Thursday Deals Roundup: InMobi, Chegg, GCT, Alphabet Energy, RRKidz & More

It’s a busy day for venture-funding and IPO announcements. To wit:

—San Mateo, CA-based InMobi, which runs the largest independent mobile ad network, said today that it has arranged a whopping $200 million investment from Softbank, in two tranches of $100 million each arriving this month and in April 2012. “With a global leader like Softbank behind us, we are now well positioned to fully capitalize on the opportunity before us through substantially increased product innovation, deeper market penetration, and acquisitions across the mobile ad value chain,” InMobi founder and CEO Naveen Tewari said in a statement.

—Chegg, the Santa Clara, CA-based online college textbook rental company, said that it has agreed to acquire Zinch, a San Francisco startup whose online platform matches students applying to colleges and graduate schools with admissions offices and scholarship opportunities. “”With our acquisition of Zinch, we’re extending our mission to high school students through the $7 billion college recruiting market, while continuing to break down the barriers of a college education, from the high cost of tuition and textbooks to helping students make money, pick their courses and get the academic help they need,” Chegg president and CEO Dan Rosensweig said in a statement. Zinch raised venture financing from New World Ventures as well as individual investors Mike Levinthal, Stan Chudnovsky, Aydin Senkut, and Chris Michel. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

—GCT Semiconductor of San Jose has filed S-1 registration papers in preparation for an initial public offering. The company, a fabless designer of 4G wireless chips, hopes to raise $100 million in the offering. The filing shows that GCT’s largest shareholders are board chairman Paul H.J. Kim (31.15 percent), Parakletos Ventures (31.14 percent), and FirstMark Capital (13.60 percent).

—Alphabet Energy, a San Francisco startup developing thermoelectric materials that capture waste heat, said it has closed a $12 million round of Series A financing. TPG Biotech led the round, which was joined by existing investors Claremont Creek Ventures and the CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund. The company says it will use the funds to speed up product development, deploy pilot projects, and relocate to an as-yet-undisclosed location in the Bay Area. Mark Gudiksen of TPG Biotech has joined Alphabet’s board of directors.

—RRKidz, a San Francisco- and Los Angeles-based startup developing tablet-based books for children, said yesterday that has completed an initial round of fundraising with support from Raymonds Capital and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Led by actor-director Levar Burton of Reading Rainbow and Star Trek fame, the company is creating a subscription e-book service for iPads and Android devices. In a report today, VentureWire put the amount of the initial investment at $3 million.

—Rumble Entertainment, a new cross-platform gaming company based in Redwood City, CA, came out of stealth mode to announce that it has collected an unspecified amount of seed funding from Playdom founder Rick Thompson. Rumble’s founding team includes former EA executives Greg Richardson, Mark Spenner, and David O’Connor, as well as former Zynga designer John Yoo. Rumble says it will build free-to-play games in house, and also offer a publishing platform to third-party developers.

—San Francisco-based SaveUp, which is building an online rewards program to encourage personal saving, announced that it has collected $2 million in seed funding from Blue Run Ventures and True Ventures. The startup, whose system is still in private beta testing, was founded by Priya Haji and Sammy Shreibati. “Instead of rewards that accumulate over long periods of time, SaveUp is pioneering a unique model where every positive financial action offers the chance to win valuable or life-changing prizes,” the startup said in a statement.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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