Mar
15
2021
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Airtable is now valued at $5.77B with a fresh $270 million in Series E funding

Airtable, the no-code relational database that has amassed a customer base that spans 250,000 different organizations, has today announced the close of $270 million in Series E funding. The valuation comes out to $5.77 billion post-money, more than doubling its valuation from September, when it raised $185 million in Series D funding.

This latest round was led by Greenoaks Capital, with participation from WndrCo, as well as existing investors Caffeinated Capital, CRV and Thrive.

The company says it plans to use the funding to accelerate the development of its enterprise product and growing the team. Also of note: Founder and CEO Howie Liu told Forbes that he was approached by Greenoaks, rather than actively seeking funding.

Airtable is a relational database that many describe as a souped up version of Excel or Google Sheets. Being such, and having the infrastructure to support an app ecosystem on top of that, means that this no-code tool can actually be used to write software. In other words, the use cases are nearly infinite, and so is the potential customer base.

Greenoaks Capital partner Neil Mehta basically said as much in the press release:

We believe Airtable is chasing a massive opportunity to become the ‘residual’ software platform for every bespoke and custom use case that is either performed manually today or structurally underserved by rigid third-party software. By equipping business users with fundamental software primitives that can be assembled together into powerful business applications, Airtable has become central to its users’ everyday workflows but at the same time is scalable and extensible enough to support incredibly complex enterprise use cases like ticketing, content management, and CRM.

Airtable has raised a total of $617 million since inception, according to Crunchbase.


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Mar
04
2021
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Papaya Global raises $100M more at a $1B+ valuation for tools to hire, pay and manage distributed workforces

Remote working — hiring people further afield and letting people work outside of a central physical office — is looking like it will be here to stay, and today one of the startups building tools for that environment is announcing a big fundraise in response to the opportunity.

Papaya Global, an Israeli startup that provides cloud-based payroll and hiring, onboarding and compliance services across 140 countries for organizations that employ full-time, part-time and contract workers outside of their home country, has picked up $100 million in funding and has confirmed that its valuation is now over $1 billion.

The company targets organizations that not only have global workforces, but are expanding their employee bases quickly. They include fast-growing startups like OneTrust, nCino and Hopin (which today announced a monster $400 million round), as well as major corporates like Toyota, Microsoft, Wix and General Dynamics.

Papaya is not disclosing revenue numbers but said that sales have grown 300% year-over-year for each of the last three years.

Led by Greenoaks Capital Partners, this Series C also includes significant participation from IVP Ventures and Alkeon Capital. Previous backers Insight Venture Partners, Scale Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Dynamic Loop, New Era and Workday Ventures, Access Ventures and Group 11 also chipped in. The new investment brings Papaya’s total funding to $190 million.

Papaya has been on a fundraising tear in the last 18 months. Today’s news comes less than six months after it raised a $40 million Series B. And that round came less than a year after a $45 million Series A.

Why so much, so quickly? Partly because of the demands on the business, but possibly also to capitalize on an opportunity at a time when so many others are also going after it as well.

The opportunity is that companies and other organizations are finding themselves needing tools to address the current state of play: Workforce growth today doesn’t look like it did in 2019, and so incumbent solutions like ADP, or cobbled together solutions covering multiple geographies, either don’t cut it, or are too costly to maintain.

Papaya Global, in contrast, says it has built an AI-based platform that automates a lot of work and removes much of the manual activity that comes out of trying to right-size a lot of legacy payroll products to work in new paradigms.

“The major impact of COVID-19 for us has been changing attitudes,” CEO Eynat Guez, who co-founded the company with Ruben Drong and Ofer Herman, told me in an interview last September. “People usually think that payroll works by itself, but it’s one of the more complex parts of the organization, covering major areas like labor, accounting, tax. Eight months ago, a lot of clients thought, it just happens. But now they realize they didn’t have control of the data, some don’t even have a handle on who is being paid.”

One challenge, however, is that many others are also chasing these customers in hopes of becoming the ADP of distributed and global work.

Last month, a startup called Oyster, also aimed at distributed workforces, raised $20 million. Others in the same area that have raised lots of capital include Turing,  DeelRemoteHibob, Personio, Factorial, Lattice, Turing and Rippling.

And as we have pointed out before, these are just some of the HR startups that have raised money in the last year. There are many, many more.

Investors here are hoping that as we see some consolidation emerge out of this mix, there will be a few leaders and that Papaya will be one of them.

“Papaya Global has built a best in class solution to onboard new employees, automate payroll, and manage a global workforce through a single pane of glass. Both growing and established companies have dramatically changed their working practices in recent years, and Papaya has seen impressive growth as a result. We’re excited to continue supporting them as they seek to simplify an increasingly complex challenge for some of the world’s biggest companies,” said Patrick Backhouse, partner at Greenoaks Capital, in a statement.


