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SpecTrust raises millions to fight cybercrime with its no-code platform

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Risk defense startup SpecTrust is emerging from stealth today with a $4.3 million seed raise and a public launch.

Cyber Mentor Fund led the round, which also included participation from Rally Ventures, SignalFire, Dreamit Ventures and Legion Capital.

SpecTrust aims to “fix the economics of fighting fraud” with a no-code platform that it says cuts 90% of a business’ risk infrastructure spend that responds to threats in “minutes instead of months.” 

“In January of 2020, I got a bug in my ear to, instead of an API, build a cloud-based service that handles all this complex orchestration and unifies all this data,” said CEO Nate Kharrl, who co-founded the company with Bryce Verdier and Patrick Chen. “And, it worked. And it worked fast enough that you can’t even tell it’s there doing its work.”

For example, he says, SpecTrust even in its early days was able to pull identity behavior information in seconds.

“Today, it’s more like five and seven milliseconds,” he said. “And, engineers don’t have to lift anything or adjust data models.”

Since the San Jose, California-based startup’s offering is deployed on the internet, between a website or app and its users, an organization gets fraud protection without draining the resources of its engineers, the company says. Founded by a team that ran risk management divisions at eBay and ThreatMetrix, SpecTrust is banking on the fact that companies — especially financial institutions — will be drawn to the flexibility afforded by a no-code offering.

Much of the industry is split up between compliance and onboarding, authenticating risk and payments, and user trust and safety, Kharrl said.

“We put all the tools together to address all things combined, to make sure the person an institution is talking to is who they say they are, and not acting with malicious intent,” he told TechCrunch. “We sit in between them and their traffic to make sure the risk and fraud teams have what they need to spot bad guys.”

Image Credit: SpecTrust

Online businesses spend billions on risk defense yet still lose a lot of money to fraudsters, scammers and identity thieves, Kharrl said. And, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a global shift in the digital economy as more people came to rely on the internet to meet day-to-day needs. 

“With these new trends in commerce and banking came more opportunities for fraudsters, scammers and identity thieves to target people and businesses,” he added. For example, an alarming number of cybercriminals employed no-code attack tools and click-to-deploy infrastructure to launch sophisticated attacks.

Fintech and crypto companies are feeling the biggest impacts, as legacy software designed for big banks, for example, can be slow and expensive, said Kharrl. 

We built SpecTrust to instantly put complete assessment, automation and enforcement capabilities in the hands of teams charged with fighting modern cybercrime threats,” he said.

Using its platform, the company says an organization’s risk team can review and investigate everything a customer does “from its first page view to its last click with unified behavior, identity, history and risk data.” 

Even non-technical staffers can do things like identify attack behavior, verify customer identity information, validate payment details and work to mitigate threats before they become losses, according to Kharrl.

Jon Lim of SignalFire says that SpecTrust has built an end-to-end risk protection platform that enables customers of all sizes and risk profiles “to access the latest innovative risk protection solutions, quickly respond to the evolving threat landscape and share the best practices and learnings across the entire customer base.”

And of course, it was drawn to the startup’s no-code platform and ability to provide visibility over every user interaction versus treating each interaction as an independent event.

“This not only delivers stronger protection to customers but also a smoother experience to the end user,” Lim said.

The fraud prevention space is hot these days. Sift, which also aims to predict and prevent fraud, in April raised $50 million in a funding round that valued the company at over $1 billion.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/13/spectrust-raises-millions-to-fight-cybercrime-with-no-code-platform/

Aerospace

SkyWatch raises $17.2 million in Series B funding round

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SAN FRANCISCO – SkyWatch Space Applications raised 20.9 million Canadian dollars ($17.2 ) in a Series B funding round, less than 17 months after welcoming investors to its Series A round.

The rapid pace of fundraising was not in the Canadian startup’s original plan but necessitated by demand for TerraStream, a data management and distribution platform SkyWatch offers Earth-observation companies.

“We didn’t anticipate a company adopting TerraStream to run their full operation until 2022 or 2023” because of the extraordinary level of trust required to hand off critical business functions like operations, cataloging, archiving and tasking to another company, SkyWatch CEO James Slifierz told SpaceNews.

