Toast’s Aman Narang and BVP’s Kent Bennett on how customer obsession is everything

Toast has raised more than $900 billion and is reportedly valued at over $5 billion. But back in 2011, no one knew this startup would see such meteoric success. It had a few things going for it, of course — founder Aman Narang hailed from Endeca, where he was a software engineer and product lead with a reputation for being able to ship a lot of software quickly.

But the ambitions behind Toast were big and complicated, and enough to give pause to any investor. Kent Bennett was one such VC, and while he had conviction in the founding team, he wasn’t convinced that they could tackle such a big problem.

Toast is a restaurant POS system that acts as a sort of operating system for an establishment, managing everything from online orders, deliveries and marketing to payroll and team management as well as the actual point of sale. Being able to do all that requires building a number of complex products, such as payments.

Early on, Bennett had told Narang not to build a restaurant POS. To him, it was too complicated and nuanced, which is why the systems from the ’90s were still deeply entrenched 20 years later. However, he did offer space in the Bessemer office for the Toast team to work on their product.

“I caught up with Aman and he told me that they did this interesting thing after hearing that a lot of their customers were frustrated by payments platforms, which are separate from the POS,” said Bennett. “Aman said they built their own payments platform. Once again, I was like, ‘You did what? You’re not allowed to build payments.’ But he told me that they built it and it improves their products, and that, by the way, they make a margin on it.”

Bennett said that when they added up the margins from the payments and the POS, it was impactful.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” said Bennett. “This is a really good business.”

From there, it became his obsession. And though it took a few more quarters to close the deal, they eventually got there. Bessemer led the company’s Series B financing in 2016.

We spoke to Bennett and Narang recently on an episode of Extra Crunch Live to explore the story of how they came together for the deal, what makes the difference for both founders and investors when fundraising, and the biggest lessons they’ve learned so far. The episode also featured the Extra Crunch Live Pitch-Off, where audience members pitched their products to Bennett and Narang and received live feedback.

Extra Crunch Live is open to everyone each Wednesday at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT, but only Extra Crunch members are able to stream these sessions afterward and watch previous shows on-demand in our episode library.

Despite the complexity of the Toast system, or maybe because of it, Narang says the fundamentals are the most important part of communicating the business, especially when fundraising.

#aman-narang, #bessemer-venture-partners, #ec-live, #ecl, #events, #extra-crunch-live, #extra-crunch-live-recap, #kent-bennett, #startups, #tc, #toast, #venture-capital

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Privacy.com rebrands to Lithic, raises $43M for virtual payment cards

When Privacy.com was founded in 2014, the company’s focus was to let anyone generate virtual and disposable payment card numbers for free.

The goal was to allow those users to keep users’ actual credit card numbers safe while allowing the option to cut off companies from their bank accounts. In an age of near-constant data breaches and credit card skimmers targeting unsuspecting websites, Privacy.com has made it harder for hackers to get anyone’s real credit card details.

The concept has appealed to many. At the time of its $10.2 million Series A last July, Privacy.com said it had issued 5 million virtual card numbers. Today, that number has more than doubled, to over 10 million, according to CEO and co-founder Bo Jiang.

“We set out to create the safest and fastest way to pay online. Our mobile app and web browser extension lets you generate a virtual card for every purchase you want to make online,” Jiang explained. “That can be especially convenient for things like managing subscriptions or making sure your kid doesn’t spend $1,000 on Fortnite skins.”

Over the years, the New York-based company realized the value in the technology it had developed to issue the virtual and disposable payment cards. So after beta testing for a year, Privacy.com launched its new Card Issuing API in 2020 to give corporate customers the ability to create payment cards for their customers, optimize back-office operations or simplify disbursements.

The early growth of the new card issuing platform, dubbed Lithic, has prompted the startup to shift its business strategy — and rebrand.

In the process of building out its consumer product, Privacy.com ended up building a lot of infrastructure around programmatically creating cards.

“If you think about the anatomy of credit/debit card transactions there’s a number of modern processors such as Stripe, Adyen, Braintree and Checkout,” Jiang told TechCrunch. “On the flip side, we’re focused on card creation and issuing, and the APIs for actually creating cards. That side has lagged the card acquiring side by five to seven years…We’ve built a lot to support card creation for ourselves, and realized tons of other developers need this to create cards.”

As part of its new strategy, Privacy.com announced today that it has changed its name to Lithic and raised $43 million in Series B funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners to double down on its card issuing platform and new B2B focus. Index Ventures, Tusk Venture Partners, Rainfall Ventures, Teamworthy Ventures and Walkabout Ventures also participated in the financing, which brings Lithic’s total raised to date to $61 million.

Image Credits: Lithic CEO and co-founder Bo Jiang / Lithic

Privacy.com, the company’s consumer product, will continue to operate as a separate brand powered by the Lithic card issuing platform.

Put simply, Lithic was designed to make it simple for developers to programmatically create virtual and physical payment cards. Jiang is encouraged by the platform’s early success, noting that enterprise issuing volumes tripled in the last four months. It competes with the likes of larger fintech players such as Marqeta and Galileo, although Jiang notes that Lithic’s target customer is more of an early-stage startup than a large, established company.

“Marqeta, for example, goes after enterprise and is less focused on developers and making their infrastructure accessible. And, Galileo too,” he told TechCrunch. “When you compare us to them, because we’re a younger company, we have the benefit of building a much more modern infrastructure. That allows us to bring costs down but also to be more nimble to the needs of startups.”

The benefits touted by Lithic’s “self-serve” platform include being able to “instantly” issue a card and “accessible building blocks,” or what the company describes as focused functionality so developers can include only the features they want.

Another benefit? An opportunity for a new revenue stream. Developers earn back a percentage of interchange revenue generated by the merchant, according to Lithic. “What we’ve noticed is a lot of folks have really big ambitions to build more of a stack in-house. We offer a path for folks by bringing more of a payments piece of the world that they can build for scale,” he said. “As a result of all these things, we end up not competing head to head with Marqeta, for example, on a ton of deals.”

The company charges a fee per card for Lithic API customers (it’s free for Privacy.com). And it makes money on interchange fees with both offerings.

For Charles Birnbaum, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, the shift from B2C to B2B is a smart strategy. He believes Lithic is building a critical piece of the embedded fintech and payments infrastructure stack.

“We have been big fans of the Privacy.com team and product since the beginning, but once we started to see such strong organic growth across the fintech landscape for their new card processing developer platform the past year, we just had to find a way to partner with the team for this next phase of growth,” he said.

Index Ventures partner Mark Goldberg notes that as every business becomes a fintech, there’s been an “explosion” in demand for online payments and card issuance.

“Lithic has stood out to us as being the developer-friendly solution here — it’s fast, powerful and insanely easy to get up-and-running,” he said. “We’ve heard from customers that Lithic can power a launch in the same amount of time it takes an incumbent issuer to return a phone call.”

Lithic plans to use its new capital to expand the tools and tech it offers to developers to issue and manage virtual cards as well as enhance its Privacy.com offering.

#adyen, #api, #bessemer-venture-partners, #charles-birnbaum, #credit-card, #debit-card, #finance, #financial-services, #fintech, #funding, #index-ventures, #mark-goldberg, #marqeta, #money, #new-york, #online-payments, #payment-card, #payments, #payments-infrastructure, #privacy-com, #recent-funding, #smart-card, #startup, #startups, #stripe, #tc, #teamworthy-ventures, #tusk-venture-partners

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Bessemer’s Tess Hatch will join us as a judge at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021

Tess Hatch, vice president and partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, will join us at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 as a judge for our Startup Battlefield competition. By the way startups, you can still apply now until May 27 to take part in the competition here!

At Bessemer, Tess spearheads frontier tech investments, including the scaling and commercialization of revolutionary technologies, including drones, space-based observation and launch, agritech and much more. She’s focused on sourcing and reproducing tech bets that have the potential to significantly improve society in fundamental ways.

Some of Tess’s investments and board positions include Rocket Lab, Spire, DroneDeploy, Iris and more. Before her time at Bessemer and work as an investor, she worked for both Boeing and SpaceX as a payload integrator and aerospace engineer, building on her aeronautics and astronautics education from the University of Michigan and Stanford. Tess was also recently named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in VC.

We’ve been lucky enough to have Tess onstage at prior Disrupt events, and our TC Sessions: Space event as well. She’s definitely one of the best people in the world to talk to about cutting-edge technologies, and companies looking to solve even the most ambitious technical challenges, so she’s sure to bring great perspective to the Startup Battlefield judging panel this year.

Make sure to book your pass to TC Disrupt on September 21-23 to watch 20+ startups compete for $100k in Startup Battlefield and enjoy over 100 hours of content and thousands of enthusiastic startup fans — all for under $99! Secure your seat today!

#bessemer-venture-partners, #events, #startup-battlefield, #startups, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021, #tess-hatch

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Bessemer’s Kent Bennett and Toast’s Aman Narang to discuss how to become a unicorn on ECL

Toast has a reported valuation over $5 billion and has raised more than $900 million since launch. The restaurant POS service has clearly been on a rapid growth trajectory, but how has the company navigated the market during the pandemic, which has pushed and pulled the restaurant industry unlike ever before?

On an upcoming episode of Extra Crunch Live (May 26 at 3pm ET), we’ll find out. We’re sitting down with president and co-founder of Toast, Aman Narang, and one of the company’s investors, Bessemer Venture Partners’ Kent Bennett.

Bennett is a partner out of the Cambridge office, focusing on consumer products and services as well as consumer-facing software. Before venture, Bennett was a creative executive for an entertainment production company called Licht Entertainment.

His portfolio includes Bevi, Blue Apron, Xtime and, of course, Toast.

Narang spent seven years at Oracle, then Endeca, working on the development of the company’s business intelligence platform and mobile commerce platform.

He co-founded Toast in 2011 and has been growing the company ever since, adding new products and features to the restaurant POS system.

On Extra Crunch Live, we’ll sit down with Narang and Bennett to learn about how they came together for the company’s Series B deal, which Bessemer led. We’ll also talk about why Bennett wanted to bet on Toast, how they’ve worked together since and how they overcome challenges and disagreements. If we’re lucky, we may even get a peek at Toast’s original Series B pitch deck.

From there, we’ll head into the Extra Crunch Live Pitch-off. Members of the audience can raise their hand to pitch live on the show, and Bennett and Narang will offer their feedback. It’s always a good time, but the only way to participate is to show up live. Register here for free!

Extra Crunch Live is a free event and accessible to everyone, but only Extra Crunch members get access to the entire library of ECL episodes, all of which are packed with insights on how to raise and run a successful venture-backed company.

Register to hang out with myself, Narang and Bennett on Wednesday, May 26 at 3pm ET/noon PT.

#aman-narang, #bessemer-venture-partners, #ecl, #extra-crunch-live-announcement, #kent-bennett, #tc, #toast

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The Chainsmokers, Alexis Ohanian, Amy Schumer, Kevin Hart, Mark Cuban, Marshmello, and Snoop Dogg back Pearpop

Pearpop, the marketplace for social collaborations between the teeming hordes of musicians, craftspeople, chefs, clowns, diarists, dancers, artists, actors, acrobats, aspiring celebrities and actual celebrities, has raised $16 million in funding that includes what seems like half of Hollywood, along with Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six venture firm and Bessemer Venture Partners.

The funding was actually split between a $6 million seed funding round co-led by Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures and Slow Ventures, with participation from Atelier Ventures and Chapter One Ventures and a $10 million additional investment led by Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six with participation from Bessemer.

TechCrunch first covered pearpop last year and there’s no denying that the startup is on to something. It basically takes Cameo’s celebrity marketplace for private shout-outs and makes it public. Allowing social media personalities to boost their followers by paying more popular personalities to shout out, duet, or comment on their posts.

