Docs startup Almanac raises $34 million from Tiger as remote work shift hardens

As companies continue to delay their returns to the office and find temporary remote work policies becoming permanent, the startups building tooling for remote work-first cultures are finding a seemingly endless supply of customers.

“Companies are finding the shift to remote work is not a one-time aberration due to Covid,” Almanac CEO Adam Nathan tells TechCrunch. “Over the past several months we’ve seen pretty explosive revenue growth.”

Almanac, which builds a doc editor that takes feature cues like version control from developer platforms like Github, has been seizing on the shift to remote work, onboarding new customers through its open source office document library Core while pushing features that allow for easier onboarding like an online company handbook builder.

In the past couple years, timelines between funding rounds have been shrinking for fast-growing startups. Almanac announced its $9 million seed round earlier this year led by Floodgate, now they’re taking the wraps off of a $34 million Series A led by the pandemic’s most prolific startup investment powerhouse — Tiger Global. Floodgate again participated in the raise, alongside General Catalyst and a host of angels.

The company wants its collaborative doc editor to be the way more companies fully embrace online productivity software, leaving local-first document editors in the dust. While Alphabet’s G Suite is a rising presence in the office productivity suite world, Microsoft Office is still the market’s dominant force.

“We see ourselves as a generational challenger to Microsoft Office,” Nathan says. “It’s not only an old product, but it’s totally outmoded for what we do to today.”

While investors have backed plenty of startups based on pandemic era trends that have already seemed to fizzle out, the growing shift away from office culture or even hybrid culture towards full remote work has only grown more apparent as employees place a premium on jobs with flexible remote policies.

Major tech companies like Facebook have found themselves gradually adjusting policies towards full-remote work for staff that can do their jobs remotely. Meanwhile, Apple’s more aggressive return-to-office plan has prompted a rare outpouring of public and private criticism from employees at the company. Nathan only expects this divide to accelerate as more companies come tor grips with the shifting reality.

“I personally don’t believe that hybrid is a thing,” he says. “You have to pick a side, you’re either office culture or ‘cloud culture.’”

#almanac, #alphabet, #articles, #ceo, #cloud-computing, #economy, #general-catalyst, #github, #human-resource-management, #major, #microsoft, #onboarding, #productivity, #recruitment, #software, #startup-company, #startups, #telecommuting, #tiger-global

Freshworks’ valuation could crest $10B in upcoming IPO

Earlier today, TechCrunch examined the new IPO price range for Toast. The U.S. software-and-fintech company moved its valuation materially higher in anticipation of pricing tomorrow after the bell and trading on Wednesday. It was not alone in doing so.

Freshworks is also targeting a higher IPO price range, it disclosed today in a fresh SEC filing. The customer service-focused software firm now expects to charge between $32 and $34 per share in its debut, up from the $28 to $32 per-share range that it initially disclosed.

Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, Freshworks’ IPO valuation could just pass the $10 billion mark, calculated on a fully diluted basis. Its simple IPO valuations, while rising, are lower than that figure.

Mathing that out, Freshworks expects to have 284,283,200 shares outstanding when public, inclusive of its underwriters’ option, but not inclusive of vested shares present in RSUs or options. At its new IPO price range, Freshworks would be worth between $9.1 billion and $9.7 billion.

#freshworks, #fundings-exits, #initial-public-offering, #ipo, #renaissance-capital, #startups, #tc, #tiger-global, #toast

Tiger’s bullish robotic investments

On Tuesday, Tiger Global led not one but two big funding rounds, announcing its role in a $26 million Series A for Ambi and an additional $50 million for Locus Robotics. The firm has been so active in investing of late, that neither one of these companies cracked Alex’s coveted “Today’s Tiger round” in our daily newsletter (that honor went to a $150 million round for Indonesian fintech company Xendit).

It’s fair to say that Tiger is bullish about robotics as a category. Other rounds in recent months include $36.7 million for Rapid Robotics and $100 million for Path — both Series B. All of the rounds are head-turning in the robotics world, and they represent a broad scope under the larger robotics umbrella. Ambi and Locus both operate (though address different problems) in the logistics/fulfillment spaces, while Path and Rapid deal with construction and manufacturing, respectively.

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

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Certainly that last bit speaks to how diversified interest has been in the category. All of the above industries no doubt saw enough impact during the pandemic to significantly accelerate interest in automation.

Image Credits: Locus Robotics

It’s also telling that the warehouse/fulfillment side of things gets a bit of extra love. In addition to the general strains of the pandemic, there’s the fact that everyone is looking for a way to compete with Amazon. The retailer already has a massive stranglehold on these categories and gave itself a big head start in terms of automation through a series of acquisitions. It’s an industry where any competitive advantage means a lot, and companies like Locus are hoping to crack that code.

In February, the company raised a hefty $150 million, with Tiger on as co-lead. And this week, the firm returned with another $50 million. Locus’ approach to the category offers more flexibility than those companies that require a kind of ground-up rebuild. It’s an appealing option in terms of pricing and time frame, and makes a lot more sense for organizations looking for seasonable robotic help — ditto for the company’s robotics-as-a-service pricing model.

Image Credits: Ambi Robotics

Ambi, which got its first TechCrunch mention in one of these columns several months back, specializes in pick and place/sorting robots. The company came out of stealth is April and is already seeing solid adoption.

“Ambi Robotics combines cutting-edge AI technology with engaging user interfaces to transform the role of ‘item handlers’ to ‘robot handlers,’ ” CEO Jim Liefer said in a release. “With our Series A funding, we will be able to empower more companies to help their associates work harmoniously alongside robots.”

Image Credits: Berkshire Grey

On the aforementioned ground-up approach to warehouse automation, Berkshire Grey this week announced its own Robotic Pick and Pack (RPP) system, designed to pack goods into shipping packages. The system has already been deployed at SoftBank Logistics’ flagship location in Ichikawa, Japan.

Here’s COO Steve Johnson:

We believe our RPP system is the first robotic eCommerce fulfillment solution capable of completely automating the picking and packing process of direct-to-consumer orders for apparel, cosmetics, health and beauty, sporting equipment, food and general merchandise — it will transform the speed and efficiencies of warehouses and fulfillment centers around the globe. Berkshire Grey RPP excels in handling orders – the AI handles a wide range of SKUs and does so carefully – meeting even the exacting quality standards of Japanese consumers.

Image Credits: Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics, meanwhile, announced an update for Spot that brings additional autonomous features to the four-legged robot. Specifically, the Spot Release 3.0 update is designed to improve the robot’s data collection capabilities. Per BD:

Schedule missions for Spot to collect photos, thermal images, point clouds, and other critical data; process that data into valuable signals at the edge with computer vision models; and create custom uploads to send those signals to your existing systems, so it’s easy to keep all of your data in one place for analysis and review. Spot Release 3.0 makes dynamic sensing available to everyone.

#actuator, #ambi, #berkshire-grey, #boston-dynamics, #locus, #robotics, #robotics-roundup, #tc, #tiger, #tiger-global

A16z in talks to back CoinSwitch Kuber in first India investment

A16z is inching closer to making its first investment in a startup in India, the world’s second largest internet market that has produced over two dozen unicorns this year.

The Menlo Park-headquartered firm is in final stages of conversations to invest in Indian crypto trading startup CoinSwitch Kuber, three sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. The proposed deal values the Bangalore-based firm at $1.9 billion, two sources said. Coinbase is also investing in the new round, one of the sources said.

CoinSwitch Kuber was valued at over $500 million in a round in April this year when it raised $25 million from Tiger Global. If the deal with A16z materializes, it will be CoinSwitch Kuber’s third financing round this year.

TechCrunch reported last week that CoinSwitch Kuber was in talks to raise its Series C funding at up to $2 billion valuation. The report, which didn’t identify a lead investor, noted that the Indian startup had engaged with Andreessen Horowitz and Coinbase in recent weeks.

Usual caveats apply: terms of the proposed deal may change or the talks may not result in a deal. The author reported some details about the deal on Wednesday.

The startup declined to comment. Coinbase and A16z as well as existing investors Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital India did not respond to requests for comment.

The investment talks come at a time when CoinSwitch Kuber has more than doubled its user base in recent months — even as local authorities push back against crypto assets. Its eponymous app had over 10 million users in India last month, up from about 4 million in April this year, the startup said in a newspaper advertisement over the weekend.

A handful of crypto startups in India have demonstrated fast-pace growth in recent years — while impressively keeping their CAC very low — as millions of millennials in the South Asian nation kickstart their investment journeys. Several funds including those with big presence in India such as Accel, Lightspeed, WEH and Kalaari recently began working on their thesis to back crypto startups, TechCrunch reported earlier.

B Capital backed CoinDCX, a rival of CoinSwitch Kuber that has amassed 3.5 million users, last month in a $90 million round that valued CoinDCX at about $1.1 billion.

Policymakers in India have been debating on the status of digital currencies in the South Asian market for several years. India’s central bank, Reserve Bank of India, has expressed concerns about private virtual currencies though it is planning to run trial programs of its first digital currency as soon as December.

About 27 Indian startups have become a unicorn this year, up from 11 last year, as several high-profile investors — and global peers of Andreessen Horowitz — such as Tiger Global and Coatue have increased the pace of their investments in the South Asian market. Apna announced earlier on Thursday that it had raised $100 million in a round led by Tiger Global at $1.1 billion valuation, becoming the youngest Indian firm to attain the unicorn status.

Groww, an investment app for millennials, is in talks to raise a new financing round that would value it at $3 billion, TechCrunch reported on Wednesday. The startup has engaged with Coatue in recent days, the report said.

#a16z, #apps, #asia, #coinbase, #coinswitch-kuber, #funding, #india, #sequoia-capital-india, #tc, #tiger-global

Tiger Global-led $100M investment makes Apna India’s fastest unicorn

A 22-month old startup that is helping millions of blue- and gray-collar workers in India learn new skills and find jobs has become the youngest firm to join the coveted unicorn status in the world’s second largest internet market.

Apna announced on Thursday that it has raised $100 million in a round led by Tiger Global. The new round — a Series C — valued Apna at a valuation of $1.1 billion. TechCrunch reported last month that Tiger Global, an existing investor in Apna, was in talks to lead a $100 million financing round in the startup at the unicorn valuation.

Owl Ventures, Insight Partners, Sequoia Capital India, Maverick Ventures and GSV Ventures also participated in the new round, which is the third investment secured by Apna this year. Apna was valued at $570 million in its Series B round in June this year.

The investors’ excitement comes as Apna has demonstrated an impressive growth in recent months. The startup has amassed over 16 million users on its eponymous Android app, up from 10 million in June this year.

Indian cities are home to hundreds of millions of low-skilled workers who hail from villages in search of work. Many of them have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic that has slowed several economic activities in the South Asian market.

Apna has built a platform that provides a community to these workers. In the community, they engage with each other, exchange notes to perform better at interviews, and share tips to negotiate better compensation.

On top of this, Apna connects these workers to potential employers. In an interview with TechCrunch, Apna founder and chief executive Nirmit Parikh said more than 150,000 employers — including Zomato, Bharti AXA, Urban Company, BYJU’S, PhonePe, Burger King, Delhivery, Teamlease and G4S Global — are on the platform and over 5 million jobs are active.

