AI cybersecurity provider SentinelOne files for $100M IPO

SentinelOne, a late-stage security startup that helps organizations secure their data using AI and machine learning, has filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

In an S-1 filing on Thursday, the security company revealed that for the three months ending April 30, its revenues increased by 108% year-on-year to $37.4 million and its customer base grew to 4,700, up from 2,700 a year prior. Despite this pandemic-fueled growth, SentinelOne’s net losses more than doubled from $26.6 million in 2020 to $62.6 million.

“We also expect our operating expenses to increase in the future as we continue to invest for our future growth, including expanding our research and development function to drive further development of our platform, expanding our sales and marketing activities, developing the functionality to expand into adjacent markets, and reaching customers in new geographic locations,” SentinelOne wrote in its filing.

The Mountain View-based company said it intends to list its Class A common stock using the ticker symbol “S” and that details about the price range and number of common shares to be put up for the IPO are yet to be determined. The S-1 filing also identifies Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Securities, Barclays and Wells Fargo Securities as the lead underwriters.

SentinelOne raised $276 million in a funding round in November last year, tripling its $1 billion valuation from February 2020 to $3 billion. At the time, CEO and founder Tomer Weingarten told TechCrunch that an IPO “would be the next logical step” for the company.

SentinelOne, which was founded in 2013 and has raised a total of $696.5 million through eight rounds of funding, is looking to raise up to $100 million in its IPO, and said it’s intending to use the net proceeds to increase its visibility in the cybersecurity marketplace and for product development and other “general corporate processes.”

It added that “may also use a portion of the net proceeds for the acquisition of, or investment in, technologies, solutions, or businesses that complement our business.” The company’s sole acquisition so far took place back in February when it bought high-speed logging startup Scalyr for $155 million.

SentinelOne is going public during a period of heightened public interest in cybersecurity. There has been a wave of high-profile cyberattacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, with hackers taking advantage of widespread remote working necessitated as a result.

One of the biggest attacks saw Russian hackers breach the networks of IT company SolarWinds, enabling them to gain access to government agencies and corporations. SentinelOne’s endpoint protection solution was able to detect and stop the related malicious payload, protecting its customers.

“The world is full of criminals, state actors, and other hostile agents who seek to exfiltrate and exploit data to disrupt our way of life,” Weingarten said in SentinelOne’s SEC filing. “Our mission is to keep the world running by protecting and securing the core pillars of modern infrastructure: data and the systems that store, process, and share information. This is an endless mission as attackers evolve rapidly in their quest to disrupt operations, breach data, turn profit, and inflict damage.”

#artificial-intelligence, #barclays, #ceo, #cloud, #companies, #computing, #goldman-sachs, #initial-public-offering, #machine-learning, #morgan-stanley, #scalyr, #security, #sentinelone, #solarwinds, #system-administration, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission

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#DealMonitor – Celonis sammelt 1 Milliarde ein – Tier Mobility bekommt 60 Millionen – Cognigy sammelt 44 Millionen ein


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 2. Juni werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Celonis
+++ Durable Capital Partners, T. Rowe Price Associates, Franklin Templeton, Splunk Ventures und “eine Gruppe weiterer Investoren” sowie Altinvestoren wie Arena Holdings investieren 1 Milliarde US-Dollar in das Process Mining-Grownup Celonis. Eine solche Summe sammelte bisher noch kein Startup auf seinen Schlag ein. Die Bewertung liegt bei 11 Milliarden Dollar. Damit ist Celonis das erste deutsche Decacorn. Mit dem Begriff werden Unternehmen beschrieben, die mindestens mit 10 Milliarden US-Dollar bewertet werden. Mehr im ausführlichen Artikel zum Decacorn-Investment

Tier Mobility
+++ Goldman Sachs stellt dem millionenschweren Berliner Mobility-Startup Tier, das E-Scooter und Roller anbietet, eine sogenannte Asset-Backed-Finanzierung in Höhe von 60 Millionen US-Dollar zur Verfügung. “The debt facility from the leading investment banking, securities and investment management firm is the first of such scale in micro-mobility and will fuel TIER’s e-scooter fleet expansion for 2021”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung. Investoren wie SoftBank, Mubadala Capital, Northzone, Goodwater Capital und White Star Capital investierten bereits in Tier. Das Unternehmen wurde 2018 von Lawrence Leuschner, Matthias Laug und Julian Blessin gegründet. Mehr über Tier Mobility

Cognigy
+++ Insight Partners. DN Capital, Global Brain, Nordic Makers, Inventures und Digital Innovation and Growth investieren 44 Millionen US-Dollar in Cognigy. Das Düsseldorfer Unternehmen, das 2016 von Philipp Heltewig und Sascha Poggemann gegründet wurde, entwickelt einen Künstliche Intelligenz-Service, Kundenanfragen zu managen. Zu den Kunden des Unternehmens gehören unter anderem Lufthansa, BioNTech und Daimler. Bis Ende 2019 flossen bereits rund 6,5 Millionen Euro in Cognigy. Mit dem frischen Kapital möchte das Unternehmen “sein weltweites Kundenwachstum fördern, neue Partnerschaften vorantreiben und die marktführenden Funktionen seiner Plattform kontinuierlich weiterentwickeln, um die Einführung von Künstlicher Intelligenz auf Unternehmensebene zu beschleunigen”. Mehr über Cognigy

OroraTech
+++ Bayern Kapital, Ananda Impact Ventures, Findus Ventures, APEX Ventures und “ein Konsortium erfahrener Business Angels” investieren 5,8 Millionen Euro in OroraTech.Das Münchner Unternehmen positioniert sich als “kommerzieller Anbieter von Satelliten, die – mit Infrarot-Kameras ausgestattet – Buschfeuer überall auf der Welt frühzeitig entdecken und überwachen können”. Das junge Startup entstand als Spin-off des Raumfahrtlehrstuhls der TUM. Mehr über OroraTech

Evana
+++ Wecken & Cie., AC+X und das Schweizer Family Office Arventus sowie die Altinvestoren Patrizia und AM Alpha investieren 10 Millionen Euro in das PropTech Evana. “Das Unternehmen nutzt die Finanzierung, um Evana als führende Plattform für das digitale Daten- und Dokumenten-Management in Europa und Technologieführer für Künstliche Intelligenz in der Immobilienwirtschaft zu etablieren”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung. Das 2015 gegründete PropTech (Frankfurt am Main und Saarbrücken) beschäftigt mehr als 100 Mitarbeiter:innen.

Bikemap
+++ Der niederländische Investors Ponooc, der auch bei Swapfiets und Unu an Bord ist, investiert eine siebenstellige Summe in das Wiener Startup Bikemap. Die Jungfirma bezeichnet sich selbst als “bisher größte nutzer:innengenerierte Fahrradroutensammlung der Welt”. Die Bikemap-App, die 2014 gegründet wurde, bietet nach eigenen Angaben “mehr als sieben Millionen Routen in über 100 Ländern” an. 30 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten für das Unternehmen.

WeProfit
+++ Angel-Investoren wie Clemens Bollinger, Vahe Andonians, Armen Kocharyan, Ara Abrahamyan und Jörg-Matthias Butzlaff investieren 330.000 US-Dollar in WeProfit. Das Startup aus Frankfurt am Main bringt sich als “Software Development-Marktplatz” in Stellung. Über die Plattform können Unternehmen “passende und gescreente Geschäftspartner für Software Development-Projekte finden”. WeProfit wurde von Sahak Artazyan, Matteo Emmanuello und Arsen Abrahamyan gegründet.

Fyppit
+++ Der Berliner Geldgeber APX, hinter dem Axel Springer und Porsche stecken, investiert in Fyppit. Das Berliner Startup, das 2020 von Harsha Jagasia, Tobias Lehmann und Andy Seto gegründet wurde, bietet einen Online-Marktplatz an, bei dem Kundinnen und Kunden “Waren direkt von ihren lokalen Geschäften mit Lieferung am selben Tag bestellen können”.

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #ananda-impact-ventures, #apex-ventures, #apx, #bayern-kapital, #berlin, #bikemap, #cognigy, #dusseldorf, #evana, #findus-ventures, #frankfurt-am-main, #fyppit, #global-brain, #goldman-sachs, #insight-partners-dn-capital, #inventures, #mobility, #nordic-makers, #ororatech, #ponooc, #proptech, #saarbrucken, #tier-mobility, #venture-capital, #weprofit, #wien

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Tier banks $60 million in debt from Goldman Sachs to expand scooter fleet

Berlin-based Tier Mobility has raised $60 million to help the e-scooter company expand its fleet and its network of battery charging stations in 2021.

The funds, which come from investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, come just weeks after Tier was awarded the London e-scooter pilot permit, alongside Lime and Dott. With a major new city on the horizon and hints of further expansion plans, Tier will need a significant upfront investment to cover everything from fleet orders to local warehouses to new teams.

In November, Tier also closed a $250 million Series C funding round, led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The latest funds are asset-backed financing, meaning Goldman Sachs is essentially providing Tier with a loan that is secured by one of the company’s assets, probably its scooters. Tier did not respond to a request for specifics on the loan.

“The size of this highly scalable asset-backed debt facility is a game-changing first in micro-mobility, accelerating our expansion and cementing our market leadership in Europe,” said Alex Gayer, Tier’s chief financial officer, in a statement. “This facility leverages our recent equity raise and will enhance our capital-efficient growth.”

In addition to London, over the past year, Tier has added the coveted cities of Dubai and Paris to its list. It’s available in over 100 cities across 12 countries in Europe and the Middle East. With the fresh capital, Tier plans to extend its international coverage and invest in its multi-modal fleet, adding bicycles and mopeds to the mix.

The Tier Energy Network is Tier Mobility’s plan to place charging stations in retail stores to incentivize riders to swap scooter batteries.

The Goldman Sachs-backed funding will also enable Tier to expand its Tier Energy Network, a venture to place battery charging stations in retail stores across its coverage area. The energy network would provide an incentive structure for riders to take a minute at the end of their ride to swap the scooter’s battery and earn free credit, while shops can enjoy the extra foot traffic.

“Even amid a global pandemic, TIER has established a proven track record of profitable unit economics and asset longevity,” said Ben Payne, managing director at Goldman Tier, in a statement. “We are excited to help the European leader extend sustainable mobility to more people across the world.”

#e-scooter, #escooters, #europe, #goldman-sachs, #tc, #tier, #tier-mobility, #transportation

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Goldman Sachs leads $202M investment in project44, doubling its valuation to $1.2B in a matter of months

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted a lot in the world, and supply chains are no exception. 

A number of applications that aim to solve workflow challenges across the supply chain exist. But getting real-time access to information from transportation providers has remained somewhat elusive for shippers and logistics companies alike. 

Enter Project44. The 7-year-old Chicago-based company has built an API-based platform that it  says acts as “the connective tissue” between transportation providers, third-party logistics companies, shippers and the systems. Using predictive analytics, the platform provides crucial real-time information such as estimated time of arrivals (ETAs).

