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Six upstarts in line for an Instagram-like payday

Facebook's willingness to pay $1-billion to buy Instagram has Silicon Valley venture capitalists happily re-doing their math on the potential value of hot young companies

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PINTEREST WHAT: A virtual pinboard that lets people easily assemble pictures and other bits of content online. The nature of the content makes it e-commerce-friendly, and tremendous growth over the past six months puts it at the heart of the social networking revolution. FUNDING: $37.5-million from Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners and others. An investor told BusinessInsider last month the company was now worth $1-billion, up from the $200-million valuation it claimed in October at its last funding round. KEY FACT: User base has grown to 19 million from 2 million in just six months, according to comScore Inc. WHO: Founders Paul Sciarra and Ben Silbermann met at Yale. Half the 200 e-mails Silbermann sent to his friends asking them to join Pinterest at its launch went unopened.

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TUMBLR WHAT: A blogging service that allows for mixed media posts, such as pictures with short captions. “It’s in the same space as Pinterest,” said John Lilly of Greylock Partners, who worked on the $50-million funding round that Instagram wrapped up just before its sale to Facebook. “But it’s significantly bigger than Pinterest is on almost every single metric.” FUNDING: $125-million from Greylock, Sequoia and others. In September 2011, Tumblr was valued at $800-million. KEY FACT: High level of engagement, with users creating 14 original posts each month on average, Tumblr says. WHO: Founder David Karp, doing Harvard drop-outs like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg one better, quit the Bronx High School of Science at age 15. Spark Capital and Union Square Capital were two of Tumblr’s earliest investors, as they were at Twitter.

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EVERNOTE WHAT: Software that lets users take notes – including written text, copies of web pages, or photos – and then access and search them from anywhere, including phones. Evernote would make a good acquisition for a company that needs to bolster its cloud capabilities, such as Hewlett Packard Co., said a venture capitalist who did not invest in Evernote but wishes he had. FUNDING: More than $95-million from DoCoMo Capital, Sequoia Capital and others. Around the time of its funding round last summer, the speculation was that Evernote would join the $1-billion valuation club, but according to TechCrunch it did not quite make it. KEY FACT: 26 million users. WHO: The research team is led by Stepan Pachikov, who once worked on the handwriting-recognition technology in the Apple Newton.

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DROPBOX WHAT: A service that allows users to store and share files easily online. Like Evernote, Dropbox could be a good acquisition for a company that has fallen behind in cloud-based services, but it would be a lot more expensive. FUNDING: $257-million from Index Ventures, Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital and others. Dropbox’s last funding round in October valued the company at around $4-billion, according to media reports. KEY FACT: 1 billion files are saved every 3 days on the service, the company says. WHO ARE THESE GUYS: Co-founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi both attended MIT; Ferdowsi dropped out.

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