The startup, whose name is inspired from a cheerful 2019 Bollywood song, has facilitated over 18 million job interviews in the past 30 days, he said. Apna is currently operational in 28 Indian cities.

The idea for Apna came, Parikh has said, after he was puzzled to find that even as there are hundreds of millions of blue- and gray-collar workers in India, locating them when you need assistance with a task often proves very difficult.

Prior to starting Apna, Parikh, who previously worked at Apple, met these workers and went undercover as electrician and floor manager to understand the problems they were facing. The problem, he found, was the disconnect. Workers had no means to find who needed them for jobs, and they were also not connected with one another. The community aspect of Apna, which now has over 70 such groups, is aimed at addressing this challenge.

The Apna app allows these workers to learn new skills to become eligible for more work opportunities. Apna has emerged as one of the fastest growing upskilling platforms — and that would explain why GSV Ventures and Owl Ventures, two high-profile firms known to back edtech startups, are investing in the Bangalore-based firm.

“Apna’s viral adoption is driven by a novel social and interactive approach to connecting employers with job seekers. We expect job seekers in search of meaningful connections and vetted opportunities to drive Apna’s continued explosive growth across India — and the world,” said Griffin Schroeder, Partner at Tiger Global, in a statement.

Now the startup, which has started to monetize the platform, is ready to aggressively expand. Parikh said Apna will continue to expand to more cities in India and by early next year, Apna will begin its global expansion. Parikh said the startup is eyeing expansion in the USA, South East Asia, and Middle East and Africa.

“We have already created a dent. Now we want to impact the lives of 2.3 billion,” he said. “We will require crazy amounts of resources to world class team to deliver. It’s a herculean task, and is going to take a village. But somebody has to solve it.”

#apna, #apps, #asia, #funding, #india, #tiger-global

India’s Groww in talks to raise funds at a $3 billion valuation

Groww, an Indian startup that is helping millennials invest in mutual funds and stocks, is in advanced stages of talks to raise a new financing round at a $3 billion valuation, according to six people familiar with the matter.

The Bangalore-based startup is negotiating to close a $250 million round, the people said, requesting anonymity as the matter is private. The round could close within weeks, they said.

Usual caveats apply: The terms of the deal may change. The startup has received several termsheets — with similar terms — in recent days. Tiger Global, Coatue, and TCV have held conversations to lead or co-lead the round, people said. And many including Insight Partners have also explored investment, the people said.

A spokesperson for Coatue declined to comment. Groww chief executive did not respond to a request for comment. Indian news outlet CapTable first reported about Groww’s upcoming financing round.

Groww is tapping into a huge market. More than 200 million people in India transact money digitally, but fewer than 30 million invest in mutual funds and stocks. The startup allows users to invest in mutual funds, including systematic investment planning (SIP) and equity-linked savings, gold, as well as stocks, including those listed at U.S. exchanges. The app offers every fund that is currently available in India.

Investors’ growing push to back — or double down on — Groww follows several months of strong growth. The Indian startup is currently on track to clock about $35 million in ARR, two people briefed on the figure said. Groww, which counts Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital India among its existing investors, was valued at $1 billion in April this year and $250 million last September.

The startup is also internally exploring expansion into the crypto space, but hasn’t made a firm decision on when it plans to offer such trading, one person said.

#asia, #coatue, #funding, #groww, #india, #insight-partners, #payments, #tiger-global

Locus Robotics just raised another $50M

Seems Locus Robotics is striking while the iron is hot. Seven months after raising a sizable $150 million Series E, Tiger Global is investing another $50 million in the Massachusetts firm. The last round made Locus a unicorn, and this one brings the company’s total funding to around $300 million.

Locus specializes in warehouse and fulfillment robotics, making a more modular solution that doesn’t require the sort of “ground-up build” of a Berkshire Grey. The company’s approach is closer to that of Fetch, which was acquired by Zebra Technologies back in July. Locus seems prime for an acquisition from a logistics firm or retailer grappling to compete with the monolith of Amazon.

The continued funding rounds, on the other hand, seem to point to a company looking to continue to go it alone.


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CEO Rick Faulk confirmed as much with me back in February, stating, “We have no interest in being acquired. We think we can build the most and greatest value by operating independently. There are investors that want to invest in helping everyone that’s not named ‘Amazon’ compete.”

Faulk adds this morning that the new funds are a kind of validation for Locus. Certainly they’re yet another sign in accelerated interest in automation amid the pandemic. “At a time of increasing volumes and ongoing labor shortages, this new round of funding underscores how critical flexible, scalable, intelligent robotics automation has become to the warehouse and the supply chain,” the executive says. “Locus is uniquely positioned to drive digital transformation in this enormous global market.”

Funding will be used to further expand Locus’ global operations.

#funding, #locus-robotics, #logistics, #recent-funding, #robotics, #startups, #tiger-global

Indonesian fintech Xendit is now a unicorn, with $150M in fresh funding led by Tiger Global

There’s a new entrant in Southeast Asia’s growing list of unicorns. Jakarta-based Xendit, best known for its digital payment infrastructure but also focused on other financial products, announced today it has raised $150 million in Series C funding, bumping its valuation to $1 billion. The round was led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from returning investors Accel, Amasia and Goat Capital, the venture firm co-founded by former Y Combinator partner Justin Kan (in 2015, Xendit became the first Indonesian startup to participate in the accelerator program).

Accel led Xendit’s $64.6 million Series B, announced just six months ago. This new round brings its total funding so far to $238 million. The company was founded in 2015 by chief executive officer Moses Lu and chief operating officer Tessa Wijaya.

At the end of last year, Xendit expanded into the Philippines, and says it is now one of the biggest payment players in the country. In July, it announced a strategic investment in legacy online payments platform Dragonpay.

Xendit decided to raise again because to fuel expansion into other countries, Wijaya told TechCrunch. “Our core focus at the moment for this new fundraise is to further regionalize and to expand our product suite in regions where we are at or will expand into.” The company also plans to launch value-added services.

Wijaya said that Xendit has experienced more than 200% year-over-year increase in total payments volume, and now has a total payment volume (TPV) of $9 billion processed per annum.

Before COVID-19, many of Xendit’s customers were in the travel industry, and it was hit hard by the pandemic. But since then, it’s expanded its scope.

“One big segment are SMEs. By August, there were 10,000 SME sign-ups on our platform alone. The other one is expanding out to fintech companies—for example, there’s been a big uptick in Indonesia, especially accounting platforms. We’ve also expanded to traditional enterprises, like telecom companies, who focused on having retail outlets in shopping malls. Suddenly the malls are closed, so we’ve been able to sign some of the bigger retail outlet groups in the market as well.”

The company’s clients range in size from SMEs to some of the region’s largest tech players, including Traveloka, Wise, Wish and Grab. Digital payments in most Southeast Asian markets are extremely fragmented, with consumers using everything from digital wallets, buy-now-pay-later services and virtual accounts to traditional debit and credit cards.

Xendit’s solutions let businesses accept payments from many of these methods through three integration options. These include live URLs that sellers can message to a customer for payment; web and mobile checkouts that work with e-commerce platform plug-ins; and APIs.

Though it is best known as a payment infrastructure provider, referring to itself as “a Stripe alternative build for Indonesia and Southeast Asia” on its website, Xendit is also working on other services. “In Southeast Asia, you can’t just focus on one thing, you can’t just focus on payments,” said Wijaya. “You want to focus on being this platform for every merchant to get onboard, and to never leave whenever they transact digitally.”

For example, Xendit is experimenting with working capital loans for merchants, and also exploring credit card issuing with partners, since credit card penetration is still very low in Indonesia and the Philippines. “For merchants to come online, they don’t just need payments, they need to be able to do things like subscribe to Shopify or subscribe to Google Suite, to be able to support being digital-first.”

Xendit’s expansion strategy into new markets, like Malaysia and Vietnam, will rely on solving problems that are unique to each market. For example, Wijaya said disbursements, including marketplace refunds, were difficult in Indonesia, so Xendit focused on fixing that. In the Philippines, on the other hand, “the real problem was accepting money,” so Xendit developed direct debit with Grab.

“I think the formula we had in the Philippines, which is hiring a lot of local people who understand the market rather than telling them what to do, has really worked for us, and that is how we’re going to continue our expansion plan,” she said.

Some of Xendit’s competitors in its current markets include Midtrans in Indonesia, which was acquired by Gojek in 2017, and PayMongo in the Philippines, which is backed by Stripe.

Xendit’s edge is combining a global approach with its intense focus on localization, Wijaya said. “One of our investors sent a survey to some potential customers, big merchants, and they said what they like about Xendit is because we have a full commitment to being on the ground. We’re not like players where expanding into one market means a sales team, and that’s it. When we expand somewhere, we really mean we’re going to expand. We’re going to hire partnership people, a customer success team there. We’re going to hire a whole team on the ground.”

In a press statement, Tiger Global Management partner Alex Cook said, “Xendit’s digital payments infrastructure, built specifically for Southeast Asia, is quickly becoming the standard for financial operations in the region. By providing a reliable and secure payment gateway, Xendit has created an on-ramp to the digital economy for businesses across the region.”

#asia, #fintech, #fundings-exits, #indonesia, #payments-infrastructure, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #the-philippines, #tiger-global, #xendit

Logistics robotics startup Ambi raises $26M

Five months ago, Ambi Robotics emerged from stealth with a $6 million raise. Today the Bay Area-based firm is back with several times that, announcing a $26 million Series A, led by Tiger Global. The new round also features participation from existing investors, including Bow Capital, Vertex Ventures US and The House Fund.

The startup first hit our radar through the involvement of UC Berkeley (and frequent TC Sessions: Robotics guest Ken Goldberg). Ambi operates in the pick and place robotics space — it’s a crowded category, but one with an intense level of interest, as more warehouse and fulfillment centers are accelerating toward automation after the shutdowns of the past year.

Ambi has already enlisted some high-profile partners, including Pitney Bowes. In spite of only coming out of stealth in April, the robotics startup began deploying its first systems — including the AmbiSort and AmbiKit — in October of last year, ahead of the massive holiday rush.


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The company’s primary differentiation is in the AI that powers its picking robotics system.

“Ambi Robotics combines cutting-edge AI technology with engaging user interfaces to transform the role of ‘item handlers’ to ‘robot handlers,’ ” CEO Jim Liefer said in a release. “With our Series A funding, we will be able to empower more companies to help their associates work harmoniously alongside robots.”

This latest round will go toward scaling both the systems and the team of humans that build them, and deploying additional units.

#ambi-robotics, #logistics, #recent-funding, #robotics, #startups, #tiger-global

Freshworks aims for nearly $9 billion valuation in US IPO

Freshworks disclosed on Monday that it is aiming for a valuation of up to $9 billion in its US initial public offering in which it is hoping to raise over $800 million.

The California-based firm, which started its journey in India and rivals Salesforce, said it plans to sell 28.5 million shares at a price range of $28 to $32. If the firm is able to sell its shares at the top range, it will raise $912 million. Freshworks had originally filed paperworks for its IPO in late August, but hadn’t disclosed several figures.