“Supply chains have undergone an incredible amount of change – there has never been a greater need for agility, resiliency, and the ability to rapidly respond to changes across the supply chain,” said Jason Duboe, the company’s Chief Growth Officer.

And now, project44 announced it has raised $202 million in a Series E funding round led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Emergence Capital. Girteka and Lineage Logistics also participated in the financing, which gives project44 a post-money valuation of $1.2 billion. That doubles the company’s valuation at the time of its Insight Partners-led $100 million Series D in December.

The raise is quite possibly the largest investment in the supply chain visibility space to date.

Project44 is one of those refreshingly transparent private companies that gives insight into its financials. This month, the company says it crossed $50 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR), which is up 100% year over year. It has more than 600 customers including some of the world’s largest brands such as Amazon, Walmart, Nestle, Starbucks, Unilever, Lenovo and P&G. Customers hail from a variety of industries including CPG, retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, pharma, and chemical.

Over the last year, the pandemic created a number of supply chain disruptions, underscoring the importance of technologies that help provide visibility into supply chain operations. Project44 said it worked hard to help customers to mitigate “relentless volatility, bottlenecks, and logistics breakdowns,” including during the Suez Canal incident where a cargo ship got stuck for days.

Looking ahead, Project44 plans to use its new capital in part to continue its global expansion. Project44 recently announced its expansion into China and has plans to grow in the Asia-Pacific, Australia/New Zealand and Latin American markets, according to Duboe.

We are also going to continue to invest heavily in our carrier products to enable more participation and engagement from the transportation community that desires a stronger digital experience to improve efficiency and experience for their customers,” he told TechCrunch. The company also aims to expand its artificial intelligence (AI) and data science capabilities and broaden sales and marketing reach globally.

Last week, project44 announced its acquisition of ClearMetal, a San Francisco-based supply chain planning software company that focuses on international freight visibility, predictive planning and overall customer experience. WIth the buy, Duboe said  project44 will now have two contracts with Amazon: road and ocean. 

“Project44 will power what they are chasing,” he added.

And in March, the company also acquired Ocean Insights to expand its ocean offerings.

Will Chen, a managing director of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, believes that project44 is unique in its scope of network coverage across geographies and modes of transport.  

“Most competitors predominantly focus on over-the-road visibility and primarily serve one region, whereas project44 is a truly global business that provides end-to-end visibility across their customers’ entire supply chain,” he said.

Goldman Sachs Asset Management, noted project44 CEO and founder Jett McCandless, will help the company grow not only by providing capital but through its network and resources.

#amazon, #api, #articles, #artificial-intelligence, #asia-pacific, #australia, #business, #chicago, #chief, #china, #clearmetal, #companies, #e-commerce, #emergence-capital, #funding, #fundings-exits, #goldman-sachs, #insight-partners, #lenovo, #logistics, #manufacturing, #nestle, #new-zealand, #officer, #pg, #recent-funding, #san-francisco, #starbucks, #startup, #startups, #supply-chain, #supply-chain-management, #transportation, #unilever, #venture-capital, #walmart

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Goldman Sachs leads $45M investment into auto fintech startup MotoRefi

MotoRefi has raised another $45 million in a round led by Goldman Sachs just five months after investors poured $10 million into the fintech startup to help turbocharge its auto refinancing business.

The startup developed an auto refinancing platform that handles the entire loan process, including finding the best rates, paying off the old lender and re-titling the vehicle. MotoRefi says using its platform saves consumers an average of $100 a month on their car payments, a goal achieved partly because it works directly with lending institutions. The company’s refinancing tools had seen steady growth until the COVID-19 pandemic popped into in higher gear. CEO Kevin Bennett said MotoRefi is on track to issue $1 billion in loans by the end of the year, a fivefold increase from the same period last year.

Bennett said the short timeline between rounds was driven by investor confidence in its metrics, which have continued on to grow at a fast pace, and the basic economics around the business.

“We candidly weren’t planning on raising yet, but they (Goldman Sachs) were comfortable given the relationship we have built and the track record and success of the business, to preempt the round and move that calendar up,” Bennett said.

MotoRefi’s platform is available in 46 states and Washington DC with plans to be live in all 50 by the end of the year. The startup has ramped up hiring to help support that growth. By the first quarter of 2021, it had more than doubled its headcount to 187 employees from the same period last year. Its workforce has now popped to 250 employees. The company has hired several senior level executives, opened a new headquarters and partnered with SoFi. Goldman Sach’s vp of venture capital and growth equity Jade Mandel has joined MotoRefi’s board.

And Bennett sees plenty of room to grow as consumers seek out ways to rebalance their debts. The auto refinance market in the United States is $40 billion. However, overall auto loan debt is $1.3 trillion. With 40 million auto loans originated every year, MotoRefi is promised a consistent flow of potential new customers.

The fresh injection of capital, which included investor IA Capital as well as returning backers Moderne Ventures, Accomplice, Link Ventures, Motley Fool Ventures and CMFG Ventures, will be used to continue to build out its products and services and hire more people. MotoRefi has raised $60 million since its inception in 2016.

Bennett believes the company is now in self-sustaining position.

“Thankfully, we moved beyond the world where we are raising capital and then raising more capital as we run out of capital,” he said. “I think we have a great sustainable business and so we, in some sense runway is infinite, and we are building a great profitable business. That’s not to say that we won’t ever raise again, but it will be based on strategic considerations, as opposed to out of necessity.”

#auto-loans, #automotive, #car-loans, #finance, #fintech, #goldman-sachs, #motorefi, #tc, #transportation

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Amount raises $99M at a $1B+ valuation to help banks better compete with fintechs

Amount, a company that provides technology to banks and financial institutions, has raised $99 million in a Series D funding round at a valuation of just over $1 billion.

WestCap, a growth equity firm founded by ex-Airbnb and Blackstone CFO Laurence Tosi, led the round. Hanaco Ventures, Goldman Sachs, Invus Opportunities and Barclays Principal Investments also participated.

Notably, the investment comes just over five months after Amount raised $86 million in a Series C round led by Goldman Sachs Growth at a valuation of $686 million. (The original raise was $81 million, but Barclays Principal Investments invested $5 million as part of a second close of the Series C round). And that round came just three months after the Chicago-based startup quietly raised $58 million in a Series B round in March. The latest funding brings Amount’s total capital raised to $243 million since it spun off from Avant — an online lender that has raised over $600 million in equity — in January of 2020.

So, what kind of technology does Amount provide? 

In simple terms, Amount’s mission is to help financial institutions “go digital in months — not years” and thus, better compete with fintech rivals. The company formed just before the pandemic hit. But as we have all seen, demand for the type of technology Amount has developed has only increased exponentially this year and last.

CEO Adam Hughes says Amount was spun out of Avant to provide enterprise software built specifically for the banking industry. It partners with banks and financial institutions to “rapidly digitize their financial infrastructure and compete in the retail lending and buy now, pay later sectors,” Hughes told TechCrunch.

Specifically, the 400-person company has built what it describes as “battle-tested” retail banking and point-of-sale technology that it claims accelerates digital transformation for financial institutions. The goal is to give those institutions a way to offer “a secure and seamless digital customer and merchant experience” that leverages Amount’s verification and analytics capabilities. 

Image Credits: Amount

HSBC, TD Bank, Regions, Banco Popular and Avant (of course) are among the 10 banks that use Amount’s technology in an effort to simplify their transition to digital financial services. Recently, Barclays US Consumer Bank became one of the first major banks to offer installment point-of-sale options, giving merchants the ability to “white label” POS payments under their own brand (using Amount’s technology).

The pandemic dramatically accelerated banks’ interest in further digitizing the retail lending experience and offering additional buy now, pay later financing options with the rise of e-commerce,” Hughes, former president and COO at Avant, told TechCrunch. “Banks are facing significant disruption risk from fintech competitors, so an Amount partnership can deliver a world-class digital experience with significant go-to-market advantages.”

Also, he points out, consumers’ digital expectations have changed as a result of the forced digital adoption during the pandemic, with bank branches and stores closing and more banking done and more goods and services being purchased online.

Amount delivers retail banking experiences via a variety of channels and a point-of-sale financing product suite, as well as features such as fraud prevention, verification, decisioning engines and account management.

Overall, Amount clients include financial institutions collectively managing nearly $2 trillion in U.S. assets and servicing more than 50 million U.S. customers, according to the company.

Hughes declined to provide any details regarding the company’s financials, saying only that Amount “performed well” as a standalone company in 2020 and that the company is expecting “significant” year-over-year revenue growth in 2021.

Amount plans to use its new capital to further accelerate R&D by investing in its technology and products. It also will be eyeing some acquisitions.

“We see a lot of interesting technology we could layer onto our platform to unlock new asset classes, and acquisition opportunities that would allow us to bring additional features to our platform,” Hughes told TechCrunch.

Avant itself made its first acquisition earlier this year when it picked up Zero Financial, news that TechCrunch covered here.

Kevin Marcus, partner at WestCap, said his firm invested in Amount based on the belief that banks and other financial institutions have “a point-in-time opportunity to democratize access to traditional financial products by accelerating modernization efforts.”

“Amount is the market leader in powering that change,” he said. “Through its best-in-class products, Amount enables financial institutions to enhance and elevate the banking experience for their end customers and maintain a key competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

#airbnb, #amount, #avant, #bank, #banking, #barclays, #blackstone, #chicago, #e-commerce, #economy, #enterprise-software, #finance, #financial-infrastructure, #financial-services, #financial-technology, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #goldman-sachs, #hanaco-ventures, #hsbc, #ing-group, #invus-group, #laurence-tosi, #market-leader, #money, #recent-funding, #retail-banking, #startup, #startups, #united-states, #venture-capital, #westcap

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How Robert Reffkin went from being a C-average student to the founder of Compass

In April, real estate tech company Compass forged ahead with its initial public offering and is now valued at nearly $6.4 billion.

At that time, TechCrunch Senior Editor Alex Wilhelm caught up with founder and CEO Robert Reffkin to chat about his company’s debut in the market’s suddenly choppy waters for tech and tech-enabled debuts.

This week, I caught up with Reffkin on a whole other topic: his path to entrepreneurship as a child raised by a disowned single mother whose father had died homeless. Reffkin is so passionate about inspiring others from nontraditional backgrounds to pursue their dreams that he wrote a book about it.

In our discussion, Reffkin shared what he believes are the secrets to his success (hint: one of them involves lots of listening) and his advice for his young entrepreneurs, especially those from non-privileged backgrounds.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

TC: As the mother of a teen who is already trying to start his own business, I’m intrigued by your DJing as a teenager. What finally got you motivated to care about school and how did you manage to graduate in such a short amount of time?

Reffkin: Well, I think your son might just be on the right track! Please give him a word of encouragement from me, from one entrepreneur to another.

My mom says that a lot of other parents thought she was crazy for letting me launch my DJ business. But starting a successful DJ business in high school helped me learn about myself and my passion for entrepreneurship — and it ultimately helped me get into Columbia, forming the core of both my personal statement and the relationships I built with several members of the admissions team.

