All posts by Richy George

3 keys to pricing early-stage SaaS products

Posted by on 13 September, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

I’ve met hundreds of founders over the years, and most, particularly early-stage founders, share one common go-to-market gripe: Pricing.

For enterprise software, traditional pricing methods like per-seat models are often easier to figure out for products that are hyper-specific, especially those used by people in essentially the same way, such as Zoom or Slack. However, it’s a different ball game for startups that offer services or products that are more complex.

Most startups struggle with a per-seat model because their products, unlike Zoom and Slack, are used in a litany of ways. Salesforce, for example, employs regular seat licenses and admin licenses — customers can opt for lower pricing for solutions that have low-usage parts — while other products are priced based on negotiation as part of annual renewals.

You may have a strong champion in a CIO you’re selling to or a very friendly person handling procurement, but it won’t matter if the pricing can’t be easily explained and understood. Complicated or unclear pricing adds more friction.

Early pricing discussions should center around the buyer’s perspective and the value the product creates for them. It’s important for founders to think about the output and the outcome, and a number they can reasonably defend to customers moving forward. Of course, self-evaluation is hard, especially when you’re asking someone else to pay you for something you’ve created.

This process will take time, so here are three tips to smoothen the ride.

Pricing is a journey

Pricing is not a fixed exercise. The enterprise software business involves a lot of intangible aspects, and a software product’s perceived value, quality, and user experience can be highly variable.

The pricing journey is long and, despite what some founders might think, jumping head-first into customer acquisition isn’t the first stop. Instead, step one is making sure you have a fully fledged product.

If you’re a late-seed or Series A company, you’re focused on landing those first 10-20 customers and racking up some wins to showcase in your investor and board deck. But when you grow your organization to the point where the CEO isn’t the only person selling, you’ll want to have your go-to-market position figured out.

Many startups fall into the trap of thinking: “We need to figure out what pricing looks like, so let’s ask 50 hypothetical customers how much they would pay for a solution like ours.” I don’t agree with this approach, because the product hasn’t been finalized yet. You haven’t figured out product-market fit or product messaging and you want to spend a lot of time and energy on pricing? Sure, revenue is important, but you should focus on finding the path to accruing revenue versus finding a strict pricing model.

Posted Under: Tech News
MarginEdge, a restaurant management software company, raises $18M

Posted by on 13 September, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

MarginEdge announced Monday it raised $18 million in Series B funding to give restaurant operators a real-time view into their costs.

Co-founder and CEO Bo Davis founded the company with Roy Phillips and Brian Mills in 2015. Both Davis and Phillips are veterans of the restaurant industry: Davis was previously the founder of conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain Wasabi, while Phillips was an executive at Bloomin Brands.

What they recognized with independent restaurants was that they struggled with workflow like invoices and tracking food costs and were either building internal tools to help them stay on top of things or were still operating with pen and paper or spreadsheets.

“We focused on building something our friends would like,” Davis told TechCrunch. “We spent three years on the product and worked with 20 restaurants to use the software and focus on getting it right instead of rushing to market.”

MarginEdge’s tool is a restaurant management app that works with a business’ point of sale to streamline inventory, cost-tracking, ordering and recipes to eliminate the paperwork. It also captures all invoices, receipts or bills and converts them to line-item details within 24 hours. It is designed for independent restaurant owners that have under 50 units, Davis said.

Since launching its app in 2018, the Virginia-based company is seeing its platform used in over 2,500 restaurants. It raised a Series A in 2019, then an A2 in 2020 and with the latest round, led by IGC Hospitality, has raised $25 million in total.

IGC Hospitality, which operates restaurant properties, is not only an investor, but is also a customer, said Jeffrey Brosi, founder and managing partner. The company was using some different technology platforms to manage inventory and sales, but was looking for something to manage its whole inventory process.

“Bo came in and did a presentation, and it was amazing,” Brosi added. “The biggest thing for us is [being] user friendly. MarginEdge also has great customer service. We’ve invested in a few companies in the hospitality industry, and know the pain points and what we want to fix. If it makes sense financially, we will invest. This was one pain point that we didn’t have, and Bo filled that void.”

Like all restaurants over the past 18 months, Davis said the global pandemic caused MarginEdge to step back and evaluate. Despite many restaurants going out of business, he credits his business taking off again to restaurants rethinking their processes.

“We were lucky enough to be in a good position with capital that we could keep our team,” he added. “Revenue decreased for the first time, but we grew 45% even with COVID and as of Q1 was seeing 200% annual growth.”

MarginEdge has over 400 employees and its platform processes 45,000 invoices a week. Davis intends to invest the new funding in building out the leadership team, product development, building new features for the back office and on data science, an area he just received an advanced degree in, he said.

The company is using benchmark data around sales, food costs and labor costs and would like to provide more insights to its customers as it relates to inflation, which affects all of those aspects, and as a result, the menu prices.