“I’ve invested in pearpop because it’s been on my mind for a while that the creator economy has resulted in a lot of not equitable outcomes for creators. Where i talked about the missing middle class of the creator economy,” said Li Jin, the founder of Atelier Ventures and author of a critical piece on creator economics, “The creator economy needs a middle class“. 

“When I saw pearpop I felt like there was a really big potential for pearpop to be the one of the creators of the creative middle class. They’ve introduced this mechanism by which larger creators can help smaller creators and everyone has something of value to offer something to everyone else in the ecosystem.”

Jin discovered pearpop through the TechCrunch piece, she said. “You wrote that article and then i reached out to the team,” said Jin.

The idea was so appealing, it brought in a slew of musicians, athletes, actors and entertainers, including: Abel Makkonen (The Weeknd), Amy Schumer, The Chainsmokers, Diddy, Gary Vaynerchuk, Griffin Johnson, Josh Richards, Kevin Durant (Thirty 5 Ventures), Kevin Hart (HartBeat Ventures), Mark Cuban, Marshmello, Moe Shalizi, Michael Gruen (Animal Capital), MrBeast (Night Media Ventures), Rich Miner (Android co-founder) and Snoop Dogg.

“Pearpop has the potential to benefit all social media platforms by delivering new users and engagement, while simultaneously leveling the playing field of opportunity for creators,” said Alexis Ohanian, Founder, Seven Seven Six, in a statement. “The company has created a revolutionary new marketplace model that is set to completely reimagine how we think of social media monetization. As both a social media founder and an investor, I’m excited for what’s to come with pearpop.”

Already Heidi Klum, Loren Gray, Snoop Dogg, and Tony Hawk have gotten paid to appear in social media posts from aspiring auteurs on the social media platform TikTok.

Using the platform is relatively simple. A social media user (for now, that means just TikTok) sends a post that exists on their social feed and requests that another social media user interacts with it in some way — either commenting, posting a video in response, or adding a sound. If the request seems okay, or “on brand”, then the person who accepts the request performs the prescribed action.

Pearpop takes a 25% cut of all transactions with the social media user who’s performing the task getting the other 75%.

The company wouldn’t comment on revenue numbers, except to say that it’s on track to bring in seven figures this year.

Users on the platform set their prices and determine which kinds of services they’re willing to provide to boost the social media posts of their contractors.

Prices range anywhere from $5 to $10,000 depending on the size of a user’s following and the type of request that’s being made. Right now, the most requested personality on the marketplace is the TikTok star, Anna Banana.

These kinds of transactions do have impacts. The company said that personalities on the platform were able to increase their follower count with the service. For instance, Leah Svoboda went from 20K to 141K followers, after a pearpop duet with Anna Shumate.

If this all makes you feel like you’ve tripped and fallen through a Black Mirror into a dystopian hellscape where everything and every interaction is a commodity to be mined for money, well… that’s life.

“What I appreciate most about pearpop is the control it gives me as a creator,” said Anna Shumate, TikTok influencer @annabananaxdddd. “The platform allows me to post what I want and when I want. My followers still love my content because it’s authentic and true to me, which is what sets pearpop apart from all of the other opportunities on social media.”

Talent agencies, too, see the draw. Early adopters include Talent X, Get Engaged, and Next Step Talent and The Fuel Injector, which has added its entire roster of talent to pearpop, which includes Kody Antle, Brooke Monk and Harry Raftus, the company said.

“The initial concept came out of an obvious gap within the space: no marketplace existed for creators of all sizes to monetize through simple, authentic collaborations that are mutually beneficial,” said Cole Mason, co-founder & CEO, pearpop.  “It soon became clear that this was a product that people had been waiting for, as thousands of people rely on our platform today to gain full control of their social capital for the first time starting with TikTok.”

#alexis-ohanian, #amy-schumer, #android, #anna-shumate, #ashton-kutcher, #atelier-ventures, #author, #bessemer-venture-partners, #bytedance, #cole-mason, #founder, #gary-vaynerchuk, #instagram, #kevin-durant, #kevin-hart, #li-jin, #mark-cuban, #pearpop, #slow-ventures, #snoop-dogg, #social-media, #social-media-monetization, #social-media-platforms, #software, #tc, #techcrunch, #tiktok, #tony-hawk, #video-hosting

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With an ARR topping $250 million, LA’s vertical SAAS superstar ServiceTitan is now worth $8.3 billion

Who knew building a vertical software as a service toolkit focused on home heating and cooling could be worth $8.3 billion?

That’s how much Los Angeles-based ServiceTitan, a startup founded just eight years ago is worth now, thanks to some massive tailwinds around homebuilding and energy efficiency that are serving to boost the company’s bottom line and netting it an unprecedented valuation for a vertical software company, according to bankers.

The company’s massive mint comes thanks to a new $500 million financing round led by Sequoia’s Global Equities fund and Tiger Global Management.

ServiceTitan’s backers are a veritable who’s who of the venture industry, with longtime white shoe investors like Battery Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and Index Ventures joining the later stage investment funds like T. Rowe Price, Dragoneer Investment Group, and ICONIQ Growth.

In all, the new $500 million round likely sets the stage for a public offering later this year or before the end of 2022 if market conditions hold.

ServiceTitan now boasts more than 7,500 customers that employ more than 100,000 technicians and conduct nearly $20 billion worth of transactions providing services ranging from plumbing, air conditioning, electrical work, chimney, pest services and lawn care.

If Angi and Thumbtack are the places where homeowners go to find services and technicians, then ServiceTitan is where those technicians go to manage and organize their own businesses.

Based in Glendale, Calif., with satellite offices in Atlanta and Armenia, ServiceTitan built its business to solve a problem that its co-founders knew intimately as the children of parents whose careers were spent in the HVAC business.

The market for home services employs more than 5 million workers in the US and represents a trillion dollar global market.

Despite the siren song of global expansion, there’s likely plenty of room for ServiceTitan to grow in the U.S. Home ownership in the country is at a ten-year high thanks to the rise of remote work and an exodus from the largest American cities accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A focus on energy efficiency and a desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will likely cause a surge in residential and commercial retrofits which will also boost new business. Indeed these trends were already apparent in the statistic that home improvement spending was up 3 percent in 2020 even though the broader economy shrank by 3.5 percent.

“We depend on the men and women of the trades to maintain our life support systems: running water, heat, air conditioning, and power,” said Ara Mahdessian, co-founder and CEO of ServiceTitan. “Today, as both homeownership rates and time spent at home reach record highs, these essential service providers are facing rising demand from an increasingly tech-savvy homeowner. By providing contractors with the tools they need to deliver a great customer experience and grow their businesses with ease, ServiceTitan is enabling the hardworking men and women of the trades to reach the level of success they deserve.”

#armenia, #atlanta, #battery-ventures, #bessemer-venture-partners, #california, #chase-coleman, #dragoneer-investment-group, #energy-efficiency, #finance, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #iconiq-growth, #investment, #los-angeles, #sequoia, #servicetitan, #software, #t-rowe-price, #tc, #thumbtack, #tiger-global-management, #united-states

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E-commerce marketing startup Yotpo raises $230M at a $1.4B valuation

Barely more than seven months after its most recent funding announcement, Yotpo is revealing that it has raised another $230 million in a Series F round that values the company at $1.4 billion (post-money).

“Our round, in my eyes, it’s all about celebrating the future of e-commerce,” co-founder and CEO Tomer Tagrin told me. “Brands don’t need to worry about connecting the marketing stack anymore.”

Where success in traditional retail has been determined by “location, location, location,” Tagrin said e-commerce is “all about consumer attention.” To capture that attention, he estimated the average brand is using 10 to 14 different marketing applications, creating a “pretty horrible experience.” So Yotpo — founded in 2011 and headquartered in New York City — aims to provide all of a brand’s e-commerce marketing needs in a single, integrated platform.

To illustrate this, Tagrin described a marketer wanting to create a customized offer just for users who had both purchased a product in the past 90 days and left a five-star review. Yotpo allows them to do that with “just the click of a button,” whereas “that experience was just not feasible before Yotpo,” he said.

The platform currently consists of four main products — Yotpo SMS Marketing, Yotpo Loyalty & Referrals, Yotpo Reviews and Yotpo Visual UGC — which integrate with each other, as well as with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Adobe-owned Magento and BigCommerce.

Yotpo CEO Tomer Tagrin

Yotpo CEO Tomer Tagrin

Tagrin said Yotpo still had money leftover from the last round but it decided to raise additional money to continue investing in product and marketing, as well for strategic acquisitions. (The company acquired SMSBump at the beginning of 2020 and Tagrin said it’s “70% of the way there” towards full integration.) Among other things, the company is planning to launch new products around customer communication and measuring a customer’s lifetime value.

Yotpo also says that it has now exceeded $100 million in annual recurring revenue, with the SMS marketing product growing revenue by 170% last year, while the loyalty product saw its revenue nearly double. Big brands like Patagonia and Steve Madden use the platform, but Tagrin pointed out that it’s also used by newer direct-to-consumer businesses like Princess Polly and has 30,000 paying customers over all.

“I like to say that Victoria’s Secret will die by a thousand cuts,” he said. “These are the mini-brands … the up-and-comer brands that are going to replace the incumbents.”

Yotpo has now raised more than $400 million in total funding, according to Crunchbase. The round was led by by Bessemer Venture Partners and Tiger Global, with participation from Claltech Investment, Coin Ventures, Hanaco, Vertex Ventures, Vintage Investment Partners, Capital Group and others.

“Tiger Global has long been bullish on eCommerce as the future of retail, having invested in disruptor brands like Warby Parker and Peloton, giants like JD.com, and best-in-class SaaS companies like Stripe and Twilio,” said Tiger’s John Curtius in a statement. “We are excited by Yotpo’s approach to provide a unified marketing tech stack and the value it provides to brands and online shoppers in the process.”

#advertising-tech, #bessemer-venture-partners, #ecommerce, #funding, #fundings-exits, #startups, #tc, #tiger-global, #yotpo

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Demostack announces $17.3M investment for demo building platform

Demostack, an early stage startup that wants to make it easy for companies to build software demos, announced $17.3 million in funding today. The company also announced it was coming out of stealth.

That investment breaks down into a $13.3 million Series A led by Bessemer Venture Partners with help from GTM Fund and several individual investors. They also announced a $4 million seed from last December led by Amiti Ventures with participation from Operator Collective, Cerca Partners and a slew of individual investors. All the seed investors also participated in the A round, according to the company.

Software companies of all types face challenges in building a quality demo, one that doesn’t expose actual customer information, yet shows all of the functionality in a reasonably realistic way. It’s a problem that co-founder and CEO Jonathan Friedman experienced in his previous job and he wanted to do something about it.

“We’re building a perfect demo environment. And what that means is that it’s one that is controlled by sales or marketing. […] There is no need for [engineering] at all, and it’s customized for each prospect by default,” Friedman explained.

He said that it removes that anxiety that the demo won’t work, or that you will expose data you’re not supposed to. “Demo anxiety is real. Just having to worry about PII (personally identifiable information), and having people logging on and coming in and creating stuff within our production environment was unsustainable,” he told me.

Friedman founded Demostack to change that. They provide a full demo building tool that starts with a recording of the environment, so it looks and feels like the live product, and you can create auto customization with variables like customer name that link to the CRM tool and pull in information for you as you build the demo for a particular prospect.

It’s a solution that caught the attention of Adam Fisher, partner at lead investor Bessemer Venture Partners. “Demostack gives every software business a powerful competitive advantage, allowing them to better engage their prospective customers, doing away with old school temperamental demos,” he said in a statement.

Demostack already has 20 employees with plans to triple that number by the end of this year. He said the company is already embracing diversity among its early employees, and sees this as an important building block.

“One of the main reasons that we wanted to lean into this early is because being a diverse company is not a bonus. It’s not like, ‘Oh I’ll do this to make people happy about me’. You can’t understand how people from different walks of life see reality. Everyone sees a different slice of reality. If you can’t grasp that you will never build a company that is successful,” Friedman said.

