Brazilian startup Yellow raises $63M — the largest Series A ever for a Latin American startup

After selling their ridesharing startup, 99, to Didi Chuxing for $1 billion last year, Ariel Lambrecht and Renato Freitas didn’t waste any time throwing their hats back in the ring. Months after their big exit, the pair joined forces with Eduardo Musa, who spent two decades in the bicycle industry, to start another São Paulo-based mobility startup. Yellow, a bike- and scooter-sharing service, quickly captured the attention of venture capitalists, raising a $9 million seed round in April and now, the company is announcing the close of a $63 million Series A. The round is the largest Series A financing ever for a startup in Latin America, where tech investment, especially from U.S.-based firms, has historically remained low. 2017, however, was a banner year for Latin American startups; 2018, it seems, is following suit. More than $600 million was invested in the first quarter of 2018, partly
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Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio makes bumpy start following $1B IPO

Nio, the Tesla -wannabe electric vehicle firm from China, enjoyed a mix start to life as a public company after it raised $1 billion through a listing on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The firm went public at $6.26just one cent above the bottom of its pricing range — meaning that it raised a little over $1 billion. That’s some way down on its original goal of $1.8 billion, per an initial filing in August, and for a while it looked like even that price was optimistic. Early trading saw Nio’s stock fall as low as $5.84 before a wave of optimism took it to $6.81. The stock closed its first day at $6.60, up 12 percent overall, to give Nio a total market cap of $7.1 billion. Nio sells in China only, although its tech and design teams
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Ready, Set, Raise is a new accelerator built for women by women

Women in tech are not only significantly under-funded by venture capitalists, but they also often lack access to the early-stage support granted to their male counterparts. To enroll in a startup accelerator like Y Combinator, for example, its expected founders relocate to the Bay Area for three months. Women, who are more often caregivers, might not be able to do that, and even if they can, the program may not cater to their specific needs. Female Founders Alliance (FFA), a relatively new network of female startup founders, has built a free, non-dilutive 5-week accelerator for women by women. Called ‘Ready, Set, Raise,’ its goal is to help more female-founded startups raise VC through workshops, 1-on-1 coaching, legal clinics, communications and speech coaching and more. The accelerator, sponsored by Trilogy Equity Partners, kicked off at the end of August and will culminate with a private demo day with VCs in
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Jack Ma says he isn’t about to retire from Alibaba but is planning a gradual succession

Reports of Jack Ma’s impending retirement are greatly exaggerated, it seems. Ma, the co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, has pushed back on claims that he is on the cusp of leaving the $420 billion Chinese e-commerce firm. The New York Times first reported that the entrepreneur plans to announce that he will leave the firm to pursue philanthropy in education, a topic he is passionate about — Ma is a former teacher. But that news was quickly rebutted after Ma gave an interview to the South China Morning Postthe media company that Alibaba bought in 2016 — in which he explained that he plans to gradually phase himself out of the company through a succession plan. When reached for comment, Alibaba pointed TechCrunch to the SCMP report which claims Ma’s strategy will “provide [leadership] transition plans over a significant period of time.” In order words, Ma isn’t abruptly leaving
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Eventbrite sets IPO range of $19 to $21, valuing it at $1.8B

Eventbrite has taken its final step toward becoming a publicly traded company. In an updated S-1 filing this morning, the ticketing and events company announced plans to sell 10 million Class A shares on the New York Stock Exchange at a price range of $19 to $21 under the ticker symbol EB. At a midpoint price, Eventbrite will raise $200 million at a $1.8 billion valuation. The company filed its initial IPO paperwork confidentially back in July, then unveiled its S-1 to about two weeks ago. Eventbrite is not profitable and has been losing money since 2016. According to the documents, it posted losses of $40.4 million in 2016 and $38.5 million in 2017. In the first six months of 2018, the company has posted a net loss of $15.6 million. The company is making changes to make up for some of those losses  at
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Is China’s digital silk road going to pave over Silicon Valley?

Over the past 20 years, China has now grown into one of the largest consumer technology markets, with thousands of startups and funding rivaling Silicon Valley. In 2018, Chinese entrepreneurs are seeking to expand their businesses beyond borders, establish international operations, and become global companies by listing on exchanges including the NASDAQ and NYSE. More than ever Chinese entrepreneurs are confident in their ability to create a unicorn thanks to China’s digital transformation and its leading innovations in international markets.

Digital transformation through new native apps and services make scaling easier

Despite the talent war between China and the U.S. and large growing domestic markets, Chinese chief executives dream of successfully entering the U.S. Market. There is now global competition to attract Chinese startups to list on exchanges around the world. With a growing
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South Africa’s Yoco raises $16 million to boost digital services to small businesses

South African startup Yoco has raised $16 million in a new round of funding to expand its payment management and audit services for small and medium sized businesses as it angles to be one of Africa’s billion dollar businesses.

