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Contrary Capital wants to invest in the next big tech mafia

Startup News - 2020, July 2 - 12:00am

Contrary Capital, which has raised money from Tesla, Reddit, SoFi and Twitch, knows a thing or two about how to work with tech’s brightest mafias. Now it wants to invest in them, before anyone else.

The San Francisco fund and accelerator, which traditionally invests in student entrepreneurs, is betting on the idea that the best founders are early-career employees first. Today Contrary Capital is publicly launching its next big bet: Contrary Talent, a new arm within the fund that will invest and support early-career folks and students to grow their tech ambitions.

While Contrary Capital founder Eric Tarczynski said the new focus is not a pivot for the firm, he added that he wouldn’t be surprised if early-career professionals become the bulk of the portfolio in years to come.

Contrary Talent will source the top engineers, designers and managers at top tech companies and pair them with top operators in tech for mentorship and job consultancy. It’s giving startup employees access to great minds before they have a pitch deck, or even know how to make one.

Talent members will only be admitted to the group through a referral from one of Contrary Capital’s hundred-plus venture partners, or scouts. The firm’s venture partner network has operated for the past four years to help the firm find talent on college campuses, so now it will shift to also focus on early-career talent.

The goal is to have a diverse end result, so it doesn’t hurt that Contrary Capital’s venture partner network is currently 40% female and 60% non-white.

Contrary Talent is also launching a venture partner team at an undisclosed HBCU this fall to increase representation.

Along with the announcement, Contrary Capital shared it has hired Triplebyte’s former head of talent, Ellis Briery, to lead this new arm of the fund.

Once a candidate is referred, they will have to go through multiple rounds of interviews before being selected to join the Talent community. Members receive access to job opportunities, mentorship, invites to annual retreats and funding when (and if) they do decide to start a company.

The program has been in stealth for six months so far and has 150 members. Contrary Talent will admit roughly 100 new members annually, and there will be continuous light learning on job resources, 1:1 training for career paths and AMAs with top people within tech. Think of the curriculum as a steady, but small, drip of asynchronous and live learning.

Contrary founder Eric Tarczynski said there is reserved capital for Talent members, but did not disclose how much. Contrary has low tens of millions in assets under management.

“Because of the long-term nature of the program and that we want to support Talent members regardless of whether or not they’re starting companies right now, we’ll be investing in Talent member-started companies across many funds,” Tarczynski said. He estimated that about 33% of investments from the current fund will come from the Talent community.

“Candidly, we’re not expecting Facebooks to be kind of falling off of trees,” Tarczynski said.

Talent is Contrary Capital’s first move beyond investing in students since its inception in 2016.

“As time went on and we spent more time on the ground at tech campuses, we realized not only were the number of young founders going up, but so were the number of top engineers, designers and product heads who were interested in working in tech,” he said.

Categories: Business News

This public spreadsheet lists Black founders who have raised VC, and the investors backing them

Startup News - 2020, July 2 - 12:00am

Finding out how many Black founders have successfully raised venture capital, and which venture capital firms invested in their startups hasn’t been an easy task, historically. Venture capital data is often diceable by stage, say, or by startup type. But if you wanted to know how many Black founders a particular firm had invested into, that information has been hard to come by.

Until now, that is.

Earlier this year, Yonas Beshawred, Sefanit Tades, and James Norman, in association with the Transparent Collective, compiled what was heralded as “the most comprehensive list of US-based venture-backed Black founders ever.” You can check out the data here.

It’s an extraordinary document, both for its usefulness and its brevity. This morning the list is just 283 names long, though it appears to be expanding over time.

The same group recently put together more data. Now, the public database includes details on which venture capital firms have invested in Black-founded startups. (The founder list came during Black History month, while the VC list was put together around Juneteenth; for more on how tech recently discovered Juneteenth, head here).

There are more VC firms that have invested in Black founders than there are Black founders who have raised money from VCs. This makes sense, as there is often more than one VC firm in any given round. But while the number of VCs detailed is encouraging at first glance, there’s nuance to the data.