“A lot of it is using data to understand menu pricing and what other people are doing so you are not pricing yourself out of the market or operating on margins where you can’t survive,” Davis added. “It will be all about predicting rather than reporting. The two things in the kitchen that are hardest are the startup prep list and the inventory late at night, and we make both easier.”

Posted Under: Tech News
Trade promotion management startup Cresicor raises $5.6M to keep tabs on customer spend

Posted by on 13 September, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

Cresicor, a consumer packaged goods trade management platform startup, raised $5.6 million in seed funding to further develop its tools for more accurate data and analytics.

The company, based remotely, focuses on small to midsize CPG companies, providing them with an automated way to manage their trade promotion, a process co-founder and CEO Alexander Whatley said is done primarily manually using spreadsheets.

Here’s what happens in a trade promotion: When a company wants to run a discount on one of their slower-selling items, the company has to spend money to do this — to have displays set up in a store or have that item on a certain shelf. If it works, more people will buy the item at the lower price point. Essentially, a trade promotion is the process of spending money to get more money in the future, Whatley told TechCrunch.

Figuring out all of the trade promotions is a complicated process, Whatley explained. Companies receive data feeds on the promotions from several different places, revenue data from retailers, accounting source data to show how many units were shipped and then maybe data directly from retailers. All of that has to be matched against the promotion.

“No API is bringing this data back to brands, so our software helps to automate and track these manual processes so companies can do analytics to see how the promotions are doing,” he added. “It also helps the finance team understand expenses, including which are valid and those that are not.”

What certain companies spend on trade promotions can represent their second-largest cost behind manufacturing, and companies often end up reinvesting between 20% and 30% of their revenue into trade promotions, Whatley said. This is a big market, representing untapped growth, especially with U.S. CPG sales topping $720 billion in 2020.

“You can see how messy the whole industry is, which is why we have a bright future and huge TAM,” he added. “With this new funding, we can target other parts of the P&L like supply chain and salaries. We also provide analytics for their strategy and where they should be spending it — which store, on which supply. By allocating resources the right way, companies typically see a 10% boost in sales as a result.”

Whatley started the company in 2017 with his brother, Daniel, Stuart Kennedy and Nikki McNeil while a Harvard undergrad. Since raising the funding back in February, the company has grown 2.5x in revenue, while employee headcount grew 4x over the past 12 months to 20.

Costanoa Ventures led the investment and was joined by Torch Capital and a group of angel investors including Fivestars CTO Matt Doka and Hu’s Kitchen CEO Mark Ramadan.

John Cowgill, partner at Costanoa, said though Cresicor raised a seed round, the company was already acquiring brands and capital before releasing a product and grew to almost a Series A company without any outside capital, saying it “blew me away.”

Cresicor is the “perfect example” of a company that Costanoa would get excited about — a vertical software company using data or machine learning to augment a pain point, Cowgill added.

“The CPG industry is in the middle of a rapid change where we see all of these emerging, digital native and mission-driven brands rapidly eating share from incumbents,” he added. “For the next generation of brands to compete, they have to win in trade promotion management. Cresicor’s opportunity to go beyond trade is significant. It is just a starting point to build a company that is the core enabler of great brands.”

The new funding will be used mainly to hire more talent in the areas of engineering and customer success so the company can hit its next benchmarks, Alexander Whatley said. He also intends to use the funding to acquire new brands and on software development. Cresicor boasts a list of customers including Perfect Snacks, Oatly and Hint Water.

The retail industry is valued at $5.5 trillion, and one-fifth of it is CPG, Whatley said. As a result, he has his eye on going after other verticals within CPG, like electronics and pet food, and then expanding into other areas.

“We are also going to work with enterprise companies — we see an opportunity to work with companies like P&G and General Mills, and we also want to build an ecosystem around trade promotion and launch into other profit and loss areas,” Whatley said.

Posted Under: Tech News
Skyline Furniture: Kids’ Chairs That You Will Love

Posted by on 13 September, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

Do you want to purchase a chair for your child? Have you been searching and yet can’t seem to find anything that would perfectly fit your kid’s needs and preferences? Don’t worry! Skyline Furniture offers a wide variety of options that will surely tickle and please your kid.

From bean bags, rockers, rocking chairs, swivel chairs, recliners to even movie theatre seats for kids – Skyline Furniture offers great deals on all of these. However, if your child’s favorite hangout is the dining table with you guys, then you can go ahead and pick up a matching chair that will match their taste.

If you are thinking of a formal dining chair, you should go for a Windsor adjustable height folding stool. Its arms are flared, and it has a mahogany frame that will surely match the rest of your furniture. It is fully upholstered as well as its cushion is padded with foam that has been dacron wrapped to make your child even more comfortable.

In this article, you will learn more about the brand and why it is so popular before we show you the most popular kids’ chairs from Skyline Furniture. Maybe your next chair for kids come from Skyline Furniture?