Customers, however, have quickly adopted TerraStream. “We have close to 40 satellites under contract to launch in the next 12 months,” Slifierz said.

As a result, SkyWatch plans to use the proceeds of its Series B round to ramp up operations to keep pace with demand.

Drive Capital led the SkyWatch Series B round. Existing SkyWatch investors Bullpen Capital, Space Capital, Golden Ventures, and BDC Ventures also participated.

SatRevolution is set to be the first TerraStream customer to launch. The Polish Earth-observation startup is preparing to send aloft two three-unit cubesats to collect multispectral medium-resolution imagery and data.

The SatRevolution cubesats, called Stork-4 and Stork-5, are scheduled to launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rideshare flight later this month. Mexican startup SpaceJLTZ and Wyvern of Canada are the other two TerraStream customers SkyWatch has named.

SkyWatch has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2018. In the first half of 2021, SkyWatch revenue surged more than 450% compared with the same period in 2020.

EarthCache, a software platform offering access to aerial and satellite data sources through an application program interface, was the startup’s first product. SkyWatch developed TerraStream after noting how customers struggled to build their data management systems and quickly monetize data.

TerraStream is designed to take away that struggle and allow Earth-observation companies to focus instead on the quality and affordability of their datasets, the two primary factors Earth-observation data customers consider, Slifierz said.

SkyWatch raised $7.5 million in its Series A investment round announced in January 2020.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://spacenews.com/skywatch-series-b/

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Tallinn-based Change, a cryptocurrency investing platform for retail investors, closes €3.7 million crowdfund

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Today Change, a cryptocurrency investing platform for retail investors, has closed a €3.7 million crowdfund from 50 private investors at a €175 million valuation.

Change will use the funding to grow the team, further develop its platform and expand in European and Asian markets. The round closed as Change hit twin milestones of 85,000 verified customers, a 190% increase from May 2020, and €850 million traded since its founding in 2016.

Interest from Change’s existing investment community resulted in the round being over-subscribed within 48 hours. Notably, the investors are primarily composed of Change’s original crowdfunding members, who’ve continued to be involved in the project since 2017, as well as existing shareholders.

Founded in 2016, Change has expanded significantly in the past year due to the ever-growing interest from retail investors in cryptocurrency trading and investing. Change’s team has also experienced rapid growth, doubling to 60, with plans to expand in Europe and Asian markets.

One of the few trading platforms which doesn’t charge fees on Bitcoin trades, Change has a low minimum deposit of €10 and has built a user-friendly interface geared towards beginners.

Kristjan Kangro, Founder and CEO of Change, said: “We started with a mission to empower everyone everywhere to benefit from investing – be it with cryptos or more traditional trading instruments. Not only did this mean creating a platform that was simple to use, but it also meant being independently funded and driven by our community. 

“To see so many of our original investors from back in 2017 continuing to believe in and support us is incredibly inspiring. Together we’ve achieved tremendous growth over the past year especially, and our ambitious expansion plans aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.eu-startups.com/2021/06/tallinn-based-change-a-cryptocurrency-investing-platform-for-retail-investors-closes-e3-7-million-crowdfund/

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Warsaw-based Ramp raises €8.3 million to expand its “PayPal for crypto” service

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Today Ramp, the startup making crypto more useful, accessible and open through its “PayPal for crypto” service, has raised around 8.3 million to bring its next-level payment infrastructure to even more people globally.

The seed round was led by NfX with Galaxy Digital. It also saw participation from returning investors Seedcamp, firstminute capital and Fabric Ventures, as well as Mozilla, plus notable business angels associated with Coinbase (Balaji S. Srinivasan), Wise (Taavet Hinrikus), Dapper Labs (Roham Gharegozlou), IKEA (Bartek Pucek) and more entrepreneurs and executives from fintech and crypto industries*.

Ramp was founded in 2017 by Szymon Sypniewicz (CEO) and Przemek Kowalczyk (CTO, CPO) to open up digital assets to more businesses and users. Until now, cryptocurrencies have largely been the reserve of enthusiasts, not everyday people, and have centred around crypto exchanges – the likes of Coinbase, eToro et al.

