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Counting down Bostons biggest venture rounds from 2019

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Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

Today, the last day of 2019, we’re taking a second look at Boston. Regular readers of this column will recall that we recently took a peek at Boston’s startup ecosystem, and that we compiled a short countdown of the largest rounds that took place this year in Utah. Today we’re doing the latter with the former.

What follows is a countdown of Boston’s seven largest venture rounds from the year, including details concerning what the company does and who backed it. We’re also taking a shot after each entry at where we think the companies are on the path to going public.

As before, we’re using Crunchbase data for this project (here). And we’re only looking at venture rounds, so no post-IPO action, no grants, no secondaries, no debt, and no private equity-style buyouts.

Ready? Let’s have some fun.

Countdown

Boston has produced a number of big exits in recent years, like Carbon Black’s IPO, DraftKings’ impending kinda-IPO, Cayan’s billion-dollar exit, and SimpliVity’s huge sale to HP. Despite that, however, Boston is often pigeon-holed as a biotech hotbed with little technology that folks from San Francisco can understand. That’s not really fair, it turns out. There’s plenty of SaaS in Boston.

As you read the list, keep tabs on what percent of the companies included you were already familiar with. These are startups that will to take up more and more media attention as they march towards the public markets. It’s better to know them now than later.

Following the pattern set with Utah, we’ll start at the smallest round of our group and then count up to the largest.

7. Motif FoodWorks’ $90 million Series A

We could actually call the Motif FoodWorks‘ Series A a $117.5 million round as it came in two parts. However, the first tranche was $90 million total and landed in 2019 so that’s our selection for the uses of this post. The company is backed by Fonterra Ventures, Louis Dreyfus Corp, and General Atlantic.

Motif works in the alternative food space, creating things like fake meat and alt-dairy. Given the meteoric rise of Beyond Meat and Impossible Food’s big year, the space is hot. Lots of folks want to eat less meat for ethical or ecological reasons (often the two intertwine). That demand is powering a number of companies forward. Motif is riding a powerful wave.

What’s beyond Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods in the future of food?

The company’s known raised capital is encompassed in a large, early-stage round. That means that we won’t see an S-1 from this company for a long, long time.

6. Klaviyo’s $150 million Series B

An email marketing and analytics company, Klaviyo gets point for having a pricing page that actually makes sense — a rarity in the enterprise software world.

The Boston-based company was founded in 2012 and, according to Crunchbase data, has raised a total of $158.5 million. It raised just $8.5 million in total (across a small Seed round and a modest Series A) before its mega-round. How did it manage to raise such an enormous infusion in one go? As TechCrunch reported when the round was announced in April of this year:

The company is growing in leaps and bounds. It currently has 12,000 customers. To put that into perspective, it had just 1,000 at the end of 2016 and 5,000 at the end of 2017.

Klaviyo raises $150M Series B after building company the old-fashioned way

That will get the attention of anyone with a checkbook. The Summit Partners and Astral Capital-backed company has huge capital reserves for what we presume is the first time in its life. That means it’s not going public any time soon, even if our back-of-the-napkin math puts it comfortably over the $100 million ARR mark (warning: estimates were used in the creation of that number).

5. ezCater’s $150 million Series D

ezCater is an online catering marketplace. That’s an attractive business, it turns out, as evinced by the Boston company’s funding history. The startup has raised over $300 million to date according to Crunchbase, including capital from Insight Partners, ICONIQ Capital, Wellington Management, GIC, and Lightspeed.

The company’s 2019 $150 million Series D-1 that valued the company at $1.25 billion wasn’t its only nine-figure round; ezCater’s 2018 Series D was also over the mark, weighing in at $100 million.

When might the Northeast unicorn go public? An interview earlier this year put 2021 on the map as a target for the startup. That’s ages away from now, sadly, as I’d love to know how the company’s gross margin have changed since it started raising venture capital in huge gulps.

4. Cybereason’s $200 million Series E

Cybereason competes with CrowdStrike. That’s a good space to play in as CrowStrike went public earlier this year, and it went pretty well. That fact makes the Boston’s endpoint security shop’s $200 million investment pretty easy to understand. Indeed, CrowdStrike went public to great effect in June of 2019; Cybereason announced its huge round two months later in August. Surprise.

As far as backing goes, Cybereason has friends at SoftBank, with the Japanese conglomerate leading its Series C, D, and E rounds. Prior leads include CRV and Spark Capital.

The market is hot for SaaS-y security companies, meaning that there is natural pressure on Cybereason to go public. The firm, worth a flat $1.0 billion post-money after its latest round, is therefore an obvious IPO candidate for 2020. If it has the guts, that is. With SoftBank in your corner, there’s probably always another $100 million lying around you can snap up to avoid filing. (More from CrowdStrike’s CEO coming later this week on the 2019 and 2020 IPO markets, by the way. Stay tuned.)

