Harness snags $85M Series C on $1.7B valuation as revenue grows 3x

Harness, the startup that wants to create a suite of engineering tools to give every company the kind of technological reach that the biggest companies have, announced an $ 85 million Series C today on a $ 1.7 billion valuation.

Today’s round comes after 2019’s $ 60 million Series B, which had a $ 500 million valuation, showing a company rapidly increasing in value. For a company that launched just three years ago, this is a fairly remarkable trajectory.

Alkeon Capital led the round with help from new investors Battery Ventures, Citi Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Sorenson Capital and Thomvest Ventures. The startup also revealed a previously unannounced $ 30 million B-1 round raised after the $ 60 million round, bringing the total raised to date to $ 195 million.

Company founder and CEO Jyoti Bansal previously founded AppDynamics, which he sold to Cisco in 2017 for $ 3.7 billion. With his track record, investors came looking for him this round. It didn’t hurt that revenue grew almost 3x last year.

“The business is doing very well, so the investor community has been proactively reaching out and trying to invest in us. We were not actually planning to raise a round until later this year. We had enough capital to get through that, but there were a lot of people wanting to invest,” Bansal told me.

In fact, he said there is so much investor interest that he could have raised twice as much, but didn’t feel a need to take on that much capital at this time. “Overall, the investor community sees the value in developer tools and the DevOps market. There are so many big public companies now in that space that have gone out in the last three to five years and that has definitely created even more validation of this space,” he said.

Bansal says that he started the company with the goal of making every company as good as Google or Facebook when it comes to engineering efficiency. Since most companies lack the engineering resources of these large companies, that’s a tall task, but one he thinks he can solve through software.

The company started by building a continuous delivery module. A cloud cost-efficiency module followed. Last year the company bought open-source continuous integration company Drone.io and they are working on building that into the platform now, with it currently in beta. There are additional modules on the product roadmap coming this year, according to Bansal.

As the company continued to grow revenue and build out the platform in 2020, it also added a slew of new employees, growing from 200 to 300 during the pandemic. Bansal says that he has plans to add another 200 by the end of this year. Harness has a reputation of being a good place to work, recently landing on Glassdoor’s best companies list.

As an experienced entrepreneur, Bansal takes building a diverse company with a welcoming culture very seriously. “Yes, you have to provide equal opportunity and make sure that you are open to hiring people from diverse backgrounds, but you have to be more proactive about it in the sense that you have to make sure that your company environment and company culture feels very welcoming to everyone,” he said.

It’s been a difficult time building a company during the pandemic, adding so many new employees, and finding a way to make everyone feel welcome and included. Bansal says he has actually seen productivity increase during the pandemic, but now has to guard against employee burnout.

He says that people didn’t know how to draw boundaries when working at home. One thing he did was introduce a program to give everyone one Friday a month off to recharge. The company also recently announced it would be a “work from anywhere” company post-COVID, but Bansal still plans on having regional offices where people can meet when needed.

Startups – TechCrunch

What You Learn at a Startup that Grows from $0 to $2 Billion Valuation in 1 Year

We were six people this time one year ago. No revenue. Now we’re 300 people, profitable, and just made a $ 250 million acquisition.

Entrepreneur's Handbook – Medium

Lacework lands $525M investment as revenue grows 300%

As the pandemic took hold in 2020, companies accelerated their move to cloud services. Lacework, the cloud security startup, was in the right place at the right time as customers looked for ways to secure their cloud native workloads. The company reported that revenue grew 300% year over year for the second straight year.

It was rewarded for that kind of performance with a $ 525 million Series D today. It did not share an exact valuation, only saying that it exceeded $ 1 billion, which you would expect on such a hefty investment. Sutter Hill and Altimeter Capital led the round with help from D1, Coatue, Dragoneer Investment Group, Liberty Global Ventures, Snowflake Ventures and Tiger Capital. The company has now raised close to $ 600 million.

Lacework CEO Dan Hubbard says one of the reasons for such widespread interest from investors is the breadth of the company’s security solution. “We enable companies to build securely in the cloud, and we span across multiple different categories of markets, which enable the customers to do that,” he said.

He says that encompasses a range of services including configuration and compliance, security for infrastructure as code, build time and runtime vulnerability scanning and runtime security for cloud native environments like Kubernetes and containers.

