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Microsoft acquires Seattle startup Suplari, which uses AI to analyze corporate spending

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Suplari co-founders Jeff Gerber, Brian White, and Nikesh Parekh. (Suplari Photo)

Microsoft has acquired Suplari, a Seattle startup that uses artificial intelligence to help companies understand and get a handle on their spending.

Founded in 2016, Suplari analyzes procurement and spending data flowing into various enterprise systems. It can provide recommendations for cost savings, risk exposure, and other efficiency gaps. The software serves as an alternative to compiling data in an app such as Excel or Tableau and having a team of analysts comb through the information themselves. Suplari manages more than $180 billion in spend across millions of transactions per month.

Microsoft said it will pair Suplari with Microsoft Dynamics 365 “to help customers maximize financial visibility by using AI to automate the analysis of current data and historical patterns from multiple data sources.”

“Today’s announcement also signals our continued commitment to enabling organizations to move beyond transactional financial management to proactive operations that enhance decision making, mitigate risks, and reduce supplier costs through our data-first approach,” Microsoft vice president Frank Weigel wrote in a blog post.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Suplari said its “Suplari Spend Intelligence Cloud” will continue to remain available for existing customers.

Suplari is among a bevy of startups using artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate manual processes involving tons of data, and provide recommendations based on the computer-aided number crunching. There are several companies in Seattle applying similar technology in various industries, such as AttunelyLexionSigma IQ, and others.

Suplari had raised $18 million to date, according to PitchBook. Investors include Amplify Partners, Madrona Venture Group, Shasta Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, and Workday Ventures.

The company was co-founded by Jeff Gerber, Brian White, and Nikesh Parekh, Suplari’s CEO.

Parekh is a real estate technology veteran who previously held leadership positions at Market Leader and Trulia. Gerber is a long-time engineering leader who co-founded startups including iConclude (acquired by Opsware and later by HP) and helped lead Apptio’s machine learning and intelligent app development. White worked with Gerber at iConclude as an early employee and did stints at Amazon Web Services and Skytap.

Parekh said Microsoft and Suplari have had partnership discussions over the past several years.

“Given Microsoft’s AI, cloud and data investments, customers can expect that Suplari will continue to deliver more AI-driven, predictive & prescriptive insights and integrated workflows for finance, procurement, & supply chain teams,” he wrote in a blog post.

The deal is the latest in a string of IPOs, fundings, and acquisitions across the Seattle startup ecosystem. Earlier this week Seattle startup Algorithmia was acquired by DataRobot.

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Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/microsoft-acquires-seattle-startup-suplari-uses-ai-analyze-corporate-spending/

Start Ups

The Briefing: China Bans Crypto Transactions, Cue Health Prices IPO, And More

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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China bans crypto transactions

China’s central bank announced today that going forward all cryptocurrency-related transactions are illegal.

The People’s Bank of China said the decision was aimed at preventing risks around crypto trading and maintaining national security and social stability.

Cryptocurrencies fell immediately after the announcement but subsequently regained some ground, with Bitcoin around $41,376 in morning trading and Ether around $2,830.

— Joanna Glasner

Cue Health prices IPO

Cue Health, a maker of tests for detecting COVID-19, priced shares for its initial public offering at $16 each, the middle of the proposed range, raising around $200 million.

Shares are set to begin trading Friday under the ticker symbol HLTH. San Diego-based Cue develops and sells tests for COVID and has a pipeline of test kits in late-stage development for for flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), fertility, pregnancy and inflammation.

— Joanna Glasner

Proptech

Ukio raises $9M to simplify apartment-hunting: Barcelona-based Ukio, a startup offering turnkey apartments with by-the-month rates, raised $9 million in a funding round led by venture firm Breega.

— Joanna Glasner

Manufacturing

General Lattice raises pre-seed round: General Lattice, a Chicago-based developer of computational design tools for digital manufacturing, announced that it has raised $1 million in pre-seed funding led by AP Ventures LLC, the strategic investment arm of All Points Logistics.