The company launched last September and released an early version of the product in February. Today, Demostack is publicly unveiling the company, although it doesn’t expect to have the complete product ready for distribution until mid-year.

#bessemer-venture-partners, #cloud, #demo-software, #demostack, #enterprise-software, #funding, #recent-funding, #saas, #startups, #tc

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Bessemer Venture Partners closes on $3.3 billion across two funds

Another major VC firm has closed two major rounds, underscoring the long-term confidence investors continue to have for backing privately-held companies in the tech sector.

Early-stage VC firm Bessemer Venture Partners announced Thursday the close of two new funds totaling $3.3 billion that it will be using both to back early-stage startups as well as growth rounds for more mature companies.

The Redwood City-based firm closed BVP XI with $2.475 billion and BVP Century II with $825 million in total commitments.

With BVP XI, it plans to focus on early-stage companies spanning across enterprise, consumer, healthcare, and frontier technologies. 

Its Century II fund is aimed at backing growth-stage companies that Bessemer believes “will define the next century,” and will include both follow-on rounds for existing portfolio companies or investments in new ones.

BVP XI marks Bessemer’s largest fund in its 110-year history. In October 2018, the firm brought in $1.85 billion for its tenth flagship VC fund. This latest fund is its fifth consecutive billion-dollar fund, based on PitchBook data. 

Despite being founded more than 100 years ago, Bessemer didn’t actually enter the venture business until 1965. It’s known for its investments in LinkedIn, Blue Apron and many others, with a current portfolio that includes PagerDuty, Shippo, Electric and DocuSign. Exits include Twitch and Shopify, among many others.

With more money than ever before available for backing startups, the challenge now for VCs is to see how and if they can find (and invest in) whatever will define the next generation of tech. 

“As venture capitalists, we pay too much attention to pattern recognition and matching when in reality, the biggest opportunities exist where those patterns break,” the firm wrote in a blog post today. “Our job is to make perceptive bets on the future, especially those that others will dismiss and ridicule. We are fundamental optimists and strong believers in the power of innovation; our life’s work is putting our reputation, time, and money to help entrepreneurs realize a different future. They’re the ones pioneering something entirely new and obscure – a technology, a business model, a category.

In addition to announcing the new funds, Bessemer also revealed today that it’s brought on five new partners including Jeff Blackburn, who joins after a 22-year career at Amazon, alongside the promotion of existing investors Mary D’Onofrio, Mike Droesch, Tess Hatch, and Andrew Hedin.

Most recently at Amazon, Blackburn served as senior vice president of worldwide business development where he oversaw dozens of Amazon’s minority investments and more than 100 acquisitions across all business lines – including retail, Kindle, Echo, Alexa, FireTV, advertising, music, streaming audio & video, and Amazon Web Services.  

“Having been part of Amazon for more than two decades, I’m excited to begin a new chapter helping customer-focused founders build breakthrough companies,” said Blackburn in a written statement.  “I’ve known the Bessemer team for many years and have long admired their strategic vision and success backing early-stage ventures.” 

With the latest changes, Bessemer now has 21 partners and over 45 investors, advisors, and platform “team members” located in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Boston, London, Tel Aviv, Bangalore, and Beijing. 

“At Bessemer, there’s no corner office or consensus; every partner has the choice, independently, to pen a check. This kind of accountability and autonomy means a founder is teaming up with a partner and board director who thoroughly understands your business and can respond quickly and decisively,” the firm’s blog post read.

Bessemer’s task is all the more difficult because there is more competition than ever before to get into the best deals.

TCV closed on a record $4 billion fund to invest in e-commerce, fintech, edtech, travel and more in late January.

Last November, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z)  closed a pair of funds totaling $4.5 billion. The firm raised $1.3 billion for an early-stage fund focused on consumer, enterprise and fintech; and closed a $3.2 billion growth-stage fund for later-stage investments.

And, last April, Insight, the firm that has backed the likes of Twitter and Shopify and invests across a range of consumer and enterprise startups, announced it had closed a fund of $9.5 billion, money it said it would be using to support startups and “scale-ups” (larger and older startups that are still private) in the coming months.

Although BVP is one of the older firms in the valley, there have been a new wave of investors, some like SoftBank with very deep pockets, and others will less money but a lot of credibility, so it will be interesting to see how these next two funds play out for the firm.

#bessemer, #bessemer-venture-partners, #bvp, #healthcare, #linkedin, #mary-donofrio, #mike-droesch, #money, #pagerduty, #redwood-city, #shopify, #tess-hatch, #venture-capital

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Ex-General Catalyst and General Atlantic VC announces $68M debut fund

As of 2019, the majority of venture firms — 65% — still did not have a single female partner or GP at their firm, according to All Raise.

So naturally, anytime we hear of a new female-led fund, our ears perk up.

Today, New York-based Avid Ventures announced the launch of its $68 million debut venture capital fund. Addie Lerner — who was previously an investor with General Catalyst, General Atlantic and Goldman Sachs — founded Avid in 2020 with the goal of taking a hands-on approach to working with founders of early-stage startups in the United States, Europe and Israel.

“We believe investing in a founder’s company is a privilege to be earned,” she said.

Tali Vogelstein — a former investor at Bessemer Venture Partners — joined the firm as a founding investor soon after its launch and the pair were able to raise the capital in 10 months’ time during the 2020 pandemic.

The newly formed firm has an impressive list of LPs backing its debut effort. Schusterman Family Investments and the George Kaiser Family Foundation are its anchor LPs. Institutional investors include Foundry Group, General Catalyst, 14W, Slow Ventures and LocalGlobe/Latitude through its Basecamp initiative that backs emerging managers. 

Avid also has the support of 50 founders, entrepreneurs and investors as LPs — 40% of whom are female — including Mirror founder Brynn Putnam; Getty Images co-founder Jonathan Klein; founding partner of Acrew Capital Theresia Gouw and others.

Avid invests at the Series A and B stages, and so far has invested in Alloy, Nova Credit, Rapyd, Staircase, Nava and The Wing. Three of those companies have female founders — something Lerner said happened “quite naturally.”

“Diversity can happen and should happen more organically as opposed to quotas or mandates,” she added.

In making those deals, Avid partnered with top-tier firms such as Kleiner Perkins, Canapi Ventures, Zigg Capital and Thrive Capital. In general, Avid intentionally does not lead its first investments in startups, with its first checks typically being in the $500,000 to $1 million range. It preserves most of its capital for follow-on investments.

“We like to position ourselves to earn the right to write a bigger check in a future round,” Lerner told TechCrunch. 

In the case of Rapyd, Avid organized an SPV (special-purpose vehicle) to invest in the unicorn’s recent Series D. Lerner had previously backed the company’s Series B round while at General Catalyst and remains a board observer.

Prior to founding Avid, Lerner had helped deploy more than $450 million across 18 investments in software, fintech (Rapyd & Monzo) and consumer internet companies spanning North America, Europe and Israel. 

When it comes to sectors, Avid is particularly focused on backing early-stage fintech, consumer internet and software companies. The firm intends to invest in about 20 startups over a three-to-four year period.

“We want to take our time, so we can be as hands-on as we want to be,” Lerner said. “We’re not looking to back 80 companies. Our goal is to drive outstanding returns for our LPs.”

The firm views itself as an extension of its portfolio companies’ teams, serving as their “Outsourced Strategic CFO.” Lerner and Vogelstein also aim to provide the companies they work with strategic growth modeling, unit economics analysis, talent recruiting, customer introductions and business development support.

“We strive to build deep relationships early on and to prove our value well ahead of a prospective investment,” Lerner said. Avid takes its team’s prior data-driven experience to employ “a metrics-driven approach” so that a startup can “deeply understand” their unit economics. It also “gets in the trenches” alongside founders to help grow a company.

Ed Zimmerman, chair of Lowenstein Sandler LLP’s tech group in New York and adjunct professor of VC at Columbia Business School, is an Avid investor.

He told TechCrunch that because of his role in the venture community, he is often counsel to a company or fund and will run into former students in deals. Feedback from numerous people in his network point to Lerner being “extraordinarily thoughtful about deals,” with one entrepreneur describing her as “one of the smartest people she has met in a decade-plus in venture.”

“I’ve seen it myself in deals and then I’ve seen founders turn down very well branded funds to work with Addie,” Zimmerman added, noting they are impressed both by her intellect and integrity. “…Addie will find and win and be invited into great deals because she makes an indelible impression on the people who’ve worked with her and the data is remarkably consistent.”

#acrew-capital, #addie-lerner, #basecamp, #bessemer-venture-partners, #brynn-putnam, #canapi-ventures, #catalyst, #consumer-internet, #corporate-finance, #diversity, #finance, #foundry-group, #funding, #general-atlantic, #general-catalyst, #george-kaiser-family-foundation, #goldman-sachs, #israel, #jonathan-klein, #kleiner-perkins, #new-york, #north-america, #slow-ventures, #software, #tali-vogelstein, #tc, #tech, #techcrunch-include, #theresia-gouw, #thrive-capital, #united-states, #venture-capital

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13 investors say lifelong learning is taking edtech mainstream

The venture potential of a startup that caters to individual students — instead of a slow-moving, small-pocketed institution — has a bullish aura that attracts investors.

Add in a pandemic that forced many to embrace remote learning overnight, and it makes sense that we have seen companies like Outschool and ClassDojo turn first profits while startups like Quizlet and ApplyBoard reached $1 billion valuations.

Last year brought a flurry of record-breaking venture capital to the sector. PitchBook data shows that edtech startups around the world raised $10.76 billion last year, compared to $4.7 billion in 2019. While reporting delays could change this total, VC dollars have more than doubled since the pandemic began. In the United States, edtech startups raised $1.78 billion in venture capital across 265 deals during 2020, compared to $1.32 billion the prior year.

In today’s survey, thirteen top edtech investors shared their thoughts on how growth of lifelong learning is reshaping the industry. Given the sudden extinction of snow days and yeast shortages brought on by student bakers in the early days of the pandemic, it’s easy to see how remote education extends beyond traditional school hours. As learners become more multi-layered and nuanced, so have the edtech companies that back them. 

This was a recurring theme in today’s survey, signaling a shift in how investors approach hybrid learning. The evolution of post-pandemic education will be complex, if not aggressively competitive among the growing cohort of well-capitalized edtech companies. While we asked investors about their post-pandemic tastebuds back in July, much has changed since. Higher education didn’t combust like some expected today, and today, many predict that K-12 students will return to pre-COVID formats after vaccinations are widespread. 

It puts startups in a difficult spot: if 2020 was about enabling video-based teaching, what might emerge from 2021? Integration between different edtech apps? New student collaboration tools? Are employer-led up-skilling and a renewed interest in self-improvement enlarging edtech’s TAM?

Here are the investors we spoke to, along with their areas of interest and expertise:

  • Deborah Quazzo, managing partner, GSV Ventures (an education fund backing ClassDojo, Degreed, Clever)
  • Ashley Bittner, founding partner of Firework Ventures (a future of work fund with portfolio companies LearnIn and TransfrVR)
  • Jomayra Herrera, principal, Cowboy Ventures (a generalist fund with portfolio companies Hone and Guild Education)
  • John Danner, managing partner, Dunce Capital (an edtech and future of work fund with portfolio companies Lambda School and Outschool)
  • Mercedes Bent and Bradley Twohig, partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners (a multi-stage generalist fund with investments including Forage, Clever, and Outschool)
  • Ian Chiu, managing director, Owl Ventures (a large edtech-focused fund backing highly-valued companies including Byju’s, Newsela, and Masterclass) 
  • Jan Lynn-Matern, founder and partner, Emerge Education (a leading edtech seed fund in Europe with portfolio companies like Aula, Unibuddy, and BibliU) 
  • Benoit Wirz, partner, Brighteye Ventures (an active edtech-focused venture capital fund in Europe that backs YouSchool, Lightneer, and Aula)
  • Charles Birnbaum, partner, Bessemer Venture Partners (a generalist fund with portfolio companies including Guild Education and Brightwheel)
  • Daniel Pianko, co-founder and managing director, University Ventures (a higher ed and future of work fund that is backing Imbellus and Admithub)
  • Rebecca Kaden, managing partner, Union Square Ventures (a generalist fund with portfolio companies including TopHat, Quizlet, Duolingo)
  • Andreata Muforo, partner, TLCom Capital (a generalist fund backing uLesson)

Deborah Quazzo, managing partner, GSV Ventures

What will edtech look like when students finally go back to school in person? Now that remote has become familiar, what are other concepts that you could see becoming popular?

