Aug
31
2021
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Peak raises $75M for a platform that helps non-tech companies build AI applications

As artificial intelligence continues to weave its way into more enterprise applications, a startup that has built a platform to help businesses, especially non-tech organizations, build more customized AI decision-making tools for themselves has picked up some significant growth funding. Peak AI, a startup out of Manchester, England, that has built a “decision intelligence” platform, has raised $75 million, money that it will be using to continue building out its platform, expand into new markets and hire some 200 new people in the coming quarters.

The Series C is bringing a very big name investor on board. It is being led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, with previous backers Oxx, MMC Ventures, Praetura Ventures and Arete also participating. That group participated in Peak’s Series B of $21 million, which only closed in February of this year. The company has now raised $119 million; it is not disclosing its valuation.

(This latest funding round was rumored last week, although it was not confirmed at the time and the total amount was not accurate.)

Richard Potter, Peak’s CEO, said the rapid follow-on in funding was based on inbound interest, in part because of how the company has been doing.

Peak’s so-called Decision Intelligence platform is used by retailers, brands, manufacturers and others to help monitor stock levels and build personalized customer experiences, as well as other processes that can stand to have some degree of automation to work more efficiently, but also require sophistication to be able to measure different factors against each other to provide more intelligent insights. Its current customer list includes the likes of Nike, Pepsico, KFC, Molson Coors, Marshalls, Asos and Speedy, and in the last 12 months revenues have more than doubled.

The opportunity that Peak is addressing goes a little like this: AI has become a cornerstone of many of the most advanced IT applications and business processes of our time, but if you are an organization — and specifically one not built around technology — your access to AI and how you might use it will come by way of applications built by others, not necessarily tailored to you, and the costs of building more tailored solutions can often be prohibitively high. Peak claims that those using its tools have seen revenues on average rise 5%, return on ad spend double, supply chain costs reduce by 5% and inventory holdings (a big cost for companies) reduce by 12%.

Peak’s platform, I should point out, is not exactly a “no-code” approach to solving that problem — not yet at least: It’s aimed at data scientists and engineers at those organizations so that they can easily identify different processes in their operations where they might benefit from AI tools, and to build those out with relatively little heavy lifting.

There have also been different market factors that have played a role. COVID-19, for example, and the boost that we have seen both in increasing “digital transformation” in businesses and making e-commerce processes more efficient to cater to rising consumer demand and more strained supply chains have all led to businesses being more open and keen to invest in more tools to improve their automation intelligently.

This, combined with Peak AI’s growing revenues, is part of what interested SoftBank. The investor has been long on AI for a while; but it also has been building out a section of its investment portfolio to provide strategic services to the kinds of businesses in which it invests.

Those include e-commerce and other consumer-facing businesses, which make up one of the main segments of Peak’s customer base.

Notably, one of its recent investments specifically in that space was made earlier this year, also in Manchester, when it took a $730 million stake (with potentially $1.6 billion more down the line) in The Hut Group, which builds software for and runs D2C businesses.

“In Peak we have a partner with a shared vision that the future enterprise will run on a centralized AI software platform capable of optimizing entire value chains,” Max Ohrstrand, senior investor for SoftBank Investment Advisers, said in a statement. “To realize this a new breed of platform is needed and we’re hugely impressed with what Richard and the excellent team have built at Peak. We’re delighted to be supporting them on their way to becoming the category-defining, global leader in Decision Intelligence.”

It’s not clear that SoftBank’s two Manchester interests will be working together, but it’s an interesting synergy if they do, and most of all highlights one of the firm’s areas of interest.

Longer term, it will be interesting to see how and if Peak evolves to extend its platform to a wider set of users at the organizations that are already its customers.

Potter said he believes that “those with technical predispositions” will be the most likely users of its products in the near and medium term. You might assume that would cut out, for example, marketing managers, although the general trend in a lot of software tools has precisely been to build versions of the same tools used by data scientists for these less technical people to engage in the process of building what it is that they want to use.

“I do think it’s important to democratize the ability to stream data pipelines, and to be able to optimize those to work in applications,” Potter added.

Dec
12
2018
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Tigera raises $30M Series B for its Kubernetes security and compliance platform

Tigera, a startup that offers security and compliance solutions for Kubernetes container deployments, today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series B round led by Insight Venture Partners. Existing investors Madrona, NEA and Wing also participated in this round.

Like everybody in the Kubernetes ecosystem, Tigera is exhibiting at KubeCon this week, so I caught up with the team to talk about the state of the company and its plans for this new raise.

