Mar
18
2021
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SecurityScorecard snags $180M Series E to measure a company’s security risk

SecurityScorecard has been helping companies understand the security risk of its vendors since 2014 by providing each one with a letter grade based on a number of dimensions. Today, the company announced a $180 million Series E.

The round includes new investors Silver Lake Waterman, T. Rowe Price, Kayne Anderson Rudnick and Fitch Venture, along with existing investors Evolution Equity Partners, Accomplice, Riverwood Capital, Intel Capital, NGP Capital, AXA Venture Partners, GV (Google Ventures) and Boldstart Ventures. The company reports it has now raised $290 million.

Co-founder and CEO Aleksandr Yampolskiy says the company’s mission has not changed since it launched. “The idea that we started the company was a realization that when I was CISO and CTO I had no metrics at my disposal. I invested in all kinds of solutions where I was completely in the dark about how I’m doing compared to the industry and how my vendors and suppliers were doing compared to me,” Yampolskiy told me.

He and his co-founder COO Sam Kassoumeh likened this to a banker looking at a mortgage application and having no credit score to check. The company changed that by starting a system of scoring the security posture of different companies and giving them a letter grade of A-F just like at school.

Today, it has ratings on more than 2 million companies worldwide, giving companies a way to understand how secure their vendors are. Yampolskiy says that his company’s solution can rate a new company not in the data set in just five minutes. Every company can see its own scorecard for free along with advice on how to improve that score.

He notes that the disastrous SolarWinds hack was entirely predictable based on SecurityScorecard’s rating system. “SolarWinds’ score has been lagging below the industry average for quite a long time, so we weren’t really particularly surprised about them,” he said.

The industry average is around 85 or a solid B in the letter grade system, whereas SolarWinds was sitting at 70 or a C for quite some time, indicating its security posture was suspect, he reports.

While Yampolskiy didn’t want to discuss valuation or revenue or even growth numbers, he did say the company has 17,000 customers worldwide, including 7 of the 10 top pharmaceutical companies in the world.

The company has reached a point where this could be the last private fundraise it does before going public, but Yampolskiy kept his cards close on timing, saying it could happen some time in the next couple of years.

Aug
18
2020
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Movable Ink raises $30M as it expands its personalization technology beyond email marketing

Movable Ink, a company that helps businesses deliver more personalized and relevant email marketing, is announcing that it has raised $30 million in Series C funding.

The company will be 10 years old in October, and founder and CEO Vivek Sharma told me that it’s always been “capital efficient” — even with the new round, Movable Ink has only raised a total of $39 million.

However, Sharma noted that with COVID-19, it felt like “a good idea to have some dry powder on our balance sheet … if things turned south.”

At the same time, he suggested that the pandemic’s impact has been more limited than he anticipated, and has been “really focused” on a few sectors like travel, hospitality and “old line retailers.”

“Those who are adopting to e-commerce really quickly have done well, financial services has done well, media has done well,” he said.

The company’s senior vice president of strategy Alison Lindland added that clients using Movable Ink were able to move much more quickly, with campaigns that would normally take months launching in just a few days.

“We really saw those huge, wholesale digital transformations in a time of duress,” Lindland said. “Obviously, large Fortune 500 companies were making difficult decisions, were putting vendors on hold, but email marketers are always the last people furloughed themselves, because of how critical email marketing is to their businesses. We were just as critical to their operations.”

Movable Ink Image

Image Credits: Movable Ink

The company said it now works with more than 700 brands, and in the run up to the 2020 election, its customers include the Democratic National Committee.

The new funding comes from Contour Venture Partners, Intel Capital and Silver Lake Waterman. Sharma said the money will be spent on three broad categories: “Platforms, partners and people.”

On the platform side, that means continuing to develop Movable Ink’s technology and expanding into new channels. He estimated that around 95% of Movable Ink’s revenue comes from email marketing, but he sees a big opportunity to grow the web and mobile side of the business.

“We take any data the brand has available to it and activate and translate it into really engaging creative,” he said, arguing that this approach is applicable in “every other channel where there’s pixels in front of the consumer’s eyes.”