I believe the first step is always to dream big. For me, my big dreams for my college future started on a trip to New York City. I toured Columbia and fell in love with it, but I knew it was going to be hard for me to get in. In fact, my high school guidance counselor said, “Don’t even apply. It wouldn’t be worth your time and money on the application fee.” In that moment, my desire to go to Columbia went from strong to absolute, because suddenly it felt like it was about something larger than myself — not just where I went to school, but about a broader struggle for opportunity for people like me. So I poured myself into my SAT prep to show that even though I had a C average, I had what it took to keep up at a top school. And thankfully, it paid off. 

In high school and college, I was a C-student in part because I didn’t see how studying calculus or Western Civilization related to my life or my dreams. I knew that excelling in school wasn’t going to be the way I was going to distinguish myself in the world. At the same time, I was energized by my entrepreneurial efforts and my summer internships. I moved as quickly as I could to get through school and have my real life begin, because the real world made so much more sense to me.

TC: How do you think being raised by a single mother without privilege helped shape you as a man, and entrepreneur? How would you say being a person of color impact your path?

Reffkin: Growing up, it was just me and my mom. She’s an Israeli immigrant, disowned by her parents because I was Black. My father abandoned us and died, homeless, when I was young. What shaped me most as an entrepreneur was learning from my mother. She embodied the entrepreneurial spirit and taught me one of the most important principles: every time you get knocked down, you’ve got to bounce back with passion. I saw her face bad relationships, bankruptcy, and the stream of daily rejections that comes from being an agent. And she always bounced back. So when the world told me I couldn’t do something or that I was destined to fail, I was ready for them. Thanks to my mom, I already knew how to bounce back.

Image Credits: CEO Robert Reffkin & mother, Ruth / Compass

Being Black and Jewish, I’ve felt out of place my entire life. In most classes in Hosch school and college, I was the only Black person. In almost every meeting early in my career, I was the only Black person. When I was raising capital for Compass, I almost never saw someone Black on the other side of the table. But I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve been lucky to get terrific advice along the way from so many Black mentors, from the late Vernon Jordan, to Ken Chenault, the former CEO of American Express, to Bayo Ogunlesi, who is lead director for Goldman Sachs. There’s a really strong community of people who’ve all supported each other.

TC: You’ve had some impressive mentors over the years. How did those relationships develop? How have they been valuable besides the obvious? 

Growing up, I was hungry for advice. Coming from a single-parent home, I looked for guidance and wisdom on how to create a better life wherever I could find it. My mom connected me to several non-profits when I was in high school that helped open my eyes to how much opportunity and support there was out there in the world. 

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my life is that feedback is a gift. Even when it’s hard to hear, feedback is a gift. My relationships with many of my mentors deepened because I started asking them for really tough, candid feedback — the sort of things they thought other people wouldn’t tell me. And then, I’d actually take their advice, apply it in my life, and let them know how it had helped me. That did two two things: First, it led to more honest and practical advice that helped me get better faster. Second, it made the people who had given me advice feel far more invested in my success and the success of whatI was working on.

The other thing my mentors gave me was the sense that even though the world was telling me I couldn’t be successful, I could be. Meeting someone like Vernon Jordan who advised presidents and CEOs alike, had a profound impact on me. He was a father figure to me. I met him when I was 23 years old, and at that time, it wasn’t clear to me that you could be successful in the business world as a Black man. I just hadn’t seen it before. When I started at Lazard, Vernon Jordan was the only other Black investment banker there. He was not just a senior partner, he was a legend, widely known for serving on more Fortune 500 boards than anyone in history. He took a strong interest in me, and with his support and advice, he made me feel like I belonged and helped me see a path where I could be as successful as I wanted to be. 

I founded a nonprofit in my twenties called America Needs You that has provided mentorship, career development, and college support to thousands of students. I wrote my new book, No One Succeeds Alone, as a way to pay it forward by making the lessons I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from so many remarkable people available to everyone — and it’s why I’m donating all of my proceeds to nonprofits that help young people realize their dreams.

TC: What advice you would give to young, aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those from non-privileged backgrounds?

Reffkin: Here’s the advice I’d give to someone from an underrepresented group who just graduated college and is in their first job:

1) Don’t let anyone get in the way of your dream. Not society, not your colleagues, not even yourself. Whenever anyone tells you to slow down, speed up.

2) Spend the next 10 years learning as much as you can from the smartest people you can. Find mentors in your job and outside that will give you the honest feedback that others won’t. Feedback is a gift. It’ll be hard for you to hear, but it’s actually even harder for them to give it to you. So you may have to ask for it directly and let people know that you can take it.

3) Learn how to turn negativity into positive energy that fuels you. There will always be skeptics, doubters, and haters telling you that you can’t do something or that you don’t belong. 

TC: What next after Compass?

Reffkin: I believe that to be truly successful, you can’t have a Plan B. As a CEO, you have to be all-in, and that’s what I am for Compass: 100% dedicated to our 23,000 agents and employees. One of my mentors told me about the “shower test” once — that if you’re not excited enough about your job to think about it in the shower, you’re probably not in the right job. And I’ll tell you: I’m so passionate about the company we’re building that I’m still thinking about Compass in the shower. At Compass, we’ve accomplished much in the past eight years, but we’re truly just getting started. 

#america, #c, #ceo, #columbia, #compass, #diversity, #editor, #entrepreneur, #goldman-sachs, #ken-chenault, #lazard, #new-york-city, #real-estate, #real-estate-tech, #tc

0

Goldman Sachs leads $23M in funding for Brazilian e-commerce startup Olist

Olist, a Brazilian e-commerce marketplace integrator, has raised $23 million in a Series D round extension led by new investor Goldman Sachs Asset Management that brings its total Series D financing to $80 million.

Existing backer Redpoint Ventures, which first put money in Olist in 2015, also participated in the latest round. With this latest infusion, Olist has now raised over $126 million since its 2015 inception. This round is reportedly its last before the company plans to go public, according to Bloomberg.

SoftBank led the first tranch of Olist’s Series D in November as well as the company’s $46 million Series C in 2019. Valor Capital, Velt Partners, FJ Labs, Península and angel Kevin Efrusy had previously invested in the first tranche of the Series D.

Olist connects small businesses to larger product marketplaces to help entrepreneurs sell their products to a larger customer base. The company was founded with the mission of helping small merchants gain market share across the country through a SaaS licensing model to small brick and mortar businesses.

As of October 2019, Olist had more than 7,000 customers and used a drop-shipping model to send products directly from stores to clients around the country, allowing them to grow with a capital-light model.

Today, Olist says its platform provides tools that support “all the stages of an e-commerce operation” with the goal of helping merchants see “rapid increases in sales volume.” It currently has about 25,000 merchants on its platform.

The startup is no doubt benefiting from the pandemic-fueled e-commerce boom taking place all over the world as more people have turned to online shopping. Latin America, in general, has been home to increased e-commerce adoption. The region’s $85 billion e-commerce market is growing rapidly with projections of it reaching $116.2 billion in 2023.

As evidence of that, Olist says its revenue tripled to a record number in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the previous year, although it did not provide hard figures. It also reportedly doubled revenue in 2020, according to Bloomberg.

Olist Store, the company’s flagship product, gives merchants a way to manage product listings, logistics and store payments. It also offers “a unique sales experience” through channels such as Mercado Livre, B2W and Via Varejo. The product saw a record GMV in the first half of the year, which was up 2.5 times over the same period in the prior year, the company said.

Last year, Olist launched a new product, Olist Shops, giving users the ability to create a virtual showcase “in less than 3 minutes” that also offers payment checkout tools and integration with logistics operators. Shops has interfaces in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, and since its launch, it has attracted more than 200,000 users in 180 countries, according to Olist.

“The pandemic has accelerated digitalizing business processes around the world, thus spurring e-commerce growth in a surprising way,” said Tiago Dalvi, Olist’s founder and CEO, in a written statement. 

The company plans to use its new capital to invest in technology and products, pursuing new mergers and acquisitions and boosting its internationalization process. This is on top of two acquisitions Olist made last year — Clickspace and Pax Logistica, which gave Olist entry into the heated logistics space with more than 4,000 registered drivers.

Specifically, CFO Eduardo Ferraz said the company is in preliminary discussions with ERPs, retailers, and companies with complementary solutions to its own.

“That is why we also decided to expand the investment in our Series D and bring Goldman Sachs as another relevant investor to our cap table,” he said.

David Castelblanco, managing director and head of Latin America Corporate and Growth Equity Investing for the Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said his firm was impressed with how Olist empowers SMBs to generate more revenue.

“Tiago and the Olist team are incredibly customer oriented and have created an innovative technological solution for their e-commerce clients,” he added.

Olist is operating in an increasingly crowded space. In March, we covered São Paulo-based Nuvemshop’s $90 million raise that was led by Silicon Valley venture firm Accel. That company has developed an e-commerce platform that aims to allow SMBs and merchants to connect more directly with their consumers. 

#accel, #banks, #brazil, #ceo, #cfo, #companies, #e-commerce, #finance, #fj-labs, #goldman-sachs, #kevin-efrusy, #latin-america, #olist, #online-shopping, #opera, #redpoint-ventures, #sao-paulo, #series-d, #softbank, #tc, #valor-capital

0

Clim8 raises $8M from 7pc Ventures, launches climate-focused investing app for retail investors

Ethical investing remains something of a confusing maze, with a great deal of ‘greenwashing’ going on. A new UK startup is hoping to fix that with the launch of its new app and platform for retail investors.

Clim8 Investhas raised $8 million from 7pc Ventures (early backers of Oculus, acquired by Facebook),  British Business Bank Future Fund and a numbers of technology entrepreneurs and executives including Marcus Exall (Monese), Marcus Mosen (N26),  Paul Willmott (Lego Digital, McKinsey), Doug Scott (Redbrain), Matt Wilkins (Thought Machine), Andrew Cocker (Skyscanner), Steve Thomson (Redbrain), Monica Kalia (Neyber, Goldman Sachs), Doug Monro (Adzuna), Erik Nygard (Limejump). 

Consumers will be able to invest in companies and supply chains that are focused on tackling climate change. It will be competing with similar startups in the space such as London-based Tickr (backed by $3m from Ada Ventures), Helios in Paris, and Yova in Zurich.

Duncan Grierson, CEO of Clim8 said in a statement: “We are launching at an exciting time for sustainable investing. 2020 was an exceptional year for environmentally-focused investment offerings, as investors looked harder at climate-related opportunities. Sustainable investments have continued to outperform markets since the beginning of the Covid-19 Crisis and we believe this will continue.”

Grierson has 20 years of experience in the green space and was a winner of the EY Entrepreneur of Year Cleantech award.

The startup will take advantage of new, higher EU rules around the disclosure requirements for sustainable investment funds. Users can choose between either stocks and shares ISAs (up to £20k) or a taxable general investment account.

