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Updated: 6 hours 27 sec ago

The We Company reportedly will put its public offering on hold

8 hours 10 min ago

The We Company, parent company of the short-term real estate property management and development company WeWork and other We-related subsidiaries, is reportedly shelving its plans for an initial public offering.

The company’s plans for a public offering have been hampered by questions about its corporate governance and the ultimate value of a company that private investors once thought was worth nearly $50 billion.

Public investors were balking at that sky-high valuation and the company’s questionable governance practices under chief executive officer and co-founder, Adam Neumann, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news that The We Company would put its offering on hold. 

Over the past few weeks, The We Company has made several moves to allay investors’ concerns. The company unwound some particularly egregious transactions with Neumann and added new directors. It also moved to limit Neumann’s power at the company.

Last week, the company amended its prospectus to include the appointment of an independent lead director. It also slashed the strength of Class B and Class C shares so Neumann would not have 20 times the voting power of other shareholders, and removed Neumann’s wife from succession planning at the company.

Even these steps were not enough to comfort Wall Street investors, apparently. Not even the attempts to slash the company’s valuation to below $10 billion could attract enough investor interest to the public offering. And the opacity of The We Company’s reporting and metrics likely did nothing to help matters in the eyes of the investing public.

Now that The We Company is likely to pull its public offering… and with Uber and Lyft underperforming in their first year as public companies, perhaps venture capital firms will rethink the sky-high valuations they’d placed on their portfolio companies. Perhaps it’s time to relearn the lesson that greed may not actually be good.

We have reached out to The We Company for comment and will update with their response.

This story is developing. 

WeWork and Uber are proof valuations are meaningless

 

 

Categories: Business News

What startup CSOs can learn from three enterprise security experts

12 hours 4 min ago

How do you keep your startup secure?

That’s the big question we explored at TC Sessions: Enterprise earlier this month. No matter the size, every startup is an enterprise. Every startup will grow in size as it builds out. But as a company expands, that rapid growth can lead to a distraction from the foundational principle of any modern company — keeping it secure.

Security isn’t just a buzzword. As some of the largest companies in Silicon Valley have shown, security can be difficult. From storing passwords in plaintext to data breaches galore, how can startups learn from some of the biggest security lapses in the tech industry’s history?

Our panel consisted of three of the brightest minds in enterprise security: Wendy Nather, head of advisory CISOs at Duo Security, is an enterprise security expert; Martin Casado, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, is a security and enterprise startup investor; and Emily Heath, United’s chief information security officer, oversees the security operations of the largest U.S. airlines.

This is what advice they had.

Security from the very start

Categories: Business News

$100M Grant for the Web fund aims to jump-start a new way to pay online

14 hours 2 min ago

Getting paid for providing content online isn’t simple, and as the ad-based economy continues to collapse, pretty much everyone is looking for alternatives. One problem: While the web is great at moving images and audio and files around, it has a real problem with money. Coil, Mozilla and Creative Commons hope to change that with a native web payments standard and $100 million to get it off the ground.

“Web monetization” is the name of the game here, not just generally but also the specific new web protocol being proposed. It’s meant to be an open, interoperable standard that will let anyone send money to anyone else on the web.

That doesn’t mean it sprang fully formed out of nowhere, though. It’s based on a protocol called Interledger pursued by former Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas in his new company Coil.

“We were basically applying the concept of internet protocol to payments — routing little packets of money,” Thomas told TechCrunch, though he was quick to add that it’s not blockchain-powered. Those systems, he said, are useful in their place, but end up bogged down in upkeep and administration. And services like Flattr are great, he said, but limited by the fact that they’re essentially run by a single company.

Interledger, he explained, is a protocol for securely and universally connecting existing payment systems in a totally agnostic way. “It supports any underlying payment structure, bitcoin or a bank ledger or whatever, and any connection you use, satellite or Wi-Fi, it doesn’t care. We were working on it for a long time, since like 2015, and last year were like, well, how do we get this out into the real world?”

300M-user meme site Imgur raises $20M from Coil to pay creators

The answer was a new company, for one thing, but also partnering with open web advocates at Mozilla and Creative Commons on Grant for the Web, a $100 million fund to disburse with their input. Both have a seat at the table in selecting grant recipients, and the latter is a recipient itself.

“This is an opportunity for CC to experiment with optional micropayments in CC Search,” said Creative Commons interim CEO Cable Green. “If users want to provide micropayments to authors of openly licensed images, to show gratitude, we’re interested in exploring these options with our global community.”

“An open-source micropayment protocol and ecosystem could be good for creators and users,” he continued. “Building a web that doesn’t rely on data acquisition and advertising is a good thing.”

The $100 million fund is all Coil money, which makes sense, as Coil was founded to promote and develop the Interledger and Web Monetization protocols. Huge funding pushes don’t seem like the ordinary way to establish new web standards, but Thomas explained that payments are a unique case.

“The underlying business model for the web is kind of broken,” he said. And that’s partly by design: Enormous companies with vested interests in existing payment and monetization structures are always working to maintain the status quo or shift it in a favorable direction — companies like Google that rely on advertising, or Visa and others that power traditional payment methods.

Payments giant Stripe debuts a credit card in its latest step into the financing fray

“From our perspective, what the standard is ultimately competing with is proprietary platforms with billions in funding,” Thomas said.

The $100 million fund will be spread out over five years or so, and will be awarded both to companies and people that use or plan to use the Web Monetization standard in an interesting way, and to content creators who are poorly served by existing monetization methods.

Long-tail content that’s nevertheless important, like investigative journalism or documentaries from and by marginalized communities, is one of the targets for the fund. Grants could come in the form of direct funding, or matching subscribers’ contributions. There’s no quid pro quo, Thomas said, except for a hard minimum of half the content being released under an open license like Creative Commons — which that organization is likely excited about.

Right now a subscription-based browser extension that allows easy payments to sites that have implemented the standard is the only way to get in the door. Admittedly that’s not a very sexy onboarding experience. But part of the fund is intended to juice the development and adoption of the standard much more widely.

It’s a way — though an expensive one, sure — to show that an alternative model exists to the traditional ad-based or subscription-based methods of supporting content.

You can sign up now to be notified when they start accepting grant applications at grantfortheweb.org.

