Connect with us

SaaS

Extra Crunch Friday roundup: Edtech funding surges, Poland VC survey, inside Shift’s SPAC plan, more

Published

on

I live in San Francisco, but I work an East Coast schedule to get a jump on the news day. So I’d already been at my desk for a couple of hours on Wednesday morning when I looked up and saw this:

As unsettling as it was to see the natural environment so transformed, I still got my work done. This is not to boast: I have a desk job and a working air filter. (People who make deliveries in the toxic air or are homeschooling their children while working from home during a global pandemic, however, impress the hell out of me.)

Not coincidentally, two of the Extra Crunch stories that ran since our Tuesday newsletter tie directly into what’s going on outside my window:

As this guest post predicted, a suboptimal attempt I made to track a delayed package using interactive voice response (IVR) indeed poisoned my customer experience, and;

Sheltering in place to avoid the novel coronavirus — and wildfire smoke — is fueling growth in the video-game industry, perhaps one factor in Unity Software Inc.’s plan to go public ahead of competitor Epic Games. In a two-part series, we looked at how the company has expanded beyond games and shared a detailed financial breakdown.

We covered a lot of ground this week, so scroll down or visit the recently redesigned Extra Crunch home page. If you’d like to receive this roundup via email each Tuesday and Friday, please click here.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch; I hope you have a relaxing and safe weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor
@yourprotagonist


In a two-part series that ran on TechCrunch and Extra Crunch, former media columnist Eric Peckham returned to share his analysis of Unity Software Inc.’s S-1 filing.

Part one is a deep dive that explains how the company has grown beyond gaming to develop multiple revenue streams and where it’s headed.

For part two on Extra Crunch, he studied the company’s numbers to offer some context for its approximately $11 billion valuation.


The Palace of Culture and Science is standing reminder of communism in Warsaw, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland.

Image Credits: Edwin Remsberg (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

As we’ve covered previously, the COVID-19 pandemic is making the world a lot smaller.

Investors who focus on their own backyards still have an advantage, but the ability to set up a quick coffee meeting with a promising investor is no longer one of them.

Even though some VCs are cutting first checks after Zoom calls, regional investors’ personal networks are still a trump card. Tourists will always rely on guide books, however, which is why we continue to survey investors around the world.

A Dealroom report issued this summer determined that 97 VC funds backed more than 1,600 funding rounds in Poland last year. With over 2,400 early- and late-stage startups and 400,000 engineers in the country, it’s easy to see why foreign investors are taking notice.

Editor-at-large Mike Butcher reached out to several investors who focus on Warsaw and Poland in general to learn more about the startups fueling their interest across fintech, gaming, security and other sectors:

  • Bryony Cooper, managing partner, Arkley Brinc VC
  • Anna Wnuk-Błażejczyk, investor relations manager, Experior.vc
  • Rafał Roszak, investment director, YouNick Mint
  • Michal Mroczkowski, partner, Market One Capital
  • Marcus Erken, partner, Sunfish Partners
  • Borys Musielak, partner, SMOK Ventures
  • Mathias Åsberg, partner, Nextgrid
  • Kuba Dudek, SpeedUp Venture Capital Group
  • Marcin Laczynski, partner, Next Road Ventures
  • Michał Rokosz, partner, Inovo Venture Partners

We’ll run the conclusion of his survey next Tuesday.


Customer Relationship Management and Leader Concepts on Whiteboard

Image Credits: cnythzl (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Even for fledgling startups, creating a robust customer service channel — or at least one that doesn’t annoy people — is a reliable way to keep users in the sales funnel.

Using AI and automation is fine, but now that consumers have grown used to asking phones and smart speakers to predict the weather and read recipe instructions, their expectations are higher than ever.

If you’re trying to figure out what people want from hyper-personalized customer experiences and how you can operationalize AI to give them what they’re after, start here.


For today’s edition of The Exchange, Natasha Mascarenhas joined Alex Wilhelm to examine how the pandemic-fueled surge of interest in edtech is manifesting on the funding front.

