Satellite constellation operator Spire Global to go public via $1.6 billion SPAC

Monday brings with it not one, but two space SPACS — there’s Rocket Lab, and there’s Spire Global, a satellite operator that bills itself primarily as a SaaS company focused on delivering data and analytics made possible by its 100-plus spacecraft constellation. SPACs have essentially proven a pressure-release valve for the space startup market, which has been waiting on high-profile exits to basically prove out the math of its venture-backability.

Spire Global debuted in 2012, and has raised more than $ 220 million to date. It will merge with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called NavSight Holdings, in order to make a debut on the NYSE under the ticker “SPIR.” The combined company will have a pro forma enterprise value of $ 1.6 billion upon transaction close, which is targeted for this summer.

The deal will provide $ 475 million in funds for the company, including via a PIPE that includes Tiger Global, BlackRock and Hedosophia. Existing Spire stockholders will wind up with around 67% of the company after the businesses combine.

Spire’s network of satellites is designed to provide customers with a “space-as-a-service” model, allowing them to operate their own payloads, and access data collected via an API their developers can integrate into their own software. The model is subscription-based, and is designed to get customers up and running with their own space-based data feed in less than a year from deal designs and commitment.

Existing investors in Spire Global include RRE Ventures, Promus Ventures, Seraphim Capital, Mitsui Global Investment and more, with its most recent round being a raise of debt financing. The company has launched satellites via Rocket Lab, its companion in the Monday SPAC news rush. The satellites it operates are small cube satellites, and it has launches on a wide range of launch vehicles, including SpaceX’s Falcon 9, the Russian Soyuz, ISRO’s PSLV, Japan’s H-2B, ULA rockets, Northrop Grumman’s Antares and even the International Space Station.

Spire got its start from very humble origins indeed — tracing all the way back to a Kickstarter campaign that was successful with just over $ 100,000 raised from backers.

Startups – TechCrunch

Martech company Zeta Global raises $222.5M in debt

Zeta Global, the marketing technology company founded by David A. Steinberg and former Apple CEO John Sculley, is announcing an additional $ 222.5 million in new debt financing.

The company has gone down the debt route before — a Series F raised in 2017 combined $ 115 million funding with $ 25 million in debt. BofA Securities served as lead arranger and bookrunner for the new financing, with participation from Barclays, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley Senior Funding.

“For this round, we were able to both refinance our debt and add in a large amount of capacity for current operations and future initiatives,” Steinberg (Zeta’s CEO) told me via email. “We were able to work with our syndicate to capture a low interest-rate and take advantage of the strong credit markets.”

The company emphasizes its data-driven approach to marketing, combining companies’ first-party data with artificial intelligence and what it says are more than 2.4 billion customer identifiers. Steinberg said this approach has only become more crucial, with 2020 delivering “a five-year acceleration” as brands face the challenge of “digitally transforming their business structure to be data-centric.”

“Zeta’s capabilities are helping marketers engage customers across the entire digital ecosystem more intelligently and efficiently, with individualized messages, offers, and content by way of our identity-based data and predictive AI,” Steinberg continued. “Our challenge is to continue to keep up with our customers’ needs and maintain our competitive advantage around data and AI.”

The company’s funding announcement notes that previous loans have been used to finance acquisitions and integrations, including commenting platform Disqus and machine learning-powered marketing platform Boomtrain. Asked whether this new debt will also be used for acquisitions, Steinberg said the company continues to “organically innovate,” with a focus on its customer data platform and connected TV capabilities.

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Startups – TechCrunch

Australia-based Employment Hero raises $45M AUD for its global expansion

A photo of Ben Thompson, co-founder and chief executive officer of human resources platform Employment Hero

Ben Thompson, co-founder and chief executive officer of human resources platform Employment Hero

Businesses, and the tech platforms that support their operations, had to adapt quickly to the pandemic. Ben Thompson, co-founder and chief executive officer of human resources platform Employment Hero told TechCrunch that “COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of employment management software by roughly five years,” as teams adjusted to remote work.

The Sydney, Australia-based company announced today it has raised a $ 45 million AUD (about $ 34.8 million) Series D, bringing its valuation to more than $ 250 million AUD ($ 193.4 million USD). The capital will be used for expansion and growth in markets including New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the United Kingdom.

The round was led by SEEK, which runs job platforms around the world, with participation from OneVentures and AirTreeVentures, all returning investors. Employment Hero also added Salesforce Ventures as a new investor.