The 11-year-old firm was last valued at $3.5 billion in a financing round in November 2019. The startup considered raising a pre-IPO round earlier this year at a valuation of over $5 billion but decided against it, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

Freshworks, which counts Accel, Sequoia Capital India, Tiger Global, and CapitalG among its existing investors, develops and offers a variety of business software tools, from CRM to help-desk software. In recent years, it has built enterprise SaaS platform to give customers a set of integrated business tools and aggressively pursued expansion in broadening its products offering.

The startup, which has applied to list its shares on Nasdaq under the symbol FRSH, serves over 50,000 customers and its revenue in the six months of the year grew to $169 million, up from $11 million during the same period last year. At the same time, its net loss dropped to $9.8 million from $57 million a year ago.

“First, based on industry research from International Data Corporation (IDC), we believe we have a large addressable market of approximately $120 billion,” the firm said in an updated S-1 filing on Monday.

“Second, based on our internal data and analysis, we estimate the annual potential market opportunity for our products to be $77 billion. […] We expect our estimated market opportunity will continue to expand as customers onboard more or expand usage of our products, increasing the weighted average ARR per customer for use of our products.”

TechCrunch recently spoke with Freshworks co-founder and chief executive Girish Mathrubootham about the business. Mathrubootham is one of the most respected entrepreneurs in India. Along with three friends, Mathrubootham launched an $85 million venture fund in late July this year to back early-stage SaaS startups.

#accel, #capitalg, #freshworks, #fundings-exits, #salesforce, #sequoia-capital-india, #tc, #tiger-global

Snyk snags another $530M as valuation rises to $8.4B

Snyk, the Boston-based late-stage startup that is trying to help developers deliver more secure code, announced another mega-round today. This one was for $530 million, with $300 million in new money and $230 million in secondary funding, the latter of which is to help employees and early investors cash in some of their stock options.

The long list of investors includes an interesting mix of public investors, VC firms and strategics. Sands Capital Ventures and Tiger Global led the round, with participation from new investors Baillie Gifford, Koch Industries, Lone Pine Capital, T. Rowe Price and Whale Rock Capital Management. Existing investors also came along for the ride, including Accel, Addition, Alkeon, Atlassian Ventures, BlackRock, Boldstart Ventures, Canaan Partners, Coatue, Franklin Templeton, Geodesic Capital, Salesforce Ventures and Temasek.

This round brings the total raised in funding to $775 million, excluding secondary rounds, according to the company. With secondary rounds, it’s up to $1.3 billion, according to Crunchbase data. The company has been raising funds at a rapid clip (note that the last three rounds include the Snyk money plus secondary rounds):

Snyk's last four funding rounds

While the company wouldn’t share specific revenue figures, it did say that ARR has grown 158% YoY; given the confidence of this list of investors and the valuation, it would suggest the company is making decent money.

Snyk CEO Peter McKay says that the additional money gives him flexibility to make some acquisitions if the right opportunity comes along, what companies often refer to as “inorganic” growth. “We do believe that a portion of this money will be for inorganic expansion. We’ve made three acquisitions at this point and all three have been very, very successful for us. So it’s definitely a muscle that we’ve been developing,” McKay told me.

The company started this year with 400 people and McKay says they expect to double that number by the end of this year. He says that when it comes to diversity, the work is never really done, but it’s something he is working hard at.

“We’ve been able to build a lot of good programs around the world to increase that diversity and our culture has always been inclusive by nature because we’re highly distributed.” He added, “I’m not by any means saying we’re even remotely close to where we want to be. So I want to make that clear. There’s a lot we still have to do,” he said.

McKay says that today’s investment gives him added flexibility to decide when to take the company public because whenever that happens it won’t have to be because they need another fundraising event. “This raise has allowed us to set up with strong, highly reputable public investors, and it gives us the financial resources to pick the timing. We are in control of when we do it and we will do it when it’s right,” he said.

#boston-startups, #developer, #funding, #recent-funding, #sands-capital-ventures, #security, #snyk, #startups, #tiger-global

Indian crypto exchange CoinSwitch Kuber in talks to raise funds at unicorn valuation

Indian crypto exchange CoinSwitch Kuber is in advanced stages of talks to raise a new financing round at up to $2 billion in valuation, several sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

If the talks materialize in a deal, CoinSwitch Kuber will become the second crypto startup in the world’s second largest internet market to attain the unicorn status.

The four-year-old startup, which counts Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital India, and Ribbit Capital among its existing investors, was valued at over $500 million valuation in its Series B financing round in April this year.

It’s unclear who is positioning to lead the round. The firm has engaged closely with Andreessen Horowitz and Coinbase in recent weeks, several people aware of those discussions told TechCrunch.

A deal may finalize within this month, sources said. The size of the deal, according to one source, is over $100 million.

The startup declined to comment. Coinbase and A16z, which has yet to back any Indian startup, did not respond to a request for comment Monday. Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital India did not respond to a request for comment last week.

The investment talks come at a time when CoinSwitch Kuber has almost doubled its userbase in recent months — even as local authorities push back against crypto assets. Its eponymous app had over 7 million monthly active users in India last month, up from about 4 million in April this year, according to mobile insight platform App Annie (data of which an industry exec shared with TechCrunch).

B Capital backed CoinSwitch Kuber’s rival CoinDCX last month in a $90 million round that valued the Indian startup at about $1.1 billion.

Policymakers in India have been debating on the status of digital currencies in the South Asian market for several years. India’s central bank, Reserve Bank of India, has expressed concerns about private virtual currencies though it is planning to run trial programs of its first digital currency as soon as December.

More than two dozen Indian startups have become a unicorn this year, up from 11 last year, as several high-profile investors, including Tiger Global, SoftBank and Falcon Edge, have increased the pace of their investments in the South Asian market. TechCrunch reported last week that Tiger Global is engaging with Apna to fund a new round that values the 21-month-old Indian firm at over $1 billion.

#a16z, #andreessen-horowitz, #asia, #coinbase, #coinswitch-kuber, #cryptocurrency, #funding, #india, #sequoia-capital, #tc, #tiger-global

For VCs, the game right now is musical chairs

In many ways, there has never been a better time to be a venture capitalist. Nearly everyone in the industry is raking in money, either through long-awaited exits or because more capital flooding into the industry has meant more money in management fees  — and sometimes both.

Still, a growing number of early-stage investors are becoming wary about the pace of dealmaking. It’s not just that it’s a lot harder to write checks at what feels like a reasonable clip at the moment, or that most VCs feel they can no longer afford to be price sensitive. Many of the founders with whom they work are being handed follow-on checks before figuring out how best to deploy their last round of funding.

Consider that from 2016 through 2019, an average of 35 deals a month featured rounds of $100 million or more, according to the data company CB Insights. This year, that number is closer to 130 of these so-called mega-rounds per month. The froth is hardly contained to maturing companies. According to CB Insights’s data, the median U.S. Series A valuation hit $42 million in the second quarter, driven in part crossover investors like Tiger Global, which closed 1.26 deals per business day in Q2. (Andreessen Horowitz wasn’t far behind.)

It makes for some bewildering times, including for longtime investor Jeff Clavier, the founder the early-stage venture firm Uncork Capital. Like many of his peers, Clavier is benefiting from the booming market. Among Uncork’s portfolio companies, for example is LaunchDarkly, a company that helps software developers avoid missteps. The seven-year-old company announced $200 million in Series D funding last month at a $3 billion valuation. That’s triple the valuation it was assigned early last year.

“It’s an awesome company, so I’m very excited for them,” says Clavier.

At the same time, he adds, “You have to put this money to work in a very smart way.”

That’s not so easy in this market, where founders are inundated with interest and, in some cases, are talking term sheets after the first Zoom with an investor. (“The most absurd thing we’ve heard are funds that are making decisions after a 30-minute call with the founder,” says TX Zhou, the cofounder of L.A.-based seed-stage firm Fika Ventures, which itself just tripled the amount of assets it’s managing.)

More money can mean a much longer lifeline for a company. But as many investors have learned the hard way, it can also serve as a distraction, as well as hide fundamental issues with a business until it’s too late to address them.

Taking on more money also oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with a bigger valuation, and lofty valuations comes with their own positives and negatives. On the plus side, of course, big numbers can attract more attention to a company from the press, from customers, and from potential new hires.  At the same time, “The more money you raise, the higher the valuation it is, it catches up with you on the next round, because you got to clear that watermark,” says Renata Quintini of the venture firm Renegade Partners, which focuses largely on Series B-stage companies.

Again, in today’s market, trying to slow down isn’t always possible. Quintini says that some founders her firm has talked with have said that they’re not going to raise any more, explaining that they cannot go faster or deploy more than their business model is already supporting For others, she continues, “You’ve got to look at what’s happening around you, and sometimes if your competitors are raising and they’re going to have a bigger war chest and [they’re] pushing the market forward and maybe they can out-hire you or they can outspend you in certain areas where they can generate more traction than you,” that next check, often at the higher valuation, begins to look like the only path to survival.

Many VCs have argued that today’s valuations make sense because companies are creating new markets, growing faster than before, and have more opportunities to expand globally, and certainly, in some cases, that it is true. Indeed, companies that were previously believed to be richly priced by their private investors, like Airbnb and Doordash, have seen their valuations soar as publicly traded companies.

Yet it’s also true that for many more companies, “valuation is completely disconnected from the [companies’] multiples,” says Clavier, echoing what other VCs acknowledge privately.

That might seem to be the kind of problem that investors love to face. But as been the case for years now, that depends on how long this go-go market lasts.

Clavier says that one of his own companies that “did a great Series A and did a great Series B ahead of its time is now being preempted for a Series C, and the valuation is just completely disconnected from their actual reality.”

He says he’s happy for the outfit “because I have no doubt they will catch up. But this is the point: they will have to catch up.”

For more from our conversation with Clavier, you can listen here.

#fika-ventures, #jeff-clavier, #renata-quintini, #renegade-partners, #tc, #tiger-global, #tx-zhou, #uncork-capital, #venture-capital

Tiger Global in talks to make Apna India’s fastest unicorn

Apna, a 21-month-old startup that is helping millions of blue and gray-collar workers in India upskill themselves, find communities and land jobs, is inching closer to becoming the fastest tech firm in the world’s second largest internet market to become a unicorn.

Tiger Global is in advanced stages of talks to lead a $100 million round in Apna, according to four sources familiar with the matter. The proposed terms value the startup at over $1 billion, the sources said.

The round hasn’t closed yet so terms of the deal may change, some of the sources cautioned.

If the round materializes, Apna will become the youngest Indian startup to attain the much coveted unicorn status. The startup, which launched its app in December 2019, was valued at $570 million in its Series B financing round in June this year. It will also be the third financing round Apna would have secured in a span of less than seven months.

Tiger Global, an existing investor in Apna, didn’t respond to a request for comment earlier this month. Apna founder and chief executive Nirmit Parikh, an Apple alum, declined to comment on Tuesday.

Indian cities are home to hundreds of millions of low-skilled workers who hail from villages in search of work. Many of them have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic that has slowed several economic activities in the world’s second-largest internet market.

Apna, whose name is inspired from a 2019 Bollywood song, is building a scalable networking infrastructure so that these workers can connect to the right employers and secure jobs. On its eponymous Android app, users also upskill themselves, review their interview skills, and become eligible for more jobs.

As of June this year, Apna had amassed over 10 million users and was facilitating more than 15 million job interviews each month. All jobs listed on the Apna platform are verified by the startup and free of cost for the candidates.

