Docker expands relationship with Microsoft to ease developer experience across platforms

Posted by on 27 May, 2020

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When Docker sold off its enterprise division to Mirantis last fall, that didn’t mark the end of the company. In fact, Docker still exists and has refocused as a cloud-native developer tools vendor. Today it announced an expanded partnership with Microsoft around simplifying running Docker containers in Azure.

As its new mission suggests, it involves tighter integration between Docker and a couple of Azure developer tools including Visual Studio Code and Azure Container Instances (ACI). According to Docker, it can take developers hours or even days to set up their containerized environment across the two sets of tools.

The idea of the integration is to make it easier, faster and more efficient to include Docker containers when developing applications with the Microsoft tool set. Docker CEO Scott Johnston says it’s a matter of giving developers a better experience.

“Extending our strategic relationship with Microsoft will further reduce the complexity of building, sharing and running cloud-native, microservices-based applications for developers. Docker and VS Code are two of the most beloved developer tools and we are proud to bring them together to deliver a better experience for developers building container-based apps for Azure Container Instances,” Johnston said in a statement.

Among the features they are announcing is the ability to log into Azure directly from the Docker command line interface, a big simplification that reduces going back and forth between the two sets of tools. What’s more, developers can set up a Microsoft ACI environment complete with a set of configuration defaults. Developers will also be able to switch easily between their local desktop instance and the cloud to run applications.

These and other integrations are designed to make it easier for Azure and Docker common users to work in in the Microsoft cloud service without having to jump through a lot of extra hoops to do it.

It’s worth noting that these integrations are starting in Beta, but the company promises they should be released some time in the second half of this year.

Posted Under: Tech News
RudderStack raises $5M seed round for its open-source Segment competitor

Posted by on 27 May, 2020

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RudderStack, a startup that offers an open-source alternative to customer data management platforms like Segment, today announced that it has raised a $5 million seed round led by S28 Capital. Salil Deshpande of Uncorrelated Ventures and Mesosphere/D2iQ co-founder Florian Leibert (through 468 Capital) also participated in this round.

In addition, the company also today announced that it has acquired Blendo, an integration platform that helps businesses transform and move data from their data sources to databases.

Like its larger competitors, RudderStack helps businesses consolidate all of their customer data, which is now typically generated and managed in multiple places — and then extract value from this more holistic view. The company was founded by Soumyadeb Mitra, who has a Ph.D. in database systems and worked on similar problems previously when he was at 8×8 after his previous startup, MairinaIQ, was acquired by that company.

Mitra argues that RudderStack is different from its competitors thanks to its focus on developers, its privacy and security options and its focus on being a data warehouse first, without creating yet another data silo.

“Our competitors provide tools for analytics, audience segmentation, etc. on top of the data they keep,” he said. “That works well if you are a small startup, but larger enterprises have a ton of other data sources — at 8×8 we had our own internal billing system, for example — and you want to combine this internal data with the event stream data — that you collect via RudderStack or competitors — to create a 360-degree view of the customer and act on that. This becomes very difficult with the SaaS-hosted data model of our competitors — you won’t be sending all your internal data to these cloud vendors.”

Part of its appeal, of course, is the open-source nature of RudderStack, whose GitHub repository now has more than 1,700 stars for the main RudderStack server. Mitra credits getting on the front page of HackerNews for its first sale. On that day, it received over 500 GitHub stars, a few thousand clones and a lot of signups for its hosted app. “One of those signups turned out to be our first paid customer. They were already a competitor’s customer, but it wasn’t scaling up so were looking to build something in-house. That’s when they found us and started working with us,” he said.

Because it is open source, companies can run RudderStack anyway they want, but like most similar open-source companies, RudderStack offers multiple hosting options itself, too, that include cloud hosting, starting at $2,000 per month, with unlimited sources and destination.

Current users include IFTTT, Mattermost, MarineTraffic, Torpedo and Wynn Las Vegas.

As for the Blendo acquisition, it’s worth noting that the company only raised a small amount of money in its seed round. The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition.