About Skyline Furniture

Skyline Furniture is one of the top furniture retailers for a reason. They offer a wide variety of styles and price points all in one place. You can find everything from contemporary to casual in wood, leather, fabric, metal and even upholstery there.

You can also find kids’ chairs that will perfectly match your home’s interior. From Windsor, adjustable height folding stool chairs for your formal dining room to rocking chairs, swivel chairs and recliners for relaxing with your little one. If you want a chair that will suit your child’s tastes, Skyline Furniture has got you covered!

Did we mention that they also sell fantastic patio furniture? So if you are looking to spruce up your outdoor area, you should check out their products.

Skyline Furniture has been a trusted brand in the furniture industry for decades, and they continue to serve customers not only with high-quality but also affordable products.

Why Skyline Furniture is So Popular

So what makes Skyline Furniture so popular? Well, for one, they only sell the best. With the many products that they offer, you can be sure that all of them are made with the finest materials and passed thorough quality checks before reaching your home. They make use of cutting edge tools and machines to ensure that their products meet a high standard.

To make things easier for their customers, they have a dedicated team of customer support representatives who answer any questions or concerns. You can give them a call or visit their website ( if you want to know more about their products and services.

The 5 Most Popular Kids’ Chairs from Skyline Furniture

Now let’s go ahead and take a quick look at the most popular kids’ chairs from Skyline Furniture. We will provide you with descriptions, pros, cons, and customer reviews of each one so that you can make an informed decision on which product to pick for your little ones.

1. Skyline Kids Armless Chair

Skyline Kids Armless Chair

If you want a kids’ armless chair, then this is the best choice you can go for. It has a simple yet contemporary design that will perfectly match your kid’s room or playroom.

The Skyline Kids Armless Chair is engineered wood with a mahogany finish, and PU cushioned seat and backrest. Its padding is fully upholstered with dacron wrapped foam that has been kiln-dried to make it reliable and comfortable.

Its seat is covered with vinyl for easy cleaning, while you can easily wipe down its PU fabric as well. The chair also provides excellent back support thanks to the curved edges of its high-density foam padding. And if you want to keep it from rolling, then you can simply adjust its front casters.


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2. Skyline Furniture Kids Chair, Pattern, One size

2. Skyline Furniture Kids Chair, Pattern, One size

If you want a chair that’s perfect for your little one, then this is the best choice. It comes with a flat-pack design, so it will be easy to carry and set up. Its seat has a round edge which provides better comfort compared to other chairs out there.

The Skyline Furniture Kids Chair, Pattern, One size is made from solid wood with a maple finish and polyester upholstery. It has a fully padded seat and backrest to provide comfort even when your little one sits on it for an extended period.

It also features rubber caps at the bottom of its legs to prevent it from scratching your floor, while its bentwood design makes it sturdy enough to endure children’s activities without breaking or tipping over.

This kids’ chair is the perfect choice for your playroom, reading nook or even your child’s bedroom. It can easily match any colour scheme you have at home, and it will make a great addition to different areas of your house where you want to sit down with your little one.

If you want a stylish kids’ chair that will last for years, this is the perfect pick. It has a solid build, and it comes with a 4-year warranty from the manufacturer and complimentary white glove delivery.

ASIN: B079Z88M6S

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3. Skyline Furniture Kids Chair, Pink, One size

Skyline Furniture Kids Chair, Pink, One size

This is the perfect kids’ chair if you want something that can stand up to your child’s rough and tough playtime. It’s made from solid wood and polyester fabric so it will definitely last for years.

Its seat and backrest are fully padded with dacron wrapped foam which provides comfort even when your little one spends countless hours sitting on it while drawing and reading.

The Skyline Furniture Kids Chair, Pink, One size has a fully upholstered seat and backrest that is perfect for keeping your kid comfortable and happy. It also features 4 caster wheels to prevent it from tipping over while its bentwood legs provide better stability to the whole chair.

Its seat and backrest are upholstered with polyester fabric that is easy to clean. You can simply wipe it down when your little one spills something on it or spills food and drinks on the chair. It’s best used in playrooms, but you can place it anywhere in the house such as your child’s bedroom and living room.

It’s perfect for your daughter’s bedroom or playroom because it comes in different colors; you can pick the pink one, purple one or even the green one depending on their room décor. Its simple design makes it great for all kids’ rooms and playrooms, while its solid build makes it a reliable addition that will last for years.

This kids’ chair is easy to move around because it has smooth-rolling casters, and you can also adjust its height when your kid grows taller. It’s a great addition for your playroom, bedroom or even your living room where you want to spend quality time with your child playing board games and watching movies together.


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4. Skyline Kids Armless Chair, Broadway Purple

Skyline Kids Armless Chair, Broadway Purple

This is the best kids’ furniture that you will find out there because it’s made from solid wood and high-density foam for better comfort. And not only that, but your little one will love this chair, even more, thanks to its fun design. You can choose between different colors because Skyline Furniture Kids Armless Chair, Broadway Purple, One size is available in purple, pink and green.

