Spotify CEO Daniel Ek pledges $1Bn of his wealth to back deeptech startups from Europe

At an online event today, Daniel Ek, the founder of Spotify, said he would invest 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) of his personal fortune in deeptech “moonshot projects”, spread across the next 10 years.

Ek indicated that he was referring to machine learning, biotechnology, materials sciences and energy as the sectors he’d like to invest in.

“I want to do my part; we all know that one of the greatest challenges is access to capital,” Ek said, adding he wanted to achieve a “new European dream”.

“I get really frustrated when I see European entrepreneurs giving up on their amazing visions selling early on to non-European companies, or when some of the most promising tech talent in Europe leaves because they don’t feel valued here,” Ek said. “We need more super companies that raise the bar and can act as an inspiration.”

According to Forbes, Ek is worth $3.6 billion, which would suggest he’s putting aside roughly a third of his own wealth for the investments.

And it would appear his personal cash will be deployed with the help of a close confidant of Ek’s. He retweeted a post by Shakhil Khan, one of the first investors in Spotify, who said “it’s time to come out of retirement then.”

During a fireside chat held by the Slush conference, he said: “We all know that one of the greatest challenges is access to capital. And that is why I’m sharing today that I will devote €1bn of my personal resources to enable the ecosystem of builders.” He said he would do this by “funding so-called moonshots focusing on the deep technology necessary to make a significant positive dent, and work with scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and governments to do so.”

He expressed his desire to level-up Europe against the US I terms of tech unicorns: “Europe needs more super companies, both for the ecosystem to develop and thrive. But I think more importantly if we’re going to have any chance to tackle the infinitely complex problems that our societies are dealing with at the moment, we need different stakeholders, including companies, governments, academic institutions, non-profits and investors of all kinds to work together.”

He also expressed his frustration at seeing “European entrepreneurs, giving up on their amazing visions by selling very early in the process… We need more super companies to raise the bar and can act as an inspiration… There’s lots and lots of really exciting areas where there are tons of scientists and entrepreneurs right now around Europe.”

Ek said he will work with scientists, investors, and governments to deploy his funds. A $1.2 billion fund would see him competing with other large European VCs such as Atomico, Balderton Capital, Accel, Index Ventures and Northzone.

Ek has been previously known for his interest in deeptech. He has invested in €16m in Swedish telemedicine startup Kry. He’s also put €3m into HJN Sverige, an artificial intelligence company in the health tech arena.

#articles, #artificial-intelligence, #balderton-capital, #biotechnology, #business, #daniel-ek, #economy, #energy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #forbes, #founder, #kry, #machine-learning, #northzone, #private-equity, #spotify, #startup-company, #tc, #telemedicine, #united-states

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After lockdowns lead to an e-bike boom, VanMoof raises $40M Series B to expand globally

E-bike startup VanMoof, has raised a $40 million investment from Norwest Venture Partners, Felix Capital and Balderton Capital. The Series B financing comes after a $13.5 million investment in May. The funding brings VanMoof’s total raised to $73 million and furthers the e-bike brand’s ultimate mission of getting the next billion on bikes.

The Series B funding will be used to meet the increased demand, shorten delivery times and build a suite of rider service solutions. It also aims to boost its share of the e-bike market in North America, Europe and Japan.

Partly driven by the switch of commuters away from public transport because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the e-bike craze is taking off.

Governments are now investing in cycling infrastructure and the e-bike market is set to surpass $46 billion in the next six years, according to reports.

Ties Carlier, co-founder VanMoof commented: “E-bike adoption was an inevitable global shift that was already taking place for many years now but COVID-19 put an absolute turbo on it to the point that we’re approaching a critical mass to transform cities for the better.”

VanMoof says it realized a 220% global revenue growth during the worldwide lockdown and sold more bikes in the first four months of 2020 than the previous two years combined.

Stew Campbell, Principal at Norwest said: “Taco, Ties and the VanMoof team have not only built an unparalleled brand and best-selling product, but they’re reshaping city mobility all over the world.”

