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Quaestor is reinventing business metric collaboration for the startup party round era

Startup News - 1 hour 44 sec ago

Business is the foundation, of, well, business. For startups, finding a working business model and honing it through decision-making, smart hires, and relentless focus on the right metrics can be the difference between building a scalable company and collapsing into the next Luckin Coffee.

Given how important business performance and finance is, it’s not uncommon in the early days of a startup to hire an “outsourced CFO” — a part-time financial professional who helps with budgeting, basic forecasting, and preparing reports for investors. Those reports though are static, and don’t lead to great conversations around how a business is performing, how it can change, and what should happen next for all parties involved.

Quaestor wants to upend the static spreadsheets and PDFs sent to dozens if not hundreds of people on cap tables today with a software-first solution that allows executives and their investors to hold better, more intelligent conversations about business performance.

The idea for the company congealed in the offices of 8VC, where the firm’s partners like Joe Lonsdale and Alex Moore repeatedly watched companies struggling to present all of their business information to their investors in a time-efficient way. 8VC has a history of incubating projects just like Quaestor, such as CRM tool Affinity.

For Quaestor, the firm eventually brought together a trio of co-founders, with Lonsdale also officially co-founding the company. John Melas-Kyriazi is CEO, and formerly was with Spark Capital for five years as a VC. He left earlier this year, and is maintaining his board seats there. Kevin Hsu is head of product and was a product manager at cap table management startup Carta before joining 8VC as an EIR. Finally, Deny Khoung is head of operations and was formerly the director of design at 8VC.

The group has been riffing on the idea of improving collaboration around the fundamentals of startup metrics for months, but officially spun out of 8VC in March and raised $5.8 million led by 8VC with participation from Melas-Kyriazi’s former firm Spark as well as Abstract Ventures, Riot Ventures, Fathom Ventures and GFC.

Let’s head back to the product though. Quaestor connects founders, company executives, and investors all together to discuss a business and make sure everyone is on the same page regarding targets and metrics. “How do VCs and their companies interact around financial data, whether it’s documents like P&L / balance sheet / cash flow statement [or] individual financial KPIs like revenue, gross margin, net income, ARR, etc.,” Melas-Kyriazi explained. “How do companies share that information with their investors to keep them updated? How do investors support their companies in understanding what goals they should be setting?”

The goal with the platform is two-fold. One is to ingest financial data and automatically prepare it so that all those annoying Excel mistakes disappear and everyone can read from one consistent set of metrics. The other is to help guide everyone to focus on the metrics that matter. “Most entrepreneurs come from a product background or engineering or sales and they might not necessarily have worked in in finance before,” Melas-Kyriazi said. The goal with Quaestor is to help push them to think carefully about their finances.

Over time as cap tables get more complicated and more investors add their capital, the goal is that Quaestor can offer a single source of truth for all financial data, without requiring the CEO or an outsourced CFO to prepare individual reports for each firm.

Right now, the company is focusing its product on early-stage startups, but hopes to grow up with those companies as they scale, expanding its services to other types of companies over time. The company’s product has been in beta as it tests out its MVP.

Quaestor is now a team of eight, with several offer letters in motion (so that number is actively growing as I write this article). Melas-Kyriazi said that product development and early scaling are the key goals for the startup over the next year or two.

Categories: Business News

As Palantir preps IPO, a look back at its growth history

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 11:45pm

Yesterday evening Palantir, the quasi-secretive data mining and analysis firm, publicly announced that it has privately filed to go public.

The disclosure came in the wake of Palantir raising new capital, taking on hundreds of millions of dollars before its planned public offering. According to Crunchbase data, Palantir has raised billions while private, making its debut a marquee affair in the worlds of technology, startups and venture capital.

As TechCrunch reported yesterday, Palantir has a controversial product history, including helping locate immigrants for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, connecting databases for intelligence agencies and recently winning no-bid contracts to gather data about the COVID-19 pandemic for the White House Pandemic Task Force.

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The company’s filing comes after a long incubation period; it’s been 17 years since Palantir’s founding in 2003. Since then, its reported financial performance and fundraising history have become sufficiently convoluted that I couldn’t tell you this morning how big the company really is or how much it raised before its most recent investment.

Palantir’s reported history

To prep us for its eventual public IPO filing, let’s go back in time and collect data points from Palantir’s reported history. This way when we do get the company’s S-1 filing, we’ll better understand what we’re looking at.

Even with companies that aren’t privacy conscious, it can be hard to craft a comprehensive history of their business activities from when they were private. With Palantir, it’s even trickier.

Still, leaning on more than a decade of TechCrunch reporting, Crunchbase data, other publications and Craft.co, what follows is a reasonable look at what has been reported about Palantir through time.

