May
14
2019
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CEO Howard Lerman on building a public company and the future of Yext

It’s just over two years since Yext debuted on the New York Stock Exchange, and to mark the occasion, I sat down with co-founder and CEO Howard Lerman for an interview.

As Lerman noted, Yext — which allows businesses to manage their profiles and information across a wide variety of online services — actually presented onstage at the TechCrunch 50 conference back in 2009. Now, it boasts a market capitalization of nearly $2.3 billion, and it just revealed plans to take over a nine-floor building in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, turning it into Yext’s global headquarters.

My interview with Lerman actually came before the announcement, though he managed to drop in a few veiled hints about the company making a big move in real estate.

More concretely, we talked about how Lerman’s management style has evolved from scrappy startup founder to a public company CEO — he described holding five-minute meetings with every Yext employee as “one of the best management techniques” he’s ever adopted.

Lerman also argued that as online misinformation has become a big issue, Yext has only become more important: “Our founding principle is that the ultimate authority on how many calories are in a Big Mac is McDonald’s. The ultimate authority on where Burger King is open is Burger King.”

Vowing that he will remain CEO of Yext for “as long as this board will have me,” Lerman ended our conversation with a passionate defense of the idea that “a company is the ultimate vehicle in America to effect good in the world.”

You can read a transcript of our conversation below, edited and condensed for clarity.

TechCrunch: To start with a really broad question, how do you think Yext is different now than it was two years ago?

Howard Lerman: One of the things that’s defined Yext over the years is our continuous willingness to reinvent ourselves. You started covering us in 2009 [at] TechCrunch 50, we were a launch company there.

And here we are now. One of the cool things about being public is: It’s a total gamechanger. It’s a gamechanger not just for access to capital, but it’s particularly important in global markets. And I’m not talking about capital markets, I’m talking about the markets in which we sell software. We have offices now from Berlin to Shanghai.

May
02
2019
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Takeaways from F8 and Facebook’s next phase

Extra Crunch offers members the opportunity to tune into conference calls led and moderated by the TechCrunch writers you read every day. This week, TechCrunch’s Josh Constine and Frederic Lardinois discuss major announcements that came out of Facebook’s F8 conference and dig into how Facebook is trying to redefine itself for the future.

Though touted as a developer-focused conference, Facebook spent much of F8 discussing privacy upgrades, how the company is improving its social impact, and a series of new initiatives on the consumer and enterprise side. Josh and Frederic discuss which announcements seem to make the most strategic sense, and which may create attractive (or unattractive) opportunities for new startups and investment.

“This F8 was aspirational for Facebook. Instead of being about what Facebook is, and accelerating the growth of it, this F8 was about Facebook, and what Facebook wants to be in the future.

That’s not the newsfeed, that’s not pages, that’s not profiles. That’s marketplace, that’s Watch, that’s Groups. With that change, Facebook is finally going to start to decouple itself from the products that have dragged down its brand over the last few years through a series of nonstop scandals.”

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Josh and Frederic dive deeper into Facebook’s plans around its redesign, Messenger, Dating, Marketplace, WhatsApp, VR, smart home hardware and more. The two also dig into the biggest news, or lack thereof, on the developer side, including Facebook’s Ax and BoTorch initiatives.

For access to the full transcription and the call audio, and for the opportunity to participate in future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free. 

Apr
02
2019
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TradingView acquires TradeIt to add instant trading APIs to its investor toolkit

After raising $37 million to bring its on-the-spot stock market analytics tools to a wider range of publishers and other internet partners, TradingView today has announced its first acquisition to supercharge the services that it offers to investors, wherever they happen to be online. The startup has acquired TradeIt, which has built an API for on-the-spot trading on any site that uses it.

The terms of deal were not disclosed, but we understand from sources close to the deal that it was under $20 million, more specifically in the “high teens.” TradeIt, which used to be called Trading Ticket, had raised about $12 million from investors that included Peter Thiel’s mostly-fintech fund Valar Ventures, Citi Ventures and others. TradingView had raised just over $40 million with investors including Insight Partners, TechStars and others.

The deal is a big move for consolidation: together the two say they will serve more than 10 million monthly active users in 150 countries, covering some $70 billion in linked assets. But also, better economies of scale, and better margins for companies that provide services that touch consumers not necessarily from a “home” of their own.

The latter is a growing trend that has mirrored the rise of social media and other services that aggregate content from multiple sources; and also the bigger trend of instant, on-demand everything, where consumers are happier with the convenience of buying or engaging with something right when they want to, rather than shopping around, delaying or navigating to another place to do it.