Colin Hanna, Principal at Balderton: “As the COVID-19 crisis hit supply chains worldwide, VanMoof’s unique control over design and production was a key advantage that allowed the company to react nimbly and effectively. Moreover, VanMoof’s direct to consumer approach allows the company to build a close relationship to their riders, one that will be strengthened by new products and services in the years to come.”

VanMoof launched the new VanMoof S3 and X3 in April of this year. I reviewed the S3 here and checked out the earlier X2 version here.

#balderton-capital, #bicycles, #co-founder, #colin-hanna, #cycling, #e-bike, #e-bikes, #electric-bicycle, #europe, #felix-capital, #japan, #micromobility, #north-america, #norwest-venture-partners, #supply-chains, #tc, #transport, #vanmoof, #vanmoof-s3

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Balderton’s Chandratillake doffs his cap to Clubhouse, says enterprise audio is next

Suranga Chandratillake has (almost) seen it all. After being the early CTO for Autonomy, he went on to found the blinkx video search engine in 2004, long before many thought we’d even need one. He scaled the company to San Francisco and the US market, eventually IPO’ing blinkx for over $1 billion. On his return to Europe, he joined Balderton Capital, of Europe’s top-tier VCs, and has invested in many of Europe’s hottest startups. As part of TechCrunch Disrupt 2020, we caught up with him.

Last year Balderton raised a $400 million fund. But has the way that fund is being invested changed because of COVID-19?

“In many ways, nothing has changed,” he said. ”We have been a series a focused pan-European VC for 20 years… If anything, I think COVID-19 has demonstrated how tech can help us get through various challenges, and I mean all of the work from home stuff…It’s been really weird, not being able to spend time in person with [entrepreneurs] those people… But the overall strategy of investing in tech in Europe, it’s exactly the same as it was before.”

Although it’s not that simple. For instance, Balderton invested in car rental startup Virtuo to the tune of 20 million euros. And travel is not exactly a great sector right now.

Chandratillake admitted, “some industries we have had challenges this year.” However, he said they “had a difficult April and May, but they’ve actually had a booming August” as holidays came back.

“I would say that by and large, most [startups] have navigated fairly well.” He noted that European governments have put in place funds to support tech companies, and of course, other sectors of tech have boomed.

During the pandemic lockdown, many consumers jumped into virtual networking via apps like Zoom and Houseparty, but Balderton did a small investment into a stealth-mode startup called Riff, which, not unlike Clubhouse, is using audio in a new way. He hinted that this will be an enterprise-play on Audio.

“Funnily enough, the closest to it right now is probably Discord which obviously is already a large network, but really a very much a vertical app aimed at gamers… But I think there’s a there’s an opportunity to do something similar in enterprise in the same way that Slack, you know, arguably got a lot of its initial cues from consumer messaging [such as] from WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. I think we’ll see a similar thing where the enterprise gets something that’s based a bit on what we’ve seen in consumer products.”

He said Riff solves the “classic cliche of the watercooler moment when you bump into someone in the office and have a chat, and it’s really hard to do that in this new reality.”

He also said there are interesting sub-markets following on in the coattails of Zoom “that also need to be worked out.” Balderton invested in a company called DemoDesk (a cloud-based screen sharing platform), which looks at, for example, “webinars and sales meetings and specific kinds of conversations like that, where the requirements are a bit different.”

Chandratillake is of the opinion that the world will have to live with COVID-19 for many years, but that new solutions will emerge to mitigate the downsides: “Anything that helps you stay more connected to your colleagues and your co-workers is going to be interesting from a VC point of view, right?”

In terms of the diversity issues thrown up by the Black Lives Matter movement, Balderton has backed initiatives such as Diversity VC in Europe.

“If you’ve got a more diverse venture capital industry, they will start to back more diverse founders doing more diverse things, and that will naturally propagate. That’s really important to me and that’s a big part of what we focused on….

“In the last three years, we’ve hired more women than we have men into the investment team. We recently hired our first female general partner directly into the firm… three more people of color in the partnership and so on. So it’s beginning to change to where it should be, but I think it’s one of these things where you have to battle on many fronts.”