TechCrunch spoke with Norman, the CEO of Pilot.ly, and a partner at the Transparent Collective, who told TechCrunch that he was initially “overwhelmed by the sheer number of investments made from 570 different firms,” but that “after one look, roughly 75% of the names had one black founder investment.”

Even more, Norman told TechCrunch that after reviewing the data he “realized most of the firms on this list are likely follow-ons piling into single rounds of funding.” That most VC firms on the list of groups that put capital into a single Black-founded startup “highlights the lack of capital deployed to black founded startups in general” he continued.

Still, having the founder and VC data compiled is useful on its own. In Norman’s view, the dataset will allow other orgs to ingest and parse the information, hopefully yielding useful knowledge that was previously occluded.

Tades, another contributor to the Black founder and VC lists, told TechCrunch that response to the databases has been “overwhelmingly positive, with a number of people reaching out to provide support to expand the list and provide additional data points.” She also said that user “feedback is also driving our iterations on The Black Founder List database,” so there should be more to come from the effort. That’s exciting and welcome.

Silicon Valley loves to say things like “measure what matters.” Well, here’s a list of Black founders and the VCs who have cut one, two, or more checks into their startups. It matters that both lists get longer, and we can now measure progress.

Author’s note: I tangled up some of the list’s original provenance, which has been corrected. My mistake!

Categories: Business News

Vendia raises $5.1M for its multicloud serverless platform

Startup News - 2020, July 2 - 12:00am

When the inventor of AWS Lambda, Tim Wagner, and the former head of blockchain at AWS, Shruthi Rao, co-found a startup, it’s probably worth paying attention. Vendia, as the new venture is called, combines the best of serverless and blockchain to help build a truly multicloud serverless platform for better data and code sharing.

Today, the Vendia team announced that it has raised a $5.1 million seed funding round, led by Neotribe’s Swaroop ‘Kittu’ Kolluri. Correlation Ventures, WestWave Capital, HWVP, Firebolt Ventures, Floodgate and Future\Perfect Ventures also participated in this oversubscribed round.

Image Credits: Vendia

Seeing Wagner at the helm of a blockchain-centric startup isn’t exactly a surprise. After building Lambda at AWS, he spent some time as VP of engineering at Coinbase, where he left about a year ago to build Vendia.

“One day, Coinbase approached me and said, ‘Hey, maybe we could do for the financial system what you’ve been doing over there for the cloud system,'” he told me. “And so I got interested in that. We had some conversations. I ended up going to Coinbase and spent a little over a year there as the VP of Engineering, helping them to set the stage for some of that platform work and tripling the size of the team.” He noted that Coinbase may be one of the few companies where distributed ledgers are actually mission-critical to their business, yet even Coinbase had a hard time scaling its Ethereum fleet, for example, and there was no cloud-based service available to help it do so.

Tim Wagner, Vendia co-founder and CEO. Image Credits: Vendia

“The thing that came to me as I was working there was why don’t we bring these two things together? Nobody’s thinking about how would you build a distributed ledger or blockchain as if it were a cloud service, with all the things that we’ve learned over the course of the last 10 years building out the public cloud and learning how to do it at scale,” he said.

Wagner then joined forces with Rao, who spent a lot of time in her role at AWS talking to blockchain customers. One thing she noticed was that while it makes a lot of sense to use blockchain to establish trust in a public setting, that’s really not an issue for enterprise.

“After the 500th customer, it started to make sense,” she said. “These customers had made quite a bit of investment in IoT and edge devices. They were gathering massive amounts of data. They also made investments on the other side, with AI and ML and analytics. And they said, ‘Well, there’s a lot of data and I want to push all of this data through these intelligent systems. I need a mechanism to get this data.'” But the majority of that data often comes from third-party services. At the same time, most blockchain proof of concepts weren’t moving into any real production usage because the process was often far too complex, especially enterprises that maybe wanted to connect their systems to those of their partners.

