Monthly Archives: October 2020

Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith is buying majority stake in the Utah Jazz for $1.6B

Posted by on 28 October, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

The Utah Jazz, an NBA basketball team based in Salt Lake City, announced today that Qualitrics CEO and co-founder Ryan Smith was buying a majority stake in the team along other properties. ESPN is reporting the deal is worth $1.6 billion.

Smith can afford it. He sold Qualtrics, which is based in Provo, Utah, in 2018 to SAP for $8 billion just before the startup was about to go public. Earlier this year, SAP announced plans to spin out Qualtrics as public company.

In addition to The Jazz, he’s also getting Vivint Arena, the National Basketball Association (NBA) G League team Salt Lake City Stars and management of the Triple-A baseball affiliate Salt Lake Bees. Smith is buying the properties from the Miller family, who have run them for over three decades.

Smith was over the moon about being able to buy into a franchise he has supported over the years. “My wife and I are absolutely humbled and excited about the opportunity to take the team forward far into the future – especially with the greatest fans in the NBA. The Utah Jazz, the state of Utah, and its capital city are the beneficiaries of the Millers’ tremendous love, generosity and investment. We look forward to building upon their lifelong work,” he said in a statement.

The deal is pending approval of the NBA Board Governors, but once that happens, Smith will have full decision making authority over the franchise.

Qualtrics, which makes customer survey tools, was founded in 2002 and raised over $400 million from firms like Accel, Insight Partners and Sequoia before selling the company two years ago to SAP.

Smith is not the first tech billionaire to buy a basketball team. He joins Mark Cuban, who bought the Dallas Mavericks in 1999 after selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo for $5.7 billion that same year. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 for $2 billion.

Posted Under: Tech News
That dreadful VPN might finally be dead thanks to Twingate, a new startup built by Dropbox alums

Posted by on 28 October, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

VPNs, or virtual private networks, are a mainstay of corporate network security (and also consumers trying to stream Netflix while pretending to be from other countries). VPNs create an encrypted channel between your device (a laptop or a smartphone) and a company’s servers. All of your internet traffic gets routed through the company’s IT infrastructure, and it’s almost as if you are physically located inside your company’s offices.

Despite its ubiquity though, there are significant flaws with VPN’s architecture. Corporate networks and VPN were designed assuming that most workers would be physically located in an office most of the time, and the exceptional device would use VPN. As the pandemic has made abundantly clear, fewer and fewer people work in a physical office with a desktop computer attached to ethernet. That means the vast majority of devices are now outside the corporate perimeter.

Worse, VPN can have massive performance problems. By routing all traffic through one destination, VPNs not only add latency to your internet experience, they also transmit all of your non-work traffic through your corporate servers as well. From a security perspective, VPNs also assume that once a device joins, it’s reasonably safe and secure. VPNs don’t actively check network requests to make sure that every device is only accessing the resources that it should.

Twingate is fighting directly to defeat VPN in the workplace with an entirely new architecture that assumes zero trust, works as a mesh, and can segregate work and non-work internet traffic to protect both companies and employees. In short, it may dramatically improve the way hundreds of millions of people work globally.

It’s a bold vision from an ambitious trio of founders. CEO Tony Huie spent five years at Dropbox, heading up international and new market expansion in his final role at the file-sharing juggernaut. He’s most recently been a partner at venture capital firm SignalFire . Chief Product Office Alex Marshall was a product manager at Dropbox before leading product at lab management program Quartzy. Finally, CTO Lior Rozner was most recently at Rakuten and before that Microsoft.

Twingate founders Alex Marshall, Tony Huie, and Lior Rozner. Photo via Twingate.

The startup was founded in 2019, and is announcing today the public launch of its product as well as its Series A funding of $17 million from WndrCo, 8VC, SignalFire and Green Bay Ventures. Dropbox’s two founders, Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, also invested.

The idea for Twingate came from Huie’s experience at Dropbox, where he watched its adoption in the enterprise and saw first-hand how collaboration was changing with the rise of the cloud. “While I was there, I was still just fascinated by this notion of the changing nature of work and how organizations are going to get effectively re-architected for this new reality,” Huie said. He iterated on a variety of projects at SignalFire, eventually settling on improving corporate networks.

