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Seattle startup Common Room emerges from stealth mode with $52M in funding

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Common Room founders, left to right: Tom Kleinpeter; Viraj Mody; Francis Luu; and Linda Lian. (Common Room Photo)

The news: Common Room, a year-old startup based in Seattle, is coming out of stealth mode in a big way. The company revealed $52 million in total funding and big-name customers using its software that aims to help companies deepen relationships with their users and customers. GeekWire first uncovered the startup in September just as it was getting off the ground.

The product: The company’s tools act as a conduit between organizations and people in their communities. It integrates with communication apps such as Slack, Twitter, Discord, and more. The idea is to make “community” a competitive advantage, connecting users with each other and soliciting product feedback.

“A referral of another user is the best marketing you could ask for. The advocacy of a customer champion is the best sales you could ask for,” noted Sarah Guo, partner at Greylock, which led the $32.3 million Series B round.

Early customers: Companies such as Notion and Pulumi are testing a pilot version of Common Room. “We have business goals around the engagement level of our community, and we use Common Room to analyze key engagement metrics to help grow the community,” said Aaron Kao, vice president of marketing at Seattle-based Pulumi.

The team: Common Room has less than 20 employees and is led by four co-founders:

  • CEO Linda Lian, a former associate at Madrona Venture Group and senior product marketing manager at Amazon Web Services.
  • Chief Architect Tom Kleinpeter, most recently a principal engineer at Dropbox who sold a music streaming startup to the cloud giant in 2012.
  • Design Chief Francis Luu, a designer who spent 10 years at Facebook.
  • CTO Viraj Mody, formerly the engineering director at Dropbox and technical advisor to the CEO at Seattle startup Convoy.

The investors: Index Ventures; Madrona Venture Group; Next Play Ventures; Greylock; 01 Advisors; and a bevy of angel investors — including Etsy CEO Josh Silverman; former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo; and former Axiom CEO Elena Donio — are among the company’s backers.

S. “Soma” Somasegar, managing director at Madrona who previously worked with Lian, said it was a “no-brainer” to invest in Common Room. He cited his experience working with the developer community while leading the Developer Division at Microsoft.

“As the person overseeing what we did at Microsoft with the developer community, I had a deep appreciation for what our customer community can do for our platform and by extension everything that gets built on the Microsoft platform,” Somasegar wrote in a blog post.

BHAG: What’s the company’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal? Lian’s post on LinkedIn sheds some light:

“People often ask me “who is Common Room for?” We’re certainly for community teams today – the oft-unsung heroes who care as much about the ‘how’ as the ‘what,’ and are usually the first living, breathing human a practitioner engages with at the enterprise. Today, for these community teams, our beta product offers an immediate and organized window into the who, what, where, why, and how of their communities – across Slack, Discord, GitHub, events, private messaging channels, social channels and more. We illuminate what was once a blind spot and also give community leaders improved workflows to be proactive instead of reactive in nurturing their unique and special communities.

Over time, we’ll also be for the product teams, the support teams, the marketing teams, and customer teams who want to stretch their hand out across the organizational boundary of their companies to engage with the people who use their products day in and day out.”

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Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/seattle-startup-common-room-emerges-stealth-mode-52m-funding/

Start Ups

Amplitude acquires Seattle-based customer data analytics startup Iteratively

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Iteratively CEO Patrick Thompson.

Acquisition news: San Francisco product intelligence company Amplitude acquired Seattle startup Iteratively. Founded in 2019 by veterans of Atlassian and Microsoft, Iteratively sells software to data and product teams for customer analytics tracking. The idea is to help prevent data quality problems at the outset of entry and have standardized customer data in one place.

Earlier this year Iteratively raised $5.4 million from Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, as well as Fika Ventures and PSL Ventures. The company is led by CEO Patrick Thompson, who co-founded Iteratively with Ondrej Hrebicek. They previously worked together at Syncplicity, a file sharing startup co-founded by Hrebicek that was acquired by EMC in 2016.

Iteratively will continue to operate as a unit within Amplitude, which has raised close to $200 million for its software that helps companies predict the impact of new product features. More than 70% of Iteratively’s customers are already Amplitude users.

“In Amplitude we see an ally in the pursuit to solve the acute pain points around data quality,” Thompson wrote in a blog post.

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Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/amplitude-acquires-seattle-customer-data-analytics-startup-iteratively/

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36 hours left to apply to Startup Battlefield at TC Disrupt 2021

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Do you and your early-stage startup have what it takes to be a modern-day gladiator and compete in Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021? You won’t know unless you apply, and time is running out. You have only 48 hours left to throw your helmet into the ring.

If you want to compete for glory, global exposure and $100,000 in equity-free prize money, apply to Startup Battlefield here before May 13 at 11:59 p.m. (PT).

Not familiar with Startup Battlefield? It has launched 922 companies — including the likes of Dropbox, Vurb, Mint and a bunch more — that have collectively raised $9.5 billion and produced 117 exits.

We can tell you what it’s like to compete in Startup Battlefield and about the benefits and opportunities that come from it. But Stacey Hronowski — co-founder and CEO of Canix, the winner of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2020 — describes it best.

“Our experience in Startup Battlefield was excellent. The rigorous training was specific and tailored to our individual business and presentation. I was particularly impressed with the Q&A training. I’ve fundraised numerous times and the practice questions were some of the most insightful and specific questions I’ve faced. I feel extremely well prepared for future fundraises.