Categories: Business News

SmartNews’ latest news discovery feature shows articles from across the political spectrum

16 hours 13 min ago

Even before the 2016 election, political polarization was increasing, with Americans so entrenched in the news sources they rely on that the Pew Research Center said “liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds.” Now SmartNews, the news aggregation app that recently hit unicorn funding status, wants to give users a way to step out of their bubbles with a feature called News From All Sides.

News From All Sides is an option located under the politics tab in SmartNews’ app. A slider at the bottom allows users to see articles about a specific news event sorted into five groups, ranging from most liberal to most conservative. Now available for new users in the United States, the feature will gradually roll out as the company fine-tunes it.

News From All Sides was created for readers who want to see other points of view, but might be overwhelmed by an online search, says Jeannie Yang, SmartNews’ senior vice president of product. It also aims to provide more transparency about news algorithms, which have been blamed for exacerbating political polarization.

Before developing the feature, the SmartNews team conducted research and focus groups in places including Minneapolis and cities in North Carolina to understand how people across the country consume political news online.

“We found that across the board, the last [presidential] election was not just a wake-up call about what news reporting is, but users also expressed that they are much, much more aware of algorithms running underneath what they see. They might not know how it works, but they know there is something else going on,” Yang says.

[gallery columns="4" ids="1881750,1881751,1881752,1881753"]

The political leanings of publications that appear in News From All Sides were categorized by SmartNews’ content team, which includes journalists who previously worked at The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Fox News and other major news outlets. An AI-based algorithm decides which headlines appear in each category. As the feature goes through new iterations, Yang says SmartNews will make changes based on reader feedback. For example, future versions might look at the positions taken in specific articles and include more than five categories on the slider.

News From All Sides is an eye-opener along the lines of “Blue Feed, Red Feed,” an interactive feature (now archived) by The Wall Street Journal that demonstrated how much someone’s political leanings can influence what Facebook’s algorithms display on their News Feed.

Of course, there are many people who are content to be ensconced in their own news bubbles and may not be interested in News From All Sides, even with the upcoming presidential election. Features like it won’t fix political polarization, but for people who are curious about different points of view, even ones they strongly disagree with, News From All Sides gives them a simple way to explore more coverage.

“We definitely discussed that,” says Yang. “The feature is not initially targeted to everyone. It targets people who are more political news junkies, who are checking their phones for news multiple times a day and will actively seek out other sources, so they might go on Google News and go down a rabbit hole.”

“As more readers consider how they are going to vote, it will also help them with perspectives,” Yang adds. “It’s not something that will appeal to everyone broadly, but we hope that we will adjust a pain point for this core group and then iterate it to something more universal.”

SmartNews was founded in Japan, but the slider is currently only on its app for the U.S. because political polarization is a major issue there. Yang says the feature is one part of SmartNews’ goal to improve discovery in all news topics.

“Our mission is to break people out of filter bubbles and personalize discovery with the idea that recommendation algorithms can expand interests, instead of narrowing your interests,” she says. “We’re thinking of how to create more transparency and also expose readers to something they might not usually see, but present it in a fun way, like a serendipitous discovery.”

Categories: Business News

Trigo raises $22M for an automated grocery check-out platform, similar to Amazon Go

2019, September 16 - 11:09pm

Automated check-out systems in supermarkets, where cashiers are replaced by barcode-readers and touchscreen interfaces for taking payments, have become a commonplace fixture in many parts of the world. But today, a startup that’s building what many believe will be the next generation of such systems — computer-vision-powered platforms that monitor what you take from the shelves and automatically tally it up as you are on the move so that you can leave without checking out — has raised funding to continue developing its product and help it connect with grocery retailers that have seen the advances of Amazon Go and also want to get in on the AI action without getting involved with Amazon itself.

Trigo, a computer vision startup out of Tel Aviv that is building check-out-free grocery purchasing systems specifically targeted at large supermarkets, has picked up a Series A round of $22 million. The funding is being led by Red Dot Capital, with previous Vertex Ventures Israel and Hetz Ventures also participating. This round brings the total raised by Trigo to $29 million.

The company is not disclosing its valuation, but says that it has a number of deals in place already with grocery chains, including an unspecified European chain and Shufersal, the largest grocer in Israel.

Shufersal already has plans to implement Trigo’s solution in 280 stores in the next five years, which speaks to the company’s ambitions and traction to date, even at this early stage in its development: The company says that it’s already piloting its camera and sensor technology in stores that are 5,000 square feet, or twice the size of a typical Amazon Go store. It’s, however, still fairly small compared to the size of a large supermarket (35,000-45,000 square feet) or even smaller challenger markets like a Trader Joe’s or a Lidl (20,000 square feet).

As with Amazon Go, Trigo works by implementing a series of cameras throughout a store to monitor shoppers and record what they are placing into their baskets. This is not just about being able to identify items: it’s also a triangulation system to ensure that people are not charged twice for items, and that items are removed from the total if they are discarded before a person leaves the store.

And it’s not just to speed things up, either. It’s to make shopping great again.

“I don’t actually think people really want grocery e-commerce,” Ran Peled, VP of marketing, said. “They do that because the supermarket experience has become worse with the years. We are very much committed to helping brick and mortar stores return to the time of a few decades ago, when it was fun to go to the supermarket. What would happen if a store could have an entirely new OS that is based on computer vision?”

Unlike Amazon Go, Trigo is not tied to any specific company that might potentially compete with the retailers that it is targeting, and the product can be implemented to work with loyalty cards, or without them.

However, given that Amazon has built one of the world’s most valuable companies by being both a simultaneous competitor and partner to businesses, I’m not sure that its competitor status will be a gating factor to the growth of Amazon Go, if it decides to productise it and sell the technology to other retailers… and neither does Trigo.

“The technology behind Amazon Go existed in the industry for about a decade before Amazon Go,” Peled said (Trigo was founded in 2018 by brothers Michael and Daniel Gabay). “But after it launched, it was a moment of realising, ‘Ah, this is really happening!’ ” Meaning, he knew now would be a fruitful period because other grocery retailers would want to get on board, and even if Amazon did roll Go out as its own service, and a service used by other retailers, there will be others who will never work with it, presenting a market opportunity to his startup.