“With Blendo, I had the opportunity to be part of a great team that executed on the vision of turning any company into a data-driven organization,” said Blendo founder Kostas Pardalis, who has joined RudderStack as head of Growth. “We’ve combined the talented Blendo and RudderStack teams together with the technology that both companies have created, at a time when the customer data market is ripe for the next wave of innovation. I’m excited to help drive RudderStack forward.”

Mitra tells me that RudderStack acquired Blendo instead of building its own version of this technology because “it is not a trivial technology to build — cloud sources are really complicated and have weird schemas and API challenges and it would have taken us a lot of time to figure it out. There are independent large companies doing the ETL piece.”

Posted Under: Tech News
Toro snags $4M seed investment to monitor data quality

Posted by on 27 May, 2020

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Toro’s founders started at Uber helping monitor the data quality in the company’s vast data catalogs, and they wanted to put that experience to work for a more general audience. Today, the company announced a $4 million seed round.

The round was co-led by Costanoa Ventures and Point72 Ventures with help from a number of individual investors.

Company co-founder and CEO Kyle Kirwin says the startup wanted to bring the kind of automated monitoring we have in applications performance monitoring products to data. Instead of getting an alert when the application is performing poorly, you would get an alert that there is an issue with the data.

“We’re building a monitoring platform that helps data teams find problems in their data content before that gets into dashboards and machine learning models and other places where problems in the data could cause a lot of damage,” Kirwin told TechCrunch.

When it comes to data, there are specific kinds of issues a product like Toro would be looking at. It might be a figure that falls outside of a specific dollar range that could be indicative of fraud, or it could be simply a mistake in how the data was labeled that is different from previous ways that could break a model.

The founders learned the lessons they use to build Toro while working on the data team at Uber. They had helped build tools there to find these kinds of problems, but in a way that was highly specific to Uber. When they started Toro, they needed to build a more general purpose tool.

The product works by understanding what it’s looking at in terms of data, and what the normal thresholds are for a particular type of data. Anything that falls outside of the threshold for a particular data point would trigger an alert, and the data team would need to go to work to fix the problem.

Casey Aylward, vice president at Costanoa Ventures likes the pedigree of this team and the problem it’s trying to solve. “Despite its importance, data quality has remained a challenge for many enterprise companies,” he said in a statement. He added, “[The co-founders] deep experience building several of Uber’s internal data tools makes them uniquely qualified to build the best solution.”

The company has been at this for just over a year and have been keeping it lean with 4 employees including the two co-founders, but they do have plans to add a couple of data scientists in the coming year as they continue to build out the product.

Posted Under: Tech News
Census raises $4.3M seed to put product info in cloud data warehouses to work

Posted by on 27 May, 2020

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Companies spend inordinate amounts of time and money building data warehouses and moving data from enterprise applications. But once they get the data in, how do they get specific information like product data back out and distribute it to business operations, who can use it to better understand customers? That’s where Census comes in. It builds a layer on top of the data warehouse that makes it easy for the data team to distribute product data it where it’s needed.

The company announced a $4.3 million seed today, although it closed last year while they were still building the product. That round was led by Andreessen Horowitz with help from SV Angel and a number of angel investors.

Census CEO Boris Jabes says the company was founded to solve this problem of data distribution from a cloud data warehouse. He says for starters they are concentrating on product data.

“The product is designed to sync data directly from cloud data warehouses like Snowflake, BigQuery and Redshift […] and the main reason we did that was people really needed to get access to this kind of product data and all this data that’s locked in all their systems and take advantage of it,” Jabes explained.

He says that the first step is to make the product data sitting in the data warehouse actionable for the organization. They are working with data teams at early customers to remove the complexity of getting that data out of the warehouse and putting it to work in a more automated fashion.

They do this by creating a unified schema that sits on top of the data in the warehouse and makes it easier to distribute it to the teams that need it inside the organization. It essentially acts as a middleware layer on top of the warehouse that you can take advantage of without having to write code to decide where data might be most useful.

David Ulevitch, who led the investment at a16z says that removing this manual part of the process is highly valuable. “For years, organizations have had to do the frustrating task of manually syncing data between dozens of apps. This friction is especially painful now that data has become critical to every team in a business, from product to sales. Census sets a new standard for how product-led SaaS companies can operationalize data,” he said in a statement.