These services let customers exchange fiat money (EUR, GBP, USD etc.) to cryptocurrencies and other crypto assets. However, all of them are built for users who want to speculate on the prices of crypto assets and buy, hold and sell coins. As the startup states, this is an extremely narrow remit that fails to address the potential and power of crypto justice.

To solve this, Ramp has built a non-custodial, full-stack payment infrastructure that unlocks the potential to use crypto for mainstream users. Through its SDK, any brand or partner who wants to offer crypto-enabled services as part of their business model can do so easily and securely. All while not requiring their own certifications and licences, as it is Ramp that facilitates the transaction for the end users. In the same way PayPal revolutionised e-commerce and online payments by allowing any website, app or service to embed payment infrastructure into their existing systems, Ramp is set to have the same impact for crypto assets.

With Ramp, any brand that wants to offer a crypto-enabled app or service can embed the startup’s payment infrastructure within their existing systems. Ramp’s platform – which is registered with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as a cryptoasset business and is registered as an open banking business with The Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) – can then be used for myriad crypto use cases. As Ramp expands into more regions, it will be announcing new registrations and licences.

These use cases today range from enabling users of Opera browser to top-up crypto wallets from within the app, up to players being able to play the Sorare NFT game and buy and sell virtual players via Ethereum. In the future, Ramp could help facilitate crypto transactions for banks’ or other financial institutions’ end-users within their banking apps, and could enable completely new use cases that until recently were impossible to take to the mainstream.

The company has already partnered with more than 200 developers, including Mozilla, Opera Labs, Dapper Labs (the company behind NBA Top Shot and the new Flow blockchain), Sorare and top crypto and DeFi apps like Aave, Argent and Zerion. It will use the funding to further expand this network of bigger and better partners; reach more brands and make crypto less niche and exclusive. This includes tripling the team by the end of 2021, setting up headquarters in new regions, and developing the platform further.

“Few things are as impactful on economic growth, the human effort, and technological innovation as financial services. If we’re to continue to grow as a society, we need to make sure our financial systems are following suit. Crypto is one of the most promising technological frontiers for advancing finance and payments. For years however, the industry was focused on speculation, creating products like crypto exchanges. Unlocking crypto’s use cases seemed like an afterthought. Now we feel it’s time for the industry to start delivering useful applications and Ramp is here to make the mainstream transition to crypto much easier,” said Ramp co-founder and CEO Szymon Sypniewicz.

“It’s a matter of when, not if, non-crypto-native users are going to use crypto-native products. The question of “when” depends on usability. To date, crypto products have had a high barrier to entry – you have to basically go through a Rube Goldberg machine to use many products. Mainstream users are not going to do this. That’s what excited us about Ramp. Ramp dramatically reduces the crypto barrier to entry for both non-crypto-native users and non-crypto native developers. We see Ramp, therefore, helping to meaningfully accelerate crypto adoption through enabling mainstream use cases”, said Morgan Beller, General Partner at NfX.

“We’re excited about Ramp because we view it as a new-generation crypto business, a solution to first-generation problems that brilliantly leverages the unique properties of crypto. Ramp lets developers onboard their users into a crypto app in a way that feels native to the app, and we’re convinced this is what the future of on-ramping looks like. We’re active users of crypto-based apps and it was our own experience that showed us that apps using Ramp offered a game changing improvement to the user experience,” said Jon Kol, who co-leads Galaxy’s Venture investments

Ramp previously raised €1 million in 2018 in a pre-seed round, from a collective of funds and business angels. These included Fabric Ventures, firstminute capital, Seedcamp and MakerDAO. Over the past two years, Ramp has been acquiring both partners implementing Ramp in their apps and wallets, and individual users, as well as working with Alior Bank to learn the ropes of cooperating with a major bank.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.eu-startups.com/2021/06/warsaw-based-ramp-raises-e8-3-million-to-expand-its-paypal-for-crypto-service/

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Golden Gate Ventures forecasts a record number of exits in Southeast Asia

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Despite the pandemic’s economic impact, Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem has proven to be very resilient. In fact, a new report from investment firm Golden Gate Ventures predicts a record number of exits will happen in the region over the next couple of years, thanks to factors like a maturing ecosystem, more secondary buyers and the emergence of SPACs.