Shruthi Rao, Vendia co-founder and CBO. Image Credits: Vendia

“We are asking these partners to spin up Kubernetes clusters and install blockchain nodes. Why is that? That’s because for blockchain to bring trust into a system to ensure trust, you have to own your own data. And to own your own data, you need your own node. So we’re solving fundamentally the wrong problem,” she explained.

The first product Vendia is bringing to market is Vendia Share, a way for businesses to share data with partners (and across clouds) in real-time, all without giving up control over that data. As Wagner noted, businesses often want to share large data sets but they also want to ensure they can control who has access to that data. For those users, Vendia is essentially a virtual data lake with provenance tracking and tamper-proofing built in.

The company, which mostly raised this round after the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S., is already working with a couple of design partners in multiple industries to test out its ideas, and plans to use the new funding to expand its engineering team to build out its tools.

“At Neotribe Ventures, we invest in breakthrough technologies that stretch the imagination and partner with companies that have category creation potential built upon a deep-tech platform,” said Neotribe founder and managing director Kolluri. “When we heard the Vendia story, it was a no-brainer for us. The size of the market for multiparty, multicloud data and code aggregation is enormous and only grows larger as companies capture every last bit of data. Vendia’s serverless-based technology offers benefits such as ease of experimentation, no operational heavy lifting and a pay-as-you-go pricing model, making it both very consumable and highly disruptive. Given both Tim and Shruthi’s backgrounds, we know we’ve found an ideal ‘Founder fit’ to solve this problem! We are very excited to be the lead investors and be a part of their journey.”

Categories: Business News

Transparency Talks: Video Conferencing And <b>VoIP</b> Platforms Must Put Users&#39; Privacy First

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 1 - 11:15pm
Video conferencing and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platforms have gained critical importance in the wake of COVID-19 as public health ...
Categories: VoIP News

Location data startup Bluedot raises $9.1M

Startup News - 2020, July 1 - 11:14pm

Bluedot, a geofencing and location data startup used by companies like Dunkin’, KFC and McDonald’s, is announcing that it has raised $9.1 million in Series B funding.

The San Francisco-headquartered company claims that its technology its 20 times more accurate than competing solutions — something that CEO Emil Davityan attributed to its roots in the toll road industry, where it needed to deliver “lane-level” accuracy.

“Since then, we’ve delivered location-based solutions for retail, restaurants and other verticals,” Davityan told me via email. “The focus is on valuable, contactless experiences that prioritize the consumer’s needs.”

The company is extending its capabilities with the launch of a new product called Tempo, which is supposed to incorporate data like traffic patterns — and even the time it takes to get in and out of a car — to deliver real-time alerts when a customer is approaching.

That sounds particularly desirable in the middle of a pandemic, when businesses are increasingly interacting with customers via curbside pickup and drive-through — and presumably want to minimize contact even when the customers are inside the store. It also sounds a little creepy, but Davityan emphasized that the data is encrypted and anonymized.

Location marketing platform Uberall raises further $25M and acquires competitor Navads

“We don’t collect personal data, or track, share or sell location data,” he said. “It’s easy to make claims about being ‘privacy friendly.’ The real challenge is to live and breathe it, to make it central to your business.”

Bluedot says its footprint — as measured by unique monthly users — has increased 2,471% over the past year, and that it’s now powering more than 121 million location events each month.

The startup has now raised a total of $21.9 million. The new funding was led by Autotech Ventures, with participation from previous backer Transurban and new investors Forefront Ventures, IAG Firemark Ventures and Mighty Capital. Autotech’s Alexei Andreev is joining the Bluedot board, with Mighty Capital’s Jennifer Azapian joining as board observer.

“Software that can enable businesses to minimize contact is vital,” Andreev said in a statement. “Moving forward, we see the market favoring contactless solutions and Bluedot is poised to meet this demand. Bluedot’s differentiated offering, focus on consumer experience and scalability are key factors for any business’s future success, especially as we all rethink mobility and brand interactions.”

Placer.ai, a location data analytics startup, raises $12 million Series A

Categories: Business News

Trending now: <b>VoIP</b> Phone Market Analysis, Trends, Growth and Forecast 2020 to 2026 | Cisco ...