Categories: Business News

Nayya, bringing transparency to choosing and managing healthcare plans, raises $2.7 million

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 11:00pm

Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator -backed Nayya is on a mission to simplify choosing and managing employee benefits through machine learning and data transparency.

The company has raised $2.7 million in seed funding led by Social Leverage with participation from Guardian Strategic Ventures, Cameron Ventures, Soma Capital, as well as other strategic angels.

The process of choosing an employer-provided healthcare plan and understanding that plan can be tedious at best and incredibly confusing at worst. And that doesn’t even include all of the supplemental plans and benefits associated with these programs.

That’s where Nayya comes in. When enrollment starts, employers send out an email that includes a link to Nayya’s Companion, the company’s flagship product.

Companion helps employees find the plan that is right for them. The software first asks a series of questions about lifestyle, location, etc. For example, Nayya founder and CEO Sina Chehrazi explained that people who bike to work, as opposed to driving in a car, walking or taking public transportation, are 20 times more likely to get into an accident and need emergency services.

Companion asks questions in this vein, as well as questions around whether you take medication regularly or if you expect your healthcare costs to go up or down over the next year, without getting into the specifics of chronic ailments or diseases or particular issues.

Taking that data into account, Nayya then looks at the various plans provided by the employer to show you which one matches the user’s particular lifestyle and budget best.

Nayya doesn’t just pull information directly from the insurance company directory listings, as nearly 40 percent of those listings have at least one error or are out of date. It pulls from a broad variety of data sources, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to get the cleanest, most precise data around which doctors are in network and the usual costs associated with visiting those doctors.

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Alongside Companion, Nayya also provides a product called ‘Edison,’ which it has dubbed the Alexa for Helathcare. Users can ask Edison questions like “What is my deductible?” or “Is Dr. So-and-So in my network and what would it cost to go see her?”

The company helps individual users find the right provider for them with the ability to compare costs, location, and other factors involved. Nayya even puts a badge on listings for providers where another employee at the company has gone and had a great experience, giving another layer of validation to that choice.

As the healthtech industry looks to provide easier-to-use healthcare and insurance, the idea of ‘personalization’ has been left behind in many respects. Nayya focuses first and foremost on the end-user and aims to ensure that their own personal healthcare journey is as simple and straightforward as possible, believing that the other pieces of the puzzle will fall into place when the customer is taken care of.

Nayya plans on using the funding to expand the team across engineering, data science, product management and marketing, as well as doubling down on the amount of data the company is purchasing, ingesting and cleaning.

Alongside charging employers on a per seat, per month basis, Nayya is also looking to start going straight to insurance companies with its product.

“The greatest challenge is educating an entire ecosystem and convincing that ecosystem to believe that where the consumer wins, everyone wins,” said Chehrazi. “How to finance and understand your healthcare has never been more important than it is right now, and there is a huge need to provide that education in a data driven way to people. That’s where I want to spend the next I don’t know how many years of my life to drive that change.”

Nayya has five full-time employees currently and 80 percent of the team comes from racially diverse backgrounds.

Categories: Business News

8 Black investors discuss the intersection of race, tech and funding

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 10:12pm

Since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of four police officers heightened awareness about racial justice, the experiences of Black people in tech — and the industry’s lack of racial diversity — are getting new attention.

In the tech ecosystem at large, the industry is still predominantly white and male, and venture capital is no different. Just 3% of investment partners are Black, according to a 2018 survey from by the National Venture Capital Association and Deloitte. Meanwhile, more than 80% of VC firms don’t have a single Black investor and just 1% of venture-backed startups have a Black founder, according to BLCK VC.

“Venture capital certainly plays a role,” GV Principal Terri Burns told TechCrunch about the overall lack of diversity in tech. “VC is a tool that can enable businesses to scale greatly and quickly, and historically, this tool hasn’t been equally distributed. For example, VC has traditionally focused on founders from a small number of institutions and pedigrees that are not particularly diverse (in 2016 we learned from Richard Kerby, general partner at Equal Ventures, that 40% of VCs went to either Harvard or Stanford). With more equal distribution of funds across backgrounds, underrepresented people will have a greater chance at success.”

Burns shared the above and more as part of our survey of a handful of Black VCs in tech. Burns, and others, described what they’re looking for in their next investment, identified overlooked opportunities that are ripe for innovation and offered advice for founders navigating COVID-19 amid this racial justice uprising.

“Both COVID-19 and the racial justice uprising have had really profound impacts on our society and the tech ecosystem,” Precursor Ventures Managing Partner Charles Hudson told TechCrunch. “For me, the main takeaway from COVID-19 is that planning in an uncertain environment is extremely stressful for founders. Advice that made sense in March and April might not apply in May and June. We went from a world where it felt like we might shelter-in-place through the fall to an attempted reopening of the economy. I think the racial justice uprising is a different thing. It’s bigger than technology, it’s about our society coming to grips with some really important, structural issues.