Jabes understands these are difficult times for every business, and especially an early stage startup, but he says they are focusing on an aspect of the business that potential customers need.

“We’ve seen companies actually spending time trying to tackle some of these data problems […] so I’m still optimistic,” he says.

Posted Under: Tech News
Kentik raises $23.5M for its network intelligence platform

Posted by on 27 May, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

Kentik, the company once known as CloudHelix, today announced that it has raised a $23.5 million growth funding round led by Vistara Capital Partners, with existing investors August Capital, Third Point Ventures, DCVC, and Tahoma Ventures also participating. With this round, Kentik has now raised a total of $61.7 million.

The company’s platform allows enterprises to monitor their networks, no matter whether that’s over the Internet, inside their own data centers or in public clouds.

“The world has become even more internet-centric, and we are seeing growth in traffic levels, product engagement, and revenue across both our enterprise and service provider customers,” said Avi Freedman, the co-founder and CEO of Kentik when I asked him why he was raising a round now. “We’ve seen an increased pace of adoption of the kind of hybrid and internet-centric architectures that Kentik is built for and thought it was a great time to increase investment, especially in product, as well as go-to-market and partner expansion to support market demand.”

Freedman says the company has been growing 100% compounded year-over-year since it launched in 2015 and now has customers in 25 countries. These include leading enterprises, SaaS companies, content providers, gaming companies, content providers, and cloud and communication service providers, he tells me. Current customers include the likes of IBM, Zoom, Dropbox, eBay, Cisco and GoDaddy.

The company says it will use the new funding to invest in its product and for go-to-market investments.

One notable fact about this new round is that it is a combination of equity and growth debt. Why growth debt? “Growth debt is an attractive option for startups with the right scale and strong unit economics, especially with the changes to capital markets in response to current economic conditions,” said Freedman. “Another element that makes long-term debt attractive is that unlike equity financing, long-term debt limits dilution for everyone, but especially benefits our employees who hold common stock.” That, it’s worth noting, is also something that lead investor Vistara Capital has made one of the core tenants of its investment philosophy. “Since Kentik is now at a scale where we have enough data on the business fundamentals to be able to make growth investments using debt while still being able to repay it over time, it made sense to us and our investors,” noted Freedman.

Posted Under: Tech News
Extra Crunch Live: Join Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg for a live Q&A today at 2pm EDT/11am PDT

Posted by on 26 May, 2020

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As the leader of a publicly traded corporation with 135,000 employees, Verizon Communications CEO Hans Vestberg has a unique perspective on the state of the world.

When he appears today on Extra Crunch Live, our virtual speaker series for Extra Crunch members, we’ll ask him about this extraordinary moment in history and his plans for seeing the company through a black swan event that’s reshaping the global economy.

The discussion starts at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT/9 p.m. GMT. You can find the full details below.

Vestberg served as president and CEO at Ericsson for six years and joined Verizon as its CTO and president of Global Networks in 2017 before stepping into the CEO role a little more than a year later. (Disclosure: TechCrunch is owned by Verizon).

We’ll talk to Vestberg about his tactics for managing a company at scale through a crisis and will check in on the company’s 5G rollout, a platform inflection point that should change the landscape for founders and entrepreneurs. Verizon recently acquired BlueJeans, which competes directly with Zoom and WebEx, so we’ll also ask Vestberg about the company’s forward-looking investment strategy.

Extra Crunch members are encouraged to ask their own questions during the Zoom call, so please come prepared. If you’re not already a member, sign up on the cheap right here.

You can also check out the full Extra Crunch Live schedule here.

See you soon!

Posted Under: Tech News
Baton raises $10M Series A to organize post-sale implementation

Posted by on 26 May, 2020

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Baton, an early-stage startup that wants to help customers organize the post-sales implementation process, emerged from stealth today with a $10 million Series A investment.

Activant Capital led the round with help from Global Founders Capital and Hybris founder Carsten Thoma.

Like so many startups, the idea for Baton stemmed from a pain point that founder and CEO Alex Krug experienced first hand. He was co-founder at Behance, which was later sold to Adobe and he saw that there were tools to organize your customers and get you through the sale, but there was something distinctly lacking when it came to implementation post-sale.