The startup has also partnered with some of India’s leading public and private organizations and is providing support to the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India, National Skill Development Corporation and UNICEF YuWaah to provide better skilling and job opportunities to candidates.

The investment talks further illustrate Tiger Global’s growing interest in India. The New York-headquartered firm has made several high-profile investments in India this year including in BharatPe, Gupshup, DealShare, Classplus, Urban Company, Coinswitch Kuber, and Groww.

More than two dozen Indian startups have become a unicorn this year, up from 11 last year, as several high-profile investors including Tiger Global, SoftBank, and Falcon Edge have increased the pace of their investments in the world’s second most populous nation.

Apna also counts Insight Partners, Lightspeed, and Sequoia Capital among its existing investors.

#apna, #asia, #funding, #india, #tc, #tiger-global

The SEC and the DOJ just charged this startup founder with fraud, saying he lied to Tiger and others

Today, both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Manish Lachwani, cofounder of a mobile app testing company Headspin, with fraud. The SEC says he violated antifraud provisions and the civil penalties it’s seeking include a permanent injunction, a conduct-based injunction, and an officer and director bar of Lachwani.

The DOJ, which actually arrested Lachwani today, has accused him of one count of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud, and the associated penalties if he’s found guilty are are more harsh, including, for wire fraud, a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. If he’s found guilty of securities fraud, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $5,000,000.

Both the the SEC and the DOJ say Lachwani — who led the six-year-old company as CEO until May of last year — defrauded investors out of $80 million by falsely claiming that his company, Headspin, had “achieved strong and consistent growth in acquiring customers and generating revenue” when he was pitching its Series C round to potential backers.

By the SEC’s telling, his apparent bluster was largely an attempt to secure the round at a so-called unicorn valuation. That apparent plan worked, too, with Palo Alto-based Headspin attracting coverage in Forbes in February of last year after Dell Technologies Capital, Iconiq Capital and Tiger Global provided the company with $60 million in Series C funding at a $1.16 billion valuation. Forbes reported at the time that the valuation was double the valuation investors  assigned HeadSpin when it closed its Series B round in October 2018.

The SEC also says that Lachwani was looking to enrich himself, saying he did so “by selling $2.5 million of his HeadSpin shares in a fundraising round during which he made misrepresentations to an existing HeadSpin investor.” (It isn’t clear from its complaint whether the SEC is referring to the Series C or an earlier round.)

The DOJ’s federal complaint suggests that Lachwani’s alleged scheme dates back to at least November 2019, when the company was fundraising. It’s then that the success of Headspin — a six-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca., startup that helps apps and devices work in different environments around the world – was being knowingly misrepresented to investors by Lachwani, according to the DOJ.

More specifically, the complaint alleges that “in materials and presentations to potential investors, Lachwani reported false revenue and overstated key financial metrics of the company. . . he maintained control over operations, sales, and record-keeping, including invoicing, and he was the final decision maker on what revenue was booked and included in the company’s financial records.”

It says that in its investigation, the FBI discovered “multiple examples” of Lachwani “instructing employees to include revenue from potential customers that inquired but did not engage Headspin, from past customers who no longer did business with Headspin, and from existing customers whose business was far less than the reported revenue.”

Among other materials, Lachwani “provided investors false information that overstated Headspin’s annual recurring revenue . . . by approximately $51 to $55 million,” says the DOJ.

According to the complaint, Lachwani’s fraud unraveled after the company’s board of directors conducted an internal investigation that revealed significant issues with HeadSpin’s reporting of customer deals and revised HeadSpin’s valuation down from $1.1 billion to $300 million.

Indeed, in August of last year, The Information reported that “after an internal review of financial irregularities forced [Headspin] to restate its financials,” the company planned to lower the value of its Series C stock by nearly 80%.

The outlet reported at the time that Lachwani had been replaced by another executive. That person, according to LinkedIn, is Rajeev Butani, who joined Headspin as its chief sales officer around the time its Series C round was being announced in February of last year.

Nikesh Arora, a former SoftBank president, the current CEO and chairman of Palo Alto Networks, and a now-former board member of Headspin, helped lead the internal review, said The Information.

The SEC’s investigation is continuing, it says. Meanwhile, the DOJ notes in its announcement that “a complaint merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Either way, the outlook doesn’t look very promising right now for Lachwani, who, according to Forbes, previously sold a mobile cloud business to Google and wound up co-founding Headspin after Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang introduced him to Brien Colwell, a former Palantir and Quora engineer was working at the time on a different startup.

Colwell remains with Headspin as its CTO. He has not been named in either the SEC or the DOJ’s complaints relating to Headspin.

The company itself, which has reportedly been cooperating with the government’s investigation, was also not charged.

Pictured above, left to right, Headspin founders Lachwani and Colwell.

#crime, #dell-technologies-capital, #doj, #headspin, #iconiq-capital, #manish-lachwani, #mobile-apps, #sec, #securities-fraud, #series-b, #startups, #tc, #tiger-global, #venture-capital, #wire-fraud

D2C specs purveyor Warby Parker files to go public

Did you miss IPOs? I sure did. They could be coming back after a summer lull.

Warby Parker, a D2C glasses company backed by over a half-billion dollars of private capital, filed to go public yesterday. For investors like General Catalyst, Tiger Global and Durable Capital Partners, it’s an important debut. Having taken on equity capital since at least 2011, investors have been waiting a long time for Warby to float.


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And there’s quite a lot to like about the company, the first parse of its IPO filing reveals. There are some less attractive elements to its business worth discussing, and we need to examine how COVID-19 impacted the company’s 2020 performance.

Warby last raised known private capital in August 2020, a $120 million Series G that valued the company at just over $3 billion on a post-money basis. D1 Capital Partners led that transaction, which included both Durable Capital and Baillie Gifford.

For D2C startups, the Warby IPO is something of a do-over. The Casper IPO from early 2020 is now a cautionary tale for companies employing the business model; the company reduced its IPO range, priced at $12 per share and today trades for just over $5.

But there’s more to Warby Parker’s IPO than just the D2C category. It’s a public benefit corporation, which it says in its filing means that it is “focused on positively impacting all stakeholders” as opposed to merely shareholders. And the company has a charitable bent to its efforts through a foundation and donation model of giving away eyewear when customers purchase their own set. Warby also has a hybrid sales model, leaning on both IRL and digital retail channels. There’s lots to dig into.

So let’s parse Warby’s growth history, its profitability progress over time and how the company is blending IRL shopping with digital channels. We’ll close by examining just how the company was priced last year, taking a guess at what it might be worth in today’s public markets.

Inside Warby Parker’s historical growth

Looking at Warby’s full-year results for 2020 is not inspiring. The company grew well from 2018 to 2019, expanding from $272.9 million in revenue to $370.5 million in revenue, or around 36%. That’s not an astounding pace of growth, but it’s more than respectable for a company of Warby’s age and size.

Then in 2020 the company only managed to eke out 6% growth to $393.7 million in top line. What happened to slow the company’s growth rate from Just Fine to Not Fine At All? COVID, it appears.

#baillie-gifford, #d1-capital-partners, #durable-capital-partners, #eyewear, #fundings-exits, #general-catalyst, #ipo, #luxottica, #retail, #startups, #tc, #the-exchange, #tiger-global, #warby-parker

Brazilian fintech Cora raises $116M Series B as Tiger Global, Tencent sign on as investors alongside Greenoaks

Cora, a Brazilian digital lender to small-and-medium-sized businesses, has raised $116 million in a Series B round led by Greenoaks Capital.

This is a large Series B by any standards, but particularly so for a Latin American startup. It’s also notable that São Paulo-based Cora only raised its $26.7 million Series A round — led by Silicon Valley VC firm Ribbit Capital — in early April. The startup has now raised a total of $152.7 million since its 2019 inception.

The company wasn’t actively in the market, according to CEO and co-founder Igor Senra, but was approached by existing backer Greenoaks and other investors.

In fact, Tiger Global and Tencent are first-time backers in Cora with this latest round, joining existing investors Greenoaks, Kaszek, QED and Ribbit Capital.

“Greenoaks came to us and said they were very impressed, and ready to lead our Series B,” Senra said. “Their main goal was they didn’t want us to spend time on fundraising, but instead stay focused on building the company.”

The pattern is similar to previous ones for Cora, which saw existing backers lead its previous rounds as well, which the company sees as a “strong signal that everything is going in the right direction.” The company declined to comment on valuation.

Last year, Cora got its license approved from the Central Bank of Brazil, making it a 403 bank. The fintech then launched its product in October 2020 and today offers a checking account combined with a software layer that aims to help SMBs manage their financials. It is currently in beta with a limited group of users for a corporate credit card. 

Image Credits: Cora

“Credit limits in general increase as customers use their accounts to receive money and pay their expenses,” he said. “We see this product evolving over time to solve all the financial needs that a small business owner could have.”

Since its launch last October, Cora has been growing its customers 40% per month, according to Senra. During that same period, the company has seen its transaction value/revenue grow by nearly 60% monthly. Today, the startup has more than 120,000 customers.

“It’s nice to see that volume is growing even higher than our customer base,” Senra told TechCrunch. “Our business must gain trust in order to gain volume. Once our customer base believes we are doing a good job serving them, the way to demonstrate that is to give us more volume.”

The company says it is not yet profitable because it’s focused on growth.

“But we already have a positive unit economics per customer,” Senra added.

Like a number of other fintechs, Cora’s model is that most of its offerings are free for its customers but it mostly makes money off of interchange fees.

For now, the company is focused on growing in Brazil, which is large and complex enough, Senra noted. It may consider going abroad in three to four years, he said.

Currently, Cora has 150 employees, up from 68 at the end of last year and 40 a year ago. About 130 of its employees are “partners” in the company, Senra said.

Looking ahead, the startup plans to use its new capital toward product development, growth, operations and building out a credit offering. It is using the data it is generating “to provide way better credit” for its customers, Senra said, starting with credit cards, then receivables and other kinds of credit such as emergency credit or credit for investments.

 “We’re trying to deeply understand our customers’ needs and trying to create products they love,” Senra told TechCrunch. “We consider ourselves the opposite of traditional banks, which are usually not good at taking care of their customers.”

For now, Cora is focused on the B2B service providers, but Senra expects that by the beginning of next year, it can start exploring “other segments” such as other kinds of SMBs.

“There is a total addressable market of 5 million companies, so there is a lot of room to grow,” he added. “But we are pushing ourselves to expand other verticals.”

For its part, Patrick Backhouse of Greenoaks Capital believes that Brazil has an “enormous” SME economy that has historically been “underserved by incumbent banks.”

“Existing services are expensive and inefficient, creating opportunities for technology enabled service providers to offer better and cheaper services,” he said. “We believe Cora is a once in a generation company building efficient digital finance tools for small businesses. Since investing in the company’s Series A, we’ve seen accelerated momentum and proof that this is an enormous addressable market.”

#brazil, #cora, #finance, #fintech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #greenoaks-capital, #igor-senra, #latin-america, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #tencent, #tiger-global, #venture-capital

Shelf.io closes huge $52.5M Series B after posting 4x ARR growth in the last year

Covering public companies can be a bit of a drag. They grow some modest amount each year, and their constituent analysts pester them with questions about gross margin expansion and sales rep efficiency. It can be a little dull. Then there are startups, which grow much more quickly — and are more fun to talk about.

