Accord launches B2B sales platform with $6M seed

Posted by on 10 February, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

The founders of Accord, an early stage startup focused on bringing order to B2B sales, are not your typical engineer founders. Instead, the two brothers, Ross and Ryan Rich, worked as sales reps seeing the problems unique to this kind of sale first-hand.

In November 2019, they decided to leave the comfort of their high-paying jobs at Google and Stripe to launch Accord and build what they believe is a missing platform for B2B sales, one that takes into account the needs of both the sales person and the buyer.

Today the company is launching with a $6 million seed round from former employer Stripe and Y Combinator. It should be noted that the founders applied to YC after leaving their jobs, and impressed the incubator with their insight and industry experience, even though they didn’t really have a product yet. In fact, they literally drew their original idea on a piece of paper.

The original prototype was just a drawing of their idea. Image Credits: Accord

Recognizing they had the sales skills, but lacked programming chops, they quickly brought in a third partner, Wayne Pan to bring their idea to life. Today, they have an actual working program with paying customers. They’ve created a kind of online hub for B2B sales people and buyers to interact.

As co-founder Ross Rich points out these kinds of sales are very different from the consumer variety, often involving as many as 14 people on average on the buyer side. With so many people involved in the decision-making process, it can become unwieldy pretty quickly.

“We provide within the application shared next steps and milestones to align on and that the buyer can track asynchronously, a resource hub to avoid sorting through those hundreds of emails and threads for a single document or presentation and stakeholder management to make sure the right people are looped in at the right time,” Rich explained.

Accord also integrates with the company CRM like Salesforce to make sure all of that juicy data is being tracked properly in the sales database. At the same time, Rich says the startup wants this platform to be a place for human interaction. Instead of an automated email or text, this provides a place where humans can actually interact with one another, and he believes that human element is important to help reduce the complexity inherent in these kinds of deals.

With $6 million in runway and a stint at Y Combinator under their belts, the founders are ready to make more concerted go-to-market push. They are currently at 9 people, mostly engineers aside from the two sales-focused founders. He figures to be bringing in some new employees this year, but doesn’t really have a sense of how many they will bring on just yet, saying that is something that they will figure out in the coming months.

As they do that, they are already thinking about being inclusive with several women on the engineering team, recognizing if they don’t start diversity early, it will be more difficult later on. “[Hiring a diverse group early] only compounds when you get to nine or 10 people and then when you’re talking to someone and they are wondering ‘do I trust this team and is that a culture where I want to work?’ He says if you want to build a diverse and inclusive workplace, you have to start making that investment early.

It’s early days for this team, but they are building a product to help B2B sales teams work more closely and effectively with customers, and with their background and understanding of the space, they seem well positioned to succeed.

Posted Under: Tech News
Nobl9 raises $21M Series B for its SLO management platform

Posted by on 10 February, 2021

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SLAs, SLOs, SLIs. If there’s one thing everybody in the business of managing software development loves, it’s acronyms. And while everyone probably knows what a Service Level Agreement (SLA) is, Service Level Objectives (SLOs) and Service Level Indicators (SLIs) may not be quite as well known. The idea, though, is straightforward, with SLOs being the overall goals a team must hit to meet the promises of its SLA agreements, and SLIs being the actual measurements that back up those other two numbers. With the advent of DevOps, these ideas, which are typically part of a company’s overall Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) efforts, are becoming more mainstream, but putting them into practice isn’t always straightforward.

Noble9 aims to provide enterprises with the tools they need to build SLO-centric operations and the right feedback loops inside an organization to help it hit its SLOs without making too many trade-offs between the cost of engineering, feature development and reliability.

The company today announced that it has raised a $21 million Series B round led by its Series A investors Battery Ventures and CRV. In addition, Series A investors Bonfire Ventures and Resolute Ventures also participated, together with new investors Harmony Partners and Sorenson Ventures.