If the endgame is bringing the time spent in the check-out phase down to zero, there are other startups working on alternative ways to reach that. Just last week, Caper raised a round of funding for a system that is based on “smart” trolleys, with sensors attached to grocery carts to take note of items and add them to your shopping bill. While the shopping cart might have the advantage of being able to more closely monitor an individual’s own shopping cart, store-wide systems like Trigo’s will potentially cost less to operate and the software might even be something that can be used on existing in-store cameras.

Interestingly, at a time when patents form one of the key ways that a company defends its intellectual property, Trigo is taking another approach. “We don’t file patents because we don’t want our technology to be public,” said Peled. “We have things that we don’t want anyone to see.” It’s an ironic, if perhaps telling, stance for a computer vision company.

In the rush to build tech solutions to all the world’s problems (and if not problems, at least all the world’s processes), there are bound to be others building further technology to bring grocery stores into the twenty-first century. Trigo presents one route to getting there, making it as much a coveted company for grocery businesses as it is for the companies that provide other services to them.

“We believe that Trigo’s world-leading computer-vision team will be the first to scale this technology globally and unlock the full potential of a true grocery-wide revolution,” said Barak Salomon, managing partner of Red Dot Capital. “The process of manually scanning barcodes for each separate item at check out is outdated and time-consuming. Trigo’s technology is going to save brick and mortar, revitalizing the in-store experience while keeping the best part of shopping alive.”

Categories: Business News

FOSSA scores $8.5 million Series A to help enterprise manage open-source licenses

2019, September 16 - 10:58pm

As more enterprise developers make use of open source, it becomes increasingly important for companies to make sure that they are complying with licensing requirements. They also need to ensure the open-source bits are being updated over time for security purposes. That’s where FOSSA comes in, and today the company announced an $8.5 million Series A.

The round was led by Bain Capital Ventures, with help from Costanoa Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners. Today’s round brings the total raised to $11 million, according to the company.

Company founder and CEO Kevin Wang says that over the last 18 months, the startup has concentrated on building tools to help enterprises comply with their growing use of open source in a safe and legal way. He says that overall this increasing use of open source is great news for developers, and for these bigger companies in general. While it enables them to take advantage of all the innovation going on in the open-source community, they need to make sure they are in compliance.

“The enterprise is really early on this journey, and that’s where we come in. We provide a platform to help the enterprise manage open-source usage at scale,” Wang explained. That involves three main pieces. First it tracks all of the open-source and third-party code being used inside a company. Next, it enforces licensing and security policy, and, finally, it has a reporting component. “We automate the mass reporting and compliance for all of the housekeeping that comes from using open source at scale,” he said.

The enterprise focus is relatively new for the company. It originally launched in 2017 as a tool for developers to track individual use of open source inside their programs. Wang saw a huge opportunity inside the enterprise to apply this same kind of capability inside larger organizations, which were hungry for tools to help them comply with the myriad open-source licenses out there.

“We found that there was no tooling out there that can manage the scale and breadth across all the different enterprise use cases and all the really complex mission-critical code bases,” he said. What’s more, he found that where there were existing tools, they were vastly underutilized or didn’t provide broad enough coverage.

The company announced a $2.2 million seed round in 2017, and since then has grown from 10 to 40 employees. With today’s funding, that should increase as the company is expanding quickly. Wang reports that the startup has been tripling its revenue numbers and customer accounts year over year. The new money should help accelerate that growth and expand the product and markets it can sell into.

FOSSA scores $2.2M to help developers manage open source licenses

Categories: Business News

Plaid announces strategic investment from Mastercard and Visa

2019, September 16 - 8:51pm

When Plaid announced its $250 million Series C investment last year, it left out a couple of key investors. Today it revealed that Mastercard and Visa quietly participated in the round.

For a company like Plaid, which builds APIs to enable customers to access their bank accounts inside applications in a seamless way, having the blessing of two of the major credit companies in the world is a big deal. It could signal that the startup intends to move more broadly into payments, although it didn’t make any specific assertion it was doing that in the announcement.

CEO and co-founder Zach Perret, writing in a blog post this morning, addressed the broad implications of having these companies on board. “We’re particularly excited about what this means for our customers and consumers. As an industry when we come together with a shared vision for an ecosystem that is open, secure and encouraging of innovation the possibilities are limitless,” he wrote.

Plaid tools

Plaid helps developers connect to financial services in a similar way that Stripe helps them connect to payments or Trello to communications tools. By having access to a set of tools from Plaid, developers can build into their applications access to bank information and other financial data without having to have knowledge about how to connect to thousands of different banking systems.

Former CTO and co-founder William Hockey explained to TechCrunch what this meant in an announcement earlier this year:

“Everybody in the U.S. can actually use this product now. And some of those [connections] are super quick and instant, and some of those maybe take a day to verify, but what we’re doing is we’re wrapping all of that in the product. And so you as a developer, you don’t have to worry about all of the different authentication methods at some of these banks,” Hockey explained.

Plaid has raised more than $310 million since it launched, and that Series C investment last year carried with it a fat $2.65 billion valuation. Strategic investments of this sort show that the industry as a whole is behind a startup, and having Mastercard and Visa involved gives the company additional credibility in the marketplace.

Categories: Business News

Beekeeper raises $45M Series B to become the ‘Slack for non-desk employees’

2019, September 16 - 8:00pm

Beekeeper, the Switzerland and U.S.-based startup that provides a mobile-first communications platform for employers that need to communicate with blue-collar and service-oriented workers, has raised $45 million in Series B funding.

The round was co-led by Thayer Ventures and Swisscanto Invest by Zürcher Kantonalbank, with participation from previous backers including Atomico, Alpana Ventures, Edenred Capital Partners, Fyrfly, Hammer Team, investiere, HighSage Ventures, Keen Venture Partners, Samsung NEXT, Swiss Post and Swisscom.

Targeting non-desk employees, including those working in hospitality, manufacturing and retail, Beekeeper’s mobile-first platform is designed to replace more arcane communication methods, such as pen and paper and consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp.

The potential market is said to be big, too, with more than 80% of the world’s workers thought not to be at a desk and therefore arguably in need of a “Slack for non-desk employees,” which is how Beekeeper pitches itself. The company reckons 1.7 billion non-desk workers globally are either unconnected or poorly connected by a “patchwork” of consumer and enterprise applications.

Beekeeper’s clients include Hyatt Hotels, Dollar General, Domino’s Pizza, Heathrow Airport and SeaBoard Foods.