The firm’s comprehensive “Southeast Asia Exit Landscape Report 2.0,” is a followup to a previous report published in 2019.

Here are some highlights from the latest report, along with additional insight from Golden Gate Ventures partner Michael Lints, its lead author. For both reports, Golden Gate Ventures partnered with business school INSEAD to survey general and limited partners in the region. It also draws on Golden Gate Ventures’ proprietary database, which dates back to 2012 and tracks information like the time between funding rounds and fundraising success rates, as well as public databases, reports and expert commentary from the New York Stock Exchange.

The overall exit landscape

Despite the pandemic’s economic impact, tech proved to be resilient globally (for example, there were a number of initial public offers in the United States at record prices). While Southeast Asia’s tech ecosystem is relatively younger, Lints told TechCrunch its resiliency was driven by companies founded years ago that suddenly saw an increase in demand for their services because of the pandemic.

“We’ve built infrastructure over the past eight to nine years, when it comes to e-commerce, logistics, some on the healthcare side as well, and when the pandemic happened, people were suddenly stuck at home,” Lints said. He added “If you look at the pickup for most of the e-commerce companies, they at least doubled their revenue. For last-mile logistics companies, they’ve increased their revenue. There was a lot of pickup on the digital healthcare side as well.”

While tech fared well compare to many other industries, one downside was that the COVID-19 pandemic caused overall global venture capital investment to decline. Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem was not immune, and had less exits, but it still did relatively well, with $8.2 billion invested in 2020, according to a report by Cento Ventures and Tech In Asia.

It’s important to note that more than half of that funding was raised in very large rounds by unicorns like Grab, Go-jek and Traveloka, but Cento Ventures found there was also an increase in investments between $50 million to $100 million for other startups. These are usually Series B and C rounds, which Golden Gate Ventures says creates a strong pipeline for potential exits over the next three to four years.

“If you go back even just two years, the amount of B rounds that are happening now, I’ve never seen that number before. It’s a definite increase,” said Lints.

Investments are also continuing to flow into Southeast Asia. According to the report, there was $6 billion of funding in just the first quarter of 2021 (based on data from DealStreet Asia, PWC and Genesis Ventures), making it the strongest start to a year in the region’s history.

This bodes well for the possibility of mergers and acquisitions in 2021. The report found that there were less exits in 2019 and 2020 than in 2018, but not just because of the pandemic—many startups wanted to remain venture-backed for longer. Golden Gate Ventures expects M&A activity will pick up again. In 2021, it forecasts acquisition deals worth more than $30 million, large mergers and an increase in SPACs.

What’s in the pipeline

Golden Gate Ventures predicts that a total of 468 startup exits will happen between 2020 and 2022, compared to the 412 forecast in the previous edition of its report. This is due to more late-stage private equity investors, including secondary buyers, SPACs and a welcoming public market.

Lints said secondary buyers will include a mix of family offices, conglomerates and venture funds that want a higher allocation in a company or to pre-empt a forthcoming round.

“What I think is interesting is some of the later-stage funds, so private equity funds, and not only ones that are in Southeast Asia, but even foreign ones, are now looking to get a position in companies that they assume will be able to raise a Series D or Series E over the next few years. That’s something I haven’t seen before, it’s relatively new in the market,” he added.

Golden Gate Ventures expects M&A activity to continue being the main way Southeast Asian startups exit, potentially accounting for up to 80% of deals, followed by secondary sales (15%) and IPOs (5%).

In fact, there was a record number of M&A deals in 2020, despite the pandemic. Golden Gate Ventures estimates that 45 deals happened, especially in e-commerce, fintech, media, adtech and social networking, as larger companies acquired startups to grow their tech stacks.

More companies going public will create a cascading effect through Southeast Asia’s ecosystem. The report forecasts that companies like Gojek and Trax, who have already made several high-profile acquisitions, will continue buying startups if they list publicly and have more liquidity.