Before starting Nobl9, co-founders Marcin Kurc (CEO) and Brian Singer (CPO) spent time together at Orbitera, where Singer was the co-founder and COO and Kurc the CEO, and then at Google Cloud, after it acquired Orbitera in 2016. In the process, the team got to work with and appreciate Google’s site reliability engineering frameworks.

As they started looking into what to do next, that experience led them to look into productizing these ideas. “We came to this conclusion that if you’re going into Kubernetes, into service-based applications and modern architectures, there’s really no better way to run that than SRE,” Kurc told me. “And when we started looking at this, naturally SRE is a complete framework, there are processes. We started looking at elements of SRE and we agreed that SLO — service level objectives — is really the foundational part. You can’t do SRE without SLOs.”

As Singer noted, in order to adopt SLOs, businesses have to know how to turn the data they have about the reliability of their services, which could be measured in uptime or latency, for example, into the right objectives. That’s complicated by the fact that this data could live in a variety of databases and logs, but the real question is how to define the right SLOs for any given organization based on this data.

“When you go into the conversation with an organization about what their goals are with respect to reliability and how they start to think about understanding if there’s risks to that, they very quickly get bogged down in how are we going to get this data or that data and instrument this or instrument that,” Singer said. “What we’ve done is we’ve built a platform that essentially takes that as the problem that we’re solving. So no matter where the data lives and in what format it lives, we want to be able to reduce it to very simply an error budget and an objective that can be tracked and measured and reported on.”

The company’s platform launched into general availability last week, after a beta that started last year. Early customers include Brex and Adobe.

As Kurc told me, the team actually thinks of this new funding round as a Series A round, but because its $7.5 million Series A was pretty sizable, they decided to call it a Series A instead of a seed round. “It’s hard to define it. If you define it based on a revenue milestone, we’re pre-revenue, we just launched the GA product,” Singer told me. “But I think just in terms of the maturity of the product and the company, I would put us at the [Series] B.”

The team told me that it closed the round at the end of last November, and while it considered pitching new VCs, its existing investors were already interested in putting more money into the company and since its previous round had been oversubscribed, they decided to add to this new round some of the investors that didn’t make the cut for the Series A.

The company plans to use the new funding to advance its roadmap and expand its team, especially across sales, marketing and customer success.

Posted Under: Tech News
SecuriThings snares $14M Series A to keep edge devices under control

Posted by on 10 February, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

Managing IoT devices in a large organization can be a messy proposition, especially when many of them aren’t even managed directly by IT and often involve integrating with a number of third-party systems. SecuriThings wants to help with a platform of services to bring that all under control, and today the startup announced a $14 million Series A.

Aleph led the round with participation from existing investor Firstime VC and a number of unnamed angels. The company has raised a total of $17 million, according to Crunchbase data.

Roy Dagan, company CEO and co-founder says that he sees organizations with many different connected devices running on a network and it’s difficult to manage. “We enable organizations to manage IoT devices securely at scale in a consolidated and cost efficient manner,” Dagan told me.

This could include devices like security cameras along with access control systems and building management systems involving thousands — or in some instances, tens of thousands — of devices.”The technology we build, we integrate with management systems, and then we deploy our capabilities which are focused on the edge devices. So that’s how we also find the devices, and then we have these different capabilities running on the edge devices or fetching information from the edge devices,” Dagan explained.

Image Credits: SecuriThings

The company has formed partnerships with a number of key device manufacturers including Microsoft, Convergint Technologies and Johnson Controls, among others. They work with a range of industries including airports, casinos and large corporate campuses.

Aaron Rosenson, general partner at lead investor Aleph, says the company is solving a big problem managing the myriad devices inside large organizations. “Until SecuriThings came along, there were these massive enterprise software categories of automation, orchestration and observability just waiting to be built for IoT,” Rosenson said in a statement. He says that SecuiThings is pulling that all together for its customers.