“While I think everyone is really struggling with the impacts of COVID-19, I think employees and founders of color are being particularly impacted by the racial justice issue and it is weighing heavily on the minds and hearts of many who are trying to process what’s happening while also trying to be productive and engaged at work. I think it’s important to be aware of that and do what you can to support folks who are struggling under the weight of this.”

Below, we’ve gathered insights from:

Arlan Hamilton, managing partner, Backstage Capital

Image Credits: Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

What are the industries you’re most interested in right now?

I am into things that promote sustainability, that are clever. I like the senior care industry, but also pushing that a little further into senior activity and thriving entrepreneurship, et cetera. And media. I think media has a really interesting, exciting opportunity right now because of the way representation is so important, has always been, but it’s even more now. I’m seeing more and more interesting and unique media options rather than the status quo.

What are you looking for in your next investment?

I’m looking for people who can break down barriers within their industries, who can offer something exciting, and new, and innovative to their end user, and someone who is daring, and risk-taking, and not afraid to go against the grain. That’s really the main thing I’m looking for.

What are some overlooked opportunities that are ripe for innovation?

Again, I think senior care is something a lot of people are thinking about, thankfully. At the same time, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what value seniors can bring to the ecosystem, to even tech. I think you have millions and millions of people who have a gained experience that no one else has, that’s their junior, and you have all this technology at their fingertips. I’ve noticed that a lot of seniors I know have some sort of… it’s intuitive, some of this tech, like voice. They’re used to having to track down their children, and so they’re used to yelling out in the middle of an empty room, to be honest. I think that’s part of where it comes from.

They don’t have the same vanities that a lot of younger people have, and so they’re willing to take more risk when it comes to trying something new. It’s not necessarily something they want to be dangerous about because they are, by and large, taking care of themselves and caring about damage to their bodies, but they’re not afraid to look silly or to sound silly when they’re trying out a new device. I think that’s something that we can really tap into, because a lot of these people who are 70, 75, 80 years old, there’s still 20 years purchasing power there, at the least, and it’s just important that we don’t discard them and forget about them.

Categories: Business News

MonkeyLearn raises $2.2M to build out its no-code AI text analysis service

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 10:00pm

A few years back, startups focusing on artificial intelligence had a whiff of bullshit about them; venture capitalists became inured to young tech companies claiming that their new AI-powered product was going to change the world as hype exceeded product reality.

But in the time since, AI-powered startups have matured into real companies, with investors stepping up to fund their growth. In niches, from medical imaging, of course, to speech recognition, machine learning and deep learning and neural nets and everything else that one might scoop into the AI bucket has seemed to have grown neatly in recent quarters.

Indeed, AI investing has become so popular amongst VCs that this publication wound up debating the finer points of AI-focused startup revenue quality earlier this year.

But AI is not the only startup niche appearing to enjoy tailwinds lately. No-code and low-code startups have also enjoyed increasing media recognition, and, as TechCrunch has covered, notable venture capital rounds.

Sitting in the middle of the two trends, a startup called MonkeyLearn wants to bring low-code AI to companies of all sizes. And the firm just raised $2.2 million. Let’s take a look.

No-code AI

Starting with the round, MonkeyLearn has raised $2.2 million in a round led by Uncork Capital and Bling Capital. Speaking with Raúl Garreta, a co-founder at the company and also its CEO, TechCrunch learned that MonkeyLearn started off as a more developer-focused service that provided machine learning tooling via an API. But after demand materialized from people who couldn’t code to use the company’s tech for text analysis, the company wound up heading in a slightly different direction.

Garreta gave TechCrunch a demo of the company’s service, which allows users to upload data — think rows of text in an Excel file, for example — and quickly train MonkeyLearn’s software to parse out what they are looking for. After the model is trained over the course of a few minutes, it can then be set to work on a full data set.

According to Garreta, text analysis has a lot of demand in corporate environments, from categories like support ticket sorting to sentiment analysis.

But MonkeyLearn’s product that TechCrunch saw is not the company’s final vision. Today the service focuses on data analysis. In time, Garreta wants it to do more with data visualization, providing graphing and other similar outputs to give more of a dashboard-feel to its product.

Demand

At the core of MonkeyLearn’s early market traction that helped it land its seed round is the ever-increasing need for non-developers to collect, parse, act on and share data inside of their workplace. If you’ve ever worked nearby to a startup’s marketing or customer success team, you understand this phenomenon. MonkeyLearn wants to give non-developer teams the tools they need to understand data sets without forcing them to go find the engineering team and argue for a spot on the roadmap.

