Facebook Buys And Shuts Down Shopping Site TheFind To Boost Commerce In Ads

Facebook today announced it has acquired personalized shopping search engine TheFind to help improve its commerce ads. TheFind had raised $26 million from Lightspeed and Redpoint since getting off the ground around 2005, but will now be shut down. Some, but not all, members of the team are joining Facebook.

TheFind’s product allowed people to get customized recommendations for products while searching through its massive database of products. A user could enter somewhat generic terms like “black sweater” and then compare prices on black sweaters from a wide array of retailers aggregated by TheFind. They could also discover places to buy their chosen product locally if they want it immediately.

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Could DreamCheaper Become The Hotel Booking Industry’s Most Hated Startup?

Berlin-based DreamCheaper, which has been operating fairly stealthily until now, could soon become the hotel booking industry’s most hated startup. It operates a service that aims to ensure you never overpay for a hotel room again, even if you (miraculously) get the best deal available at the time of booking but the price since goes down.

Specifically, DreamCheaper exploits the “flexible booking” option typically offered by hotels, by canceling your hotel booking on your behalf once its algorithms have located the same room type, at the same hotel, for a cheaper price and made a replacement booking. Meanwhile, the service continues working on your behalf, right up to the day before check-in, canceling and rebooking if and when a better deal comes along.

The hotel booking industry, dominated by aggregators such as Hotels.com, Booking.com and Trivago, is opaque to say the least.

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Amazon Has Quietly Acquired 2lemetry To Build Out Its Internet Of Things Strategy

Amazon is taking another step into the Internet of Things. TechCrunch has learned, and confirmed, that the e-commerce and cloud services giant has acquired 2lemetry, a startup based out of Denver that has developed an enterprise-focused platform to track and manage IP-enabled machines and other connected devices.

Terms of the deal, which we heard was finalized earlier this week, were not disclosed. 2lemetry, founded in 2011, had raised $9 million, including a $4 million round in January of this year from investors that included Salesforce Ventures.

Reaching out to 2lemetry, our queries were forwarded to Amazon. A spokesperson confirmed the acquisition with a short statement that noted that the service will continue to operate for existing customers.

“I can confirm that Amazon has acquired 2lemetry and we look forward to continuing to support 2lemetry customers,” a spokesperson said. Those customers include Honeywell, the Demeter energy group and First Mile, an office recycling service.

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With $45 Million In Funding, Augmented Reality Platform Blippar Is Rethinking Search

Blippar, an augmented reality ad platform that uses real-world tags to deliver extra AR content in offline situations, has raised $45 million in new funding from undisclosed investors. This comes on the heels of a big 2014 for UK-based Blippar, wherein the company made its first acquisition by purchasing Layar in June. Combined, the merged companies boast over 50 million global users.

But given the growth of the space, Blippar is ready to take the next step forward.

As it stands now, Blippar is mostly an advertising or publishing tool that allows a brand to put a “Blip” (a real-world marker) on their offline goods that allow users to access an AR layer of information through their camera. It’s a speedy, beautiful product, but people are only so interested in chatting with brands.

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Airbnb Is Raising A Monster Round At A $20B Valuation

Airbnb — the platform that lets travellers book private spare rooms and entire homes as an alternative to traditional hotels — is doing some booking of its own. Airbnb is in the process of raising another round of funding that will value it at $20 billion, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The company is believed to be in the process of raising a war chest of close to $1 billion — with about half of that secured. We’ve heard that Airbnb has been courted by investors out of Asia, as well as larger private-equity groups. We’ve not been able to confirm the exact names yet, but one that has come up is Fidelity. Previous investors in the company include TPG, T. Rowe Price, Dragoneer, Founders Fund, Sequoia, DST and more.

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Grofers, An On-Demand Delivery Service For Indian Cities, Raises $10M From Sequoia And Tiger Global

Large marketplaces like Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon are benefitting as India turns into one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce markets, but many brick-and-mortar stores are missing out on the boom. A startup called Grofers wants to help local shops by not only providing them with a mobile platform for their inventory, but also facilitating on-demand delivery within 90 minutes.

Grofers’ business strategy is ambitious, but the startup just got a vote of confidence in the form of a $10 million series A round led by Sequoia Capital (a returning investor) and Tiger Global. This brings its total raised so far to $10.5 million.

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Roundme Raises $3M To Turn Panoramic Photos Into Virtual Tours

Round.me, which allows users to explore global locations through panoramic photos, has raised a $3 million round led by April Capital.

The app is available on both the web and iOS. It allows you to browse different Spaces, which are basically panoramic images of locations like a Taoist temple in the Philippines and an ice cave in Vermont (to pick two examples from Roundme’s front page). The iOS experience is particularly immersive — the Spaces respond to the movement of your phone, almost creating the illusion that you’re photographing the real location.

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