That’s the case with Shelf.io. The company announced an impressive set of metrics this morning, including that from July 2020 to July 2021, it grew its annual recurring revenue (ARR) 4x. Shelf also disclosed that it secured a $52.5 million Series B led by Tiger Global and Insight Partners.

That’s quick growth for a post-Series A startup. Crunchbase reckons that the company raised $8.2 million before its Series B, while PitchBook pegs the number at $6.5 million. Regardless, the company was efficiently expanding from a limited capital base before its latest fundraising event.

What does the company’s software do? Shelf plugs into a company’s information systems, learns from the data, and then helps employees respond to queries without forcing them to execute searches or otherwise hunt for information.

The company is starting with customer service as its target vertical. According to Shelf CEO Sedarius Perrotta, Shelf can absorb information from, say, Salesforce, SharePoint, legacy knowledge management platforms, and Zendesk. Then, after training models and staff, the company’s software can begin to provide support staff with answers to customer questions as they talk to customers in real time.

The company’s tech can also power responses to customer queries not aimed at a human agent and provide a searchable database of company knowledge to help workers more quickly solve customer issues.

Per Perrotta, Shelf is targeting the sales market next, with others to follow. How might Shelf fit into sales? According to the company, its software may be able to offer staff already-written proposals for similar-seeming deals and other related content. The gist is that at companies that have lots of workers doing similar tasks — clicking around in Salesforce, or answering support queries, say — Shelf can learn from the activity and get smarter in helping employees with their tasks. I presume that the software’s learning ability will improve over time, as well.

Shelf, around 100 people today, hopes to double in size by the end of the year, and then double again next year.

That’s where the new capital comes in. Hiring folks in the worlds of machine learning and data science is very expensive. And because the company wants to scale those hires quickly, it will need a large bank balance to lean on.

Quick ARR growth was not the only reason why Shelf was able to secure such an outsized Series B, at least when compared to how much capital it had raised before. Per Perrotta, Shelf has 130% net dollar retention and no churn to report, meaning its customers are both sticky and expand organically.

While Shelf is interesting today and has certainly found niches it can sell into in its current form, I am more curious about how far the company can take its machine learning system, called MerlinAI. If its tech can get sufficiently smart, its ability to prompt and help employees could reduce onboarding time and the overall cost of employee training. That would be a huge market.

This is the sort of deal that we expect to see Tiger in — an outsized investment compared to prior rounds into a high-growth company that has lots of market room. Whatever price Tiger just paid for the company’s stock, a few years of continued growth should de-risk the investment. By our read, Tiger is really just the market-leading bull on software market growth in the long term. Shelf fits into that thesis neatly.

#artificial-intelligence, #fundings-exits, #insight-partners, #knowledge-management, #machine-learning, #shelf, #startups, #tc, #tiger-global

Tiger Global backs Nacelle with $50M for its e-commerce infrastructure

Consumer shift to buying online during the global pandemic — and keeping that habit — continues to boost revenue for makers of developer tools that help e-commerce sites provide better shopping experiences.

LA-based Nacelle is one of the e-commerce infrastructure companies continuing to attract investor attention, and at a speedy clip, too. It closed on a $50 million Series B round from Tiger Global. This is just six months after its $18 million Series A round, led by Inovia, and follows a $4.8 million seed round in 2020.

The company is working in “headless” commerce, which means it is disconnecting the front end of a website, a.k.a. the storefront, from the back end, where all of the data lives, to create a better shopping experience, CEO Brian Anderson told TechCrunch. By doing this, the back end of the store, essentially where all the magic happens, can be updated and maintained without changing the front end.

“Online shopping is not new, but how the customer relates to it keeps changing,” he said. “The technology for online shopping is not up to snuff — when you click on something, everything has to reload compared to an app like Instagram.”

More people shopping on their mobile devices creates friction due to downloading an app for each brand. That is “sucking the fun out of shopping online,” because no one wants that many apps on their phone, Anderson added.

Steven Kramer, board member and former EVP of Hybris, said via email that over the past two decades, the e-commerce industry went through several waves of innovation. Now, maturing consumer behaviors and expectations are accelerating the current phase.

“Retailers and brands are struggling with adopting the latest technologies to meet today’s requirements of agility, speed and user experience,” Kramer added. “Nacelle gives organizations a future-proof way to accelerate their innovation, leverage existing investments and do so with material ROI.”

Data already shows that COVID-era trends accelerated e-commerce by roughly five years, and Gartner predicts that 50% of new commerce capabilities will be incorporated as API-centric SaaS services by 2023.

Those kinds of trends are bringing in competitors that are also attracting investor attention — for example, Shopistry, Swell, Fabric, Commerce Layer and Vue Storefront are just a few of the companies that raised funding this year alone.

Anderson notes that the market continues to be hot and one that can’t be ignored, especially as the share of online retail sales grows. He explained that some of his competitors force customers to migrate off of their current tech stack and onto their respective platforms so that their users can get a good customer experience. In contrast, Nacelle enables customers to keep their tech stack and put components together as they see fit.

“That is painful in any vertical, but especially for e-commerce,” he said. “That is your direct line to revenue.”

Meanwhile, Nacelle itself grew 690% in the past year in terms of revenue, and customers are signing multiyear contracts, Anderson said.

Anderson, who is an engineer by trade, wants to sink his teeth into new products as adoption of headless commerce grows. These include providing a dynamic layer of functionality on top of the tech stack for storefronts that are traditionally static, and even introducing some livestream capabilities later this year.

As such, Nacelle will invest the new round into its go-to-market strategy and expand its customer success, partner relations and product development. He said Nacelle is already “the de facto standard” for Shopify Plus merchants going headless.

“We want to put everything in a tailor-made API for e-commerce that lets front-end developers do their thing with ease,” Anderson added. “We also offer starter kits for merchants as a starting point to get up-and-running.”

#api, #apps, #brian-anderson, #ecommerce, #enterprise, #funding, #headless-commerce, #hybris, #merchandising, #mobile-device, #nacelle, #online-shopping, #recent-funding, #retail, #startups, #steven-kramer, #tc, #tiger-global

Rapid Robotics raises another $36.7M

Rapid Robotics announced a $12 million Series A all the way back in April 2021. Four months later, the Bay Area-based robotic manufacturing firm is back with a $36.7 million Series B, led by Kleiner Perkins and Tiger Global. The round, which also features existing investors NEA, Greycroft, Bee Partners and 468 Capital, brings the company’s total funding up to $54.2 million.

The funding values the startup at $192.5 million — an impressive figure for a firm that was raising its seed in 2020. The Series B is Rapid’s third (!) in less than a year, no doubt spurred on by the immense interest in robotics and automation being fueled by a seemingly endless global pandemic.

As companies look for alternatives to “non-essential” workers, investments in these technologies have only accelerated. Manufacturing bottlenecks throughout the pandemic have also brought into sharp focus the need for flexible and global production.

Rapid’s value prop is a Rapid Machine Operator (RMO) robot that can be deployed in a manufacturing setting in a matter of hours, without the need for programming and other robotics knowledge. The system is available under the RaaS (robotics as a service) model for $25,000 a year. The system is flexible and can be assigned various tasks — a nice feature for companies that can’t afford devoted systems.

“We hear a lot about the semiconductor shortage, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Contract manufacturers can’t produce gaskets, vials, labels — you name it,” CEO Jordan Kretchmer said in a release tied to the news. “I’ve seen cases where the inability to produce a single piece of U-shaped black plastic brought an entire auto line to a halt.”

Automotive is a target for Rapid, though the company notes that Bay Area-based health company TruePill is now employing its systems to fill and label prescription bottles.

#kleiner-perkins, #manufacturing, #rapid-robotics, #recent-funding, #robotics, #startups, #tiger-global

Brazil’s Nuvemshop raises $500M at a $3.1B valuation months after last raise

Just five months after raising $90M, Brazil’s Nuvemshop announced today it has raised $500 million in a round co-led by Insight Partners and Tiger Global Management.

The financing values Nuvemshop – which some say is Latin America’s answer to Shopify – at $3.1 billion and brings the Sao Paulo-based startup’s total funding in the last 10 months to more than $620 million.

Sunley House Capital and VMG Partners, as well as existing backers Accel, Kaszek, Kevin Efrusy, Qualcomm Ventures LLC and ThornTree Capital also participated in the latest round.

Nuvemshop (also known as Tiendanube in Spanish speaking countries) aims to give entrepreneurs a way to build and grow online businesses. The company’s platform serves more than 90,000 merchants across Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, ranging from direct-to-consumer (DTC) upstarts to more established brands such as PlayMobil, Billabong, Colombraro, Zaira Beauty, Osram, Lolja, Vitabe and StrappyCo. That’s up from 20,000 merchants at the start of 2020 and 80,000 at the time of its last raise in March.

Rather than selling their goods on existing marketplaces (such as Mercado Libre, the Brazilian equivalent of Amazon), many merchants and entrepreneurs are opting to start and grow their own online businesses, according to Nuvemshop co-founder and CEO Santiago Sosa.

“Most merchants have entered the internet by selling on marketplaces but we are hearing from newer generations of merchants and SMBs that they don’t want to be intermediated anymore,” he said. “They want to connect more directly with consumers and convey their own brand, image and voice.”

Virtually every KPI tripled in the company in 2020 as the world saw a massive transition to online, and Nuvemshop’s platform was home to 14 million transactions last year, according to Sosa.

Earlier this year Nuvemshop launched a beta version of its own payments solution platform for merchants that is designed to allow for “faster and more secure” purchases. It also reflects the Latin American consumers’ approach to paying for retail purchases over time. In fact, the company says that 70% of the credit card transactions on its platform happen via installments. The new product will be made broadly available to all merchants over the course of the next year.

Nuvemshop says that its logistics capabilities allow merchants to deliver directly to consumers via partnerships and integrations with what would otherwise be a highly fragmented network of carriers. The company plans to keep broadening its set of warehouse and carrier partners with the goal of driving down the click-to-delivery time in most regions — now typically 5 to 6 days — to an eventual goal of the 1- or 2-day delivery, which is now standard in the U.S.

“With 650 million consumers, Latin America is not only a huge market, but it is the fastest growing e-commerce market in the world,” said Matt Gatto, managing director at Insight Partners.

Accel Partner Ethan Choi believes the Latin American e-commerce market has the potential to be just as big as the U.S. market in the future.

“Given the rapid adoption of e-commerce, we believe Nuvemshop has the potential to be one of the most important companies in the region,
he told TechCrunch. “Looking at Shopify’s $185 billion market cap gives you a sense of what’s possible if you’re the leading eCommerce player in a big market like the U.S.”

The new capital will go toward growth in Nuvemshop’s existing markets and support expansion into new countries such as Colombia, Chile and Perú. Nuvemshop will also work to expand its capabilities to serve larger merchants by expanding its sales and customer support staff, as well as continuing to invest in resources and support for its app partners and agencies. The company additionally plans to accelerate its payment and logistics capabilities, and will use the fresh capital in part toward some acquisitions.

The company currently has more than 600 employees and offices in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.

