Interesting Social Media Start-Ups That Raised Money In December

 Zynga: Zynga is a social network and gaming company. The russian investor Digital Sky Technologies  (invested in facebook) invested $180 million in Zynga, the fast-growing social game company. Experts figured the enterprise value of Zynga could be anywhere from $1.5 billion to $3 billion. An astronomic valuation. Besides FarmVille, Zynga has a bunch of other popular games: Cafe World, Mafia Wars, FishVille, YoVille, and Texas HoldEm Poker. All of Zynga’s users add up to 232 million monthly active users, a figure that is growing every week. By comparison, Playfish, the No. 2 company on Facebook, has 59 million users. And Electronic Arts just bought them for as much as $400 million. This deal will likely allow Zynga to keep growing fast while putting off its IPO for a time.

More Info: Zynga on Crunchbase, Zynga on younoodle

AlikeList is applying social networking to the discovery of local businesses and has raised $5 million in a first round of funding. The company says that when looking for a local business — a restaurant, doctor, or contractor — people trust the recommendations of people they know. Based on this principle, the company created a social network where people save lists of positive recommendations for local businesses and then share them with friends. People can “like” businesses or add them to a “try list.” AlikeList thus accelerates word-of-mouth marketing. Businesses can pay subscription fees and usage fees to the company to target specific users with special offers. AlikeList was founded in 2008. There are rivals that do similar things, such as Yelp and Angie’s List.

More Info: AlikeList on Crunchbase

RepairPal: a site for auto repair estimates and advice, has raised $4 million in a first round of funding. When a car owner goes to the website, you can enter basic information like the manufacturer, model, and year of your car, as well as the repair needed, and the site will give you a price range for how much you can expect to pay for parts and labor. The funding was led by Tugboat Ventures, with participation from individuals. RepairPal previously raised more than $3 million from angel investors. The company’s competitors include DriverSide that launched their site in the same week as RepairPal back in June 2008. RepairPal says it is approaching 1 million monthly visitors between the website, the mobile application, and partner sites.

More Information: RepairPal on Crunchbase, RepairPal on younoodle

Jinni: an Israely start-up, which calls itself a “Pandora for movies” in reference to popular music-recommendation service Pandora, has raised $1.6M from DFJ Tamir Fishman in a first round of institutional funding. Where Pandora uses subject experts for its music recommendations, Jinni’s technology crawls the web and picks up movie reviews and metadata and uses natural language processing tools to tag films and tv shows according to what’s being said about them. Users click on movie-image tiles to search Jinni’s “Movie Genome” by mood (pictured above), title, genre, audience, time/period (pictured below), place, and praise. It also has an audience categorization option, with subcategories such as “boys’ night,” “girls’ night,” and “date night,” and offers suggestions based on each. Each result provides an overview of the film as well as the option to view a list of other “more like it.”

More Info: Jinni on Crunchbase, Jinni on younoodle

SeeWhy: the company has launched the free Abandonment Tracker (available as a software-as-a-service), which makes it easy to convert website visitors who had previously abandoned their shopping carts, online forms, applications and registrations. The tracker captures the unique IDs of website abandoners and then emails those IDs to the website operator for use in follow-up campaigns targeted to the abandoners. When a visitor lands on a web page again, an event is sent to SeeWhy’s data center. If the visitor doesn’t convert, SeeWhy records the abandonment along with the details, including email address, shopping cart items and amount, and stage in the conversion process at which the visitor abandoned. The whole point of the system is to recapture abandoned revenue. Currently SeeWhy’s suite of real-time web analytic applications is being used by both large and small ecommerce companies, including Amazon.com, eBay, Land’s End, Citibank and MasterCard. The company just raised $4.5 million in funding from Scottish Equity Partners, Logispring, and Pentech Ventures.

More Info: SeeWhy on Crunchbase, SeeWhy on younoodle

ThePort Network provides white label network services to profit and non-profit organizations and has raised $500k from existing investors in an extension of its Series B round. American City Business Journals led a $4.1 million Series B in ThePort in December 2008. Last year recurring revenue has grown 90% topping $2 million. The company’s products target associations, media companies and nonprofits and have found success in the government sector. Major clients include the American Diabetes Association, the American Bar Association, the American Lung Association, the Sierra Club and as CEO Bob Cramer diplomatically put it, “a major political party”. The company plans on using the new funding to grow its sales and marketing efforts. ThePort has read the tea leaves and as part of that push ThePort plans to open an office in Washington DC in 2010. The company also hopes to reach profitability next year.

More Info: ThePort on Crunchbase, The Port on younoodle

kaChing: a company with ambitions. It´s aiming to disrupt the mutual fund industry and raised $7.5 million in its first venture-backed round of financing. kaChing is part of a young cohort of startups that are trying to democratize the fund management industry, by allowing individual investors to copy the trades of other skilled investors instead of turning to professionally-run funds that can charge around 3 percent in fees. The Palo Alto-based startup recently opened up its site to anyone wanting to become an investor that others can follow, provided they share access to their real brokerage accounts and are active on the site for more than a year. For example, if you´ve found an investor with an approach you respect, you can invest at least $3,000 and have allocations in that portfolio match the investor’s moves. The manager will charge you a fee from between 0.25 to 3 percent, and kaChing will take a quarter of that. (average fee tends to be around 1.25 percent.)

More Info: kaChing on Crunchbase, kaChing on Crunchbase

Sources: Venturebeat, TechCrunch

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