Monthly Archives: May 2021

Once a buzzword, digital transformation is reshaping markets

Posted by on 28 May, 2021

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The notion of digital transformation evolved from a buzzword joke to a critical and accelerating fact during the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes wrought by a global shift to remote work and schooling are myriad, but in the business realm they have yielded a change in corporate behavior and consumer expectation — changes that showed up in a bushel of earnings reports this week.

TechCrunch may tend to have a private-company focus, but we do keep tabs on public companies in the tech world as they often provide hints, notes and other pointers on how startups may be faring. In this case, however, we’re working in reverse; startups have told us for several quarters now that their markets are picking up momentum as customers shake up their buying behavior with a distinct advantage for companies helping customers move into the digital realm. And public company results are now confirming the startups’ perspective.

The accelerating digital transformation is real, and we have the data to support the point.

What follows is a digest of notes concerning the recent earnings results from Box, Sprout Social, Yext, Snowflake and Salesforce. We’ll approach each in micro to save time, but as always there’s more digging to be done if you have time. Let’s go!

Enterprise earnings go up

Kicking off with Yext, the company beat expectations in its most recent quarter. Today its shares are up 18%. And a call with the company’s CEO Howard Lerman underscored our general thesis regarding the digital transformation’s acceleration.

In brief, Yext’s evolution from a company that plugged corporate information into external search engines to building and selling search tech itself has been resonating in the market. Why? Lerman explained that consumers more and more expect digital service in response to their questions — “who wants to call a 1-800 number,” he asked rhetorically — which is forcing companies to rethink the way they handle customer inquiries.

In turn, those companies are looking to companies like Yext that offer technology to better answer customer queries in a digital format. It’s customer-friendly, and could save companies money as call centers are expensive. A change in behavior accelerated by the pandemic is forcing companies to adapt, driving their purchase of more digital technologies like this.

It’s proof that a transformation doesn’t have to be dramatic to have pretty strong impacts on how corporations buy and sell online.

Posted Under: Tech News
Box beats expectations, raises guidance as it looks for a comeback

Posted by on 27 May, 2021

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Box executives have been dealing with activist investor Starboard Value over the last year, along with fighting through the pandemic like the rest of us. Today the company reported earnings for the first quarter of its fiscal 2022. Overall, it was a good quarter for the cloud content management company.

The firm reported revenue of $202.4 million up 10% compared to its year-ago result, numbers that beat Box projections of between $200 million to $201 million. Yahoo Finance reports the analyst consensus was $200.5 million, so the company also bested street expectations.

The company has faced strong headwinds the past year, in spite of a climate that has been generally favorable to cloud companies like Box. A report like this was badly needed by the company as it faces a board fight with Starboard over its direction and leadership.

Company co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie is hoping this report will mark the beginning of a positive trend. “I think you’ve got a better economic climate right now for IT investment. And then secondarily, I think the trends of hybrid work, and the sort of long term trends of digital transformation are very much supportive of our strategy,” he told TechCrunch in a post-earnings interview.

While Box acquired e-signature startup SignRequest in February, it won’t actually be incorporating that functionality into the platform until this summer. Levie said that what’s been driving the modest revenue growth is Box Shield, the company’s content security product and the platform tools, which enable customers to customize workflows and build applications on top of Box.

The company is also seeing success with large accounts. Levie says that he saw the number of customers spending more than $100,000 with it grow by nearly 50% compared to the year-ago quarter. One of Box’s growth strategies has been to expand the platform and then upsell additional platform services over time, and those numbers suggest that the effort is working.

While Levie was keeping his M&A cards close to the vest, he did say if the right opportunity came along to fuel additional growth through acquisition, he would definitely give strong consideration to further inorganic growth. “We’re going to continue to be very thoughtful on M&A. So we will only do M&A that we think is attractive in terms of price and the ability to accelerate our roadmap, or the ability to get into a part of a market that we’re not currently in,” Levie said.

