Loadsmart raises $90 million to further consolidate its one-stop freight and logistics platform

Leading on-demand digital freight platform Loadsmart has raised a $90 million Series C funding round, led by funds under management by BlackRock, and co-led by Chromo Invest. The funding will be used to continue to build out its platform to offer even more end-to-end logistics services to its freight customers, and the company says that it will be doing that in part through new collaboration with strategic investor TFI International, a leader in the logistics space, which also participated in this round.

In addition to TFI, the round also saw renewed investment from Maersk, a global oceanic shipping leader and one of Loadsmart’s strategic backers since its Series A round. The company says it has increased its revenues by 250% across 2020, while at the same time managing to keep its operating expenses flat. In a press release announcing the news, the company seemed to take indirect shots at competitors including Uber Freight and Convoy by noting that it has achieved its growth through “organic” means, rather than “by subsidizing its customers’ freight spend” through aggressive pricing.

Loadsmart offers booking for freight transportation across land, rail and through ports, all from a single online portal. It recently added the ability to ship partial truckloads, and it’s consistency brought in new strategic investors deeply involved in all aspects of the industry, including port management and overland shipping, which is likely contributing to its growth through ever-deeper industry insight.

#blackrock, #convoy, #leader, #logistics, #maersk, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #transport, #transportation, #uber-freight


JumpCloud raises $75M Series E as cloud directory service thrives during pandemic

JumpCloud, the cloud directory service that debuted at TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in 2013, announced a $75 million Series E today. The round was led by BlackRock with participation from existing investor General Atlantic.

The company wasn’t willing to discuss the current valuation, but has now raised over $166 million, according to Crunchbase data.

Changes in the way that IT works have been evolving since the company launched. Back then, most companies used Microsoft Active Directory in a Windows-centric environment. Since then, things have gotten more heterogeneous with multiple operating systems, web applications, the cloud and mobile and that has required a different way of thinking about directory structures.

JumpCloud co-founder and CEO Rajat Bhargava says that the pandemic has only accelerated the need for his company’s kind of service as more companies move to the cloud. “Obviously now with COVID, all these changes made it much more difficult for IT to connect their users to all the resources that they needed, and to us that’s one of the most critical tasks that an IT organization has is making their team productive,” he said.

He said their idea was to build an “independent cloud directory platform that would connect people to really whatever it is they need and do that in a secure way while giving IT complete control over that access.”

The product which includes a free tier for 10 users on 10 systems for an unlimited amount of time, has 100,000 users. Of those, Bhargava says that about 3000 are paying.

The company has 300 employees with plans to add 200-250 in the next year with a goal of adding 500 in the next couple of years. As he does that, Bhargava, who is South Asian, sees diversity and inclusion as an important component of the hiring process. In fact, the company tries to make sure it always has diverse candidates in the hiring pool.

“Some of the things that we’ve tried to do is make sure that every role has some diversity candidates involved in the hiring process. That’s something that our recruiting team is working on and making sure that we’re having that conversation with every single hire,” he said. He acknowledges that it’s a work in progress, and a problem across the entire tech industry that he and his company continue to try and address.

Since the pandemic, the company, which is based in Colorado, has made the decision to be remote first and they will be hiring from across the country and across the world as they make these new hires, which could help contribute to a more diverse workforce over time.

With a $75 million investment, and having reached Series E, it’s fair to ask if the company is thinking ahead to an IPO, but Bhargava didn’t want to discuss that. “We just raised this $75 million round. There’s so much work to be done, so we’re just looking forward to that right now,” he said.

#blackrock, #cloud, #directory-services, #enterprise, #funding, #jumpcloud, #recent-funding, #security, #startups, #tc


Scopely raises $340 million at a $3.3 billion valuation as gaming grabs investors’ interest

In a move to shore up institutional support in what’s likely to be it’s last fundraising as a private company, the Los Angeles-based mobile gaming behemoth Scopely has raised $340 million in its latest eye-popping round of funding.