#brazil, #ecommerce, #funding, #fundings-exits, #insight-partners, #nuvemshop, #recent-funding, #startups, #tiger-global, #venture-capital

xentral, an ERP platform for SMBs, raises $75M Series B from Tiger Global and Meritech

Enterprise Resource Planning systems have traditionally been the preserve of larger companies, but in recent years the amount of data small medium sized businesses can generate has increased to the point where even SMEs/SMBs can get into the world of ERP. And that’s especially true for online-only businesses.

At the beginning of the year we covered the $20 million Series A funding of Xentral, a German startup that develops ERP for online small businesses, but it clearly didn’t plan to stop there.

It’s now raised a $75 million Series B funding from Tiger Global and Meritech, following up from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Visionaries Club (a B2B-focused VC out of Berlin), and Freigeist.

The cash will be used to enhance product, hire staff and expand the UK operation towards a more global ERP market, which is expected to reach $32 billion by 2023.

Speaking to me over a call, Benedikt Sauter, founder and CEO of central, said: “We hook into Shopify, eBay, Amazon, Magento, WooCommerce, and also CRM systems like Pipedrive to collect the software together in one place, and try to do it all automatically in the background so that companies can really focus. Our goal is that a business owner who decides on Friday that they need a flexible ERP can implement and configure xentral over the weekend and hand it over to their team on Monday.”

The German startup covers services like order and warehouse management, packaging, fulfillment, accounting, and sales management, and, right now, the majority of its 1,000 customers are in Germany. Customers include the likes of direct-to-consumer brands like YFood, KoRo, the Nu Company and Flyeralarm.

John Curtius, Partner at Tiger Global, said: “Our diligence has uncovered a delighted customer base at xentral and a product offering that has evolved into a true mission-critical platform for ecommerce merchants globally. We are excited to partner with such product visionaries as Benedikt and Claudia as the business scales to serve customers not only in Europe but around the globe in the future.”

Xentral was Sequoia’s first investment in Europe since officially opening for business in the region this year. Sequoia backed other European startups before, including Graphcore, Klarna, Tessian, Unity, UiPath, n8n, and Evervault — but all of those deals were done from the US. Sequoia and its new partner in Europe, Luciana Lixandru, is understood to be joining Xentral’s board along with Visionaries’ Robert Lacher.

Alex Clayton, General Partner at Meritech said: “Meritech invested in NetSuite in 2008 with the vision of bringing ERP to the cloud… We believe that xentral will bring automation to hundreds of thousands SME businesses, dramatically improving multi-channel processes and data management in an ever-growing e-commerce market.”

Sauter and his co-founder Claudia Sauter (who is also his wife) built the early prototype of central originally for their first business in computer hardware sales.

#amazon, #articles, #artificial-intelligence, #berlin, #business, #business-partner, #ceo, #co-founder, #crm, #data-management, #ebay, #erp-software, #europe, #general-partner, #germany, #graphcore, #klarna, #luciana-lixandru, #magento, #meritech, #netsuite, #online-payments, #partner, #pipedrive, #sequoia-capital, #shopify, #tc, #tiger-global, #uipath, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #visionaries-club, #woocommerce, #xentral, #yfood

#DealMonitor – Bitpanda bekommt 263 Millionen – Adverity sammelt 120 Millionen in – Tiger Global investiert 75 Millionen in xentral


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 17. August 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

Bitpanda
+++ Valar Ventures (Peter Thiel), LeadBlock Partners, Jump Capital, Alan Howard und Redo Ventures investieren 263 Millionen US-Dollar in Bitpanda. Die Bewertung steigt auf 4,1 Milliarden Dollar. Im März dieses Jahres wurde Bitpanda noch mit 1,2 Milliarden bewertet. Über die Plattform des Wiener Startups können Nutzer insbesondere Bitcoins und Gold handeln. Das FinTech wurde 2014 von Eric Demuth, Paul Klanschek und Christian Trummer gegründet und zählt nach eigenen Angaben mehr als 3 Millionen Nutzer. Rund 500 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für das FinTech. Zuletzt investierten Valar Ventures, DST Global und Co. 170 Millionen US-Dollar in Bitpanda. Davor pumpten Valar Ventures, Speedinvest und Hedosophia 52 Millionen Dollar in das junge Unternehmen. “The company will use the proceeds to strengthen its team and design the organisation for scale, while doubling down on state-of-the-art technology, international expansion and growth”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung. Mehr über Bitpanda

Adverity 
+++ SoftBank und der Altinvestor Sapphire Ventures investieren 120 Millionen US-Dollar in Adverity. Der amerikanische Geldgeber Sapphire Venturess, aws Gründerfonds, Felix Capital, Mangrove Capital Partners und SAP.iO investierten zuletzt 30 Millionen US-Dollar in die Jungfirma. Insgesamt flossen nun schon 165 Millionen US-Dollar in Adverity. Das Wiener Startup, das 2015 von Alexander Igelsböck, Martin Brunthaler und Andreas Glänzer gegründet wurde positioniert sich als Marketing-Analyseplattform. “Adverity erzielte zuletzt das beste Quartal seiner Unternehmensgeschichte und in den letzten vier Jahren eine durchschnittliche jährliche Wachstumsrate von 105 %. Das weltweit wachsende Team wurde seit 2019 um 300 % vergrößert”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Das frische Kapital soll insbesondere in die “Weiterentwicklung der Plattform, vor allem in den Ausbau und die Erweiterung der verfügbaren Konnektoren sowie in die künstliche Intelligenz, die proaktiv Antworten und Insights rund um Trends, Budgetverteilung und Marketingeffizienz” fließen. Mehr über Adverity

xentral
+++ Tiger Global und Meritech sowie die Altinvestoren Sequoia Capital, Visionaries Club und Freigeist (Frank Thelen) investieren – wie bereits im Insider-Podcast angedeutet – 75 Millionen US- Dollar in xentral. Der amerikanische Geldgeber Sequoia Capital und Visionaries Club investierten erst Anfang dieses Jahres 20 Millionen US-Dollar in das Unternehmen. Das von Benedikt und Claudia Sauter in Augsburg gegründete Unternehmen ist ein flexibles ERP-/CRM-System mit eigenem App-Store und bietet Schnittstellen zu allen gängigen Online-Shop-Systemen, Marktplätzen und Zahlungsanbietern. “Mit der Investition wird xentral seine Produktentwicklung vorantreiben und das Team erweitern”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung. 120 Mitarbeiter:innen wirken derzeit für xentral. Im Januar waren es gerade einmal 65. Mehr über xentral

Penta 
+++ Die Altinvestoren investieren weiter 15 Millionen Euro in Penta – siehe Finanz-Szene.de. “Der Unternehmenswert liege jetzt bei weit über 100 Millionen Euro, sagt ein Kenner der Vorgänge. Ein Sprecher bestätigte auf Anfrage die Höhe des Fundings”, heißt es im Artikel. ABN AMRO Ventures, finleap, HV Capital, RTP Global, Presight Capital, S7V und VR Ventures investierten zuletzt 7,5 Millionen in das Berliner FinTech. Über das Startup, das 2014 von Luka Ivicevic und Lav Odorovic gegründet wurde, können  Unternehmen über Penta ein Geschäftskonto beantragen. Insgesamt flossen nun schon rund 60 Millionen Euro in Penta. Mehr über Penta

FarmInsect
+++ Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) und Bayern Kapital, 5x Ventures, Genea Invest, die Initiative für Industrial Innovators und einige Business Angels investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in FarmInsect. Das junge AgriTech-Startup aus Bergkirchen, das 2020 von Thomas Kuehn, Wolfgang Westermeier und Andre Klöckner gegründet wurde, bietet eine Lösung für Landwirte an, um Insektenlarven aus Ernteresten herzustellen – samt lückenloser Rückverfolgung der Erntereste über eine IT-Plattform. Mehrere Business Angels investierten zuvor bereits eine sechsstellige Summe in FarmInsect. Mehr über FarmInsect

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

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

Foto (oben): azrael74

#5x-ventures, #adverity, #agritech, #aktuell, #augsburg, #bayern-kapital, #bergkirchen, #berlin, #bitpanda, #farminsect, #fintech, #frank-thelen, #freigeist, #genea-inves, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #initiative-for-industrial-innovators, #jump-capital, #leadblock-partners, #martech, #meritech, #penta, #redo-ventures, #sapphire-ventures, #sequoia-capital, #softbank, #tiger-global, #valar-ventures, #venture-capital, #visionaries-club, #wien, #xentral

Ultrahuman raises $17.5M, touting a wearable blood glucose tracker

Fitness platform Ultrahuman has officially announced a $17.5 million Series B fund raise, with investment coming from early stage fund Alpha Wave Incubation, Steadview Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, Blume Ventures and Utsav Somani’s iSeed fund.

A number of founders and angel investors also participated in the Bangalore-headquartered startup’s Series B, including Tiger Global’s Scott Schleifer, Deepinder Goyal (CEO of Zomato), Kunal Shah (CEO of Cred), and Gaurav Munjal and Romain Saini (the CEO and co-founders of unacademy), among others. The latest tranche of funding brings its total raised to date to $25M.

While the subscription platform has been around since 2019, offering a fairly familiar blend of home workout videos, mindfulness content, sleep sessions and heart rate tracking (integrating with third party wearables like the Apple Watch), its latest fitness tool looks rather more novel — as it’s designed for monitoring metabolic activity by tracking the user’s glucose levels (aka, blood sugar).

Keeping tabs on blood sugar is essential for people living with diabetes. But in the US alone millions of people are prediabetic — meaning they have a higher than normal level of blood glucose and are at risk of developing diabetes, though they may not know it yet.

More broadly, Ultrahuman claims over a billion people in the world suffer from a metabolic health disorder — underlining the scale of the potential addressable market it’s eyeing. 

Having sustained high blood glucose is associated with multiple health issues so managing the condition with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise is advisable. Lifestyle changes can reduce elevated blood glucose and shrink or even avoid negative health impacts — such as by averting the risk of a prediabetic person going on to develop full blown diabetes.

But knowing what type of diet and exercise regime will work best for a particular person can be tricky — and involve a lot of frustrating trial and error — since people’s glucose responses to different food items can differ wildly.

These responses depend on a person’s metabolic health — which in turn depends on individual factors like microbiome diversity, stress levels, time of day, food ingredient and quality. (See also: Personalized nutrition startups like Zoe — which is similarly paying mind to blood glucose levels but as one component of a wider play to try to use big data and AI to decode the microbiome.) 

With metabolic health being so specific to each of us there’s a strong case for continuous glucose monitoring having widespread utility — certainly if the process and price-point can be made widely accessible.

Here, Ultrahuman is having a go at productizing the practice for a fitness enthusiast market — launching its first device in beta back in June — although the price-point it’s targeting is starting out fairly premium. 

The product (a wearable and a subscription service) — which it’s branded ‘Cyborg’ — consists of a skin patch that extracts glucose from the interstitial fluid under the skin, per founder and CEO, Mohit Kumar, with the data fed into a companion app for analysis and visualization.

Image credits: Ultrahuman

The patch tracks the wearer’s blood glucose levels as they go about their day — eating, exercising, sleeping etc — with the biomarker used to trigger the app to nudge the user to “optimize your lifestyle”, as Ultrahuman’s website puts it — such as by alerting the user to a high blood glucose event and suggesting they take exercise to bring their level down.