A closer look at the financials

Box managed modest growth acceleration for the quarter, existing only if we consider the company’s results on a sequential basis. In simpler terms, Box’s newly reported 10% growth in the first quarter of its fiscal 2022 was better than the 8% growth it earned during the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2021, but worse than the 13% growth it managed in its year-ago Q1.

With Box, however, instead of judging it by normal rules, we’re hunting in its numbers each quarter for signs of promised acceleration. By that standard, Box met its own goals.

How did investors react? Shares of the company were mixed after-hours, including a sharp dip and recovery in the value of its equity. The street appears to be confused by the results, weighing the report and working out whether its moderately accelerating growth is sufficiently enticing to warrant holding onto its equity, or more perversely if its growth is not expansive enough to fend off external parties hunting for more dramatic changes at the firm.

Sticking to a high-level view of Box’s results, apart from its growth numbers Box has done a good job shaking fluff out of its operations. The company’s operating margins (GAAP and not) both improved, and cash generation also picked up.

Perhap most importantly, Box raised its guidance from “the range of $840 million to $848 million” to “$845 to $853 million.” Is that a lot? No. It’s +$5 million to both the lower and upper-bounds of its targets. But if you squint, the company’s Q4 to Q1 revenue acceleration, and upgraded guidance could be an early indicator of a return to form.

Levie admitted that 2020 was a tough year for Box. “Obviously, last year was a complicated year in terms of the macro environment, the pandemic, just lots of different variables to deal with…” he said. But the CEO continues to think that his organization is set up for future growth.

Will Box manage to perform well enough to keep activist shareholders content? Levie thinks if he can string together more quarters like this one, he can keep Starboard at bay. “I think when you look at the next three quarters, the ability to guide up on revenue, the ability to guide up on profitability. We think it’s a very very strong earnings report and we think it shows a lot of the momentum in the business that we have right now.”

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Breinify announces $11M seed to bring data science to the marketing team

Posted by on 27 May, 2021

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Breinify is a startup working to apply data science to personalization, and do it in a way that makes it accessible to nontechnical marketing employees to build more meaningful customer experiences. Today the company announced a funding round totaling $11 million.

The investment was led by Gutbrain Ventures and PBJ Capital with participation from Streamlined Ventures, CXO Fund, Amino Capital, Startup Capital Ventures and Sterling Road.

Breinify co-founder and CEO Diane Keng says that she and co-founder and CTO Philipp Meisen started the company to bring predictive personalization based on data science to marketers with the goal of helping them improve a customer’s experience by personalizing messages tailored to individual tastes.

“We’re big believers that the world, especially consumer brands, really need strong predictive personalization. But when you think about consumer big brands or the retailers that you buy from, most of them aren’t data scientists, nor do they really know how to activate [machine learning] at scale,” Keng told TechCrunch.

She says that she wanted to make this type of technology more accessible by hiding the complexity behind the algorithms powering the platform. “Instead of telling you how powerful the algorithms are, we show you [what that means for the] consumer experience, and in the end what that means for both the consumer and you as a marketer individually,” she said.

That involves the kind of customizations you might expect around website messaging, emails, texts or whatever channel a marketer might be using to communicate with the buyer. “So the AI decides you should be shown these products, this offer, this specific promotion at this time, [whether it’s] the web, email or SMS. So you’re not getting the same content across different channels, and we do all that automatically for you, and that’s [driven by the algorithms],” she said.

Breinify launched in 2016 and participated in the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield competition in San Francisco that year. She said it was early days for the company, but it helped them focus their approach. “I think it gave us a huge stage presence. It gave us a chance to test out the idea just to see where the market was in regards to needing a solution like this. We definitely learned a lot. I think it showed us that people were interested in personalization,” she said. And although the company didn’t win the competition, it ended up walking away with a funding deal.

Today the startup is growing fast and has 24 employees, up from 10 last year. Keng, who is an Asian woman, places a high premium on diversity.

