What is Airtable?
The collection and storage of information is no longer trouble with the help of the internet and various softwares. In today’s world, the most popular sort of data management system is a cloud collaboration network. A number of people can contribute and edit the documents present in a shared space. It works well for businesses as all members of a team can co-author computer files with the help of cloud collaboration. Airtable is one such platform which integrates the features of a database into a spreadsheet.
Airtable (1) was established by Howie Liu, Andrew Ofstad and Emmett Nicholas in 2012. The company has its headquarters in San Francisco, California. Airtable consists of various fields which resembles the cells in a spreadsheet but has sections named checkbox, phone numbers etc. You can take a look at the file attachments like images. Through Airtable, the users can make a database, set up section types, include records, interface tables to each other, work together, sort records and distribute the data to external sites.
Airtable believes that anyone should have the right to create the tools they need for their work. You can organise complicated procedures like shooting a film or even the smallest tasks like making a list with the help of Airtable. Many famous companies from all over the world, such as Netflix, Shopify, BuzzFeed, Expedia etc. make use of the services provided by Airtable. In addition to these, around 170,000 companies are regular users of Airtable. More than 15 million databases have been created through Airtable as of now. They have also been able to raise a total of 170 million dollars as funding through various rounds.
About the founders
The founder and Chief Executive Officer of Airtable, Howie Liu, had been a product administrator at Salesforce before starting on this venture. Ever since he was a teenager, Howie was enthusiastic about software creation. He is a graduate of Mechanical Engineering and Public Policy from Duke University. Before establishing Airtable, Howie had also founded the intelligent CRM Etacts, which was obtained by Salesforce.
Andrew Ofstad is also a co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Airtable. He hails from rural Montana and is also an alumnus of Duke University. Andrew is a graduate in Electrical Engineering and Economics. He has worked with various prestigious enterprises before joining Airtable. Andrew has been a product manager at Android and was the leader of the redesign of Google Maps, which is one of its most loved products.
Another co-founder of Airtable is Emmett Nicholas, who is currently the Chief Technology Officer of Airtable. Until his teenage years, he lived in Washington state and went on to pursue Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Duke University. Before founding Airtable, Emmett had been a founding engineer of Stack Overflow.
The beginning of Airtable
The original idea of Airtable was born from the first-hand experiences of the co-founder. During that time, the world of technology had developed numerous apparatuses for building applications, and different softwares were gaining popularity. However, many of them were too specialised to be of use to regular employees in the technology business. They did not necessarily have the coding experience to utilise those tools. Moreover, the more user-friendly applications available in the market were too costly.
Howie Liu, Andrew Ofstad and Emmett Nicholas wanted to make the database services available to all those of workers. This was the vision that led to the creation of Airtable. Finally, Airtable was launched in 2012 with the most adaptable structure that you can ask for. They created the platform in such a way that you can alter its features depending on what you need. Airtable made the storing of information much more relaxed and better than depending upon an already existing database layout. Airtable pricing is also planned in a way to make it accessible to all sorts of customers. The company has led a number of funding rounds and has witnessed tremendous growth throughout the years.
The components of Airtable
Airtable creates the database in the form of a spreadsheet. Therefore various elements of the Airtable platform are similar to those in a spreadsheet. Let’s take a look at what they are:
- Bases: All the data required to make any operation is contained in a Base. You can create bases from existing layouts that Airtable provides you. They can likewise be worked without any preparation, from a spreadsheet or a current Base.
- Tables: A table is like a spreadsheet. A base is an assortment of tables.
- Views: They show the outcome sets of information inquiries and can be put aside for future purposes.
- Fields: Every time you make an entry in a table, Airtable saves it as a field. They are not merely confined to holding text. As of now, Airtable offers 16 essential field types. These are single-line messages, long content articles, file attachments, check-boxes, single select from a drop-down chart, multiple select from a drop-down chart, date and time, telephone numbers, email ids, URLs, numbers, money, rate, auto-number, formulae and barcodes.
- Records: Each row in a Table is called a Record.
- Workspaces: In Airtable, workspace is an assortment of Bases.
Funding and Growth through the years
Airtable received an undisclosed amount of seed funding in March 2013. Later in February 2015, Airtable raised 3 million dollars of investment from Caffeinated Capital, Freestyle Capital, Data Collective and CrunchFund. Airtable dispatched its API and installed databases in April 2015. In June 2015, they led a Series A round of funding which raised 7.6 million dollars. The leading investors in this round of funding we’re Charles River Ventures and Ashton Kutcher. It was in July 2015 that the company introduced Airtable Forms to gather and sort out data.