#ada-ventures, #adzuna, #articles, #ceo, #corporate-social-responsibility, #economy, #europe, #european-union, #facebook, #finance, #goldman-sachs, #london, #monese, #n26, #paris, #retail-investors, #social-finance, #tc, #technology-entrepreneurs, #united-kingdom, #zurich

0

Mortgage is suddenly sexy as SoftBank pumps $500M in Better.com at $6B valuation

Digital mortgage lender Better.com has raised a $500 million round from Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank that values the company at $6 billion.

The financing is notable for a few reasons. For one, that new $6 billion valuation,  is up 50% from the $4 billion it was valued at last November when it raised $200 million in Series D financing. It’s also up tenfold from its $600 million valuation at the time of its Series C raise in August 2019.

Secondly, it’s further proof that mortgage – a traditionally “unsexy” industry that has long been in need of disruption – is officially hot. For all its controversy, when SoftBank invests, people pay attention.

The COVID-19 pandemic and historically-low mortgage rates fueled acceleration in the online lending space in a way that no one could have anticipated. That, combined with the general fervour in venture funding, means it’s not a big surprise that Better.com has raised $700 million in just a matter of months.

The investment brings Better.com’s total funding raised to over $900 million since its 2014 inception. Other backers include Goldman Sachs, Kleiner Perkins, American Express, Activant Capital and Citi, among others.

According to the Wall Street Journal, SoftBank is buying shares from Better’s existing investors, and agreed to give all of its voting rights to CEO and founder Vishal Garg “in a sign of its eagerness” to invest in the company. 

During a one-on-one interview at Lendit Fintech’s USA 2020 virtual event in October, Garg had told me that an IPO was definitely in the works.

“We’ll do it when it’s right,” he said. “One of the core tenets of American capitalism is the ability for your customers to buy your stock.”

At that time, he had also told me that before the pandemic, Better was processing about $1.2 billion a month in loans. But as of October 2020, it was funding over $2.5 billion per month, and had gone from 1,500 staffers to about 4,000 worldwide. 

“When the pandemic started we were doing less than sort of like $50 million a month of revenue,” he said. “We’re two-and-a half times that now.”

#activant-capital, #better-com, #ceo, #citi, #companies, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #goldman-sachs, #kleiner-perkins, #online-lending, #recent-funding, #softbank, #softbank-group, #startups, #tc, #the-wall-street-journal, #united-states, #venture-capital, #vishal-garg, #vodafone

0

India’s Swiggy nears $5 billion valuation in new $800 million fundraise

Swiggy has raised about $800 million in a new financing round, the Indian food delivery startup told employees on Monday, as it looks to expand its business in the country quarters after the startup cut its workforce to navigate the pandemic.

In an email to employees, first reported by Times of India journalist Digbijay Mishra, Swiggy co-founder and chief executive Sriharsha Majety said the startup had raised $800 million from new investors including Falcon Edge Capital, Goldman Sachs, Think Capital, Amansa Capital, and Carmignac, and existing investors Prosus and Accel.

“This fundraise gives us a lot more firepower than the planned investments for our current business lines. Given our unfettered ambition though, we will continue to seed/experiment new offerings for the future that may be ready for investment later. We will just need to now relentlessly invent and execute over the next few years to build an enduring iconic company out of India,” wrote Majety in the email obtained by TechCrunch.

Majety didn’t disclose the new valuation of Swiggy, but said the new financing round was “heavily subscribed given the very positive investor sentiments towards Swiggy.” According to a person familiar with the matter, the new round valued Swiggy at over $4.8 billion. The startup has now raised about $2.2 billion to date.

Swiggy had raised $157 million last year at about $3.7 billion valuation. That investment is not part of the new round, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

He said the long-term goal for the startup, which competes with heavily-backed Zomato and new entrant Amazon, is to serve 500 million users in the next 10-15 years, pointing to Chinese tech giant Meituan, which had 500 million transacting users last year.

“We’re coming out of a very hard phase during the last year given Covid and have weathered the storm, but everything we do from here on needs to maximise the chances of our succeeding in the long-term,” wrote Majety.

Monday’s reveal comes amid Zomato raising $910 million in recent months as the Gurgaon-headquartered firm prepares for an IPO this year. The last tranche of investment valued Zomato at $5.4 billion.

A third player, Amazon, has also entered the food delivery market in India last year, though its operations are still limited to parts of Bangalore. At stake is India’s food delivery market, which analysts at Bernstein expect to balloon to be worth $12 billion by 2022, they wrote in a report to clients earlier this year. Zomato currently leads the market with about 50% market share, Bernstein analysts wrote.

“We find the food-tech industry in India to be well positioned to sustained growth with improving unit economics. Take-rates are one of the highest in India at 20-25% and consumer traction is increasing. Market is largely a duopoly between Zomato and Swiggy with 80%+ share,” wrote analysts at Bank of America in a recent report, reviewed by TechCrunch.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

#accel, #asia, #falcon-edge-capital, #food, #funding, #goldman-sachs, #prosus-ventures, #swiggy

0

Knock is the latest proptech said to be eyeing the public markets

Another proptech is considering raising capital through the public arena.

Knock confirmed Monday that it is considering going public, although CEO Sean Black did not specify whether the company would do so via a traditional IPO, SPAC merger or direct listing.

“We are considering all of our options,” Black told TechCrunch. “We pioneered the real estate transaction revolution over five years ago and our priority is to build a war chest to dramatically widen the already cavernous gap between us and any unoriginal knock-offs.”

Bloomberg reported earlier today that the company had hired Goldman Sachs to advise on such a bid, which Knock also confirmed.

According to Bloomberg, Knock is potentially seeking to raise $400 million to $500 million through an IPO, according to “people familiar with the matter,” at a valuation of about $2 billion. The company declined to comment on valuation.

Black and Knock COO Jamie Glenn are no strangers to the proptech game, having both been on the founding team of Trulia, which went public in 2012 and was acquired by Zillow for $3.5 billion in 2014. The pair started Knock in 2015, and have since raised over $430 million in venture funding and another $170 million so in debt.

Knock started out as a real estate brokerage business until last July, when the company announced a major shift in strategy and said it was becoming a lender. At the time, Knock unveiled its Home Swap program, under which Knock serves as the lender to help a homeowner buy a new home before selling their old house. It previously worked with lending partners but has now become a licensed lender itself.

In other words, the company now offers integrated financing – the mortgage and an interest-free bridge loan – with the goal of helping consumers make strong non-contingent offers on a new home before repairing and listing their old home for sale on the open market.

With that move, Knock eliminated its Home Trade In program, where it helped consumers buy before selling by using its own money to purchase the new home on behalf of the consumer before prepping and listing the consumer’s old house on the open market. Under that Trade-In model, the homeowner used the proceeds from selling their old home to buy the new home from Knock and pay the company back for any repairs it did to prep the house for sale.

At that time, Black had told me that Knock had decided to move away from its trade in program in part because it was capital intensive and required the closing of a house to take place twice.

“It added friction to the experience,” he said. “And now, especially during COVID, it can be inconvenient to try and sell a house at the same time as buying one. This is about making something possible that isn’t possible with any other traditional lender. We’re able to lend some money before an owner’s [old] house is even listed on the market.” 

To sum up what Knock does today, Black said the company aims to offer a full service technology platform that includes everything “from pre-funding the homebuyers to make non-contingent offers and win bidding wars, to getting their old home ready for market with our contractor network to selling their old home quickly at the highest price and empowers them to have their own agent working with them in the app through the entire process.” .

Demand for the Home Swap, he added, has “exceeded all expectations.”

Knock is headquartered in New York and San Francisco. The company aunched the Home Swap in three markets in July 2020, and today it is in 27 markets in nine states, including Texas, California and North Carolina.

“Our original plan was to be in 21 markets by the end of 2021,” Black said. “At our current growth rate, we expect to end the year at 45 markets and be in 100 by 2023.”

Knock began 2021 with 100 employees and now has 150. Its plan is to have at least 400 employees by year’s end.

Other proptech startups that have recently announced plans to go public include Compass and Doma (formerly States Title).

#exit, #fundings-exits, #goldman-sachs, #knock, #new-york, #property-technology, #real-estate, #sean-black, #startups, #trulia

0

Closing on $103M, MaC VC is changing the face of venture capital

The partners at MaC Venture Capital, the Los Angeles-based investment firm that has just closed on $103 million for its inaugural fund, have spent the bulk of their careers breaking barriers.

Formed when M Ventures (a firm founded by former Washington DC mayor Adrian Fenty); the first Black talent agency partner in the history of Hollywood, Charles D. King; and longtime operating executive (and former agent) Michael Palank joined forces with Marlon Nichols, a co-founder of the LA-based investment firm Cross Culture Capital, MaC Venture Capital wanted to be a different kind of fund.

The firm combines the focus on investing in software that Fenty had honed from his years spent as a special advisor to Andreessen Horowitz, where he spent five years before setting out to launch M Ventures; and Nichols’ thesis-driven approach to focusing on particular sectors that are being transformed by global cultural shifts wrought by changing consumer behavior and demographics.

“There’s a long history and a lot of relationships here,” said King, one of Hollywood’s premier power players and the founder of the global media company, Macro. “Adrian and I go back to 93 [when] we were in law school. We went on to conquer the world, where he went out to Washington DC and I became a senior partner at WME.”

Palank was connected to the team through King as well, since the two men worked together at William Morris before running business development for Will Smith and others.

“There was this idea of having connectivity between tech and innovation… that’s when we formed M Ventures [but] that understanding of media and culture… that focus… was complimentary with what Marlon was doing at Cross Culture,” King said.

Few firms could merge the cultural revolutions wrought by DJ Herc spinning records in the rec room of a Bronx apartment building and Sir Tim Berners Lee’s invention of the internet, but that’s exactly what MaC VC aims to do.

And while the firm’s founding partnership would prefer to focus on the financial achievements of their respective firms and the investments that now comprise the new portfolio of their combined efforts — it includes StokeGoodfairFinessePureStream, and Sote — it’s hard to overstate the significance that a general partnership that includes three Black men have raised $103 million in an industry that’s been repeatedly called out for problems with diversity and inclusion.

MaC Venture Capital co-founders Marlon Nichols, Michael Palank, Charles King, and Adrian Fenty. Image Credit: MaC Venture Capital

“Our LPs invested in us… for lots of different reasons but at the top of the list was that we are a diverse team in so many ways. We’re going to show them a set of companies that they would not have seen from any [other] VC fund,” said Fenty. “We also, in turn, have the same investing thesis when we look at companies. We want to have women founders, African American founders, Latino founders… In our fund now we have some companies that are all women, all African American or all Latino.”

The diversity of the firm’s ethos is also reflected in the broad group of limited partners that have come on to bankroll its operations: it includes Goldman Sachs, the University of Michigan, Howard University, Mitch and Freada Kapor, Foot Locker, and Greenspring Associates.

“We are thrilled to join MaC Venture Capital in this key milestone toward building a new kind of venture capital firm that is anchored around a cultural investment thesis and supports transformative companies and dynamic founders,” said Daniel Feder, Managing Director with the University of Michigan Investment Office, in a statement. “Their unified understanding of technology, media, entertainment, and government, along with a successful track record of investing, give them deep insights into burgeoning shifts in culture and behavior.”