“We partner with about four different kinds of diversity groups right now to source candidates, but at the end of the day, I think if you are someone that’s eager to learn, and you might not have all the skills yet, and you’re [part of an under-represented] group we encourage everyone to apply as much as possible. We put a lot of work into trying to create a really well-rounded group,” she said.

Posted Under: Tech News
mmhmm, the video conferencing software, kicks off summer with a bunch of new features

Posted by on 27 May, 2021

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mmhmm, the communications platform developed by Phil Libin and the All Turtles team, is getting a variety of new features. According to Libin, there are parts of communication today that can not only match what we get in the real world, but exceed it.

That’s how this next iteration of mmhmm is meant to deliver.

The new headline feature is mmhmm Chunky, which allows the presenter to break up their script and presentation into ‘chunks’. Think of the presenter the same way you think of slides in a deck. Each one gets the full edit treatment and final polish. With Chunky, mmhmm users can break up their presentation into chunks to perfect each individual bit of information.

A presenter can switch between live and pre-recorded chunks in a presentation. So you can imagine a salesman making a pitch and switching over to his explanation of the pricing as a pre-recorded piece of his pitch, or a teacher who has a pre-recorded chunk on a particular topic can throw to that mid-class.

But mmhmm didn’t just think about the creation side, but the consumption side. Folks in the audience can jump around between chunks and slides to catch up, or even view in a sped up mode to consume more quickly. Presenters can see where folks in the audience are as they present or later on.

Libin sees this feature as a way to supercharge time.

“At mmhmm, we stopped doing synchronous updates with our fully distributed team,” said Libin. “We don’t have meetings anymore where people take turns updating each other because it’s not very efficient. Now the team just sends around their quick presentations, and I can watch it in double speed because people can listen faster than people can talk. But we don’t have to do it at the same time. Then, when we actually talk synchronously, it’s reserved for that live back-and-forth about the important stuff.”

mmhmm is also announcing that it has developed its own video player, allowing folks to stream their mmhmm presentations to whatever website they’d like. As per usual, mmhmm will still work with Zoom, Google Meet, etc.

The new features list also includes an updated version of Copilot. For folks who remember, Copilot allowed one person to present and another person to ‘drive,’ or art direct, the presentation from the background. Copilot 2.0 lets two people essentially video chat side by side, in whatever environment they’d like.

Libin showed me a presentation/conversation he did with a friend where they were both framed up in Libin’s house. He clarified that this feature works best with one-on-one conversations, or, one-on-one conversations in front of a large audience, such as a fireside chat.

Alongside mmhmm Chunky, streaming, and Copilot 2.0, the platform is also doing a bit of spring cleaning with regards to organization. Users will have a Presentation Library where they can save and organize their best takes, and organizations can also use ‘Loaf’ to store all the best videos and presentations company wide for consumption later. The team also revamped Presets to make it easier to apply a preset to a bunch of slides at once or switch between presets more easily.

A couple other notes: mmhmm is working to bring the app to both iOS and Android very soon, and launch out of beta on Windows.

Libin explained that not every single feature described here will launch today, but rather you’ll see features trickle out each week as we head into summer. He’ll be giving a keynote on the new features here at 10am PT/1pm ET.

Posted Under: Tech News
Australian startup Pyn raises $8M seed to bring targeted communication in-house

Posted by on 27 May, 2021

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Most marketers today know how to send targeted communications to customers, and there are many tools to help, but when it comes to sending personalized in-house messages, there aren’t nearly as many options. Pyn, an early stage startup based in Australia wants to change that, and today it announced an $8 million seed round.

Andreesen Horowitz led the investment with help from Accel and Ryan Sanders, the co-founder of BambooHR and Scott Farquar, co-founder and co-CEO at Atlassian.

That last one isn’t a coincidence as Pyn co-founder and CEO Joris Luijke used to run HR at the company and later at Squarespace and other companies, and he saw a common problem trying to provide more targeted messages when communicating internally.

