Category Archives: Tech News

BigID announces $50M Series C investment as privacy takes center stage

Posted by on 5 September, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

It turns out GDPR was just the tip of the privacy iceberg. With California’s privacy law coming on line January 1st and dozens more in various stages of development, it’s clear that governments are taking privacy seriously, which means companies have to as well. New York-startup BigID, which has been developing a privacy platform for the last several years, finds itself in a good position to help. Today, the company announced a $50 million Series C.

The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners with help from SAP.io Fund, Comcast Ventures, Boldstart Ventures, Scale Venture Partners and ClearSky. New investor Salesforce Ventures also participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to over $96 million, according to Crunchbase.

In addition to the funding, the company is also announcing the formation of a platform of sorts, which will offer a set of privacy services for customers. It includes data discovery, classification and correlation. “We’ve separated the product into some constituent parts. While it’s still sold as a broad-based solution, it’s much more of a platform now in the sense that there’s a core set of capabilities that we heard over and over that customers want,” CEO and co-founder Dimitri Sirota told TechCrunch.

He says that these capabilities really enables customers to see connections in the data across a set of disparate data sources. “There are a lot of products that do the request part, but there’s nobody that’s able to look across your entire data landscape, the hundreds of petabytes, and pick out the data in Salesforce, Workday, AWS, mainframe, and all these places you could have data on [an individual], and show how it’s all tied together,” Sirota explained.

It’s interesting to see the mix of strategic investors and traditional venture capitalists who are investing in the company. The strategics in particular see the privacy landscape as well as anyone, and Sirota says it’s a case of privacy mattering more than ever and his company providing the means to navigate the changing landscape. “Consumers care about privacy, which means legislators care about it, which ultimately means companies have to care about it,” he said. He added, “Strategics, whether they are companies that collect personal data or those that sell to those companies, therefore have an interest in BigID .”

The company has been growing fast and raising money quickly to help it scale to meet demand. Starting in January 2018, it raised $14 million. Just six months later, it raised another $30 million and you can tack on today’s $50 million. Sirota says having money in the bank and seeing these investments helps give enterprise customers confidence that the company is in this for the long haul.

Sirota wouldn’t give an exact valuation, only saying that while the company is not a unicorn, the valuation was a “robust number.” He says the plan now it to keep expanding the platform, and there will be announcements coming soon around partnerships, customers and new capabilities.

Sirota will be appearing at TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise on September 5th at 11 am on the panel, Cracking the Code: From Startup to Scaleup in Enterprise Software.

Palo Alto Networks intends to acquire Zingbox for $75M

Posted by on 4 September, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Palo Alto Networks surely loves to buy security startups. Today it added to its growing collection when it announced its intent to acquire IoT security startup Zingbox for $75 million.

The company had raised $23.5 million, according to Crunchbase data. The three co-founders, Xu Zou, May Wang and Jianlin Zeng, will be joining Palo Alto after the sale is official.

With Zingbox, the company gets IoT security chops, something that is increasingly important as companies deploy internet-connected smart devices and sensors. While these tools can greatly benefit customers, they also often carry a huge security risk.

Zingbox, which was founded in 2014, gives Palo Alto a modern cloud-based solution built on a subscription model along with engineering talent to help build out the solution further. Nikesh Arora, chairman and CEO of Palo Alto Networks, certainly sees this.

“The proliferation of IoT devices in enterprises has left customers facing an enormous gap in protection against cybersecurity attacks. With the proposed acquisition of Zingbox, we will provide a first-of-its-kind subscription for our Next-Generation Firewall and Cortex platforms that gives customers the ability to gain control, visibility and security of their connected devices at scale,” Arora said in a statement.

This is the fourth security startup the company has purchased this year. It acquired two companies, nabbing PureSec and Twistlock, on the same day last Spring. Earlier this year, it bought Demisto for $560 million. All of these acquisitions are meant to build up the company’s portfolio of modern security offerings without having to build these kinds of tools in-house from scratch.

Starboard Value takes 7.5% stake in Box

Posted by on 3 September, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Starboard Value, LP revealed in an SEC Form 13D filing last week that it owns a 7.5% stake in Box, the cloud content management company.