3. DataRobot’s $206 million Series E

DataRobot does enterprise AI, allowing companies to use computer intelligence to help their flesh-and-blood staffers do more, more quickly. That’s the gist I got from learning what I could this morning, but as with all things AI I cannot tell you what’s real and what’s not.

Given its investor list, though, I’d bet that DataRobot is onto something. New Enterprise Associates led its 2014, 2016, and 2017 Series A, B, and C rounds. Meritech and Sapphire took over at the Series D, with Sapphire heroing DataRobot’s $206 million Series E. That round creatively valued the firm at, you guessed it, $1.0 billion according to Crunchbase.

DataRobot is hiring like mad (343 open positions as of this morning) and buying other companies (three in 2019). Flush with its largest round ever, I don’t see the company in a hurry to go public. That means no 2020 debut unless it’s monetizing faster than expected.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/12/31/counting-down-bostons-biggest-venture-rounds-from-2019/

Crowdfunding

Cash Still King? UK FCA Says 5 Million Still Count on Cash for Majority of Transactions

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In a digital world, physical cash still counts. A lot, according to UK regulators.

A speech delivered today by Sheldon Mills, Executive Director for Consumers and Competition at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), he revealed that 5 million individuals still count on the pound sterling for the majority of their purchases. Additionally, 750,000 or one in seven adults struggled with cash point and bank branch closures during the COVID-19 health crisis. As one may anticipate, the majority of these individuals are elderly, or perhaps small businesses.

The Death of the Bank Branch? Not So Fast.

Mills says that the transition from face-to-face services to online or telephone will take time. There are times when an in-person meeting is easier, it seems.

Mills adds:

“Based on our evidence, we believe that access to cash across the UK is generally good for most people. 95% can access cash in urban areas within 650 metres and in rural areas within 3.5 km. Only around 150,000 people live more than around 5 km away from their nearest access point. And of course, in addition to bank branches, Post Office counter services and ATMs provide a significant and important part of the existing geographic coverage. The Post Office has national access criteria requiring that 99% of the population must live in areas within 3 miles [or 5 km] of their nearest Post Office, and 90% within 1 mile [1.6 km].”

While cash use is declining due to the ubiquitous nature of digital alternatives, cash continues to be needed. Perhaps, cash is no longer king but digital is not quite satisfying all the requirements of the population. UK firms are responsible for making sure that when a branch or ATM closes, there are alternatives in the area.

An updated review of the UK’s cash infrastructure is expected to be released this summer.

A joint statement by the FCA and PSR states that cash must remain available to the masses:

“The overall decline in the use of cash makes it more expensive to maintain the existing infrastructure that supports it. However, as we move out of the pandemic, cash continues to serve a socially useful purpose for many communities. Following a fall in ATM withdrawals of 40% year-on-year across 2020, withdrawals have started to increase again since restrictions have begun to ease. Although our data shows that most people can access cash easily now, there is a need to maintain access to cash and banking services for those that still need it, particularly vulnerable consumers. At the same time, a critical part of maintaining this access will be supporting others that can to transition to digital and other alternative ways of banking and making payments.”

Sheldons states:

“… the nature of cash use and everyday banking is changing, and we should acknowledge that and help people to transition where they are able to. However, we must also all work together to protect the ability of consumers to access cash and banking services in ways that meet their needs.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/05/175324-cash-still-king-uk-fca-says-5-million-still-count-on-cash-for-majority-of-transactions/

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Crowdfunding

MoneyLion Joins Forces With NFP to Provide Nationwide Insurance & Financial Wellness Offerings to Members

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MoneyLion, a U.S.-based consumer digital finance platform, announced on Thursday it has teamed up with insurance broker NFP to provide its members with direct access to insurance and financial wellness offerings. MoneyLion reported that the offerings are to help its members support their financial journeys. According to MoneyLion, the partnership allows members to shop for and buy insurance products and solutions through the MoneyLion all-in-one financial platform.

MoneyLion also reported the launch of MoneyLion Marketplace, a platform that matches MoneyLion members with category-leading brands, offers, and value-add resources that are tailored to their personal needs. Dee Choubey, MoneyLion Co-Founder and CEO, shared more details about the partnership and marketplace launch by stating:

“Knowing what type and how much insurance to buy can be a daunting experience for many people, and yet it is a critical foundation for any financial plan. As a leader in digital technology, insurance underwriting and customer service, Nationwide is a natural fit to help our members evaluate the insurance options that are right for them.”