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 1 - 10:30pm
Current Trend 2020: Latest Analysis on VoIP Phone Market. Toronto, Canada: – The report involves insightful data on the main sectors of the Global ...
Categories: VoIP News

Ufone Increases Customer Satisfaction while Saving Almost 1000% with netElastic vBNG

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 1 - 10:30pm
Leading New Zealand VoIP Provider Chooses netElastic to Keep Services Fast and Reliable. Jul. 1, 2020 / PRZen / SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- netElastic ...
Categories: VoIP News

Science Inc. is getting into the music business with incubator Heavy Sound Labs

Startup News - 2020, July 1 - 10:08pm

Jason Geter, who previously co-founded Grand Hustle Records, told me that he’s looking to “redefine what a record label is today” with his new startup Heavy Sound Labs.

Geter said he sees Heavy Sound — which is part of startup studio Science Inc. — as an extension of the work he’s been doing for decades: Before co-founding Grand Hustle with T.I., Geter signed on as the rapper’s manager back when T.I. was only 18. He said he also signed Travis Scott back when Scott only had 500 views on YouTube.

“For me,  I want to continue doing what I’ve always done, which is prepare [artists] to go to major labels,” Geter said.

Of course, the music business has changed dramatically since Grand Hustle was founded in 2003, a change that’s only accelerating as the coronavirus pandemic has brought in-person concerts and tours to a halt.

For one thing, Geter argued, “Traditional labels, they’re pretty much not in the development business anymore” — in other words, they’re not interested in finding young, undiscovered artists and nurturing their careers. At the same time, he suggested that musical subcultures (like the Atlanta hip-hop scene that he calls home) are no longer tied to specific cities.

“Lil Nas X stayed online,” he said. “By the time I found out about him, everyone else did too. It all happened at once.”

Fortnite hosted a psychedelic Travis Scott concert and 12.3M people watched

As a result, he suggested that finding the next up-and-coming artist no longer means focusing on a geographic scene: “I wanted to be able to put myself out there in a way that someone in Memphis, Houston, Kentucky, Seattle — they really truly are disconnected from the music industry, but they can come to Heavysound.com and it’s available for everyone [to apply] without any gatekeepers.”

Heavy Sound Labs has an open application process on its website, and it’s already signed artists including AllStarrDaGreat (ADG), 47 Gino and Ralph Weah. The goal is to help those artists build their audience and get them signed to a major label within 24 months.

Geter said he also wants the incubator to avoid what he sees as one of the main structural issues of a traditional label — namely, its exclusive focus on music. Instead, he said Heavy Sound can also help artists explore other avenues, whether that’s fashion or cannabis. The specific contracts will differ from industry to industry, but Geter said the goal is to always partner with the artist in a 50-50 split.

“The music business is traditionally very linear,” he said. “Whether you’re talking about record sales or streams, it’s always one kind of vertical. If you want to talk publishing, they’ll send you to the next floor to talk about publishing, which I’ve never understood.”

Geter added that he’s hoping to reinvent industry internships at the same time. Heavy Sound has already recruited 1,200 people to what it calls its Heavy Crew. Those Crew members gets access a special Slack channel and to industry talks, and they’re then called upon to help promote Heavy Sound artists.

As for how Heavy Sound became part of Science, Geter said he met the startup studio’s co-founder Peter Pham at South by Southwest last year, who quickly suggested that Geter meet with Science co-founder and managing partner Mike Jones.

“Heavy Sound pairs Jason’s unmatched ability to identify and grow talent at the earliest stages of development with the Heavy Crew, a powerful digital network of creatives and fans who can help the artists gain cultural traction,” Jones said in a statement. “The music incubator’s focus on empowering artists and providing a supportive community sets it apart from anything else in the industry. We’re thrilled to work closely with Jason and help Heavy Sound scale this new model in music.”