The company also plans to make major investments into AI. Sharma said it’s too early to share details about those plans, but he pointed to the recent hire of Ashutosh Malaviya as the company’s vice president of artificial intelligence.

As for partners, the company has launched the Movable Ink Exchange, a marketplace for integrations with data partners like Oracle Commerce Cloud, MessageGears Engage, Trustpilot and Yopto.

And Movable Ink plans to expand its team, both through hiring and potential acquisitions. To that end, it has hired Katy Huber as its senior vice president of people.

Sharma also said that in light of the recent conversations about racial justice and diversity, the company has been looking at its own hiring practices and putting more formal measures in place to track its progress.

“We use OKRs to track other areas of the business, so if we don’t incorporate [diversity] into our business objectives, we’re only paying lip service,” he said. “For us, it was really important to not just have a big spike of interest, and instead save some of that energy so that it’s sustained into the future.”

Aug
28
2019
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ThoughtSpot hauls in $248M Series E on $1.95B valuation

ThoughtSpot was started by a bunch of ex-Googlers looking to bring the power of search to data. Seven years later the company is growing fast, sporting a fat valuation of almost $2 billion and looking ahead to a possible IPO. Today it announced a hefty $248 million Series E round as it continues on its journey.

Investors include Silver Lake Waterman, Silver Lake’s late-stage growth capital fund, along with existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sapphire Ventures and Geodesic Capital. Today’s funding brings the total raised to $554 million, according to the company.

The company wants to help customers bring speed to data analysis by answering natural language questions about the data without having to understand how to formulate a SQL query. As a person enters questions, ThoughtSpot translates that question into SQL, then displays a chart with data related to the question, all almost instantly (at least in the demo).

It doesn’t stop there though. It also uses artificial intelligence to understand intent to help come up the exact correct answer. ThoughtSpot CEO Sudheesh Nair says that this artificial intelligence underpinning is key to the product. As he explained, if you are looking for the answer to a specific question, like “What is the profit margin of red shoes in Portland?,” there won’t be multiple answers. There is only one answer, and that’s where artificial intelligence really comes into play.

“The bar on delivering that kind of answer is very high and because of that, understanding intent is critical. We use AI for that. You could ask, ‘How did we do with red shoes in Portland?’ I could ask, ‘What is the profit margin of red shoes in Portland?’ The system needs to know that we both are asking the same question. So there’s a lot of AI that goes behind it to understand the intent,” Nair explained.

image 10

Image: ThoughtSpot

ThoughtSpot gets answers to queries by connecting to a variety of internal systems, like HR, CRM and ERP, and uses all of this data to answer the question, as best it can. So far, it appears to be working. The company has almost 250 large-company customers, and is on a run rate of close to $100 million.

Nair said the company didn’t necessarily need the money, with $100 million still in the bank, but he saw an opportunity, and he seized it. He says the money gives him a great deal of flexibility moving forward, including the possibility of acquiring companies to fill in missing pieces or to expand the platform’s capabilities. It also will allow him to accelerate growth. Plus, he sees the capital markets possibly tightening next year and he wanted to strike while the opportunity was in front of him.

Nair definitely sees the company going public at some point. “With these kind of resources behind us, it actually opens up an opportunity for us to do any sort of IPO that we want. I do think that a company like this will benefit from going public because Global 2000 kind of customers, where we have our most of our business, appreciate the transparency and the stability represented by public companies,” he said.

He added, “And with $350 million in the bank, it’s totally [possible to] IPO, which means that a year and a half from now if we are ready to take the company public, we can actually have all options open, including a direct listing, potentially. I’m not saying we will do that, but I’m saying that with this kind of funding behind us, we have all those options open.”

May
15
2019
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Tealium, a big data platform for structuring disparate customer information, raises $55M at $850M valuation

The average enterprise today uses about 90 different software packages, with between 30-40 of them touching customers directly or indirectly. The data that comes out of those systems can prove to be very useful — to help other systems and employees work more intelligently, to help companies make better business decisions — but only if it’s put in order: now, a startup called Tealium, which has built a system precisely to do just that and works with the likes of Facebook and IBM to help manage their customer data, has raised a big round of funding to continue building out the services it provides.

