How to see another company’s growth tactics and try them yourself


This post is by Arman Tabatabai from TechCrunch


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Every company’s online acquisition strategy is out in the open. If you know where to look.

This post shows you exactly where to look, and how to reverse engineer their growth tactics.

Why is this important? Competitive analysis de-risks your own growth experiments: You find the best growth ideas to adopt and the worst ones to avoid.

First, a warning: Your goal is not to repurpose another company’s hard work. That makes you a thief. Your goal is to identify other companies who face the same growth challenges as you, then to study their

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Freshworks acquires customer success service Natero


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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Customer engagement service Freshworks, which you may still remember under its old name of Freshdesk, today announced that it has acquired Natero, a customer success service with some AI/ML smarts that helps businesses prevent churn and manage their customers.

The acquisition, Freshworks CEO Girish Mathrubootham told me, will help the company complete its mission to provide its users with a 360-degree view of their customers. As Mathrubootham stressed, Freshdesk started out with a focus on customer support and then added additional functionality for marketers and other roles over time. Today, however, companies want this full 360-degree view of a customer and be able to offer differentiated service to their top customers, for example. In many ways, the acquisition of Natero closes the loop here.

“The acquisition extends our ‘customer-for-life’ vision to all teams, including account and customer success managers who require up-to-date customer usage and health data

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Verified Expert Brand Designer: Milkinside


This post is by Yvonne Leow from TechCrunch


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Gleb Kuznetsov refuses to settle for less. After spending years leading product design for startups and corporate clients, Gleb started a boutique branding agency, Milkinside, that helps clients translate new technologies into useful products.

Gleb and his team of experienced creators are committed to serving the end user, which is why they love taking products from zero to launch. Their services are expensive, partly due to their expertise in product development, motion graphic design and animation, but we spoke to Gleb about why Milkinside is more than just a branding agency and how they strive to be the best.

Why Gleb created Milkinside:

“I wanted to create a team that wasn’t just an agency that companies could contract, but a partner that would support the client’s product development from beginning to end. Everything from the product narrative, product branding, product design, UI user experience, motion design, design languages, motion

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MailChimp’s Ben Chestnut on bootstrapping a startup to $700M in revenue


This post is by Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch


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The well-known tech startup routine of coming up with an idea, raising money from VCs in increasing rounds as valuations continue to rise, and then eventually going public or getting acquired has been around for as long as the myth of Silicon Valley itself. But the evolution of MailChimp — a notable, bootstrapped outlier out of Atlanta, Georgia, that provides email and other marketing services to small businesses — tells a very different story of tech startup success.

As the company closes in on $700 million in annual revenues for 2019, it has no intention of letting up, or selling out: No outside funding, no plans for an IPO, and no to all the companies that have tried to acquire it. As it has grown, it has been profitable from day one.

This week, the company is unveiling what is probably its biggest product update since first starting to

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Mailchimp expands from email to full marketing platform, says it will make $700M in 2019


This post is by Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch


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Mailchimp, a bootstrapped startup out of Atlanta, Georgia, is known best as a popular tool for organizations to manage their customer-facing email activities — a profitable business that its CEO told TechCrunch has now grown to around 11 million customers and is on track for $700 million in revenue in 2019.

To help hit that number, Mailchimp is taking the wraps off a significant update aimed at catapulting it into the next level of business services. Beginning later this week, Mailchimp will start to offer a full marketing platform aimed at smaller organizations.

Going beyond the email that it has been offering for 20 years, the new platform will feature technology to record and track customer leads, the ability to purchase domains and build sites, ad retargeting on Facebook and Instagram, social media management and business intelligence that leverages a new move in the artificial intelligence to provide recommendations

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Printify raises $3M to expand its marketplace for custom printing


This post is by Kate Clark from TechCrunch


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In Riga, Latvia, an 80-person startup called Printify is reimagining the on-demand printing business.

Gone are the days where small merchants have to sell their customized products on platforms like Zazzle, Society6, CafePress, or Teespring . Using Printify, e-commerce business owners can create clothes, accessories and more fixed with their designs, logos, art or photos, then sell them directly on their very own online stores.

The “first wave” of on-demand printing companies, Printify founder and chief executive officer James Berdigans explained to TechCrunch, typically require that merchants sell their items on the provider’s platforms.

“The problem is that these merchants don’t have the capability to build their own brand,” Berdigans said. “At the end of the day, you end up building the Teespring brand, not your own brand.”

Printify, a graduate of the 500 Startups accelerator, has attracted a $3 million investment from Bling Capital, a venture capital fund launched

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Vue.ai raises $17M to equip online retailers with AI smarts


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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Vue.ai, a U.S/India startup that develops an AI platform to help online retailers work more efficiently and sell more, has announced a $17 million Series B round.