It is probably not a coincidence that Starboard Value looks for undervalued stocks. Box stock has been on a price roller coaster ride since it went public in 2015 at a price of $14.00 per share before surging to $23.23 per share. It had high share price of $28.12 in May 2018, but the price dipped into the teens in March and was at $14.85 as we went to press. It has a 52-week low price of $12.46 per share.

Screenshot 2019 09 03 17.22.05

 

The company, which began life as a consumer storage company, made the transition to enterprise software several years after it launched in 2005. It raised more than $500 million along the way, and was a Silicon Valley SaaS darling until it filed its S-1 in 2014.

The S-1 revealed massive sales and marketing spending, and critics came down hard on the company. That led to one of the longest IPO delays in memory, taking nine months from the time the company filed until it finally had its IPO in January 2015.

In its most recent earnings report last week, Box announced  $172.5 million in revenue for the quarter, putting it on a run rate close to $700 million.

Aaron Levie href=”https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/08/box-ceo-aaron-levie-is-coming-to-tc-sessions-enterprise/”> will be appearing at TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise on Thursday.

We emailed both Starboard Value and Box for comments, but neither has responded as we went to publish. If this changes, we will update the article.

Kabbage acquires Radius Intelligence, the marketing tech firm with a database of 20M small businesses

Posted by on 3 September, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Data is the new oil, as the saying goes, and today Kabbage — a fintech startup backed by SoftBank that has built a business around lending up to $250,000 to small and medium enterprises, using AI-based algorithms to help determine the terms of the loan — is picking up an asset to expand its own data trove as it looks to expand into further SMB financial services. The company has acquired Radius Intelligence, the marketing technology firm that has built a database of information on some 20 million small and medium businesses in the US.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but notably, it comes on the heels of a sightly tumultuous period for Radius. Last year, the company announced a merger with its big competitor Leadspace, only to quietly cancel the deal three months later. Then two months after that, it replaced its longtime CEO.

Radius — which is backed by some $120 million from investors that include Founders Fund, David Sacks, Salesforce Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures and the actor Jared Leto among others — last had a valuation of around $200 million according to PitchBook, but that was prior to these events. Kabbage, meanwhile, has raised hundreds of millions in equity and debt and is valued at over $1 billion. The deal will be financed off Kabbage’s own balance sheet and will not require the company to raise more funds, I understand.

Rob Frohwein, Kabbage’s co-founder and CEO, said in an interview that the plan is to integrate Radius’ tech and IP into the Kabbage platform — the task will be overseen by Radius’ current CEO, Joel Carusone — as well as Radius’ tech team of 20 engineers, who will work for the Atlanta-based startup out of its office in San Francisco.

He also added that Radius’ current products — which include market intelligence and contact information for employees at SMBs in the US, along with a host of related solutions, which up to now had been gathered both via public sources and the businesses updating the information themselves; as well as the technology for merging disparate sources of data and ferreting out the “valid” pieces that are worth retaining and throwing out what is out of date — will not be sold any longer via Radius. From now on, there will be only one customer for all that data: Kabbage itself.

To note: the company had already been a user of Radius’ data to help its own marketing team connect with new and and existing customers.

“We have known the company for a long time,” said Frohwein. Other customers that Radius lists on its site include Square, American Express, LendingTree, FirstData, MetLife, Sam’s Club, Yahoo and more.

This doesn’t mean that Kabbage might not offer the SMB intelligence in a format to businesses directly via its own platform at some point, but it also means that as Kabbage expands into services that might compete with some of Radius’ now-former customers — payments and merchant acquirer services, as well as tools to help SMBs grow their own customer funnels are some that are on the cards for the coming months — it will have an edge on them because of the data on users that it will now own.

The deal underscores two bigger trends among startups that focus on enterprise customers. First, it points to  ongoing consolidation in the world of marketing tech, in part as businesses look for ways to better compete against the likes of Microsoft and Salesforce, which are also continually building out their stacks of services. And we will likely see more activity from stronger fintech companies keen to expand their platforms to provide more touchpoints and revenue streams from existing customers, as well as more services to expand the customer base overall.