Krug said that most companies hacked together a solution consisting of general project management tools, spreadsheets and email, but what was missing was a dedicated platform to help with this part of the process. He put his team to work to build it.

“We reconfigured a lot of the team that I worked with at Behance and Adobe and really started to build a platform around optimizing the implementation, what happens in between your presale and post sale and how customers get on boarded through a platform,” Krug told TechCrunch.

He says where project management tends to be internally focussed, Baton is designed to bring all the parties from vendor to client to systems integrator together in one tool, so everyone knows their responsibilities and targets.

While Krug understands that this may not be an optimal time to launch a startup out of stealth in the middle of a pandemic and corresponding economic crisis, he still sees a real need for a tool like Baton.

“This era of top line growth is gone. Efficient growth is here to stay and Baton really optimizes processes and standardizes a toolset that allows you to grow efficiently from your fifth customer to your thousandth customer, whereas previous iterations of implementation have been these static spreadsheets and chasing people for manual updates.”

He believes his company is offering a reasonable alternative to that, as does his lead investor Peter McCoy at Activant Capital. “The best SaaS companies are built off of product-led growth, that can be network effects, novel go-to-market strategies or some other distribution advantage. The problem I kept seeing was even companies that had one or a couple of these attributes created operational debt, when they bloated up their services teams to keep up with top line growth. The need for a platform like Baton was super clear to me,” McCoy said in a statement.

Beginning today, the company will set forth on its startup journey as it attempts to carve out a market in difficult times, and help customers with this crucial part of the selling cycle.

Posted Under: Tech News
Scandit raises $80M as COVID-19 drives demand for contactless deliveries

Posted by on 26 May, 2020

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Enterprise barcode scanner company Scandit has closed an $80 million Series C round, led by Silicon Valley VC firm G2VP. Atomico, GV, Kreos, NGP Capital, Salesforce Ventures and Swisscom Ventures also participated in the round — which brings its total raised to date to $123M.

The Zurich-based firm offers a platform that combines computer vision and machine learning tech with barcode scanning, text recognition (OCR), object recognition and augmented reality which is designed for any camera-equipped smart device — from smartphones to drones, wearables (e.g. AR glasses for warehouse workers) and even robots.

Use-cases include mobile apps or websites for mobile shopping; self checkout; inventory management; proof of delivery; asset tracking and maintenance — including in healthcare where its tech can be used to power the scanning of patient IDs, samples, medication and supplies.

It bills its software as “unmatched” in terms of speed and accuracy, as well as the ability to scan in bad light; at any angle; and with damaged labels. Target industries include retail, healthcare, industrial/manufacturing, travel, transport & logistics and more.

The latest funding injection follows a $30M Series B round back in 2018. Since then Scandit says it’s tripled recurring revenues, more than doubling the number of blue-chip enterprise customers, and doubling the size of its global team.

Global customers for its tech include the likes of 7-Eleven, Alaska Airlines, Carrefour, DPD, FedEx, Instacart, Johns Hopkins Hospital, La Poste, Levi Strauss & Co, Mount Sinai Hospital and Toyota — with the company touting “tens of billions of scans” per year on 100+ million active devices at this stage of its business.

It says the new funding will go on further pressing on the gas to grow in new markets, including APAC and Latin America, as well as building out its footprint and ops in North America and Europe. Also on the slate: Funding more R&D to devise new ways for enterprises to transform their core business processes using computer vision and AR.

The need for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic has also accelerated demand for mobile computer vision on personal smart devices, according to Scandit, which says customers are looking for ways to enable more contactless interactions.

Another demand spike it’s seeing is coming from the pandemic-related boom in ‘Click & Collect’ retail and “millions” of extra home deliveries — something its tech is well positioned to cater to because its scanning apps support BYOD (bring your own device), rather than requiring proprietary hardware.

“COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the need for rapid digital transformation in these uncertain times, and the need to blend the physical and digital plays a crucial role,” said CEO Samuel Mueller in a statement. “Our new funding makes it possible for us to help even more enterprises to quickly adapt to the new demand for ‘contactless business’, and be better positioned to succeed, whatever the new normal is.”