“Our vision is to make AI approachable by providing a toolkit for teams to actually use AI in their daily operations,” Garreta said in a release. MonkeyLearn is theoretically well-situated in the market. Companies are increasingly data-driven at the same time as the market is strapped for employees who can make data sing.

The startup has a free tier, and a few paid tiers, along with add-ons and a one-off option. You can call that the “all of the above” pricing model, which is fine, given the youth of the company; startups are allowed to experiment.

After slower than anticipated early fundraising, MonkeyLearn told TechCrunch that it could have raised double in its seed round what it wound up accepting.

What plans does the company have for the new capital? A more aggressive go-to-market motion, and a more formal sales team, it said. As MonkeyLearn sells to to mid-market and enterprise firms, Garreta explained, a more formal sales team is needed, though he also emphasized that founders must start the selling process at a startup.

As with most seed companies that raise capital, there’s a lot to like with MonkeyLearn. Let’s see how well it executes and how fast it can get to a Series A.

Categories: Business News

Replenysh raises a $2 million seed round to streamline recycling for buyers and sellers

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 10:00pm

Replenysh has been kicking since 2016, but up til now, the Orange County, California startup hasn’t done much press. That changes today, as the company announces that it has raised a $2 million seed round with the fairly lofty goal of transforming recycling in the U.S.

A press release outlining Replenysh’s plans offers up plenty of information about what’s wrong with recycling here in the States. Among some of the key figures are the fact that it can be up to 3x more expensive to recycle a ton of material rather than simply dropping it off in a landfill. Outside of the positive press around sustainability and the rare instance of corporate altruism, that’s a rather large fiscal penalty for doing the right thing.

For its part, the Replenysh team says it’s “building this new digital supply chain.” What that means in less buzzwordy terms is that the company is working to provide software solutions designed to benefit both those selling recycled goods and companies looking to acquire the materials. That latter bit is hotter market than you’re likely aware, as big corporations have set commitments to adopt recycled materials as part of larger pledges for sustainability.

Image Credits: Replenysh

The company’s primary value comes by way of its interfacing with the owners and employees at the thousands of recycling centers based in the U.S. Replenysh has developed a software dashboard that allows the centers to find the best price for materials and schedule shipments. On the buyer side, the company also offers means by which brands can find sufficient materials and foster relationships with the aforementioned recycling centers. The company says it already has relationships with hundreds of recycling centers it has helped connect with buyers from large retailers and big brands (though it’s not yet disclosing the names of either).

“The response to our technology and services has been exciting,” founder Mark Armen told TechCrunch. “Recycling centers benefit from our rate discovery, price transparency, and workflow automation tools – and we are just getting started. We envision a world where all materials circulate through an intelligent system of continual reuse, which brands, recycling centers, and collectors can tap into and propel. The result will be a regenerative economy that restores ecosystems, relationships, and value.”

Replenysh is still a lean team, with an eight-person headcount (plus one intern). While it was founded and began working on pilots way back in 2016, the company says it really began work in earnest when it incorporated last year. The $2 million seed round is led by Kindred Ventures, Floodgate Fund and 122WEST, with plans to further build out the technologies and Replenysh’s network.

Categories: Business News

Northflank announces $2.6M seed to create end-to-end DevOps workflow in cloud

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 10:00pm

Northflank, a startup from a couple of guys in their 20s, has been working on a full-stack DevOps platform in the cloud since their first year at university in 2016. Today the startup announced a $2.6 million seed investment and the launch of that platform.

The round was led by ​Kindred Ventures, ​Stride.VC​ and Amaranthine Partners with support from numerous CTO angel investors, who believe in the company’s vision.

Those CTOs like that the company is building a one-stop shop for DevOps in the cloud, says co-founder and CEO Will Stewart. “Northflank is what we call a full-stack cloud platform that allows a developer to sign up, connect their version control — GitHub, Bitbucket or GitLab — and immediately build and deploy all of their repositories via a Docker file,” he explained.

The two founders, Stewart and Frederik Brix, met in 2011 as young teens, through online multi-player gaming. Stewart was in London, while Brix grew up in Zurich. As they got older, they helped build online communities around their passion for gaming, and eventually decided to build an online DevOps platform together as they entered university because they saw first hand the issues they had running game servers in the 2015 timeframe.

Even though they were quite young at the time, they wanted to take advantage of the nascent cloud native tooling like Kubernetes and they began to tinker with it, and the idea of building their own platform began to take shape. They continued working on the idea while attending university and didn’t even meet in person until last year when they attended an accelerator together in Paris.

That led to £250,000 in angel money and bought them time to hire some additional engineers to build out the platform and get it ready for market. Today it provides a soup-to-nuts modern developer experience in a slick interface where you can schedule jobs and projects and manage and run builds.