If the product lives up to its promise of continuous glucose monitoring made easy, lovers of junk food could be in for a rude awakening as they’re served fast feedback on how their body copes (or, well, doesn’t) with their favorite snacks…

“We use medical grade sensors that have been used in the sports technology domain for the last 6-7 yrs with decent accuracy levels,” says Kumar when we ask about the specifics of the wearable technology it’s using. (The sensing hardware is being ‘worn’ here in the sense that it’s directly attached to (i.e. stuck into/on) bare skin.)

While Ultrahuman’s platform has plenty more vanilla fitness content, the company is now billing itself as a “metabolic fitness platform” — putting the nascent product front and center, even though the glucose tracking subscription service remains in closed beta for now.

The startup is operating a waitlist for sign-ups as it continues to hone the technology.   

Ultrahuman touts “thousands” of people signed up and waiting to get their hands on the glucose tracker service — and says it’s seeing 60% week over week growth in sign ups, with wider availability of the product slated for “early 2022”.

Some of the Series B cash will be used to make improvements to the quality of the glucose biomarkers ahead of a full product launch.

On the enhancements side, Kumar tells TechCrunch the team is exploring “other form factors and other types of sensors that could help us capture glucose in a more accurate way and for a longer duration than 14 days”, as they work to hone the wearable. (The current version of the skin-worn sensor only lasts two weeks before it must be replaced with another patch.)

“We want to add more biomarkers like HRV [heart-rate variability], sleep zones and respiratory rate to help people understand the impact of metabolic health on their recovery/sleep and vice-versa,” he adds.

Ultrahuman says it decided to focus on tracking glucose as its “main biomarker” as it can be used as a proxy for quantifying a number of fitness and wellness issues — making it a (potentially) very useful measure of individual health signals.

Or provided the startup’s technology is able to detect changes to glucose levels with enough sensitivity to be able to make meaningful recommendations per user.

“Glucose is interesting because it is a real-time biomarker that’s affected by exercise, sleep, stress and food,” says Kumar, adding: “We are able to help people make lifestyle changes across many vectors like nutrition, sleep, stress and exercise vs being unidimensional. It is also highly personalized as it guides you as per your body’s own response.”

He gives some examples of how the product could help users by identifying beneficial tweaks they could make to their diet and exercise regimes — such as figuring out which foods in their current diet yield “a healthy metabolic response” vs those that “need more optimization” (aka, avoiding the dreaded sugar crash). Or by helping users identify “a great meal window” for their lifestyle — based in their body’s glucose consumption rate.

Other helpful nudges he suggests the service can provide to sensor-wearing users — with an eye on athletes and fitness fanatics — is how best to fuel up before exercise to perform optimally.

Optimizing the last meal of the day to improve sleep efficiency is another suggestion.

If Ultrahuman’s Cyborg can do all that with a (bearably) wearable skin patch and a bit of clever algorithmic analysis it could take the quantified self trend to the next level.

A simple stick-on sensor-plus-app that passively amplifies internal biological signals and translates individual biomarkers into highly actionable real-time personalized health insights could be the start of something huge in preventative healthcare.

Again, though, Ultrahuman’s early pricing suggests there will be some fairly hard limits on who is able to tap in here.

Early adopters in the closed beta are shelling out $80 per month for the subscription service, per Kumar. And — at least for now — the startup is eyeing adding more bells and whistles, rather than fewer. “[Product pricing] will mostly be in the same range but may introduce more services/premium features on top of this,” he confirms.

The (typically higher) cost of eating healthily and having enough leisure time to be able to look after your body by taking exercise are other hard socioeconomic limits that won’t be fixed by a wearable, no matter how smart.

 

#alpha, #bangalore, #blume-ventures, #cred, #deepinder-goyal, #diabetes, #fundings-exits, #gaurav-munjal, #glucose, #health, #junk-food, #kunal-shah, #nexus-venture-partners, #nutrition, #scott-schleifer, #steadview-capital, #tc, #tiger-global, #ultrahuman, #wearable-technology, #wearables, #zomato

‘The tortoise and the hare’ story is playing out right now in VC

The unprecedented liquidity that has entered the venture market in the past year has spurred several trends that require VCs to adapt to a more competitive environment where startup founders have far more leverage than they did in the past.

Structurally, there are only so many startups looking to raise capital, and even though some founders may be opportunistically pursuing deals they wouldn’t have previously, the supply of capital into venture funds has nonetheless outpaced the demand for those dollars.

This means VCs are in an unusual environment of increasing competition to get in on deals with startups, and as they jockey to win spots on cap tables they’re moving faster than ever to close deals.

The best early-stage VCs take the time to find the founders they believe in and who need their expertise, because they’ll be right there working with them for the long haul.

What’s more, newcomers in the VC market like Tiger Global as well as a number of non-VC investment funds like PE firms with much larger pools of capital than the market has seen are aggressively pursuing enormous deals in an effort to drive faster exits and returns on their investments.

With so many investors vying for their attention, many founders are taking the opportunity to raise bigger rounds and coming back for additional funding faster than ever, which is apparent in the constant drumbeat of funding news as well as the 250 unicorns and the record $288 billion invested in startups in the first half of this year.

How can VCs adapt and be competitive?

For some, the answer may be moving faster to get in on deals. Strategies like doing more due diligence in advance of ever meeting startups and leveraging technologies like AI to supplement investors’ ability to evaluate companies can help with this. For others, it may be making larger investments and accepting smaller ownership stakes in startups than they’re accustomed to.

#column, #ec-column, #entrepreneurship, #funding, #investment, #private-equity, #startup-company, #startups, #tiger-global, #venture-capital, #venture-investment

Construction tech startup Agora raises $33M in Tiger Global-led round amid 760% YoY ARR growth

Agora, a startup that has built a materials management platform for contractors, has raised $33 million in a Series B round of funding led by Tiger Global Management.

8VC, Tishman Speyer, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, Michael Ovitz, DST, LeFrak and Kevin Hartz also participated in the financing, which brings the startup’s total raised since its 2018 inception to about $45 million.

Construction tech is one of those sectors that has not historically been considered “sexy” in a startup world that often favors glitzier technology. But construction fuels the commercial and real estate industries, which in turn impacts all of us in one way or another.

Meanwhile, the $10 trillion construction industry has long been plagued with productivity challenges. In fact, according to McKinsey, labor productivity growth in the industry has been stagnant since 1947.

Image Credits: Agora

Maria Rioumine and Ryan Gibson founded Agora with the mission of making it easier for commercial trade contractors to order and track materials, automate manual data entry and give everyone involved in the procurement process a single platform by which they can communicate with each other.

The end goal is to help projects move along faster, and contractors to avoid unnecessary delays by reducing building costs. The bigger picture impact, Agora hopes, is that its SaaS platform can help make the “built environment faster and more efficient to build,” and thus help make cities “more affordable and accessible to all.” 

San Francisco-based Agora is tackling the problem in a very specific, niche way that is proving to be popular both with contractors and investors alike. Rather than attempting to be a blanket solution for all trades, Agora is focusing on specific trade verticals, one by one. For example, it started out with electrical and is now moving into mechanical.

“Last year, there was more than $101 billion worth of electrical work done. Our customers work on all types of products,” Rioumine told TechCrunch. “For example, we have customers that do power stations, some that build hospitals and others that build school classrooms and university campuses, and still others that build churches and casinos. The work that these contractors do is so essential.”

Agora’s annual recurring revenue has grown 760% year over year while its customer base is up 6x during the same time frame, according to the company. It has also tripled its headcount to 45 people and today is processing $140 million in annualized materials volume for its customers.

The startup wasn’t actively raising for the Series B — instead, investors were proactively offering term sheets, Rioumine said.

“A few investors that knew us well approached us about preempting the round,” she told TechCrunch. “Twelve days after the first conversation, we had multiple term sheets.”

Tiger Global Partner John Curtius said he was drawn to Agora’s “unique” trade-specific approach.

In his view, the startup is “defining the future of procurement in construction.”

“Agora is solving a huge and critical problem,” Curtius wrote via email. “Billions of dollars a year are wasted because of inefficient procurement processes and breakages in the supply chain.”

The platform specifically does things like give contractors the ability to: customize templates, create pre-approved materials lists and easily reorder frequently needed items, order from a catalogue that offers more than 400,000 SKUs and eliminate manual data entry, which reduces errors and automates basic processes.

By bringing both field and office teams onto one digital platform, Agora claims it saves office teams 75% of the time they spend processing purchase orders, and field teams 38% of the time their foremen spend on materials management. In total, the company said its technology can provide up to $300,000 of potential annual savings for its average customer.

The company plans to use its new capital to hire across a number of teams, as well as continue to expand beyond 30 states and into other trade verticals.

“There has been this really heavy underinvestment in tech in construction for a long time,” Rioumine said. On average, the technology spend as a proportion of revenue in construction is about 1.5%, “which is actually the lowest of the industries out there where the median is 3.3%,” she added.

“So when we think about just how large this industry is and how little productivity improvements there have been recently, I think now we have this amazing opportunity to really invest in technology and bring it on to the job sites and into trade contractors’ hands.”

#agora, #construction, #construction-tech, #funding, #fundings-exits, #jerry-yang, #kevin-hartz, #michael-ovitz, #procurement, #real-estate, #recent-funding, #saas, #san-francisco, #startups, #supply-chain, #tc, #tiger-global, #tiger-global-management, #venture-capital

Verifiable secures $17M for its API that manages healthcare provider information

Less than a year after its $3 million seed round, Verifiable snapped up another $17 million for its healthcare provider credentialing API toolkit.

The Austin-based company’s technology creates an infrastructure for healthcare provider data management that puts providers at the center. Verifiable founder Nick Macario told TechCrunch that data fuels critical operations across health systems and insurance carriers, like contracting, credentialing, enrollment, claims and directories. All of this is being done manually now, and often inaccurately, which is leading to billions of dollars of annual waste.

Verifiable’s infrastructure manages healthcare providers and automates the verification of provider data, enabling automation of business processes like credentialing, payer enrollment and network management for virtual healthcare platforms, health systems and insurance payers. It is able to reduce credentialing turnaround times by over 70%, Macario said.

Insurance payers is the newest part of the company’s expansion that includes verifying provider directories. For example, the information that pops up when someone performs an in-network search on their healthcare plan’s website to find a certain provider in their area.

The Altman brothers led the $17 million Series A round and was joined by David Sacks/Craft Ventures and a group of individual investors including Flexport’s Ryan Petersen, Rippling’s Parker Conrad, Front’s Mathilde Collin, Syapse’s Jonathan Hirsch, Todd Goldberg and Rahul Vohra. Tiger Global and existing investors also participated in the round.

Macario was also planning to raise another round of funding, but he said the combination of an inflection point with the product and Jack Altman’s continued investment interest made it a good time to start scaling the team.

Altman said the general space of healthcare technology has potential. It is also a topic near to him — his wife is a nurse. He was speaking to her about what Verifiable was working on, and she told him that there are still teams of people doing this.

“So much data is flowing through, and because healthcare is such a massive part of the country’s GDP, there is so much potential that can be unlocked,” Altman added. “I love Verifiable’s positioning around the provider. They are the people between the healthcare system and the patient, so to have access to their data, patients can form a relationship with them, which is a powerful position.”