Also commenting on the funding in a supporting statement, Ben Kortlang, general partner at G2VP, added: “Scandit’s platform puts an enterprise-grade scanning solution in the pocket of every employee and customer without requiring legacy hardware. This bridge between the physical and digital worlds will be increasingly critical as the world accelerates its shift to online purchasing and delivery, distributed supply chains and cashierless retail.”

Posted Under: Tech News
IBM confirms layoffs are happening, but won’t provide details

Posted by on 22 May, 2020

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IBM confirmed reports from over night that it is conducting layoffs, but wouldn’t provide details related to location, departments or number of employees involved. The company framed it in terms of replacing people with more needed skills as it tries to regroup under new CEO Arvind Krishna.

IBM’s work in a highly competitive marketplace requires flexibility to constantly remix to high-value skills, and our workforce decisions are made in the long-term interests of our business,” an IBM spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy says he’s hearing the layoffs are hitting across the business. “I’m hearing it’s a balancing act between business units. IBM is moving as many resources as it can to the cloud. Essentially, you lay off some of the people without the skills you need and who can’t be re-educated and you bring in people with certain skill sets. So not a net reduction in headcount,” Moorhead said.

It’s worth noting that IBM used a similar argument back in 2015 when it reportedly had layoffs. While there is no official number, Bloomberg is reporting that today’s number is in the thousands.

Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says that IBM is in a tough spot. “The bets of the past have not paid off. IBM Cloud as IaaS is gone, Watson did not deliver and Blockchain is too slow to keep thousands of consultants occupied,” he said.

Mueller adds that the company could also be feeling the impact of having workers at home instead of in the field. “Enterprises do not know and have not learnt how to do large software projects remotely. […] And for now enterprises are slowing down on projects as they are busy with reopening plans,” he said.

The news comes against the backdrop of companies large and small laying off large numbers of employees as the pandemic takes its toll on the workforce. IBM was probably due for a workforce reduction, regardless of the current macro situation as Krishna tries to right the financial ship.

The company has struggled in recent years, and with the acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion in 2018, it is hoping to find its way as a more open hybrid cloud option. It apparently wants to focus on skills that can help them get there.

The company indicated that it would continue to subsidize medical expenses for laid off employees through June 2021, so there is that.

Posted Under: Tech News
Extra Crunch Live: Join Box CEO Aaron Levie May 28th at noon PT/3 pm ET/7 pm GMT

Posted by on 21 May, 2020

This post was originally published on this site

We’ve been on a roll with our Extra Crunch Live Series for Extra Crunch members, where we’re talking to some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley about business, investment and the startup community. Recent interviews include Kirsten Green from Forerunner Ventures, Charles Hudson from Precursor Ventures and investor Mark Cuban.

Next week, we’re pleased to welcome Box CEO Aaron Levie. He is a well-known advocate of digital transformation, often a years-long process that many companies have compressed into a few months because of the pandemic, as he has pointed out lately.

As the head of an enterprise SaaS company that started out to help users manage information online, he has a unique perspective on what’s happening in this period as companies move employees home and implement cloud services to ease the transition.

Levie started his company 15 years ago while still an undergrad in the proverbial dorm room and has matured from those early days into a public company executive, guiding his employees, customers and investors through the current crisis. This is not the first economic downturn he has faced as CEO at Box; when it was still an early-stage startup, he saw it through the 2008 financial crisis. Presumably, he’s taking the lessons he learned then and applying them now to a much more mature organization.

Please join TechCrunch writers Ron Miller and Jon Shieber as we chat with Levie about how he’s handling the COVID-19 crisis, moving employees offsite and what advice he has for companies that are accelerating their digital transformation. After he’s shared his wisdom for startups seeking survival strategies, we’ll discuss what life might look like for Box and other companies in a post-pandemic environment.

During the call, audience members are encouraged to ask questions. We’ll get to as many as we can, but you can only participate if you’re an Extra Crunch member, so please subscribe here.

Extra Crunch subscribers can find the Zoom link below (with YouTube to follow) as well as a calendar invite so you won’t miss this conversation.

Posted Under: Tech News
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