Feb
19
2020
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Ordway lands $10M Series A to bridge gap between sales and finance

Ordway, a Washington, DC startup, is building a platform to deal with all of the stuff that happens after you make sale. It starts with the order and goes all the way to revenue as a one-time payment or recurring subscription. Today the company announced a $10 million Series A.

CRV led the round with participation from Clocktower Ventures and existing investors Lerer Hippeau and Revolution Rise of the Rest fund. The company has now raised a total of $12.5 million, according to Crunchbase data.

Sameer Gulati, founder and CEO at Ordway, says the company wanted to build a flexible tool to sit between the CRM and financial systems of a company. “So in that sense, we do everything for post-sales from billing automation, payment collection, revenue recognition, analytics, all the way to cash. We have a streamlined workflow for managing order to revenue,” Gulati told TechCrunch.

It sounds a lot like the Quote-to-Cash space where companies like Apttus (acquired by Thoma Bravo in 2018) or SteelBrick (acquired by Salesforce in 2015) tried to stake a claim, but Gulati says while his company’s solution handles the quote-to-cash workflow, it can do much more than that.

“We absolutely can handle the workflow from quote to billing to payments to revenue, for sure. But the reason Ordway has a niche is because we are a lot more configurable and a lot more flexible to accommodate any workflow out there,” he said.

He says his company’s solution connects to the CRM system on one side and the financial systems on the other. They are compatible with all the major CRM tools including Salesforce and Dynamics 365. And they support a range of financial tools like NetSuite or QuickBooks.

“In fact, we can work with any back-end small system to a large scale ERP system, but our value add is automating the movement of data into the ERP. So we are the operational framework between sales and traditional ERP. We will handle everything in between,” he said.

As for the funding, Gulati has the kind of plans you would expect with a Series A investment. “The core goal is definitely to accelerate all aspects of our business from sales and marketing to product and engineering, and most importantly, customer success. Basically, in a sense we are doubling down on making sure our customers are successful in solving their core sales to finance business challenges,” he said.

The company launched in 2018 and has 25 employees today. Gulati says his company’s goal is to grow 4x in the next 12 months and grow employees at a similar rate.

Feb
13
2020
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Datometry snares $17M Series B to help move data and applications to the cloud

Moving data to the cloud from an on-prem data warehouse like Teradata is a hard problem to solve, especially if you’ve built custom applications that are based on that data. Datometry, a San Francisco startup, has developed a solution to solve that issue, and today it announced a $17 million Series B investment.

WRVI Capital led the round with participation from existing investors including Amarjit Gill, Dell Technologies Capital, Redline Capital and Acorn Pacific. The company has raised a total of $28 million, according to Crunchbase data.

The startup is helping move data and applications — lock, stock and barrel — to the cloud. For starters, it’s focusing on Teradata data warehouses and applications built on top of that because it’s a popular enterprise offering, says Mike Waas CEO and co-founder at the company.

“Pretty much all major enterprises are struggling right now with getting their data into the cloud. At Datometry, we built a software platform that lets them take their existing applications and move them over to new cloud technology as is, and operate with cloud databases without having to change any SQL or APIs,” Waas told TechCrunch.

Today, without Datometry, customers would have to hire expensive systems integrators and take months or years rewriting their applications, but Datometry says it has found a way to move the applications to the cloud, reducing the time to migrate from years to weeks or months, by using virtualization.

The company starts by building a new schema for the cloud platform. It supports all the major players including Amazon, Microsoft and Google. It then runs the applications through a virtual database running the schema and connects the old application with a cloud data warehouse like Amazon Redshift.

Waas sees virtualization as the key here as it enables his customers to run the applications just as they always have on prem, but in a more modern context. “Personally I believe that it’s time for virtualization to disrupt the database stack just the way it has disrupted pretty much everything else in the datacenter,” he said.

From there, they can start developing more modern applications in the cloud, but he says that his company can get them to the cloud faster and cheaper than was possible before, and without disrupting their operations in any major way.