Acting as if there’s not still a global pandemic raging throughout the world, some of the largest institutional financing firms like Wellington Management, TSG Consumer Partners, CPP Investments, and funds managed by BlackRock poured more money into the gaming giant just one year after the company raised $200 million in another late-stage funding round.

“What we are seeing is that there’s a significant appetite from public market investors to interactive entertainment as a category,” said Scopely co-chief executive Walter Driver. “We were excited to crossover and invest in Scopely.”

These late-stage, traditionally pre-IPO investors joined NewView Capital, Battery Ventures, Greycroft, Revolution Growth and Highland Capital Partners in the funding, which values the company at $3.3 billion, according to a person familiar with the financing.

The massive windfall won’t mean anything for Scopely’s strategy as the already wildly profitable business continues to grow both organically and through its acquisition strategy of major mobile gaming studios, according to co-chief executive, Walter Driver.

Unlike the other big companies that have taken billions of dollars in the gaming market — chiefly Epic Games and Unity — Scopely isn’t making tools for gaming. The focus at the Los Angeles-based company is squarely on the games themselves and the players who spend billions of dollars on them.

Scopely is focused on building the end-to-end publishing capabilities and development capabilities that will result in the longest term relationships with players for years to come,” Driver said. “This space is evolving really quickly and we have grown exponentially. If we want to be the leading company in the space, we have to be capitalized like the leading the company in the space.”

In terms of capitalization, no other mobile gaming studio comes close. The company’s closest competitor, both in proximity and in strategy would probably be the other LA-based mobile gaming company, Jam City, which is reportedly valued at $1.1 billion.

Scopely doesn’t shy away from developing aspects of the platform technologies that have powered Epic and Unity to their own multi-billion valuations, but it isn’t selling those tools to other companies, Driver said.

“Our belief is that over the longterm the most valuable companies in this space are going to be fully vertically integrated and own proprietary technology platforms,” he said.  

For Scopely, technology development is all about user retention, and developing the publishing capabilities and development capabilities that will help the company and its games stay relevant to an increasingly expanding and increasingly savvy audience of gamers.

And the company has an eye on the future. It’s looking at moving more of its games between platforms desktop, mobile, and consoles as games evolve to be played across those different systems. While that doesn’t mean developing for augmented reality or virtual reality hardware yet, Driver doesn’t rule it out.

“We do think there’s going to be continued innovation of new genres and consumer experience and more convergence and cross-pollination between platforms. Scopely is going to be focused on a player-centric approach rather than a device-centric one,” said Driver. 

For Driver and his co-founder, Javier Ferreira, Scopely’s growth — and that of the total gaming industry — represents an evolution in the ways that consumers want to be entertained.

Scopely’s players are spending 80 minutes per-day on games like “Star Trek Fleet Command”, “MARVEL Strike Force”, Scrabble GO” and “YAHTZEE With Buddies” and that time spent is actually spent socially.

“People have found — and investors looking at the space have found also that people value the connection they’re getting from interactive experiences. It’s not just our relationship with the players, but their relationships with each other,” Driver said. “Inside of most passively consumed media experiences, you don’t have an identity. You don’t have friends.

Or, to put in more nakedly capitalist terms, “We believe mobile gaming’s rapid growth makes it one of the most attractive categories in entertainment from an investment standpoint,” as Dan Sundheim the co-founder of late-stage Scopely backer D1 Capital, said in a statement. “We are confident that Scopely’s vision for the future coupled with its strategic approach to creating a vertically integrated game-making ecosystem, differentiated technology platform, and deep relationships with players will continue to cement its status as an industry leader.”


#battery-ventures, #blackrock, #co-founder, #d1-capital, #driver, #epic-games, #greycroft, #highland-capital-partners, #jam-city, #los-angeles, #louisiana, #newview-capital, #scopely, #tc, #technology-development, #tsg-consumer-partners, #video-games, #video-gaming, #virtual-reality, #walter-driver, #wellington-management


Using population health analysis to improve patient care brings Sema4 a $1.1 billion valuation

Sema4, the Stamford, Conn.-based digital healthcare company now worth just over $1 billion, takes its name from the system of sending messages via code.