“I’ve been trying to do this my entire professional life, trying to personalize the communication that we’re sending to our people. So that’s what Pyn does. In a nutshell, we radically personalize employee communications,” Luijke explained. His co-founder Jon Williams was previously a co-founder at Culture Amp, an employee experience management platform he helped launch in 2011 (and which raised over $150 million), so the two of them have been immersed in this idea.

They bring personalization to Pyn by tracking information in existing systems that companies already use such as Workday, BambooHR, Salesforce or Zendesk, and they can use this data much in the same way a marketer uses various types of information to send more personalized messages to customers.

That means you can cut down on the company-wide emails that might not be relevant to everyone and send messages that should matter more to the people receiving them. And as with a marketing communications tool, you can track how many people have opened the emails and how successful you were in hitting the mark.

David Ulevitch, general partner at a16z, and lead investor in this deal points out that Pyn also provides a library of customizable communications materials to help build culture and set policy across an organization.”It also treats employee communication channels as the rails upon which to orchestrate management practices across an organization [by delivering] a library of management playbooks,” Ulevitch wrote in a blog post announcing the investment.

The startup, which launched in 2019, currently has 10 employees with teams working in Australia and the Bay Area in California. Williams says that already half the team is female and the plan is to continue putting diversity front and center as they build the company.

“Joris has mentioned ‘radical personalization’ as this specific mantra that we have, and I think if you translate that into an organization, that is all about inclusion in reality, and if we want to be able to cater for all the specific needs of people, we need to understand them. So [diversity is essential] to us,” Williams said.

While the company isn’t ready to discuss specifics in terms of customer numbers, it cites Shopify, Rubrik and Carta as early customers, and the founders say that there was a lot of interest when the pandemic hit last year and the need for more frequent and meaningful types of communication became even more paramount.

 

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Databricks introduces Delta Sharing, an open source tool for sharing data

Posted by on 26 May, 2021

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Databricks launched its fifth open source project today, a new tool called Delta Sharing designed to be a vendor neutral way to share data with any cloud infrastructure or SaaS product, so long as you have the appropriate connector. It’s part of the broader Databricks open source Delta Lake project.

As CEO Ali Ghodsi points out, data is exploding and moving data from Point A to Point B is an increasingly difficult problem to solve with proprietary tooling. “The number one barrier for organizations to succeed with data is sharing data, sharing it between different views, sharing it across organizations — that’s the number one issue we’ve seen in organizations,” Ghodsi explained.

Delta Sharing is an open source protocol designed to solve that problem. “This is the industry’s first ever open protocol, an open standard for sharing a data set securely. […] They can standardize on Databricks or something else. For instance, they might have standardized on using AWS Data Exchange, Power BI or Tableau — and they can then access that data securely.”

The tool is designed to work with multiple cloud infrastructure and SaaS services and out of the gate there are multiple partners involved including the Big Three cloud infrastructure vendors Amazon, Microsoft and Google, as well as data visualization and management vendors like Qlik, Starburst, Collibra and Alation and data providers like Nasdaq, S&P and Foursquare

Ghodsi said the key to making this work is the open nature of the project. By doing that and donating it to The Linux Foundation, he is trying to ensure that it can work across different environments. Another big aspect of this is the partnerships and the companies involved. When you can get big name companies involved in a project like this, it’s more likely to succeed because it works across this broad set of popular services. In fact, there are a number of connectors available today, but Databricks expects that number to increase over time as contributors build more connectors to other services.

Databricks operates on a consumption pricing model much like Snowflake, meaning the more data you move through its software, the more money it’s going to make, but the Delta Sharing tool means you can share with anyone, not just another Databricks customer. Ghodsi says that the open source nature of Delta Sharing means his company can still win, while giving customers more flexibility to move data between services.

The infrastructure vendors also love this model because the cloud data lake tools move massive amounts of data through their services and they make money too, which probably explains why they are all on board with this.