They currently have a team of 9 people including the two founders. The pandemic did not change the way they worked since they have worked remotely from the start. Most of the team has never met in person. He says as an international, fully remote company, he can hire people from anywhere, and he’s hopeful that will lead to a more diverse workforce as they grow and develop as a company.

Stewart admits that making the transition from full time developer to managing a company has been challenging, but he’s learning as he goes. “It’s been an interesting learning process. It’s almost like diving in at the deep end. We obviously have to get at least some things right immediately like running payroll and the legal stuff,” he says.

He has leaned on accountants and lawyers to help, as well as financial services like Revolut and Transferwise. They have also set up spreadsheets to automate some activities like managing payroll.

Today marks the first day of the company with the platform going live, and the two founders have high hopes for the product they have been working on in some ways since they were kids. Now, they will try to grow a successful company based on all they learned through all of those experiences along the way.

Categories: Business News

Koyeb is a serverless startup that ingests, processes and stores data with multiple cloud providers

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 10:00pm

Meet Koyeb, a new French startup founded by Yann Léger, Édouard Bonlieu and Bastien Chatelard who have previously worked at Scaleway for many years. Koyeb is a serverless startup that helps you manipulate data in different ways without worrying about your server infrastructure.

Competition has become incredibly fierce between cloud service providers, and Koyeb wants to take advantage of that. You can integrate Koyeb with multiple cloud service providers and let Koyeb do the heavy lifting.

For instance, you may store a ton of videos on an object storage bucket managed by DigitalOcean. Let’s say you want to re-encode those videos to optimize them for a new device. Koyeb can import data from this bucket, re-encode those videos and upload the new files to your bucket.

But Koyeb goes one step-further by letting you mix and match services and APIs. As cloud platforms become smarter, they provide services that go beyond running servers and storing data for you.

For instance, Google Cloud’s speech-to-text API is arguably better than Amazon Transcribe. Instead of having to manually set up a multi-cloud workflow, Koyeb can take video files from an AWS S3 bucket, transcribes the audio from those video files on Google Cloud and save the result on the AWS S3 bucket.

There are many use cases for Koyeb. It ranges from copying data from an S3-compatible object storage provider to another every day for redundancy to triggering data processing with API calls. Everything scales automatically and once a workflow is done, you no longer get billed for runtime.

There are already dozens of integrations with data sources (as input and output) and ready-to-use processing APIs. Everything can be configured in the web interface with multiple processing steps, using a command-line interface or the Koyeb API.

The company is just coming out of stealth and is already working on more product updates. For instance, you’ll be able to use Docker containers and custom functions in the future, which should enable a lot more workflows. But it’s a promising start.

Categories: Business News

Athlane looks to connect brands and esports streamers with a fresh $3.3 million in funding

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 10:00pm

Athlane, the YC-backed company from the Summer ’19 cohort, is today ready to launch with a fresh $3.3 million in capital. Investors include Y Combinator, Jonathan Kraft (New England Patriots), Michael Gordon (President of Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club), Global Founders Capital, Romulus Capital, Seabed VC, and more.

The startup originally positioned itself as the ‘NCAA of esports’ but, after some time in stealth, has taken a new approach. Athlane is looking to be the connective fiber between streamers and brands, facilitating sponsorship and endorsement deals with more transparent data and analytics and a streamlined communications flow.

Athlane has products for both brands and streamers.

Brands can use the Athlane Terminal to manage their sponsorships. The Insights Hub uses proprietary data to help brands understand which streamers are followed by their target demographic, and whether or not the products will resonate with that fanbase. Insights also allow brands to see when a streamer’s viewership is growing.

From there, brands can send out sponsorship deals to streamers directly through the Athlane Terminal, and then track the ROI on that sponsorship deal throughout the campaign.

On the streamer side, the company has built out a platform called Athlane Pro, which lets streamers manage each task from their sponsors individually. Streamers can also use Athlane Pro to counter-offer inbound sponsorship deals or negotiate terms.

Streamers can also use Athlane’s machine learning algorithm to get clearer insights on their stream performance, such as whether their YouTube viewership overlaps with their Twitch viewership, or see which videos do better based on title or thumbnail. But more importantly, the Athlane Content Hub gives streamers the opportunity to understand if their fanbase specifically aligns with this or that brand, and gives them the tools to reach out directly to that brand and solicit a sponsorship.

Athlane has also built out a Shop tool that lets streamers build out a no-code storefront for their fans, which they can link to on their Twitch, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This storefront can be a repository for all the products that streamer is endorsing, allowing fans to see products from multiple brands in a single place.

“We have a number of proprietary partnerships with data providers including companies like Twitter,” said cofounder Faisal Younus. “For example, we have a partnership with the leading manufacturer of apparel in eSports, which ties back into our system so we can look at how merchandise is moving.”