For k12, use of digital products and platforms will now be very “normal” – companies like Lexia and Dreambox and Nearpod. Maybe this drives home usage of some products traditionally used only in schools like Lexia. Students of all ages are now very facile with zoom, this can pave the way for more zoom based synchronous learning offerings including extracurricular learning like music, dance etc. schools are now fully wired – maybe we will see schools implement home based learning programs – it’s where students spend half their time.

What are the biggest hurdles ahead for early-stage edtech startups looking to scale? What opportunities are fading as the space matures?

Edtech cos need to stay away from the me too solutions. We have seen 20 creator led learning platforms across “preK to Gray” learning in addition to incumbents like Teachable and very few have an ability to build a moat in my view. Unless someone has a very fresh take, I think that ship has sailed. Hopefully as white spaces fill with competitors, new white spaces will emerge. Emerging tech – AI/NLP/ML/VR – will continue to push the envelope. We are still not driving enough people to competency whether in prek12, higher ed or workforce so the opportunity remains vast.

How has edtech’s boom impacted your dealmaking? Has the new interest from generalist investors made valuations too bubbly, or is the market growth helping everyone?

We met on zoom with over 800 founding teams in covid all over the world. We invested in 14 new companies and are just finishing rounds in 2 more. Valuation pressures are across tech sectors. Id argue that education still lags average tech. the question for edtech is whether there is potential for a $100B company in the sector – will TAMs support it.

Ashley Bittner, founding partner, Firework Ventures

What will edtech look like when students finally go back to school in person? Now that remote has become familiar, what are other concepts that you could see becoming popular?

As it relates to our thesis, I believe that the role of employers is changing. Pre-COVID, it was estimated that as much as 1/3 of the US workforce would need to change jobs by 2030. Employers cite skills gaps as a top 3 business concern to stay competitive. Our thesis is that employers will take on more responsibility for reskilling their current workforce, and that training will become job-embeded (rather than only trying to hire to address the challenge.) Degreed was the first wave of this… Learn In is an example of the next step in this evolution. As employers look to provide more skills training (rather than compliance training), we believe that more will come from external sources (CEOs say they are unprepared to meet the reskilling challenge with existing internal resources) and that much of this training will be provided online and during work hours (to address the time barrier that is an equity issue.) I also see an opportunity for modalities like VR to become more popular as we shift to more digital and remote solutions (e.g TRANSFR.) Stats from McKinsey research.

What are the biggest hurdles ahead for early-stage edtech startups looking to scale? What opportunities are fading as the space matures? In US pre-K and K-12, high customer fragmentation (16,000 school districts, 100K+ schools…pre-K even more fragmented with little public investment), long sales cycles, budget, pedagogy, and regulation. TAM. Relatively low consumer spend on education relative to other markets. Opportunities – increasing access to broadband, increase in device penetration. In FOW, increased recognition that reskilling and upskilling is a business imperative, company culture matters for competitiveness, increased focus on DEI.

Jomayra Herrera, principal, Cowboy Ventures

What will edtech look like when students finally go back to school in person? Now that remote has become familiar, what are other concepts that you could see becoming popular?
I think activities that are fundamentally better in person will go back to [being] in person (e.g., sports, music and other enrichment activities). I think that new technology educators may have adopted during the pandemic that they have found to be helpful to their instruction will remain but all the “nice to haves” will likely fall to the wayside. We have a thesis at Cowboy that supplemental education (e.g., Juni Learning, Reconstruction or Outschool) will likely stay online, because parents will not have to worry about driving their kids to learning centers and these companies have the opportunity to make the learning fun.
What are the biggest hurdles ahead for early-stage edtech startups looking to scale? What opportunities are fading as the space matures?
For companies focused on K-12 students, it’s still really challenging to sell into schools and school districts because of the long sales cycle. This will likely become even harder, as local and state budgets tighten. In regard to what is fading, I think that tools that don’t solve a real need for educators, students and/or parents or don’t have demonstrated efficacy when it comes to student outcomes will start to fade. Consumers, especially after the pandemic, seem to be more aware of what technology has to offer and have lower tolerance for tools not having a demonstrable impact.For companies that are targeting adult learners, the biggest hurdle continues to be customer acquisition and building a brand that learners can actually trust. As the space starts to mature, consumers are getting more aware of the questions they should be asking (e.g., graduation and placement outcomes) and are less [fooled] by clever marketing.

What do you expect education to look like in five-plus years from now, when the pandemic is more of a memory?
I hope that in this pandemic we’ve realized how critical our educators are to our children’s success and we pay them more 🙂 Incentivizing our best talent to get into and stay in teaching is a critical lever we can pull to improve education.
For K-12, I expect that there will be more comfort with technology in the classroom and that tech can be partnered with in-person instruction in a way that supercharges the educator with the data needed to personalize their instruction.
For higher ed, I expect that there will be an acceleration in online learning for adults as they continue to look to reskill or upskill. There will be more opportunities to do self-paced online learning that is effective and affordable.

John Danner, managing partner, Dunce Capital

What will edtech look like when students finally go back to school in person? Now that remote has become familiar, what are other concepts that you could see becoming popular?

In K-12, education will probably continue to look much like it did, because the majority of parents are clear that child care is the principal value for their kids being at school. That said, a minority of parents are certainly rethinking education after witnessing what their children were actually learning every day for a year. My opinion is that we will continue to see a disaggregation of this care function from academics. Here’s a piece I wrote about that, which has accelerated significantly this year.

What are the biggest hurdles ahead for early-stage edtech startups looking to scale? What opportunities are fading as the space matures?

For vocational schools with a “free until you get a job” model like Lambda or SV Academy, it’s all about job placement. Lambda has had a lot of success with their new fellowship model, which has allowed them to scale significantly. For a lot of early childhood and K-12 companies working online, it’s about new parent behaviors and whether you can develop a habit like Outschool has done. For senior learning like what GetSetUp does, finding the reimbursement models through healthcare is probably the key.

What do you expect education to look like in five-plus years from now, when the pandemic is more of a memory?

I think we are in a transition to more and more academics happening in the cloud. Right now, that’s all about live experiences and human in the loop. In five years, I think we will begin seeing a significant impact of AI replacing many human functions.

#andreata-muforo, #bessemer-venture-partners, #bradley-twohig, #brighteye-ventures, #charles-birnbaum, #cowboy-ventures, #ec-investor-survey, #edtech, #education, #emerge-education, #ian-chiu, #jan-lynn-matern, #jomayra-herrera, #lightspeed-venture-partners, #mercedes-bent, #owl-ventures, #rebecca-kaden, #startups, #tc, #tlcom-capital, #union-square-ventures, #university-ventures, #venture-capital

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6 investors on 2021’s mobile gaming trends and opportunities

Many VCs historically avoided placing bets on hit-driven mobile gaming content in favor of clearer platform opportunities, but as more success stories pop up, the economics overturned conventional wisdom with new business models. As more accessible infrastructure allowed young studios to become more ambitious, venture money began pouring into the gaming ecosystem.

After tackling topics including how investors are looking at opportunities in social gaming, infrastructure bets and the moonshots of AR/VR, I asked a group of VCs about their approach to mobile content investing and whether new platforms were changing perspectives about opportunities in mobile-first and desktop-first experiences.

While desktop gaming has evolved dramatically in the past few years as new business models and platforms take hold, to some degree, mobile has been hampered. Investors I chatted with openly worried that some of mobile’s opportunities were being hamstrung by Apple’s App Store.

“We are definitely fearful of Apple’s ability to completely disrupt/affect the growth of a game,” Bessemer’s Ethan Kurzweil and Sakib Dadi told TechCrunch. “We do not foresee that changing any time in the near future despite the outcry from companies such as Epic and others.”

All the while, another central focus seems to be the ever-evolving push toward cross-platform gaming, which is getting further bolstered by new technologies. One area of interest for investors: migrating the ambition of desktop titles to mobile and finding ways to build cross-platform experiences that feel fulfilling on devices that are so differently abled performance-wise.

Madrona’s Hope Cochran, who previously served as CFO of Candy Crush maker King, said mobile still has plenty of untapped opportunities. “When you have a AAA game, bringing it to mobile is challenging and yet it opens up an entire universe of scale.”

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. We spoke with:

Hope Cochran and Daniel Li, Madrona Venture Group

Does it ever get any easier to bet on a gaming content play? What do you look for?

Hope Cochran: I feel like there are a couple different sectors in gaming. There’s the actual studios that are developing games and they have several approaches. Are they developing a brand new game, are they reimagining a game from 25 years ago and reskinning it, which is a big trend right now, or are they taking IP that is really trendy right now and trying to create a game around it? There are different ways to predict which ones of those might make it, but then there’s also the infrastructure behind gaming and then there’s also identifying trends and which games or studios are embracing those. Those are some of the ways I try to parse it out and figure out which ones I think are going to rise to the top of the list.

Daniel Li: There’s this single-player narrative versus multiplayer metaverse and I think people are more comfortable on the metaverse stuff because if you’re building a social network and seeing good early traction, those things don’t typically just disappear. Then if you are betting more on individual studios producing games, I think the other thing is we’re seeing more and more VCs pop up that are just totally games-focused or devoting a portion of the portfolio to games. And for them it’s okay to have a hits-driven portfolio.

There seems to be more innovation happening on PC/console in terms of business models and distribution, do you think mobile feels less experimental these days? Why or why not?

Hope Cochran: Mobile is still trying to push the technology forward, the important element of being cross-platform is difficult. When you have a AAA game, bringing it to mobile is challenging and yet it opens up an entire universe of scale. The metrics are also very different for mobile though.

Daniel Li: It seems like the big monetization innovation that has happened over the last couple of years has been the “battle pass” type of subscription where you can unlock more content by playing. Obviously that’s gone over to mobile, but it doesn’t feel like mobile has had some sort of new monetization unlock. The other thing that’s happened on desktop is the success of the “pay $10 or $20 or $20 for this indie game” type of thing, and it feels like that’s not going to happen on mobile because of the price points that people are used to paying.

Alice Lloyd George, Rogue VC

#alice-lloyd-george, #apps, #bessemer-venture-partners, #daniel-li, #ethan-kurzweil, #gaming, #gigi-levy-weiss, #hope-cochran, #investor-survey, #madrona-venture-group, #mobile, #mobile-gaming, #nfx, #rogue-vc, #sakib-dadi, #tc, #vc-survey

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StackPulse announces $28M investment to help developers manage outages

When a system outage happens, chaos can ensue as the team tries to figure out what’s happening and how to fix it. StackPulse, a new startup that wants to help developers manage these crisis situations more efficiently, emerged from stealth today with a $28 million investment.

The round actually breaks down to a previously unannounced $8 million seed investment and a new $20 million Series A. GGV led the A round, while Bessemer Venture Partners led the seed and also participated in the A. Glenn Solomon at GGV and Amit Karp at Bessemer will join the StackPulse board.

Nobody is immune to these outages. We’ve seen incidents from companies as varied as Amazon and Slack in recent months. The biggest companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon employ site reliability engineers and build customized platforms to help remediate these kinds of situations. StackPulse hopes to put this kind of capability within reach of companies, whose only defense is the on-call developers.