— Joanna Glasner

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-9-24-21/

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Under The Hood: Kleiner Perkins Eyes Its Busiest Exit Year In A Decade

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Kleiner Perkins is one of the most storied venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, making early investments in companies like Genentech, Amazon and Google, and serving as home to big names over the years including John Doerr and Al Gore.

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Kleiner, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, has always gone through iterations in its many decades of venture investing. 

But starting around 2018, the firm made significant leadership changes following the departure of partner Mary Meeker and the hiring of a slew of new investors, including general partners Mamoon Hamid and Ilya Fushman. The following year, it announced a new investing strategy and slogan—“Back To The Future”—along with its 18th venture fund.

Kleiner Perkins
From left to right: Wen Hsieh, Bucky Moore, Ilya Fushman, Mamoon Hamid, Annie Case, Monica Desai Weiss, Josh Coyne, and Haomiao Huang. Not pictured: Ted Schlein (Photo courtesy of Kleiner Perkins).

Now, even as the firm appears to be doing fewer deals than it has in the past, it’s poised to have its best year of exits from its portfolio in at least a decade.

With Kleiner’s long history and new strategy in mind, we dove into the firm’s portfolio and spoke with Fushman about the firm’s investment approach and future.

Early-stage focus

Kleiner Perkins in recent years has been especially focused on early-stage investing. 

When Fushman, Hamid and partner Bucky Moore came in during 2017 and 2018, the firm had raised its 17th fund, KP17, but hadn’t deployed it. The team got to work investing early in companies like Loom and Figma.

Most recently, Kleiner Perkins raised a $700 million fund, KP19, which it announced in March 2020, and a $750 million fund, KP Select, which it announced in April 2021. 

Of course, the venture world’s definition of what constitutes an early-stage company—and how big the check sizes for those companies are—has been changing.

“This spectrum of what early-stage investing is has been evolving, right? We heard some pretty large seed funds being raised pretty recently,” Fushman said in an interview this week with Crunchbase News. “The way I think about it is that there are moments in time for a company where having a real hands-on partnership with a great investor can be trajectory inflecting. And that moment can happen at the seed, so the letter or the number of the round doesn’t really matter. It can happen at the A, at the B. It can happen at the C.”

The team Kleiner assembled  is made up of people dedicated to careers in VC and had operating experience, Fushman said. It’s a small team that punches above its weight and wants to partner with entrepreneurs early to build companies, he said. 

As Fushman explains it, they’re generalists with a broad range but have a “core center of excellence.” 

Kleiner likes to invest early and work with its portfolio companies across talent, go-to-market strategies, and marketing, focusing on a few core things, he said. 

“The ethos is still to keep it very tight, as lean of a team as you can, while leveraging networks, activities and capital to do more,” Fushman said.

Investment pace

Kleiner Perkins appears to be investing in fewer deals these days.

The firm has made 49 investment deals so far this year, according to Crunchbase data, with about a quarter of those deals at the seed stage. 

June was the most active month for the firm so far in 2021, in terms of deals being announced. 

Some themes when it comes to the kind of early-stage companies Kleiner has recently invested in: the metaverse (Stardust, Inworld AI, Metaverse AI), workplace collaboration and communication (Coda, Spot, Sidekick, Glean) and robotics (Rapid Robotics, Chef Robotics).

The number of investments the firm makes has been lower in recent years than it was a decade ago, when it was investing in around 100 deals a year (from 2011-2014), an analysis of Crunchbase data also shows. 

Since 2016 or so, the number of investments Kleiner makes annually has been between 50 and 70, with the peak of the past five years being 2019, when it made 67 investments. 

It also appears to be leading fewer funding rounds than it was just a few years ago—in 2018 and 2019, for example, the firm was the lead investor in 26 and 28 deals, respectively. 

Founder-firm fit is key for Kleiner Perkins, said Fushman. The firm wants to focus its resources and attention to help a company grow, he said.