And like its namesake, Sema4 is trying to send messages of its own to the broader healthcare system based on the signals it uncovers in massive datasets of population health that can reveal insights and best practices, according to the company’s founding chief executive, Eric Schadt.

Spun out from the Mt. Sinai Health System in June 2017, Sema4 is the second digital healthcare company in a week to reach a billion dollar valuation from investors (Ro, too, is now worth over $1 billion). In this case, Sema4’s $121 million financing came from BlackRock, Deerfield and Moore Capital, and follows only twelve months after another $120 million institutional financing from investors including Blackstone, Section 32, Oak HC/FT, Decheng, and the Connecticut Innovation Fund.

The company’s ability to attract capital may have something to do with a business model that’s managed to amass nearly 10 million patient records through partnerships with ten major health systems and several hundred thousand more patients through a strategy that has the company offer direct insights to patients as part of enhanced care services.

“My effort centered on… how do we aggregate bigger and bigger sources of data to better inform patients around their health and wellness,” said Schadt. 

Sema4 chief executive Eric Shcadt. Image Credit: Sema4

Sema4 works with physicians to provide analysis of genetic data so doctors can make informed decisions on what care would work best with their patients. “We’re providing a meaningful service on behalf of the physician and it’s a service that the physician wants us to do because they’re generally not adept at the genomics,” said Schadt. 

The company provides screening services for reproductive health and oncology as two of its core competencies, acting as a single point of care to collect and store information in a way that’s easily portable for patients, Schadt said

“We play in the testing arena as a growth hack engine to engage patients and generating high amounts of quality data and seek to engage with them to get to higher scales to build the biggest models to get what [doctors] need on any condition of interest,” he said. 

Sema4 is currently working in three areas, reproductive health, precision oncology, and now COVID-19. In April, the company had no ability to analyze tests for COVID-19, but did have lab space that was certified to perform the necessary analysis. Now, the company can handle15,000 tests per day.

As a result of the round, Andrew Elbardissi, a managing partner at Deerfield, as joined Sema4’s board of directors. Other recent additions to the board include Mike Pellini, the former chief executive of Foundation Medicine and current investor at Section32 (the venture firm launched by former Google Ventures head Bill Maris); former principal deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Rachel Sherman; and former Goldman Sachs chief financial officer, Marty Chavez. 

“Sema4 is a leader at the forefront of one of the most exciting intersections in healthcare – the application of technology, AI and machine learning to help improve patient outcomes. We are excited to support this talented management team as Sema4 begins its next phase of growth,” said Will Abacassis, Managing Director at BlackRock, in a statement. 

Goldman Sachs acted as a financial advisor to Sema4 on the transaction.


#bill-maris, #blackrock, #blackstone, #digital-healthcare, #food-and-drug-administration, #genomics, #goldman-sachs, #health-care, #health-systems, #healthcare, #machine-learning, #marty-chavez, #physician, #tc


#DealMonitor – 50 Millionen für Scalable Capital – Fondsgesellschaft kauft CAPinside

Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 22. Juli 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.


Scalable Capital
+++ Alle Alt-Investoren – darunter BlackRock, Holtzbrinck Ventures und Tengelmann Ventures – und ein nicht genannter neuer Geldgeber – vielleicht wieder einmal der scheue Investor Hedosophia – investieren 50 Millionen Euro in Scalable Capital. Insgesamt flossen nun schon 116 Millionen in das Münchner FinTech. Der digitale Vermögensverwalter wurde im Dezember 2014 von Florian Prucker, Erik Podzuweit, Patrick Pöschl, Adam French und Stefan Mittnik gegründet. Scalable Capital beschäftigt an seinen Standorten München und London mehr als 130 Mitarbeiter.

+++ Korys aus Belgien, Bayern Kapital und EIT InnoEnergy investieren 6 Millionen Euro in VoltStorage. Das Münchner Startup entwickelt und produziert Solarstromspeicher auf Basis der “umwelt- und ressourcenschonenden Vanadium-Redox-Flow (VRF) Technologie”. Das frische Das Kapital soll in den “Ausbau der Serienproduktion, die Entwicklung neuer Speicherlösungen sowie die technologische Weiterentwicklung” fließen. VoltStorage wurde 2016 von Jakob Bitner, Michael Peither und Felix Kiefl gegründet.