Science, the L.A.-based incubator, just closed on $75 million for its first real venture fund

Categories: Business News

MaxoTel, Grandstream to Expand <b>VoIP</b> Solution in Australian Market

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 1 - 10:07pm
MaxoTel, Grandstream to Expand VoIP Solution in Australian Market. Grandstream, an SIP unified communication solutions company, and Maxo ...
Categories: VoIP News

New Jersey Businesses Prefer Hosted PBX Phone Systems Due to Their Many Benefits

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 1 - 10:07pm
VoIP or hosted PBX phone systems are an affordable phone system option with twice the amount of features. As a software-based solution, adding ...
Categories: VoIP News

Fauna raises an additional $27M to turn databases into a simple API call

Startup News - 2020, July 1 - 10:03pm

Databases have always been a complex part of the equation for developers requiring a delicate balance to manage inside the application, but Fauna wants to make adding a database a simple API call, and today it announced $27 million in new funding.

The round, which is technically an extension of the company’s 2017 Series A, was led by Madrona Venture Group with participation from Addition, GV, CRV, Quest Ventures and a number of individual investors. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $57 million, according to the company.

While it was at it, the company also added some executive fire power, announcing that it was bringing on former Okta chief product officer Eric Berg as CEO and former Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia as Chairman.

Companies like Stripe for payments and Twilio for communications are the poster children for the move to APIs. Instead of building sophisticated functionality from scratch, a developer can use an API call to a service, and presto, has the tooling built in without any fuss. Fauna does the same thing for databases.

“Within a few lines of code with Fauna, developers can add a full featured globally distributed database to their applications. They can simplify code, reduce costs and ship faster because they never again worry about database issues such as correctness, capacity, scalability, replication, etc,” new CEO Berg told TechCrunch.

To automate the process even further, the database is serverless, meaning that it scales up or down automatically to meet the needs of the application. Company co-founder Evan Weaver, who has moved to CTO with the hiring of Berg, says that Stripe is a good example of how this works. “You don’t think about provisioning Stripe because you don’t have to. […] You sign up for an account and beyond that you don’t have to provision or operate anything,” Weaver explained.

Like most API companies, it’s working at the developer level to build community and developer consensus around it. Today, they have 25,000 developers using the tool. While they don’t have an open source version, they try to attract developer interest with a generous free tier, after which you can pay as you go or set up a fixed monthly pricing as you scale up.

The company has always been 100% remote, so when COVID hit, it didn’t really change anything about the way the company’s 40 employees work. As the company grows Berg says it has aggressive goals around diversity and inclusion.

“Our recruiting and HR team have some pretty aggressive targets in terms of thinking about diversity in our pipelines and in our recruiting efforts, and because we’re a small team today we have the ability to impact that as we grow. If we doubled the size of the company, we could shift those percentages pretty dramatically, so it’s something that is definitely top of mind for us.”

Weaver says that fund raising began last year before COVID hit, but the term sheet wasn’t signed until April. He admits being nervous throughout the process, especially as the pandemic took hold. A company like Fauna is highly technical and takes time to grow, and he worried getting investors to understand that, even without a bleak economic picture, was challenging.

“It’s a deep tech business and it takes real capital to grow and scale. It’s a high risk, high reward bet, which is easier to fund in boom times, but broadly I think the best companies get built during recessions when there’s less competition for talent and there’s more focus on capital.”

Twilio 2010 board deck gives peek at now-public company’s early days

Categories: Business News

Discord Receives $100M Funding to Accelerate Growth

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 1 - 9:57pm
Messaging and VoIP platform Discord raised a $100M USD investment in June. In a blog post on Tuesday, its founders addressed several topics, ...
Categories: VoIP News

Conn3ct snaps up ICR Speech Solutions and Services

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 1 - 9:56pm
... Solutions and Services · A quick roundup of the news in Telecoms | Week #26 · Yeastar integrates with Microsoft Teams for exceptional VoIP calling ...
Categories: VoIP News

Prescriptive Analysis of <b>VoIP</b> Providers Market 2020-2025 | Nextiva, RingCentral, Verizon

Google News - VoIP - 2020, July 1 - 9:55pm
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is the technology that allows for the use of IP networks to perform telephony functions, such as making and ...
Categories: VoIP News

The Mom Project raises $25M for its job site aimed at women returning to work

Startup News - 2020, July 1 - 9:54pm

Women have long had the short end of the stick when it comes to employment, regularly finding themselves struggling to break through the glass ceiling for promotions and on average getting paid less than their male counterparts. That situation often gets compounded when the woman in question is a parent, balancing the needs of professional and home life and more.