The investment is led by Falcon Edge Capital with participation from Japan’s Global Brain and existing backer Sequoia Capital India. Parent company Mad Street Den was founded in 2014 and it raised $1.5 million a year later, Sequoia then bought into the business via an undisclosed deal in 2016. Vue.ai is described as an “AI brand” from Mad Street Den and, all combined, the two entities have now raised $27 million from investors.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Vue.ai CEO and co-founder Ashwini Asokan — who started Mad Street Den with her husband Anand Chandrasekaran — explained that Vue.ai is a “retail vertical” of Mad Street Den that launched in 2016, she said that the company

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Singapore’s SalesWhale raises $5.3M to bring AI to sales and marketing teams


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


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SalesWhale, a Singapore-based startup that uses AI to help marketers and salespeople generate leads, has announced a Series A round worth $5.3 million.

The investment is led by Monk’s Hill Ventures — the Southeast Asia-focused firm that led SalesWhale’s seed round in 2017 — with participation from existing backers GREE Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, and Y Combinator. That’s right, SalesWhale is one a select few Southeast Asian startups to have been through YC, it graduated back in summer 2016.

SalesWhale — which calls itself “a conversational email marketing platform” — uses AI-powered ‘bots’ to handle email. In this case, its digital workforce is trained for sales leads. That means both covering the menial parts of arranging meetings and coordination, and the more proactive side of engaging old and new leads.

Back when we last wrote about the startup in 2017, it had just half a dozen staff. Fast forward two

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Canoo, the electric vehicle startup formed from Faraday Future’s ashes, seeks $200 million


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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Less than a month after rebranding as Canoo, the startup electric vehicle company formerly known as Evelozcity is on the hunt for $200 million in new capital.

The startup, which is backed by a clutch of private individuals and family offices hailing from China, Germany, and Taiwan, is hoping to line up the new capital from some more recognizable names as it finalizes supply deals with vendors, according to a person with knowledge of the company’s plans.

Canoo is locking in final contracts with its vendors and is going to be in production with prototypes before the end of the year. The company, which will make its vehicles available through a subscription-based model, already has 400 employees and just announced new key hires along with its rebranding.

It’s a quick ramp for a company that only two years ago was struggling to extricate itself from the morass that was

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Get ready for a new era of personalized entertainment


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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New machine learning technologies, user interfaces and automated content creation techniques are going to expand the personalization of storytelling beyond algorithmically generated news feeds and content recommendation.

The next wave will be software-generated narratives that are tailored to the tastes and sentiments of a consumer.

Concretely, it means that your digital footprint, personal preferences and context unlock alternative features in the content itself, be it a news article, live video or a hit series on your streaming service.

The title contains different experiences for different people.

From smart recommendations to smarter content

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DHL launches Africa eShop app for global retailers to sell into Africa


This post is by Jake Bright from TechCrunch


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DHL is launching an e-commerce app called DHL Africa eShop for global retailers to sell goods to Africa’s consumers markets.

The platform goes live today and brings more than 200 U.S. and UK retailers—from Nieman Marcus to Carters—online in 11 African markets: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Malawi, Botswana, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.

DHL Africa eShop will operate using startup MallforAfrica.com’s white label service, Link Commerce. Payment methods will include local fintech options, such as Nigeria’s Paga and Kenya’s M-Pesa.

The announcement comes as e-commerce in Africa has seen some ups and downs—with online sales startup Jumia announcing an IPO, while several Africa digital retail ventures have recently faltered.

DHL Africa eShop takes advantage of shipping giant’s existing delivery structure on the continent, able to get goods to doorsteps near and far through its DHL Express shipping, tracking, and courier service.

DHL’s partner for

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For true transparency around political advertising, U.S. tech companies must collaborate


This post is by Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch


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In October 2017 online giants Twitter, Facebook, and Google announced plans to voluntarily increase transparency for political advertising on their platforms. The three plans to tackle disinformation had roughly the same structure: funder disclaimers on political ads, stricter verification measures to prevent foreign entities from posting such ads, and varying formats of ad archives.

All three announcements came just before representatives from the companies were due to testify before Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election and reflected fears of forthcoming regulation, as well as concessions to consumer pressure.

Since then, the companies have continued to attempt to address the issue of digital deception occurring on their platforms.

Google recently released a white paper detailing how it would deal with online disinformation campaigns across many of its products. In the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, Facebook announced it would ban false information about voting. These efforts

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Facebook agrees to clearer T&Cs in Europe


This post is by Natasha Lomas from TechCrunch


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Facebook has agreed to amend its terms and conditions under pressure from EU lawmakers.

The new terms will make it plain that free access to its service is contingent on users’ data being used to profile them to target with ads, the European Commission said today.

“The new terms detail what services, Facebook sells to third parties that are based on the use of their user’s data, how consumers can close their accounts and under what reasons accounts can be disabled,” it writes.

Although the exact wording of the new terms has not yet been published, and the company has until the end of June 2019 to comply — so it remains to be seen how clear is ‘clear’.

Nonetheless the Commission is couching the concession as a win for consumers, trumpeting the forthcoming changes to Facebook’s T&C in a press release in which Vera Jourová, commissioner for justice, consumers

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When to ditch that nightmare customer (before they kill your startup)


This post is by Arman Tabatabai from TechCrunch


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Three million dollars. That’s the largest amount of money I’ve ever walked away from in terms of a customer contract that I decided we shouldn’t take. 