Early Stage is the premier “how-to” event for startup entrepreneurs and investors. You’ll hear firsthand how some of the most successful founders and VCs build their businesses, raise money and manage their portfolios. We’ll cover every aspect of company building: Fundraising, recruiting, sales, product-market fit, PR, marketing and brand building. Each session also has audience participation built-in — there’s ample time included for audience questions and discussion.


Aug
04
2020
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Rippling nabs $145M at a $1.35B valuation to build out its all-in-one platform for employee data

Big news today the world of IT startups targeting businesses. Rippling, the startup founded by Parker Conrad to take on the ambitious challenge of building a platform to manage all aspects of employee data, from payroll and benefits through to device management, has closed $145 million in funding — a monster Series B that catapults the company to a valuation of $1.35 billion.

Parker Conrad, the CEO who co-founded the company with Prasanna Sankar (the CTO), said in an interview that the plan will be to use the money to continue its own in-house product development (that is, bringing more tools into the Rippling mix organically, not by way of acquisition) but also to have it just in case, given everything else going on at the moment.

“We will double down on R&D but to be honest we’re trying not to change the formula too much,” Conrad said. “We want to have that discipline. This fundraising was opportunistic amid the larger macroeconomic risk at the moment. I was working at startups in 2008-2009 and the funding markets are strong right now, all things considered, and so we wanted to make sure we had the stockpile we needed in case things went bad.”

This latest round included Greenoaks Capital, Coatue Management and Bedrock Capital, as well as existing investors including Kleiner Perkins, Initialized Capital and Y Combinator. Founders Fund partner Napoleon Ta will join Rippling’s board of directors. Founders Fund had also backed Zenefits when Parker was at the helm, and from what we understand, this round was oversubscribed — also a big feat in the current market, working against a lot of factors, including a wobbling economy.

It is a big leap for the company: it was just a little over a year ago that it raised a Series A of $45 million at a valuation of $270 million.

This latest round is notable for a few reasons.

First is the business itself. HR and employee management software are two major areas of IT that have faced a lot of fragmentation over the years, with many businesses opting for a cocktail of services covering disparate areas like employee onboarding, payroll, benefits, device management, app provisioning and permissions and more. That’s been even more the case among smaller organizations in the 2-1,000 employee range that Rippling targets.

Rippling is approaching that bigger challenge as one that can be tackled by a single platform — the theory being that managing HR employee data is essentially part and parcel of good management of IT data permissions and device provision. This funding is a signal of how both investors and customers are buying into Rippling and its approach, even if right now the majority of customers don’t onboard with the full suite of services. (Some 75% are usually signing up with HR products, Conrad noted.)

“We like to think of ourselves as a Salesforce for employee data,” Conrad said, “and by that, we think that employee data is more than just HR. We want to manage access to all of your third-party business apps, your computer and other devices. It’s when you combine all that that you can manage employees well.”

The company is gradually adding more tools. Most recently, it’s been launching new tools to help with job costing, helping companies track where employees are spending time when working on different projects, a tool critical for IT, accounting and other companies where employees work across a number of clients. Other new tools include SMS communications for “desk-less” workers and more accounting integrations.

Second is the founder. You might recall that Conrad was ousted from his previous company, Zenefits (taking on a related, but smaller, challenge in payroll and benefits), over a controversy linked to compliance issues and also misleading investors. But if Zenefits was finished with Conrad, Conrad was not finished with Zenefits — or at least the problem it was tackling. This funding is a testament to how investors are putting a big bet on Conrad himself, who says that a lot of what he has been building at Rippling was what he would have done at Zenefits if he’d stayed there.

“Once you’re lucky, twice you’re good,” said Mamoon Hamid, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, in a separate statement. “Parker is a true product visionary, and he and his team are solving an enormous pain point for businesses everywhere. We’re thrilled to continue partnering with Rippling as demand for their platform dramatically increases in this era of remote work.”

“Rippling is not just a superior payroll company, but something much broader: they’ve built the system of record for all employee data, creating an entirely new software category. Rippling’s massive market opportunity is to streamline the employee life cycle, from software to payroll to benefits, and fundamentally improve the way businesses hire and manage their employees,” said Ta in a statement.

Third is the context in which this round is coming. We’re in the midst of an economic downturn caused in part by a global health pandemic, and that’s leading to a lot of companies curtailing budgets, reducing headcount and potentially shutting down altogether. Ironically, that force is also propelling companies like Rippling full steam ahead.

Its SaaS model — priced at a flat $8 per person per month — not only fits with how many businesses are being run at the moment (primarily remotely), but Rippling’s purpose is specifically geared to helping businesses both onboard and offboard employees more efficiently, the kind of software that companies need to have in place to fit how they are working right now.

Updated with commentary from an interview with Conrad.

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