“We’re thrilled to join the Kabbage team. As a company dedicated to small business analytics and data management, we’ve always had a deep respect for Kabbage’s data-driven technology and focus,” Radius CEO Carusone said in a statement. “Our companies have complementary technical architectures and domain experience for decision making. With Kabbage, we can build a more sophisticated analytics solution to identify, reach and serve small businesses.”

Kabbage itself is not looking for new funding at the moment, Frohwein said, but he added also that it is on a fast trajectory at the moment but still a ways away from an IPO, so I wouldn’t discount more raises in the future. The company is currently on track to see revenues up 40% versus last year, with customers up 60%.

“We’re always looking to grow,” he said.

OpenGov raises $51M to boost its cloud-based IT services for government and civic organizations

Posted by on 3 September, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

OpenGov, the firm co-founded by Panaltir’s Joe Lonsdale that helps government and other civic organizations organise, analyse and present financial and other data using cloud-based architecture, has raised another big round of funding to continue expanding its business. The startup has picked up an additional $51 million in a Series D round led by Weatherford Capital and 8VC (Lonsdale’s investment firm), with participation from existing investor Andreessen Horowitz.

The funding brings the total raised by the company to $140 million, with previous investors in the firm including JC2 Ventures, Emerson Collective, Founders Fund and a number of others. The company is not disclosing its valuation — although we are asking — but for some context, PitchBook noted it was around $190 million in its last disclosed round — although that was in 2017 and has likely increased in the interim, not least because of the startup’s links in high places, and its growth.

On the first of these, the company says that its board of directors includes, in addition to Lonsdale (who is now the chairman of the company); Katherine August-deWilde, Co-Founder and Vice-Chair of First Republic Bank; John Chambers, Founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures and Former Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems; Marc Andreessen, Co-Founder and General Partner of Andreessen Horowitz; and Zac Bookman, Co-Founder and CEO of OpenGov .

And in terms of its growth, OpenGov says today it counts more than 2,000 governments as customers, with recent additions to the list including the State of West Virginia, the State of Oklahoma, the Idaho State Controller’s Office, the City of Minneapolis MN, and Suffolk County NY. For comparison, when we wrote in 2017 about the boost the company had seen since Trump’s election (which has apparently seen a push for more transparency and security of data), the company noted 1,400 government customers.

Government data is generally associated with legacy systems and cripplingly slow bureaucratic processes, and that has spelled opportunity to some startups, who are leveraging the growth of cloud services to present solutions tailored to the needs of civic organizations and the people who work in them, from city planners to finance specialists. In the case of OpenGov, it packages its services in a platform it calls the OpenGov Cloud.

“OpenGov’s mission to power more effective and accountable government is driving innovation and transformation for the public sector at high speed,” said OpenGov CEO Zac Bookman in a statement. “This new investment validates OpenGov’s position as the leader in enterprise cloud solutions for government, and it fuels our ability to build, sell, and deploy new mission-critical technology that is the safe and trusted choice for government executives.”

City Manager Dashboard Screen

It’s also, it seems, a trusted choice for government executives who have left public service and moved into investing, leveraging some of the links they still have into those who manage procurement for public services. Weatherford Capital, one of the lead investors, is led in part by managing partner Will Weatherford, who is the former Speaker of the House for the State of Florida.

“OpenGov’s innovative technology, accomplished personnel, market leadership, and mission-first approach precisely address the growing challenges inherent in public administration,” he said in a statement. “We are thrilled at the opportunity to partner with OpenGov to accelerate its growth and continue modernizing how this important sector operates.”

It will be interesting to see how and if the company uses the funding to consolidate in its particular area of enterprise technology. There are other firms like LiveStories that have also been building services to help better present civic data to the public that you could see as complementary to what OpenGov is doing. OpenGov has made acquisitions in the past, such as Ontodia to bring more open-source data and technology into its platform.