#balderton-capital, #disrupt-2020, #europe, #facebook, #suranga-chandratillake, #tc, #virtuo, #zoom

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#DealMonitor – Balderton Capital investiert in Demodesk – Urbanara kauft Til Schweigers Barefoot Living


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 3. September werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

VENTURE CAPITAL

Demodesk
+++ Balderton Capital und Target Global investieren 8 Millionen US-Dollar in Demodesk. Das Münchner Startup Demodesk positioniert sich als “online meeting tool for sales & success teams”. Global Founders Capital (GFC), FundersClub, Y Combinator, Kleiner Perkins und eine Reihe von Angel-Investoren pumpten zuletzt 2,3 Millionen US-Dollar in die Jungfirma. Über den Einstieg von Target Global hatten wir bereits exklusiv im Juli berichtet. Demodesk wurde 2017 von Alex Popp und Veronika Riederle gegründet.

Phantasma Labs
+++ APEX Ventures, signals VC, die IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft, Wi Ventures und der Bestandsinvestor Entrepreneur First investieren in das Berliner DeepTech-Startup Phantasma Labs. Das Unternehmen, das von Ramakrishna Nanjundaiah und Maria Meier gegründet wurde, entwickelt eine Plattform, die das “komplexe menschliche Verhalten für das Training autonomer Fahrzeuge” simuliert. Das frische Kapital soll in den “Ausbau des Teams sowie die Produktentwicklung” fließen.

CereGate 
+++ Heal Capital investiert gemeinsam mit dem High-Tech-Gründerfonds (HTGF) und TruVenturo in CereGate. Das Unternehmen, das 2019 von Balint Varkuti gegründet wurde, entwickelt software-basierte Lösungen für den Bereich Computer-Gehirn-Schnittstellen.  “Die neue Finanzierung ermöglicht es CereGate, die Ansätze weiterzuentwickeln und klinische Studien zur Kommerzialisierung der ersten Produkte durchzuführen”, teilt das Satrtup mit.

EXITS

Barefoot Living
+++ Die Social-Chain-Tochter Urbanara übernimmt Barefoot Living, eine Plattform für  Wohnaccessoires und andere Lifestyle-Produkte, die vom bekannten Schauspieler Til Schweiger gegründet wurde. “Schweiger bleibt in der neuen Aufstellung als Strategic Brand Lead an Bord und wird die Weiterentwicklung des Produktportfolios maßgeblich begleiten”, teilt das Unternehmen ziemlich überschwänglich mit. Geführt wird Barefoot Living derzeit von Florian Schweiger. Urbanara ist seit etlichen Jahren im Segment für Wohnaccessoires unterwegs. Die Social Chain-Gruppe rund um TV-Löwe Georg Kofler übernahm das Unternehmen im Dezember 2019.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #apex-ventures, #balderton-capital, #barefoot-living, #berlin, #ceregate, #demodesk, #entrepreneur-first, #heal-capital, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #ibb-beteiligungsgesellschaft, #munchen, #phantasma-labs, #signals-vc, #social-chain-group, #target-global, #truventuro, #urbanara, #venture-capital, #wi-ventures

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Demodesk snags $8M Series A to continue developing sales demo platform

It is clear that as the pandemic has taken hold in 2020, in-person meetings have gone by the wayside. Yet sales teams still need a way to demo their products for potential customers, particularly SaaS vendors. Enter Demodesk, an early stage startup and Y Combinator Winter 2019 grad, which is building an online sales demo platform.

Today the company announced an $8 million Series A led by Balderton Capital with participation from Target Global. The company has now raised a total of $10.3 million including its seed round announced last year.

Demodesk has built a platform to deliver online sales demos remotely with a dash of intelligence to help busy sales people set up the meetings in a more automated fashion. Even though the startup wasn’t thinking about raising money until next year, COVID has accelerated the need for a tool like this in the market, says CEO and co-founder Veronika Riederle.

“We originally planned to raise our next round around the beginning of next year, but because COVID happened, we were able to raise earlier and the money basically enables us to grow a little bit faster now and to build the tool faster because there so much demand in the market,” Riederle told TechCrunch.