Meanwhile, with today’s Series B, Beekeeper says it plans to bridge the gap between knowledge workers and their non-desk counterparts, and further expand its offering with new features and integrations. On the product roadmap, for example, is a way for companies to be able to customise the Beekeeper experience via a “marketplace” of additional apps and integrations with systems such as Workday.

Categories: Business News

Mitto, the payment card and app for ‘Gen Z’ teens, raises €2M seed round

2019, September 16 - 5:00pm

Mitto, a debit card and app designed for “Generation Z” teens, has raised €2 million in seed funding.

Backing the round is Spanish bank Banco Sabadell via its innovation and venture arm InnoCells, along with Athos Capital and Spanish social media influencers “AuronPlay” and “Wismichu,” among others.

Claiming to plug a gap in existing payment solutions for Generation Z (from 14 years old), Mitto offers a digital wallet and/or physical card for spending online or offline. Parents can send instant money to their children by topping up the wallet, and get an overview of their “purchasing” profile.

In turn, the idea is that children gain a degree of financial independence by using Mitto, as well as a better understanding of their spending habits. More broadly, Mitto says it want to help develop financial literacy amongst Gen Z kids.

“Despite being born digital, Gen Z today don’t have easy access to a tool to use digital money,” says Mitto co-founder Marcos Cuevas. “Mitto is born to fix this by allowing them to own a digital wallet and virtual and physical cards. At the same time, we allow parents to educate and support financially their children in their first steps using a digital financial product.”

Cuevas says that the longer-term mission of Mitto is to deliver the best payment solution experience for Generation Z and to help them understand the impact their spending has on the planet — as lofty as that sounds.

“We are committed to helping this new generation to change their mind about finance, to succeed by giving them the tools to understand their purchasing habits and — in the future — the impact of their decisions in the world, and how they can help to make it more sustainable,” he adds.

To that end, Mitto says the funding will allow it to further invest in its product and partnerships to become “the financial platform of choice” for Generation Z.

The Spanish fintech wants to launch its proposition in other European and LatAm countries where it says demand exists. It claims a waiting list of more than 80,000 users in several countries, and says it currently has 150,000 registered users.

Meanwhile, directly comparable competitors include GoHenry and Osper in the U.K., and Current, Step and Greenlight in the U.S., to name a few.

Categories: Business News

Leeto helps works councils manage perks

2019, September 16 - 4:10pm

French startup Leeto provides a service for French works councils, better known as comités d’entreprise. The fintech startup lets you hand out perks to employees using a simple web service combined with a payment card.

Leeto recently raised a $2.2 million funding round (€2 million) from Founders Future and various business angels, such as Thomas Rebaud (Meero), Benjamin Netter (October) and Vincent Luciani (Artefact).

If you’re not familiar with French works councils, every French company with more than 50 employees has to elect representatives to defend the interests of employees — starting in 2020, companies with more than 11 employees will have a works council. They act as the interface between members of the board and employees, and they vote on strategic moves.

In addition to that role, companies have to hand out a small budget to the works council every year. Works councils can then reimburse cultural or sports activities, hand out gift cards for Christmas, give movie tickets, etc.

And Leeto wants to manage that budget in particular. Many companies currently have a cumbersome process. You have to send receipts of your yoga lessons, find a store that accepts your gift cards… it’s even worse for representatives as they have to order paper gift cards and make sure everyone picks up their gift cards at their desk.

Leeto is a software-as-a-service the lets you manage all that from a web browser. You can add employees and then grant them perks.

Later this year, every employee will get a prepaid Mastercard that the works council can top up and manage. For instance, representatives can hand out €500 a year for vacation and cultural activities. Employees can then use this card to pay for a Netflix subscription, train tickets, museum tickets and more. It works a bit like Lunchr, but for works councils.

If employees go on vacation and forget their card, they can also upload eligible expenses to get reimbursed even if they paid with a personal card.

On the works council’s side, Leeto wants to make it easier to manage accounting and send notifications to employees. Leeto currently costs €3 per employee per month, but that’s directly taken from the budget of the works council, so employees don’t pay that.

Categories: Business News

How to get people to open your emails

2019, September 16 - 4:12am
Julian Shapiro Contributor Share on Twitter Julian Shapiro is the founder of BellCurve.com, a growth marketing agency that trains you to become a marketing professional. He also writes at Julian.com. More posts by this contributor

We’ve aggregated the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you’re going stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice you can’t get elsewhere.

Our community consists of 600 startup founders paired with VP’s of growth from later-stage companies. We have 300 YC founders plus senior marketers from companies including Medium, Docker, Invision, Intuit, Pinterest, Discord, Webflow, Lambda School, Perfect Keto, Typeform, Modern Fertility, Segment, Udemy, Puma, Cameo, and Ritual .

You can participate in our community by joining Demand Curve’s marketing webinars, Slack group, or marketing training program. See past growth reports here and here.

Without further ado, onto the advice.

How can you send email campaigns that get opened by 100% of your mailing list?

Based on insights from Nick Selman, Fletcher Richman of Halp, and Wes Wagner.

  • First, a few obvious pieces of advice for avoiding low open rates:
    • Avoid spam filters by avoiding keywords commonly used in spam emails.
    • Consider using email subjects (1) that are clearly descriptive and (2) look like they were written by a friend. Then A/B your top choices.
    • Include the recipient’s name in your email body. This signals to spam filters that you do in fact know the recipient.
  • Now, for the real advice: Let’s say 60% of your audience opens your mailing, how can you get the remaining 40% to open and read it too?
    • First, wait 2 weeks to give everyone a chance to open the initial email.
    • Next, export a list of those who haven’t opened. Mailchimp lets you do this.
    • Important note: The reason many recipients don’t open your email is because it was sent to Spam, it was buried in Promotions, or it was insta-deleted because it looked like spam (but wasn’t). The goal here is to resuscitate these people. You have two options for doing so:
    • (1) Duplicate the initial email then selectively re-send it to non-openers. This time, use a new subject (try a new hook) and downgrade the email to plain text: remove images and link tracking. De-enriching the email in this way can help bypass spam filters and the Promotions tab.
    • (2) Alternatively, export your list of non-openers to a third-party email tool like Mailshake (or Mixmax).
      • First, connect Mailshake to a new Gmail account on your company domain.
      • Next, configure Mailshake to automatically dole out small batches of emails on a daily schedule. Let it churn through non-openers slowly so that Gmail doesn’t flag your account as a spammer.
      • Emails sent through Mailshake are more likely to get opened than emails sent through Mailchimp. Why? Mailshake sends emails through your Gmail account, and Gmail-to-Gmail emails have a greater chance of bypassing Spam and Promotions folders, particularly if the sender doesn’t have a history of its emails being marked as spam.