Company co-founder and CEO Ofer Smadari says that in the midst of a crisis with signals coming at you from Slack and PagerDuty and other sources, it’s hard to figure out what’s happening. StackPulse is designed to help sort out the details to get you back to equilibrium as quickly as possible.

First off, it helps identify the severity of the incident. Is it a false alarm or something that requires your team’s immediate attention or something that can be put off for a later maintenance cycle. If there is something going wrong that needs to be fixed right now, StackPulse can not only identify the source of the problem, but also help fix it automatically, Smadari explained.

After the incident has been resolved, it can also help with a post mortem to figure out what exactly went wrong by pulling in all of the alert communications and incident data into the platform.

As the company emerges from stealth, it has some early customers and 35 employees based in Portland, Oregon and Tel Aviv. Smadari says that he hopes to have 100 employees by the end of this year. As he builds the organization, he is thinking about how to build a diverse team for a diverse customer base. He believes that people with diverse backgrounds build a better product. He adds that diversity is a top level goal for the company, which already has an HR leader in place to help.

Glenn Solomon from GGV, who will be joining the company board, saw a strong founding team solving a big problem for companies and wanted to invest. “When they described the vision for the product they wanted to build, it made sense to us,” he said.

Customers are impatient with down time and Solomon sees developers on the front line trying to solve these issues. “Performance is more important than ever. When there is downtime, it’s damaging to companies,” he said. He believes StackPulse can help.

#bessemer-venture-partners, #developer, #disaster-recovery, #enterprise, #funding, #ggv, #recent-funding, #site-reliability, #stackpulse, #startups

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VCs discuss gaming’s biggest infrastructure investment opportunities in 2021

We last polled our network of investors on the topic of gaming infrastructure startups back in May just as it was becoming clear what pandemic opportunities were in store for gaming startups.

Accel’s Amit Kumar told us at the time that “social and interactivity layers spanning across these games” were poised to be the big winners, highlighting his firm’s investments in startups like Discord and Mayhem. In December, Discord announced it was raising at a valuation of $7 billion and this month Pokémon Go creator Niantic announced it was buying Mayhem.

Following my story this week digging into investor sentiment around evolved opportunities in social gaming, I dug into gaming tools and rising platforms and pinged a handful of VCs to hear their thoughts on that market.

The broader market moves of the past several months have defied expectations with startups in the gaming world picking up substantial steam as well. This week, Roblox announced it had raised at a $29.5 billion valuation — up from $4 billion in February of last year. Game makers across the board, including Roblox, have been acquiring gaming infrastructure startups as of late.

I talked to investors about what they wanted to see more of in the space.

“We’d love to see more innovation around gaming infrastructure, which has the potential to democratize game development and allow clever indies to compete with Riot and Epic,” Bessemer’s Ethan Kurzweil and Sakib Dadi told TechCrunch.

They highlighted numerous areas for new opportunity including specialized engines, next-gen content creation platforms, and tools to port desktop experiences to mobile. The VCs we chatted with were also intrigued by latent opportunities presented by major platforms’ adopting of cloud gaming tech. The overall trend was one promoting accessibility, a desire to provide more casual experiences for platforms that may have typically catered to “hardcore” audiences.

It was also apparent from conversations that Roblox is significantly shaping investor attitudes toward the potential growth opportunities and pitfalls in the entire gaming industry, with VCs who didn’t get in on Roblox eager to dissect its success and bet on an adjacent player or one that could follow a similar recipe for success.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. We spoke with:

  • Hope Cochran, Madrona Venture Group
  • Daniel Li, Madrona Venture Group
  • Ethan Kurzweil, Bessemer Venture Partners
  • Sakib Dadi, Bessemer Venture Partners
  • Alice Lloyd George, Rogue VC
  • Gigi Levy-Weiss, NFX

Hope Cochran and Daniel Li, Madrona Venture Group

Cloud game-streaming networks are exciting but don’t seem like a sure bet quite yet, how do you feel about them?

DL: I think the real story behind cloud gaming is “play anywhere” and the cross-platform nature of it. Gaming is just different than Netflix, it’s not like you want to have an endless library of content. When I’m playing a game, I want to play Overwatch all the time and I don’t need to have access to 1,000 other games. I think the approach that the cloud companies have taken has been more around the thinking of, what do we have and what can we build for gamers with it? More so than what do gamers want and what can we give them? It’s definitely trended toward that direction with things like giving away two free games per month, but really I think the thing that will be exciting in the longer term for cloud gaming is to play your game anywhere and play with your friends anywhere.

If users embrace desktop-class cloud gaming on mobile and there’s a broader cross-platform unification, does that spell trouble for today’s mobile gaming industry?

DL: The audiences between a Candy Crush and a Warzone are probably a little different, though I like to play both. So maybe it gets into eating some people’s lunch but I don’t think it’s anything where the number one problem for a Candy Crush is people hopping over to play desktop Call of Duty.

Are there any clear infrastructure gaps where you’d like to see new startups rise up and fill the void?

DL: Honestly just tools for building games, like next-gen Roblox Studio, next-gen Unity and Unreal type stuff — I’ve seen a couple interesting companies there. I think we’ve seen a few smaller companies focused on making sure that a network is safe for children, but I feel like a lot of the infrastructure stuff is really driven by what type of new content is coming out. So as the social games became really popular, securing that and making sure that the chats were safe became really important.

HC: I would love to see something built for helping games that were created for the triple-A environment to port over better to mobile environments. Every time I work with a gaming company on that, they seem to have to rebuild the game so it’d be really interesting to see something like that really helps them adopt to the mobile form.

#asia, #bessemer-venture-partners, #ethan-kurzweil, #gaming, #gigi-levy-weiss, #hope-cochran, #investor-survey, #madrona-venture-group, #madrona-ventures, #nfx, #sakib-dadi, #tc, #vc-survey

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Sources: Hinge Health has raised $310M Series D at a $3B valuation

Hinge Health, the San Francisco-based company that offers a digital solution to treat chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions — such as back and joint pain — has closed a $310 million in Series D funding, according to sources.

The round is led by Coatue and Tiger Global, and values 2015-founded Hinge at $3 billion post-money, people familiar with the investment tell me. It comes off the back of a 300% increase in revenue in 2020, with investors told to expect revenue to nearly triple again in 2021 based on the company’s booked pipeline.

I also understand that Hinge’s founders — Daniel Perez and Gabriel Mecklenburg — retain voting control of the board. I’ve reached out to CEO Perez for comment and will update this post should I hear back.

Hinge’s existing investors include Bessemer Venture Partners, which backed the company’s $90 million Series C round in February, along with Lead Edge Capital, Insight Partners (which led the Series B), Atomico (which led the Series A), 11.2 Capital, Quadrille Capital and Heuristic Capital.

Originally based in London, Hinge Health primarily sells into U.S. employers and health plans, billing itself as a digital healthcare solution for chronic MSK conditions. The platform combines wearable sensors, an app and health coaching to remotely deliver physical therapy and behavioral health.

The basic premise is that there is plenty of existing research to show how best to treat chronic MSK disorders, but existing healthcare systems aren’t up to the task due to funding pressures and for other systematic reasons. The result is an over tendency to use opioid-based painkillers or surgery, with poor results and often at even greater cost. Hinge wants to reverse this through the use of technology and better data, with a focus on improving treatment adherence.

Meanwhile, Hinge’s jump in valuation is significant. According to sources, the company’s February round produced a valuation of around $420 million, so the new valuation is more than a 6x increase.

#bessemer-venture-partners, #coatue-management, #europe, #fundings-exits, #health, #hinge-health, #insight-partners, #lead-edge-capital, #london, #physical-therapy, #recent-funding, #san-francisco, #social-software, #software, #startups, #surgery, #tc, #tiger-global-management, #united-states

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#DealMonitor – cargo.one bekommt 42 Millionen – Usercentrics sammelt 17 Millionen ein – Actio bekommt 8,5 Millionen


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 17. Dezember 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.

INVESTMENTS

cargo.one
+++ Jetzt offiziell: Der amerikanische Geldgeber Bessemer Venture Partners investiert – wie bereits im aktuellen Insider-Podcast berichtet – 42 Millionen US-Dollar in cargo.one, ein noch junges Logistik-Startup. Index Ventures investierte zuletzt gemeinsam mit Next47, Creandum, Lufthansa Cargo und Point Nine Capital 18,6 Millionen US-Dollar in die Jungfirma, die sich um die digitale Distribution und Buchung von Luftfracht kümmert. cargo.ono wurde 2017 von Moritz Claussen, Oliver T. Neumann und Mike Rötgers gegründet. “Today, the company’s digital platform processes annualized volumes in Europe of more than 110,000 shipments and 45,000 tonnes with 15 airline partners including Lufthansa Cargo, Finnair Cargo, Etihad Cargo and All Nippon Airways Cargo”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung.

Usercentrics
+++ Der amerikanische Geldgeber Full In Partners sowie die Altinvestoren Alstin Capital, Reimann Investors und Cavalry Ventures investieren 17 Millionen Euro in Usercentrics, eine SaaS Consent Management Plattform. Das Münchner Startup, das anderen Unternehmen darin unterstützt ihre Webseiten DSGVO-konform zu machen, wurde 2017 von Mischa Rürup, Vinzent Ellissen und Lisa Gradow gegründet. Alstin Capital, Cavalry Ventures und Reimann Investors investieren zuletzt einen mittleren einstelligen Millionenbetrag in Usercentrics. Mit dem frischen Kapital soll unter anderem die Expansion in die USA vorangetrieben werden. Usercentrics beschäftigt derzeit rund 100 Mitarbeiter. Full In Partners investierte bisher unter anderem in Canva, Pomelo Health und AutoRABIT.

Actio
+++ HV Capital, Cavalry Ventures, Atomico Angel Fund sowie Business Angel wie die SumUp-Gründer Stefan Jeschonnek und Jan Deepen, Fabian Siegel (Marley Spoon), Doreen Huber, Udo Schloemer (Factory), Holger Friedrich, Karl-Moritz Herrmann und die Musikproduzenten Tassilo Ippenberger und Thomas Benedix investieren 8,5 Millionen Euro in Actio. Hinter Actio stecken Lieferheld-Macher Nikita Fahrenholz und Daniel Stahlkopf, früher einmal Director Product Management bei Delivery Hero. Bei Actio geht es um eine “Plattform zur Unterstützung der körperlichen und geistigen Gesundheit”.

Flyability
+++ Future Industry Ventures (FIV), Swisscom Ventures und ETF investieren 7 Millionen Euro in Flyability. Das junge Unternehmen, das 2014 von Patrick Thévoz und Adrien Briod gegründet wurde, bietet drohnenbasierte B2B-Lösungen für Unternehmen mit Fokus auf die Gas-, Öl-, Energieerzeugungs-, Chemie-, Bergbau- und Schifffahrtsindustrie an. “In den letzten 6 Jahren hat sich Flyability von einem Spin-off der EPFL in der Schweiz zu einem Unternehmen mit 100 Mitarbeitern entwickelt, das auf dem Gebiet der Erforschung und Inneninspektionen mit Drohnen in Innenräumen Pionierarbeit geleistet hat”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung.

OnlineDoctor
+++ SwissHealth Ventures, der Venture-Ableger der Schweizer Krankenversicherung CSS, investiert gemeinsam mit Mutschler Ventures, PilotRock Ventures, Forty:one, EquityPitcher und Angel-Investoren, wie Ole Wiesinger, 5,5 Millionen Schweizer Franken in OnlineDoctor. Das Schweizer Telemedizin-Startup, das 2016 von Paul Scheidegger, Tobias Wolf und Philipp Wustrow gegründet wurde, sieht sich bereits heute als “Europas führender Anbieter für Teledermatologie”. Das Startup kann insbesondere Hautkrankheiten per Foto beurteilen. Rund 8 Millionen flossen bereits in OnlineDoctor.

siOPTICA
+++ bm|t beteiligungsmanagement thüringen und Capital-E investieren 2 Millionen Euro in siOPTICA, einen Hersteller von Lösungen für sogenannte umschaltbare Privacy-Technologien, die für Beifahrer-Displays in Autos, Laptops, Tablets, Handys und Bezahlterminals zum Einsatz kommen. Der Privacy-Modus kann dabei per Tastendruck aktiviert werden. siOPTICA wurde 2013 in Jena gegründet.