In August 2015, Airtable made its “Add to Slack” service accessible to join Airtable with Slack. Airtable updated its iOS app in the same year and presented barcode identification as a new field type. Airtable also announced a Series B round of funding in March 2017, led by Caffeinated Capital and CRV. It raised a total of 60 million dollars after which the company reported the dispatch of Airtable Blocks. In November 2018, Airtable raised 100 million dollars in a Series C round of funding led by Benchmark, Coatue Management, CRV and Thrive Capital.
Nidhia Sebastian is an English literature graduate who looks forward to a career that complements her passion. Her never-ending love for language has brought her to creative writing. Having an open heart to knowledge is what leaves her with a thirst to explore the world. She believes in living life to the fullest and hopes to convey the same enthusiasm through her words.
Enterprise investor Jason Green on SPAC hopefuls versus startups bound for traditional IPOs
Jason Green has a pretty solid reputation as venture capitalists go. The enterprise-focused firm he co-founded 17 years ago, Emergence Capital, has backed Saleforce, Box and Zoom, among many other companies, and even while every firm is now investing in software-as-a-service startups, his remains a go-to for many top founders selling business products and services.
To learn more about the trends impacting Green’s slice of the investing universe, we talked with him late last week about everything from SPACs to valuations to how the firm differentiates itself from the many rivals with which it’s now competing. Below are some outtakes edited lightly for length.
TC: What do you make of the assessment that SPACs are for companies that aren’t generating enough revenue to go public the traditional route?
JG: Well, yeah, it’ll be really interesting. This has been quite a year for SPACs, right? I can’t remember the number, but it’s been something like $50 billion of capital raised this year in SPACs, and all of those have to put that money to work within the next 12 to 18 months or they give it back. So there’s this incredible pent-up demand to find opportunities for those SPACs to convert into companies. And the companies that are at the top of the charts, the ones that are the high-growth and profitable companies, will probably do a traditional IPO, I would imagine.
[SPAC candidates are] going to be companies that are growing fast enough to be attractive as a potential public company but not top of the charts. I think [sponsors are] going to target companies that are probably either growing slightly slower than the top-quartile public companies but slightly profitable, or companies that are growing faster but still burning a lot of cash and might actually scare all the traditional IPO investors.
TC: Are you having conversations with CEOs about whether or not they should pursue this avenue?
JG: We just started having those conversations now. There are several companies in the portfolio that will probably be public companies in the next year or two, so it’s definitely an alternative to consider. I would say there’s nothing impending I see in the portfolio. With most entrepreneurs, there’s a little bit of this dream of going public the traditional way, where SPACs tend to be a little bit less exciting from that perspective. So for a company that maybe is thinking about another private round before going public, it’s like a private-plus round. I would say it’s a tweener, so the companies that are considering it are probably ones that are not quite ready to go public yet.
TC: A lot of the SPAC fundraising has seemed like a reaction to uncertainty around when the public window might close. With the election behind us, do you think there’s less uncertainty?
JG: I don’t think risk and uncertainty has decreased since the election. There’s still uncertainty right now politically. The pandemic has reemerged in a significant way, even though we have some really good announcements recently regarding vaccines or potential vaccines. So there’s just a lot of potential directions things could head in.
It’s an environment generally where the public markets tend to gravitate more toward higher-quality opportunities, so fewer companies but higher quality, and that’s where SPACs could play a role. In the first half of next year, I could easily see SPACs being the more likely go-to-market for a public company, then the latter half of next year, once the vaccines have kicked in and people feel like we’re returning to somewhat normal, I could see the traditional IPO coming back.
TC: When we sat down in person about a year ago, you said Emergence looks at maybe 1,000 deals a year, does deep due diligence on 25 and funds just a handful or so of these startups every year. How has that changed in 2020?
JG: I would say that over the last five years, we’ve made almost a total transition. Now we’re very much a data-driven, thesis-driven outbound firm, where we’re reaching out to entrepreneurs soon after they’ve started their companies or gotten seed financing. The last three investments that we made were all relationships that [date back] a year to 18 months before we started engaging in the actual financing process with them. I think that’s what’s required to build a relationship and the conviction, because financings are happening so fast.
I think we’re going to actually do more investments this year than we maybe have ever done in the history of the firm, which is amazing to me [considering] COVID. I think we’ve really honed our ability to build this pipeline and have conviction, and then in this market environment, Zoom is actually helping expand the landscape that we’re willing to invest in. We’re probably seeing 50% to 100% more companies and trying to whittle them down over time and really focus on the 20 to 25 that we want to dig deep on as a team.
TC: For founders trying to understand your thinking, what’s interesting to you right now?