Categories: Business News

Get the word on product-market fit from leads at Instagram, Tinder, Uber, and Okta at Disrupt SF

2019, September 16 - 4:00am

Every founder knows you gotta find market fit.  Almost no one gets it right on the first try, which means iterating quickly and decisively is the difference between greatness and the void.

On the Extra Crunch stage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, we have a jam-packed panel filled with leading product builders  to discuss just how founders should think about launching and iterating their products.

First, we have Ravi Mehta, chief product officer at dating app Tinder . Before Tinder, he was a product director at Facebook and a vice president of product at TripAdvisor, in addition to a host of other product-related roles. Mehta brings years of consumer products experience to the panel, and will talk about the specific needs of social and network-based products.

Second, we have Manik Gupta, chief product officer at transportation and delivery company Uber . Before becoming product chief, he led Uber’s Marketplace and Maps products, and spent years at Google as a leading PM for Google Maps. He brings a deep background on building popular consumer apps, and also instrumenting those apps with location and consumer data.

Third, we have Diya Jolly, chief product officer of identity management platform Okta . Before Okta, she led product for Google’s home products like Nest as well as YouTube’s monetization efforts, and also held product roles at Microsoft and Motorola. She brings a hybrid background in enterprise and consumer product design, and will be able to speak about the varying challenges different types of users bring to bear on a product.

Finally, we have Robby Stein, a director of product management at Instagram where he leads the consumer team in charge of Stories, Feed, Messaging, Camera, and Profile. Before Facebook/Instagram, he held a senior product role at Yahoo, which acquired his startup Stamped, and was also a PM at Google. He brings a cross-over product perspective between startups and larger tech companies that will enrich our conversation.

We’re amped for this conversation, and we can’t wait to see you there! Buy tickets to Disrupt SF here at an early-bird rate!

Did you know Extra Crunch annual members get 20% off all TechCrunch event tickets? Head over here to get your annual pass, and then email extracrunch@techcrunch.com to get your 20% discount. Please note that it can take up to 24 hours to issue the discount code.

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Categories: Business News

How to get your ads working, and whether PR is worth it

2019, September 15 - 4:00am
Julian Shapiro Contributor Share on Twitter Julian Shapiro is the founder of BellCurve.com, a growth marketing agency that trains you to become a marketing professional. He also writes at Julian.com. More posts by this contributor

We’ve aggregated the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you’re going stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice you can’t get elsewhere.

Our community consists of 600 startup founders paired with VP’s of growth from later-stage companies. We have 300 YC founders plus senior marketers from companies including Medium, Docker, Invision, Intuit, Pinterest, Discord, Webflow, Lambda School, Perfect Keto, Typeform, Modern Fertility, Segment, Udemy, Puma, Cameo, and Ritual.

You can participate in our community by joining Demand Curve’s marketing webinars, Slack group, or marketing training programSee past growth reports here.

Without further ado, onto the advice.

How to get customer testimonials from hard-to-reach executives

Based on insights from Guillaume Cabane.

A customer testimonial from a well-known executive may be the social proof that improves conversion rates on your landing pages or in sales collateral. But executives of reputable companies are generally busy and difficult to reach.

Here’s how to get the testimonial:

  • Contract with a freelance journalist who’s written for a reputable publication like the New York Times.
  • Reach out to your executive customers with something like “Hey, we have a journalist who has previously written for NYT who’s interested in speaking to a few of our customers for a piece. Do you have 15 minutes for a quick call?”
  • For $200 in freelancer time, you get a testimonial you can use (in the words you want) from a reputable executive. Be sure to figure out some way to make it worth the executive’s time.

Categories: Business News

Help TechCrunch offer a valuable new tool for startups (by taking this quick survey)

2019, September 15 - 1:12am

It’s hard to find the expert help you need right at the clutch moment when you’re building your startup. We’re trying to solve that problem through a product we’ve been developing this year, called Verified Experts — and we’d like to get some more input on it from startup people like you.

As in real life, where you ask your professional network for recommendations, we’re asking startup founders to tell us who the lawyers, growth marketers, brand designers and other experts are who have made/are making a big difference for their company. We use these collective recommendations plus our own research to identify the best experts. Then we publish profiles on the site about them, run guest columns from them that readers have been loving, on topics like growth tactics, immigration tips and term sheet issues.

Now, we’re ramping up this effort — and we’d like to get a little more detail from you about the way that you find and work with startup service providers today.

Please take this 2-minute survey and tell us more.

Beyond helping us to create something that can support startup founders everywhere, you’ll also get a discount to Extra Crunch — and two lucky winners will get full-access Innovator Pass tickets to Disrupt in SF next month.

Categories: Business News

Startups Weekly: Part & Parcel plans plus-sized fashion empire

2019, September 14 - 9:00pm

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about Stripe’s grand plans. Before that, I noted Peloton’s secret weapons

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

Startup spotlight

The best companies are built by people who have personally experienced the problem they’re attempting to solve. Lauren Jonas, the founder and chief executive officer of Part & Parcel, is intimately familiar with the struggles faced by the women she’s building for.

San Francisco-based Part & Parcel is a plus-sized clothing and shoe startup providing dimensional sizing to women across the U.S. The company operates a bit differently than your standard direct-to-consumer business by seeking to include the women who wear and evangelize the Part & Parcel designs by giving them a cut of their sales.

Here’s how it works: Ambassadors sign up to receive signature styles from Part & Parcel, which they then share and sell to women in their network. Ultimately, the sellers are eligible to receive up to 30% of the profit per sale. The out-of-the-box model, which might remind you somewhat of Mary Kay or Tupperware’s business strategy, is meant to encourage a sense of community and usher in a new era in which plus-sized women can facilitate other plus-sized women’s access to great clothes. 

“I bought a brown men’s polyester suit and wore it to an interview,” Jonas, an early employee at Poshmark and the long-time author of the popular blog, ‘The Pear Shape,’ tells TechCrunch. “I was that kid wearing a men’s suit.”