Marc Benioff will discuss building a socially responsible and successful startup at TechCrunch Disrupt

Posted by on 29 August, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Salesforce chairman, co-founder and CEO, Marc Benioff, took a lot of big chances when he launched the company 20 years ago. For starters, his was one of the earliest enterprise SaaS companies, but he wasn’t just developing a company on top of new platform, he was building one from scratch with social responsibility built-in.

Fast forward 20 years and that company is wildly successful. In its most recent earnings report, it announced a $4 billion quarter, putting it on a $16 billion run rate, and making it by far the most successful SaaS company ever.

But at the heart of the company’s DNA is a charitable streak, and it’s not something they bolted on after getting successful. Even before the company had a working product, in the earliest planning documents, Salesforce wanted to be a different kind of company. Early on, it designed the 1-1-1 philanthropic model that set aside one percent of Salesforce’s equity, and one percent of its product and one percent of its employees’ time to the community. As the company has grown, that model has serious financial teeth now, and other startups over the years have also adopted the same approach using Salesforce as a model.

In our coverage of Dreamforce, the company’s enormous annual customer conference, in 2016, Benioff outlined his personal philosophy around giving back:

“You are at work, and you have great leadership skills. You can isolate yourselves and say I’m going to put those skills to use in a box at work, or you can say I’m going to have an integrated life. The way I look at the world, I’m going to put those skills to work to make the world a better place,” Benioff said at the time.

This year Benioff is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco to discuss with TechCrunch Editors how to build a highly successful business, while giving back to the community and the society your business is part of. In fact, he has a book coming out in mid-October called Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Change, in which he writes about how businesses can be a positive social force.

Benioff has received numerous awards over the years for his entrepreneurial and charitable spirit including Innovator of the Decade from Forbes, one of the World’s 25 Greatest Leaders from Fortune, one of the 10 Best-Performing CEOs from Harvard Business Review, GLAAD, the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative for his work on equality and the Variety Magazine EmPOWerment Award.

Disrupt SF runs October 2 to October 4 at the Moscone Center in the heart of San Francisco. Tickets are available here.

Did you know Extra Crunch annual members get 20% off all TechCrunch event tickets? Head over here to get your annual pass, and then email extracrunch@techcrunch.com to get your 20% off discount. Please note that it can take up to 24 hours to issue the discount code.

Mews grabs $33M Series B to modernize hotel administration

Posted by on 29 August, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

If you think about the traditional hotel business, there hasn’t been a ton of innovation. You mostly still stand in a line to check in, and sometimes even to check out. You let the staff know about your desire for privacy with a sign on the door. Mews believes it’s time to rethink how hotels work in a more modern digital context, especially on the administrative side, and today it announced a $33 million Series B led by Battery Ventures.

When Mews Founder Richard Valtr started his own hotel in Prague in 2012, he wanted to change how hotels have operated traditionally. “I really wanted to change the way that hotel systems are built to make sure that it’s more about the experience that the guest is actually having, rather than facilitating the kind of processes that hotels have built over the last hundred years,” Valtr told TechCrunch.

He said most of the innovation in this space has been in the B2C area, using Airbnb as a prime example. He wants to bring that kind of change to the way hotels operate. “That’s essentially what Mews is trying to do. [We want to shift the focus to] the fundamental things about why we love to travel and why people actually love to stay in hotels, experience hotels, and be cared for by professional staff. We are trying to do that in a way that that actually delivers a really meaningful experience and personalized experience to that one particular customer,” he explained.

For starters, Mews is a cloud-based system that automates a lot of the manual tasks like room assignments that hotel staff at many hotels often still have to handle as part of their jobs. Valtr believes by freeing the staff from these kinds of tedious activities, it enables them to concentrate more on the guests.

It also offers ways for guests and hotels to customize their stays to get the best experience possible. Valtr says this approach brings a new level of flexibility that allows hotels to create new revenue opportunities, while letting guests choose the kind of stay they want.

From a guest perspective, they could by-pass the check-in process altogether, sharing all of their registration details ahead of time, and then getting a pass code sent to their phone to get into the room. The system integrates with third-parting hotel book sites like Booking.com and Expedia, as well as other services, through its open hospitality API, which offers lots of opportunities for properties to partner with local businesses.