It comes with a fully upholstered seat and backrest that is padded with dacron wrapped foam for superior comfort. What’s more, it’s built with bentwood legs to make the whole chair sturdier while its casters provide ease of movement around your home.

This kids’ armchair is a stylish addition for your child’s bedroom or playroom because of its cool design. It won’t take up too much space in the room and your little one will love playing on it while eating snacks with their friends.

It’s going to be a great addition to any home with kids as it cleans easily just by wiping it down. And when you’re not using it, simply fold the entire chair and store it until the next time you need it.

Its solid construction will ensure that your kid’s chair will last for years, while its simple design makes it perfect for any room in your house – from bedrooms to playrooms and even living rooms. Your kid will appreciate this great chair even more once they find out that you got it for them as a surprise.

You can easily keep it clean because of its fully upholstered seat and backrest that only requires cleaning with a damp cloth if your little one spills something on it or just gets their snack all over the place.


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5. Skyline Kids Tub Chair, Premier Lilac

5. Skyline Kids Tub Chair, Premier Lilac

If you’re looking for a kids’ armchair that will offer maximum comfort, then the Skyline Kids Tub Chair, Premier Lilac, is a great choice. It’s upholstered in plush white fabric, and its seat is filled with high-density foam to provide your kid with extra comfort while sitting on it.

It has been built from solid wood to ensure that it will last for years while its bentwood legs provide stability and support.

This kids’ tub chair is an excellent addition to your little one’s bedroom or playroom because of its vibrant, fun design. They’ll love having their favorite TV show playing in the background while relaxing on this armchair.

It’s the perfect place for your kid to enjoy their snacks and drinks with friends because it has smooth-rolling casters that make this armchair easy to move around. You can also adjust its height depending on your child’s size.

Made from solid wood, you can rest assured that the Skyline Kids Tub Chair, Premier Lilac, is an excellent addition to your child’s playroom.

It doesn’t take up too much space in the room, so you can easily keep it there even if you have limited floor space, but its wheels will allow you to move it around when needed. You can also fold the chair flat when you’re not using it and just keep it in a corner until the next time you need to entertain your little one.

It has been built with bentwood legs to ensure that this kids’ armchair is sturdy even if your child jumps on it while playing. Its high-density foam provides extra comfort for your kid.


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The post Skyline Furniture: Kids’ Chairs That You Will Love appeared first on Comfy Bummy.

Posted Under: Tech News
8 Reading Chairs Your Kids Will Love

Posted by on 13 September, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

Reading chairs are wonderful pieces of furniture that provide a special place for reading, watching TV, playing games and much more. When your child grows older they will use it as a desk chair or lounge chair in their room. When they are little, the best way to make them enjoy reading is by making them comfortable with a cosy spot where they can enjoy their book in peace.

Reading chairs are great for the bedroom or living room, so you can use them in different areas of your house. Some children prefer to be enclosed when they read and others like to sit up high with enough space around them. The perfect chair will help your child enjoy reading more easily and you can find many types that are suitable for several years of use.

Although there are many types of reading chairs available, like bean bag chairs, swings and hammocks, we will focus on more traditional models made to fit all rooms.

We have put together a list of the 8 most comfortable and nice-looking reading chairs out there to help you decide on the best kids’ reading chair for your family.

1. KidKraft Mid-Century Kid Upholstered Reading Chair & Ottoman with Storage

This is a stylish reading chair with an armrest, so your kid can cuddle up in it and enjoy their book. The bright fabric provides a great contrast with the dark wood base and it has an ottoman for extra comfort.

It is perfect to use in any room of the house because of its classic style and will work in the living room, bedroom or study. The KidKraft Mid-Century Kid Upholstered Reading Chair is made of sturdy materials to last for years and the cushions are removable so you can wash them in your washing machine at home.

It has a storage compartment with locks so it doesn’t pop open when your child leans back on it.


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2. Melissa & Doug Denim Fabric Child’s Armchair

Melissa & Doug is a popular brand in the furniture industry and this armchair for kids is no exception when it comes to quality. It has been designed to provide comfort with its soft and durable denim fabric and rounded edges on the arms of the chair.

The foam fill ensures that your kid will be comfortable while reading or listening to stories and it comes with a slipcover for easy cleaning.

The kid’s armchair is great to use in the bedroom or playroom and has an average weight of 15 pounds, so it isn’t easily tipped over by kids. The best thing about the Melissa & Doug Denim Fabric Child’s Armchair is that it can be used by several kids in the same family, so everyone can enjoy it.

ASIN: B071H85C5F

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3. Keet Roundy Children’s Chair Microsuede

The Keet Roundy Children’s Chair is the perfect reading chair for both girls and boys. It has a mesh back and seat covered with soft microsuede fabrics to ensure your little one’s comfort, while the armrest provides additional support when they need it most.