The demand has increased because during COVID, sales teams still need to meet with customers, and Demodesk provides a way to do that. Riederle says that the product is significantly different from general meeting software like Zoom, WebEx or GoToMeeting.

While these tools generally allow screen sharing, she says DemoDesk does something different that separates it from these offerings. Instead of a live version of your desktop or a recording where the two parties are seeing the same thing, Demodesk provides a virtual desktop in the cloud where the salesperson can see notes and other information that the customer can’t see, while still letting the customer view the presentation or demo.

What’s more, the virtual approach enables companies to capture data about the demo to help sales teams understand what worked well and what didn’t, something that wouldn’t be possible with traditional screen sharing.

In addition, the company added a new scheduling tool to the product this year that lets customers and sales teams share available times. “You can just select a time that works for you, fill out some data and then we automatically send a calendar invite, put it in the sales person’s calendar, send out a reminder, and then of course automatically prepare the meeting because we know who the meeting is with beforehand. So we do everything from scheduling, preparing the meeting, then assisting you during the meeting,” Riederle explained.

When the meeting is over, Demodesk can share the notes from the meeting automatically with Salesforce or other CRM tool.

The company has 22 employees today, but the goal is to get to 50 by the end of next year. As she grows the company, Riederle says that diversity and inclusion is a key consideration. In fact, diversity is part of the company’s five core values. As an international company, she says that makes diversity even more important, but it’s also about not having just one way of thinking.

“If you have a more diverse set of employees on the team, you just typically come up with better ideas because you are more creative. You think in different ways and have more interesting discussions,” she said.

The company, which launched in 2017 has grown to 150 customers. While these are mostly software companies, Riederle reports she is seeing other industries use the platform like a solar panel company, which was going door-to-door prior to the pandemic, and has used the tool to continue doing business when visiting customers isn’t possible.

She sees this trend continuing, even post-COVID because doing online demos is more efficient, less costly and better for the environment because you don’t have to travel to the meeting.

#balderton-capital, #cloud, #demodesk, #funding, #online-meetings, #recent-funding, #saas, #sales-tools, #startups, #tc

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Eco-friendly laundry goods subscription service smol raises £8M from Balderton

Smol is a startup that delivers eco-friendly laundry capsules and dishwasher tablets on subscription through letterboxes, which undercut the price of the leading brands, to people’s homes. It’s now raised £8 million in a Series A funding round led by Balderton Capital with participation from JamJar Investments. The funding will see smol push into new product categories, expand further into new markets and expand its team. Before this round smol had been funded by seed money from private investors.  

Created by former Unilever employees, Paula Quazi and Nick Green in 2018, its also launched its own-brand, animal-fat-free, vegan fabric conditioner and a 100% plastic-free, child-lock packaging for its laundry and dishwashing products, as well as fabric conditioner made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic which as recyclable. Smol also offers a returns scheme for refill and reuse.

P&G and Unilever currently dominate the market, while smog hopes to become ‘the dollar shave club’ of laundry.

Paula Quazi, Co-founder of smol said in a statement: “Having seen how the industry has barely innovated in over a hundred years we launched smol to take the hassle out of washing for families whose laundry needs have been ignored for decades.”

Suranga Chandratillake, Partner at Balderton Capital said: “When people think of technology disruption, it is normal to think of digital products and internet tools. However, technology has the power to make life better for us in the most unexpected ways and we believe Paula, Nick and their amazing team have tapped into just such an opportunity at smol.”

#balderton-capital, #business, #co-founder, #companies, #dishwasher, #europe, #industries, #pg, #partner, #suranga-chandratillake, #tc, #unilever

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Kaia Health gets $26M to show it can do more with digital therapeutics

Kaia Health, a digital therapeutics startup which uses computer vision technology for real-time posture tracking via the smartphone camera to deliver human-hands-free physiotherapy, has closed a $26 million Series B funding round.

The funding was led by Optum Ventures, Idinvest and capital300 with participation from existing investors Balderton Capital and Heartcore Capital, in addition to Symphony Ventures — the latter in an “investment partnership” with world famous golfer, Rory McIlroy, who knows a thing or two about chronic pain.