JG: We tend to focus on three major themes at any one time as a firm, and one we’ve termed ‘coaching networks.’ This is this intersection between AI and machine learning and human interaction. Companies like [the sales engagement platform] SalesLoft or [the knowledge management system] Guru or Drishti [which sells video analytics for manual factory assembly lines] fall into this category.
The second [theme] is going deep into more specific industry verticals. Veeva was the best example of this early on with with healthcare and life sciences, but we now have one called p44 in the transportation space that’s doing incredibly well. Doximity is in the healthcare space and going deep like a LinkedIn for physicians, with some remote health capabilities. And then [lending company] Blend, which is in the financial services area. These companies are taking cloud software and just going deep into the most important problems of their industries.
The third theme [centers around] remote work. Zoom, which has obviously has been [among our] best investments is almost a platform, just like Salesforce became a platform after many years. We just funded a company called ClassEDU, which is a Zoom-specific offering for the education market. Snowflake is becoming a platform. So another opportunity is is not just trying to come up with another collaboration tool, but really going deep into a specific use case or vertical.
TC: What’s a company you’ve missed in recent years and were any lessons learned?
JG: We have our hall of shame. [Laughs.] I do think it’s dangerous to assume that things would have turned out the same if if we had been investors in the company. I believe the kinds of investors you put around the table make a difference in terms of the outcome of your company, so I try to not beat myself up too much on the missed opportunities because maybe they found a better fit or a better investor for them to be successful.
But Rob Bernshteyn of Coupa is one where I knew Rob from SuccessFactors [where he was a product marketing VP], and I just always respected and liked him. And we were always chasing it on valuation. And I think I think we probably turned it down at an $80 million or $100 million valuation [and it’s valued at] $20 billion today. That can keep you up at night.
Sometimes, in the moment, there are some risks and concerns about the business and there are other people who are willing to be more aggressive and so you lose out on some of those opportunities. The beautiful thing about our business is that it’s not a zero-sum game.
Remote-controlled delivery carts are now working for the local Los Angeles grocer
Robots are no longer the high-tech tools reserved for university labs, e-commerce giants and buzzy Silicon Valley startups. The local grocer now has access too.
Tortoise, the one-year-old Silicon Valley startup known for its remote repositioning electric scooters, has taken its tech and adapted it to delivery carts. The company recently partnered with online grocery platform Self Point to provide neighborhood stores and specialty brand shops with electric carts that — with help from remote teleoperators — deliver goods to local consumers.
The companies have launched the product offering in Los Angeles with three customers. Each customer, which includes Kosher Express, has two to three carts that can be used to make deliveries up to a three-mile radius from the store. Unlike the network models used by some autonomous sidewalk delivery companies, grocery stores lease the delivery carts and are responsible for storage, charging and packing it up with goods that their customers have ordered.
The initial Self Point/Tortoise launch is small. But it has the makings of expanding far beyond Los Angeles. More importantly for Tortoise, it’s a validation of the company’s larger vision to make remote repositioning a horizontal business with numerous applications.
Tortoise started by equipping electric scooters with cameras, electronics and firmware that allow teleoperators in distant locales to drive the micromobility devices to a rider or deliver it back to its proper parking spot. Now, it has taken that same hardware and software and used it to build its own delivery cart.
Tortoise co-founder and president Dmitry Shevelenko has said the company’s remote repositioning kit can be used for security and cleaning bots as well as electric wheelchairs and other accessibility devices. He’s even fielded inquiries from farmers interested in using remote repositioning scooters to monitor crops.
“From a practical point of view we’re not trying to not be everywhere overnight, but there’s really no technological constraint for us,” Shevelenko said in a recent interview.
The emergence of COVID-19 and its effects on consumer behavior prompted Tortoise to home in on delivery carts as its second act.
“We kind of quickly realized that we’re living in a once-in-a-generation change in consumer behavior where now everything is online and people are expecting it to be delivered same day,” Shevelenko said. Tortoise was able to go from the first renderings in May to a delivery cart launch by the fourth quarter because of its ability to repurpose its hardware, software and workforce.
The company still remains bullish on its initial application in micromobility. Earlier this year, Tortoise, GoX and and tech incubator Curiosity Labs launched a six-month pilot in Peachtree Corners, Georgia that allows riders to use an app to hail a scooter. The scooters are outfitted with Tortoise’s tech. Once riders hail the scooter, a Tortoise employee hundreds of miles away remote controls the scooter to the user. After riders complete trips, the scooters drive themselves back to a safe parking spot. From there, GoX employees charge and sanitize the scooters and then mark them with a sticker that indicates they have been properly cleaned.