Clothing tailored to plus-sized women has long been missing from the retail market. Increasingly, however, new brands are building thriving businesses by catering precisely to the historically forgotten demographic. Dia&Co., for example, raised another $70 million in venture capital funding last fall from Sequoia and USV. And Walmart recently acquired another brand in the space, ELOQUII, for an undisclosed amount. Part & Parcel, for its part, has raised $4 million in seed funding in a round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Jeremy Liew.

The startup launched earlier this year in Anchorage, “a clothing desert,” and has since grown its network to include women in several other underserved markets. Given her own history struggling to find a fitted woman’s suit, Jonas launched her line with structured pieces, including suits and blouses — though the startup’s biggest success yet, she says, has been its boots, which come in three different calf width options.

“Seventy percent of women in this country are plus-sized,” Jonas said. “I’m bringing plus out of the dark corner of the department store.”

This week in VC

Image: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Must read

TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey published a highly anticipated deep dive on the state of sex tech this week. The piece provides new data on funding in sex tech and wellness companies, analysis on sex tech startup’s battle for public advertising and responses from industry leaders on how we can destigmatize sex with technology. Here’s a short passage from the story:

Cindy Gallop sees a market opportunity in every type of business obstacle she encounters. That’s why All The Sky will also seek to invest in startups that tackle the infrastructural tools needed to fuel sextech, like payments, hosting providers and e-commerce sites.

“I want to fund the sextech ecosystem to maintain and sustain a portfolio for All the Skies, to create a bloody huge sextech ecosystem and three, to monopolistically build out the ecosystem to be a multi-trillion-dollar market,” Gallop says.

On my radar

I swung by Contrary Capital‘s Demo Day this week, in which a number of startups gave a 4- to 5-minute pitch. Next on my list is Alchemist‘s Demo Day in Menlo Park. The accelerator welcomes enterprise startups for a six-month program focused on early customer adoption, company development and mentorship.

Also on my radar is Females To The Front. The event began this week in Palm Springs and if I were based in SoCal, I would have swung by. Led by Amy Margolis, the event is said to be the largest gathering of female cannabis founders and funders to date. Here’s how the group describes the event: “Females to the Front Retreat will mix immersive and hands-on workshops, pitch training, investment deck preparation and business skill set education with investor meetings and plenty of shared meals, pool time, yoga, connections, rest and rejuvenation. Every workshop is built to directly engage attendees instead of powerpoint and panels. Be prepared to return home inspired, engaged and with so many more tools in your toolbox.”

For the record, I don’t advertise events in my newsletter just wanted to give props to this one because it’s a great development for the cannabis tech ecosystem.

Time to Disrupt

We are just weeks away from our flagship conference, TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco. We have dozens of amazing speakers lined up. In addition to taking in the great line-up of speakers, ticket holders can roam around Startup Alley to catch the more than 1,000 companies showcasing their products and technologies. And, of course, you’ll get the opportunity to watch the Startup Battlefield competition live. Past competitors include Dropbox, Cloudflare and Mint… You never know which future unicorn will compete next.

You can take a look at the full agenda here. And if you still need convincing, here’s five reasons to attend this year’s conference from our COO himself.

And finally… #EquityPod

This week, the lovely Alex Wilhelm, editor-in-chief of Crunchbase News, and I gathered to discuss a number of topics including WeWork’s IPO and Uber’s attempts to bypass a new law meant to protect gig workers. Listen here.

Categories: Business News

Cloudflare co-founder Michelle Zatlyn on the company’s IPO today, its unique dual class structure, and what’s next

2019, September 14 - 7:26am

Shares of Cloudflare rose 20% today in its first day of trading on the public market, opening trading at $18 after it priced its IPO at $15 a share yesterday and holding steady through the day.

Put another way, the performance of the nine-year-old company — which provides cloud-based network services to enterprises — was relatively undramatic as these things go. That’s a good thing, given that first-day “pops” often signal that a company has left money on the table. Indeed, Cloudflare had initially indicated that its shares would be priced between $10 and $12, before adjusting the price upward, which suggests its underwriters, led by Goldman Sachs, fairly accurately gauged demand for the offering.

Of course, it was still a very big day for Cloudlfare’s 1,069 employees and especially for Cloudflare’s founders Matthew Prince, its CEO, and Michelle Zatlyn, its COO. We talked with Zatlyn today in the hours after the duo rang the opening bell to ask about the experience, and how the IPO impacts the company going forward. Our chat has been edited lightly for length and clarity.

TC: Thanks for making time for us on a busy day.

MZ: Of course! [TechCrunch’s] Battlefield [competition, in which Cloudflare competed in 2011] is such an integral part of our funding story. Thank you for giving us the stage to launch our company.

TC: Did you get any sleep last night?

MZ: I was so exhausted that I got a great night’s sleep. This whole process has been so incredible, so special. I didn’t know what to expect, and it’s been way better than I could have imagined. There are 150 of our teammates, early employees, family members, board members, champions and other friends here with us [in New York at the NYSE]. We also live-streamed [our debut] to our offices around the world so they could share this moment with us.

TC: How are you feeling about today? The stock is up 20%. There’s always banter afterward about whether a listing was priced right, whether any money was left on the table.

MZ: At this point, we’ve raised almost a billion dollars between today and all of the money we’ve raised from venture investors. We have a great team. We’re really happy. The markets are going to react how they react, but it’s part of our DNA to provide more value than we capture. We think that’s the way to build an enduring company.

TC: You have a liquid currency now. Do you imagine Cloudflare might become more acquisitive as a public company?

MZ: We’ve done some acquisitions on the smaller side and of course, we have a team that’s always looking at different opportunities. But we’re really engineering-driven, and we think we have many products and services left to build, so we’ll continue to invest in our products and in R&D development, as well as in our customer relationships.

TC: Retaining employees is a challenge that some newly public companies worry about. How will you address this in the coming days and months as lock-up periods expire?

MZ: I’m so proud of where we are today and of our whole team, and we’re just getting started. [Matthew and I will] show up Monday morning and get back to work and so will our employees, because they want to make the company [an even greater business].

TC: The company went public with a dual-class structure that gives not just management but all employees 10 times the voting rights of the shares sold to the public. Why was this structure important to Cloudflare, and did it give investors pause?

