Lockerz, Though Not Quite Dead, Raises $9 Million to Shift Focus to New Shopping Site Ador

Ador Lockerz

In the spring, reports surfaced that social commerce and photo-sharing service Lockerz was behind a new shoppable digital magazine called Ador.

Now, a new filing with the SEC published online today sheds more light.

Lockerz has rebranded its corporate name to Ador, and has raised $9 million of a possible $25 million round, the filing said.

Despite the document’s wording, Lockerz.com is still operational. In an interview, Q Shay, who identified himself as Ador’s chief operating officer, said that the company had considered shutting Lockerz.com completely, but that it currently has enough repeat visitors to justify keeping it up and running.

At the same time, the vast majority of spending will be invested into Ador.com going forward, not Lockerz, he said. Shay described the funding as a rights offering to its existing shareholders, which have included Kleiner Perkins and DAG Ventures.

The Ador site pulls in images of celebrities and models from fashion blogs and then surfaces either the exact clothes and accessories worn in the photos or ones similar to them. Ador users can then click through to the site where the product is sold to purchase the item, with Ador getting a cut through affiliate networks.

The service joins a crowded field of startups focused on creating a browsable shopping experience for the digital age.

“In our case, we are taking a far different approach and really focusing on a specific audience … those primarily interested in fashion,” said product chief Max Ciccotosto.

Shay acknowledged that there were layoffs earlier this year, but said the company has been hiring recently as it readied for Ador’s public launch earlier this month. He declined to disclose the current size of the staff.

At one time, Lockerz was one of Seattle’s biggest startup names, having raised more than $40 million for a service that gave users rewards points for taking actions such as uploading photos or watching videos. They could then use those points for discounts on clothing.

The startup also operated a photo-sharing service that drove significant traffic to Lockerz.com, but it shut down its API earlier this year, citing Twitter policy changes.

Lockerz’s founder and former CEO Kathy Savitt left the Seattle-based startup last year to become Yahoo’s chief marketing officer.

Could Google or Tencent Beat Facebook to Buying Snapchat?

android-snapchat-01-650x0

Right now, Snapchat is having its “belle of the ball” moment.

The mobile messaging service – which lets users exchange photos and video that disappear after a few seconds – is being courted by Facebook. It has long been an app that CEO Mark Zuckerberg lusted after.

Thursday afternoon brought another turn of the screw. Valleywag reported that Google could also possibly be considering taking a run at Snapchat, matching Facebook’s $3 billion to $3.5 billion offer. Google and Facebook aren’t commenting, but sources said that Google has indeed expressed some interest in a deal. Tencent, the Chinese consumer Internet company, has also been eyeballing the company, according to sources.

I don’t know Snapchat’s fate, and from what I’ve been told, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel himself is unsure of it. But it got me thinking – whether they’re in the running or not, which companies are most likely to go after the fast-growing Snapchat?

Let’s go down the list.

Facebook:
Zuckerberg wants Snapchat bad. So bad, in fact, that he tried – and failed – to clone the app outright. Sources familiar with the matter have described the Facebook CEO as “obsessed” with Snapchat and the idea of ephemeral messaging. They told AllThingsD that he has made multiple offers to acquire the company, some for more than the $1 billion he paid for Instagram last year.

Likelihood: Very High

Google:
Google may have Google+, but it knows it can’t hold a candle to Facebook or even Twitter when it comes to social mobile apps. Buying Snapchat could give Google immediate overnight relevance in social, while simultaneously dealing a blow to Facebook. Not to mention that $3 billion is a pittance for the highly profitable company to spend on an acquisition.

Likelihood: High

Tencent:
This is a good fit. Spiegel has described Tencent as a “role model” for Snapchat in terms of revenue models – potentially alluding to in-app purchasing possibilities for the startup.

And Tencent is indeed interested – if not in a full acquisition, then at the very least in a large strategic investment.

Likelihood: Very High

Yahoo:
A dark horse, and at this point not an entrant as far as I’ve heard. Still, CEO Marissa Mayer has the cash to make the deal, and is no stranger to acquisitions. Plus, an acquisition of Snapchat could help to both bolster Yahoo’s mobile efforts – which are lacking – and burnish its less-than-cool image – sort of like buying Tumblr did.

Still, there’s no evidence to my knowledge that Yahoo has approached Spiegel or Snapchat about a potential acquisition.