Back in January 2019, when Kaia announced a $10M Series A, its business ratio was split 80:20 Europe to US. Now, says co-founder and CEO Konstantin Mehl — speaking to TechCrunch by Zoom chat from New York where he’s recently relocated — it’s flipped the other way.

Part of the new funding will thus go on building out its commercial team in the US — now its main market. He says they’ll also be spending to fund more clinical studies, and to conduct more R&D, including looking at how to supplement their 2D posture modelling with 3D data they can pull from modern, depth-sensing smartphone cameras.

“We use the smartphone camera to give you real-time feedback on your physical exercises. We are already pretty good at that but there are a lot more sensors in the iPhone so we’ll build out the computer vision team to start with 3D tracking,” he tells TechCrunch. “Including the depth cameras of the latest Samsung and Apple devices — mixing that with the 2D data we basically get from all the devices to see what we can do with these two data sets.”

On the research front, Kaia published a randomized control trial in the journal Nature last year — comparing its app-based therapy with multidisciplinary pain treatment programs for lower back pain which combine physiotherapy and online learning. “We have another large scale trial which is currently in the peer review process,” says Mehl, adding: “There will be a couple of interesting clinical trials getting published in the next six to nine months.

“We already have clinical studies that look specifically at how accurate the motion tracking technology is at the moment and how fast patients can learn exercises with the technology and how correct it is compared to when they learn it with real physical therapists — I think that’s an exciting study.”

He also flags another published app study which examined the treatment link between sleep and chronic back pain.

“We right now have nine clinical studies ongoing — part of the studies have the goal to compare our therapy apps against a lot of care treatments,” he goes on, fleshing out the reason for having such a strong focus on research. “The other part of the studies specifically look at AI features that we have and how they increase the quality of care for patients.

“Because a lot of startups say they have AI for healthcare or for patients but you never know what it exactly means, or if it really helps the patient or if it’s just material for the pitch, for investors. So that’s why we’d really like to do a lot more effort here, even if we already have nine studies ongoing — because it’s just a very powerful way to show how the products work. And it also helps to get more credibility as an industry.”

Kaia retired an earlier direct consumer subscription strand of its business to focus fully on b2b — chasing the “holy grail” of having its digital therapies fully reimbursed via users’ medical insurance.

Though it does still offer a number of free apps for consumers, with a physical trainer type function, as a way to gather movement data to feed its posture tracking models.

Overall it claims some 400,000 users across all its apps at this point.

“Back in Germany we have the majority of the population that can get the chronic pain app reimbursed already so there we do b2c marketing but the insurances reimburse it,” says Mehl. “In the US we mostly sell it to self-insured employers — the big employers.”

“Our goal in the end is always to get reimbursed as a medical claim because if you think back to our strong clinical focus, it just adds credibility — if you do the full homework,” he adds. “In medicine the holy grail is always to get reimbursed as a medical claim, that’s why we focus on that.”

So far Kaia offers app-based therapy for chronic back pain; a digital treatment for pulmonary rehabilitation treatment targeting at COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); and is set to launch a new app, in about a month, tackling knee and hip osteoarthritis.

It calls its approach ‘multimodal’ — offering what it describes as “mind body therapy” for musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders which consists of guided physical exercises, psychological techniques and medical education.

Unlike some rivals in the same digital therapeutics for MSK space — notably Hinge Health, which recently raised a $90M Series C — Kaia’s approach is purely software based, with no additional sensor hardware required to be used by patients.

Mehl says it has steered clear of wearables to ensure the widest possible accessibility for its app-based treatments — a point it seeks to hammer home on its website via a table comparing what it dubs a “typical sensor-based system” and its “health motion coach”.

Competition in the digital health space has clearly heated up in the almost half decade since Kaia got started but Mehal argues that major b2b buyers now want to work with therapy platform providers, rather than buying “point solutions” for one disease, giving this relative veteran an edge over some of the more recent entrants.