As the company has grown revenue, it has been adding employees quickly. It started the year with 92 employees and closed with over 200 with plans to double that by the end of this year. As he looks at hiring, Hubbard is aware of the need to build a diverse organization, but acknowledges that tech in general hasn’t done a great job so far.

He says they are working with the various teams inside the company to try and change that, while also working to support outside organizations that are helping educate under represented groups to get the skills they need and then building from that. “If you can help solve the problem at an earlier stage, then I think you’ve got a bigger opportunity [to have a base of people to hire] there,” he said.

The company was originally nurtured inside Sutter Hill and is built on top of the Snowflake platform. It reports that $ 20 million of today’s total comes from Snowflake’s new venture arm, which is putting some money into an early partner.

“We were an alpha Snowflake customer, and they were an alpha customer of ours. Our platform is built on top of the Snowflake data cloud and their new venture arm has also joined the round with an investment to further strengthen the partnership there,” Hubbard said.

As for Sutter Hill, investor Mike Speiser sees Lacework as one of his firm’s critical investments. “[Much] like Snowflake at a similar point in its evolution, Lacework is growing revenue at over 300% per year making Lacework one of Sutter Hill Ventures’ most important and promising portfolio companies,” he said in a statement.

Startups – TechCrunch

NSW premier urges people to get tested as new coronavirus outbreak grows – Yahoo Finance Australia

NSW premier urges people to get tested as new coronavirus outbreak grows  Yahoo Finance Australia
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Baltic startup ecosystem thrives in 2020 as investor optimism grows, despite pandemic & fall in funding in 2019: Report

Baltic

2020 has been a very rough year for almost everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As countries around the world went into lockdown, economies cracked. The global stock market crashed, the G20 economics fell 3.4% YoY in the first three months, millions of job losses across the world, and more. 

However, it seems that the Baltics have proved to be quite resilient to the pandemic. According to the 3rd annual Baltic Startup Scene report, although the Baltic startups witnessed a reduction in total funding in 2019, investor and startup optimism is rebounding. Survey insights along with funding data for this year indicate that 2020 H1 significantly outperforming 2019 H1 in terms of funding, even with the onset of a pandemic-induced economic downturn.

The Baltic Startup Report is a joint effort between Startup Wise Guys and EIT Digital. This is the third edition of the report and is claimed to be the largest to-date. It has been created with the additional partnership of Accenture Latvia and the UK Department for International Trade (DIT).

Startup Wise Guys is Europe’s leading B2B startup accelerator, present in all three Baltic states with participants from around the world. The EIT Digital is a leading European digital innovation and entrepreneurial education organisation driving Europe’s digital transformation.

Outperformed in 2020 H1 

According to the report, the Baltics region has significantly outperformed in 2020 H1 compared to 2019 H1 in terms of startup funding, even amidst pandemic. 

Interestingly, Baltic startups are among the few that are dealing with the ongoing pandemic surprisingly well. The report said 65% of the surveyed startups rate the pandemic’s effect on the startup scene as positive or neutral. 

Demonstrating 5X more funding per capita 

Home to 6 million inhabitants and six unicorns, Baltics leads the region when it comes to funding per capita. As per the report, the combined population of 6 million, are demonstrating 5X more funding per capita than the 14 countries in the CEE region, with €80.80 and €15.15, respectively. 

The number of startups in Estonia has grown by 61.69% since 2019, bringing up the startups per capita rate to 7.9, with Latvia experiencing 16.51% growth in startup count, and 4% in Lithuania, claims the report. According to Startup Estonia, the number of startups in Estonia has nearly doubled since 2019.

10 big deals in 2020

In 2019 and 2020 the Baltics continue to see major investments, with Bolt again nabbing deals worth more than €100M. Back in 2019, Baltics attracted 11 huge deals (€5M or above) in 2019 and 10 such deals in 2020. It includes Pipedrive’s recent funding round, which pushed them over the brink to become the Baltics’ most recent unicorn.

A large part of startups from last year’s ‘Startups to Watch’ section have demonstrated predictive success, having gone on to raise €1-5M in follow-up funding this year, earning a spot in the Spotted Startups section of this year’s report.

Having said that, compared to last year, the investment numbers are significantly smaller in terms of money and also in numbers of investments made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The report also found various disparities, such as only 13% of founding teams having at least one woman, as well as significant variations in urban and rural entrepreneurial paths, and founder education backgrounds.