The company was founded in 2016 originally with the idea of being an IoT security company, and while they still are involved in securing these devices, their ability to communicate with them gives IT much greater visibility and insight and the ability to update and manage them.

Today, the company has 30 employees, and with the new investment it will be doubling that number by the end of the year. While Dagan didn’t cite specific customer numbers, he did say they have dozens of customers with deal sizes of between five and seven figures.

Posted Under: Tech News
Is overseeing cloud operations the new career path to CEO?

Posted by on 9 February, 2021

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When Amazon announced last week that founder and CEO Jeff Bezos planned to step back from overseeing operations and shift into an executive chairman role, it also revealed that AWS CEO Andy Jassy, head of the company’s profitable cloud division, would replace him.

As Bessemer partner Byron Deeter pointed out on Twitter, Jassy’s promotion was similar to Satya Nadella’s ascent at Microsoft: in 2014, he moved from executive VP in charge of Azure to the chief exec’s office. Similarly, Arvind Krishna, who was promoted to replace Ginni Rometti as IBM CEO last year, also was formerly head of the company’s cloud business.

Could Nadella’s successful rise serve as a blueprint for Amazon as it makes a similar transition? While there are major differences in the missions of these companies, it’s inevitable that we will compare these two executives based on their former jobs. It’s true that they have an awful lot in common, but there are some stark differences, too.

Replacing a legend

For starters, Jassy is taking over for someone who founded one of the world’s biggest corporations. Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer, who had taken over for the company’s face, Bill Gates. Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says this notable difference could have a huge impact for Jassy with his founder boss still looking over his shoulder.

“There’s a lot of similarity in the two situations, but Satya was a little removed from the founder Gates. Bezos will always hover and be there, whereas Gates (and Ballmer) had retired for good. [ … ] It was clear [they] would not be coming back. [ … ] For Jassy, the owner could [conceivably] come back anytime,” Mueller said.

But Andrew Bartels, an analyst at Forrester Research, says it’s not a coincidence that both leaders were plucked from the cloud divisions of their respective companies, even if it was seven years apart.

“In both cases, these hyperscale business units of Microsoft and Amazon were the fastest-growing and best-performing units of the companies. [ … ] In both cases, cloud infrastructure was seen as a platform on top of which and around which other cloud offerings could be developed,” Bartels said. The companies both believe that the leaders of these two growth engines were best suited to lead the company into the future.

Posted Under: Tech News
Encrypted data handling startup DataFleets acquired by LiveRamp for over $68M

Posted by on 9 February, 2021

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LiveRamp has acquired DataFleets, a fresh young startup that made it possible to take advantage of large volumes of encrypted data without the risk or fuss of decrypting or transferring it. LiveRamp, an enterprise data connectivity platform itself, paid more than $68M for the company, a huge multiple on DataFleet’s $4.5M seed announced just last fall.

DataFleets saw the increasing need for sensitive data like medical or financial records to be analyzed or used to train machine learning models. Not only are such databases bulky and complex, making transfers difficult, but allowing them to be decrypted and used elsewhere opens the door to errors, abuse, and hacks.

The company’s solution was essentially to have software on both sides of the equation, the data provider (perhaps a hospital or bank) and the client (an analyst or AI developer), and act as a secure go-between. Not for the sensitive data itself, but for the systems of analysis and machine learning models that the client wanted to set loose on the data. This allows the client to perform an automated task on the data, such as harvesting and comparing values or building an ML model, without ever having direct access to it.

Clearly this approach seemed valuable to LiveRamp, which provides a number of data connectivity services to major enterprise customers, household names in fact. They announced in their earnings statement last night that they paid $68M up front for DataFleets, though that price does not reflect the various other incentives and deferred payments that many such deals involve, and in this case seem likely to remain private.

The deal will probably result in the retiring of the DataFleets brand (young as it was), but their various customers will probably make the trip to LiveRamp. The most recent of those is HCA Healthcare, a major national provider that just announced a COVID-19 data sharing consortium that would be using DataFleets’s services. That’s a pretty powerful validation for an approach just commercialized late last year, and a nice catch for LiveRamp to add to its healthcare client collection.