It is very easy to clean thanks to its removable slipcover and it comes in 9 different colors, so you can choose the one that matches your house decor.

The Keet Roundy Children’s Chair is a simple model with rounded edges to provide safety for your kid’s arms, but it has some decorative stitching on the back for extra style. Depending on the age of your child, this chair can be used as a desk chair or lounge chair and it is great for kids aged 2 to 8.

ASIN: B07K57DH67

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4. Single Linen Fabric Kids Armchair, Toddler Sofa and Couch with Wooden Legs

This armchair for kids is both stylish and comfortable, so your little one will love it. It has a straight back with soft cushions to provide support when they read or play games on their tablet.

The wooden legs of the chair are great for durability and stability while the removable slipcover can be used in the washing machine at home to keep it clean.

The Single Linen Fabric Kids Armchair, Sofa and Couch is a great choice for the living room because of its neutral style and it can be used by kids aged 2 to 8 years. It won’t take much space in your house as well, because it has a slim profile that measures only 21 inches wide.


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5. THE CREW FURNITURE Traditional Kids Chair, Small

This is a traditional reading chair for kids made of hardwood with a comfortable upholstered seat and backrest. The wooden frame ensures that the chair will be sturdy enough to hold your little one, while the dark espresso finish gives it style.

It has an average weight of 13 pounds so it won’t tip over easily and comes fully assembled, so you can place it in your kid’s bedroom or playroom right away.

The cushion is removable and machine washable for convenience and the synthetic leather fabric doesn’t stain as easy as real leather does. The legs of this kids armchair are also protected with non-marking caps to avoid scratches on the floor.


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6. Amazon Basics Swivel Foam Lounge Chair

This kids’ armchair is suitable for teenagers and it has a stylish design that will surely impress your guests.

It can swivel to 360 degrees as well as recline and the arms of the chair are at just the right height for your kid’s comfort.

The Amazon Basics Swivel Foam Lounge Chair has a weight capacity of 250 pounds and it has been tested to ensure that it doesn’t tip over easily, so your kid’s safety is guaranteed.

The armchair can be used as a lounge chair or reading chair and the seat features extra padding for comfort. It comes with synthetic leather upholstery that is easy to clean and this kids’ armchair has an average weight of 18 pounds.


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7. HollyHOME Modern Fabric Lazy Chair

If you’re looking for a nice reading chair for teenagers, the HollyHOME Modern Fabric Lazy Chair is a great choice.

It has an ergonomic design with a seat shape that provides support to your kid’s lower back and it is very easy to assemble without tools.

The armchair can swivel 360 degrees as well as recline and it has a weight capacity of 100 pounds.

The armchair itself weighs only 15 pounds and it comes with durable synthetic leather upholstery that is easy to wipe clean. The wide base makes sure that your kid’s feet won’t touch the floor when they relax, but the back of this kids’ chair isn’t high enough for lazing around.


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8. Delta Children Chelsea Kids Upholstered Chair with Cup Holder

If you need a simple and functional kids’ armchair for your living room, the Delta Children Chelsea Kids Upholstered Chair with Cup Holder is a great choice.

This chair can hold up to 110 pounds of weight and it has an attached cup holder as well as a padded seat and backrest for extra comfort. The dark grey color of the chair is stylish and it will match any decor.

The Delta Children Chelsea Kids Upholstered Chair has a narrow profile that takes little space in your living room, while the armrests can be adjusted so your kid’s arms won’t get tired. The slipcover of this kids’ lounge chair for the bedroom or playroom can also be removed and cleaned in the washing machine.


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I am sure that your kid will love to read or play with Lego on any of these comfy kids’ armchairs! This 8 reading chairs for kids has a nice design and it suits the bedroom, living room as well as other spaces in your home like the family room. They can be swivelled, reclined and adjusted so they will be pretty comfortable for your kids. The foam lounge chair is also easy to clean and dust-proof!

The post 8 Reading Chairs Your Kids Will Love appeared first on Comfy Bummy.

Posted Under: Tech News
DataRobot CEO Dan Wright coming to TC Sessions: SaaS to discuss role of data in machine learning

Posted by on 10 September, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

Just about every company is sitting on vast amounts of data, which they can use to their advantage if they can just learn how to harness it. Data is actually the fuel for machine learning models, and with the proper tools, businesses can learn to process this data and build models to help them compete in a rapidly-changing marketplace, to react more quickly to shifting customer requirements and to find insights faster than any human ever possibly could.

Boston-based DataRobot, a late-stage startup that has built a platform to help companies navigate the machine learning model lifecycle, has been raising money by the bushel over the last several years including $206 million in September 2019 and another $300 million in July. DataRobot CEO Dan Wright will be joining us on a panel to discuss the role of data in business at TC Sessions: SaaS on October 27th.