One of the big fears of modern cloud customers is being tied to a single vendor as they often were in the 1990s and early 2000s when most companies bought a stack of services from a single vendor like Microsoft, IBM or Oracle. On one hand, you had the veritable single throat to choke, but you were beholden to the vendor because the cost of moving to another one was prohibitively high. Companies don’t want to be locked in like that again and open source tooling is one way to prevent that.

Databricks was founded in 2013 and has raised almost $2 billion since. The latest round was in February for $1 billion at a $28 billion valuation, an astonishing number for a private company. Snowflake, a primary competitor, went public last September. As of today, it has a market cap of over $66 billion.

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Zoom fatigue no more: Rewatch raises $20M to index, transcribe and store enterprise video content

Posted by on 26 May, 2021

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We don’t hear as much these days about “Zoom fatigue” as we did in the first months after the Covid-19 pandemic kicked off last year, but what’s less clear is whether people became more tolerant to the medium, or if they’d found ways of coping with it better, or if they were hopeful that tools for coping would soon be around the corner.

Today, a startup that has come up with a solution to handling all that video is announcing some funding to grow, on the understanding that whatever people are doing with video today, there will be a lot more video to handle in the future, and they will need more than just a good internet connection, microphone and video camera to deal with it.

Rewatch, which has built a set of tools for organizations to create a “system of record” for their internal video archives — not just a place to “rewatch” all of their older live video calls, but to search and organise information arising from those calls — has closed a $20 million round of funding.

Along with this, Rewatch from today is opening up its platform from invite-only to general availability.

This latest round is a Series A and is being led by Andreessen Horowitz, with Semil Shah at Haystack and Kent Goldman at Upside Partners, as well as a number of individuals, also participating.

It comes on the heels of Rewatch announcing a $2 million seed round only in January of this year. But it’s had some buzz in the intervening months: customers that have started using Rewatch include GitHub (where co-founders Connor Sears and Scott Goldman previously worked together), Brex, Envoy, and The Athletic.

The issue that Rewatch is tackling is the fact that a lot more of our work communications are happening over video. But while video calling has been hailed as a great boost to productivity — you can work wherever you are now, as long as you have a video connection — in fact, it’s not.

Yes, we are talking to each other a lot, but we are also losing information from those calls because they’re not being tracked as well as they could be. And, by spending all of our time talking, many of us are working on other things less, or are confined into more rigid times when we can.

Rewatch has built a system that plugs into Zoom and Google Meet, two of the most-used video tools in the workplace, and automatically imports all of your office’s or team’s video chats into a system. This lets you browse libraries of video-based conversations or meetings to watch them on-demand, on your time. It also provides transcripts and search tools for finding information in those calls.

You can turn off the automatic imports, or further customize how meetings are filed or accessibility. Sears said that Rewatch can be used for any video created on any platform, for now those require manually importing the videos into the Rewatch system.

Sears also said that over time it will also be adding in ways to automatically turn items from meetings into, say, work tickets to follow them up.

While there are a number of transcription services available on tap these days, as well as any number of cloud-based storage providers where you can keep video archives, what is notable about Rewatch’s is that it’s identified the pain point of managing and indexing those archives and keeping them in a single place for many to use.

In this way, Rewatch is highlighting and addressing what I think of as the crux of the productivity paradox.

Essentially, it is this: the tech industry has given us a lot of tools to help us work better, but actually, the work required to use those tools can outweigh the utility of the tools themselves.

(And I have to admit, this is one of the reasons why I’ve grown to dislike Slack. Yes, we all get to communicate on it, and it’s great to have something to connect all of us, but it just takes up so much damn time to read through everything and figure out what’s useful and what is just watercooler chat.)

“We go to where companies already are, and we automate, pull in video so that you don’t have to think about it,” Sears said. “The effort around a lot of this takes a lot of diligence to make sure people are recording and transcribing and distributing and removing. We are making this seamless and effortless.”