For its part LiveRamp plans to use its augmented services to expand its operations and offerings in Europe, Asia, and Latin America over the coming year. The company has also called for a federal data privacy law, something that hopefully that will be achieved under the new administration.

Posted Under: Tech News
SentinelOne to acquire high-speed logging startup Scalyr for $155M

Posted by on 9 February, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

SentinelOne, a late-stage security startup that helps customers make sense of security data using AI and machine learning, announced today that it is acquiring Scalyr, the high-speed logging startup for $155 million in stock and cash.

SentinelOne sorts through oodles of data to help customers understand their security posture, and having a tool that enables engineers to iterate rapidly in the data, and get to the root of the problem is going to be extremely valuable for them, CEO and co-founder Tomer Weingarten explained. “We thought Scalyr would be just an amazing fit to our continued vision in how we secure data at scale for every enterprise [customer] out there,” he told me.

He said they spent a lot of time shopping for a company that could meet their unique scaling needs and when they came across Scalyr, they saw the potential pretty quickly with a company that has built a real-time data lake. “When we look at the scale of our technology, we obviously scoured the world to find the best data analytics technology out there. We [believe] we found something incredibly special when we found a platform that can ingest data, and make it accessible in real time,” Weingarten explained.

He believes the real time element is a game changer because it enables customers to prevent breaches, rather than just reacting to them. “If you’re thinking about mitigating attacks or reacting to attacks, if you can do that in real time and you can process data in real time, and find the anomalies in real time and then meet them, you’re turning into a system that can actually deflect the attacks and not just see them and react to them,” he explained.

The company sees Scalyr as a product they can integrate into the platform, but also one which will remain a stand-alone. That means existing customers should be able to continue using Scalyr as before, while benefiting from having a larger company contributing to its R&D.

While SentinelOne is not a public company, it is a pretty substantial private one, having raised over $695 million, according to Crunchbase data. The company’s most recent funding round came last November, a $267 million investment with a $3.1 billion valuation.

As for Scalyr it was launched in 2011 by Steve Newman, who first built a word processor called Writely and sold it to Google in 2006. It was actually the basis for what became Google Docs. Newman stuck around and started building the infrastructure to scale Google Docs, and he used that experience and knowledge to build Scalyr. The startup raised $27 million along the way, according to Crunchbase data including a $20 million Series A investment in 2017.

The deal will close this quarter, and when it does Scalyr’s 45 employees will be joining SentinelOne.

Posted Under: Tech News
Container security acquisitions increase as companies accelerate shift to cloud

Posted by on 8 February, 2021

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Last week, another container security startup came off the board when Rapid7 bought Alcide for $50 million. The purchase is part of a broader trend in which larger companies are buying up cloud-native security startups at a rapid clip. But why is there so much M&A action in this space now?

Palo Alto Networks was first to the punch, grabbing Twistlock for $410 million in May 2019. VMware struck a year later, snaring Octarine. Cisco followed with PortShift in October and Red Hat snagged StackRox last month before the Rapid7 response last week.

This is partly because many companies chose to become cloud-native more quickly during the pandemic. This has created a sharper focus on security, but it would be a mistake to attribute the acquisition wave strictly to COVID-19, as companies were shifting in this direction pre-pandemic.

It’s also important to note that security startups that cover a niche like container security often reach market saturation faster than companies with broader coverage because customers often want to consolidate on a single platform, rather than dealing with a fragmented set of vendors and figuring out how to make them all work together.

Containers provide a way to deliver software by breaking down a large application into discrete pieces known as microservices. These are packaged and delivered in containers. Kubernetes provides the orchestration layer, determining when to deliver the container and when to shut it down.