+++ Die Fondsgesellschaft Universal Investment übernimmt die Mehrheit am Hamburger Fintech CAPinside. Das Unternehmen, ein B2B-Online-Investment-Plattform für den Investmentmarkt mit Fokus auf Fondsvermarktung und Vertriebsanbahnung, wurde 2017 von Achim Denkel und Philipp Schröder gegründet. Thomas Pütter, Andreas Kupke, Christoph Ostermann und Alexander Holtappels investierten Anfang 2019 rund 3,3 Millionen Euro in das Fintech. Das Startup beschäftigt derzeit 40 Mitarbeiter.


+++ Der Berliner Co-Living-Anbieter Habyt fusioniert mit seinem Wettbewerber GoLiving. Das 2017 von Luca Bovone gegründete Habyt, verfügt aktuell über mehr als 500 komplett
eingerichtete Zimmer in Berlin, Madrid, Mailand und Lissabon. Die GoLiving-Gründer Tobias Brühne und Hasib Samad, die das Startup 2019 gegründet haben, bleiben auch nach dem Zusammenschluss an Bord. Im Zuge der Fusion investieren Picus Capital, P101 und der neue Investor Italia500 weiteres Geld in die Jungfirma. Insgesamt flossen nun schon rund 6 Millionen in das Unternehmen.

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): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #berlin, #blackrock, #capinside, #co-living, #engergie, #fintech, #goliving, #habyt, #hamburg, #holtzbrinck-ventures, #italia500, #munchen, #p101, #picus-capital, #scalable-capital, #tengelmann-ventures, #universal-investment, #venture-capital, #voltstorage


Puppet announces $40 million debt round from BlackRock

Puppet, the Portland, Oregon-based infrastructure automation company, announced a $40 million debt round today from BlackRock Investments.

CEO Yvonne Wassenaar says the company sees this debt round as part of a longer term relationship with BlackRock . “What’s interesting, and I think part of the reason why we decided to go with BlackRock, is that typically when you look at how they invest this is the first step of a much longer term relationship that we will have with them  over time that has different elements that we can tap into as the company scales,” Wassenaar told TechCrunch.

In terms of the arrangement, rather than BlackRock taking a stake in the company, Puppet will pay back the money. “We’ve borrowed a sum of money that we will pay back over time. BlackRock does have a board observer seat, and that’s really because they’re very interested in working with us on how we grow and accelerate the business,” Wassenaar said.

Puppet has been in the process of rebuilding its executive team with Wassenaar coming on board about 18 months ago. Last year she brought in industry veterans Erik Frieberg and Paul Heywood as CMO and CRO respectively. This year she brought in former Cloud Foundry Foundation director Abby Kearns to be CTO.

All of these moves are with an eye to a future IPO, says Wassenaar. “We’re looking at how do we  progress ultimately, ideally on a path to an IPO, and what it is going to take for Puppet to go through that journey,” she said.

She points out that in some ways, the pandemic has forced companies to look more closely at automation solutions like the ones that Puppet provides. “What’s really interesting is […] that the pandemic in many ways has put wind in our sails in terms of the need for corporations to automate and think about how they leverage and extend from a technology perspective going forward,” she said.

As Puppet continues to grow, she says that diversity is a core organizational value, and that while the company has made progress from a gender perspective (as illustrated by the presence of her and Kearns in the C Suite), they still are working at being more racially diverse.

“Where I believe we have a lot more work and there’s a lot more focus right now is further complementing that [gender diversity] from a racial perspective. And it’s an area that I have personally taken on, and I’m committed to making changes in the company as we go forward to support more racial diversity as well,” she said.

Previously the company had raised almost $150 million with the most recent round being a $42 million Series F in 2018, according to Crunchbase data. The company previously took $22 million in debt financing in 2016, prior to Wassenaar coming on board.