It sometimes feels like we are on the cusp, technologically, of leaning on tools by way of AI and other innovations that might finally cross that chasm and give us actual productivity out of our productivity apps. Dooly, which raised funding last week, is looking to do the same in the world of sales software (automatically populating various sales software with data from your phone, video and text chats, and other sources), is another example of how this is playing out.

Similarly, we’re starting to see an interesting wave of companies emerge that are looking for better ways to manage and tap into all that video content that we now have swimming around us. AnyClip, which announced funding yesterday, is also applying better analytics and search to internal company video libraries, but also has its sights on a wider opportunity: organizing any video trove. That points, too, to the bigger opportunity for Rewatch.

For now, though, enterprises and businesses are an opportunity enough.

“As investors we get excited about founders first and foremost, and Connor and Scott immediately impressed us with their experience, clear articulation of the problem, and their vision for how Rewatch could be the end-all solution for video and knowledge management in an organization,” noted David Ulevitch, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, in a blog post. “They both worked at GitHub in senior roles from the early days, as a Senior Director of Product Design and a Principal Engineer, respectively, and have first-hand experience scaling a product. Since founding Rewatch in early 2020, they have very quickly built a great product, sold it to large-scale customers, and hired top-tier talent, demonstrating rapid founder and company velocity that is key to building an enduring company.”

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Uptycs secures $50M Series C as security platform continues to expand

Posted by on 26 May, 2021

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Uptycs, a Boston-area startup that uses data to help understand and prevent security attacks, announced a $50 million Series C today, 11 months after announcing a $30 million Series B. Norwest Venture Partners led the round with participation from Sapphire Ventures and ServiceNow Ventures.

Company co-founder and CEO Ganesh Pai says that he was still well capitalized from last year’s investment, and wasn’t actually looking to raise funds, but the investors came looking for him and he saw a way to speed up some aspects of the company’s roadmap.

“It was one of those things where the round came in primarily as a function of execution and success to date, and we decided to capitalize on that because we know the partners and raised the capital so that we could use it meaningfully for a couple of different things, primarily sales and marketing acceleration,” Pai said.

He said that part of the reason for the company’s success over the last year was that the pandemic generated more customer interest as people moved to work from home, the SolarWinds hack happened and companies were moving to the cloud faster. “We provided a solution which was telemetric powered and very insightful when it came to solving their security problems and that’s what led to triple digit growth over the last year,” he said.

But Pai says that the company has not been sitting still in terms of the platform. While last year, he described it primarily as a forensic security data solution, helping customers figure out what happened after a security issue has happened, he says that the company has begun expanding on that vision to include all four main areas of security including being proactive, reactive, predictive and protective.

The company started primarily in being reactive by figuring what happened in the past, but has begun to expand into these other areas over the last year, and the plan is to continue to build out that functionality.

“In the context of SolarWinds, what everyone is trying to figure out is how soon into the supply chain can you figure out what could be potentially wrong by looking at indications of behavior or indications of compromise, and our ability to ingest telemetry from a diverse set of sources, not as a bolt on solution, but something which is built from the ground up, resonated really well,” Pai explained.

The company had 65 employees when we spoke last year for the Series B. Today, Pai says that number is approaching 140 and he is adding new people every week with a goal to get to around 200 people by the end of the year. He says as the company grows, he keeps diversity top of mind.

“As we grow and as we raise capital diversity has been something which has been a high priority and very critical for us,” he said. In fact, he reports that more than 50% of his employees come from under-represented groups whether it’s Latinx, Black or Asian heritage.

Pai says that one of the reasons he has been able to build a diverse workforce is his commitment to a remote workplace, which means he can hire from anywhere, something he will continue to do even after the pandemic ends.

 

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Salt Security lands $70M for tech to protect APIs from malicious abuse

Posted by on 26 May, 2021

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APIs make the world go round in tech, but that also makes them a very key target for bad actors: as doorways into huge data troves and services, malicious hackers spent a lot of time looking for ways to pick their locks or just force them open when they’re closed, in order to access that information. And a lot of recent security breaches stemming from API vulnerabilities (see here, here, and here for just a few) show just how real and current the problem is.