To get there the company that “builds tools and services to help SMEs get paid and manage their business” plans to tap $20 billion in commercial activity that the company’s co-founder and chief executive, Katlego Maphai estimates is waiting to move from cash payments to digital offerings.

Yoco’s already posted significant numbers for its business connecting small companies to digital

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ShipBob brings in $40M to help e-commerce businesses compete with Amazon

Nowadays, those of us who shop for everyday goods online are accustomed to said goods arriving on our doorstep 24 to 48 hours after we click ‘buy.’ That’s because of Amazon; the e-commerce giant’s next-day delivery feature is a sweet, sweet deal, but for smaller e-commerce businesses that are trying to compete with Jeff Bezos it’s, well, tough. ShipBob is here to help. The Chicago-based startup has raised a $40 million Series C to help small e-commerce businesses streamline the fulfillment process and manage inventory. The company was launched through Y Combinator in 2014 by CEO Dhruv Saxena and Divey Gulati, a pair of engineers that met after college. “Once we graduated, we thought up this e-commerce store and we were able to automate basically everything in the operation except for shipping and logistics,” Saxena told TechCrunch. “We realized none of the existing solutions out there worked. So, we
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Southeast Asia’s Fave raises $20M and adds mystery strategic investor from China

So you thought group-buying was dead?! Not in Southeast Asia where Fave, a company that aims to connect local merchants with customers using discount sales, has closed a $20 million Series B round as it explores expansion opportunities. The startup began as fitness subscription service KFit, but it pivoted group-buying and coupons after it acquired Groupon’s businesses in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. KFit continues to run, but the Groupon deal saw Fave CEO Joel Neoh return to the e-commerce space — Neoh previously started Malaysia-based GroupsMore which Groupon acquired within months of launch. He then went on to lead Groupon’s operations in Asia before leaving to start KFit in 2015. Fellow KFit/Fave co-founder Yeoh Chen Chow also spent time with Groupon as its regional operations director in APAC. Groupon said that its new round was led by existing backers Sequoia India, SIG Asia Investment and Ventura Capital, although Neoh told
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Australia’s Simple lands $17M to grow its marketing intelligence platform worldwide

Simple, an Australia-based business that operates a platform for managing marketing strategies and campaigns, has pulled in $17 million to expand its business in the U.S. and other global markets. The round was led by BBRC Private Equity, the fund from multi-millionaire retailer Bretty Blundy, with participation from existing backer Perle Ventures. Unlike most marketing services out there, Simple doesn’t involve itself in execution. It instead is “upstream planning,” which essentially means it helps teams to manage their campaigns by focuses on areas like planning, budgeting, organization, analysis and more. The primary idea is to increase efficiency and value for money from marketing, particularly across the complexity of large and global organizations. Simple recently tie-up with Microsoft over the launch of its new ‘intelligent market platform’ which, unveiled at Microsoft’s Inspire partners’ conference in Las Vegas, is built on top of the tech giant’s Azure platform. It offers integrations with services like Microsoft
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The lobbying is fast and furious as gig companies seek relief from pro-labor Supreme Court ruling

For four years, Edhuar Arellano has left his house at 7 a.m. on weekdays to drive customers around the Bay Area for Lyft and Uber . Most days, he doesn’t get home to Santa Clara until 11 p.m. On weekends, he delivers pizzas to make ends meet. Like a lot of drivers plugging in to ride-hailing apps for work, he likes the flexibility the gig economy has offered. But given the choice, Arellano says he wishes he could just become an employee. That would get him paid vacation, benefits, overtime, his own health insurance and perhaps more say over his working conditions. “We need to accept whatever they want,” said the 55-year-old father of two grown children. “I can’t control anything.” That quandary is behind a ferocious battle quietly playing out in the Capitol in
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What happens when hackers steal your SIM? You learn to keep your crypto offline

A year ago I felt a panic that still reverberates in me today. Hackers swapped my T-Mobile SIM card without my approval and methodically shut down access to most of my accounts and began reaching out to my Facebook friends asking to borrow crypto. Their social engineering tactics, to be clear, were laughable but they could have been catastrophic if my friends were less savvy. Flash forward a year and the same thing happened to me again – my LTE coverage winked out at about 9pm and it appeared that my phone was disconnected from the network. Panicked, I rushed to my computer to try to salvage everything I could before more damage occurred. It was a false alarm but my pulse went up and I broke out in a cold sweat. I had dealt with this once before and didn’t want to deal with it again. Sadly, I probably
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SAP’s SAP.io Foundry debuts the graduates of its second women-focused accelerator