“We now have three therapies against three very big diseases so I think that helps us,” he says. “We we started 4.5 years ago it was pretty unsexy to start something in digital therapies and now there are so many startups getting started for digital therapies or digital health. And what we’re seeing is that the big b2b customers now move away from wanting to buy point solutions, against one disease, more towards buying a couple of diseases — in the end they want to work more with platforms.”

“The important thing here is we never invent any therapy — we just digitize the best in class therapy and that’s important because if not you have very different requirements of what you have to prove,” he adds. “Now we always just prove that the digital delivery of the best in class therapy works as good or better than the offline role model.”

A key focus for Kaia’s business in the US is working directly with health insurance claims payers — such as Optum — who manage budgets for the employers providing cover to staff, with the aim of getting its digital therapy reimbursed as a medical claim, rather than having to convince employers to fund the software as a workplace benefit.

“We focus on working directly with these payers to be reimbursed by them so that we help them reduce the costs and stay on budget,” he explains. “We already have some really interesting partnerships there — obviously Optum Ventures invested in us, and Optum is the biggest player with [its parent company] UnitedHealth… So we have a very big partner there.

“Once you get reimbursed as a medical claim, the employer doesn’t really have to pay you anymore out of the separate benefits budget — which includes all kinds of other benefits, and which is relatively small compared to the medical claims budget. So if you’re reimbursed it’s a no brainer for an employer to basically buy your therapy. So it’s a fast-track through the US healthcare system.”

The team is also positioning the business to work with the growing number of telemedicine providers — and its app-based therapy something those services could offer as a bolt on for their own patients.

Mehl argues that the coronavirus crisis has transformed interest in digital care provision, and, again, contends that Kaia is well positioned to plug into a future of healthcare service provision that’s increasingly digital.

“Our goal is to not only have a therapy app that works in parallel to the healthcare system but to integrate in a full treatment pathway that a patient goes through. The obvious first thing is that we integrate more with doctors — we are currently talking with a lot of different players in the market how we can do that because if you use one of the many apps where you can talk to a doctor, what do you do afterwards?

“If they prescribe you in person physical therapy or even surgery you can’t really do that at the moment. So to have this full treatment pathway in the digital world just became mass market now. Before the crisis it was more like an early adopter market and now people have no other choice or don’t really want to go out even if the restrictions are lifted because they just don’t feel safe.”

#apps, #artificial-intelligence, #balderton-capital, #chronic-pain, #digital-therapeutics, #europe, #fundings-exits, #germany, #health, #healthcare, #heartcore-capital, #kaia-health, #new-york, #optum-ventures, #pain, #physical-therapy, #recent-funding, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #unitedhealth

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Adding three more companies to the $100M ARR club

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

When we kicked off our series on private companies that have reached $100 million ARR, we didn’t expect it to last. Maybe a piece or two, but nothing more. Today’s entry should bring us past the thirty company mark.

It was less than a month ago that we added eight names to the club in a single post (HeadSpin, UiPath, DigitalOcean, BounceX, Wrike, Aeris, Podium and Lucid), the latter two of which had recently raised capital, announcing their revenue milestones at the same time. This morning, we’re appending just three names, but pay attention all the same.

We joked in February that our running tally of growth-oriented, private companies that had reached $100 million in annual recurring revenue read like a list of firms that either could, or should go public in short order. Since then, the IPO market has largely closed in light of COVID-19, so I suppose we’re more adding to the backlog than queuing up companies for an S-1.

Either way, let’s talk about ActiveCampaign, Recorded Future, and ON24 this morning!

New names

We’ll start, then, with Recorded Future .

Recorded Future

Boston-based Recorded Future, a cybersecurity company focused on “threat intelligence,” announced that it crossed the $100 million ARR mark recently, making the firm a success story for its city. But as with so many companies that we add to our list, its inclusion is slightly fraught.

#100-million-arr-club, #activecampaign, #balderton-capital, #canaan-partners, #cloud, #extra-crunch, #fundings-exits, #goldman-sachs, #gv, #market-analysis, #on24, #recorded-future, #software-as-a-service, #startups, #susquehanna-growth-equity, #tc, #the-exchange

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