While partnership with Self Point is Tortoise’s next big project, Shevelenko was quick to note that the company is only focused on one slice of the on-demand delivery pie.
“Low speeds and hot foods don’t work too well,” he said. Startups such as Kiwibot and Starship have smaller robots that focus on that market, Shevelenko added. Tortoise’s delivery carts were designed specifically to hold large amounts of groceries, alcohol and other goods.
“We saw kind of a big opening in grocery,” he said, adding that relying on remote operators and its kit is a low-cost combination that can be used today while automated technology continues to develop. “We’re doing for last-mile delivery what globalized call centers did for customer support.”
Insurtech’s big year gets bigger as Metromile looks to go public
In the wake of insurtech unicorn Root’s IPO, it felt safe to say that the big transactions for the insurance technology startup space were done for the year.
After all, 2020 had been a big one for the broad category, with insurtech marketplaces raising lots, rental insurance startup Lemonade going public, Root itself debuting even more recently on the back of its automotive insurance business, a big round to help Hippo keep building its homeowners company and more.
So let’s talk about why Metromile might be plying the public markets, and why Hippo may have have decided to pick up more cash. Hint: The reasons are related.
A market hungry for growth
The Lemonade IPO was a key moment for neoinsurance startups, a key part of the broader insurtech space. When the rental insurance provider went public, it helped set the tone for public exit valuations for companies of its type: fast-growing insurance companies with slick consumer brands, improving economics, a tech twist and stiff losses.
For the Roots and Metromiles and Hippos, it was an important moment.
So, when Lemonade raised its IPO range, and then traded sharply higher after its debut, it boded well for its private comps. Not that rental insurance and auto insurance or homeowners insurance are the same thing. They very most decidedly are not, but Lemonade’s IPO demonstrated that private investors were correct to bet generally on the collection of startups, because when they reached IPO-scale, they had something that public investors wanted.
Slack’s stock climbs on possible Salesforce acquisition
Slack shares are up just under 25% at the moment, according to Yahoo Finance data. Slack is worth $36.95 per share as of the time of writing, valuing it at around $20.8 billion. The well-known former unicorn has been worth as little as $15.10 per share inside the last year and worth as much as $40.07.
Inversely, shares of Salesforce are trading lower on the news, falling around 3.5% as of the time of writing. Investors in the San Francisco-based SaaS pioneer were either unimpressed at the combination idea, or perhaps worried about the price that would be required to bring the 2019 IPO into their fold.
Why Salesforce, a massive software company with a strong position in the CRM market, and aspirations of becoming an even larger platform player, would want to buy Slack is not immediately clear though there are possible benefits. This includes the possibility of cross-selling the two companies products’ into each others customer bases, possibly unlocking growth for both parties. Slack has wide marketshare inside of fast-growing startups, for example, while Salesforce’s products roost inside a host of megacorps.
TechCrunch reached out to Salesforce, Slack and Slack’s CEO for comment on the deal’s possibility. We’ll update this post with whatever we get.
While Salesforce bought Quip for $750 million in 2016, which gave it a kind of document sharing and collaboration, Salesforce Chatter has been the only social tool in the company’s arsenal. Buying Slack would give the CRM giant solid enterprise chat footing and likely a lot of synergy among customers and tooling.
But Slack has always been more than a mere chat client. It enables companies to embed workflows, and this would fit well in the Salesforce family of products, which spans sales, service, marketing and more. It would allow companies to work both inside and outside the Salesforce ecosystem, building smooth and integrated workflows. While it can theoretically do that now, if the two were combined, you can be sure the integrations would be much tighter.
What’s more, Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research says it would give Salesforce a sticky revenue source, something they are constantly searching for to keep their revenue engine rumbling along. “Slack could be a good candidate to strengthen its platform, but more importantly account for more usage and ‘stickiness’ of Salesforce products — as collaboration not only matters for CRM, but also for the vendor’s growing work.com platform,” Mueller said. He added that it would be a way to stick it to former-friend-turned-foe Microsoft.
That’s because Slack has come under withering fire from Microsoft in recent quarters, as the Redmond-based software giant poured resources into its competing Teams service. Teams challenges Slack’s chat tooling and Zoom’s video features and has seen huge customer growth in recent quarters.
Finding Slack a corporate home amongst the larger tech players could ensure that Microsoft doesn’t grind it under the bulk of its enterprise software sales leviathan. And Salesforce, a sometimes Microsoft ally, would not mind adding the faster-growing Slack to its own expanding software income.
The question at this juncture comes down to price. Slack investors won’t want to sell for less than a good premium on the pre-pop per-share price, which now feels rather dated.
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