And it extends to the firm’s portfolio, a clutch of startup companies headquartered around the globe — from Seattle to Houston and Los Angeles to Nairobi.

“We look at all verticals. We’re very happy to be generalists,” said Fenty.

A laser focus on software-enabled businesses is complemented by the thesis-driven approach laid out in position papers staking out predictions for how the ubiquity of gaming; conscious consumerism; new parenting paradigms; and cultural and demographic shifts will transform the global economy.

Increasingly, that thesis also means moving into areas of frontier technologies that include the space industry, mixed reality and everything at the intersection of computing and the transformation of the physical world — drawn in part by the firm’s close connection to the diverse tech ecosystem that’s emerging in Los Angeles. “We’re seeing these SpaceX and Tesla mafias spin out, entrepreneurs who have had best-in-class training at an Elon Musk company,” said Palank. “It’s a great talent pool, and LA has more computer science students graduating every year than Northern California.”

With its current portfolio, though early, the venture firm is operating in the top 5% of funds — at least on paper — and its early investments are up 3 times what the firm invested, Nichols said. 

“The way to think about it is MaC is essentially an extension of what we were building before,” the Cross Culture Ventures co-founder said. “We’re sticking with the concept that talent is ubiquitous but access to capital and opportunity is not. We want to be the source and access to capital for those founders.”

#adrian-fenty, #andreessen, #andreessen-horowitz, #california, #co-founder, #computing, #cross-culture-ventures, #finance, #finesse, #foot-locker, #goldman-sachs, #greenspring-associates, #houston, #investment, #king, #laser, #los-angeles, #louisiana, #m-ventures, #mac-venture-capital, #macro, #marlon-nichols, #mayor, #media, #michigan, #money, #nairobi, #seattle, #sote, #spacex, #stoke, #tc, #tesla, #tim-berners-lee, #university-of-michigan, #venture-capital, #washington-dc, #will-smith

0

New York’s Department of Financial Services says Apple Card program didn’t violate fair lending laws

The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) released a report today that cleared the Apple Card credit card program of discriminatory practices and specifically, gender-based discrimination, following an investigation triggered by online complaints back in November 2019. At the time, tech entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson had called out Apple Card program, jointly run by Apple and Goldman Sachs, for gender-based discrimination after he received a credit limit that was 20 times higher than what his wife was offered — even though the couple filed joint tax returns and his wife had a higher credit score than he did.

Hansson’s tweet storm detailing the problem ending up going viral, generating responses from several others, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who claimed they had similar experiences when applying for the Apple Card with their partners.

David’s wife, Jamie Heinemeier Hansson, had also penned a blog post documenting her experiences in more detail.

The numerous consumer complaints soon drew the attention of the New York Department of Financial Services, which then launched an investigation into Goldman Sachs’ credit card practices in order to see if gender-based discrimination was taking place, as alleged.

The NYDFS report, first spotted today by Appleinsider, notes that Goldman Sachs re-reviewed the credit files of the some of the women who had been initially been offered dramatically lower credit scores than their spouses, and decided to raise their limits to match those of their spouses. At the time, the bank also eliminated the six-month waiting period for appeals on credit decisions.

These actions seemed to indicate that the Apple Card algorithms were making bad calls on credit worthiness, potentially even on the basis of gender; but the Department says that’s not the case — though it did stress the need or credit score reforms and updating existing laws around credit access.

The NYDFS said it reviewed several thousands pages of record and written responses from Apple and Goldman Sachs, interviewed witnesses, met with representatives from Apple and the bank, and analyzed the bank’s underwriting data using a data set covering nearly 400,000 New York applicants. It also interviewed the consumers who had complained of discrimination.

The Department concluded that there was no “unlawful discrimination” against applicants under fair lending law. However, statements made by the Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell, did stress that there is still discrimination built into the credit lending system itself, and the way credit scores can lead to unequal access to credit.

“While we found no fair lending violations, our inquiry stands as a reminder of disparities in access to credit that continue nearly 50 years after the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) ,” Lacewell said. “The report also notes that the use of credit scoring in its current form and laws and regulations barring discrimination in lending are in need of strengthening and modernization to improve access to credit. Consumer frustration with the Apple Card policy of not permitting an account holder to add an authorized user drew attention to the following: a person who relies on a spouse’s access to credit, and only accesses those accounts as an authorized user, may incorrectly believe they have the same credit profile as the spouse. This is one part of a broader discussion we must have about equal credit access,” she added.

One common factor among the consumers who complained was a belief that a spouse who had access to the same shared bank account or other shared assets, like credit cards — even if only as authorized users — would receive the same credit terms as their spouses. But the way the system works today, underwriters don’t have to consider an authorized user the same as an account holder, and they may consider other factors, too. Combined, these are what led to the lower lending decisions, the investigation found.

The Department said that, when asked, Goldman Sachs was able to document underwriting that determined its lending decisions for the consumer complaints. Gender was not a factor, but spouses’ credit scores, indebtedness, income, credit utilization, missed payments and other credit history elements were. None of the factors identified was an “unlawful basis” for a credit determination, the Department said.

Of course, the credit score system itself is one that overall, favors men. (And specifically, white men). There is no one single reason as to why that’s the case, but often has to do with women’s role as a primary caregiver, combined with how the credit scoring model operates. This is a system that needs reform, but as it relates to the Apple Card program and discrimination complaints, it was “lawfully” used to make the Apple Card lending decisions.

However, the Department did point out that there was a lack of transparency around Apple Card’s lending decisions — noting that although it was able to obtain the data about the bank’s decision for these complaints, the impacted consumers could not. It also suggested Apple could have offered a more robust appeals process, instead of requiring a six-month wait.

Apple has since responded to some of the issues raised, including by launching “Path to Apple Card” last year, which helps applicants follow steps that lead to an Apple Card approval. To date, more than 70K consumers have enrolled in this program and nearly 5,000 have been approved. Apple also updated its website with more information about how Apple Card approvals work. And now it’s in the process of adding support for Apple Card family sharing features — meaning, authorized users. This would address issues around spouses not being able to gain access to the higher credit lending limits at least.

But this investigation highlighted the problems Apple faced by pairing its trusted brand with a credit card issued by a traditional lender and the accompanying crummy banking practices consumers hate, as well as how a lack of transparency had undermined trust in the lending decisions that were made.

Apple hasn’t commented on the NYDHS report at this time.

 

 

 

 

#apple, #apple-card, #discrimination, #gender, #goldman-sachs, #tc

0

Indian beauty e-commerce Purplle raises $45 million

Purplle, an e-commerce platform for beauty products in India, said on Monday it has raised $45 million in a new financing round as it looks to expand its presence in the world’s second largest internet market.

The new round, a Series D, was financed by Sequoia Capital India and existing investors Verlinvest, Blume Ventures, and JSW Ventures. The new round values the Indian startup — which has raised $95 million to date — at about $300 million, up from $150 million in its 2019 Series C round, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The new round gave partial exit to IvyCap Ventures, which had invested about $2 million in Purplle in 2015. The venture firm said in a statement that Purplle delivered a 22X return and 1.35x of its entire Fund 1.

“We continue to believe in the growth of the company and therefore we have retained our stake for Fund 2,” said Vikram Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner of IvyCap Ventures.

Eight-year-old Purplle.com, which counts Goldman Sachs among its investors, says it sells nearly 50,000 products from over 1,000 brands. The startup said it has amassed 7 million monthly active users.

“Purplle has been on a robust growth trajectory. Even with a Covid year, we have delivered >90% GMV CAGR for the last 3 years. This, while scaling our private brands successfully; Good Vibes is already an INR 150 Cr [$20.7 million] brand. The investment will help to shape Purplle into a multibillion-dollar, digital-first, beauty and personal care enterprise,” said Manish Taneja (pictured above), co-founder and chief executive of Purplle, in a statement late Monday.

The growth of Purplle is indicative of the growing e-commerce space in India, where users are beginning to purchase fashion and beauty products online. MyGlamm, an omnichannel direct-to-consumer Indian brand, last week raised $24.2 million in a round co-led by Amazon.

“We are excited to partner with Purplle as we believe they have cracked the beauty playbook of value retailing with 3 key tenets – a business built on high retention and low customer acquisition cost (CAC), a wide assortment of brands offering quality at best prices, and an attractive private label portfolio mix. We see Purplle emerging as a dominant beauty destination as the online beauty penetration grows from 10% to 25%+ over the next decade,” said Sakshi Chopra, Principal, Sequoia India.

#asia, #blume-ventures, #ecommerce, #funding, #goldman-sachs, #india, #nykaa, #sequoia-capital-india

0

Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt receives a $14 billion order from VW

Northvolt, the Swedish battery manufacturer which raised $1 billion in financing from investors led by Goldman Sachs and Volkswagen back in 2019, has signed a massive $14 billion battery order with VW for the next 10 years.

The big buy clears up some questions about where Volkswagen will be getting the batteries for its huge push into electric vehicles, which will see the automaker reach production capacity of 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2025.

The deal will not only see Northvolt become the strategic lead supplier for battery cells for Volkswagen Group in Europe, but will also involve the German automaker increasing its equity ownership of Northvolt.

As part of the partnership agreement, Northvolt’s gigafactory in Sweden will be expanded and Northvolt agreed to sell its joint venture share in Salzgitter, Germany to Volkswagen as the car maker looks to build up its battery manufacturing efforts across Europe, the companies said.

The agreement between Northvolt and VW brings the Swedish battery maker’s total contracts to $27 billion in the two years since it raised its big $1 billion cash haul.

“Volkswagen is a key investor, customer and partner on the journey ahead and we will continue to work hard with the goal of providing them with the greenest battery on the planet as they rapidly expand their fleet of electric vehicles,” said Peter Carlsson, the co-founder and chief executive of Northvolt, in a statement.

Northvolt’s other partners and customers include ABB, BMW Group, Scania, Siemens, Vattenfall, and Vestas. Together these firms comprise some of the largest manufacturers in Europe.

Back in 2019, the company said that its cell manufacturing capacity could hit 16 Gigawatt hours and that it had sold its capacity to the tune of $13 billion through 2030. That means that the Volkswagen deal will eat up a significant portion of expanded product lines.

Founded Carlsson, a former executive at Tesla, Northvolt’s battery business was intended to leapfrog the European Union into direct competition with Asia’s largest battery manufacturers — Samsung, LG Chem, and CATL.

Back when the company first announced its $1 billion investment round, Carlsson had said that Northvolt would need to build up to150 gigawatt hours of capacity to hit targets for. 2030 electric vehicle sales.

The plant in Sweden is expected to hit at least 32 gigawatt hours of production thanks, in part to backing by the Swedish pension fund firms AMF and Folksam and IKEA-linked IMAS Foundation, in addition to the big financial partners Volkswagen and Goldman Sachs.