“We are in a very exciting position,” Tigera president and CEO Ratan Tipirneni told me. “All the four public cloud players [AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud] have adopted us for their public Kubernetes service. The large Kubernetes distros like Red Hat and Docker are using us.” In addition, the team has signed up other enterprises, often in the healthcare and financial industry, and SaaS players (all of which it isn’t allowed to name) that use its service directly.

The company says that it didn’t need to raise right now. “We didn’t need the money right now, but we had a lot of incoming interest,” Tipirneni said. The company will use the funding to expand its engineering, marketing and customer success teams. In total, it plans to quadruple its sales force. In addition, it plans to set up a large office in Vancouver, Canada, mostly because of the availability of talent there.

In the legacy IT world, security and compliance solutions could rely on the knowledge that the underlying infrastructure was relatively stable. Now, though, with the advent of containers and DevOps, workloads are highly dynamic, but that also makes the challenge of securing them and ensuring compliance with regulations like HIPAA or standards like PCI more complex, too. The promise of Tigera’s solution is that it allows enterprises to ensure compliance by using a zero-trust model that authorizes each service on the network, encrypts all the traffic and enforces the policies the admins have set for their company and needs. All of this data is logged in detail and, if necessary, enterprises can pull it for incident management or forensic analysis. 

Dec
14
2017
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Instana raises $20 million for its microservice monitoring and management service

 Instana, a company that helps enterprises monitor and manage their microservice deployments with the help of automation and artificial intelligence, today announced that it has raised a $20 million Series B round led by Accel, with participation from existing investor Target Partners. This brings Instana’s total funding to $26 million to date. Launched in 2015, Instana bills itself as… Read More

Sep
13
2017
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Heptio raises $25M Series B to help bring cloud-native computing to the enterprise

 Heptio, the startup founded by Kubernetes co-founders Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, today announced that it has raised a $25 million Series B funding round led by Madrona Venture partners. Lightspeed Venture Partners and Accel Partners also joined in this round, which comes less than a year after the company’s $8.5 million Series A round. Read More

Feb
13
2017
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To detect prying eyes in the sky, Dedrone raises $15 million

Dedrone detects unmanned aerial vehicles in airspace around various venues and businesses. For better or worse, drones are about to become a lot more prevalent in US airspace. The FAA expects sales of drones to spike domestically from 2.5 million last year to 7 million by 2020. Now, a startup that detects drones and helps prevent unwanted aerial intrusions, Dedrone, has closed a $15 million Series B round of venture funding.
Investors in San Francisco-based Dedrone included Cisco… Read More

Jan
24
2017
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EquipmentShare, the Airbnb of construction, raises $26 million

EquipmentShare facilitates peer to peer rentals of heavy equipment. It hasn’t even been a year since EquipmentShare raised a Series A round of funding, but the “Airbnb of construction rentals,” has closed a $26 million Series B round. The Columbia, Missouri-based startup helps contractors rent out their under-utilized equipment, or rent safety tested equipment that they need from a fellow contractor. Last year, EquipmentShare also launched… Read More

Nov
18
2016
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Cogito closes $15M Series B to improve customer support with science

People working at conference table in office Cogito, a real-time feedback platform for customer service agents, added $15 million to its coffers today in the form of a Series B. This brings the company’s total fundraising to $22.5 million.
The MIT Media Lab spin off is applying the principles of behavioral science to call centers around the world to improve customer experiences. Cogito compares the characteristics of a current… Read More

Aug
24
2016
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DroneDeploy raises $20 million to help any business put drones to work

An elevation map created using DroneDeploy. A San Francisco-based startup called DroneDeploy has raised $20 million in Series B funding to grow their drone data management platform. The drone tech startup closed its Series B deal just before the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is scheduled to implement new rules governing commercial and industrial drone use. The Part 107 rules, announced by the FAA in June this year, will take… Read More

Aug
04
2016
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Network analytics startup Kentik pulls in $23M Series B

A giant node of organized network cables In a beacon of hope for onlooking founders, Y Combinator reject and network analytics startup Kentik Technologies locked down a $23 million Series B this morning. Let’s be honest — most of us don’t know anything about network infrastructure. Fortunately for most of us, we can afford not to know. For internet service providers and companies making use of a large number of… Read More

Jun
23
2016
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Narvar raises $22 million to help internet retailers deliver physical goods without frustrating customers

A Sephora customer tracks their order with a Narvar-powered app. Battery Ventures led a $22 million, Series B investment in Narvar Inc., a company helping internet retailers keep their customers happy post-purchase, meaning until their packages are delivered, and if need be, successfully returned for an exchange or refund. Battery was joined by Fung Capital, a logistics-focused fund, and Narvar’s earlier backers Accel Partners and Freestyle… Read More

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