Today, it is announcing a $55 million round of funding — a Series F led by Silver Lake Waterman, the firm’s late-stage capital growth fund; with ABN AMRO, Bain Capital, Declaration Partners, Georgian Partners, Industry Ventures, Parkwood and Presidio Ventures also participating.

Jeff Lunsford, Tealium’s CEO, said the company is not disclosing valuation, but he did say that it was “substantially” higher than when the company was last priced three years ago. That valuation was $305 million in 2016, according to PitchBook — a figure Lunsford didn’t dispute when I spoke with him about it, and a source close to the company says it is “more than double” this last valuation, and actually around $850 million.

He added that the company is close to profitability and is projected to make $100 million in revenues this year, and that this is being considered the company’s “final round” — presumably a sign that it will either no longer need external funding and that if it does, the next step might be either getting acquired or going public.

This brings the total raised by Tealium to $160 million.

The company’s rise over the last eight years has dovetailed with the rapid growth of big data. The movement of services to digital platforms has resulted in a sea of information. Much of that largely sits untapped, but those who are able to bring it to order can reap the rewards by gaining better insights into their organizations.

Tealium had its beginnings in amassing and ordering tags from internet traffic to help optimise marketing and so on — a business where it competes with the likes of Google and Adobe.

Over time, it has expanded and capitalised to a much wider set of data sources that range well beyond web and commerce, and one use of the funding will be to continue expanding those data sources, and also how they are used, with an emphasis on using more AI, Lunsford said.

“There are new areas that touch customers like smart home and smart office hardware, and each requires a step up in integration for a company like us,” he said. “Then once you have it all centralised you could feed machine learning algorithms to have tighter predictions.”

That vast potential is one reason for the investor interest.

“Tealium enables enterprises to solve the customer data fragmentation problem by integrating and enriching data across sources, in real-time, to create audiences while providing data governance and fidelity,” said Shawn O’Neill, managing director of Silver Lake Waterman, in a statement. “Jeff and his team have built a great platform and we are excited to support the company’s continued growth and investment in innovation.”

The rapid growth of digital services has already seen the company getting a big boost in terms of the data that is passing through its cloud-based platform: it has had a 300% year-over-year increase in visitor profiles created, with current tech customers including the likes of Facebook, IBM, Visa and others from across a variety of sectors, such as healthcare, finance and more.

“You’d be surprised how many big tech companies use Tealium,” Lunsford said. “Even they have a limited amount of bandwidth when it comes to developing their internal platforms.”

People like to say that “data is the new oil,” but these days that expression has taken on perhaps an unintended meaning: just like the overconsumption of oil and fossil fuels in general is viewed as detrimental to the long-term health of our planet, the overconsumption of data has also become a very problematic spectre in our very pervasive world of tech.

Governments — the European Union being one notable example — are taking up the challenge of that latter issue with new regulations, specifically GDPR. Interestingly, Lunsford says this has been a good thing rather than a bad thing for his company, as it gives a much clearer directive to companies about what they can use, and how it can be used.

“They want to follow the law,” he said of their clients, “and we give them the data freedom and control to do that.” It’s not the only company tackling the business opportunity of being a big-data repository at a time when data misuse is being scrutinised more than ever: InCountry, which launched weeks ago, is also banking on this gap in the market.

I’d argue that this could potentially be one more reason why Tealium is keen on expanding to areas like IoT and other sources of customer information: just like the sea, the pool of data that’s there for the tapping is nearly limitless.

Dec
10
2015
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SnapLogic Raises $37.5 Million To Help Legacy Data Play Nicely In The Cloud

Business holding smart phone with apps flying out of it. SnapLogic, a company that helps connect data from legacy applications to the cloud or to a centralized internal data lake, announced a $37.5 million round today. Investors include Microsoft and Silver Lake Waterman, the growth capital arm of Silver Lake along with existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners and Triangle Peak Partners. Today’s investment brings the total… Read More

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