Northvolt has had a busy few months. Earlier in March the company announced the acquisition of the Silicon Valley-based startup company Cuberg.

That acquisition gave Northvolt a foothold in the U.S. and established the company’s advanced technology center.

The acquisition also gives Northvolt a window into the newest battery chemistry that’s being touted as a savior for the industry — lithium metal batteries.

Cuberg spun out of Stanford University back in 2015 to commercialize what the company called its next-generation battery combining a liquid electrolyte with a lithium metal anode. The company’s customers include Boeing, BETA Technologies, Ampaire, and VoltAero and it was backed by Boeing HorizonX Ventures, Activate.org, the California Energy Commission, the Department of Energy and the TomKat Center at Stanford.

Cuberg’s cells deliver 70 percent increased range and capacity versus comparable lithium ion cells designed for electric aviation applications. The two companies hope that they can apply the technology to Northvolt’s automotive and industrial product portfolio with the ambition to industrialize cells in 2025 that exceed 1,000 Wh/L, while meeting the full spectrum of automotive customer requirements, according to a statement.

“The Cuberg team has shown exceptional ability to develop world-class technology, proven results and an outstanding customer base in a lean and efficient organization,” said Peter Carlsson, CEO and Co-Founder, Northvolt in a statement. “Combining these strengths with the capabilities and technology of Northvolt allows us to make significant improvements in both performance and safety while driving down cost even further for next-generation battery cells. This is critical for accelerating the shift to fully electric vehicles and responding to the needs of the leading automotive companies within a relevant time frame.”

 

#abb, #asia, #bmw-group, #boeing-horizonx-ventures, #catl, #department-of-energy, #electric-vehicle, #europe, #european-union, #germany, #goldman-sachs, #ikea, #lg-chem, #lithium-ion-battery, #samsung, #siemens, #silicon-valley, #stanford-university, #sweden, #tc, #tesla, #united-states, #vestas, #volkswagen, #volkswagen-group, #vw

0

With Atlanta rising as a new hub for tech, early stage firm Tech Square Ventures gets a new partner

Atlanta is coming up in the tech world with several newly minted billion-dollar businesses hailing from the ATL and the city’s local venture capital community is taking notice.

Even as later stage firms like the newly minted BIP Capital rebrand and  with increasingly large funds, earlier stage firms like Tech Square Ventures are staffing up and adding new partners.

The firm’s latest hire is Vasant Kamath, a general partner who joins the firm from Primus Capital, a later stage investment vehicle based out of Atlanta. Before that, he was managing investments for the private office of the Cox family.

Originally from Augusta, Ga. Kamath left the south to attend Harvard and then went out west for a stint at Stanford Business School.

In between his jaunts North and West Kamath spent time in Atlanta as an investment banker with Raymond James in the early 2000s, the beginnings of a lifelong professional career in technology. Before business school, Kamath worked at Summit Equity Partners in Boston investing in later stage technology companies.

Kamath settled in Atlanta in 2010 just as a second wave of technology companies began making their presence felt in the city.

The new Tech Square Village general partner pointed to Atlanta’s underlying tech infrastructure as one reason for the move to early stage. One pillar of that infrastructure is Georgia Tech itself. The school, whose campus abuts the Tech Square Ventures offices, is one of the top engineering universities in the country and the breadth of talent coming out of that program is impressive, Kamath said.

There’s also the companies like Airwatch, MailChimp, Calendly and others that represent the resurgence of Atlanta’s tech scene, Tech Square Ventures’ newest general partner said.

Not only are young companies reinvesting in the city, but big tech giants and telecom players like T-Mobile, Google, and Microsoft are also establishing major offices, accelerators, and incubators in Atlanta.

“There’s a lot of momentum here in early stage and i think it’s building. It’s the right time for a firm like TSV to take advantage of all of the things,” Kamath said. 

Another selling point for making the jump to early stage investing was the relationship that Kamath had established with Tech Square Ventures founder, Blake Patton. A serial entrepreneur who’s committed to building up Atlanta’s startup ecosystem, Patton has been the architect of Tech Square Ventures’ growth through two separate initiatives.

In all, the firm has $90 million in assets under management. What began with a small pilot fund, Tech Square Ventures Fund 1, (a $5 million investment vehicle) has expanded to include two larger funds raised in conjunction with major industrial corporate partners like AT&T, Chick-Fil-A, Cox Enterprises, Delta, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power, The Home Depot, UPS, Goldman Sachs, and Invesco, under the auspices of a program called Engage. Those funds total $54 million in AUM and the firm is halfway toward closing a much larger second flagship fund under the Tech Square Ventures name with a $75 million target.

All this activity has led to a blossoming entrepreneurial community that early stage funds like Tech Square Ventures hopes to tap.

“We see a fair number of folks from these large corporations spinning out and starting things themselves,” said Kamath. “For a decade plus, you have multiple entrepreneurs doing really well and increasing acceleration in terms of climate and exits.”

And more firms from outside of the region are beginning to take notice.

“I think that is happening,” said Kamath. “You might seen investment from outside the region. At the seed stage it’s harder you do need to have feet on the ground right when they’re starting and building their business. Once they’ve been vetted and had that early round of investment you will definitely see a lot of activity. We’re seeing more investment at the Series A and B from out of town. That’s the strategy.”

It all points to a burgeoning startup scene that’s based in a collaborative approach, which should be good not only for Tech Square Ventures, but the other early stage funds like Atlanta Ventures, Outlander Labs, BLH Ventures, Knoll Ventures and Overline, that working to support the city’s entrepreneurs, Kamath said.

#airwatch, #att, #atlanta, #bip-capital, #boston, #calendly, #chick-fil-a, #corporate-finance, #cox-enterprises, #delta, #entrepreneurship, #finance, #georgia, #goldman-sachs, #google, #harvard, #invesco, #investment-banker, #knoll-ventures, #mailchimp, #microsoft, #money, #private-equity, #serial-entrepreneur, #t-mobile, #tc, #tech-square-ventures, #technology, #venture-capital

0

LA’s Splice gets $55 million for its software bringing beats from bedrooms to bandstands

Splice, the LA-based, AI-infused, beat-making software service for music producers created by the founder of GroupMe, has managed to sample another $55 million in financing from investors for its wildly popular service.

The github for music producers ranging from Hook N SlingMr Hudson, SLY, and Steve Solomon to TechCrunch’s own Megan Rose Dickey, Splice gained a following for its ability to help electronic dance music creators save, share, collaborate and remix music.

The company’s popularity has made it from bedroom djs to the Goldman Sachs boardroom as the financial services giant joined MUSIC, a joint venture between the music executive Matt Pincus and boutique financial services firm, Liontree, in leading the company’s latest $55 million round.  The company’s previous investors include USV, True Ventures, DFJ Growth, and Flybridge.

“The music creation process is going through a digital transformation. Artists are flocking to solutions that offer a user-friendly, collaborative, and affordable platform for music creation,” said Stephen Kerns, a VP with Goldman Sachs’ GS Growth, in a statement. “With 4 million users, Splice is at the forefront of this transformation and is beloved by the creator community. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Steve Martocci and his team at Splice.”

Splice’s financing follows an incredibly acquisitive 2020 for the company, which saw it acquiring music technology companies Audiaire and Superpowered.

In addition to the financing, Splice also nabbed Kakul Srivastava, the vice president of Adobe Creative Cloud Experience and Engagement as a director for its board.

The funding news comes on the heels of Splice’s recent acquisitions of music-tech companies Audiaire and Superpowered, creating more ways to improve and inspire the audio and music-making process. Splice is also pleased to announce that Kakul Srivastava has joined the company’s board.

Steve Martocci at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2016. Image Credits: Getty Images

Splice’s beefed up balance sheet comes as new entrants have started vying for a slice of Splice’s music-making market. These are companies like hardware maker Native Instruments, which launched the Sounds.com marketplace last year, and there’s also Arcade by Output that’s pitching a similar service. 

Meanwhile Splice continues to invest in new technology to make producers’ lives easier. In November 2019 it unveiled its artificial intelligence product that lets producers match samples from different genres using machine learning techniques to find the matches.

“My job is to keep as many people inspired to create as possible” Splice founder and chief executive, Steve Martocci told TechCrunch.

It’s another win for the serial entrepreneur who famously sold his TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon chat app Group.Me to Skype for $85 million just a year after launching.

#artificial-intelligence, #computing, #dfj-growth, #draper-fisher-jurvetson, #financial-services, #founder, #goldman-sachs, #groupme, #hudson, #louisiana, #machine-learning, #matt-pincus, #megan-rose-dickey, #microsoft, #music-technology, #native-instruments, #serial-entrepreneur, #skype, #splice, #steve-martocci, #tc, #true-ventures, #vice-president, #vp

0

Bringing jobs and health benefits, BlocPower unlocks energy efficiency retrofits for low income communities

Retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient and better at withstanding climate change induced extreme weather is going to be a big, multi-billion dollar business. But it’s one that’s been hard for low-income communities to tap, thanks to obstacles ranging faulty incentive structures to an inability to adequately plan for which upgrades will be most effective in which buildings.

Enter BlocPower, a New York-based startup founded by a longtime advocate for energy efficiency and the job creation that comes with it, which has a novel solution for identifying, developing and profiting off of building upgrades in low income communities — all while supporting high-paying jobs for workers in the communities the company hopes to serve.

The company also has managed to raise $63 million in equity and debt financing to support its mission. That money is split between an $8 million investment from some of the country’s top venture firms and a $55 million debt facility structured in part by Goldman Sachs to finance the redevelopment projects that BlocPower is creating.

These capital commitments aren’t charity. Government dollars are coming for the industry and private companies from healthcare providers, to utility companies, to real estate developers and property managers all have a vested interest in seeing this market succeed.

There’s going to be over $1 billion carved out for weatherization and building upgrades in the stimulus package that’s still making its way through Congress

For BlocPower’s founder, Donnel Baird, the issue of seeing buildings revitalized and good high-paying jobs coming into local communities isn’t academic. Baird was born in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood and witnessed firsthand the violence and joblessness that was ripping the fabric of that rich and vibrant community apart during the crack epidemic and economic decline of the 1980s and early 90s.

Seeing that violence firsthand, including a shooting on his way to school, instilled in Baird a desire to “create jobs for disconnected Black and brown people” so they would never feel the hopelessness and lack of opportunity that fosters cycles of violence.

Some time after the shooting, Baird’s family relocated from Brooklyn to Stone Mountain, Georgia, and after graduating from Duke University, Baird became a climate activist and community organizer, with a focus on green jobs. That led to a role in the presidential campaign for Barack Obama and an offer to work in Washington on Obama’s staff.

Baird declined the opportunity, but did take on a role reaching out to communities and unions to help implement the first stimulus package that Obama and Biden put together to promote green jobs.

And it was while watching the benefits of that stimulus collapse under the weight of a fragmented building industry that Baird came up with the idea for BlocPower.