That has also seen the rise of commerce APIs to buy things instantly, not to mention the emergence of a wide range of commerce applications that let people easily buy goods and services on the spot. (And in line with that, TradingView says that nearly half of its user base today is millennials, with an additional 13 percent even younger, Gen Z. “The groups are particularly drawn to [our] extensive charting expertise,” the company says.)

In fintech, and in the world of investing specifically, that’s a trend that has also helped the growth of cryptocurrency, which has opened up the world of investing and thinking about investing to a whole new class of consumers who — for better or worse — are hearing about investing opportunities via viral social media campaigns and other new kinds of channels. Whether cryptocurrency speculation bears out longer term, it is depositing a new class of people into the world of thinking about companies and investing in them.

That taps into the sweet spot where TradeIt and TradingView are building their business.

“TradeIt’s secure and compliant relationships with established U.S. retail brokerages, coupled with their robust integrations with top investing apps, allows TradingView to be part of the backbone of the investing ecosystem,” said Denis Globa, TradingView founder and CEO, in a statement.

TradingView’s partners today include Crunchbase, Investopedia, SeekingAlpha, Zacks, Binance, CME Group and Entrepreneur, where users are able to access a premium tier of TradingView tools by way of a subscription in order to do some instant data and price modelling of a company that they might be reading about. The thinking is that now they will also be able to go one step further by trading stocks related to that information. TradingView, meanwhile, can use that extra feature to make a little more money and sell its service to partners as more sticky, to the tune of 80 percent more time spent with publishers as a result of integrating TradingView’s tools.

That’s something that the two companies can already attest to doing well in partnership.

“TradingView’s vision aligns strongly with our view of the distributed financial networks of the future,” said Nathan Richardson, TradeIt CEO, in a statement. “We’ve worked with TradingView for several years now, and always felt our complementary products and shared retail investing users makes us stronger together.”

Richardson and his cofounder Betsy Eisenberg — who are both joining TradingView — had together built Yahoo Finance — so they are already well experienced in how to leverage the potential of bringing together content with utility.

“Nathan Richardson and Betsy Eisenberg are fintech pioneers who led the development of Yahoo! Finance from scratch. With them on board, we’re extremely excited about the growth potential,” Globa said.

Oct
16
2018
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Netflix shares are up after the streaming service adds nearly 7M new subscribers in Q3

After a disappointing second quarter, Netflix is back in Wall Street’s good graces. The company just released its third-quarter earnings report, and as of 5:30pm East Coast time, the stock is up 12 percent in after-hours trading.

The most important number here is subscriber growth, and that’s where Netflix came in way ahead of expectations, with 6.96 million net additions, compared to the 5.07 million that analysts predicted. The service now has a total of 137 million members, and 130 million paying members.

The company also reported earnings of 89 cents per share on revenue of $4 billion — analysts had predicted EPS of 68 cents.

In addition to reporting on the latest financials, Netflix’s letter to shareholders also offers an update on its original content strategy. It distinguishes between two different types of Netflix Originals — the ones like “Orange Is the New Black,” where Netflix gets the first window for distribution, and others like “Stranger Things,” where it actually owns the content.

The company says:

Today, we employ hundreds of people in physical production, working on a wide variety of owned titles spread across scripted and unscripted series, kids, international content, standup, docs and feature films from all over the world. To support our efforts, we’ll need more production capacity; we recently announced the selection of ?Albuquerque, New Mexico? as the site of a new US production hub, where we anticipate bringing $1 billion dollars in production over the next 10 years and creating up to 1,000 production jobs per year. Our internal studio is already the single largest supplier of content to Netflix (on a cash basis).

Netflix subscription adds Q3

Netflix also says romance has been big recently, thanks to its “Summer of Love” slate of original films, which have been watched by more than 80 million accounts. Apparently “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” did particularly well, becoming one of Netflix’s most-watched original films, “with strong repeat viewing.”

The service plans to release “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuarón’s new film “Roma” in December, which has already been getting rave reviews at film festivals. While Netflix’s original movies generally have a minimal presence in theaters, the company says “Roma” (like Paul Greengrass’ “22 July”) will be released on more than 100 screens worldwide — not a blockbuster rollout, but not a perfunctory release, either.

The company is forecasting the addition of 9.4 million new members in the fourth quarter.

May
30
2018
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Here’s Mary Meeker’s essential 2018 Internet Trends report

Want to understand all the most important tech stats and trends? Legendary venture capitalist Mary Meeker has just released the 2018 version of her famous Internet Trends report. It covers everything from mobile to commerce to the competition between tech giants. Check out the full report below, and we’ll add some highlights soon. Then come back for our slide-by-slide analysis of the most important parts of the 294 page report.