The numbers suggest that funding will far surpass the sector’s high-water mark set in 2018, so the duo studied the numbers through August 31, which included a number of mega-rounds that exceeded $100 million.

“Now the challenge for the sector will be keeping its growth alive in 2021, showing investors that their 2020 bets were not merely wagers made during a single, overheated year,” they conclude.


Digital Binary Code on Red Background. Cybercrime Concept

Image Credits: WhataWin (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The odds are low that someone’s going to enter my home and steal my belongings. I still lock my door when I leave the house, however, and my valuables are insured. I’m an optimist, not a fool.

Similarly: Is your startup’s cybersecurity strategy based on optimism, or do you have an actual response plan in case of a data breach?

Security reporter Zack Whittaker has seen some shambolic reactions to security lapses, which is why he turned in a post-mortem about a corporation that got it right.

“Once in a while, a company’s response almost makes up for the daily deluge of hypocrisy, obfuscation and downright lies,” says Zack.


Number 6 By Railroad Tracks During Sunset

Image Credits: Eric Burger/EyeEm (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

There’s a lot of buzz about special purpose acquisition companies these days.

Used-car marketplace Shift announced its SPAC in June 2020, and is on track to complete the process in the next few months, so co-founder/co-CEO George Arison wrote an Extra Crunch guest post to share what he has learned.

Step one: “If you go the SPAC route, you’ll need to become an expert at financial engineering.”


Image Credits: Sophie Alcorn

Dear Sophie:

I am a software engineer and have been looking at job postings in the U.S. I’ve heard from my friends about J-1 Visa Training or J-1 Research.

What is a J-1 status? What are the requirements to qualify? Do I need to find a U.S. employer willing to sponsor me before I apply for one? Can I get a visa? How long could I stay?

— Determined in Delhi


While we count down to the September 23 premiere of NYSE: PLTR, Danny Crichton looked at the “robust secondary market” that has allowed some investors to acquire shares early.

“Given the number of people involved and the number of shares bought and sold over the past 18 months, we can get some insight regarding how insiders perceive Palantir’s value,” he writes.


Vector illustration of padlocks and keys in a repeating pattern against a blue background.

Image Credits: JakeOlimb / Getty Images

Zack Whittaker interviewed Bugcrowd CTO, founder and chairman Casey Ellis about the best practices he recommends for creating a startup culture that takes security seriously.

“It’s an everyone problem,” said Ellis, who encouraged founders to promote the notion of “productive paranoia.”

Now that the threat envelope includes everyone from marketing to engineering, employees need to “internalize the fact that bad stuff can and does happen if you do it wrong,” Ellis said.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/11/extra-crunch-friday-roundup-edtech-funding-surges-poland-vc-survey-inside-shifts-spac-plan-more/

SaaS

Beat the early-bird deadline and save $100 on passes to TC Sessions: SaaS 2021

Published

on

Is it just us or has everyone’s calendar hit warp factor 9? We can’t believe there are only 34 days left before TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 kicks into high gear on October 27. If you don’t have your pass yet, the clock on early-bird savings is winding down fast. Time to bump that quick task to the top of your to-do list, folks.

Buy your early-bird pass to TC Sessions SaaS 2021 — and save yourself $100 — before the price expires on October 1 at 11:59 pm (PT).

Prepare for a full day focused on SaaS and its rapidly expanding ecosystem. We’re talking emerging trends, tips and advice that you can implement in your own startup — now, when you need it most — and world-class networking opportunities.

Check out the event agenda and start strategizing your day. We’re still adding more presentations, breakouts and interviews with the industry’s top minds, makers and investors. Stay current — sign up for updates here.