So what does Twingate ultimately do? For corporate IT professionals, it allows them to connect an employee’s device into the corporate network much more flexibly than VPN. For instance, individual services or applications on a device could be setup to securely connect with different servers or data centers. So your Slack application can connect directly to Slack, your JIRA site can connect directly to JIRA’s servers, all without the typical round-trip to a central hub that VPN requires.

That flexibility offers two main benefits. First, internet performance should be faster, since traffic is going directly where it needs to rather than bouncing through several relays between an end-user device and the server. Twingate also says that it offers “congestion” technology that can adapt its routing to changing internet conditions to actively increase performance.

More importantly, Twingate allows corporate IT staff to carefully calibrate security policies at the network layer to ensure that individual network requests make sense in context. For instance, if you are salesperson in the field and suddenly start trying to access your company’s code server, Twingate can identify that request as highly unusual and outright block it.

“It takes this notion of edge computing and distributed computing [and] we’ve basically taken those concepts and we’ve built that into the software we run on our users’ devices,” Huie explained.

All of that customization and flexibility should be a huge win for IT staff, who get more granular controls to increase performance and safety, while also making the experience better for employees, particularly in a remote world where people in, say, Montana might be very far from an East Coast VPN server.

Twingate is designed to be easy to onboard new customers according to Huie, although that is almost certainly dependent on the diversity of end users within the corporate network and the number of services that each user has access to. Twingate integrates with popular single sign-on providers.

“Our fundamental thesis is that you have to balance usability, both for end users and admins, with bulletproof technology and security,” Huie said. With $17 million in the bank and a newly debuted product, the future is bright (and not for VPNs).

Posted Under: Tech News
Kandji hauls in $21M Series A as Apple device management flourishes during pandemic

Posted by on 28 October, 2020

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Kandji, a mobile device management (MDM) startup, launched last October. That means it was trying to build the early stage company just as the pandemic hit earlier this year. But a company that helps manage devices remotely has been in demand in this environment, and today it announced a $21 million Series A.

Greycroft led the round with participation from new investors Okta Ventures and B Capital Group, and existing investor First Round Capital. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $28.4 million, according to the company.

What Kandji is building is a sophisticated zero-touch device management solution to help larger companies manage their fleet of Apple devices, including keeping them in compliance with a particular set of rules. As CEO and co-founder Adam Pettit told TechCrunch at the time of his seed investment last year:

“We’re the only product that has almost 200 of these one-click policy frameworks we call parameters. So an organization can go in and browse by compliance framework, or we have pre-built templates for companies that don’t necessarily have a specific compliance mandate in mind,” he said.

Monty Gray, SVP of corporate development at Okta, says Okta Ventures is investing because it sees this approach as a valuable extension of the company’s mission.

“Kandji’s device management streamlines the most common and complex tasks for Apple IT administrators and enables distributed workforces to get up and running quickly and securely,” he said in a statement.

It seems to be working. Since the company’s launch last year it reports it has gained hundreds of new paying customers and grown from 10 employees at launch to 40 today. Pettit says that he has plans to triple that number in the next 12 months. As he builds the company, he says finding and hiring a diverse pool of candidates is an important goal.

“There are ways to extend out into different candidate pools so that you’re not just looking at the same old candidates that you normally would. There are certain ways to reduce bias in the hiring process. So again, I think we look at this as absolutely critical, and we’re excited to build a really diverse company over the next several years,” he said.

Image Credits: Kandji

He notes that the investment will not only enable him to build the employee base, but also expand the product too, and in the past year, it has already taken it from basic MDM into compliance and there are new features coming as they continue to grow the product.

“If someone saw our product a year ago, it’s a very different product today, and it’s allowed us to move up market into the enterprise, which has been very exciting for us,” he said.