The company covers the gamut of the machine learning lifecycle including preparing data, operationalizing it and finally building APIs to make it useful for the organization as it attempts to build a soup-to-nuts platform. DataRobot’s broad platform approach has appealed to investors.

As we wrote at the time of the $206 million round:

The company has been catching the attention of these investors by offering a machine learning platform aimed at analysts, developers and data scientists to help build predictive models much more quickly than it typically takes using traditional methodologies. Once built, the company provides a way to deliver the model in the form of an API, simplifying deployment.

DataRobot has raised a total of $1 billion on $6.3 billion post valuation, according to Pitchbook data and it’s been putting that money to work to add to its platform of services. Most recently the company acquired Algorithmia, which helps manage machine learning models.

As the pandemic has pushed more business online, companies are always looking for an edge and one way to achieve that is by taking advantage of AI and machine learning. Wright will be joined on the data panel by Monte Carlo co-founder and CEO Barr Moses and AgentSync co-founder and CTO Jenn Knight to discuss the growing role of data in business operations

In addition to our discussion with Wright, the conference will also include Microsoft’s Jared Spataro, Amplitude’s Olivia Rose, as well as investors Kobey Fuller and Laela Sturdy, among others. We hope you’ll join us. It’s going to be a thought-provoking lineup.

Buy your pass now to save up to $100. We can’t wait to see you in October!

Posted Under: Tech News
Amagi tunes into $100M for cloud-based video content creation, monetization

Posted by on 10 September, 2021

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Media technology company Amagi announced Friday $100 million to further develop its cloud-based SaaS technology for broadcast and connected televisions.

Accel, Avataar Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners joined existing investor Premji Invest in the funding round, which included buying out stakes held by Emerald Media and Mayfield Fund. Nadathur Holdings continues as an existing investor. The latest round gives Amagi total funding raised to date of $150 million, Baskar Subramanian, co-founder and CEO of Amagi, told TechCrunch.

New Delhi-based Amagi provides cloud broadcast and targeted advertising software so that customers can create content that can be created and monetized to be distributed via broadcast TV and streaming TV platforms like The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus and Pluto TV. The company already supports more than 2,000 channels on its platform across over 40 countries.

“Video is a complex technology to manage — there are large files and a lot of computing,” Subramanian said. “What Amagi does is enable a content owner with zero technology knowledge to simplify that complex workflow and scalable infrastructure. We want to make it easy to plug in and start targeting and monetizing advertising.”

As a result, Amagi customers see operational cost savings on average of up to 40% compared to traditional delivery models and their ad impressions grow between five and 10 times.

The new funding comes at a time when the company is experiencing rapid growth. For example, Amagi grew 30 times in the United States alone over the past few years, Subramanian said. Amagi commands an audience of over 2 billion people, and the U.S. is its largest market. The company also sees growth potential in both Latin America and Europe.

In addition, in the last year, revenue grew 136%, while new customer year over year growth was 44%, including NBCUniversal — Subramanian said the Tokyo Olympics were run on Amagi’s platform for NBC, USA Today and ABS-CBN.

As more of a shift happens with video content being developed for connected television experiences, which he said is a $50 billion market, the company plans to use the new funding for sales expansion, R&D to invest in the company’s product pipeline and potential M&A opportunities. The company has not made any acquisitions yet, Subramanian added.

In addition to the broadcast operations in New Delhi, Amagi also has an innovation center in Bangalore and offices in New York, Los Angeles and London.

“Consumer behavior and infrastructure needs have reached a critical mass and new companies are bringing in the next generation of media, and we are a large part of that growth,” Subramanian said. “Sports will come on quicker, while live news and events are going to be one of the biggest growth areas.”

Shekhar Kirani, partner at Accel, said Amagi is taking a unique approach to enterprise SaaS due to that $50 billion industry shift happening in video content, where he sees half of the spend moving to connected television platforms quickly.

Some of the legacy players like Viacom and NBCUniversal created their own streaming platforms, where Netflix and Amazon have also been leading, but not many SaaS companies are enabling the transition, he said.

When Kirani met Subramanian five years ago, Amagi was already well funded, but Kirani was excited about the platform and wanted to help the company scale. He believes the company has a long tailwind because it is saving people time and enabling new content providers to move faster to get their content distributed.

“Amagi is creating a new category and will grow fast,” Kirani added. “They are already growing and doubling each year with phenomenal SaaS metrics because they are helping content providers to connect to any audience.


Posted Under: Tech News
Box wins proxy board battle with activist investor Starboard Value

Posted by on 9 September, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

A battle between Box and its majority shareholder Starboard Value over control of the board ended today when the company’s slate of directors easily defeated Starboard’s. It culminated months of maneuvering on both sides as they battled for control of the company.