“It was all about the implementation challenges that we ran into,” Baird said. “If you have ten buildings on a block in Oakland and they were all built by the same developer at the same time. If you rebuild those buildings and you retrofit all of those buildings, in five of those buildings you’re going to trap carbon monoxide in and kill everybody and in the other five buildings you’re going to have a reduction in emissions and energy savings.”

Before conducting any retrofits to capture energy savings (and health savings, but more on that later), Baird says developers need to figure out the potential for asbestos contamination in the building; understand the current heating, ventilation, and cooling systems that the building uses; and get an assessment of what actually needs to be done.

That’s the core problem that Baird says BlocPower solves. The company has developed software to analyze a building’s construction by creating a virtual twin based on blueprints and public records. Using that digital twin the company can identify what upgrades a building needs. Then the company taps lines of credit to work with building owners to manage the retrofits and capture the value of the energy savings and carbon offsets associated with the building upgrades.

For BlocPower to work, the financing piece is just as important as the software. Without getting banks to sign off on loans to make the upgrades, all of those dollars from the federal government remain locked up. “That’s why the $7 billion earmarked for investment in green buildings did not work,” Baird said. “At BlocPower our view is that we could build software to simulate using government records… we could simulate enough about the mechanicals, electrical, and plumbing across buildings in NYC so that we could avoid that cost.”

Along with co-founder Morris Cox, Baird built BlocPower while at Columbia University’s business school so that he could solve the technical problems and overcome the hurdles for community financing of renewable retrofit projects.

Right before his graduation, in 2014, the company had applied for a contract to do energy efficiency retrofits and was set to receive financing from the Department of Energy. The finalists had to go down to the White House and pitch the President. That pitch was scheduled for the same day as a key final exam for one of Baird’s Columbia classes, which the professor said was mandatory. Baird skipped the test and won the pitch, but failed the class.

After that it was off to Silicon Valley to pitch the business. Baird met with 200 or more investors who rejected his pitch. Many of these investors had been burned in the first cleantech bubble or had witnessed the fiery conflagrations that engulfed firms that did back cleantech businesses and swore they’d never make the same mistakes.

That was the initial position at Andreessen Horowitz when Baird pitched them, he said. “When I went to Andreessen Horowitz, they said ‘Our policy is no cleantech whatsoever. You need to figure out how software is going to eat up this energy efficiency market’,” Baird recalled.

Working with Mitch Kapor, an investor and advisor, Baird worked on the pitch and got Kapor to talk to Ben Horowitz. Both men agreed to invest and BlocPower was off to the races.

The company has completed retrofits in over 1,000 buildings since its launch, Baird said, mainly to prove out its thesis. Now, with the revolving credit facility in hand, BlocPower can take bigger bites out of the market. That includes a contract with utility companies in New York that will pay $30 million if the company can complete its retrofits and verify the energy savings from that work.

There are also early projects underway in Oakland and Chicago, Baird said.

Building retrofits do more than just provide energy savings, as Goldman Sachs managing director Margaret Anadu noted in a statement.

“BlocPower is proving that it is possible to have commercial solutions that improve public health in underserved communities, create quality jobs and lower carbon emissions,” Anadu said. “We are so proud to have supported Donnel and his team…through both equity and debt capital to further expand their reach.”

These benefits also have potential additional revenue streams associated with them that BlocPower can also capture, according to investor and director, Mitch Kapor.

“There are significant linkages that are known between buildings and pollution that are a public health issue. In a number of geographies community hospitals are under a mandate to improve health outcomes and BlocPower can get paid from health outcomes associated with the reduction in carbon. That could be a new revenue stream and a financing mechanism,” Kapor said. “There’s a lot of work to be done in essentially taking the value creation engine they have and figuring out where to bring it and which other engines they need to have to have the maximum social impact.”

Social impact is something that both Kapor and Baird talk about extensively and Baird sees the creation of green jobs as an engine for social justice — and one that can reunite a lot of working class voters whose alliances were fractured by the previous administration. Baird also believes that putting people to work is the best argument for climate change policies that have met with resistance among many union workers.

“We will not be able to pass shit unless workers and people of color are on board to force the U.S. senate to pass climate change policy,” Baird said. “We have to pass the legislation that’s going to facilitate green infrastructure in a massive way.”

He pointed to the project in Oakland as an example of how climate policies can create jobs and incentivize political action.

“In Oakland we’re doing a pilot project in 12 low income buildings in oakland. I sent them $20K to train these workers from local people of color in Oakland… they are being put to work in Oakland,” Baird said. “That’s the model for how this gets built. So now we need them to call Chuck Shumer to push him to the left on green building legislation.” 

 

#advisor, #andreessen-horowitz, #articles, #barack-obama, #ben-horowitz, #biden, #brooklyn, #chicago, #co-founder, #columbia, #columbia-university, #construction, #department-of-energy, #director, #duke-university, #energy, #energy-conservation, #energy-efficiency, #federal-government, #georgia, #goldman-sachs, #mitch-kapor, #new-york, #oakland, #president, #tc, #u-s-senate, #united-states, #washington, #white-house

0

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

0

Goldman Sachs and Sesame Workshop pour money into this edtech firm’s newest fund

Shauntel Garvey and Jennifer Carolan liked edtech before the sector was cool, so the duo co-founded Reach Capital in 2015 with a $53 million debut fund. The San Francisco-based venture firm has since put checks into education startups including Newsela, Sketchy, ClassDojo and Outschool, landing six exits so far.

Now, after seeing its portfolio accelerate in the wake of the coronavirus, Reach is announcing its third fund aimed at backing edtech startups. Reach Capital III is a $165 million fund, the firm’s biggest to date. Reach’s team, which also includes Chian Gong, Wayee Chu and Esteban Sosnik, started raising the investment vehicle over the summer. New LPs in the fund include Sesame Workshop, National Geographic, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Goldman Sachs.

The Reach Capital team. Image Credits: Reach Capital

Reach plans to reserve half of its fund for follow-on investments for its startups, and the other half will go toward net-new investments. The firm intends to back 20 startups through Reach III, targeting about 15% ownership in each deal.

The edtech market raked in more than $10 billion in venture capital investment globally in 2020, but for students, parents and teachers, the past 12 months were defined more by its scramble than its surge. Reach as well as other firms have the opportunity to back startups that could change the broken bits, which is no easy feat.

Carolan, who taught in Chicago public schools for seven years before joining venture, said that the entire education system’s restructure has opened the door for more innovation and opportunities.

“What parents were experiencing with remote learning was the result of underinvestment in edtech for a long time,” she said. “The companies that were adopted to meet the ends were fragmented, many of the products were inoperable and many of them were built for the home school market and repurposed for schools.” Now, Carolan sees opportunity in the fact that more students have digital devices due to 1:1 technology infrastructure in schools.

“There has never been a more exciting time to be investing in education,” she said. Reach plans to back companies across edtech subsectors, from early childhood to K-12 to post-secondary learning. The firm is also joining a number of investors betting on lifelong learning, a term being used to describe education opportunities outside of a traditional classroom context.

Reach is one of the few venture capital firms that specifically back edtech companies. Others in the category include Owl Ventures, which closed $585 million in a pair of investment vehicles in September, and Learn Capital, which closed $132 million in December.

The pandemic has opened the software market in education and we’re just in the beginning of that opening,” Carolan said. “Education has gone from let’s hire 10 instructional coaches to let’s adopt some software to do that.”

#early-stage, #edtech, #education, #fund, #goldman-sachs, #jennifer-carolan, #new-fund, #quizlet, #reach-capital, #sesame-street, #shauntel-garvey, #tc, #venture-capital

0

Ramp secures $150M debt line from Goldman Sachs as the corporate spend market grows

This morning Ramp, a startup that competes in the corporate spend market, announced that it has secured a $150 million debt facility with Goldman Sachs. Ramp previously raised a $30 million Series B in late December 2020, after raising a $23 million Series A earlier in the same year.

TechCrunch spoke with Ramp co-founder and CEO Eric Glyman about its new credit access. Glyman said that until it was secured, his company had previously financed customer corporate spend off its own balance sheet. That effort would have become more difficult and inefficient as Ramp secured more customers, something that its rapid-fire fundraising implies that it has.

Its larger startup category is growing, as TechCrunch has reported. Ramp, Brex, Airbase, Divvy, Teampay and others compete for the custom of companies’ spend; the startups provide credit to businesses usually on a charge-card basis, collecting interchange revenues and, in some cases, software incomes as well.

Ramp intends on using its new credit facility to boost its product work, Glyman said, noting that its new access to revolving debt will free up capital that it can invest into software.

So far Ramp’s model appears to be working. The company told TechCrunch that it saw 47% growth from November to December, a figure that measures not revenue but transaction volume. However, as Ramp monetizes off of transaction volume, we can infer that its revenue scaled rapidly during the same period.

The tingling feeling you have on the back of your neck is correct; Ramp is now big enough to share harder numbers than mere percentage growth metrics. We do know that the company reached the $100 million spend threshold — an aggregate metric, not a rate — in the fall of 2020 after being founded around 18 months earlier. From there you can math your way to an estimate of the company’s current spend base.

Ramp is betting its software package, wrapped around corporate cards, on a focus on savings; the startup helps customers root out repeat payments and other mal expense.

It has competition. Ramp’s rivals are also layering software on top of corporate card offerings. A question that TechCrunch has raised is whether all players in the maturing corporate spend space will wind up charging for their software layer on top of their credit offerings (TeamPay, for example, reported both software revenues and transaction volume results to TechCrunch.)

Corporate spend TAM would rise if so.

To grok what’s going on in the corporate spend management space, recall the changes in the world of venture capital over the last decade or so. In olden times, venture firms had money to invest in startups. There wasn’t much by current standards, and it was concentrated in only a few hands. It was rare. So, venture capitalists were able to make you come to them, charge more equity per dollar of investment and not offer modern-level services. Today, however, in venture-land money is plentiful, so investing terms are more generous. And, on top of merely offering access to capital, your local VC probably wants to help startups hire, and more.

Corporate spend is the same. Offering credit and corporate cards is now barely table stakes; the value of the software on top of the revolving charge card is the competition.

Let’s see how fast Ramp can grow its customer base, spend and revenue, while scaling its software. And how soon one of its rivals tries to one-up its latest with news of its own. This is a fun space to watch.

#airbase, #fundings-exits, #goldman-sachs, #ramp, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #teampay

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#DealMonitor – Elinvar bekommt 25 Millionen – Francisco übernimmt Native Instruments – APX wandelt sich zum Investor


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 21. Januar werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Elinvar 
+++  Die englische Investmentfirma Toscafund Asset Management sowie die Altinvestoren Ampega Asset Management, finleap und Goldman Sachs investieren 25 Millionen Euro in den Vermögensverwalter Elinvar. Das 2016 von Chris Bartz, Marco Neuhaus und Sebastian Böttner gegründete Berliner B2B2C-FinTech “ermöglicht seinen Partnern die Digitalisierung ihrer Geschäftsmodelle. Die Platform as a Service (PaaS) bietet eine multimandantenfähige Lösung mit dem Ziel, das gesamte Ökosystem in der Vermögensanlage zu vernetzen”. 100 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für Elinvar. Goldman Sachs und die Altinvestoren Ampega Asset Management und Finleap investierten zuletzt 2019 in das FinTech. Damals gab das Unternehmen die Gesamtfinanzierung mit über 20 Millionen an. Somit flossen bisher rund 45 Millionen in Elinvar.