Gilytics
+++ Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), die Swiss Startup Group und die Zürcher Kantonalbank investieren 1 Million Schweizer Franken in Gilytics. Das Startup aus Zürich, das 2017 von Stefano Grassi, Heather Pace Clark und Philippe Bieri gegründet wurde, bietet eine Cloud-GIS-basierte Plattform- und Servicelösung an, “die es Anwendern ermöglicht, alternative Routen für Stromleitungen, Pipelines, Straßen und Eisenbahnen zu berechnen”.

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

#actio, #aktuell, #alstin-capital, #atomico-angel-fund, #berlin, #bessemer-venture-partners, #capital-e, #cargo-one, #cavalry-ventures, #e-health, #flyability, #full-in-partners, #future-industry-ventures, #gilytics, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #hv-capital, #jena, #munchen, #mutschler-ventures, #onlinedoctor, #pilotrock-ventures, #reimann-investors, #sioptica, #swiss-startup-group, #swisscom-ventures, #swisshealth-ventures, #usercentrics, #venture-capital, #zurich

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Iris Automation raises $13 million for visual drone object avoidance tech

It’s only a matter of time now before drones become a key component of everyday logistics infrastructure, but there are still significant barriers between where we are today and that future – particularly when it comes to regulation. Iris Automation is developing computer vision products that can help simplify the regulatory challenges involved in setting standards for pilotless flight, thanks to its detect-and-avoid technology that can run using a wide range of camera hardware. The company has raised a $13 million Series B funding round to improve and extend its tech, and to help provide demonstrations of its efficacy in partnership with regulators.

I spoke to Iris Automation CEO Jon Damush, and Iris Automation investor Tess Hatch, VP at Bessemer Venture Partners, about the round and the startup’s progress and goals. Damush, who took over as CEO earlier this year, talked about his experience at Boeing, his personal experience as a pilot, and the impact on aviation of the advent of small, cheap and readily accessible electric motors, batteries and powerful computing modules, which have set the stage for an explosion in the commercial UAV industry.

“You’ve now shattered some of the barriers that have been in aerospace for the past 50 years, because you’re starting to really democratize the tools of production that allow people to make things that fly much easier than they could before,” Damush told me. “So with that, and the ability to take a human out of the cockpit, comes some interesting challenges – none more so than the regulatory environment.”

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and most airspace regulators around the world, essentially break regulations around commercial flight down into two spheres, Damush explains. The first is around operations – what are you going to do while in flight, and are you doing that the right way. The second, however, is about the pilot, and that’s a much trickier thing to adapt to pilotless aircraft.

“One of the biggest challenges is the part of the regulations called 91.113b, and what that part of the regs states is that given weather conditions that permit, it’s the pilot on the airplane that has the ultimate responsibility to see and avoid other aircraft,”  That’s not a separation standard that says you’ve got to be three miles away, or five miles away or a mile away – that is a last line of defense, that is a safety net, so that when all the other mitigations that lead to a safe flight from A to B fail, the pilot is there to make sure you don’t collide into somebody.”

Iris comes in here, with an optical camera-based obstacle avoidance system that uses computer vision to effectively replace this last line of defence when there isn’t a pilot to do so. And what this unlocks is a key limiting factor in today’s commercial drone regulatory environment: The ability to fly aircraft beyond visual line of sight. All that means is that drones can operate without having to guarantee that an operator has eyes on them at all times. When you first hear that, you imagine that this factors in mostly to long-distance flight, but Damush points out that it’s actually more about volume – removing the constraints of having to keep a drone within visual line of sight at all times means you can go from having one operator per drone, to one operator managing a fleet of drones, which is when the economies of scale of commercial drone transportation really start to make sense.

Iris has made progress towards making this a reality, working with the FAA this year as part of its integrated pilot program to demonstrate the system in two different use cases. It also released the second version of its Casia system, which can handle significantly longer range object detection. Hatch pointed out that these were key reasons why Bessemer upped its stake with this follow-on investment, and when I asked if COVID-19 has had any impact on industry appetite or confidence in the commercial drone market, she said that has been a significant factor, and it’s also changing the nature of the industry.

“The two largest industries [right now] are agriculture and public safety enforcement,” Hatch told me. “And public safety enforcement was not one of those last year, it was agriculture, construction and energy. That’s definitely become a really important vertical for the drone industry – one could imagine someone having a heart attack or an allergic reaction, an ambulance takes on average 14 minutes to get to that person, when a drone can be dispatched and deliver an AED or an epi pen within minutes, saving that person’s life. So I really hope that tailwind continues post COVID.”

This Series B round includes investment from Bee Partners, OCA Ventures, and new strategic investors Sony Innovation Fund and Verizon Ventures (disclosure: TechCrunch is owned by Verizon Media Group, though we have no involvement, direct or otherwise, with their venture arm). Damush pointed out that Sony provides great potential strategic value because it develops so much of the imaging sensor stack used in the drone industry, and Sony also develops drones itself. For its part, Verizon offers key partner potential on the connectivity front, which is invaluable for managing large-scale drone operations.

#aerospace, #articles, #bee-partners, #bessemer-venture-partners, #boeing, #ceo, #computing, #drone, #embedded-systems, #emerging-technologies, #energy, #federal-aviation-administration, #funding, #imaging, #iris-automation, #recent-funding, #robotics, #science-and-technology, #sony-innovation-fund, #startups, #tc, #technology, #tess-hatch, #unmanned-aerial-vehicles, #verizon-media-group, #verizon-ventures, #vp

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#DealMonitor – #EXKLUSIV Bessemer investiert in cargo.one – 468 Capital investiert in Natif.ai – JuwelKerze-Gründer investiert in truemorrow


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 14. Dezember 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.

INVESTMENTS

cargo.one
+++ Der amerikanische Geldgeber Bessemer Venture Partners investiert 40 Millionen in cargo.one, ein noch junges Logistik-Startup. Index Ventures investierte zuletzt gemeinsam mit Next47, Creandum, Lufthansa Cargo und Point Nine Capital 18,6 Millionen US-Dollar in die Jungfirma. Creandum, Point Nine Capital und Lufthansa Cargo investieren zuvor bereits rund 3 Millionen US-Dollar in das Berliner Unternehmen, das sich um die digitale Distribution und Buchung von Luftfracht kümmert. cargo.ono wurde 2017 von Moritz Claussen, Oliver T. Neumann und Mike Rötgers gegründet. Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

Natif.ai
+++ 468 Capital investiert in Natif.ai. Das Startup, ein Spin-off des Deutschen Forschungsinstituts für Künstliche Intelligenz (DFKI), ist im Segment der intelligenten Dokumenten Prozessautomation (IDP) unterwegs. “Dank einer Deep-OCR können Dokumente extrem schnell und genau analysiert sowie relevante Daten extrahiert werden”, teilt das Startup mit. Natif.ai wurde 2019 von Christophe Hocquet, Johannes Korves und Manuel Zapp gegründet. Zuvor investierte bereits der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) investiert eine siebenstellige Summe in Natif.ai. Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

truemorrow
+++ Werle Ventures, also Martin Werle (Gründer von JuwelKerze), Burckhardt Bonello und Felix Schneider, Mitgründer von Dreamlines, investieren in truemorrow. Bei truemorrow finden Onliner nachhaltige Körperpflegeprodukte. “Damit du dich im Badezimmer nicht mehr zwischen deinem Wohlbefinden und der Umwelt entscheiden musst”, teilt das Startup mit. Gründer sind Simon Prinz und Matthias Vosen, beide zuletzt bei Dreamlines tätig. Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

Polarglow / Brands United
+++ JuwelKerze-Gründer Martin Werle investiert außerdem noch in Polarglow. Hinter Polarglow verbirgt sich eine Art stylischer Mini-Kühlschrank für Kosmetik – samt passender Kosmetiklinie. Am Unternehmen ist außerdem Liberty Ventures (Felix Swoboda, zuletzt Homebell, und Florian Swoboda, Barzahlen) beteiligt. Geführt wird Polarglow von Alexander Brenske. Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. Zudem investiert Werle in den jungen Thrasio-Klon Brands United. #EXKLUSIV

Sorare
+++ Der amerikanische Geldgeber Benchmark Capital investiert in das französische Startup Sorare. e.ventures, Partech, Fabric Ventures, Semantic Ventures, Cygni Capital und Fußball-Weltmeister André Schürrle investierten zuvor bereits 4 Millionen US-Dollar in das junge Unternehmen. Sorare bietet auf Blockchain-Basis ein digitales Pendant zu den Fußballsammelkarten von Panini, Topps und Co. – samt Fantasy Football Manager. Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

Weezy
+++ Der amerikanische Geldgeber Insight Partners investiert in den britischen goPuff-Klon Weezy. Zuvor investierte bereits Heartcore Capital in den rollenden Supermarkt. Der deutsche goPuff-Klon Gorillas sammelt gerade erst 44 Millionen US-Dollar ein – unter anderem von Coatue. Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

German Bionic
+++ Samsung Catalyst, MIG AG, Storm Ventures, Benhamou Global Ventures und IT Farm investieren 20 Million US-Dollar in German Bionic, ein Unternehmen für robotische Exoskelette. “Das Cray X von German Bionic ist das weltweit erste vernetzte Exoskelett, das, verbunden mit der Smart-Factory, selbstlernend Hebebewegungen verstärkt und Fehlhaltungen vorbeugt, und somit zum intelligenten Bindeglied zwischen Mensch und Maschine in Logistik- und Intralogistik-Prozessen wird”, teilt das Unternehmen aus Augsburg mit.

VMRay
Digital+ Partners und eCAPITAL investieren 15 Millionen US-Dollar in VMRay. Das Bochum Startup, 2013 von den Informatikern Carsten Willems und Ralf Hund gegründet, analysiert Malware wie Computerviren oder -würmer, Trojaner, Spyware, Kernelrootkits und -bootkits auf ihr Verhalten. In der Series B sammelte das Unternehmen damit rund rund 25 Millionen Dollar in. Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) investierte bereits 2014 in VMRay.

vialytics
+++ Statkraft Ventures und EnBW New Ventures investieren in das Stuttgarter GovTech vialytics. Das Unternehmen, das 2017 von Achim Hoth, Patrick Glaser und Danilo Jovicic ins Leben gerufen wurde, sorgt mit Hilfe von Künstlicher Intelligenz für bessere Straßen. vialytics erfasst den Zustand der Straßeninfrastruktur und wertet diesen automatisiert aus. Das frische Kapital “ermöglicht es vialytics den erfolgreichen Wachstumskurs als zuverlässiger Partner für Städte und Gemeinden noch stärker auszubauen”.