Series B and C deals

While there will be more exits, there are also more opportunities for companies to raise larger later-stage rounds to stay private, if they want to—a sign of Southeast Asia’s maturing ecosystem, said Lints.

As the pandemic unfolded in 2020, the number of pre-seed and seed deals fell. On the other hand, the report found that it became quicker for startups to raise Series B or C rounds, or less than 21 months on average.

“If you look at typical exits between 2015 to 2017, you could argue that some of those exits might have been too early because the company was still in a growth trajectory, but there was hardly any follow-on funding for them to expand to a new country, for instance, or build out a new product,” said Lints. “So their only revenue to raise money was to be acquired by a larger company so they could keep building the product.”

“I think now you’re able to raise that Series C round, which allows you to expand the company and stay private, as opposed to having to drive towards an exit,” he added. “I think that shows the maturity of the ecosystem now and, again, it’s a huge advantage because founders have these amazing things they want to build, and now actually have the capital to do so and to really try to compete, and that has definitely been a big change.”

Another good thing is that the increase in later-stage funding does not appear to be creating a pre-seed and seed funding gap. This is partly because early employees from mature companies that have raised massive rounds often branch out and become founders themselves. As they launch startups, they have the benefit of being familiar with how fundraising works and a network. For example, a significant number of alumni from Grab, Gojek and Lazada have gone on to found companies.

“They seem to be raising a lot faster, and I think the second thing that’s happening across the board is we’re seeing more scouts putting really early checks into companies,” said Lints. “My assumption is if you look at the Series A pipeline, which is still pretty long, that has to come from a large number of pre-seed and seed deals.”

Funds want to cash out

Another factor that may drive an increase in exits—especially M&A deals—are funds that have reached the point where they want to cash out. Golden Gate Ventures’ 2019 report forecast that the first batch of institutional venture funds launched in 2010 to 2012 will start reaching the end of their lifecycle in 2020. This means the general partners of these funds are exploring exit opportunities for their portfolios, leading to an increase in secondary and M&A deals.

This in turn will increase the number of secondary markets, which have typically been low in Southeast Asia. The original investors won’t necessarily push for portfolio companies to sell themselves, but instead look at secondary buyers who might be keen on mergers and M&A deals.

“The thing we’ve seen over the last 18 months is there’s been a larger pickup in the secondary markets, where later-stage investors, in some cases family-owned businesses or family offices, are looking to get access to deals that were started eight, nine or 10 years ago. You’ll see the cap tables of these companies change, and that does mean the founders will have different shareholders,” said Lints.

“These are typically for companies that are performing well, where you can foresee that they will be able to fundraise within the next 12 months. For the ones that are in a more difficult position, I think it’s going to be tricky,” he added. “When you have a portfolio of companies as a fund, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can sell all 20 of them, so I think for some founders, the impact will be that they will need to make a decision to continue the business and buy back the shares their investors are holding, or are they going to liquidate the business or look for a trade sale.”

SPAC opportunities

The biggest SPAC news in Southeast Asia was Grab’s announcement it will go public in the United States following a $40 billion SPAC deal. Lints expects more Southeast Asian companies to take the SPAC route when going public. Not only does the process give them more flexibility, but for startups that want to list in the U.S., working with a SPAC can help them.

“My guess is with New York allowing direct listings, I think more and more people will shy away from the traditional IPO route and look at what is the fastest and most flexible way to list on a stock exchange. For Southeast Asia, listing has never been easy, so I think SPACs will definitely open the floodgates,” said Lints.

Barriers not only include regulatory filings, pre-IPO roadshows and high costs, but also “concern whether the international retail investor or public markets actually understand these companies in Southeast Asia,” he added. “If you have a very strong sponsor team that is running the SPAC, they can be super helpful in positioning the company, doing the marketing and getting interest from the market as well.”

Both the Singapore Exchange and Indonesian Stock Exchange are preparing to allow SPACs in an effort to attract more tech listings.

Lints said this will allow companies to consider a dual listing in Southeast Asia and the U.S. for larger returns. “A dual listing would be an amazing option and I think through the avenue of SPACs, that makes a lot of sense.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/15/golden-gate-ventures-forecasts-a-record-number-of-exits-in-southeast-asia/

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