Posted Under: Tech News
Enso Security raises $6M for its application security management platform

Posted by on 28 October, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Enso Security, a Tel Aviv-based startup that is building a new application security platform, today announced that it has raised a $6 million seed funding round led by YL Ventures, with participation from Jump Capital. Angel investors in this round include HackerOne co-founder and CTO Alex Rice; Sounil Yu, the former chief security scientist at Bank of America; Omkhar Arasaratnam, the former head of Data Protection Technology at JPMorgan Chase and toDay Ventures.

The company was founded by Roy Erlich (CEO), Chen Gour Arie (CPO) and Barak Tawily (CTO). As is so often the case with Israeli security startups, the founding team includes former members of the Israeli Intelligence Corps, but also a lot of hands-on commercial experience. Erlich, for example, was previously the head of application security at Wix, while Gour Arie worked as an application security consultant for numerous companies across Europe and Tawily has a background in pentesting and led a security team at Wix, too.

Image Credits: Enso Security / Getty Images

“It’s no secret that, today, the diversity of R&D allows [companies] to rapidly introduce new applications and push changes to existing ones,” Erlich explained. “But this great complexity for application security teams results in significant AppSec management challenges. These challenges include the difficulty of tracking applications across environments, measuring risks, prioritizing tasks and enforcing uniform Application Security strategies across all applications.”

But as companies push out code faster than ever, the application security teams aren’t able to keep up — and may not even know about every application being developed internally. The team argues that application security today is often a manual effort to identify owners and measure risk, for example — and the resources for application security teams are often limited, especially when compared the size of the overall development team in most companies. Indeed, the Enso team argues that most AppSec teams today spend most of their time creating relationships with developers and performing operational and product-related tasks — and not on application security.

Image Credits: Enso Security / Getty Images

“It’s a losing fight from the application security side because you have no chance to cover everything,” Erlich noted. “Having said that, […] it’s all about managing the risk. You need to make sure that you take data-driven decisions and that you have all the data that you need in one place.”

Enso Security then wants to give these teams a platform that gives them a single pane of glass to discover applications, identify owners, detect changes and capture their security posture. From there, teams can then prioritize and track their tasks and get real-time feedback on what is happening across their tools. The company’s tools currently pull in data from a wide variety of tools, including the likes of JIRA, Jenkins, GitLab, GitHub, Splunk, ServiceNow and the Envoy edge and service proxy. But as the team argues, even getting data from just a few sources already provides benefits for Enso’s users.

Looking ahead, the team plans to continue improving its product and staff up from its small group of seven employees to about 20 in the next year.

“Roy, Chen and Barak have come up with a very elegant solution to a notoriously complex problem space,” said Ofer Schreiber, partner at YL Ventures . “Because they cut straight to visibility — the true heart of this issue — cybersecurity professionals can finally see and manage all of the applications in their environments. This will have an extraordinary impact on the rate of application rollout and enterprise productivity.”

Posted Under: Tech News
MachEye raises $4.6M for its business intelligence platform

Posted by on 28 October, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

We’ve seen our fair share of business intelligence (BI) platforms that aim to make data analysis accessible to everybody in a company. Most of them are still fairly complicated, no matter what their marketing copy says. MachEye, which is launching its AI-powered BI platform today, is offering a new twist on this genre. In addition to its official launch, the company also today announced a previously unreported $4.6 seed funding round led by Canaan Partners with participation from WestWave Capital.

MachEye is not just what its founder and CEO Ramesh Panuganty calls a “low-prep, no-prep” BI platform, but it uses natural language processing to allow anybody to query data using natural language — and it can then automatically generate interactive data stories on the fly that put the answer into context. That’s quite a different approach from its more dashboard-centric competition.

“I have seen the business intelligence problems in the past,” Panuganty said. “And I saw that Traditional BI, even though it has existed for 30 or 40 years, had this paradigm of ‘what you ask is what you get.’ So the business user asks for something, either in an email, on the phone or in person, and then he gets an answer to that question back. That essentially has these challenges of being dependent on the experts and there is a time that is lost to get the answers — and then there’s a lack of exploratory capabilities for the business user. and the bigger problem is that they don’t know what they don’t know.”