Waas founded the company in 2013 and it took several years to build the solution. This is a hard problem to solve, and he was ahead of the curve in terms of trying to move this type of data. As his solution came online in the last 18 months, it turned out to be good timing as companies were suddenly looking for ways to move data and applications to the cloud.

He says he has been able to build a client base of 40 customers with 30 employees because the cloud service providers are helping with sales and walking them into clients, more than they can handle right now as a small startup.

The plan moving forward is to use some of the money from this round to build a partner network with systems integrators to help with implementation so that they can concentrate on developing the product and supporting other data repositories in the future.

Feb
12
2020
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Model9 gets $9M Series A to move data between mainframes and cloud

Model9, an Israeli startup launched by mainframe vets, has come up with a way to transfer data between mainframe computers and the cloud, and today the company announced a $9 million Series A.

Intel Capital led the round with help from existing investors, including StageOne, North First Ventures and Glenrock Israel. The company reports it has now raised almost $13 million.

You may not realize it, but the largest companies in the world, like big banks, insurance companies, airlines and retailers, still use mainframes. These companies require the massive transaction processing capabilities of these stalwart machines, but find it’s difficult to get the valuable data out for more modern analytics capabilities. This is the hard problem that Model9 is attempting to solve.

Gil Peleg, CEO and co-founder at Model9, says that his company’s technology is focused on helping mainframe users get their data to the cloud or other on-prem storage. “Mainframe data is locked behind proprietary storage that is inaccessible to anything that’s happening in the evolving, fast-moving technology world in the cloud. And this is where we come in with patented technology that enables mainframes to read and write data directly to the cloud or any non-mainframe distributed storage system,” Peleg explained.

This has several important use cases. For starters, it can act as a disaster recovery system, eliminating the need to maintain expensive tape backups. It also can move this data to the cloud where customers can apply modern analytics to data that was previously inaccessible.

The company’s solution works with AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and IBM’s cloud solution. It also works with other on-prem storage solutions like EMC, Nutanix, NetApp and Hitatchi. He says the idea is to give customers true hybrid cloud options, whether a private cloud or a public cloud provider.

“Ideally our customers will deploy a hybrid cloud topology and benefit from both worlds. The mainframe keeps doing what it should do as a reliable, secure, trusted [machine], and the cloud can manage the scale and the rapidly growing amount of data and provide the new modern technologies for disaster recovery, data management and analytics,” he said.

The company was founded in 2016 and took a couple of years to develop the solution. Today, the company is working with a number  of large organizations using mainframes. Peleg says he wants to use the money to expand the sales and marketing operation to grow the market for this solution.

Feb
09
2020
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After $479M round on $12.4B valuation, Snowflake CEO says IPO is next step

Snowflake, the cloud-based data warehouse company, doesn’t tend to do small rounds. On Friday night word leaked out about its latest mega round. This one was for $479 million on a $12.4 billion valuation. That’s triple the company’s previous $3.9 billion valuation from October 2018, and CEO Frank Slootman suggested that the company’s next finance event is likely an IPO.

Dragoneer Investment Group led the round along with new investor Salesforce Ventures. Existing Snowflake investors Altimeter Capital, ICONIQ Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia, and Sutter Hill Ventures also participated. The new round brings the total raised to over $1.4 billion, according to PitchBook data.

All of this investment begs the question when this company goes public. As you might expect, Slootman is keeping his cards close to the vest, but he acknowledges that is the next logical step for his organization, even if he is not feeling pressure to make that move right now.

“I think the earliest that we could actually pull that trigger is probably early- to mid-summer timeframe. But whether we do that or not is a totally different question because we’re not in a hurry, and we’re not getting pressure from investors,” he said.