Today, a company that’s building a network of services to help those using and producing APIs to identify and eradicate those risks is announcing a round of funding to meet a growing demand for its services. Salt Security, which provides AI-based technology to identify issues and stop attacks across the whole of your API library, has closed $70 million in funding, money that it will be using both to meet current demand but also continue building out its technology for a wider set of services and use cases for API management.

The funding is being led by Advent International, by way of Advent Tech, with Alkeon Capital, DFJ Growth and previous backers Sequoia Capital, Tenaya Capital, S Capital VC, and Y Combinator all also participating.

Salt, founded in Israel and now active globally, is not disclosing valuation but I understand from a reliable source it that it is in the region of $600-700 million.

As with many of the funding rounds that seem to be getting announced these days, this one is coming on the heels of both another recent round, as well as strong growth. Salt has raised $131 million since 2016, but nearly all of that — $120 million, to be exact — has been raised in the last year.

Part of the reason for that is Salt’s performance: in the last 12 months, it’s seen revenue grow 400% — with customers including a range of Fortune 500 and other large businesses in the financial services, retail and SaaS sectors like Equinix, Finastra, TripActions, Armis, and DeinDeal; headcount grow 160%; and, perhaps most importantly, API traffic on its network grow 380%.

That growth in API traffic underscores the issue that Salt is tackling. Companies these days use a variety of APIs — some private, some public — in their tech stack as a way to interface with other businesses and run their services. APIs are a huge part of how the Internet and digital services operate, with Akamai estimating that as much as 83% of all IP traffic is API traffic.

The problem, Roey Eliyahu, CEO and co-founder of Salt Security told me, is that this usage has outpaced how well many manage those APIs.

“How APIs have evolved is very different to how developers used APIs years ago,” he said. “Before, there were very few, and you could say they were more manageable, and they contained less sensitive data, and there were very few changes and updates made to them,” he said. “Today with the pace of development, not only are they always getting updated, but you have thousands of them now touching crown jewels of the company.”

This has made them a prime target for malicious hackers. Eliyahu notes Gartner stats that predict that by 2022, APIs will make up the largest attack vector in cybercrime.

Salt’s approach starts with taking stock of a whole network and doing a kind of spring clean to find all the APIs that might be used or abused.

“Companies don’t know how many APIs they even have,” Eliyahu said, noting that there some 40%-80% of the APIs in existence for a typical company’s data are not even in active operation, lying there as “shadow APIs” for someone to pick up and misuse.

It then looks at what vulnerabilities might inadvertently be contained in this mix and makes suggestions for how to alter them to fix that. After this, it also monitors how they are used in order to stop attacks as they happen. The third of these also involves remediation “insights”, but carrying out the remediation is done by third parties at the moment, Eliyahu said. All of this is done through Salt’s automated, AI-based, flagship Salt Security API Protection Platform.

There are a number of competitors in the same space as Salt, including Ping, and newer players like Imvision and 42Crunch (which raised funding earlier this month), and the list is likely to grow as not just other API management companies get deeper into this huge space, but cyber security companies do, too.

“The rapid proliferation of APIs has dramatically altered the attack surface of applications, creating a major challenge for large enterprises since existing security mechanisms cannot protect against this new threat,” said Bryan Taylor, managing partner and head of Advent’s technology team, in a statement. “We continue to see API security incidents make the news headlines and cause significant reputational risk for companies. As we investigated the API security market, Salt stood out for its multi-year technical lead, significant customer traction and references, and talented team. We look forward to drawing on our deep experience in this sector to partner with Salt in this exciting new chapter.”

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UK’s Paysend raises $125M at a $700M+ valuation to expand its all-in-one payments platform

Posted by on 26 May, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

With more people than ever before going online to pay for things and pay each other, startups that are building the infrastructure that enables these actions continue to get a lot of attention.