That data, when paired with the data provided when a streamer signs in and integrates with the platform, becomes very precise, according to the company.

The startup charges brands using a tiered SaaS model, and streamers can do their first sponsorship for free on the platform. After the first sponsorship, streamers are charged a fee between $10 and $20 per deal. Athlane has also started working with agencies that represent brands and charges a discovery fee for talent those agencies find on the platform.

“COVID-19 has brought on very rapid growth on the viewership side, and because of that we’ve seen an intense interest from a number of brands while conventional entertainment is shut down,” said Younus. “A lot of media spend is going to go unspent, but there is also a higher risk appetite for spending a little bit in esports, and our challenge is making sure this industry growth is sustained.”

He added that helping brands understand the true ROI of that spend will be key.

Categories: Business News

OwnBackup lands $50M as backup for Salesforce ecosystem thrives

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 6:00pm

OwnBackup has made a name for itself primarily as a backup and disaster recovery system for the Salesforce ecosystem, and today the company announced a $50 million investment.

Insight Partners led the round with participation from Salesforce Ventures and Vertex Ventures. This chunk of money comes on top of a $23 million round from a year ago, and brings the total raised to over $100 million, according to the company.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Salesforce Ventures chipped in when the majority of the company’s backup and recovery business involves the Salesforce ecosystem, although the company will be looking to expand beyond that with the new money.

“We’ve seen such growth over the last two and a half years around the Salesforce ecosystem. and the other ISV partners like Veeva and nCino that we’ve remained focused within the Salesforce space. But with this funding, we will expand over the next 12 months into a few new ecosystems,” company CEO Sam Gutmann told TechCrunch.

In spite of the pandemic, the company continues to grow, adding 250 new customers last quarter, bringing it to over 2000 customers and 250 employees, according to Gutmann.

He says that raising the round, which closed at the beginning of May had some hairy moments as the pandemic began to take hold across the world and worsen in the U.S. For a time, he began talking to new investors in case his existing ones got cold feet. As it turned out, when the quarterly numbers came in strong, the existing ones came back and the round was oversubscribed, Gutmann said.

“Q2 frankly was a record quarter for us, adding over 250 new accounts, and we’re seeing companies start to really understand how critical this is,” he said.

The company plans to continue hiring through the pandemic, although he says it might not be quite as aggressively as they once thought. Like many companies, even though they plan to hire, they are continually assessing the market. At this point, he foresees growing the workforce by about another 50 people this year, but that’s about as far as he can look ahead right now.

Gutmann says he is working with his management team to make sure he has a diverse workforce right up to the executive level, but he says it’s challenging. “I think our lower ranks are actually quite diverse, but as you get up into the leadership team, you can see on the website unfortunately we’re not there yet,” he said.

They are instructing their recruiting teams to look for diverse candidates whether by gender or ethnicity, and employees have formed a diversity and inclusion task force with internal training, particularly for managers around interviewing techniques.

He says going remote has been difficult, and he misses seeing his employees in the office. He hopes to have at least some come back, before the end of the summer and slowly add more as we get into the fall, but that will depend on how things go.

OwnBackup grabs $7.5M Series B investment for SaaS data backup service

Categories: Business News

Organise, a platform for worker rights, raises £570K seed funding led by Ada Ventures

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 5:00pm

Organise, a U.K. startup that has built a platform to help workers organise and campaign for better rights, has raised £570,000 in seed funding.

The round is led by Ada Ventures, fitting into the VC firm’s remit to back “overlooked markets and founders”. Also participating is Form Ventures, RLC Ventures (a seed-stage fund who commit a portion of their profits back to charitable causes chosen by founders), and Ascension Ventures via its Fair By Design Fund.

Founded in 2017 by CEO Nat Whalley and CTO Bex Hay, Organise describes itself as a “worker-driven network” that provides and range of digital tools and support to enable anyone to start a campaign to improve their working conditions. The idea is to combine the power of collective action, traditionally harnessed by trade unions, with the reach and insight of modern digital campaigns.

That makes sense. given its founders’ resumes. Whalley has a background in political campaigning at 38 Degrees and Avaaz, and also ran ChangeLab, a digital agency building campaigning technology.  And Hay was formerly the tech director at 38 Degrees, and also ran Amazon Anonymous, leading her to be dubbed “the thorn in Jeff Bezos’ side”.

“With so many people working remotely, it’s harder to share your problems with colleagues or raise issues about work,” says Whalley. “When people run into issues around unsafe environments or concerns about unfair pay or maternity rights, they have nowhere to turn for support. We provide a way to bring workers together and give them the tools needed to make themselves heard. Our platform empowers individuals, groups and workplaces, helping them to affect meaningful change”.