Panuganty’s background includes time at Sun Microsystems and Bell Labs, working on their operating systems before becoming an entrepreneur. He build three companies over the last 12 years or so. The first was a cloud management platform, Cloud365, which was acquired by Cognizant. The second was analytics company Drastin, which got acquired by Splunk in 2017, and the third was the AI-driven educational platform SelectQ, which Thinker acquired this April. He also holds 15 patents related to machine learning, analytics and natural language processing.

Given that track record, it’s probably no surprise why VCs wanted to invest in his new startup, too. Panuganty tells me that when he met with Canaan Partners, he wasn’t really looking for an investment. He had already talked to the team while building SelectQ, but Canaan never got to make an investment because the company got acquired before it needed to raise more funding. But after an informal meeting that ended up lasting most of the day, he received an offer the next morning.

Image Credits: MachEye

MachEye’s approach is definitely unique. “Generating audio-visuals on enterprise data, we are probably the only company that does it,” Panuganty said. But it’s important to note that it also offers all of the usual trappings of a BI service. If you really want dashboards, you can build those, and developers can use the company’s APIs to use their data elsewhere, too. The service can pull in data from most of the standard databases and data warehousing services, including AWS Redshift, Azure Synapse, Google BigQuery, Snowflake and Oracle. The company promises that it only takes 30 minutes from connecting a data source to being able to ask questions about that data.

Interestingly, MachEye’s pricing plan is per seat and doesn’t limit how much data you can query. There’s a free plan, but without the natural search and query capabilities, an $18/month/user plan that adds those capabilities and additional search features, but it takes the enterprise plan to get the audio narrations and other advanced features. The team is able to use this pricing model because it is able to quickly spin up the container infrastructure to answer a query and then immediately shut it down again — all within about two minutes.

Posted Under: Tech News
Daily Crunch: Zoom adds end-to-end encryption to free calls

Posted by on 27 October, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Zoom adds a much-requested feature (but with a catch), TikTok partners with Shopify and Jack Dorsey lays out his argument for tomorrow’s Senate hearing. This is your Daily Crunch for October 27, 2020.

The big story: Zoom adds end-to-end encryption to free calls

Zoom was criticized earlier this year for saying it would only offer end-to-end encryption to paid users. Now it says free users will have the option as well, starting in Zoom 5.4.0 on both desktop and mobile.

There are, however, a few catches. If you use end-to-end encryption in a free meeting, features like cloud recording, live transcription and meeting reactions will not be available, nor will participants be able to join the call by phone.

In addition, you’ll need to provide a phone number and billing information. And you’ll need to use the Zoom app rather than joining a meeting via web browser.

The tech giants

TikTok partners with Shopify on social commerce — At launch, the agreement allows Shopify merchants to create, run and optimize their TikTok marketing campaigns directly from the Shopify dashboard.

How Jack Dorsey will defend Twitter in tomorrow’s Senate hearing on Section 230 — In his opening statement, the Twitter CEO calls Section 230 “the Internet’s most important law for free speech and safety” and focuses on the kind of cascading effects that could arise if tech’s key legal shield comes undone.

Microsoft stock flat despite better-than-expected earnings, strong Azure growth — In the three months ending September 30, Microsoft had revenues of $37.2 billion and per-share profit of $1.82.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Next-gen skincare, silk without spiders and pollution for lunch: Meet the biotech startups pitching at IndieBio’s Demo Day — Starting in 2015, IndieBio has provided resources to founders solving complex challenges with biotech, from fake meat to sustainability.

SpaceX launches Starlink app and provides pricing and service info to early beta testers — In terms of pricing, SpaceX says the cost for participants in this beta program will be $99 per month, plus a one-time cost of $499 for hardware.

SimilarWeb raises $120M for its AI-based market intelligence platform for sites and apps — The company will expand through acquisitions and its own R&D, with a focus on providing more analytics services to larger enterprises.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Five startup theses that will transform the 2020s — Danny Crichton lays out five clusters: wellness, climate, data society, creativity and fundamentals.