The company is currently operating at 1000 properties across 47 countries, but it lacks a presence in the US and wants to use this round to open an office in NYC and expand into this market.”We really want to attack the US market because that’s essentially where most of the decision makers for all of the major chains are. And we’re not going to change the industry if we don’t actually change the thinking of the biggest brands,” Valtr said.

Today, the company has 270 employees spread across 10 offices around the world. Headquarters are in Prague and London, but the company is in the process of opening that NYC office, and the number of employees will expand when that happens.

ReadMe scores $9M Series A to help firms customize API docs

Posted by on 28 August, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

Software APIs help different tools communicate with one another, let developers access essential services without having to code it themselves, and are critical components for driving a platform-driven strategy. Yet they require solid documentation to help make the best use of them. ReadMe, a startup that helps companies customize their API documentation, announced a $9 million Series A today led by Accel with help from Y Combinator. The company was part of the Y Combinator Winter 2015 cohort.

Prior to today’s funding announcement, the company had taken just a $1.2 million Seed round in 2014. Today, it reports 3000 paying customers and that it’s been profitable for the last several years, an unusual position for a startup. In spite of this success, co-founder and CEO Gregory Koberger said as the company has taken on larger customers, they have more sophisticated requirements, and that prompted them to take this round of funding.

In addition, it has expanded the platform to use a company’s API logs to help create more dynamic documentation and improve customer support kinds of scenarios. But by taking on data from other companies, it needs to make sure the data is secure, and today’s funding will help in that regard.

“We’re going to still build the company traditionally by hiring more engineers, more support people, more designers, the obvious stuff, but the main impetus for doing this was that we started working with bigger companies with more secure data. So a lot of the money is going to help make sure that we handle that right,” Koberger explained.

Screenshot 2019 08 28 10.55.38

Image: ReadMe

He says this ability to make use of the API logs has opened up all kinds of possibilities for the company as the data provides a valuable window into how people use the APIs. “It’s amazing how much you get by just actually seeing what the server sees. When people are having problems with an API, they can debug it themselves because they can actually see the problems, The support team can see it as well,” Koberger said.

Accel’s Dan Levine, whose firm is leading the investment believes that having good documentation is the difference between making and breaking an API. “APIs don’t just create technical integration, they create ecosystems around core services and underpin corporate partnerships that generate billions of dollars. ReadMe is as much a strategy as it is a service for businesses. Providing clean, interactive, data-driven API documentation to make developers love working with you can be the difference between 100 partnerships or 1000 partnerships,” Levine said.

ReadMe was founded in 2014. It has 22 employees in their San Francisco offices, a number that should increase with today’s funding.

ThoughtSpot hauls in $248M Series D on $1.95B valuation

Posted by on 28 August, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

ThoughtSpot was started by a bunch of ed-Googlers looking to bring the power of search to data. Seven years later the company is growing fast, sporting a fat valuation of almost $2 billion and looking ahead to a possible IPO. Today it announced a hefty $248 million Series D round as it continues on its journey.

Investors include Silver Lake Waterman, Silver Lake’s late-stage growth capital fund along with existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sapphire Ventures and Geodesic Capital. Today’s funding brings the total raised to $554 million, according to the company.

The company wants to help customers bring speed to data analysis by answering natural language questions about the data without having to understand how to formulate a SQL query. As a person enters questions, ThoughSpot translates that question into SQL, then displays a chart with data related to the question, all almost instantly (at least in the demo).

It doesn’t stop there though. It also uses artificial intelligence to understand intent to help come up the exact correct answer. ThoughtSpot CEO Sudheesh Nair says that this artificial intelligence underpinning is key to the product. As he explained, if you are looking for the answer to a specific question like ‘What is the profit margin of red shoes in Portland?” there won’t be multiple answers. There is only one answer, and that’s where artificial intelligence really comes into play.

