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Software maker Slide raises $50 million from investors

January 19, 2008|From Reuters

Social network software maker Slide Inc. said Friday that it had closed a $50-million institutional financing round, marking the rising valuations of start-ups riding fast-growing Facebook's wave of popularity.

Slide, based in San Francisco, made some of the hottest programs running on Facebook and News Corp.'s MySpace, including media-sharing applications Slide Shows, Top Friends, SuperPoke and FunWall.

Max Levchin, its Ukranian-born and Chicago-raised founder, declined to name the investors. Sources close to the deal said they were Fidelity Investments and T. Rowe Price.

The round is nearly 10 times the size of the median round of $5.18 million for the newest generation of Web firms in the first half of 2007, according to Dow Jones investment tracking unit VentureOne.

This follows the roughly $500 million recently raised by Facebook from Microsoft Corp. and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, giving it an implied $15-billion valuation.

Slide, incorporated in 2005, was originally self-funded by Levchin, who co-founded online payments company PayPal Inc. a decade ago. He later took funding from Peter Thiel, the other founder of PayPal, which EBay Inc. bought in 2002.

Subsequent funding for Slide from leading Silicon Valley venture capitalists totaled in the "low tens of millions of dollars," one source said.

Slide is among the first companies to capitalize on the success of Facebook and MySpace in becoming central stages for consumer Web use, playing the role of Windows in the personal computer era or the Netscape browser in the early Web days.

Comparing the social networking generation with the dawn of the PC era, Levchin, 32, said Slide was poised to lead in the same way that Adobe, Electronic Arts and Intuit led 20 years ago in design and imaging, games and finance.

"We believe there is a huge opportunity to build this next set of businesses," he said.

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