“With the past year bringing two more unicorns to the Baltic countries, the region’s startup ecosystem is confirming its growth and maturity. The third “Baltic Startup Report” highlights the presence of a healthy funding pipeline, emphasises Baltic countries’ place in Europe’s ecosystem, acknowledges the leading role of its strong reaction to Covid-19 and, for the first time, dives deep into the increasingly relevant topic of diversity,” says Fabio Pianesi, head of external collaboration, EIT Digital. 

Overall, the Baltic startup scene’s outlook ahead is positive, says the report. “Baltic startups are agile, resilient, and ready to embrace the global volatility by evolving, adapting, and pivoting to continue to do what they do best – innovate and provide solutions to real and present needs.”

Startups – Silicon Canals

Sweden’s Tink raises $103M as its open banking platform grows to 3,400 banks and 250M customers

Open banking platforms, where services that might not have previously lived next to each other are now joined up by way of APIs, has been one of the emerging trends of the last couple of years, and today one of the leaders in the space out of Europe has closed a round of funding to expand its business.

Tink, a startup out of Stockholm, Sweden that aggregates a number of banks and financial services by way of an API so that those can in turn be accessed via new channels, has raised €85 million (or $ 103 million at current rates), at a post-money valuation of €680 million (or around $ 825 million). It plans to use the capital to double down on expanding its network of banks and payment services in Europe. Tink already links up 3,400 banks, covering some 250 million people, with partners including PayPal, NatWest, ABN AMRO, BNP Paribas, Nordea and SEB, some of which are also strategic investors. On the other side, it has some 8,000 developers using its APIs.

This latest tranche of funding is being co-led by new investor Eurazeo Growth and Dawn Capital, with PayPal Ventures, HMI Capital, Heartcore, ABN AMRO Ventures, Poste Italiane and BNP Paribas’ venture arm, Opera Tech Ventures, also participating.

The funding comes less than a year after it announced a round of €90 million ($ 105 million) in January 2020, and is more specifically an extension of that round. For context, that previous round was at a €415 million ($ 503 million) valuation, and the company has definitely grown since then: in January it said it had 2,500 banking partners in its network. It has now raised €175 million in total.

The last year — shaped by a global health pandemic — has been all about bringing more services online and into the cloud, so people and businesses that can no longer do things like banking or selling/shopping in person can still get things done. That has most definitely played out strongly in the world of financial services, with banks, bank competitors and their tech partners seeing a surge in demand for more flexible, digital channels.

“Despite the difficulties of 2020, it was a year of great growth for Tink,” said Daniel Kjellén, co-founder and CEO of Tink, in a statement. “2020 has seen payments powered by open banking take-off, and in 2021 we expect to see this scale – most prominently in the UK, followed by Europe. This funding extension will further facilitate the development of our payment initiation services across Europe, while continuing to deliver new data-products built on open banking technology to our customers.”

Tink is not the only company that is looking to capitalize on this. Just earlier this week, another startup, Unit, came out of stealth with $ 18.6 million in funding. It also has ambitions to provide a way to integrate banking features, and banks, into environments where they might have not previously existed. Others also linking up financial services and helping them integrate into other platforms and apps include Plaid and Rapyd.

Plaid is in the process of getting acquired by Visa for $ 5.3 billion, although that deal is currently under antitrust scrutiny. Rapyd remains VC-backed and was last valued at $ 1.3 billion. The proliferation and growth of these might prove to be a strong argument in favor of the market not being sewn up by Plaid (no pun intended), although having one owned by a single payments giant would definitely shift how the market is evolving.

“The open banking movement continues to pick up pace, with 2021 showing every sign that it will bring increased collaboration between fintechs and large enterprises, who want to take digitally enabled services to their customers with a tried and trusted partner,” said Zoé Fabian, MD of Eurazeo Growth, in a statement. “Since its inception eight years ago, Tink has proven itself to be the leading open banking platform in Europe, and our investment underlines the confidence we and the industry have in Tink and open banking. We look forward to supporting them on their continued journey.”

Tink’s business is based around payment initiation technology, providing easy integrations into existing banking services, and then making a commission on transactions that subsequently take place. The company said that it currently processes around 1 million payment transactions per month in five markets.