Likelihood: Unlikely

Twitter:
After long considering killing off its direct-messaging feature entirely, Twitter woke up last year and figured out that people actually love sending private messages. Another satellite app acquisition – similar to the one it did with Vine – could make sense.

Problem is, the figures being thrown around for Snapchat now are way out of Twitter’s price range. They’re nearly double the amount the company just raised in its initial public offering. At this point, Snapchat is far too rich for Twitter’s blood.

Likelihood: Not at all likely

A caveat to many of the past week’s stories on this topic: It’s possible – if not likely – that the escalating prices and number of companies involved is largely due to jockeying from Snapchat insiders who stand to make hundreds of millions on the deal. Read each new report with that in mind.

snapchatdollar640

Another thing to remember: Spiegel intends to raise yet another round of funding for his company at a hefty valuation. If another round goes through, there will likely be a secondary component to it, in which Spiegel and co-founder Bobby Murphy could sell some of their own shares and cash out. That means the two could still continue to go for broke and build out their own company rather than sell to the highest bidder, while having the insurance of already having taken some money off the table. And according to multiple people close to Snapchat, Spiegel and Murphy very much want to build out the startup into a full-fledged company.

Bottom line: If Snapchat keeps growing – and sources said that is indeed the case – Spiegel isn’t under the gun to make a decision today. If all goes well, his acquisition offers – and the high prices they command – likely won’t disappear.

Will Amazon’s Unit Growth Bottom Out in Q2?

There’s not a whole lot that Wall Street dislikes right now about Amazon, which is heading into its second-quarter earnings report today after markets close. Investors have pushed the online retailer’s stock price to record heights in recent weeks – more than $309 a share, and a market cap of $140 billion at one point – before backing off slightly to see Amazon close out Wednesday’s after-hours trading at about $300 a share.

amazon_bezos_kindles

Despite the good vibes, there are problem areas. The company’s year-over-year growth of units sold has been decelerating, for example, which could be worrisome if it continues.

J.P. Morgan’s Doug Anmuth wrote in a research note that he is expecting some stabilization in the decelerating trend, but noted that, “we … believe sub-30% would be concerning to investors.” The launch of the Kindle in some giant new markets, such as India and China, could put the trend of deceleration to an end in the second half of the year.

Wall Street will also be keeping a close eye on the company’s international business, especially after eBay cited macroeconomic softness in Korea and parts of Europe when it reported earnings last week.

Investors will also likely look for some commentary on the same-day and next-day AmazonFresh grocery delivery business, which, after five-plus years of experimentation solely in Seattle, recently started serving the Los Angeles area. If Amazon can figure out how to at least break even on that resource-intensive business, it will likely then load up the delivery vehicles with higher-margin, higher-cost products.

But it will be a costly build-out, and could impact margins negatively in the short term. Similarly, fulfillment-center expansion and price cuts on AWS offerings could also drag down margins.

Amazon is forecasting revenue of $14.5 billion to $16.2 billion, with analysts expecting the company to register earnings per share of four cents to six cents on $15.7 billion in revenue.

For Virtual Prospectors, Life in the Bitcoin Mines Gets Real

Aubrey McIntosh has taken up mining in his spare time, and he’s finding it hard and hot – even if it’s prospecting for a virtual currency and a computer is doing all of the work.

Mr. McIntosh, a semiretired chemistry professor in Morris, Minn., is among the growing ranks of enthusiasts who use powerful computers to “mine,” in insider parlance, “bitcoins,” an unregulated digital currency.

Mr. McIntosh keeps his specialized computer, which he said cost about $1,500 and is custom-built to find bitcoins, near the chimney flue in his basement to try to get rid of all the heat it generates.

“It sounds like an aircraft carrier,” he said. Since turning the computer on his electricity bill has about doubled.

Read the rest of this post on the original site

eBay’s Head of Local Jack Abraham Stepping Down

Jack Abraham, eBay’s head of local, has announced he is leaving the company on March 15, the company has confirmed. Abraham was the founder and CEO of Milo, which was acquired by eBay two years ago. Many of eBay’s local features were built on top of Milo’s database of inventory from tens of thousands of U.S. retail stores. Abraham will continue to act as an adviser to eBay going forward while working on an undisclosed “entrepreneurial endeavor.” His departure was first reported by Fortune.