It sucked. It was, at the time, more than half of the total amount of funds we had raised and it also represented just a shade more than the previous year’s revenue. It was a Fortune 500 company and the market leader in their industry. This was pocket money to them — which was part of the problem.

Good entrepreneurs spend a lot of time worrying about customers. We worry about the customers we have, the ones we don’t have, the ones we lost,

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Ruhnn, a Chinese startup that makes influencers, raises $125M in U.S. IPO


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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Ruhnn, a company that enables influencers to sell through ecommerce and is plotting to change the faces of China’s fashion industry, has raised $125 million after it listed on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

The company sold 10 million American Depositary Shares at $12.5 a pop, the midpoint of its expected range. In an earlier filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Alibaba-backed firm targeted to raise $200 million from its initial public offering.

While big brands in the U.S. are turning to influencers for marketing actions, a similar trend has been brewing in China. Key opinion leaders, or KOLs as they are locally called, build up millions of followers across social media on account of their expertise in specific fields, ranging from video games to Korean fashion. Recognizing their commercial possibility, savvy talent managers jostle to sign these stars to generate ecommerce success.

Frost

ruhnn

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Edgybees’s new developer platform brings situational awareness to live video feeds


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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San Diego-based Edgybees today announced the launch of Argus, its API-based developer platform that makes it easy to add augmented reality features to live video feeds.

The service has long used this capability to run its own drone platform for first responders and enterprise customers, which allows its users to tag and track objects and people in emergency situations, for example, to create better situational awareness for first responders.

I first saw a demo of the service a year ago, when the team walked a group of journalists through a simulated emergency, with live drone footage and an overlay of a street map and the location of ambulances and other emergency personnel. It’s clear how these features could be used in other situations as well, given that few companies have the expertise to combine the video footage, GPS data and other information, including geographic information systems, for their own

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Covert data-scraping on watch as EU DPA lays down “radical” GDPR red-line


This post is by Natasha Lomas from TechCrunch


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An interesting decision came out of Poland’s data protection agency this week after the watchdog issued its first fine under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

On the surface the enforcement doesn’t look so remarkable: A ‘small’ ~€220K fine was handed to a Sweden-headquartered European digital marketing company, Bisnode, which has an office in Poland, after the national Personal Data Protection Office (UODO) decided the company had failed to comply with data subject rights obligations set out in Article 14 of the GDPR.

But the decision also requires it contact the close to six million people it did not already reach out to in order to fulfil its Article 14 information notification obligation, with the DPA giving the company three months to comply.

Bisnode previously estimated it would cost around €8M (~$9M) in registered postal costs to send so many letters, never mind the burden of handling any related admin.

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Marketing tech vendors need to find right balance between digital and human interactions


This post is by Ron Miller from TechCrunch


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As I walked the long halls of Adobe Summit this week in Las Vegas and listened to the company’s marketing and data integration story, I thought about the obvious disconnect that happens between brands and their customers. With tons of data, a growing set of tools to bring it together, and a desire to build an optimal experience, you would think we have been set up for thrilling consumer experiences, yet we all know that is not always what happens when the rubber meets the road.

Maybe part of the problem is that data sitting in databases doesn’t always translate into employee action when dealing directly with consumers. In many cases, the experience isn’t smooth, data isn’t passed from one source to another, and when you do eventually reach a person, they aren’t always knowledgeable or even nice.

It’s to the point that when my data does get passed smoothly

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Adobe announces deeper data sharing partnership with Microsoft around accounts


This post is by Ron Miller from TechCrunch


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Microsoft and Adobe have been building a relationship for some time, and today at Adobe Summit in Las Vegas the two companies announced a deeper integration between the two platforms.

It involves sharing Marketo data, the company that Adobe acquired last September for $4.75 billion. Because it’s marketers, they were duty-bound to give it a new name. This data-sharing approach is being dubbed Account Based Experience, or ABX for short. The two companies are sharing data account data between a number of sources, including Marketo Engage in Adobe Experience Cloud and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, as well as the LinkedIn, the business social platform Microsoft bought in 2016 for a whopping $26.2 billion.

Microsoft has been trying to find ways to put that LinkedIn data to work, and tools like Marketo can use the data in LinkedIn to understand their account contacts better. Steve Lucas, former CEO

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Adobe and Salesforce announce Customer Data Platforms to pull data into single view


This post is by Ron Miller from TechCrunch


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Marketing analytics is an increasingly complex business. It’s meant to collect as much information as possible across multiple channels from multiple tools and provide marketers with as complete a picture of their customers and their experience in dealing with you as possible. Perhaps not coincidentally, Adobe, which is holding its Adobe Summit this week in Las Vegas, and Salesforce both made Customer Data Platform (CDP) announcements this week.

The Customer Data Platform is a complex construct, but it’s basically a marketer’s dream, a central database that pulls customer data from a variety of channels and disparate data sources to give marketeers deep insight into their customers, all with the hope of gathering enough data to serve the perfect experience. As always, the ultimate goal is happy repeat customers, who build brand loyalty.

It always comes down to experience for marketers these days, and that involves serving up the right

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