Box, in a somewhat generic statement, expressed gratitude for the results:

Box appreciates the support and perspectives we have received from our stockholders throughout this process. The Board and management team will remain focused on continuing to transform Box and executing Box’s strategy to grow profitably and deliver significant value to all Box stockholders.

Starboard on the other hand, as you might expect, was unhappy with the outcome and didn’t hide that in a letter to shareholders released earlier today.

“We are certainly disappointed by the results of this election, which were heavily skewed by the voting rights tied to the preferred equity financing and the use of stockholder capital to aggressively repurchase shares ahead of the record date from stockholders likely to support change. At this juncture, the future of Box is in the Board’s hands, and there is a significant amount of work left to be done. Many commitments have been made, and we hope that Box will finally be able to follow through on its promises to drive improved results, accountability, governance, and compensation practices,” managing director Peter A. Feld wrote in the letter.

This all began when Starboard Value invested in Box, taking a 7.5% stake, which would eventually grow to 8.8% in the company. With that stake, it became the largest shareholder, but it remained relatively quiet until March of this year. That is when public rumblings began that Starboard was unhappy with the direction of the company, a conflict that could have ultimately resulted in the ouster of founder and CEO Aaron Levie or the sale of Box.

The situation took an interesting turn when Box announced it was taking a $500 million investment from KKR, a move that Starboard took great exception to and made clear in a letter published at the beginning of May that it wanted significant changes to take place. As we wrote at the time:

While they couched the letter in mostly polite language, it’s quite clear Starboard is exasperated with Box. “While we appreciate the dialogue we have had with Box’s management team and Board of Directors (the “Board”) over the past two years, we have grown increasingly frustrated with continued poor results, questionable capital allocation decisions, and subpar shareholder returns,” Starboard wrote in its letter.

Less than a week later Starboard made a move for board seats and the battle was on for control. Box’s position was strengthened by two decent earnings reports prior to the vote; the company took the unusual move of delivering the results early in order to give the voters that information prior to the vote.

The company also made the unusual move of filing a document with the SEC that pushed back against Starboard’s slate of candidates. In the end, Box won the battle. Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder and principal analyst at Deep Analysis, who has been watching the content management space where Box operates for years, sees this as a victory for Levie and Box.

“It was not a surprise to me that Box won the day. In my opinion, Starboard misread and underestimated the loyalty that Aaron Levie generates. The fact is that to most Box employees and investors, the company is a success story, and they also know that the customer base is pretty engaged and that there is plenty of room for future growth,” he said.

“For Box this vote of confidence will mean that they can (if they want) make some acquisitions and invest more in R&D moving forward, without constantly having an aggressive investor looking over their shoulder,” Pelz-Sharpe added.

It’s hard to know what happens next, but Starboard still maintains its shares for now, and it still has some clout in those numbers. Throughout its ownership tenure, Box has performed better, as the recent earnings results have shown, and the firm says that this remains the ultimate goal.

“As we have repeatedly stated, our only goal has been to help Box perform better and adopt best-in-class practices across operating performance, financial results, governance and compensation in order to create long-term value for the benefit of all stockholders. We will continue to monitor progress at Box, and we hope to see the company embrace the changes catalyzed by our involvement and create long-term value,” Starboard’s Feld wrote.

Posted Under: Tech News
LinkedIn doubles down on development with new learning hub, free courses and new search fields for hybrid working

Posted by on 9 September, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

The wider world of employment has seen a huge shift in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Looking for a job, finding someone to fill a role, or simply developing professionally are just not the same as they used to be for many of us. So it’s no surprise to see companies that have built business models catering to these areas changing, too: today, LinkedIn, Microsoft’s social networking platform for the working world, announced a wave of news aimed at moving ahead with the times.

It’s launching a new Learning Hub aimed at organizations to provide professional development and other training to employees. And it’s making 40 courses free of charge to LinkedIn members specifically to address some of the changes afoot, such as how to adapt to hybrid working, how to be a better manager in the new normal, and how to return to the office, and run facilities when they are spread beyond a building to also include people’s private homes. Lastly, it’s also starting to tweak details that people can use to list and search for job openings to account for these kinds of working conditions, and more.

The Learning Hub was first previewed back in April of this year and has been running in a limited beta. Today, as part of a bigger event hosted by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky where they are discussing new trends in the world of work, the Hub is being rolled out more widely.

For some context, LinkedIn has been long on education for years, with acquisitions like the remote learning platform Lynda back in 2015 bolstering its own education strategy and position as a go-to platform for professional development; partnerships to bring in significant amounts of third-party content (for example, when it added some 13,000 courses via third parties in 2018); and efforts to tie together the concept of skills development with professional profiles, running research and building interactive tools for its users.

The free courses that are being launched today (and will remain free until October 9) are a timely set of videos to help companies as some of them start to make (or think about) the transitions from remote to in-office environments, but the bigger product launch, The Learning Hub, is not exactly an altruistic endeavor in that longer journey. It is being sold as a premium service for businesses — existing LinkedIn Learning Pro users will be able to use it for free until July 2022, potentially longer, it said. In addition to being a salient business, it is also connected to the company’s bigger efforts to bring in more businesses-focused services, and more engagement from HR departments, to bolster one of its other main revenue drivers, recruitment.