Employment Hero is designed for small-to-medium sized businesses, and combines human resources, payroll and benefits features. It currently serves about 6,000 SMEs with a combined total of more than 250,000 employees. Employment Hero doubled the number of its full-time employees to 200 last year, and launched versions in New Zealand, the UK, Malaysia and Singapore. Its Series D will be used to support growth in those markets, and enter new Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Localized versions of Employment Hero include pre-built employment contracts and policies that comply with local laws. In Malaysia and Singapore, the platform provided research on recruitment and employment trends, Thompson said, and in Singapore, it gathered COVID-related government support materials into one factsheet.

Employment Hero also renewed its partnership with SEEK, which means the platform includes SEEK job ads in Southeast Asia.

During the pandemic, the company launched a new service called Global Teams for remote work. It serves as a professional employer organization (PEO), enabling companies to recruit new remote employees around the world and automating regional compliance paperwork. Global Teams is integrated into the main Employment Hero platform, so remote employees have access to the same resources as their colleagues.

 

About 75% of Employment Hero’s customer base upgraded their subscriptions to include tools for remote work management, compliance and employee wellness services.

For example, during the first week of Australia’s nationwide lockdown, Employment Hero launched a COVID-19 resource hub, including tools for the government’s JobKeeper payment scheme and employee wellness surveys. It also ran biweekly webinars with industry experts about employees’ rights to leave and pay, mental health and employee assistance programs, cashflow management, employer duty of care for remote work arrangements and live employment law.

As remote work continued, Employment Hero also introduced engagement and productivity features, like one-on-one coaching and other tools to improve communication and feedback.

“As a company, we knew we had to do whatever it took to help our clients and the wider small and medium-sized business community through COVID-19,” said Thompson.

Early Stage is the premiere ‘how-to’ event for startup entrepreneurs and investors. You’ll hear first-hand how some of the most successful founders and VCs build their businesses, raise money and manage their portfolios. We’ll cover every aspect of company-building: Fundraising, recruiting, sales, legal, PR, marketing and brand building. Each session also has audience participation built-in – there’s ample time included in each for audience questions and discussion.

Startups – TechCrunch

Customer data platform Lexer raises $25.5M Series B for global expansion

Left to right: Lexer founders Dave Whittle, Aaron Wallis, Chris Brewer

Left to right: Lexer founders Dave Whittle, Aaron Wallis, Chris Brewer

The massive shift to online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic means retailers need to analyze customer data quickly in order to compete against rivals like Amazon. Lexer, a customer data platform headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, helps brands manage data by organizing it on one platform, making analysis easier for small to medium-sized brands. The company announced today that it has raised $ 25.5 million in Series B funding for expansion in Australia, the United States and Southeast Asia.

The round was led by Blackbird Ventures and King River Capital, with participation from returning investor January Capital, and brings Lexer’s total raised so far to $ 33 million. Blackbird Ventures co-founder and partner Rick Baker will join Lexer’s board.

The company was founded in 2010 by Aaron Wallis, Chris Brewer and Dave Whittle, and its clients include Quiksilver, DC Shoes, John Varvatos and Sur La Table. The new funding will be used to add 50 more people to Lexer’s team, with plans to double its headcount in Australia, the U.S. and Southeast Asia. Whittle, the company’s chief executive officer, told TechCrunch it will also add more features to provide retailers with enterprise-grade customer data, insight, marketing, sales and service capabilities.

Brands use Lexer to increase their incremental sales, which includes sales to both existing and new customers, by helping them understand things like shopping patterns among different groups of visitors, which customers are most likely to make future purchases and what marketing strategies results in the most sales.

Lexer’s best-known competitors include Segments, which was acquired by Twilio for $ 3.2 billion last year, and Adobe Analytics. Whittle said Lexer’s key differentiator is providing an end-to-end solution.

While brands often have to use multiple data and analytics software to understand data from different sources, Lexer’s goal is to make everything accessible in one platform. “Our customers don’t have to engage expensive and time-consuming third parties for strategy, implementation, customization and project management,” he said.

Before Lexer’s Series B, most of its growth came from single brands, or groups of mid-market retail brands. Now it’s focusing on working with all sizes of brands, Whittle added.

The pandemic has forced many brands to place a greater emphasis on digital engagement to increase their online sales and stand out from other e-commerce merchants.

“There are literally hundreds of tactics we have enabled our customers to deploy to help them adapt to the limitations and barriers COVID put in place. For example, we helped retailers migrate offline customers to shop on their e-commerce sites,” said Whittle. “Another way was that if stock was low due to supply constraints caused by COVID, we helped retailers target their high-value and loyal customers to ensure customers satisfaction.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Amsterdam-based Founda Health raises €12.3M to build infrastructure for global healthcare sector; here’s how

Founda Health

Founda Health is a technology company that builds infrastructure for the global healthcare sector. Today, this Amsterdam-based company has announced that it has raised $ 15M (nearly €12.3M) from a group of healthcare and fintech entrepreneurs.