#blackrock, #cloud, #developer, #enterprise, #funding, #open-source, #puppet, #tc


Qumulo scores $125M Series E on $1.2B valuation as storage biz accelerates

Qumulo, a Seattle storage startup helping companies store vast amounts of data, announced a $125 million Series E investment today on a $1.2 billion valuation.

BlackRock led the round with help from Highland Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group, Kleiner Perkins and new investor Amity Ventures. The company reports it has now raised $351 million.

CEO Bill Richter says the valuation is more than 2x its most recent round, a $93 million Series D in 2018. While the valuation puts his company in the unicorn club, he says that it’s more important than simple bragging rights. “It puts us in the category of raising at a billion plus dollar level during a very complicated environment in the world. Actually, that’s probably the more meaningful news,” he told TechCrunch.

It typically hasn’t been easy raising money during the pandemic, but Richter reports the company started getting inbound interest in March just before things started shutting down nationally. What’s more, as the company’s quarter closed at the end of April, they had grown almost 100% year over year, and beaten their pre-COVID revenue estimate. He says they saw that as a signal to take additional investment.

“When you’re putting up nearly 100% year over year growth in an environment like this, I think it really draws a lot of attention in a positive way,” he said. And that attention came in the form a huge round that closed this week.

What’s driving that growth is that the amount of unstructured data, which plays to the company’s storage strength, is accelerating during the pandemic as companies move more of their activities online. He says that when you combine that with a shift to the public cloud, he believes that Qumulo is well positioned.

Today the company has 400 customers and over 300 employees with plans to add another 100 more before year’s end. As he adds those employees, he says that part of the the company’s core principles includes building a diverse workforce. “We took the time as an organization to write out a detailed set of hiring practices that are designed to root out bias in the process,” he said.

One of the keys to that is looking at a broad set of candidates, not just the ones you’ve known from previous jobs. “The reason for that is that when you force people to go through hiring practices, you open up the position to a broader, more diverse set of candidates and you stop the cycle of continuously creating what I call ‘club memberships’, where if you were a member of the club before you’re a member in the future,” he says.

The company has been around since 2012 and spent the first couple of years conducting market research before building its first product. In 2014 it released a storage appliance, but over time it has shifted more towards hybrid solutions.

#blackrock, #enterprise, #funding, #hybrid-cloud, #qumulo, #seattle-startups, #startups, #storage, #tc, #unicorns


BlackRock backs Trustly, bank transfer payments platform now valued at over $1B

Online payments are often synonymous with card payments, but today a startup that’s built a profitable alternative, based around making and taking payments by way of a bank transfer, is announcing a round of funding amid a surge of growth.

Trustly, a startup from Sweden that has built a platform to make it as easy (and competitive) for merchants to accept bank transfers as it is to take card payments to complete online transactions, is today announcing that it has raised a significant round of funding from a group of investors led by BlackRock.

In an interview, Trustly’s CEO Oscar Berglund said the company and its investors are not disclosing the exact amount of the investment, but we understand from reliable sources that the deal values the company — which is profitable and had revenues of over $150 million last year — at over $1 billion, and that it will give BlackRock and others participating in the investment (including Aberdeen Standard Investments, funds managed by Neuberger Berman, the Investment Corporation of Dubai and RSIC) a minority share in the business.

For some further background, private equity group Nordic Capital essentially acquired Trustly in 2018 for €700 million ($794 million at today’s rates). This deal represents a partial exit. From what we understand the base valuation also rose with this transaction.

That’s both on the back of growth — both organic and also inorganic, as it merged with US rival PayWithMyBank, last year, to expand its network to touch 600 million consumers — and Trustly’s impressive list of customers. That list has more than 6,000 merchants today and also includes Facebook, where you can find its logo to let people buy ads and pay via Trustly; AT&T, which lets people pay bills using the network; Alibaba.com for making purchases in Europe; topping up PayPal accounts in a number of countries; and sending and receiving money via TransferWise.

This also essentially puts this investment in the hundred/hundreds of million/s range.

Trustly’s growth comes amid a bigger picture of how e-commerce is evolving as it continues to mature and become more ubiquitous — a trend that has been accelerated in the last several months as many have turned away from physically making purchases because of social distancing measures.