Motognosis
+++ IBB Ventures und Athenion investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in das E-Health-Startup Motognosis. Das Spin-Off des NeuroCure Clinical Research Centers der Charité Berlin  entwickelt Softwarelösungen zur eigenständigen Messung von Symptomen durch Patienten. “Fokus liegt dabei auf den motorischen Symptomen bei neurologischen Erkrankungen wie Morbus Parkinson oder multipler Sklerose”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Die Telemedizin-Firma wird von Sebastian Mansow-Model geführt.

Comgy
+++ Momeni Digital Ventures investiert gemeinsam mit EWE und Signa eine “mittlere” siebenstellige Summe in Comgy. Das Berliner Startup positioniert sich als “Anbieter digitaler Messdienstlösungen für die Wohnungs- und Energiewirtschaft”. Comgy wurde 2017 von Ruben Haas (früher mbrace und Hitfox), Lukas Krauter und Simon Stürtz gegründet. 60 Mitarbeiter wirkten derzeit für das PropTech.

Twostay
+++ better ventures (Christoph Behn), wave ventures (Florian Herschke), Primazon (Ex-Amazon-Manager Heiko Hoess) sowie Jan Voß und Tobias Derndinger investieren eine mittlere sechsstellige Summe in das Münchner Startup Twostay. Das 2019 von Cecilia Chiolerio und Dorothea Haider gegründete Unternehmen setzt sich für “nachhaltige, flexible und bezahlbare Co-Working Spaces in Großstädten ein und schafft aus Räumlichkeiten, die tagsüber leer stehen Arbeitsräume”.

EXITS

Native Instruments
+++ Die Beteiligungsgesellschaft Francisco Partners übernimmt die Mehrheit an Native Instruments. EMH Partners und die Gründungsgesellschafter bleiben aber weiter “bedeutende Minderheitsaktionäre”. Ende 2017 investierte EMH Partners 50 Millionen Euro in Native Instruments. Das Berliner Unternehmen, 1996 gegründet, kümmert sich um Software und Hardware für digitale Musikproduktion. Der Kaufpreis ist nicht bekannt. EMH Partners teilt aber dies mit: “Der Kaufpreis spiegelt die signifikante Wertsteigerung während der Eigentümerschaft von EMH Partners wider”. Der Umsatz des Unternehmens stieg demnach seit dem Investment von EMH um 60 %. Zuletzt wirkten 400 Mitarbeiter für Native Instruments.

VENTURE CAPITAL

APX
+++ Das Medien- und Digitalhaus Axel Springer und der Autobauer Porsche bauen ihren Berliner Accelerator APX, der 2018 an den Start ging, zum Frühphaseninvestor aus. “Das Unternehmen wird zukünftig über Wagniskapital in Höhe von 55 Millionen Euro für Investments in neue und bestehende Portfoliounternehmen verfügen. Damit kann APX bereits vor der Series-A-Runde bis zu 500.000 Euro in Portfolio-Startups investieren”, teilt der Geldgeber mit. APX investierte seit dem Start bereits in mehr als 70 Startups. Bis 2022 sollen es rund 200 Investments werden. Auch in der neuen Ausrichtung bleiben Axel Springer und Porsche alleinige Anteilseigner von APX. “Das unbegrenzte Venture Development ersetzt das bisherige 100-tägige Accelerator-Programm von APX. Damit unterstreicht der Investor sein langfristiges Engagement für Startups, das nun auch das Versprechen beinhaltet, sich neben anderen Investoren an zukünftigen Folgefinanzierungsrunden zu beteiligen”, heißt es dazu.

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #ampega-asset-management, #apx, #athenion, #berlin, #better-ventures, #comgy, #e-health, #elinvar, #emh-partners, #ewe, #finleap, #fintech, #goldman-sachs, #ibb-ventures, #momeni-digital-ventures, #motognosis, #native-instruments, #primazon, #proptech, #signa, #telemedizin, #toscafund-asset-management, #twostay, #venture-capital, #wave-ventures

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Ad-supported EV charging network developer Volta raises $125 million

Volta, the developer of a network of electric vehicle charging stations that monetize using advertising, has raised $125 million in new funding in a process managed by Goldman Sachs.

Volta builds and operates a network of electric vehicle charging stations that are sited in parking lots around grocery stores, pharmacy chains, banks and hospitals.

The company has placed its charging stations, with their 55-inch digital displays in locations at 200 cities across 23 states, according to a statement.

The charge is free for vehicle owners and is supported by the retailers and consumer goods companies that want to reach the EV audience.

With the new financing, Volta has now raised over $200 million in funding and intends to use its cash to begin expanding internationally.

Companies who have placed Volta’s chargers on their sites include Albertsons Companies, Giant Food, Regency Centers, Wegmans and TopGolf. Brands advertising on the company’s screens include GM, Hulu, Nestlé, Polestar, Porsche and Unilever.

“Since our initial investment in Volta in 2018, excitement and interest in electrification — and specifically solving for public charging solutions — has continued to gain momentum,” said John Tough, Managing Partner at Energize Ventures, a major and existing investor in this round. “Our conviction in this team has similarly grown, and we believe Volta is poised to lead this market as the most capital-efficient and highly utilized EV charging network in the country.”

 

#charging-stations, #electric-vehicle, #electric-vehicles, #electrical-engineering, #goldman-sachs, #green-vehicles, #inductive-charging, #managing-partner, #nestle, #network, #porsche, #tc, #unilever, #volta

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Helping big banks out-Affirm Affirm and out-Chime Chime, gives Amount a $681 million valuation

Amount, a new service that helps traditional banks compete in a digital world, has raised $81 million from none other than Goldman Sachs as it looks to help legacy fintech players compete with their more nimble digital counterparts.

The company, which spun out from the startup lending company Avant Credit in January of this year, has already inked deals with Banco Popular, HSBC, Regions Bank and TD Bank to power their digital banking services and offer products like point-of-sale lending to compete with challenger banks like Chime and lenders like Affirm or Klarna.

“Most banks are looking for resources and infrastructure to accelerate their digital strategy and meet the demands of today’s consumer,” said Jade Mandel, a Vice President in Goldman Sachs’ growth equity platform, GS Growth, who will be joining the Board of Directors at Amount, in a statement. “Amount enables banks to navigate digital transformation through its modular and mobile-first platform for financial products. We’re excited to partner with the team as they take on this compelling market opportunity.”

Complimenting those customer facing services is a deep expertise in fraud prevention on the back-end to help banks provide more loans with less risk than competitors, according to chief executive Adam Hughes.

It’s the combination of these three services that led Goldman to take point on a new $81 million investment in the company, with participation from previous investors August Capital, Invus Opportunities and Hanaco Ventures — giving Avant a post-money valuation of $681 million and bringing the company’s total capital raised in 2020 to a whopping $140 million.

Think of Amount as a white-labeled digital banking service provider for luddite banks that hadn’t upgraded their services to keep pace with demands of a new generation of customers or the COVID-19 era of digital-first services for everything.

Banks pay a pretty penny for access to Amount’s services. On top of a percentage for any loans that the bank process through Amount’s services, there’s an up-front implementation fee that typically averages at $1 million.

The hefty price tag is a sign of how concerned banks are about their digital challengers. Hughes said that they’ve seen a big uptick in adoption since the launch of their buy-now-pay-later product designed to compete with the fast growing startups like Affirm and Klarna .

Indeed, by offering banks these services, Amount gives Klarna and Affirm something to worry about. That’s because banks conceivably have a lower cost of capital than the startups and can offer better rates to borrowers. They also have the balance sheet capacity to approve more loans than either of the two upstart lenders.

 “Amount has the wind at its back and the industry is taking notice,” said Nigel Morris, the co-founder of CapitalOne and an investor in Amount through the firm QED Investors. “The latest round brings Amount’s total capital raised in 2020 to nearly $140M, which will provide for additional investments in platform research and development while accelerating the company’s go-to-market strategy. QED is thrilled to be a part of Amount’s story and we look forward to the company’s future success as it plays a vital role in the digitization of financial services.”

FT Partners served as advisor to Amount on this transaction.

#advisor, #affirm, #bank, #capitalone, #challenger-banks, #chime, #co-founder, #economy, #finance, #financial-services, #goldman-sachs, #hanaco-ventures, #hsbc, #klarna, #money, #qed, #tc, #vice-president

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S16 Angel Fund launches a community of founders to invest in other founders

Ten years ago a group of young tech founders in Moscow decided to get an apartment together, at Shmitovskiy lane 16.

In time, the ecosystem around the group swelled to the point where today it now encompasses 300 entrepreneurs, executives, artists, and many other industries. The group now organizes the annual ‘Founders for Founders’ conference, in Russia and other locations. Just as in other places around the world, the members decided to help each other.

So they formed the Shmit16 Founder Community, and today they launch the S16 Angel Fund to invest in startups globally. Although tiny by investment standards (the funds first close will be $5 million) firm will focus on ‘founder-in-founder’ investments and has already backed 5 companies under this model. The fund plans to invest in five more companies in the next six months with an average of $250k ticket.

So far the Angel group has invested in AppFollow, Lokalize Simple, a fasting and diet management mobile app, and Anytype, a new operating environment for the modern internet.

The driving ethos of the S16 Fund is a focus on developing human potential and creating a productive peer context where information flows freely and participants can learn from each other.

Founding partners of the fund and community members include serial entrepreneurs Anatoly Marin, co-founder of Payment Systems (a mobile fintech in Eastern Europe); Aleks Shamis -partner at Dostavista (a crowdsourced same-day delivery service operating in 10 countries), Mikhail Peregudov, founder of Partiya Edy, recently acquired by Yandex ($YNDX), Oleg Bibergan, former Executive Director at Goldman Sachs, and others. Prior to this, the partners have invested in over 30 companies as individual angels.

S16 cofounder Anatoly Marin says: “There is a difference between helping a founder as someone whom you relate to on a human level, because you’ve been in these difficult places yourself, and helping a founder to get an ROI on your capital. The former helps shape relations where founders are open to share the most difficult subjects and get help. It is handy here that we’ve founded companies in different areas and can look at things from diverse perspectives.”

“The relationships in our community have always been about friendship, trust, and personal growth, with financial gains being an organic second-order outcome,” says S16 Angel Fund co-founder Aleks Shamis. “After 10 years, starting a fund was a natural next step in helping founders like ourselves.”

Beyond investment, S16 offers access to its network to help founders solve problems, find mentors and operators with business domain expertise such as go-to-market strategy, pricing, coaching for the executive team, and others.

#angel-investor, #co-founder, #eastern-europe, #europe, #executive, #founder, #goldman-sachs, #moscow, #russia, #tc, #venture-capitalists, #yandex

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