But we’re seeing a gradual shift among companies to “do better” on inclusion, and that’s opening the door to new opportunities. And to underscore that, The Mom Project — a Chicago startup that focuses on connecting women, including parents, with jobs from organizations specifically open to employing people who meet that profile — is announcing a $25 million round of funding to expand its business.

The funding comes on the heels of some significant traction for The Mom Project . Since we first profiled the company in December 2018 (when it had raised a round of $8 million led by Initialized Capital) it has grown to 275,000 users (up from 75,000), and doubled the number of organizations posting jobs on the platform to 2,000, including several major tech companies other brands like Facebook, Nike, Uber, Apple, Google and Twitter. The company has also made an acquisition of a startup called Werk to add analytics tools to for its business customers.

The Series B round of funding brings the total raised by the startup to $36 million, and it is being led by 7CG — a VC that has backed the likes of Jio (the Indian juggernaut raising like crazy right now), Cheddar (the media platform acquired by Altice) and fintech Acorns — with participation also from Citi Ventures, Synchrony Financial, SVB and High Alpha, as well as previous investors Initialized Capital, Grotech Ventures, OCA, Aspect Ventures, Wintrust Financial, Irish Angels and Engage VC.

The Mom Project is built around a two-sided platform and both of those sides will be getting a boost with this funding.

On one side, the startup works with businesses to post job listings that specifically target women and those returning to work who might need more flexible terms in their employment engagements, as well as analyse its overall HR strategies around those efforts.

On the other side, it provides a platform to women who fit that basic profile — the average age of its users is between 28 and 44, its CEO and founder Allison Robinson (pictured above with her child) said — providing them both with job listings and other support.

The plan will be to enhance both aspects of the business: more tools for enterprises to better engage The Mom Project’s community, as well as manage the recruitment and employment of people better; and more tools for Mom users, including building out an interactive community (and forums) to better “address the pain points of family and career,” Robinson said.

While there are a lot of job boards online — indeed recruitment dot-coms were some of the earliest successful business in the earliest days of the World Wide Web, meaning there are giant legacy players out there — The Mom Project is a strong example of how that model has been evolving.

Specifically, we’re seeing a flourishing of startups, and sites, focused on identifying and cultivating job opportunities for specific segments of the market, be it specific types of jobs like engineers, or a specific demographic, or both — in ways that more general job boards like those on LinkedIn or Indeed either don’t highlight as well or simply cannot address.

These are not only connecting with specific talent groups, but speaking to the needs of businesses that are trying to make more of an effort to boost their workforce diversity as part of larger inclusion policies: they are also struggling, in their case to find effective ways to target specific kinds of candidates.

As we noted when we previously profiled The Mom Project, it was started when Robinson herself struggled to return to work — her previous career had he working as an executive at Pampers — after having a child, and it’s a problem that she is not alone in having identified, and the focus on addressing that and executing well on it is one reason The Mom Project has grown.

Needless to say, recent events have had a huge impact on how all those general employment trends, and the recruitment industry, have been going. We’ve seen unprecedented job losses, hiring freezes, a push for remote working all suddenly become the norm. All of that has had a mixed impact on The Mom Project.

In some ways, it plays into what the startup has been building all along: currently some two-thirds of all jobs posted and that people are looking to do are focused on fixed-term projects, rather than permanent positions, and so as companies slow down their normal recruiting, it leaves a space for the kind of work that people who need more flexible schedules may be able to do. That’s at the same time that the companies themselves may be reducing headcount overall for all kinds of work, however.

Another big theme of the last several months has been the big shift to inclusiveness when it comes to racial diversity, and that too has direct relevance in the female workforce, Robinson noted. “Sixty percent of the job losses in the pandemic have been women, and the statistics have been even worse for women of color,” she said. “It’s like a canary in the coalmine.”