In the latest development, Paysend, a fintech that has built a mobile-based payments platform — which currently offers international money transfers, global accounts, and business banking and e-commerce for SMBs — has picked up some money of its own. The London-based startup has closed a round of $125 million, a sizable Series B that the company’s CEO and founder Ronnie Millar said it will be using both to continue expanding its business geographically, to hire more people, and to continue building more fintech products.

The funding is being led by One Peak, with Infravia Growth Capital, Hermès GPE, previous backer Plug and Play and others participating.

Millar said Paysend is not disclosing valuation today but described it as a “substantial kick-up” and “a great step forward in our position ahead towards unicorn status.”

From what I understand though, the company was valued at $160 million in its previous round, and its core metrics have gone up 4.5x. Doing some basic math, that gives the company a valuation of around $720 million, a figure that a source close to the company did not dispute when I brought it up.

Something that likely caught investors’ attention is that Paysend has grown to the size it is today — it currently has 3.7 million consumer customers using its transfer and global account services, and 17,000 small business customers, and is now available in 110 receiving countries — in less than four years and $50 million in funding.

There are a couple of notable things about Paysend and its position in the market today, the first being the competitive landscape.

On paper, Paysend appears to offer many of the same features as a number of other fintechs: money transfer, global payments, and banking and e-commerce services for smaller businesses are all well-trodden areas with companies like Wise (formerly “TransferWise”), PayPal, Revolut, and so many others also providing either all or a range of these services.

To me, the fact that any one company relatively off the tech radar can grow to the size that it has speaks about the opportunity in the market for more than just one or two, or maybe five, dominant players.

Considering just remittances alone, the WorldBank in April said that flows just to low- and middle-income countries stood at $540 million last year, and that was with a dip in volumes due to Covid-19. The cut that companies like Paysend make in providing services to send money is, of course, significantly smaller than that — business models include commission charges, flat fees, or making money off exchange rates; Paysend charges £1 per transfer in the UK. More than that, the overall volumes, and the opportunity to build more services for that audience, are why we’re likely to see a lot of companies with ambitions to serve that market.

Services for small businesses, and tapping into the opportunity to provide more e-commerce tools at a time when more business and sales are being conducted online, is similarly crowded but also massive.

Indeed, Paysend points out that there is still a lot of growing and evolution left to do. Citing McKinsey research, it notes that some 70% of international payments are currently still cash-to-cash, with fees averaging up to 5.2% per transaction, and timing taking up to an hour each for sender and recipient to complete transfers. (Paysend claims it can cut fees by up to 60%.)

This brings us to the second point about Paysend: how it’s built its services. The fintech world today leans heavily on APIs: companies that are knitting together a lot of complexity and packaging it into APIs that are used by others who bypass needing to build those tools themselves, instead integrating them and adding better user experience and responsive personalization around them. notes, is a little different from these, with a vertically integrated approach, having itself built everything that it uses from the ground up.

Millar — a Scottish repeat entrepreneur (his previous company Paywizard, which has rebranded to Singula, is a specialist in pay-TV subscriber management) — notes that Paysend has built both its processing and acquiring facilities. “Because we have built everything in-house it lets us see what the consumer needs and uses, and to deliver that at a lower cost basis,” he said. “It’s much more cost efficient and we pass that savings on to the consumer. We designed our technology to be in complete control of it. It’s the most profitable approach, too, from a business point of view.”

That being said, he confirmed that Paysend itself is not yet profitable, but investors believe it’s making the right moves to get there.

“We are excited by Paysend’s enormous growth potential in a massive market, benefiting from a rapid acceleration in the adoption of digital payments,” said Humbert de Liedekerke, managing partner at One Peak Partners, in a statement. “In particular, we are seeing strong opportunities as Paysend moves beyond consumers to serve business customers and expands its international footprint to address a growing need for fast, easy and low-cost cross border digital payments. Paysend has built an exceptional payment platform by maintaining an unwavering focus on its customers and constantly innovating. We are excited to back the entire Paysend team in their next phase of explosive growth.”

Posted Under: Tech News
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