In addition to expanding into insurance payers, Macario intends to use the new funding to double his team of 26 employees by the end of the year. The company has openings for engineers, operations and go-to-market talent.

Verifiable works with companies like Lyra Health, Talkspace, Modern Health, Headway, Wheel, Quartet Health, Forward and provider networks to automate credentialing, compliance processes and provider operations.

“We have seen significant growth from customers and users over the past year,” Macario said. “We are making hundreds of thousands of unique verifications and will continue to double down on providers, use cases and insurance providers.”

 

#api, #apps, #austin, #craft-ventures, #funding, #health, #healthcare-technology, #jack-altman, #nick-macario, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #the-altman-brothers, #tiger-global, #verifiable

India’s BharatPe valued at $2.85 billion in Tiger Global-led $370 million funding

Indian fintech startup BharatPe has raised $370 million in a new round of financing as it looks to aggressively scale its business in the next two years. It’s the nineteenth Indian startup to become a unicorn this year (up from 11 last year) as several high-profile global investors double down in the South Asian market.

The new round — a Series E — was led by Tiger Global and valued the New Delhi-based startup at $2.85 billion (post-money), it said in a statement Tuesday evening. Dragoneer Investor Group and Steadfast Capital also participated in the new round, which brings the startup’s to-date raise to over $580 million against equity.

Tuesday’s news confirms a TechCrunch scoop from June in which we reported that the four-year-old startup was looking to raise about $250 million at a pre-money valuation of $2.5 billion. BharatPe was valued at about $900 million in its Series D round in February this year, and $425 million last year.

BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover confirmed that the startup was indeed looking to raise $250 million until inbound requests from investors prompted an oversubscription. The new investment also includes some secondary transactions.

BharatPe, which counts Coatue, Ribbit Capital and Sequoia Capital India among its existing investors, operates an eponymous service to help offline merchants accept digital payments and secure working capital.

Even as India has already emerged as the second-largest internet market, with more than 650 million users, much of the country remains offline.

Among those outside of the reach of the internet are merchants running small businesses, such as roadside tea stalls and neighborhood stores. To make these merchants comfortable with accepting digital payments, BharatPe relies on QR codes and point of sale machines that support government-backed UPI payments infrastructure.

Scores of giants and startups are attempting to serve neighborhood stores in India. Image Credits: Bank of America Research

The startup, which serves more than 7 million merchants in over 130 Indian cities, said it has disbursed close to $300 million to merchant partners. It does not charge merchants for universal QR code access, but is looking to make money by lending.

The startup plans to expand its product offerings as well as work with Centrum Financial Services, with which it was recently granted the license by India’s central bank (Reserve Bank of India) to set up a small finance bank. (Centrum Financial Services has collaborated with BharatPe for the license, and the Indian startup says the two are “equal” partners.)

Tuesday’s development further illustrates the growing interest of Tiger Global in India. The New York-headquartered firm has backed dozens of Indian startups, including social commerce startup DealShare, edtech Classplus, Apna (an app that helps blue-collar workers connect with recruiters) and home services platform Urban Company in recent months.

On Tuesday, Infra.Market, an Indian startup that helps construction and real estate companies procure materials and handle logistics for their projects, said it had raised $125 million in a round led also by Tiger Global.

 

#asia, #bharatpe, #finance, #funding, #india, #recent-funding, #startups, #tiger-global

India’s Infra.Market valued at $2.5B in Tiger Global-led $125M funding

Infra.Market, an Indian startup that is helping construction and real estate companies in the world’s second-most populated nation procure materials and handle logistics for their projects, said on Tuesday it has raised its third financing round in the past nine months.

Tiger Global, which led the startup’s Series C round in February this year, has led the $125 million Series D financing round in the five-year-old startup. The new round valued Mumbai-headquartered Infra.Market at $2.5 billion (post-money), up from $1 billion in February and $200 million in December last year.

Infra.Market, which competes with Lightspeed-backed Zetwerk, helps small businesses such as manufacturers of paints and cements improve the quality of their production and meet various compliances. The startup adds its load cells to the manufacturing facilities of these small businesses to ensure there is no lapse in quality, and also helps them work with other businesses that can provide them with better raw material and provide guidance on pricing. It also works closely with businesses to ensure that their deliveries are made on time.

These improvements, explained co-founder Souvik Sengupta, help small manufacturers land larger clients that have higher expectations from the businesses with which they engage. He said the startup has helped small manufacturers reach customers outside of India as well. Some of its clients are in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai.

“We continue to build on our vision of creating India’s largest multi-product construction materials brand and transform the construction materials supply chain, not only in India, but also globally,” he said.

“We are also embarking on new business verticals within the construction ecosystem beyond materials to enable us to provide end to end solutions to our customers across the lifecycle of a construction project. We are seeing huge growth in buyer wallet share as we are rapidly expanding our product portfolio and market presence and the launch of new verticals will help us fulfill our vision of creating a technology backed end to end construction solutions company.”

The startup, which said it expects to surpass $1 billion in sales by the end of this calendar year, plans to deploy the fresh fund to expand to new markets and also expand into new categories.

“We are delighted to double-down on our investment in Infra.Market. The team has demonstrated exceptional growth and continues to disrupt the construction materials industry. Over the past year, Infra.Market has become the go-to partner, especially during the pandemic when the traditional supply chains were disrupted,” said Scott Shleifer, Partner, Tiger Global Management, in a statement.

#asia, #funding, #india, #infra-market, #tiger-global

#Portfolio – Alle Startups, auf die der Mega-VC Tiger Global in Deutschland abfährt


Am amerikanischen Geldgeber Tiger Global führt derzeit kein Weg vorbei! Quasi jeden Tag (“1,3 deals a day in the second quarter“) investiert der milliardeschwere Venture Capitalist aus New York derzeit große Millionennbeträge in Startups auf der ganzen Welt. Geld dafür ist reichlich vorhanden, im aktuellen Fonds von Tiger Global, 2003 an den Start gegangen, sind 6,6 Milliarden US-Dollar. Das Beuteschema von Tiger Global ist simpel: Der Geldgeber interessiert sich insbesondere für Unternehmen, bei denen andere bekannte Geldgeber schon eingestiegen sind.

Auch in Deutschland wurde das Tiger Gobal-Team, das weltweit bereits Firmen wie Facebook, Linkedin, Spotify, Square Stripe und UiPath finanzierte, zuletzt alle paar Wochen fündig. In den vergangenen Monaten war Tiger Global hierzulande an Investmentrunden beteiligt, bei denen mehr als 755 Millionen Dollar bewegt wurden. Contentful und Mambu stiegen mit den Millionen von Tiger Global zudem zum Unicorn auf. Hier einmal die aktuellen Investment von Tiger Global in Deutschland.

Tiger Global in Deutschland

Contentful
Tiger Global investierte im Juli gemeinsam mit Base10 Advancement Initiative und Tidemark 175 Millionen US-Dollar in Contentful. Die Bewertung stieg dabei auf 3 Milliarden Dollar und Unicorn-Status. Das Berliner Startup, das 2013 von Sascha Konietzke und Paolo Negri gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als sogenanntes “Headless CMS”. Insgesamt flossen nun rund 333 Millionen in das Unternehmen. Mehr über Contentful

Jokr
Foodpanda-Gründer Ralf Wenzel, zuletzt Managing Partner bei SoftBank, setzt mit Jokr derzeit und ganz auf das boomende Flash-Supermarkt-Konzept im Stil von Gorillas, goPuff und Co. Tiger Global, GGV Capital, Balderton Capital, Softbank und HV Capital investierten im Juli 170 Millionen US-Dollar in das junge Unternehmen, dass das Quick Commerce-Konzept insbesondere in Emerging Markets bringen möchte. Mehr über Jokr

Pitch
Tiger Global investierte im Mai gemeinsam mit  Lakestar, Index Ventures und Thrive Capital 85 Millionen US-Dollar in Pitch. Mit Pitch möchte Wunderlist-Gründer Christian Reber Präsentationen für die Generation Slack bauen. Thrive Capital und Co. investierten zuvor 30 Millionen US-Dollar in Pitch. Insgesamt flossen nun schon 135 Millionen in Pitch. Über 100 Mitarbeiter:innen wirken bereits für die Jungfirma. Mehr über Pitch

Bryter
Tiger Global investierte im April gemeinsam mit einigen Alt-Investoren 66 Millionen US-Dollar in Bryter. Das Berliner Unternehmen, das 2018 gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als sogenannte “No-Code-Automatisierungsplattform”. Das Remote-First-Startup ermöglicht seinen Kunden ohne Programmierkenntnisse Applikationen und Bots zu betreiben.Zuletzt konnte das Startup 16 Millionen einsammeln – unter anderem von Dawn Capital und Accel. Mehr über Bryter

Branded
Tiger Global investierte im Febraur gemeinsam mit Target Global, Declaration Partners und Co. 150 Millionen US-Dollar in den Berliner Thrasio-Klon Branded. Der junge Amazon-Shop-Aufkäufer wird von Pierre Poignant, früher Lazada, und Michael Ronen geführt. Rund 100 Mitarbeiter wirken bereits für Branded. In Deutschland setzen unter anderem die Razor Group, SellerX und The Stryze Group auf das Thrasio-Konzept. Mehr über Branded

Mambu
Tiger Global investierte im Januar gemeinsam mit Spotify-Investor TCV und Arena Holdings sowie den Altinvestoren 110 Millionen Euro in Mambu. Das Berliner FinTech, das 2011 an den Start ging, ermöglicht Bankdienstleistern Kredit-Produkt in kurzer Zeit zu entwickeln. Bessemer Venture Partners, Acton Capital, CommerzVentures, Point Nine Capital und Runa Capital investieren zuvor bereits 30 Millionen Euro in die SaaS-Banking-Plattform. Mehr über Mambu 

In der Vergangenheit unterstützte Tiger Global in Deutschland zudem den Getränkelieferdienst flaschenpost.de, der für rund 1 Milliarde Euro an Dr. Oetker verkauft wurde, und den Marktplatz Hitmeister, später als real.de und inzwischen als Kaufland bekannt.

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

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #branded, #bryter, #contentful, #flaschenpost-de, #hitmeister, #jokr, #kaufland, #mambu, #pitch, #portfolio, #real-de, #tiger-global, #venture-capital

Indian online insurer PolicyBazaar files for IPO, seeks to raise over $800 million

Indian online insurance aggregator PolicyBazaar has filed for an initial public offering in which it is seeking to raise $809 million, becoming the fourth startup in the past two months from the South Asian market to explore public markets.

In papers submitted to the market regulator in India, PolicyBazaar said it is looking to raise $504 million by issuing new shares while the rest will be driven by sale of shares by existing investors. Softbank plans to sell shares worth over $250 million, while PolicyBazaar founders are looking to sell shares worth $52.7 million, they said in the papers.

The 12-year-old startup — backed by SoftBank, Falcon Edge Capital, Tiger Global, and InfoEdge — said it may consider raising about $100 million in a pre-IPO round.

PolicyBazaar serves as an aggregator that allows users to compare and buy policies — across categories including life, health, travel, auto and property — from dozens of insurers on its website without having to go through conventional agents. It operates in India as well as the Middle East.

PolicyBazaar website

In India only a fraction of the nation’s 1.3 billion people currently have access to insurance and some analysts say that digital firms c