Data is the lifeblood of, well, just about everything but especially SaaS. You’ll find plenty of discussions on how to use, wrangle and share an exponential deluge of information — without getting mired. Take a peek at these three data-driven panels:

  • Data, Data Everywhere: As companies struggle to manage and share increasingly large amounts of data, it’s no wonder that Databricks, whose primary product is a data lake, was valued at a whopping $28 billion for its most recent funding round. We’re going to talk to CEO Ali Ghodsi about why his startup is so hot and what comes next.
  • Data Warehouse — The Foundation of the Modern Data Stack: The modern data stack is changing rapidly, with new technology emerging every day. Increasingly, though, architectures are being built around the data warehouse. In this panel discussion, Chandra Gangireddy (Allbirds), Ben Gotfredson (Snowflake), Adam Gross (formerly of Heroku) and Soumyadeb Mitra (RudderStack) will discuss why this new architecture has emerged, what specific technologies are driving the trend and what the data stack of the future looks like.
  • How Startups are Turning Data into Software Gold: The era of big data is behind us. Today’s leading SaaS startups are working with data, instead of merely fighting to help customers collect information. We’ll talk with leaders from three data-focused startups: Jenn Knight (AgentSync), Barr Moses (Monte Carlo) and Dan Wright (DataRobot). They’ll discuss how they’re forging new markets to get insight on the way today’s SaaS companies leverage data to build new companies, attack new problems and, of course, scale like mad.

There’s so much more happening at TC Sessions: SaaS 2021. Join and connect with your community and get your startup in front of the movers and shakers who can help you start, scale and succeed. Start by saving $100 — buy your early-bird pass before prices go up October 1 at 11:59 pm (PT).

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: SaaS 2021? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/24/beat-the-early-bird-deadline-and-save-100-on-passes-to-tc-sessions-saas-2021/

Continue Reading

Artificial Intelligence

Operations observability platform Avenue launches with $4M

Published

on

Avenue launched Friday to give operations their own tools to monitor teams, and is building a “command center” for this area of business that is often forgotten, co-founder and CEO Justin Bleuel told TechCrunch.

In addition to the launch the company is announcing $4 million in seed funding, led by Accel, with participation from Flexport and a group of individual investors from companies like Coinbase, Uber, Stripe and Thumbtack.

Bleuel and his co-founder, Jeff Barg, grew up building iOS apps together and then went their separate ways, Bleuel to Uber and Barg to Amazon. While at Uber, Bleuel was working on observability — passive or proactive monitoring — building a lot of the tools in-house to monitor the marketplace for data like rider experience.

Both saw an opening to build these tools themselves for operations teams, and Avenue was born. The technology enables business teams to set up alerts to observe when there is a problem with data, act on it correctly and improve how the overall team functions, think “Datadog or PagerDuty for operations teams,” Bleuel said.

“Data is now all centralized in data warehouses, so you can build on top of them in a way you could not before, like Fivetran, and activate off of it,” he added. “You used to have to build one-to-one alerts for each tool, but now we can actively direct them from the warehouse.”

Avenue dashboard. Image Credits: Avenue

The company, founded in 2020, came out of the Y Combinator winter 2021 cohort, and one of its early customers is food pickup service Snackpass, which is using Avenue to monitor uptime and receive notifications when restaurant partners, for example, have an ordering tablet battery die or lose Wi-Fi. Snackpass is able to contact the location and help them figure out why they went offline. As a result, the company was able to cut the percentage of offline stores in half, Bleuel said.

Avenue’s customer sweet spot is marketplace companies or warehouses for monitoring stock. However, the co-founders are also seeing their technology being used by other companies, like furniture delivery companies, to monitor for reliability or know their inventory levels. Customers are also packaging up reports and sharing them with other internal teams on how to improve operations.

The company intends to use the funding to build on its small team of three, especially in engineering to be able to go to market with new products, Barg said.

Avenue is working with more than 50 companies and since April has sent out over 200,000 alerts. The company’s model bills customers per alert per month, and the team is looking at a freemium model as well as enterprise levels.

Meanwhile, Amit Kumar, partner at Accel, said via email the firm is “very thesis-driven,” one of them being the modern data stack. Accel made early investments into companies like Airbyte, Monte Carlo and Privacer, and saw opportunity for new downstream applications based on the innovation, of which Avenue stood out.