“The bar on delivering that kind of answer is very high and because of that, understanding intent is critical. We use AI for that. You could ask, ‘How did we do with red shoes in Portland?’ I could ask, ‘What is the profit margin of red shoes in Portland?’ The system needs to know that we both are asking the same question. So there’s a lot of AI that goes behind it to understand the intent,” Nair explained.

image 10

Image: ThoughtSpot

ThoughtSpot gets answers to queries by connecting to a variety of internal systems like HR, CRM and ERP and uses all of this data to answer the question as best it can. So far, it appears to be working. The company has almost 250 large company customers, and is on a run rate of close to $100 million.

Nair said that the company didn’t necessarily need the money with $100 million still in the bank, but he saw an opportunity, and he seized it. He says the money gives him a great deal of flexibility moving forward including the possibility of acquiring companies to fill in missing pieces or to expand the platform’s capabilities. It also will allow him to accelerate growth. Plus, he sees the capital markets possibly tightening next year and he wanted to strike while the opportunity was in front of him.

Nair definitely sees the company going public at some point. “With these kind of resources behind us, it actually opens up an opportunity for us to do any sort of IPO that we want. I do think that a company like this will benefit from going public because Global 2000 kind of customers, where we have our most of our business, appreciate the transparency and the stability represented by public companies,” he said.

He added, “And with $350 million in the bank, it’s totally [possible to] IPO, which means that a year and a half from now if we are ready to take the company public, we can actually have all options open including a direct listing, potentially. I’m not saying we will do that, but I’m saying that this kind of funding behind us, we have all those options open.”

How to move from VP of Sales to CRO with leading exec recruiter David Ives

Posted by on 27 August, 2019

This post was originally published on this site

It wasn’t so long ago that sales meant just showing up with a deck and a smile. These days, it seems that sales leaders almost need a PhD in statistics just to get through the typical day managing a sales funnel. From SQLs and MQLs to NDRR and managing overall retention, the roles of VP of Sales and Chief Revenue Officers (CROs) are evolving rapidly in tandem with the best practices of SaaS startups.

Few people know this world better than David Ives, who is a partner at True Search, one of the top executive recruiting firms in the country where he co-leads the go-to-market practice. David has led countless CRO and VP of Sales searches, and in the process, has learned not just what CEOs and boards are looking for, but also the kinds of skills that candidates need to shine in these important career inflection points.

In our conversation, we talk about the evolving nature of the sales org, how leaders can best position themselves for future advancement, what companies are looking for today in new executive sales hires, and compensation changes in the industry.

This interview has been extensively edited and condensed for clarity

Introduction and background

Danny: Why don’t we start with your background — how did you get into recruiting?

David: So my background was definitely unique. I started as an enterprise sales rep of the truest form selling subscription-based data analytics and systems into capital markets, so into investment banks, trading desks, hedge funds, asset managers, portfolio managers — you name it. Then I drifted purposely, intentionally away from capital markets and did about four different growth technology companies. I landed at NewsCred, and it was a neat time — it was really the birth of the startup landscape with the whole Flatiron district in New York.

Later, I was looking for my next CRO opportunity and was networking with some of the investor folks that I knew. I had a friend of mine who was a talent partner at a private equity firm who said to me, “I’ve always thought that you’d be really good at this and we’re starting to push for our search firms to have operators.” I went and met with Brad and Joe [founders of True], and three weeks later I was in the seat.

Danny: That’s great. And what do you do at True?

David: Well, we moved to a specialization model right when I got here. I don’t know if I was the test case or not, but I didn’t know search, so my skillset was that I knew the role. I run our go-to-market practice with another partner, and we have probably 40, 45 people in that group. We focus exclusively on sales, marketing, customer success, we’ll do biz dev. I probably skew more to CRO than anything else, but I do CMO and VP of marketing as well, and then I do a handful of business development, chief client officers, and VPs of customer success a year. That’s my mix basically.

What is the skillset of a modern CRO?

Danny: You’ve been in the sales leadership space for a long time, and you’ve been in the recruiting space for a couple of years. What are some of the changes that you’re seeing today in terms of candidates, skills, and experiences?

David: I think a big change has been from what I call a backend pipeline manager to what I would call a full funnel manager.

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