  • Internet adoption: As of 2018, half the world population, or about 3.6 billion people, will be on the internet. That’s thanks in large part to cheaper Android phones and Wifi becoming more available, though individual services will have a tougher time adding new users as the web hits saturation.
  • Mobile usage: While smartphone shipments are flat and internet user growth is slowing, U.S. adults are spending more time online thanks to mobile, clocking 5.9 hours per day in 2017 versus 5.6 hours in 2016.
  • Mobile ads: People are shifting their time to mobile faster than ad dollars are following, creating a $7 billion mobile ad opportunity, though platforms are increasingly responsible for providing safe content to host those ads.
  • Crypto: Interest in cryptocurrency is exploding as Coinbase’s user count has nearly quadrupled since January 2017
  • Voice: Voice technology is at an inflection point due to speech recognition hitting 95% accuracy and the sales explosion for Amazon Echo which went from over 10 million to over 30 million sold in total by the end of 2017.
  • Daily usage – Revenue gains for services like Facebook are tightly coupled with daily user growth, showing how profitable it is to become a regular habit.
  • Tech investment: We’re at an all-time high for public and private investment in technology, while the top six public R&D + capex spenders are all technology companies.

Mary Meeker, analyst with Morgan Stanley, speaks during the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010. This year’s conference, which runs through Nov. 17, is titled “Points of Control: The Battle for the Network Economy.” Photographer: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

  • Ecommerce vs Brick & Mortar: Ecommerce growth quickens as now 13% of all retail purchases happen online and parcel shipments are rising swiftly, signaling big opportunities for new shopping apps.
  • Amazon: More people start product searches on Amazon than search engines now, but Jeff Bezos still relies on other surfaces like Facebook and YouTube to inspire people to want things.
  • Subscription services: They’re seeing massive adoption, with Netflix up 25%, The New York Times up 43%, and Spotify up 48% year-over-year in 2017. A free tier accelerates conversion rates.
  • Education: Employees seek retraining and education from YouTube and online courses to keep up with new job requirements and pay off skyrocketing student loan debt.
  • Freelancing: Employees crave scheduling and work-from-home flexibility, and internet discovery of freelance work led it to grow 3X faster than total workforce growth. The on-demand workforce grew 23% in 2017 driven by Uber, Airbnb, Etsy, Upwork, and Doordash.
  • Transportation: People are buying fewer cars, keeping them longer, and shifting transportation spend to rideshare, which saw rides double in 2017.
  • Enterprise: Consumerization of the enterprise through better interfaces is spurring growth for companies like Dropbox and Slack.
  • China: Alibaba is expanding beyond China with strong gross merchandise volume, though Amazon still rules in revenue.
  • Privacy: China has a big opportunity as users there are much more willing to trade their personal data for product benefits than U.S. users, and China is claiming more spots on the top 20 internet company list while making big investments in AI.
  • Immigration: It is critical to a strong economy, as 56% of top U.S. companies were founded by a first- or second-generation immigrant.

Nov
27
2017
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Amazon debuts Elemental-based AWS Media Services for video app creation

 Video is what consumers are paying attention to these days, and Amazon’s AWS is hoping to capitalise on that with one of its latest launches. Doubling down on its video services for media companies, app publishers — and actually any other organization that has considered launching a video service — Amazon today announced a new suite of five video processing tools as part of… Read More

Oct
03
2017
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Frame.io picks up $20 million to be the Slack of video

 Frame.io, the collaboration platform for the video industry, has today announced the close of a $20 million Series B funding round led by FirstMark Capital, with participation from existing investors including Accel Partners, SignalFire and Shasta Ventures. Frame.io launched on to the scene back in March of 2015. The company solved a growing problem with a seemingly obvious solution. People… Read More

Sep
27
2017
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Cloudflare moves into video with the launch of Cloudflare Stream

 Cloudflare has made a name for itself as a content delivery platform and security company, offering services to help keep websites up and running (sometimes running into a little controversy in the process). Now, as the company marks its 7th birthday — it actually launched on September 27, 2010 — it’s moving into another new area, literally and figuratively. Cloudflare is… Read More

Sep
18
2017
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Goodbye, photo studios. Hello, colormass virtual photoshoots

 Berlin-based colormass, one of the startups presenting today at TechCrunch Disrupt as part of the Battlefield, has developed a platform that lets you recreate an IKEA-style experience for your own merchandise: highly realistic, but digitally manipulated 3D facsimiles. Read More

Aug
29
2017
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Meltwater acquires Algo, an AI-based news and data tracker

 Meltwater, a company originally founded in Norway that provides data to more than 25,000 businesses to track where and how they are mentioned in media and other public platforms, has acquired a startup to double down on how it uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to do its job. The company has acquired Algo, a startup that has built a data analytics platform for real-time… Read More

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