This level of automation presents a security challenge, making sure the containers are configured correctly and not vulnerable to hackers. With myriad switches this isn’t easy, and it’s made even more challenging by the ephemeral nature of the containers themselves.

Yoav Leitersdorf, managing partner at YL Ventures, an Israeli investment firm specializing in security startups, says these challenges are driving interest in container startups from large companies. “The acquisitions we are seeing now are filling gaps in the portfolio of security capabilities offered by the larger companies,” he said.

Posted Under: Tech News
BeyondID grabs $9M Series A to help clients implement cloud identity

Posted by on 8 February, 2021

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BeyondID, a cloud identity consulting firm, announced a $9 million Series A today led by Tercera. It marked the first investment from Tercera, a firm that launched earlier this month with the goal of investing in service startups like Beyond.

The company focuses on helping clients manage security and identity in the cloud, taking aim specifically at Okta customers. In fact, the firm is a platinum partner for Okta. As they describe their goals, they help clients in a variety of areas including identity and access management, secure app modernization, Zero Trust security, cloud migration and integration services.

CEO and co-founder Arun Shrestha has a deep background in technology including working with Okta from its early days. Shrestha came on board in 2012 as the head of customer success. When he began, the startup was in early days with just 50 customers. When he left five years later just before the IPO, it had over 3500.

Along the way, he gained a unique level of expertise in the Okta tool set, and he decided to put that to work to help Okta customers implement and maximize Okta usage, especially in companies with complex implementations. He launched BeyondID in 2018 with the intention of focusing on systems integrations and managing a company’s identity in the cloud.

“We believe we are becoming a managed identity service provider, so managing anything identity, anything related to cybersecurity. We’re helping these companies by being a one-stop shop for companies acquiring, deploying and managing identity services,” Shrestha explained.

It seems to be working. The last couple of years the company revenues grew at 300% and as it matures, and the growth rates settle a bit, it’s still expected to grow between 70 and 100% this year. The firm has 250 customers including FedEx, Major League Baseball, Bain Capital and Biogen.

It currently has 75 employees serving those customers with plans to grow that number in the next year with the help from today’s investment. As Shrestha adds new employees, he sees building a diverse workforce as a crucial goal for his company.

“Diversity is absolutely critical to our long term sustainable success, and it’s also the right thing to do,” he said. He says that building an organization that promotes women and people of color is a key goal of his as the leader of the company and something he is committed to.

Chris Barbin, who is managing partner and founder at lead investor Tercera, says that he chose BeyondID as the firm’s first investment because he believes identity is central to the notion of digital transformation. As more companies move to the cloud, they need help understanding how security and identity work differently in a cloud context, and he sees BeyondID playing a critical role in helping clients get there.

“BeyondID is in a rapidly growing space and has an impressive customer list that represents nearly every industry. Arun and the leadership team have a strong vision for the firm, deep ties into Okta, and they’re incredibly passionate about what they do,” he said.

Posted Under: Tech News
Automattic acquires analytics company Parse.ly

Posted by on 8 February, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

Automattic, the for-profit company tied to open source web publishing platform WordPress, is announcing that it has acquired analytics provider Parse.ly.

Specifically, Parse.ly is now part of WPVIP, the organization within Automattic that offers enterprise hosting and support to publishers including TechCrunch. (We use Parse.ly, too.)

WPVIP CEO Nick Gernert described this as the organization’s first large enterprise software acquisition, reflecting a strategy that has expanded beyond news and media organizations — businesses like Salesforce (whose venture arm invested $300 million in Automattic back in 2019), the NBA, Condé Nast, Facebook and Microsoft now use WPVIP for their content and marketing needs.

Both companies, Gernert said, come from similar backgrounds, with “roots” in digital publishing and a “heavy focus on understanding the impact of content.”

“We’ve really to shift more towards content marketing and starting to think more deeply beyond just what traditional page analytics provide,” he continued. That means doing more than measuring pageviews and time on site and “really starting to look more deeply at things like conversation, attribution, areas … that from a marketer’s perspective are impactful.”