The combination of Bleuel and Barg was “particularly compelling because of their fluency with the problem space” due to their backgrounds at Uber and Amazon and experiencing firsthand how “poorly served” operations teams are and how that can affect the overall business.

He believes the current approach of ops teams in the market today relies heavily on dashboarding, periodic sweeps and color-coded Excel sheets — a process that is “often inaccurate and disorganized.” At the same time, product engineers were flush with well-established tools around observability and incident response.

“Given the rise of ‘atoms’ startups powered by a cohort of ex-Uber and ex-Amazon operators, Justin and Jeff were uniquely positioned to find early design partners and customers among their peer networks,” Kumar added. “As ops teams become both increasingly commonplace and essential to business outcomes, I expect their processes to mature and benefit from similar tooling. This is the thesis behind Avenue, and early traction indicates that next-gen leading ops-heavy companies agree.”

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/24/operations-observability-platform-avenue-launches-with-4m/

Continue Reading

Real Estate

As inflation fears spike, 1build raises $14M to help construction firms optimize their cost estimates

Published

on

It’s an extraordinarily exhausting time to estimate costs in the construction industry. Lumber prices skyrocketed during the post-pandemic construction spree, only to come hurtling back down to Earth in recent weeks. Copper, concrete, and steel have also seen wild price swings as supply chain breakages, workers shortages, border restrictions and more plague price stability.

Construction is among the world’s largest industries, with firms planning and building projects valued at trillions of dollars at pretty much any time. Yet, it’s also one of the most archaic industries, with a heavy reliance on paper even as IT has increasingly filtered into more of the industry’s processes. Paper though can’t match the extreme volatility in materials and labor happening today, and that means construction firms need better and more real-time software tools to handle cost estimates.

1build has a bold vision to own not just cost estimating, but everything that it takes to get a building under construction. “We are going to occupy the whitespace niche of pre-construction — your planing, your estimating, up until you break ground on your building,” CEO and founder Dmitry Alexin said.

Alexin had been scouting around for startup ideas in the real estate sector in 2018 and 2019, having previously worked in finance. He worked briefly at a stealth startup in the space, where he “helped to select real estate with data science.” He discovered a problem when it came to modeling the development of a property though: it wasn’t easy to determine what could be built or how much it would cost. “I just assumed you can just use an API to figure out the cost to build,” he said.

That led him into the rabbit hole that is the math of the construction industry. He discovered “this analog industry … three times as large as ecommerce and still in this offline, non-digitized way to consume,” he said. He wanted to automate more of these processes, but even that ran into challenges. “When I was forming 1build, it was creating a data standard for the construction industry,” he explained. Eventually, he zeroed in on cost estimating.

Alexin is a solo founder, who has since built up a management team around him. He and a few early employees joined the YC Winter 2020 batch, where 1build was identified as one of TechCrunch’s 20 most exciting startups in the batch out of several hundred (the company was my selection).

The startup’s timing, though, was horrific. “COVID happened right as we were graduating,” Alexin said. The company suffered a “50% reduction in usage in the first 30 days.” The company was still small and it hunkered down, but then something surprising happened: the construction industry just zoomed forward as millions of people moved to new homes and offices with the rise of remote work.

The company raised a previously undisclosed $5.5 million seed round from Initialized Capital and kept building. It focused on building a single platform (that’s the “1build”) around all aspects of estimating costs and handling the planning phase of construction. It’s “almost an experience that feels like interacting a spreadsheet, but we pull in the latest materials rate, the latest labor rates,” Alexin said. From there, you can “develop your estimate yourself, line item by line item.” He says that integrating all construction planning in one location can massively save time and money, and is particularly valuable for smaller contractors and construction firms who don’t have the scaled-up planning teams of their larger brethren.