He grants that the pressure is about allowing employees to get their equity out of the company, which can only happen once the company goes public. “The only reason that there’s always a sense of pressure around this is because it’s important for employees, and I’m not minimizing that at all. That’s a legitimate thing. So, you know, it’s certainly a possibility in 2020 but it’s also a possibility the year thereafter. I don’t see it happening any later than that,” he said.

The company’s most recent round prior to this was $450 million in October 2018. Slootman says that he absolutely didn’t need the money, but the capital was there, and the chance to forge a relationship with Salesforce also was key in their thinking in taking this funding.

“At a high level, the relationship is really about allowing Salesforce data to be easily accessed inside Snowflake. Not that it’s impossible to do that today because there are lots of tools that will help you do that, but this relationship is about making that seamless and frictionless, which we find is really important,” Slootman said.

Snowflake now has relationships with AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, and has a broad content strategy to have as much quality data (like Salesforce) on the platform. Slootman says that this helps induce a network effect, while helping move data easily between major cloud platforms, a big concern as more companies adopt a multiple cloud vendor strategy.

“One of the key distinguishing architectural aspects of Snowflake is that once you’re on our platform, it’s extremely easy to exchange data with other Snowflake users. That’s one of the key architectural underpinnings. So content strategy induces network effect which in turn causes more people, more data to land on the platform, and that serves our business model,” he said.

Slootman says investors want to be part of his company because it’s solving some real data interchange pain points in the cloud market, and the company’s growth shows that in spite of its size, that continues to attract new customers at high rate.

“We just closed off our previous fiscal year which ended last Friday, and our revenue grew at 174%. For the scale that we are, this by far the fastest growing company out there…So, that’s not your average asset,” he said.

The company has 3400 active customers, which he defines as customers who were actively using the platform in the last month. He says that they have added 500 new customers alone in the last quarter.

Feb
06
2020
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Netskope hauls in another $340M investment on nearly $3B valuation

Netskope has always focused its particular flavor of security on the cloud, and as more workloads have moved there, it has certainly worked in its favor. Today the company announced a $340 million investment on a valuation of nearly $3 billion.

Sequoia Capital Global Equities led the round, but in a round this large, there were a bunch of other participating firms, including new investors Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and PSP Investments, along with existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Accel, Base Partners, ICONIQ Capital, Sapphire Ventures, Geodesic Capital and Social Capital. Today’s investment brings the total raised to more than $740 million, according to Crunchbase data.

As with so many large rounds recently, CEO Sanjay Beri said the company wasn’t necessarily looking for more capital, but when brand name investors came knocking, they decided to act. “We did not necessarily need this level of capital but having a large balance sheet and a legendary set of investors like Sequoia, Lightspeed and Accel putting all their chips behind Netskope for the long term to dominate the largest market in security is a very strong signal to the industry,” Beri said.

From the start, Netskope has taken aim at cloud and mobile security, eschewing the traditional perimeter security that was still popular when the company launched in 2012. “Legacy products based on traditional notions of perimeter security have gone obsolete and inhibit the needs of digital businesses. Today’s urgent requirement is security that is fast, delivered from the cloud, and provides real-time protection against network and data threats when cloud services, websites, and private apps are being accessed from anywhere, anytime, on any device,” he explained.

When Netskope announced its $168.7 million round at the end of 2018, the company had a valuation over $1 billion at that time. Today, it announced it has almost tripled that number, with a valuation close to $3 billion. That’s a big leap in just two years, but it reports 80% year-over-year growth, and claims to be “the fastest-growing company at scale in the fastest-growing areas of cybersecurity: secure access server edge (SASE) and cloud security,” according to Beri.

The next natural step for a company at this stage of maturity would be to look to become a public company, but Beri wasn’t ready to commit to that just yet. “An IPO is definitely a possible milestone in the journey, but it’s certainly not limited to that and we’re not in a rush and have no capital needs, so we’re not commenting on timing.”

Feb
06
2020
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Datree announces $8M Series A as it joins Y Combinator

Datree, the early-stage startup building a DevOps policy engine on GitHub, announced an $8 million Series A today. It also announced it has joined the Y Combinator Winter 20 cohort.