As a learning experience platform (often described as LXPs), LinkedIn’s relaunch of its own learning hub will bring it into closer competition with the likes of 360Learning, Coursera for Business, Workday, Cornerstone, and the many other platforms used by organizations to manage their own in-house and third-party professional training content. In addition to this, LinkedIn says it will be using its own data on employment trends, plus AI, to personalize content for organizations and users. The fact, however, that it’s also a platform whee those HR teams can also list jobs and source candidates makes it a significantly stickier experience, and one that might feel more cohesive at a time when so much else might be more fragmented.

The new fields that LinkedIn is bringing into its recruitment service are also notable in that regard. It will now let recruiters indicate whether a job is remote, hybrid or onsite; and soon those looking for jobs will also be able to indicate which of these it’s looking for in a new role. Companies will also be able to start indicating more details on their own company status as it relates to things like vaccination requirements, and to let the world (employees, partners, customers, interested others) know whether your physical offices are open for business or not.

These new fields may sound a little trivial, or at least very specifically related to concerns and circumstances that we live with today, but I think they are more notable than this. They speak to what LinkedIn sees (and what many of us feel) are strong priorities in how we view jobs today. That opens the door to how and if LinkedIn might consider other kinds of details in company and personal profiles, as well as details that could be used in recruitment. This is something the company has also been working on for a little while already: in June it started to give users the option of adding pronouns to their profiles. All of this is pretty important, considering that there are a lot of smaller companies and calls for someone to knock LinkedIn off its pedestal. As LinkedIn dabbles with new formats and sunsets others, it’s all signals that it’s attempting to be more adaptable to counteract that.

Posted Under: Tech News
Affinity, a relationship intelligence company, raises $80M to help close deals

Posted by on 9 September, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

Relationships ultimately close deals, but long-term relationships come with a lot of baggage, i.e. email interactions, documents and meetings.

Affinity wants to take what Ray Zhou, co-founder and CEO, refers to as “data exhaust,” all of those daily interactions and communications, and apply machine learning analysis and provide insights on who in the organization has the best chance of getting that initial meeting and closing the deal.

Today, the company announced $80 million in Series C funding, led by Menlo Ventures, which was joined by Advance Venture Partners, Sprints Capital, Pear Ventures, Sway Ventures, MassMutual Ventures, Teamworthy and ECT Capital Partners’ Brian N. Sheth. The new funding gives the company $120 million in total funding since it was founded in 2014.

Affinity, based in San Francisco, is focused on industries like investment banking, private equity, venture capital, consulting and real estate, where Zhou told TechCrunch there aren’t customer relationship management systems or networking platforms that cater to the specific needs of the long-term relationship.

Stanford grads Zhou and co-founder Shubham Goel started the company after recognizing that while there was software for transactional relationships, there wasn’t a good option for the relationship journeys.

He cites data that show up to 90% of company profiles and contact information living in traditional CRM systems are incomplete or out of date. This comes as market researcher Gartner reported the global CRM software market grew 12.6% to $69 billion in 2020.

“It is almost bigger than sales,” Zhou said. “Our worldview is that relationships are the biggest industries in the world. Some would disagree, but relationships are an asset class, they are a currency that separates the winners from the losers.”

Instead, Affinity created “a new breed of CRM,”  Zhou said, that automates the inputting of that data constantly and adds information, like revenue, staff size and funding from proprietary data sources, to assign a score to a potential opportunity and increase the chances of closing a deal.

Affinity people profile. Image Credits: Affinity

He intends to use the new funding to expand sales, marketing and engineering to support new products and customers. The company has 125 employees currently; Zhou expects to be over 200 by next year.

To date, the company’s platform has analyzed over 18 trillion emails and 213 million calendar events and currently drives over 500,000 new introductions and tracks 450,000 deals per month. It also has more than 1,700 customers in 70 countries, boasting a list that includes Bain Capital Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, SoftBank Group, Nike, Qualcomm and Twilio.

Tyler Sosin, partner at Menlo Ventures, said he met Zhou and Goel at a time when the firm was looking into CRM companies, but it wasn’t until years later that Affinity came up again when Menlo itself wanted to work with a more modern platform.

As a user of Affinity himself, Sosin said the platform gives him the data he cares about and “removes the manual drudgery of entry and friction in the process.” Affinity also built a product that was intuitive to navigate.

“We have always had an interest in getting CRMs to the next generation, and Affinity is defining itself in a new category of relationship intelligence and just crushing it in the private capital markets,” he said. “They are scaling at an impressive growth rate and solving a hard problem that we don’t see many other companies in the space doing.”


Posted Under: Tech News
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