Whalley explains that users discover Organise in one of three ways: they’re looking to change something in their workplace and discover Organise as a way to make that happen; they join a campaign someone else in their workplace has already started; or they join a campaign calling for a national-level change related to the world of work.

“When people join Organise, we ask them to share their workplace and employment status,” she says. “The platform is then able to connect employees to existing networks of people from the same organisation, immediately enabling them to speak with one, much louder voice. For new campaigns, we can help people build up the awareness they need to get colleagues or workers from across their industry on board.

“Once part of the network, users are in control of their campaigns. They decide what change they want and we provide the tools to make it happen. This might be through surveys, calls to sign petitions, or open letters to decision makers”.

To date, Organise has enabled workers to mount successful campaigns against unjust working practices at companies including McDonald’s, Ted Baker, Amazon, Uber and Deliveroo. No doubt helped by the coronavirus crisis and resulting pressure on workers, the platform has grown from 90,000 to 400,000 members in the last three months.

Asked if Organise is designed to be an alternative to unions or to work with them, Whalley says the platform is complementary to union activities and that many of its members are union members too.

“They use the Organise tools to enhance their impact and increase their reach,” she adds. “For others, Organise makes it possible to bring colleagues together around a single issue where time is of the essence. The dynamic nature of the tools we provide and the speed at which campaigns can get off the ground can be exactly what employees need to drive through meaningful change”.

On competitors, Whalley says Organise is the only platform empowering workers’ rights at scale. There are also whistleblowing platforms in existence, like Vault, which she points out is paid for by companies, “meaning it’s not ultimately in the interests or control of the workers”.

Meanwhile, the business model is simple enough and, I’m told, is working. Organise is free for anyone to join but also offers paid-for, enhanced support for those who need it.

Around 5% of users pay a subscription (usually £1 – £2 a week, depending on income) for enhanced support. This includes employment advice and access to a peer-to-peer forum. “Because it’s paid for by the individuals who will ultimately benefit from it, we can scale and sustain impact at the same time,” says Whalley.

Categories: Business News

Fixed Business Voice Platforms and Services Market to Observe Strong Development by 2025 ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 7 - 4:41pm
(Atos Origin), Vodafone Limited, AltoTelecom Call Center VoIP, Alhambra, Digicel, Nurango, Orange Business Services. Post author By sales@ ...
Categories: VoIP News

Voice over Internet Protocol (<b>VoIP</b>) Services Market Size 2025 - Industry Sales, Revenue, Price and ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 7 - 3:56pm
Market Study Report, LLC offers a latest study on ' Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Services market' featuring a holistic view of the market size, ...
Categories: VoIP News

Voice over Internet Protocol (<b>VoIP</b>) Services Market 2020 Size, Forecast 2027, Major Players ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 7 - 1:07pm
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Services research portrays previous and forecasts information, latest technological affairs, future directions and ...
Categories: VoIP News

Research On Global <b>VoIP</b> Softphones Market (impact of COVID-19) with Top Players: Nextiva ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 7 - 12:56pm
The “VoIP Softphones Market” 2020 report includes the market strategy, market orientation, expert opinion and knowledgeable information. The VoIP ...
Categories: VoIP News

Global <b>VoIP</b> Softphones Market Expected to Reach Highest CAGR by 2025 Top Players: Nextiva ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 7 - 12:56pm
This Global VoIP Softphones Market report is an in depth study of the present market dynamics and the factors that affect it. It consists of the detailed ...
Categories: VoIP News

Global Over Top (OTT) Market 2025 In-depth coverage and various important aspects: Facebook ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 7 - 12:45pm
VoIP Text&Image. Video. Market segment by Application, split into. Household Commercial. The study of various segments of the global market are ...
Categories: VoIP News

Email is broken and Hey’s Jason Fried is here to fix it

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 7:36am

Email is a critical tool in modern-day communications, so it’s natural that many entrepreneurs have tried to overhaul it over the years.

In the last decade, email client Mailbox came and went, Slack launched to try to give people an alternative to email and Superhuman emerged to help people more easily reach the promised land of Inbox Zero.

The latest startup to tackle email is project management software maker Basecamp, which launched Hey last month. Within its first 11 days of release, Hey received 125,000 signups, Basecamp founder and CEO Jason Fried tells TechCrunch. Those initial days also included some drama with the Apple App Store, but that’s not what this story is about. Instead, it’s about Hey’s approach, why Fried felt the need to try to rebuild email from the ground up and how he approaches product development.

“The last time people were really excited about email, really, in a broad scale was 16 years ago when Gmail came out in 2004,” Fried says. “I remember it feeling different in a lot of ways. It was really fast, they had archiving, which was a new concept at the time. It worked differently than what I was coming from, which was Yahoo Mail, which was sort of stuck in the past. And I think that’s where Gmail is today — stuck in the past and we’re trying to bring out something brand new with new thinking and new philosophies and a new point of view.”