“Post Startup Battlefield, we received significant press coverage and reach outs from notable investors. The experience was one of the most special of my life; I never thought I’d get the chance to share the story of Canix with investors and media across the globe.”

And guess what?! It won’t cost you a thing to apply or to compete. You can be from anywhere in the world and in any industry — but you should have an MVP. Are you detail-oriented? Read more about how Startup Battlefield works.

We’re tapping top VC talent to judge the Battlefield. Here are just a few of the experts you’ll need to impress:

TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 takes place on September 22-23, and if you want a shot at massive exposure and $100,000, you need to apply to Startup Battlefield before the deadline expires — in just 48 hours — on May 13 at 11:59 p.m. (PT). Go, gladiators, go!

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

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/12/36-hours-left-to-apply-to-startup-battlefield-at-tc-disrupt-2021/

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Exclusive: Boston’s Aryeo Raises $3.65M Seed Round 

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Real estate content platform Aryeo has raised $3.65 million in seed funding, the company told Crunchbase News.

The Boston-based startup aims to streamline content in the real estate industry, helping agents get photos and other types of content where it needs to go. Hyperplane Venture Capital and Amplo led the seed round.

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Aryeo co-founders Brendan Quinlan, Matt Michalski, and Branick Weix.

If you’ve bought or sold a home before or done any late-night Zillow surfing, you know how important photos and videos are to a home listing. Photos and 3D tours are essential to selling a home, especially now, according to Aryeo CEO Branick Weix, given the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing guidelines that have come with it.

“It’s very similar to a Dropbox system, but it’s more tailored to the real estate industry,” Weix said in an interview.

Aryeo goes a step further than Dropbox. When content is uploaded into the system, Aryeo automatically makes promotional materials for the property, such as flyers, Facebook ads and a website.

One of Weix’s first jobs in high school was as a photographer taking photos for real estate agents. Most people don’t even realize that’s a job or industry, he added.

The idea for Aryeo came about when drones became more popular and real estate agents were interested in using drone footage to market homes. Aryeo’s co-founders Weix, Brendan Quinlan, and Matt Michalski began a drone photography business in Minnesota, but it wasn’t long before agents began asking for more content, and the team realized all of the pain points involved with getting content where it needed to be.

“How things normally work for many of these agents, they just have content emailed to them and they have to download it to their computer and then they have to go to all these sites separately,” Weix said. 

Consolidating content in a “highly fragmented marketplace with multiple data sources” is a pressing need in the real estate industry, and Aryeo’s platform can universally solve the problem, Hyperplane VC managing partner Vivjan Myrto said in a statement.

The company was founded in 2019, and  Aryeo processed more than 50,000 homes last year, or about 1 percent of the total annual home sales in the United States. The company works with more than 40,000 real estate agents and photographers and operates in all 50 states and countries including Canada, Belgium, Australia, and South Africa. 

The company, which currently has around 15 employees, plans to use the funding to hire, especially in sales and customer support, Weix said. Most of its work so far has been with photographers, but the company is expanding and building out tools to work more with agents and brokers. 

Aryeo bootstrapped for the first 1.5 years and grew through word of mouth before raising $3.6 million in outside funding. 

Other investors in the company include Contrary, Shutterstock founder Jon Oringer, and WePay founder Bill Clerico.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Photo courtesy of Aryeo.

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

The idea behind Chicago-based Kin is that it’s too hard to get home insurance, especially for homes that are more complicated or risky–something…

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/exclusive-bostons-aryeo-raises-3-65m-seed-round/

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Bird Ride’s SPAC filing shows scooter-nomics just doesn’t fly

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Scooter unicorn Bird Rides is going public, per an agreement to merge with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. After rumors and reports circulated for months about an imminent deal, it has finally arrived.

First, a quick overview of the agreement and the players involved: Bird is merging with Switchback II at an implied valuation of $2.3 billion. Fidelity Management & Research Company will lead the deal’s $106 million in private investment in public equity, or PIPE. Apollo Investment Corp. and MidCap Financial Trust provided an additional $40 million in asset financing. (Disclosure: Apollo is buying TechCrunch’s parent company.)

Historically — and based on what we’re seeing in this fantastical filing — Bird proved to be a simply awful business. Its results from 2019 and 2020 describe a company with a huge cost structure and unprofitable revenue, per filings. After posting negative gross profit in both of the most recent full-year periods, Bird’s initial model appears to have been defeated by the market.

What drove the company’s hugely unprofitable revenues and resulting net losses? Unit economics that were nearly comically destructive.

Some of the numbers Bird shared in its investor deck show a business that is growing, in terms of users and geographic footprint. Bird is in 200 cities globally and reports more than 95 million rides to date, and 3 million new riders added during the pandemic. The investor deck also touts year-round positive economics during the COVID-19 era. That all looks positive. But looking into the line-item financials, a different story emerges.

The scooter shop managed to convert a $135.7 million gross loss in 2019 to a smaller gross deficit of $23.5 million in 2020, but it did not manage to shake up its upside-down economics during its full fiscal 2020.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/12/bird-rides-spac-filing-shows-scooter-nomics-just-doesnt-fly/

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