SAP, the German-based enterprise software giant, has unveiled the New York-based cohort from its SAP.io Foundry accelerator programs focused on women-led technology companies. The first program was launched in San Francisco in July 2017, and while the company has launched additional accelerator programs in Berlin and Tel Aviv (with plans for a Paris accelerator in the Fall), it’s SAP’s San Francisco and New York programs that have a specific focus on women and founders of color, according to Vanessa Liu, a vice president in charge of the New York program. “The first one launched last summer, with San Francisco that was in July. Berlin launched in the fall with TechStars as a partner, Tel Aviv launched with The Junction,” Liu said.  The partnerships with Techstars in Berlin and The Junction in Tel Aviv were designed solely to gain exposure to those markets, while the San Francisco and
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With $40 million for AuditBoard’s risk and compliance toolkit, LA’s enterprise startups notch another win

Daniel Kim and Jay Lee, the two founders of AuditBoard, a Los Angeles-based provider of a risk and compliance software service for large businesses, grew up middle school friends in Cerritos, Calif. It was from their hometown Los Angeles exurb, that Kim and Lee first began plotting how they would turn their experience working for PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young (respectively) into the software business that just managed to rake in $40 million in financing led by one of venture capital’s most-respected firms, Battery Ventures. Kim, who had moved on from the world of the big four audit firms to take positions as the head of global audit at companies as diverse as the chip component manufacturer, International Rectifier and the surf and sportswear-focused clothing company, Quiksilver, had complained to his childhood friend about how little had changed in the auditing world since the two men first started working
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Startups should read this checklist before they go “whale hunting” for big partners

A top four tech company recently approached the CEO of one of our B2B portfolio companies with a tremendous offer. This company, with buy-in from its world-famous CEO, believes the startup’s core technology could help them catch up to a rival in an incredibly important space and wanted to discuss a $20M investment on extremely favorable terms. This partnership would allow the startup to grow 10X in a year and would provide invaluable validation.

The founder was elated. I was terrified. This kind of deal is a classic “whale hunt,” and most of the startups who engage in them are doomed to end up like Captain Ahab.

While it’s immensely gratifying to

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Observe.AI raises $8M to use artificial intelligence to improve call centers

Being stuck on the phone with call centers is painful. We all know this. Observe.AI is one company that wants to make the experience more bearable, and it’s raised $8 million to develop an artificial intelligence system that it believes will do just that. The funding round was led by Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from MGV, Liquid 2 Ventures and Hack VC. Existing investors Emergent Ventures and Y Combinator also took part — Observe.AI was part of the YC’s winter 2018 batch. The India-U.S. startup was founded last year with the goal of solving a very personal problem for founders Swapnil Jain (CEO), Akash Singh (CTO) and Sharath Keshava (CRO): making call centers better. But, unlike most AI products that offer the potential to fully replace human workforces, Observe.AI is setting out to help the humble customer service agent. The company’s first product is an AI that assists call
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California may mandate a woman in the boardroom, but businesses are fighting it

California is moving toward becoming the first state to require companies to have women on their boards –assuming the idea could survive a likely court challenge. Sparked by debates around fair pay, sexual harassment and workplace culture, two female state senators are spearheading a bill to promote greater gender representation in corporate decision-making. Of the 445 publicly traded companies in California, a quarter of them lack a single woman in their boardrooms. SB 826, which won Senate approval with only Democratic votes and has until the end of August to clear the Assembly, would require publicly held companies headquartered in California to have at least one woman on their boards of directors by end of next year. By 2021, companies with boards of five directors must have at least two
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AI training and social network content moderation services bring TaskUs a $250 million windfall

TaskUs, the business process outsourcing service that moderates content, annotates information and handles back office customer support for some of the world’s largest tech companies, has raised $250 million in an investment from funds managed by the New York-based private equity giant, Blackstone Group. It’s been ten years since TaskUs was founded with a $20,000 investment from its two co-founders, and the new deal, which values the decade-old company at $500 million before the money even comes in, is proof of how much has changed for the service in the years since it was founded. The Santa Monica-based company, which began as a browser-based virtual assistant company — “You send us a task and we get the task done,” recalled TaskUs chief executive Bryce Maddock — is now one of the main providers in the growing field of content moderation for social networks and content annotation for training the algorithms
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Japan’s Freee raises $60M to grow its cloud accounting business

Japan-based accounting software company Freee, one of the country’s most-prominent startups, has raised a $60 million Series E funding round as it bids to expand its services into other areas of management for its customers. Freee was founded six years ago — we wrote about the startup when it raised a Series A in 2013 — which makes it one of the ‘oldest’ startups in Japan, while this round is also a large one for the country, too. Japan’s startup ecosystem has a culture that encourages founders to take their companies’ public earlier than in most parts of the world, to mitigate some risk, but there are signs of alternative approaches that include this round and of course the recent IPO of Mercari, which went public this summer and raised over $1 billion. “Japan is a country that respects precedent a lot,” Freee founder and CEO Daisuke Sasaki told TechCrunch in
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