Isar Aerospace
+++ Lakestar, Earlybird, Vsquared Ventures, Airbus Ventures, Apeiron und HV Capital sowie Bulent Altan, Ann-Kristin und Paul Achleitner investierten gerade 75 Millionen Euro in Isar Aerospace. Jetzt ist die Bewertung klar – sie liegt nach unseren Informationen bei 300 Millionen. Das 2018 von Daniel Metzler, Josef Fleischmann und Markus Brandl gegründete Unternehmen will kleinere Satelliten kostengünstiger in den Orbit befördern und entwickelt deswegen unter anderem an alternativen Antrieben für Trägerraketen. Earlybird und Airbus Ventures investierten zuletzt gemeinsam mit den Altinvestoren beachtliche 17 Millionen US-Dollar in das Raketen-Startup. Insgesamt flossen nun schon knapp 100 Millionen Euro in Isar Aerospace. Hintergründe gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

EXITS

Dubsmash
+++ Der amerikanische Social-News-Aggregator Reddit übernimmt den TikTok-Herausforderer Dubsmash, der einst in Berlin als simpler Lip-Syncing-Dienst an den Start ging. “Dubsmash’s mission is to elevate under-represented creators. They have built a beautiful and fun product that enables their users to create unique, dynamic, interactive content. While Dubsmash will maintain its own platform and brand, we also look forward to bringing our teams together to combine the unique creator experience of Dubsmash with the community growth engine of Reddit”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Investoren wie Index Ventures, Lowercase Capital, ENIAC Ventures, Sunstone Capital und Raine Ventures investierten in den vergangenen Jahren einen zweistelligen Millionenbetrag in Dubsmash, das von Jonas Drüppel, Roland Grenke und Daniel Taschik gegründet wurde. Dubsmash war vor einigen Monaten fast am Ende, dann folgte der Umzug nach New York, fast alle der 50 Mitarbeiter wurden entlassen und ein kompletter Neustart als Video-Dienst.

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

#468-capital, #aktuell, #andre-schurrle, #augsburg, #benchmark-capital, #benhamou-global-ventures, #berlin, #bessemer-venture-partners, #bochum, #brands-united, #cargo-one, #dubsmash, #german-bionic, #govtech, #insight-partners, #isar-aerospace, #liberty-ventures, #logistik, #natif-ai, #polarglow, #promi-investor, #reddit, #ruhrgebiet, #samsung-catalyst, #sorare, #storm-ventures, #stuttgart, #thrasio, #truemorrow, #venture-capital, #vialytics, #vmray, #werle-ventures

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#Podcast – Insider #92: cargo.one – Natif.ai – ROQ – Weezy – Sorare – Trade Republic – Isar Aerospace – Sennder – Polarglow


Im ds-Insider-Podcast liefern OMR-Podcast-Legende Sven Schmidt und ds-Chefredakteur Alexander Hüsing regelmäßig spannende Insider-Infos aus der deutschen Startup-Szene. In jeder Ausgabe gibt es exklusive Neuigkeiten, die bisher zuvor nirgendwo zu lesen oder hören waren. Zu guter Letzt kommentiert das dynamische Duo der deutschen Startup-Szene in jeder Ausgabe offen, schonungslos und ungefiltert die wichtigsten Startup- und Digital-News aus Deutschland.

Insider #92 – Unsere Themen

+++ Bessemer investiert 40 Millionen in cargo.one #EXKLUSIV
+++ 468 Capital investiert in Natif.ai #EXKLUSIV
+++ Ex-Rocket- und Project A-CTOs gründen ROQ Technology #EXKLUSIV
+++ Insight investiert in goPuff-Klon Weezy (UK) #EXKLUSIV
+++ Project A plant goPuff/Gorillas-Konzept #EXKLUSIV
+++ Christoph Stark startet Thrasio-Klon Merx #EXKLUSIV
+++ Benchmark investiert in Sorare (FR) #EXKLUSIV
+++ Sequoia interessiert sich für Trade Republic #EXKLUSIV
+++ Isar Aerospace: Bewertung liegt bei 300 Million #EXKLUSIV
+++ Sennder plant Unicorn-Bewertung #EXKLUSIV
+++ Felmo sucht erneut Kapital #EXKLUSIV
+++ Swoboda-Brüder starten Polarglow #EXKLUSIV
+++ JuwelKerze-Gründer investiert in truemorrow und Brands United #EXKLUSIV
+++ Burckhardt Bonello setzt auf ConTech #EXKLUSIV

Insider #92 – Unser Sponsor

Die heutige Ausgabe wird erneut gesponsert von start2grow. Habt ihr eine technologische oder digitale Geschäftsidee? Braucht ihr noch Unterstützung bei der Umsetzung? Fehlt eurem Businessplan noch der letzte Schliff? In jedem Fall seid ihr bei start2grow richtig! start2grow begleitet euren Weg zum erfolgreichen Unternehmen – und bietet optimales Coaching, interessante Events, beste Kontakte zu Wirtschaft, Wissenschaft und Kapital sowie die Chance auf hohe Geldpreise. Also einen optimalen Start in die Selbstständigkeit. Der nächste Gründungswettbewerb startet am 22. Januar 2021. Meldet euch direkt an unter www.start2grow.de. Die Teilnahme ist kostenfrei!

Insider #92 – Unser Podcast

Abonnieren: Die Podcasts von deutsche-startups.de könnt ihr bei Amazon Music – Apple Podcasts – Castbox – Deezer – Google Podcasts – iHeartRadio – Overcast – PlayerFM – Podimo – Spotify – SoundCloud oder per RSS-Feed abonnieren.

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

Foto (oben): ds

#468-capital, #aktuell, #bessemer-venture-partners, #brands-united, #cargo-one, #felmo, #gorillas, #isar-aerospace, #merx, #natif-ai, #podcast, #polarglow, #roq-technology, #sennder, #sorare, #trade-republic, #truemorrow, #weezy

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GetAccept raises $20M Series B, led by Bessemer, to expand its sales platform for SMBs

Last year all-in-one digital sales platform GetAccept raised a $7 million Series A funding. The platform, which wraps-in video, live chat, proposal design, document tracking and e-signatures, has now raised $20 million in Series B funding, led by Bessemer Venture Partners, as the company expands its platform aimed at SMBs. The funding comes as the pandemic means SMBs have largely shifted to remote and so has their digital sales process.

Last year the funding was led by DN Capital, with participation from BootstrapLabs, Y Combinator and a number of Spotify’s early investors. This round brings GetAccept’s total financing raised to $30M. GetAccept competes with several separate tools, including well-financed solutions like DocSend, PandaDoc, Showpad, Highspot, DocuSign and Adobe Sign.

Founded in 2015 by Swedish entrepreneurs and Y Combinator alumni Samir Smajic, Mathias Thulin, Jonas Blanck, and Carl Carell, GetAccept has expanded from 30 to now 100+ employees over the last 18 months with offices across US and EU countries.

Smajic said: “We believe in the power of relationships and want to bring personalized and engaging interactions back to the online sales process. We saw this digital sales shift and change in behavior back in 2015, which is why we founded GetAccept in the first place. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and forced B2B buyers and sellers to go digital, which has placed digital sales models high up on the company agendas. We aim to be the online place where every B2B business happens, in a personal way.”

Alex Ferrara, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners commented :
Bessemer Venture Partners is thrilled to back the ambitious GetAccept team and their vision to empower millions of SMBs to streamline and digitize their end-to-end sales processes,” said Alex Ferrara, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. “They have built a world-class product, prepared for business transactions that continue to shift permanently online at a rapid pace. We look forward to partnering with GetAccept on the journey ahead.”

#alex-ferrara, #bessemer, #bessemer-venture-partners, #california, #dn-capital, #docusign, #europe, #european-union, #getaccept, #partner, #showpad, #spotify, #tc, #tools, #united-states, #y-combinator

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Parrot Software has $1.2 million to grow its restaurant point-of-sale and management service in Mexico

The two founders of Parrot Software, Roberto Cebrián and David Villarreal, first met in high school in Monterrey, Mexico. In the eleven years since , both have pursued successful careers in the tech industry and became family (they’re brothers-in-law).

Now, they’re starting a new business together leveraging Cebrián’s experience running a point-of-sale company and Villarreal’s time working first at Uber and then at the high-growth, scooter and bike rental startup, Grin.

Cebrían’s experience founding the point-of-sale company S3 Software laid the foundation for Parrot Software, and its point of sale service to manage restaurant operations. 

Roberto has been in the industry for the past six or seven years,” said Villarreal. “And he was telling me that no one has been serving [restaurants] properly… Roberto pitched me the idea and I got super involved and decided to start the company.”

Parrot Software co-founders Roberto Cebrían and David Villarreal. Image Credit: Parrot Software

Like Toast in the U.S., Parrot  manages payments including online and payments and real-time ordering, along with integrations into services that can manage the back-end operations of a restaurant too, according to Villarreal. Those services include things like delivery software, accounting and loyalty systems.  

The company is already live in over 500 restaurants in Mexico and is used by chains including Cinnabon, Dairy Queen, Grupo Costeño, and Grupo Pangea.

Based in Monterrey, Mexico, the company has managed to attract a slew of high profile North American investors including Joe Montana’s Liquid2 Ventures, Foundation Capital, Superhuman angel fund, Toby Spinoza, the vice president of DoorDash, and Ed Baker, a product lead at Uber.

Since its launch, the company has managed to land contracts in 10 cities, with the largest presence in Northeastern Mexico, around Monterrey, said Villarreal.

The market for restaurant management software is large and growing. It’s a big category that’s expected to reach $6.94 billion in sales worldwide by 2025, according to a reporter from Grand View Research.

Investors in the U.S. market certainly believe in the potential opportunity for a business like Toast. That company has raised nearly $1 billion in funding from firms like Bessemer Venture Partners, the private equity firm TPG, and Tiger Global Management.

#bessemer-venture-partners, #doordash, #foundation-capital, #free-software, #grin, #mexico, #point-of-sale, #reporter, #software, #tc, #tiger-global-management, #trade, #uber, #united-states

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Materialize scores $40 million investment for SQL streaming database

Materialize, the SQL streaming database startup built on top of the open source Timely Dataflow project, announced a $32 million Series B investment today led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from Lightspeed Ventures.

While it was at it, the company also announced a previously unannounced $8 million Series A from last year that had been led by Lightspeed, bringing the total raised to $40 million.

These firms see a solid founding team that includes CEO Arjun Narayan, formerly of Cockroach Labs, and chief scientist Frank McSherry, who created the Timely Flow project on which the company is based.

Narayan says that the company believes fundamentally that every company needs to be a real-time company and it will take a streaming database to make that happen. Further, he says the company is built using SQL because of its ubiquity, and the founders wanted to make sure that customers could access and make use of that data quickly without learning a new query language.

“Our goal is really to help any business to understand streaming data and build intelligent applications without using or needing any specialized skills. Fundamentally what that means is that you’re going to have to go to businesses using the technologies and tools that they understand, which is standard SQL,” Narayan explained.

Bucky Moore, the partner at Kleiner Perkins leading the B round sees this standard querying ability as a key part of the technology. “As more businesses integrate streaming data into their decision making pipelines, the inability to ask questions of this data with ease is becoming a non-starter. Materialize’s unique ability to provide SQL over streaming data solves this problem, laying the foundation for them to build the industry’s next great data platform,” he said.

They would naturally get compared to Confluent, a streaming database built on top of the Apache Kafka open source streaming database project, but Narayan says his company uses straight SQL for querying, while Confluent uses its own flavor.

The company still is working out the commercial side of the house and currently provides a typical service offering for paying customers with support and a service agreement (SLA). The startup is working on a SaaS version of the product, which it expects to release some time next year.

They currently have 20 employees with plans to double that number by the end of next year as they continue to build out the product. As they grow, Narayan says the company is definitely thinking about how to build a diverse organization.

He says he’s found that hiring in general has been challenging during the pandemic, and he hopes that changes in 2021, but he says that he and his co-founders are looking at the top of the hiring funnel because otherwise, as he points out, it’s easy to get complacent and rely on the same network of people you have been working with before, which tends to be less diverse.

“The KPIs and the metrics we really want to use to ensure that we really are putting in the extra effort to ensure a diverse sourcing in your hiring pipeline and then following that through all the way through the funnel. That’s I think the most important way to ensure that you have a diverse [employee base], and I think this is true for every company,” he said.

While he is working remotely now, he sees having multiple offices with a headquarters in NYC when the pandemic finally ends. Some employees will continue to work remotely, but the majority coming into one of the offices.