Blumberg and TLV Partners led the round with participation from Y Combinator . The company has now raised $11 million with the $3 million seed round announced in 2018.

Since that seed round, company co-founder and CEO Shimon Tolts says that the company learned that while scanning code for issues was something DevOps teams found useful, they wanted help defining the rules. So Datree has created a series of rules packages you can run against the code to find any gaps or issues.

“We offer development best practices, coding standards and security and compliance policies. What happens today is that, as you connect to Datree, we connect to your source code and scan the entire code base, and we recommend development best practices based on your technology stack,” Tolts explained.

He says that they build these rules packages based on the company’s own expertise, as well as getting help from the community, and in some cases partnering with experts. For its Docker security package, it teamed up with Aqua Security.

The focus remains on applying these rules in GitHub where developers are working. Before committing the code, they can run the appropriate rules packages against it to ensure they are in compliance with best practices.

Datree rules packages. Screenshot: Datree

Tolts says they began looking at Y Combinator after the seed round because they wanted more guidance on building out the business. “We knew that Y Combinator could really help us because our product is relevant to 95 percent of all YC companies, and the program has helped us go and work on six figure deals with more mature YC companies,” he said.

Datree is working directly with Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel, and he says being part of the Winter 20 cohort has helped him refine his go-to-market motion. He admits he is not a typical YC company having been around since 2017 with an existing product and 12 employees, but he thinks it will help propel the company in the long run.

Feb
05
2020
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Where top VCs are investing in open source and dev tools (Part 2 of 2)

In part two of a survey that asks top VCs about exciting opportunities in open source and dev tools, we dig into responses from 10 leading open-source-focused investors at firms that span early to growth stage across software-specific firms, corporate venture arms and prominent generalist firms.

In the conclusion to our survey, we’ll hear from:

These responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Feb
05
2020
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Where top VCs are investing in open source and dev tools (Part 1 of 2)

The once-polarizing world of open-source software has recently become one of the hotter destinations for VCs.

As the popularity of open source increases among organizations and developers, startups in the space have reached new heights and monstrous valuations.

Over the past several years, we’ve seen surging open-source companies like Databricks reach unicorn status, as well as VCs who cashed out behind a serious number of exits involving open-source and dev tool companies, deals like IBM’s Red Hat acquisition or Elastic’s late-2018 IPO. Last year, the exit spree continued with transactions like F5 Networks’ acquisition of NGINX and a number of high-profile acquisitions from mainstays like Microsoft and GitHub.

Similarly, venture investment in new startups in the space has continued to swell. More investors are taking shots at finding the next big payout, with annual invested capital in open-source and dev tool startups increasing at a roughly 10% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over the last five years, according to data from Crunchbase. Furthermore, attractive returns in the space seem to be adding more fuel to the fire, as open-source and dev tool startups saw more than $2 billion invested in the space in 2019 alone, per Crunchbase data.

As we close out another strong year for innovation and venture investing in the sector, we asked 18 of the top open-source-focused VCs who work at firms spanning early to growth stages to share what’s exciting them most and where they see opportunities. For purposes of length and clarity, responses have been edited and split (in no particular order) into part one and part two of this survey. In part one of our survey, we hear from:

Feb
05
2020
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Clear gets $13M Series A to build high-volume transaction system on the blockchain

Clear is an early-stage startup with a big ambition. It wants to build a blockchain for high-volume transaction systems like payments between telcos. Today it announced a $13 million Series A investment.

The round was led by Eight Roads with participation from Telefónica Innovation Ventures, Telekom Innovation Pool of Deutsche Telekom, HKT and Singtel Innov8.

That the strategic investors were telcos is not a coincidence. The early use case for Clear’s blockchain transaction network involves moving payments between worldwide telcos, a system that today is highly manual and prone to errors.