When many of us think of online payments, we usually associate the process with using credit or debit cards, or maybe logging into a mobile wallet to complete a transaction. But the reality is that payments are a much more fragmented business, with consumer and merchant preferences changing with each region and including a wider range of options than simply Visa, MasterCard, Amex, and PayPal or some other wallet.

Bank transfers as a method of payment are not at all common in some markets, especially those where cards have become ubiquitous. For example in the UK only about 5% of transactions online are made this way.

But in other markets, this is a very common and well-used route. In Austria, Estonia, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland, a majority of consumers prefer to pay via bank transfer — respectively the rates are 50%, 50%, 40%, 60%, 45%, Trustly tells me, basing its figures on a number of data sources including some of its payment partners, Adyen, PPRO, Global Data and Worldpay.

And Berglund said that the picture is a positive one for Trustly — and other companies that it competes with, including Klarna (another startup ‘unicorn’ from Sweden, as it happens) — because it seems that bank-based transfers as a payment method is on the rise.

There are multiple reasons for that shift. Perhaps most obviously, we’ve seen a lot of security issues around card usage, including too many stories of malicious hackers breaching businesses’ network security and stealing data and card numbers, and other kinds of card fraud. Even as more watertight procedures are put into place (such as mandatory chip-and-pin transactions in many countries), there remain loopholes and also general unease among consumers.

On top of that are changing tides in consumer-focused financial services. Specifically, thanks to the rise of mobile apps and a plethora of startups that have built “challenger banks” to provide more user-friendly banking, consumers today want and expect more control over their finances.

Using credit cards for many represents a departure from that, given that they are designed to help you spend more than you might actually have to spend, so that you can pay back in increments with interest. And, I’d argue, even debit cards can be a departure from transparency, since you are still not seeing your account balance in real time when you make purchases, and many people have overdrafts in place to again spend more than they actually have to spend.

“I think that bank transfers plays into the younger generation of millennials who just consciously don’t want to get into the debt trap, while also  being used to everything being done in real time,” Berglund said. 

If the story for end users — be they the consumers doing the buying or the merchants doing the selling — is all about transparency, easy user interfaces and simplification, it’s because the work under the hood remains very complex and fragmented. Such is the case here as well.

Trustly’s network, Berglund explained, is based around Trustly itself setting up its own business accounts across a wide range of banks around markets where it is active.

When a user elects to pay by bank transfer, it essentially goes through whatever interface his/her own bank uses when interacting with it directly, which then routes the payment through Trustly’s network to be paid into a merchant’s account.

The system is as secure as an individual’s own online banking interface, which typically will use two-factor authentication to complete a transaction, unlike most card transactions. Berglund says that for this reason, the company has not experienced any of the kinds of of breaches or frauds that you see in card payments.

In terms of Trustly’s business model, it is a customer of the banks, while the merchants are its customers: it charges a transaction fee to merchants who use the Trustly network to receive payments, and Berglund said that the percentage varies but is essentially lower than what they would pay for card-based transactions.

But because payments are complex, this is not the full story. In addition to working with merchants directly, Trustly also integrates with a number of third parties like Worldpay, PPRO, Rapyd and others that use these latter services to integrate a number of payment options through a single API (rather than multiple APIs or integrations) into their check-out stack.

And Berglund added that it’s looking like it might be taking on another new wave of customers going forward. Banks themselves are exploring ways of providing more services to merchants who bank with them, and so Trustly is talking to some of them about the potential of a white-label version what Trustly offers so that they can provide the service directly.

The reason it’s not replicated is the same reason it’s hard to build any financial service from the ground up: Trustly has put in place not just a banking network but the integrations around it, plus the customer service it provides to merchants around the business of payments. That makes it hard to replicate, he added. “You have a huge platform here in the middle of this business, not unlike the platforms that exist for card payments,” he said. “It’s a big system all in all.”

#blackrock, #europe, #finance, #fintech, #recent-funding, #startups, #sweden, #tc, #trustly