Ten favorite startups from Techstars’ October 2020 class — Ten favorites culled from the Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York City cohorts, as well as its accelerator with Western Union.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Hands-on: Sony’s DualSense PS5 controller could be a game changer — The question is whether developers will truly embrace the new haptics and audio features.

T-Mobile launches new TVision streaming bundles, pricing starts at $10 per month — The carrier is launching new skinny bundles of live TV and streaming services to compete with expensive cable subscriptions.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Posted Under: Tech News
Rockset announces $40M Series B as data analytics solution gains momentum

Posted by on 27 October, 2020

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Rockset, a cloud-native analytics company, announced a $40 million Series B investment today led by Sequoia with help from Greylock, the same two firms that financed its Series A. The startup has now raised a total of $61.5 million, according to the company.

As co-founder and CEO Venkat Venkataramani told me at the time of the Series A in 2018, there is a lot of manual work involved in getting data ready to use and it acts as a roadblock to getting to real insight. He hoped to change that with Rockset.

“We’re building out our service with innovative architecture and unique capabilities that allows full-featured fast SQL directly on raw data. And we’re offering this as a service. So developers and data scientists can go from useful data in any shape, any form to useful applications in a matter of minutes. And it would take months today,” he told me in 2018.

In fact, “Rockset automatically builds a converged index on any data — including structured, semi-structured, geographical and time series data — for high-performance search and analytics at scale,” the company explained.

It seems to be resonating with investors and customers alike as the company raised a healthy B round and business is booming. Rockset supplied a few metrics to illustrate this. For starters, revenue grew 290% in the last quarter. While they didn’t provide any foundational numbers for that percentage growth, it is obviously substantial.

In addition, the startup reports adding hundreds of new users, again not nailing down any specific numbers, and queries on the platform are up 313%. Without specifics, it’s hard to know what that means, but that seems like healthy growth for an early stage startup, especially in this economy.

Mike Vernal, a partner at Sequoia, sees a company helping to get data to work faster than other solutions, which require a lot of handling first. “Rockset, with its innovative new approach to indexing data, has quickly emerged as a true leader for real-time analytics in the cloud. I’m thrilled to partner with the company through its next phase of growth,” Vernal said in a statement.

The company was founded in 2016 by the creators of RocksDB. The startup had previously raised a $3 million seed round when they launched the company and the $18.5 million A round in 2018.

Posted Under: Tech News
Lightyear scores $3.7M seed to digitize networking infrastructure procurement

Posted by on 27 October, 2020

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Lightyear, a New York City startup that wants to make it easier for large companies to procure networking infrastructure like internet and SD-WAN, announced a $3.7 million seed round today. While it was at it, the company announced that it was emerging from stealth and offering its solution in public beta.

Amplo led the round with help from Susa Ventures, Ludlow Ventures, Mark Cuban, David Adelman and Operator Partners.

Company CEO and co-founder Dennis Thankachan says that while so much technology buying has moved online, networking technology procurement still involves phone calls for price quotes that could sometimes take weeks to get. Thankachan says that when he was working at a hedge fund specializing in telecommunications he witnessed this first hand and saw an opportunity for a startup to fill the void.

“Our objective is to make the process of buying telecom infrastructure, kind of like buying socks on Amazon, providing a real consumer-like experience to the enterprise and empowering buyers with data because information asymmetry and a lack of transparent data on what things should cost, where providers are available, and even what’s existing already in your network is really at the core of the problem for why this is frustrating for enterprise buyers,” Thankachan explained.

The company offers the ability to simply select a service and find providers in your area with costs and contract terms if it’s a simple purchase, but he recognizes that not all enterprise purchases will be that simple and the startup is working to digitize the corporate buying process into the Lightyear platform.

To provide the data that he spoke of, the company has already formed relationships with over 400 networking providers worldwide. The pricing model is in flux, but could involve a monthly subscription or a percentage of the sale. That is something they are working out, but they are using the latter during Beta testing to keep the product free for now.

The company already has 10 employees and flush with the new investment, it plans to double that in the next year. Thankachan says as he builds the company, particularly as a person of color himself, he takes diversity and inclusion extremely seriously and sees it as part of the company’s core values.