Brett Woodward, Managing Director of NFP Personal Risk, then added:

“Through this partnership, we’ll be able to leverage the MoneyLion Marketplace platform to connect the needs of clients with a range of solutions through an easy-to-use interface. This is a great combination of expertise, innovation and collaboration that delivers meaningful value to MoneyLion members.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/05/175322-moneylion-joins-forces-with-nfp-to-provide-nationwide-insurance-financial-wellness-offerings-to-members/

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Crowdfunding

U.S.-Based E-Commerce Platform Our Mayberry Secures $1.2 Million Through Convertible Note Seed Round

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Our Mayberry, a U.S.-based e-commerce platform, announced on Thursday it raised $1.2 million through its convertible note seed round. According to Our Mayberry, investment groups from medical services and restaurant industries led the round. Founded in 2019, Our Mayberry describes itself as an online e-commerce platform that connects businesses and nonprofits to create mutually beneficial marketplaces where consumers can make purchases that support the causes they champion.

“A platform where causes and business partner to do great things!”

While sharing more details about the platform, Our Mayberry CEO, Shawn Tacey, stated:

“Our Mayberry gives businesses the ability to both scale and do good unlike any other platform or service. We process hundreds of thousands of dollars in transactions each month for service businesses like law firms, medical services companies and architects.  Other values-driven platforms simply don’t include these types of businesses, but we do.”

Our Mayberry also reported that it is currently operating in 6 states, and has generated growing interest from national nonprofits, including Rotary International and Habitat for Humanity Tacey went on to add:

“Our Mayberry’s model represents the next step in the evolution of both business marketing and fundraising. We’re focused on weaving this new system of commerce into everyday life, and we believe this will go a long way in helping to rebuild and strengthen our communities.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/05/175321-u-s-based-e-commerce-platform-our-mayberry-secures-1-million-through-convertible-note-seed-round/

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Blockchain

BRD’s Blockset unveils its white-label cryptocurrency wallet for banks and other enterprise clients

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Blockset, the blockchain infrastructure platform for enterprises by BRD, announced early access to its Wallet-as-a-Service today. The white-label solution gives clients, like financial institutions, the ability to launch wallets that have the same features as BRD’s own mobile cryptocurrency wallet, which now has about 7 million users with over $20 billion assets under protection.

Blockset’s clients include some of the largest ATM networks and Japanese investment bank (and BRD investor) SBI Holdings, CoinFlip, Welthee, CoinSwitch, Coinsquare and Wyre. BRD’s other investors include Ripple and it has raised $56 million in funding so far.

One of Blockset’s selling points is access to real-time data about several kinds of cryptocurrencies. This not only allows users to see how their assets are performing, but also enables institutions to perform compliance tasks, fraud detection, anti-money laundering and other important services. Blockset also claims that its multi-chain API has up to 99.999% uptime.

The platform currently supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Tezos, Hedera, Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV, and will add more chains based on customer demand.

Blockset already offered a white-label solution called WalletKit, before launching its current Wallet-as-a-Service with more features. BRD co-founder and CEO Adam Traidman compares its Wallet-as-a-Service to Google Maps, because both aggregate large amounts of constantly-changing data and can connect to other apps, while remaining user-friendly.

“The concept is really a result of learnings from working with our customers, tier one financial institutions, who need a couple things,” Traidman told TechCrunch. “Generally they want to custody crypto on behalf of their customers. For example, if you’re running an ETF, like a Bitcoin ETF, or if you’re offering customers buying and selling, you need a way to store the crypto, and you need a way to access the blockchain.”

“The Wallet-as-a-Service is the nomenclature we use to talk about the challenge that customers are facing, whereby blockchain is really complex,” he added. “There are three V’s that I talk about: variety, a lot of velocity because there’s a lot of transactions per second, and volume because there’s a lot of total aggregate data.”

Blockset also enables clients to add features like trading crypto or fiat or lending Bitcoin or Stablecoins to take advantage of high interest rates. Enterprises can develop and integrate their own solutions or work with Blockset’s partners.

Other companies that offer enterprise blockchain infrastructure include Bison Trails, which was recently acquired by Coinbase, and Galaxy Digital.

Blockset differentiates by focusing on real-time data. It looks at a smaller number of mainstream blockchains in order to ensure depth of information and speed.

“If you’re a financial institution, you can’t accept anything other than instant, accurate and highly-scalable kinds of data. Right down to the millisecond of latency is really important because it can give traders an advantage,” said Traidman.

In a press statement, Wyre chief executive officer Ioannis Giannaros said “Blockset is the clear industry leader in offering enterprise-grade SLAs [service-level agreements] that we require to guarantee high scalability, uptime and data integrity across multiple blockchains.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/13/brds-blockset-unveils-its-white-label-cryptocurrency-wallet-for-banks-and-other-enterprise-clients/

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