While The Mom Project doesn’t have any tools today to surface candidates that meet more diverse profiles, Robinson said that they are considering it and how to approach that in a way that works.

Meanwhile, The Mom Project is also trying to do more to speak to the other side of its marketplace and the struggles they are having. It’s launched a $500,000 fund, distributing grants specifically to small businesses that are its customers (that is, hiring via The Mom Project) the are finding it especially tough right now. (And indeed, many have pointed to the especially hard hit that SMBs are taking at the moment.)

All of this is to say that there remains a huge market opportunity here and there is an argument to be made that companies that good at identifying clever ways of targeting gaps, and executing on that well, are strong candidates for identifying and filling other gaps in the future, one reason why investors are knocking.

“There is a material disconnect between senior female talent and executive roles at major corporations, not for lack of interest, however the difficulty to institutionalize in large enterprise. The Mom Project’s platform enables corporates to source, onboard and manage variable labor at the highest skill level, a function historically which has been offline and manual for FTEs and even more so difficult for flexible employees,” said Jack Leeney, founding partner at 7GC, in an emailed interview. “In our diligence, the value add to senior HR managers of an analytic platform which enables the oversight of a variable work force was the single most important factor to integrating The Mom Project initially and at scale. There is no other growth company, digital first HR company or large scale talent agency that is addressing the female exec population with an enterprise grade digital solution.”
Categories: Business News

Andela, which builds engineering teams tapping African talent, goes fully-remote and opens to the wider continent

Startup News - 2020, July 1 - 8:40pm

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working has become the name of the game for knowledge workers in the tech industry. Today, a startup that was an early mover on the opportunity of that model is announcing some news to double down on the concept.

Andela, the New York startup that helps tech companies build remote engineering teams while at the same time shrinking the digital divide by tapping talent out of hubs in Africa for those teams, is today announcing a big step up in its efforts. The company is itself going fully remote, and as part of that it’s widening the pool of people that it taps to work and train by extending its reach across the whole of the African continent, while also shutting down its existing physical campuses.

Jeremy Johnson, the co-founder and CEO, said that he believes that the move will extend the talent pool that it can tap to more than 500,000 engineers from the 250,000 that it could reach through its earlier model. To date some 100,000 engineers have applied to and used Andela’s skills training tools (it works in partnership with a number of other tech companies to provide these, including Google, Microsoft and Facebook) and it has connected some 1,000 people to job opportunities.

The news comes on the heels of the company laying off 135 employees in May, with senior employees taking 10%-30% pay-cuts ahead of what the company hinted would be a big change in its business — the news that’s getting announced today. Andela has confirmed that it is not making any more cuts to its staff with today’s news. (It has around 1,200 employees globally.)

We’re seeing a huge shift right now to remote working due to the persistent existence of COVID-19 and the need to keep more social distancing in place, and a byproduct of that has been people actively moving out of expensive tech hubs now that it’s been accepted that being in them isn’t a fundamental requirement to do work.

At the same time, a lot of companies have either slowed down or frozen hiring of full-time employees but are continuing to tap people for project-based work because their businesses are no less in need of talent to operate.

Both of those trends are an endorsement of the model that Andela helped to pioneer with its remote teams concept, and they more pointedly spell opportunity for companies like it that already have networks in place to speak to those demands.

All the same, it’s a major shift for the startup, not least because it’s closing down its physical campuses.

Founded in 2014 out of Lagos, Nigeria, and backed by investors like Generation (Al Gore’s fund), the Omidyar Network, Spark Capital and Chan Zuckerberg Education and valued at $700 million as of its most recent funding round last year, Andela has for the last six years focused on building a network based around the biggest tech hubs on the continent, building physical spaces in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, that helped source, vet and further train talent to become part of remote company teams for some 200 customers, with a large proportion of those in the US, including Cloudflare, Wellio, ViacomCBS, and Women Who Code.