“Trying to enable people from non-traditional backgrounds to succeed will be really important to us, and I think providing economic opportunity to people that traditionally would not have been afforded several aspects of economic opportunity is the biggest ways to fix the opportunity gap in this country,” he said.

The company, which launched a year ago has basically grown up during the pandemic. That means he has yet to meet any of his customers or investors in person, but he says he has learned to adapt to that approach. While he is based in NYC, his investors are are in the Bay Area and so that remote approach will remain in place for the time being.

As he makes his way from seed to a Series A, he says that it’s up to him to stay focused and execute with the goal of showing product-market fit across a variety of company types. He believes if the startup can do this, it will have the data to take to investors when it’s time to take the next step.

Posted Under: Tech News
Vimeo introduces free video messaging with Vimeo Record

Posted by on 27 October, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Vimeo Record is a new product that allows teams to communicate through video messages.

Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud said that while the pandemic has prompted many offices to embrace digital communication tools like Zoom, “There’s a whole host of work communication that needs asynchronous messaging.”

Besides, sometimes a video can get your message across more effectively, rather than “scheduling another call or writing a long email or Slack thread.”

Sud said that since she became CEO of the IAC-owned video platform in 2017, Vimeo has shifted its focus from being a destination site that competed with YouTube to providing video tools for businesses: “We really want to be the single corporate video solution for the modern organization.”

Vimeo Record is an extension of that strategy. During the pandemic, Vimeo’s revenue has already been growing 40% to 50% year-over-year each month, but Sud said this product been in the works since before then, reflecting the long-term trend that “more and more teams are distributed, and they need ways to communicate.”

Collaborate better remotely with Vimeo Record from Vimeo Staff on Vimeo.

So Vimeo created a Google Chrome extension that allows users to easily record their screen or their face, share and comment on those recordings, organize them into folders with different permissions and receive notifications when someone watches.

Sud said around 400 companies have already been beta testing the feature. Teams are using it to review design and code, to work together to resolve customer support tickets, to share messages from company leadership and more.

Asked whether there’s been a learning curve for recording effective video messages, Sud said, “The biggest barrier is just making it not feel intimidating. The easiest way [to do that] is for people to receive a video message themselves. If a colleague sends you something that’s not perfect, it lowers that intimidation factor.”

She also noted that Vimeo Record fits into the company’s freemium business model. Anyone can send unlimited messages for free, but Vimeo will charge for premium features like the ability to host videos on a third-party, custom-branded video platform.

“My team is using Vimeo Record to share product demos internally and to give our customers a preview of what’s launching soon,” said Mailchimp’s director of product marketing Trevor Wolfe in a statement. “We love it! It adds a personal touch that you just can’t replicate with email or a chatroom message.”

Posted Under: Tech News
SimilarWeb raises $120M for its AI-based market intelligence platform for sites and apps

Posted by on 27 October, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Israeli startup SimilarWeb has made a name for itself with an AI-based platform that lets sites and apps track and understand traffic not just on their own sites, but those of its competitors. Now, it’s taking the next step in its growth. The startup has raised $120 million, funding it will use to continue expanding its platform both through acquisitions and investing in its own R&D, with a focus on providing more analytics services to larger enterprises alongside its current base of individuals and companies of all sizes that do business on the web.

Co-led by ION Crossover Partners and Viola Growth, the round doubles the total amount that the startup has raised to date to $240 million. Or Offer, SimilarWeb’s founder and CEO, said in an interview that it was not disclosing its valuation this time around except to say that his company is now “playing in the big pool.” It counts more than half of the Fortune 100 as customers, with Walmart, P&G, Adidas and Google, among them.

For some context, it hit an $800 million valuation in its last equity round, in 2017.

SimilarWeb’s technology competes with other analytics and market intelligence providers ranging from the likes of Nielsen and ComScore through to the Apptopias of the world in that, at its most basic level, it provides a dashboard to users that provides insights into where people are going on desktop and mobile. Where it differs, Offer said, is in how it gets to its information, and what else it’s doing in the process.

