us as we scale revenues and profits in the coming year. The fact that we’ve been able to raise venture debt during the current credit crisis underscores the amazing progress our team has made, as well as the tremendous opportunity that lies ahead.”