As Andela started to scale that model, starting with a pilot in Ghana in 2018 and a second in Egypt last year, it saw that the more efficient route was to forego the physical hubs completely for virtual ones.

Indeed, Jeremy Johnson, the CEO who co-founded the company with Christina Sass, said that its move was not a direct response to the pandemic per se, although global events have definitely given a fillip to the concept. 

“What we’ve done historically is go and build campus in each location and in early days that made a ton of sense because that was helpful for training and from an infrastructure standpoint it was what we needed to do,” he said in an interview.

“But as we’ve transitioned to focus more on the breadth and depth of talent and diversity across the continent, we opened satellites in Egypt and Ghana where we didn’t require a campus. It’s actually worked really well and some ways feels like it’s opening opportunities for even greater growth.”

Our own interview was via Zoom, with me in London and Johnson in New Hampshire: Andela’s New York office (where he is normally based) closed for the moment.

“Our headquarters has technically been the internet, but we’ve had a big presence in NYC,” he said referring to its US base. He added that the expansion in Africa using the satellite/remote concept is the limit to how it apply the remote concept, with the question of what will happen in the future to even its US offices still not fully answered.

“We announced a few weeks ago we are going to be a remote-first company overall going forward,” he said. “It lets you think differently about where to live and more. I don’t know what it means longer term but for now we are all living on Zoom.”

While Andela is obviously expanding its talent pool with this move, and potentially giving a huge boost to providing more job opportunities for technology talent on the continent, the interesting next step for all of us will be to see how that connects with the other side of the marketplace — that is, the big tech companies themselves and how much they need to and are willing to invest in growing their own workforces. That is not a minor issue, considering the millions that have been laid off so far in the last few months.

Andela, Johnson said, has no plans to raise more capital at the moment with money in the bank and revenues continuing to come in. Last year, it confirmed that it was on an annual revenue run rate of $50 million, but it’s not updating that figure at the moment.

Categories: Business News

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The report presents a feasible synopsis of the VoIP Equipments market, that connects industry chain structure, definitions, applications, and proposals.
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Bolt launches electric bike-sharing service in Paris

Startup News - 2020, July 1 - 7:19pm

Like other ride-hailing companies, Bolt has been suffering from the coronavirus-related lockdown and economic downturn around the world. But the company is trying to find another revenue stream by launching electric bikes in Paris. Bolt plans to launch a similar service in other European capitals this year.

For the past couple of weeks, the only bike-sharing service that has been operating in Paris is Vélib’, the public bike-sharing service based on docked bikes and electric bikes. Many private companies have tried to compete with Vélib’ but they’ve all failed so far — Gobee.bike, Obike, Ofo, Mobike…

The most recent example is Jump, Uber’s micromobility subsidiary. Following a financial transaction with Lime, Jump has removed all its bikes from the streets of Paris, London, Rome, Brussels and more. Those electric bikes now belong to Lime, but Lime hasn’t relaunched the service yet (if it ever gets relaunched).

Lime closes acquisition of Jump assets in Europe as Jump bikes and scooters disappear

But it doesn’t mean bikes aren’t popular. The public bike-sharing service in Paris is even reaching record highs these days. Let’s see if it means that people are willing to give Bolt’s e-bikes a try.

In addition to ride-hailing and scooters, you’ll be able to access the bike-sharing service from the same Bolt app. Like other free-floating vehicles, you can unlock a bike by scanning a QR code.

When it comes to pricing, Bolt is trying to make its service as cheap as possible to attract its first users. There won’t be any unlock fee and it’ll cost €0.10 per minute. It’s still unclear how much it’s going to cost after the launch phase.

Vélib’ still feels more attractive when it comes to pricing. It costs €2 to rent an e-bike for up to 30 minutes, or €8.30 per month to rent as many e-bikes as you want in a given month. With Bolt, you pay €2 for a 20-minute ride — and that’s without any unlock fee.

Bolt has 30 million users in 35 countries. It operates a scooter service in 21 cities around Europe.

Categories: Business News

The Top 5 Business Phone Services for Startups and Enterprises

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