MZ: There are more than 1,000 people around the world who are building the product and working with customers, and we think it’s important for them to have that 10:1 structure, so it’s something we put in place a few years ago with the encouragement of some of our earlier investors.

TC: Were you modeling this after another company? Is there a precedent for it?

MZ: I don’t know of another one — there may be — but we weren’t inspired by another company. We just felt passionately about this being the right corporate structure and [I don’t think it was harder for us to tell the story of Cloudflare because of it]. Over the last two weeks, in talking with investors across the world, it wasn’t in the top 10 topics that came up, so I think we did a good job of describing it in our S-1.

TC: What was the roadshow like? What surprised you most?

MZ: Don’t get me wrong, there’s a ton of work involved from all kinds of people, in finance, our legal teams … But roadshows have a bad rap in that people think they’re grueling and that, by the end, you’ll be exhausted. That was my expectation. But it was really fun. It was a huge privilege to represent Cloudflare to all these investors who were incredibly smart and well-prepared. We traveled all over and people told us ‘You look better than most teams.’

TC: Where does one go for these roadshows?

MZ: You have the usual suspects; there’s a travel roadshow circuit, with some variations based on people’s vacation schedules, but New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Baltimore is common, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Toronto. You go in person to some places and in others, people dial in. But the whole thing gave me new insight into these pools of capital after venture capital. It was really interesting.

TC: Cloudflare said in a recent amendment to its S-1 that it was in touch with the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control back in May after determining that its products were used by individuals and entities that have been blacklisted by the U.S. Did this new revelation slow anything down?

MZ: There was no impact. Your group of advisors expands when you go through a public offering, and lawyers dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t,’ and you become a better company for it.

We deliver cybersecurity solutions that are made broadly available to businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits, and that’s incredible, but there are also some unsavory actors online, and we’ve always been a transparent organization [about having to grapple with this].

TC: How will Cloudflare handle requests for service by embargoed and restricted entities going forward? As a public company, does that process change in any way?

MZ: We have a really good process today. I think people think that we let anyone use Cloudflare and that’s it. But if customers are breaking the law, we remove them from our network and that’s not new and we publish transparency reports on it.

Sometimes, [you’re confronting] things that aren’t illegal but they’re gross, and the question is whose job is it to take it offline. But I work with some of the smartest minds on this and we try to be very transparent about how we figure this out. The conversation is so much better than it was a few years ago, too, with policy makers and academics and the business community engaging on this. People around the world are talking about where the lines can be drawn, but these are tricky, heady conversations.

TC: They certainly put Cloudflare in a precarious spot sometimes, as when the company banned the internet forum 8chan earlier this year after it was learned that the site was used by a gunman to post an anti-immigration rant. Can we expect that Cloudflare will continue to make decisions like this on a case-by-case basis?

MZ: Freedom of speech is such a fundamental part of this nation. Citizens should want the lawmakers to decide what the law should be, and if lawmakers could do this, it would be much better. On the other side, these are new issues that are arising so we shouldn’t rush. Lots of opinions need to be weighed and conversations are much further along than they once were, but there’s still work to be done, and Cloudflare is one [participant] in a much broader conversation.

Categories: Business News

MoviePass will shut down on September 14th

2019, September 14 - 5:20am

MoviePass’ all-you-can-watch movie theater membership always seemed too good to be true. After multiple price hikes, business model changes, temporary shutdowns and raising a mountain of money less than a year ago, the company seems to be calling it quits.

MoviePass has issued an announcement letting customers know that the service will stop working as of September 14th — so, tomorrow — because “its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date.”

For the past few months, MoviePass had existed in a weird sort of zombie state; some customers in some regions were still able to use it, but no new subscribers were being accepted. Not helping the matter any, a database with “tens of thousands” of MoviePass customer card numbers was found unsecured at the end of August.

The company says it’s exploring “all strategic and financial alternatives,” from a massive “reorganization” to a sale of the company and all of its assets. In the meantime, though, it sounds like the service is dead, effective pretty much immediately.

Story developing…

Categories: Business News

How to work with top influencers and avoid ad blockers

2019, September 14 - 5:01am
Julian Shapiro Contributor Share on Twitter Julian Shapiro is the founder of BellCurve.com, a growth marketing agency that trains you to become a marketing professional. He also writes at Julian.com. More posts by this contributor

We’ve aggregated the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you’re going stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice you can’t get elsewhere.

Our community consists of 600 startup founders paired with VP’s of growth from later-stage companies. We have 300 YC founders plus senior marketers from companies including Medium, Docker, Invision, Intuit, Pinterest, Discord, Webflow, Lambda School, Perfect Keto, Typeform, Modern Fertility, Segment, Udemy, Puma, Cameo, and Ritual.

You can participate in our community by joining Demand Curve’s marketing webinars, Slack group, or marketing training program.

Without further ado, onto the advice.

Editor’s note: This is the first of a new series of articles on startup growth tactics in 2019 for Extra Crunch. This first article has been unlocked for all TechCrunch readers.

Don’t abandon email unsubscribers. They’re still useful.

Based on insights from Matt Sornson of Clearbit.

You’ve launched a new feature and want to tell your audience about it. You can send an email to your newsletter subscribers, but how do you reach the 20%+ who unsubscribed? Most people mistakenly consider this audience to be a lost cause.

  • Create a custom audience of all newsletter unsubscribers on Facebook.
  • Run ads announcing the new feature to that audience.
  • Now you’ve reactivated people who at one point had an interest in your product — instead of forever ignoring them.
Tips for effectively working with influencers

Based on insights from Barron Caster of Rev.

  • Create a referral system for influencers: Influencers who sign up others get a % of their sales or signups. This makes a mini-pyramid structure and turns your influencers into a salesforce. Why is this important? Some influencers don’t actually sell products, but just sign up tons of other influencers. Find these people.
  • Get everything you can out of an engagement (e.g. permission to use them as a testimonial for emails, social proof, etc.).
  • Working with influencers is a relationship-building game:
    • Actually go to conferences to meet influencers.
    • Treat influencers like royalty. Surprise them with gifts like flowers/donuts. $100 to send a gift can pay hefty dividends if they like your brand more and share that with their followers.
    • Give influencers a tangible benefit to share with their followers. They care about their followers and want to beneficially incentivize them to click on their link and buy with them.
More tips for working with influencers

Based on insights from Cezar Grigore of Tremo Books.