1build’s team, with CEO and founder Dmitry Alexin sitting in center of first row. Image Credits: 1build

Alexin said that subscription revenues have risen 7x in the past 10 months, and 10x since April when we talked a few weeks ago. That excitement led it to a quick, $14.5 million Series A led by Brent Baltimore at Greycroft. Alexin said that Baltimore has been engaged in construction tech for a long time, and said that “we felt that they were the one firm that understood what we are doing.”

The team, as is typical these days, is spread out, with the majority in the U.S. and others in Canada and Europe.

1build wants to be the one stop for the construction industry, and hopes that the industry standardizes on a universal set of data formats. “The more and more builders that adapt that, the more we can build into the product,” he said.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/22/1build-series-a/

Continue Reading

Fintech

Toast raises IPO price range, providing a Monday bump to fintech valuations

Published

on

U.S. technology unicorn Toast filed a new S-1 document this morning detailing a higher IPO price range for its shares. The more expensive range indicates that Toast may be worth more in its debut than it initially expected, a bullish sign for technology companies more broadly.

Toast’s rising valuation may provide a boon to two different subsectors of technology: software and fintech. The restaurant-focused Toast sells software on a recurring basis (SaaS) to restaurants while also providing financial technology solutions. And while it is best known as a software company that dabbles in hardware, Boston-based Toast generates the bulk of its aggregate top line from financial services.

Software revenues are valuable thanks to their high margins and recurring structure. Toast’s financial-services revenues, by contrast, are largely transaction-based and sport lower gross margins. The company’s IPO price, then, could help the private markets more fairly price startups offering their own blend of software-and-fintech incomes.

The so-called “vertical SaaS” model, in which startups build software tailored to one particular industry or another, has become a somewhat two-part business effort; many startups today are pursuing both the sale of software along with fintech revenues. Toast’s IPO, then, could operate as a bellwether of sorts for a host of startups.

To see Toast raise its range, therefore, got our eyebrows up. Let’s talk money.

Toast’s new IPO range

From a previous range of $30 to $33, Toast now expects to price its IPO between $34 and $36.

Toast now expects its IPO price to clear its previous upper-end guidance at the low end of its new range. That’s bullish — and indicative of a thus-far receptive market for the company’s equity.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/20/toast-raises-ipo-price-range-providing-a-monday-bump-to-fintech-valuations/

Continue Reading
Esports4 days ago

Can You Play Diablo II: Resurrected Offline?

Esports4 days ago

Failed to Enter Game, Character Could Not be Found: How to Fix Error in Diablo II: Resurrected

Esports4 days ago

Valkyrae says YouTube is working on gifted members and a feature similar to Twitch Prime

Esports3 days ago

Fall Guys achieves Guinness World Record for most downloaded PlayStation Plus game ever

Esports4 days ago

Valkyrae says YouTube is working on gifted members and a feature similar to Twitch Prime

Esports23 hours ago

Twitch celebrity meetup Sh*tCamp 2021 begins today

Esports4 days ago

Microsoft’s The Initiative brings on Crystal Dynamics to help develop its Perfect Dark reboot

Esports4 days ago

How to check Diablo 2: Resurrected server status

Esports4 days ago

Best Stats for the Druid in Diablo II: Resurrected

Cyber Security5 days ago

Apple bans Epic Games from App Store

Blockchain5 days ago

United States Infrastructure Bill Brings Cardano Billionaire to Washington.

Esports4 days ago

How to play with friends in Diablo 2: Resurrected

Covid195 days ago

Florida Makes Quarantine Optional For Students Exposed To COVID-19

Esports4 days ago

Failed to Enter Game, Character Could Not be Found: How to Fix Error in Diablo II: Resurrected

Esports3 days ago

NBA 2K22 ‘Meet the Designers’ Quest Guide: How to Complete

Esports1 day ago

FIFA 22 Early Access Pack: How to Get

Esports4 days ago

NBA 2K22 Current Gen Best Big Man Build: How to Make

Esports4 days ago

How to earn operation stars in CS:GO

Esports4 days ago

Valorant Patch 3.07 Release Date: When is it?

Esports4 days ago

XCOM 3 Appears in Nvidia Data Base Leak

Trending