“A lot of what we do is with the intent of truly supporting a company over its full life cycle, which means deploying tens of millions of dollars over the lifetime, kind of the path of the company, and that has to come with conviction,” he said. “And then what it comes down to is a small team, building a lot of conviction, going all in on a company and truly helping the entrepreneurs build that company to its fullest potential. (That’s) the kind of the model that we think works.”

While the size of the deal and the stage at which Kleiner invests may change, its model stays consistent, he said: “The fundamental of it is still the same thing, which is truly, truly connecting, believing and then building.”

Kleiner has led 13 of the 49 deals it has invested in so far this year, the majority of the fundraises its led being at the seed through Series B stage.

Among the recent funding rounds it has led are Stord’s $90 million Series D, Thrive Global‘s $80 million Series C, and Settle‘s $15 million Series A.

Exits

So far this year, 26 of Kleiner’s portfolio companies have seen exits, per Crunchbase data. Among the most notable public exits were Robinhood, UiPath, Duolingo, LegalZoom and Coursera.

According to regulatory filings, Kleiner was among the largest shareholders in companies including Duolingo, LegalZoom and Coursera at the time of their respective IPOs.

With 26 exits so far in 2021 and still a quarter of the year to go, Kleiner could have its best year in at least a decade, in terms of the number of exits (not dollar value on returns). 

The only years in the past decade in which the firm has produced more exits than 2021 so far were 2014 and 2018 (both with 28 exits) and 2019 (27 exits). 

The firm is an investor in 35 unicorn companies valued above $1 billion that haven’t exited, according to the firm, including Stripe,  Epic Games, Figma, Cameo and Brex

With so much attention on early-stage companies and traditional growth-stage firms like Tiger Global Management turning their attention to them, there’s certainly competition to get in on deals. 

From his perspective, Fushman said venture deal making is as competitive as it’s ever been, but Kleiner tries to focus on building a relationship early with founders. The brand of the nearly 50-year-old firm and its network certainly helps in that regard.

“That comes down to relationship-building first and foremost,” Fushman said. “From a high-level perspective, a 50-year-old firm, it has a lot of leverage: For entrepreneurs in terms of recruiting, in terms of customer relationships, in terms of the network. If you just think about the companies that Kleiner Perkins has helped and supported over that 50-year history, that network and the expansion of that network is all accessible to our entrepreneurs today.”

Capital will become easier for entrepreneurs to obtain in a more commoditized way than ever before, Fushman predicts. 

“At the end of the day, we’re all selling capital and money is money,” he said. “But it’s really what you get with that money that should matter most. And I think the smart entrepreneurs, the thoughtful entrepreneurs really take their time to understand what value they’re getting incremental to capital.”

Crunchbase Queries Used In This Article

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Kleiner Perkins recently led funding rounds for Fin.com and Stardust. We apologize for the error.

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Real estate has long been viewed as one of the last vestiges for innovation and disruption, writes Kevin Lynch, an investor at Maschmeyer Group…

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/under-the-hood-kleiner-perkins-investing-strategy-exits/

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Start Ups

Aucto Raises Seed For Industrial Assets Marketplace

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Most of us will never be in the market to buy or sell a moderately used welder’s cart, engine lathe, or 40-ton hydraulic jack.

If we were, however, we’d likely encounter a corner of the industrial supply chain rife with inefficiency and waste–the kind of area that could use a startup’s fresh perspective for reinvention.

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That, at least, is the impression one gets from a conversation with Jamil Rahman, founder and CEO of Aucto, a startup marketplace for buying and selling used industrial assets. The company disclosed that it has raised $3.7 million in startup funding from venture firm NFX, the largest venture stakeholder, along with Motivate Venture Capital and individual investor Jack Greco.

The company runs online auctions for portfolios of industrial assets, with a particular focus on manufacturing equipment. It markets its platform to government and private sellers looking to market to both domestic and international buyers.

“There needs to be a better way for large organizations to sell these assets that still have a lot of lifespan left,” said Rahman, who spun Aucto out of his last venture, an Ontario company called NRI Industrial, in 2018. Aucto was previously based in Buffalo, but Rahman is currently working to scale the venture from San Francisco, where he recently relocated.