#bessemer-venture-partners, #enterprise, #funding, #lightspeed-venture-partners, #materialize, #open-source, #recent-funding, #startups, #streaming-databases, #tc

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Friday app, a remote work tool, raises $2.1 million led by Bessemer

Friday, an app looking to make remote work more efficient, has announced the close of a $2.1 million seed round led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Active Capital, Underscore, El Cap Holdings, TLC Collective, and New York Venture Partners also participated in the round, among others.

Founded by Luke Thomas, Friday sits on top of the tools that teams already use — Github, Trello, Asana, Slack, etc. — to surface information that workers need when they need it and keep them on top of what others in the organization are doing.

The platform offers a Daily Planner feature, so users can roadmap their day and share it with others, as well as a Work Routines feature, giving users the ability to customize and even automate routine updates. For example, weekly updates or daily standups done via Slack or Google Hangouts can be done via Friday app, eliminating the time spent by managers, or others, jotting down these updates or copying that info over from Slack.

Friday also lets users set goals across the organization or team so that users’ daily and weekly work aligns with the broader OKRs of the company.

Plus, Friday users can track their time spent in meetings, as well as team morale and productivity, using the Analytics dashboard of the platform.

Friday has a free forever model, which allows individual users or even organizations to use the app for free for as long as they want. More advanced features like Goals, Analytics and the ability to see past three weeks of history within the app, are paywalled for a price of $6/seat/month.

Thomas says that one of the biggest challenges for Friday is that people automatically assume it’s competing with an Asana or Trello, as opposed to being a layer on top of these products that brings all that information into one place.

“The number one problem is that we’re in a noisy space,” said Thomas. “There are a lot of tools that are saying they’re a remote work tool when they’re really just a layer on top of Zoom or a video conferencing tool. There is certainly increased amount of interest in the space in a good and positive way, but it also means that we have to work harder to cut through the noise.”

The Friday team is small for now — four full-time staff members — and Thomas says that he plans to double the size of the team following the seed round. Thomas declined to share any information around the diversity breakdown of the team.

Following a beta launch at the beginning of 2020, Friday says it is used by employees at organizations such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Quizlet, Red Hat, and EA, among others.

This latest round brings the company’s total funding to $2.5 million.

#apps, #bessemer-venture-partners, #enterprise, #funding, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc

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Why Bessemer’s Byron Deeter thinks SaaS companies could grow even faster in 2021

Byron Deeter is not backing down from his optimism about the cloud and the end of the COVID-19-induced wave of software buying doesn’t have him too worried.

Of course, Deeter is an investor at Bessemer, a venture capital concern that has done well betting on the cloud, so you might expect him to stay a cloud bull. But during a recent chat with TechCrunch as part of our Extra Crunch Live series, his answer was worth re-reading.

The Extra Crunch Live series continues: Click this to see what’s coming up on the agenda.

We asked the about what might happen once the newly announced vaccines arrive and the pandemic-led digital transformation acceleration loses its tailwind.

“Will that growth decelerate? [Or] was it a point-in-time moment for COVID? Or has this been a pulling forward of overall trends? Certainly, you’re going to have both,” he said, adding that he doesn’t “think in a year from now, we’re going to be spending 10 hours a day on Zooms,” but that in his view Zoom will remain “foundational in the economy.”

In Deeter’s view, “we’ve just set a new baseline [for software] and the beauty of these subscription businesses is that they’re not going to turn them off.” The result of all of that? Bullish growth expectations.

Drilling in further, we asked if he expects Bessemer software portfolio companies will grow faster in percentage terms in 2021 than they did in 2020. Saying that the cohort profile will change, he added that “on balance,” he thinks that “there’s a real case that [the group] could grow the same or faster.”

#bessemer-venture-partners, #byron-deeter, #ecl, #tc

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Extra Crunch Live: Join Bessemer’s Byron Deeter for a live Q&A today at 12pm PT/3pm ET

Byron Deeter’s portfolio includes Twilio, DocuSign, Box, Canva, Intercom, SendGrid and many more. He is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced SaaS and cloud investors in the biz, which is why Alex Wilhelm and I are more than thrilled to lead a live Q&A with Deeter on today’s forthcoming episode of Extra Crunch Live.

Deeter co-authors Bessemer Venture Partners’ 10 Laws of Cloud Computing and the annual State of the Cloud report, created the Bessemer Forbes Cloud 100 and is now the host of Bessemer’s new podcast Cloud Giants. To say this man has his head in the cloud would be an understatement.

The move over to the cloud had plenty of momentum behind it before the pandemic struck, which has only served to speed up that transition even more. With businesses across almost every industry moving to the cloud, and startups clamoring to get a piece of the pie, Deeter has a unique perspective on what it takes to win big in this market.

We’ll chat with Deeter about what he looks for in SaaS and cloud startups, both subjectively (founder qualities) and objectively (metrics), and which trends he foresees in the year ahead.

I’ll also Q Deeter about his investment in Team SoloMid as anyone who knows me knows I can’t resist a good discussion about esports, especially considering that investment is a bit of an outlier in Deeter’s portfolio.

Of course, Alex and I won’t be the only ones asking questions. Extra Crunch Members are more than encouraged to submit their own question (you can do that ahead of time using the link below), which we’ll pass on to Deeter during the conversation.

You can catch the chat live at 3pm ET/12pm PT today or watch it on demand right here. (Pro Tip: That link will also take you to the full library of all Extra Crunch Live episodes of the past, which include conversations with guests such as Mark Cuban, Roelof Botha, Aileen Lee, Charles Hudson, Max Levchin, Zack Perret and many, many more.)

If you’re not yet an Extra Crunch member, what the hell are you waiting for? You can sign up here (and you really should!).

Details:

Below are links to add the event to your calendar and to save the Zoom link. We’ll share the YouTube link shortly before the discussion:

#bessemer-venture-partners, #byron-deeter, #cloud, #startups, #tc

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Personal finance startup Truebill raises $17M

Truebill, a startup offering a variety of tools to help users take control of their finances, announced today that it has raised $17 million in Series C funding.

When I first wrote about the startup in 2016, it was focused on helping users track and cancel unwanted subscriptions. Since then, it’s expanded into other financial products, like reports on your personal expenses and the ability to negotiate lower bills.

This week, Chief Revenue Officer Yahya Mokhtarzada told me that with the pandemic leading to a dramatic reduction in ad costs, Truebill was able to make TV advertising a key channel for reaching new users.

And of course, the financial uncertainty has made the product more appealing too — particularly its smart savings tool, where users can automatically set aside money for their goals.

“People became aware of the need to have some cushion,” Mokhtarzada said. “You should start saving when things are going well, before you need it, but [saving during the pandemic] is better than not doing it at all. We’ve seen a big bump in smart savings adoption, which is at an all-time high.”

The new round brings Truebill’s total funding to $40 million. It was led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Eldridge Capital, Cota Capital, Firebolt Ventures and Day One Ventures.

The startup says the round will allow it to develop new products and features, including net worth tracking, automated debt payments and shared accounts.

Mokhtarzada added that the company will be making big investments in data science to help follow its “north star” of financial health, where he said, “”The data challenge is significant.”

Sure, it’s pretty straightforward to recognize whether someone’s doing well or poorly financially, but the real goal is to “recognize trends and shortfalls before they happen.”

For example, instead of simply alerting users when they’ve been charged an overdraft fee on their account, Mokhtarzada said, “What is helpful is to predictive models analyze data to anticipate a cashflow shortage and have the right tools in place that prevent it.”

#bessemer-venture-partners, #finance, #funding, #fundings-exits, #startups, #truebill

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Join us for a live Q&A with Bessemer’s Byron Deeter next Tuesday at 3 p.m ET, noon PT

The Extra Crunch Live series rolls along with a big new installment next week as Jordan Crook and Alex Wilhelm will welcome Bessemer Venture PartnersByron Deeter to the conversation.

Deeter is an obvious addition to the collection of investors, founders and tech luminaries that TechCrunch has interviewed so far in the Live series — for a taste, here’s a look at our discussion with Unusual Ventures’ John Vrionis and Sarah Leary, and our chat with Plaid co-founder Zach Perret.

Why talk to a Bessemer partner in the current moment? The firm is well-known for its investments into SaaS and cloud companies, a key startup cohort that has performed well. Recent days have shaken that narrative as Q4 races to the halfway mark, with public investors seeming to rotate into other equities, punishing software firms that had been the market’s favored bet for most of the year.

We’ll dig into what’s changing on the private side of that coin, looking to understand today’s software venture capital dynamics, and what Deeter sees happening in 2021.

But there’s more to Bessemer’s active portfolio than SaaS. The venture group has also dropped dollars into Discord, which is seeing both revenue and usage explode, and Betterment, which plays in the active fintech savings and investing space. There’s lots to get into.

If you are an Extra Crunch Live veteran — you rock star, you! — or a brand-new participant — make sure your Extra Crunch membership is live! — bring a question or two as we’ll try to work in a few from the audience as we go.

Chat with you next Tuesday afternoon! (Oh, and you can now pre-submit questions down below, which is a great improvement over the old system which only allowed for live submissions!)

Details

#bessemer-venture-partners, #byron-deeter, #extra-crunch-live, #fundings-exits, #saas, #startups

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Salto raises $27M to let you configure your SaaS platforms with code

Salto, a Tel Aviv-based open-source startup that allows you to configure SaaS platforms like Salesforce, NetSuite and HubSpot with code, is coming out of stealth today and announced that it has raised a $27 million Series A round. This round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures.

The general idea here — which is similar to the ‘infrastructure-as-code’ movement — is to allow business operations teams to automate the labor-intensive and error-prone ways they currently use to manage SaaS platforms. While others in this space are betting on no-code solutions for managing these systems, Salto is going the other way and is betting on code instead.

“We realized the challenges BizOps teams face are very similar to the problems encountered by software and DevOps engineers on a daily basis,” writes Salto co-founder and CEO Rami Tamir in today’s announcement. “So we adapted software development fundamentals and best practices to the BizOps field. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel; the same techniques used to make high-quality software can also be applied to keeping control over business applications.”

Image Credits: Salto

Salto makes the core of its service available as open source. This open-source version includes the company’s NaCI language, a declarative configuration language based on the syntax of HashiCorp’s hcl, a command-line interface for deploying configuration changes (and fetching the current configuration state of an application) and a VS Code extension.

In combination with Git, business operations teams can collaborate on writing these configurations and test them in staging environments. The company is essentially taking modern software development practices and applying them to business operations.

Image Credits: Salto

“Defining a company’s business logic as code can make a fundamental change in the way business applications are delivered,” writes Tamir. “We like to think about it as ‘company-as-code,’ much in the same way as ‘infrastructure-as-code’ transformed the way we manage data centers.”

Some of the use cases here are configuring custom Salesforce CPQ fields, and syncing profiles across Salesforce environments and maintaining audio logs for NetSuite. For now, the company only supports connections to Salesforce, HubSpot and NetSuite, with others following soon.

Like other open-source companies, Salto’s business model involved selling a hosted version of its service, which the company is also announcing today.

In terms of raising this new round, it surely helped that the founding team, which includes Benny Schnaider and Gil Hoffer, in addition to Tamir, previously sold the three companies they founded. Pentacom was acquired by Cisco earlier this year; Oracle acquired Ravello Systems in 2016 and Qumranet was acquired by Red Hat in 2008.

“Business agility is more important than ever today, and the alignment of external business services to real business needs is increasing in strategic importance,” said Alex Kayyal, Partner and Head of International at Salesforce Ventures . “BizOps teams are becoming more and more crucial to the success of companies. With Salto they are empowered to meet the tasks they are charged with, equipped with modernized methodologies and a greatly enhanced toolbox.”

#bessemer-venture-partners, #cisco, #cloud-applications, #computing, #devops, #head, #hubspot, #lightspeed-venture-partners, #netsuite, #oracle, #oracle-corporation, #ravello-systems, #red-hat, #salesforce, #salesforce-ventures, #salto, #software, #software-as-a-service, #tc, #tel-aviv

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