For starters, it focuses not just how many people are visiting, but also a look into what is triggering the activity — the “why”, as it were — behind the activity. Using a host of AI tech such as machine learning algorithms and deep learning — like a lot of tech out of Israel, it’s being built by people with deep expertise in this area — Offer says that SimilarWeb is crunching data from a number of different sources to extrapolate its insights.

He declined to give much detail on those sources but told me that he cheered the arrival of privacy gates and cookie lists for helping ferret out, expose and sometimes eradicate some of the more nefarious “analytics” services out there, and said that SimilarWeb has not been affected at all by that swing to more data protection, since it’s not an analytics service, strictly speaking, and doesn’t sniff data on sights in the same way. It’s also exploring widening its data pool, he added:

“We are always thinking about what new signals we could use,” he said. “Maybe they will include CDNs. But it’s like Google with its rankings in search. It’s a never ending story to try to get the highest accuracy in the world.”

The global health pandemic has driven a huge amount of activity on the web this year, with people turning to sites and apps not just for leisure — something to do while staying indoors, to offset all the usual activities that have been cancelled — but for business, whether it be consumers using e-commerce services for shopping, or workers taking everything online and to the cloud to continue operating.

That has also seen a boost of business for all the various companies that help the wheels turn on that machine, SimilarWeb included.

“Consumer behavior is changing dramatically, and all companies need better visibility,” said Offer. “It started with toilet paper and hand sanitizer, then moved to desks and office chairs, but now it’s not just e-commerce but everything. Think about big banks, whose business was 70% offline and is now 70-80% online. Companies are building and undergoing a digital transformation.”

That in turn is driving more people to understand how well their web presence is working, he said, with the basic big question being: “What is my marketshare, and how does that compare to my competition? Everything is about digital visibility, especially in times of change.”

Like many other companies, SimilarWeb did see an initial dip in business, Offer said, and to that end the company has taken on some debt as part of Israel’s Paycheck Protection Program, to help safeguard some jobs that needed to be furloughed. But he added that most of its customers prior to the pandemic kicking off are now back, along with customers from new categories that hadn’t been active much before, like automotive portals.

That change in customer composition is also opening some doors of opportunity for the company. Offer noted that in recent months, a lot of large enterprises — which might have previously used SimilarWeb’s technology indirectly, via a consultancy, for example — have been coming to the company direct.

“We’ve started a new advisory service [where] our own expert works with a big customer that might have more deep and complex questions about the behaviour we are observing. They are questions all big businesses have right now.” The service sounds like a partly-educational effort, teaching companies that are not necessarily digital-first be more proactive, and partly consulting.

New customer segments, and new priorities in the world of business, are two of the things that drove this round, say investors.

“SimilarWeb was always an incredible tool for any digital professional,” said Gili Iohan of ION Crossover Partners, in a statement. “But over the last few months it has become apparent that traffic intelligence — the unparalleled data and digital insight that SimilarWeb offers — is an absolute essential for any company that wants to win in the digital world.”

As for acquisitions, SimilarWeb has historically made these to accelerate its technical march. For example, in 2015 it acquired Quettra to move deeper into mobile analytics and it acquired Swayy to move into content discovery insights (key for e-commerce intelligence). Offer would not go into too much detail about what it has identified as a further target but given that there are quite a lot of companies building tech in this area currently, that there might be a case for some consolidation around bigger platforms to combine some of the features and functionality. Offer said that it was looking at “companies with great data and digital intelligence, with a good product. There are a lot of opportunities right now on the table.”

The company will also be doing some hiring, with the plan to be to add 200 more people globally by January (it has around 600 employees today).

“Since we joined the company three years ago, SimilarWeb has executed a strategic transformation from a general-purpose measurement platform to vertical-based solutions, which has significantly expanded its market opportunity and generated immense customer value,” said Harel Beit-On, Founder and General Partner at Viola Growth, in a statement. “With a stellar management team of accomplished executives, we believe this round positions the company to own the digital intelligence category, and capitalize on the acceleration of the digital era.”

Posted Under: Tech News
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