Like many startups, Rahman sees his sector was impacted heavily by the pandemic, pointing to three factors in particular. First, economic disruptions caused organizations to look for ways to generate capital quickly, motivating many to turn to asset sales.

Secondly, while companies were looking to sell assets during the pandemic, a historically popular form of sales–the live auction–was increasingly not an option, creating heightened interest in online auctions.

Third, the pandemic famously precipitated all kinds of supply chain disruptions. That pushed more businesses to the used marketplace for assets that were too difficult or costly to source new.

Beyond pandemic-related impacts, Rahman sees other tailwinds impacting the industrial equipment space. One is the ongoing shift in the auto industry and elsewhere away from fossil fuels and toward electrification. Equipment from coal plants and other shrinking industrial subsectors can often be repurposed or redeployed in other areas.

To date, Aucto says it has moved around $40 million on the platform, posting roughly 5x revenue growth during the pandemic. Commonly, assets are shipped internationally.

It’s a tiny piece of a vast market. In 2019, the last full-year estimate, U.S. non-farm businesses spent around $1.15 trillion on equipment, per the U.S. Census Bureau. Eventually, much of that will wind up back on the market as used equipment.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/aucto-seed-industrial-assets-marketplace-supply-chain/

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The Big Winners In Mobile Money Transfer Service Remitly’s IPO

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Shares of money transfer company Remitly closed up more than 12 percent in their first day of trading on the Nasdaq on Thursday.

The Seattle-based company had priced shares above the expected range at $43, valuing the company at $6.9 billion. Remitly said it sold 7 million shares to raise around $300 million through its IPO on the Nasdaq, where it started trading under the ticker symbol RELY. 

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Founded in 2011, Remitly initially processed payments between the U.S. and Philippines. The company was founded by CEO Matt Oppenheimer, COO Josh Hug and engineer Shivaas Gulati. The company now processes payments from 17 countries that can send and 115 countries that can receive transfers. It has about 1,600 employees across eight global offices.

The cross-border remittance market was an estimated $1.5 trillion in 2020, according to Remitly’s S-1 filing. In the 12 months ending June 30, the company says it processed $16.1 billion, or around 1 percent of the global 2020 market. 

Who wins?

As a private company, Remitly raised $505 million from 29 investors across all of its funding rounds, per Crunchbase data. 

The biggest winners in its IPO in terms of ownership percentage pre-IPO are:

Remitly lead investors who wwned 5% before its IPO

Breaking it down

Remitly had 2.4 million customers transact in the second quarter of 2021, per its SEC filings.

For the six months ending June 30, 2021, revenue was $202.1 million, up 92 percent from the same time frame a year earlier.

Losses were down year over year, clocking in at $9.2 million in the first six months of 2021, compared with $21.1 million for the same period in 2020.

On the risk side of the business, Remitly acknowledges that payments are complex and involve many third parties not directly under its control, which can lead to disruption or delay of its service and impact its customers. 

But perhaps the larger risk the company faces is an increasingly competitive payments landscape. Many companies and technologies already operate in this space, and the industry is also experiencing the growth of neobanks as well as new cryptocurrency providers that are shaping the future of financial services. 

“Although still in early stages, cryptocurrency usage is growing, and, if we are unable to integrate cryptocurrency or other new financial technologies into our services, we may be unable to compete successfully,” Remitly noted in its S-1 filing.   

Wise’s direct listing

Another leading peer-to-peer money transfer service, London-based Wise, went public in July. The direct listing valued the company at $11 billion. According to Wise’s most recent earnings report, 3.7 million customers transacted on the platform in the first quarter of the current financial year 2022. Its cross-border transaction volume was $22.4 billion with revenue of $168.7 million in the first quarter. 

All told, 10 companies in the payments sector have gone public this year alone, Crunchbase data shows. They include Circle, dLocal and Payoneer.  

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/remitly-ipo-rely-investors/

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