  • Geo rollouts: Your ROI increases when a bunch of influencers in the same category / region share your product within an interval of 2-4 weeks. It gives the impression that everyone is talking about your product.
  • Initially focus on influencers with 10-150k audiences. They’re smaller and more willing to accept bartered deals. There are enough influencers in this range willing to work in exchange for a free product. Most may not be producing results, but some work well, bringing in 50-200 customers within 24 hours. As you build up your following and reputation for your brand, it becomes much easier to work with more influential people.
  • It’s harder to cut deals with bigger influencers (100k-2M). Only about 5-10% of bigger influencers are willing to work on an affiliate basis (e.g. $10/customer).
Overcoming ad blockers that screw up your conversion data
  • Ad blockers can block FB’s tracking libraries and underreport ad conversions (even by 50%). The trick? Consider using the static IMG FB pixel — not the JavaScript one — which ad blockers don’t appear to block. — C.
  • Here’s another ad block workaround: You can extract UTM tags from the URL then save them into LocalStorage using JavaScript. Next, send that stored data plus the user’s on-site conversion behavior to a custom backend that, inherently, will circumvent ad blockers. Just be diligent about ensuring your marketing links all have UTM tags. —Neal O’Grady of Demand Curve
  • Remember that the use of ad blockers varies heavily by audience and device type. Depending on who your audience is, ad blockers can either be a huge problem or a non-problem. —Neal O’Grady of Demand Curve
    • So, for example, few people on mobile have ad blockers. Not much of a problem there.
    • However, on desktop, up to ~75% of millennial gamers and techies may have it installed.
    • In contrast, on desktop, maybe only 25% of middle-aged Americans outside of tech hub cities may have it installed.
    • These are hand-wavy numbers. Google for specifics.
Categories: Business News

Despite tipping policy changes, DoorDash says back pay is not ‘at issue here’

2019, September 14 - 3:31am

When DoorDash announced changes in its tipping model last month, it was certainly a step in the right direction. Some workers, however, have said it’s not enough. In addition to wanting fair wages, they want back pay.

In light of DoorDash’s announcement, labor group Working Washington said a key question remained: “Will they pay workers backpay for the customer tips the company has been misappropriating since 2017?”

“There’s no ‘back pay’ at issue here because every cent of every tip on DoorDash has always gone and will always go to Dashers,” a DoorDash spokesperson told TechCrunch via email in response to a question about whether or not DoorDash would back pay its delivery workers.

When Instacart changed its tipping practices earlier this year, it also retroactively compensated shoppers when tips were included in the payment minimums. DoorDash, however, does not see the need for back pay.

“An independent third-party research firm has confirmed that Dashers were paid as was explained on our website and in our app: Dashers received a minimum base bay from DoorDash, plus 100% of customer tips, plus additional pay for some orders to reach the guaranteed minimum,” the spokesperson said. “A reminder that under our old model, DoorDash would boost pay if a customer left little or no tip. Although boost pay was intended to help Dashers, we recognize that it also had the unintended effect of making some customers feel like their tips didn’t matter. Under our new model, every dollar a customer tips will be an extra dollar in their Dasher’s pocket.”

Additionally, DoorDash says it will increase the amount it pays on average through base pay and bonuses. Ideally, that will increase overall earnings for Dashers.

“This commitment is incredibly important to us, which is why we’ll be working with that same independent third party to ensure that Dasher earnings under this new model increase,” the spokesperson said.

As DoorDash previously announced, the new payment policies will go into effect this month following feedback from its tests. Since the announcement, however, DoorDash has put $30 million toward a campaign committee to establish a 2020 ballot initiative that would enable companies to provide workers benefits, establish wage commitments and guarantees, offer flexibility and establish that drivers are not employees. Lyft and Uber have also each put $30 million into the initiative. Meanwhile, gig worker protections bill AB-5 passed.

AB-5 would help to ensure gig economy workers are entitled to minimum wage, workers’ compensation and other benefits by requiring employers to apply the ABC test. The bill, first introduced in December 2018, aims to codify the ruling established in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v Superior Court of Los Angeles. In that case, the court applied the ABC test and decided Dynamex wrongfully classified its workers as independent contractors.

According to the ABC test, in order for a hiring entity to legally classify a worker as an independent contractor, it must prove the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity, performs work outside the scope of the entity’s business and is regularly engaged in an “independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

The bill has yet to be signed into law, but Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to do so. Moving forward, we can surely expect DoorDash to continue advocating for its independent worker model. We also can expect organizers from Working Washington to keep advocating for better wages and protections.

Categories: Business News

Calculating sales efficiency in a startup: The magic number that will help you scale

2019, September 14 - 1:02am
Ryan Floyd Contributor Share on Twitter Ryan Floyd is a founding managing director of Storm Ventures, investing in early-stage enterprise SaaS companies, and the host of Ask a VC YouTube channel.

Sales efficiency is the best way to understand the economics of a business. To me, it answers the question as to whether a business can ever scale. The harsh truth is, if it can’t scale, investors won’t be interested.

Sales efficiency is more simple to measure than other related concepts like CAC (customer acquisition cost) or LTV (lifetime value). Here’s why:

  • CAC is harder to truly measure, especially new CAC. In a SaaS organization, sometimes it can be hard to allocate those costs to what that new CAC is, as opposed to upsell or cross-sell within the same organization. Salespeople are almost always trying to pursue two goals:
    • Trying to acquire new customers
    • Selling within an existing customer (more seats within an established department, or expanding to a new division)

These activities generate different CAC; trying to strip out only the new CAC can be tricky. Sales efficiency, on the other hand, looks at all net new ARR (annual recurring revenue), which includes new customer ARR as well as expansion ARR.

  • LTV tries to measure the value of a customer over time, assuming both repeat purchases and eventual churn; this gives you a good sense of the ultimate value of that customer to your business over time. The challenge with LTV in SaaS is that the data points that you might use to assume churn and repeat purchase behavior aren’t very robust — there are few SaaS businesses that have enough customers to really make these numbers reliable.

Enterprise businesses should focus on unit economics of sales early. When a business scales, it rarely buys you better economics — usually it just means more losses.

Image via Ryan Floyd / Storm Ventures

The role of sales efficiency in your ‘go-to-market fit’

At Storm Ventures we use a concept we call finding ‘go-to-market fit’ (GTM fit).

Categories: Business News

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