At its core, Hey is about giving people control over their email and minimizing clutter so users can hear from the people who matter most, Fried says. But control comes at a price: Hey costs $99 per year, with additional fees for three- and two-character email addresses (two-character email addresses are $999 per year and three-character addresses are $349 per year).

“We got a taste of our own medicine because it was not cheap to buy hey.com,” Fried says. “So anything that short in the domain world just costs more. It’s like beachfront property almost, because it’s scarce — more desirable. So given that we have a three-letter domain, two- and three-letter email addresses are just going to cost more. There’s fewer of them and they’re more desirable.”

Hey’s current iteration is targeted toward individual users, but by the end of the year, the plan is to launch a formal enterprise version with collaborative features like shared messages and inboxes. In this unified Imbox (not a typo), people will be able to specify that they don’t want to see work email past a certain time or on weekends.

“A lot of email is collaborative in nature,” Fried says. “People end up forwarding emails around to show someone to get their take. We think that’s totally broken and really antiquated. So we have some stuff built into Hey for work, which lets people share threads with one another in a very different way and be able to have backchannel conversations about threads without having to have those conversations in another product or somewhere that is separate from the actual thread itself.”

There’s much more to this conversation, like how Hey landed on its hypothesis, why control is so important, how email shouldn’t feel like work and more. Below are Fried’s insights.

Categories: Business News

Market Research Store Analysis Of COVID – 19 Impact On Global Internet Protocol Private Branch ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 7 - 6:30am
... segments of the Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange (Ip Pbx) market includes {SIP phones, VoIP phones, IP PBX servers, VoIP gateway}; .
Categories: VoIP News

Tech shares set fresh records despite uncertain economy

Startup News - 2020, July 7 - 6:21am

Despite record-setting COVID-19 infections, American equities rose today. All major indices gained ground during regular trading, while tech stocks did even better.

The Nasdaq Composite set new 52-week and all-time highs, touching 10,462.0 points before closing at 10,433.65, up 2.21% on the day. Similarly, a basket of SaaS and cloud companies that has risen and fallen more sharply than even the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed this afternoon at 1,908.30 after touching 1,952.39 points. Both results were 52-week and all-time highs.

Such is the mood on Wall Street regarding the health of technology companies. It’s not hard to find bullish sentiment, jockeying to push tech shares higher. Some examples of today’s enthusiasm paint the picture:

  • The recent IPO for Lemonade is now worth $4.7 billion, according to Yahoo Finance. That price gives it a Q1-annualized revenue run rate multiple of around 45x. For a SaaS company, that would boggle the mind. As we’ve written, however, Lemonade has very un-SaaS-like gross margins, and has higher churn. The company’s stock rose around 17% today for no clear reason.
  • Tesla rose over 13% today to $1,371.58 per share, another huge day of gains for the company now worth in excess of $250 billion. Analysts expect the firm to report $4.83 billion in revenue in its most recent quarter, according to Yahoo Finance. That’s less than the company reported in its year-ago June quarter when it saw $6.35 billion in revenue. Since July 1, 2019, Tesla shares have appreciated in excess of 450%, despite the company prepping to report what the market anticipates will be revenue declines.
  • Amazon and Netflix also set new records today to toss a few more names into the mix.

You can’t swing your arms without running into a reason why it makes sense for SaaS stocks to be trading at record valuation multiples, or why one company or another is actually reasonably valued over a long-enough time horizon.

It’s worth noting that this putatively rational public investor thinking doesn’t fit at all with what the tech set used to pound into my head about the public markets, namely that they are infamously impatient and thus utter bilge for most long-term value creation. Going public was garbage, I was told; you have to report every three months and no one looks out a few years.

Now, I’m being told by roughly the same people that the market is doing the very thing that they said it didn’t do, namely price firms for future results instead of trailing outcomes. Fine by me either way, frankly, but I’d like to know which story is true.

Happily, we’re about to see if all this high-fiving and enthusiasm is real.

Earnings season beckons, and it should bring with it a dose or two of clarity. If the digital transformation has managed to accelerate sufficiently that most tech companies have managed to greatly boost their near-term value, hats off to the cohort and bully for the startups that must also be enjoying similar revenue upswells.

But that doesn’t have to happen. There are possible earnings result sets that can cause investors to dump tech shares, as Slack learned a month ago.

The background to all of this is that there are good reasons to have some doubts about the current health of the national economy. And, sure, most people are willing to allow that the stock market and the aggregate domestic economy are not perfectly linked — this is no less than partially true — but each day the stock market steps higher and COVID-19 surges again leading to re-closings around the nation makes you to wonder if this is all for real.

Earnings season is here soon. Let’s find out.

Categories: Business News

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