Although it doesn’t specify the value of those transactions, or how much it makes itself, it notes that current customers include Kivra, a digital mailbox provider with 4 million adults in Sweden; and, as of earlier this year, payment fintech Lydia, with over 5 million customers. It is live in Sweden, U.K., France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands and the plan is to expand to 10 markets in 2021.

While the company will be using the funding to expand partnerships and its footprint, it’s also not shying away from inorganic growth. This year it made no less than three acquisitions to expand its business — a sign also of how there is likely more consolidation to come as not every company can find the scale and funding to grow in the current market. Tink’s acquisitions included Swedish credit decisioning firm Instantor, to expand in credit risk products; Spanish account aggregation provider Eurobits; and U.K. aggregation platform OpenWrks.

“Tink has truly emerged as Europe’s leading open banking platform and is quickly becoming a key strategic piece of financial technology infrastructure,” said Josh Bell, general partner of Dawn, in a statement. “We have seen activity across Tink’s network rapidly accelerate this year, with increasing adoption and implementation of open banking products and services across their platform. We are delighted to support Tink’s latest funding round, and look forward to working with the team across 2021 to expand the breadth and depth of its already considerable network of banks, accelerate the rollout of its account-to-account payments initiation solutions, and continue to deliver exceptional value to its fast-growing customer base.”

Startups – TechCrunch

London-based Metrikus totals €5.6 million funding as it grows its smart building software platform

Proptech company Metrikus has announced the completion of its Series A funding, bringing its total raised since its founding in 2019 to around €5.6 million. Metrikus provides a smart-buildings software platform that gives owners and occupiers a secure, ‘single-pane-of-glass’ view of the operation and performance of their building, allowing managers to plug in any type…

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EU-Startups

Commercial SMS traffic grows by upto 20%, despite recent price hike by telcos – ETTelecom.com

Commercial SMS traffic grows by upto 20%, despite recent price hike by telcos  ETTelecom.com
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

[Varo Money in Banks AM] Competition between banks and fintech startups grows in USA

A Silicon Valley fintech startup called Varo Money began to offer state insured customer deposits. Financial Times describes it as a “watershed moment” in the competition between financial startups with traditional banks.

Read more here.

The post [Varo Money in Banks AM] Competition between banks and fintech startups grows in USA appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

Round2 Capital Partners grows its capital to €30M; aims to establish revenue-based finance in European market

Venture Capital (VC) is an important and growing part of Europe’s investment ecosystem. The VC industry is instrumental in bringing jobs, innovations, growth, and world-leading companies like Adyen, Spotify across the continent. The core mission of Venture Capital is to reduce barriers for SME’s that wish to access financing. 

Currently, VC firms are on the rise, and there is certainly no exception in Europe. One such VC is Round2, a growth-stage investor in leading digital scaleup companies in Europe.

Closed €30M funding

Recently, the company announced the closing of another round of fundraising, taking its assets under management to close to €30M. The funds were raised from existing as well as from new investors.

Based out of Vienna, Round2 Capital Partners is a growth capital investment firm that invests in small and medium-sized businesses through non-dilutive revenue-based loans, with a predominant focus on SaaS and innovative Hardware/Software combinations. 

Revenue-based financing

Revenue-based financing is a simple type of funding in which a company receives funding in exchange for a share in its future revenue until a pre-defined absolute amount – the cap – is reached.

Unlike rigid repayment plans of bank loans or venture debt instruments, the Austrian company offers repayments in revenue-based finance, and, therefore, tied to monthly revenue. This enables the repayments to adapt to cash flows – increases when revenues are strong, and goes down when revenues are weak.

As per the company, revenue-based financing is a quantum leap forward in the way the growth of digital business with high gross profit margins and low working capital requirements such as B2B SaaS firms is funded. Building on recurring revenues the funding solution is not only transparent but also highly flexible and simple to implement. Founded by Christian Czernich, and Jan Hillered in 2017, the Austrian company has  local hubs in Berlin and Stockholm.

The firm also manages Round2 Lab, which is a European program for young companies in their scale-up phase. It claims that so far more than 20 ventures from four countries have concluded the Round2 Lab, many of them having successfully scaled their business, raised more capital and closed profitable exits. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the third iteration of the program has been postponed to 2021.

Main image credits: Round2

Startups – Silicon Canals