Clear co-founder Gal Hochberg says what his company does is to take commercial contracts and turn them into digital representations, often known in digital ledger terms as a smart contract.

“What that lets us do is create a trusted view of the true status of the relationship within the company’s business partners because they’re now looking at the same pricing and usage. They can find any issues in real time, either in commercial information or in service delivery, and they can even actually resolve those inside our platform,” Hochberg explained.

By putting these high-volume, cross-border transactions onto the blockchain with these smart contracts to act as automated enforcer of the terms, it means that instead of waiting until the end of the month to find errors and begin a resolution process, this can be done in real time, reducing time to payment and speeding up conflict resolution.

“We use blockchain technology to create those interactions in ways that it is auditable, cryptographically secure and ensures that both sides are synced and seeing the same information,” Hochberg said.

For starters, the company is working with worldwide telco companies because the number of transactions, and the way they cross borders make this a good test case, but Hochberg says this is only the starting point. They are not in full-blown production yet, but he says they have proven they can process hundreds of millions of billable events.

The money should help the company get into full carrier-grade production some time in the first half of this year, and then begin to expand into other verticals beyond telcos with the help of today’s investment.

Feb
04
2020
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Layoffs hit Flexport, another SoftBank-backed startup worth $3.2B

Fearing weak fundraising options in the wake of the WeWork implosion, late-stage startups are tightening their belts. The latest is another Softbank-funded company, joining Zume Pizza (80 percent of staff laid off), Wag (80 percent),  Fair (40%), Getaround (25 percent), Rappi (6 percent), and Oyo (5 percent) that have all cut staff to slow their burn rate and reduce their funding needs. Now freight forwarding startup Flexport is laying off 3 percent of its global staff.

“We’re restructuring some parts of our organization to move faster and with greater clarity and purpose. With that came the difficult decision to part ways with around 50 employees” a Flexport spokesperson tells TechCrunch after we asked today if it had seen layoffs like its peers.

Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen

Flexport had raised a $1 billion Series D led by SoftBank at a $3.2 billion valuation a year ago, bringing it to $1.3 billion in funding. The company helps move shipping containers full of goods between manufacturers and retailers using digital tools unlike its old-school competitors.

“We underinvested in areas that help us serve clients efficiently, and we over-invested in scaling our existing process when we actually needed to be agile and adaptable to best serve our clients, especially in a year of unprecedented volatility in global trade,” the spokesperson explained.

Flexport still had a record year, working with 10,000 clients to finance and transport goods. The shipping industry is so huge that it’s still only the seventh largest freight forwarder on its top Trans-Pacific Eastbound leg. The massive headroom for growth plus its use of software to coordinate supply chains and optimize routing is what attracted SoftBank.

Flexport Dashboard

The Flexboard Platform dashboard offers maps, notifications, task lists, and chat for Flexport clients and their factory suppliers.

But many late-stage startups are worried about where they’ll get their next round after taking huge sums of cash from SoftBank at tall valuations. As of November, SoftBank had only managed to raise about $2 billion for its Vision Fund 2 despite plans for a total of $108 billion, Bloomberg reported. LPs were partially spooked by SoftBank’s reckless investment in WeWork. Further layoffs at its portfolio companies could further stoke concerns about entrusting it with more cash.

Unless growth-stage startups can cobble together enough institutional investors to build big rounds, or other huge capital sources like sovereign wealth funds materialize for them, these startups might not be able to raise enough to keep rapidly burning. Those that can’t reach profitability or find an exit may face down-rounds that can come with onerous terms, trigger talent exodus death spirals, or just not provide enough money.

Flexport has managed to escape with just 3 percent layoffs for now. Being proactive about cuts to reach sustainability may be smarter than gambling that one’s business or the funding climate with suddenly improve. But while other SoftBank startups had to spend tons to edge out direct competitors or make up for weak on-demand service margins, Flexport at least has a tried and true business where incumbents have been asleep at the wheel.

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