WordPress and Parse.ly already work well together, but the plan is to make WPVIP features available to Parse.ly customers while also making more Parse.ly data available to WPVIP publishers. And Gernert said there also opportunities to add more commerce-related data to Parse.ly, since Automattic also owns WooCommerce.

The goal, he said, is to “make Parse.ly better for WordPress and best for WPVIP.”

At the same time, he added, “There’s no plans here to make Parse.ly the only analytics solution that runs on our platform. We want to preserve the flexibility and interoperability [of WordPress], and we want to make sure from a Parse.ly perspective that it still exists as a standalone product. That’s key to its future and we will continue to invest in it.”

Parse.ly was founded in 2009 and has raised $12.9 million in funding from investors including Grotech Ventures and Blumberg Capital, according to Crunchbase. Parse.ly founders Sachin Kamdar and Andrew Montalenti are joining WPVIP, with Kamdar leading go-to-market strategy for Parse.ly and Montalenti leading product.

“We’ve always had deep admiration for WPVIP’s market position as the gold standard for enterprise content teams, and we’re thrilled to be able to join together,” Kamdar said in a statement. “From the culture and people, to the product, market and vision, we’re in lockstep to create more value for our customers. This powerful combination of content and intelligence will push the industry forward at an accelerated pace.”

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Posted Under: Tech News
Nexthink nabs $180M Series D on $1.1B valuation

Posted by on 8 February, 2021

This post was originally published on this site

We often hear about companies working to improve the customer experience, but for IT their customers are the company’s employees. Nexthink, a late stage startup that wants to help IT serve its internal constituents better, announced a $180 million Series D today on a healthy $1.1 billion valuation.

The firm, which was founded in Lausanne, Switzerland and has offices outside of Boston, received funding from Permira with help from Highland Europe and Index Ventures. The company has now raised over $336 million, according to Crunchbase data.

As you might imagine, understanding how folks are using a company’s technology choices internally is always going to be useful, but when the pandemic hit and offices closed, having access to this type of data became even more important.

Nexthink CEO and co-founder Pedro Bados says that most monitoring tools are focused on figuring out if the systems are working correctly and finding ways to fix them. Nexthink takes a different approach, looking at how employees are adopting the tools a company is offering.

“What we do at Nexthink is to take the [monitoring] problem from a completely different perspective. We say that we’re going to give your IT department a real time understanding of how employees are experiencing IT [at your company],” Bados told me.

He says that they do this by looking at the problem from the employees’ perspective. “At the end of the day we’re giving all the insights to IT departments to make sure they can improve the digital experience of their employees,” he said.

This could involve querying the user base in the same way that HR and marketing survey tools allow companies to check the pulse of employees or customers. By gathering this type of data, it helps IT understand how employees are using the company’s technology choices.

This software is aimed at larger organizations with at least 5000 employees. Today, the company has over a 1000 of these customers including Best Buy, Fidelity, Liberty Mutual and 3M. What’s more, the company has surpassed $100 million in annual recurring revenue, a success benchmark for SaaS companies like Nexthink.

Nexthink currently has 700 employees with plans to reach 900 by the end of this year, and as a maturing startup, Bados has given a lot of thought on how to build a diverse workforce. Just being spread out in two countries gives an element of geographic diversity, but he says it takes more than that, and it all starts with recruitment.

“The way to make sure we get more diversity is we look at recruitment and make sure that we have a balanced pipeline. That’s something we measure as a company,” he said. They also have a diversity committee, which is charged with delivering diversity training and figuring out ways to hire a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

While the company has a healthy valuation and a good amount of money in the bank, Bados doesn’t see an IPO for at least a couple of years. He says he wants to double or triple the business before taking that step. For now, though with $180 million in additional runway and a $100 million in ARR, the company is well positioned for whatever future moves it chooses to make.

Posted Under: Tech News
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