According to the company, this investment would help the company with international expansion, along with financing further development of the platform and integrations with Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems.

Platformisation

Founda Health is based on the platform model and brings it from the fintech to the healthcare sector. It creates a bridge between the systems used by healthcare providers and innovative health applications around the world. It claims that this is the easiest way for collaboration between systems and providers, without high set up or maintenance cost. 

“Platformisation is a proven model from fintech and other industries to radically cut costs and boost innovation. An example: it requires multiple fintech solutions in the background to technically integrate, collaborate and process a secure credit card transaction. Nowadays, this process of making a payment, is very intuitive for the consumer,” Founda Health explains in a press release. 

“The same connectivity, collaboration and security standards are currently being introduced by Founda to healthcare, combined with a completely new business model,” it adds.

The Foundation

Founda Health was founded in 2019 by serial tech entrepreneur Jan Joost Kalff. Before founding Founda Health, Kalff co-founded a company called Dimebox, which was acquired by a US-based company. Talking about why he created Founda Health, Kalff tells Silicon Canals, “After selling Dimebox to a large US-based payment company, I had seen first-hand the positive impact it can have on an industry and the end-user when platforms are introduced. With many lessons learned in the pocket, we came up with Founda.”

He further adds, “In the beginning, it was industry agnostic, and we took our time to truly build a strong FOUNDAtion ;). Because we were sure that our API was going to serve a legacy industry, meaning the platform needed to have a strong and extremely secure foundation to serve well. Too often you see start-ups trying to close new business and making complex integrations before designing a scalable solution, cutting the corner early in the build will for sure result in scaling problems later in the process.”

Although the company, launched just under two years ago, managed to secure a significant seed stage investment, it has not been all smooth sailing for Founda Health. It faced several initial challenges while setting up the firm. “The initial challenges were all about introducing a way of thinking around healthcare IT, and finding the rebels in the market who were willing to make a change and take a leap with us. Our luck has been that we already proved ourselves in fintech by building a gateway and handling highly sensitive data,” says Kalff.

The process behind the platform 

Founda Health’s platform is used by healthcare IT systems, applications and organisations of every size – from startups to large hospitals – for connectivity. It builds scalable infrastructure into healthcare IT systems, consolidating a variety of data standards into a single API. 

The company claims its success-based pricing model enables for faster collaboration between hospitals and healthcare applications. The platform enables hospitals and doctors to collaborate with health apps and exchange data. They can select their preferred applications and test and implement them into their workflows with Founda Health’s platform without any costs. 

“The Founda Health service will always be free for healthcare providers and they can request an unlimited amount of connectivity. Our partnerships with EHRs allow for this new form of collaboration. Our health API provides a pay-per-usage payment model, so we get a fee based on the successful usage of our API, which we share with our partner systems,” says Kalff.

“The past year we’ve seen a steep rise in demand from international systems and health apps for our platform model since the economics and shifting dynamics create a no-brainer for them. Hospitals can start to pick and choose apps to collaborate with and eventually the patient benefits from this development,” he adds. 

The company claims to help healthcare applications scale by connecting them with international EHR systems and opening new markets for them, enabling hospitals to choose the best possible apps from a big offering. For the EHR partners, it takes care of all required localisation per market. 

Growth & Expansion

Kalff tells SC that the company is already connected with one of Europe’s largest EHR systems and it will soon announce its partnership with one of the largest globally. “We are currently building integrations with some of the largest EHR systems in the world. This enables us to collaborate with healthcare organisations worldwide. Being a young company, we are very agile and usually decide the long-term strategy based on learnings from experiments. We are now setting up experiments for a number of markets (eg. UK, Belgium, Germany) and we will expand where we see the most traction.”

Currently, it has a team strength of 25 and has 50 roles open in all teams – engineering, product, sales, marketing, and HR.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Apple regains global smartphone lead for the first time in 5 years, ahead of Samsung – Nairametrics

Apple regains global smartphone lead for the first time in 5 years, ahead of Samsung  Nairametrics
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Global design platform Canva acquires two word class European innovators: Kaleido AI & Smartmockups

Online design platform Canva has achieved another milestone today after announcing a strategic investment into its vibrant apps ecosystem through the acquisition of two innovative European startups: Kaleido.ai, a leading visual AI platform (Austria) and Smartmockups, a realistic product mockup generator (Czech Republic). Together, the companies will capitalize on the significant global reach of Canva’s…

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