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Fintech startups and unicorns had a stellar Q4 2020

Startup News - 2021, January 21 - 12:12am

The fourth quarter of 2020 was as busy as you imagined, with super-late-stage startups reaching new valuation thresholds at a record pace, and total venture capital funding in the United States recording its second-best result of all time.

That’s according to data released recently by CB Insights, which complements our look back at 2020’s venture capital year in America from yesterday.

At the time, we noted that American startups raised an average of $428 million each day last year, a sum that helps illustrate how rapid the private markets moved during the odd period.

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.

But a peek at aggregate results for the world’s largest VC market provides only part of the picture. We need to narrow our lens and peer more deeply into standout categories to understand how the U.S. venture capital market managed to post its biggest year ever in terms of dollars invested, despite seeing deal volume slip for a second consecutive year.

This morning, we’re scraping data together to better understand.

First, we want to see how unicorns performed in Q4 2020. This column noted in late December that it felt like unicorn creation was rapid in the quarter; how did that hold up?

Then we’ll dig into PitchBook data concerning the fintech sector, a huge recipient of venture capital time, attention and money.

Fintech’s 2020 is a good perspective to view both the year and its wild final quarter. So this morning, as America itself resets, let’s take a moment to understand last year just a little bit better as we get into this new one.

Unicorns

One of the most curious things about the unicorn era is the rising bet it represents. I’ve written about this before so I will be brief: Nearly every quarter, the number of unicorns — private companies worth $1 billion or more — goes up.

The private market is able to create more unicorns than it has been historically able to exit them.

Some of these companies exit, sometimes in group fashion. But, quarter after quarter, the number of unexited unicorns rises. This means that the bet on expected future liquidity from venture capitalists and other private investors keeps ratcheting higher.

Categories: Business News

<b>VoIP</b> Software Market Statistics and Research Analysis Released in Latest Industry Report 2020 ...

Google News - VoIP - 2021, January 20 - 11:54pm
VoIP Software Market report includes definitions, classifications, applications, and industry chain structure, development trends, competitive landscape ...
Categories: VoIP News

Cannabis marketing startup Fyllo acquires DataOwl

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 11:15pm

Fyllo has acquired DataOwl, a company offering marketing and loyalty tools for cannabis retailers.

Fyllo said it already works with 320 cannabis retailers across 25 states (plus Puerto Rico and Jamaica). According to Chief Marketing Officer Conrad Lisco, this acquisition allows the company to offer the industry’s “first end-to-end marketing solution,” combining consumer data, digital advertising, regulatory compliance (thanks to Fyllo’s acquisition of CannaRegs last year) and, through DataOwl, CRM and loyalty tied into a business’ point-of-sale system.

As an example, founder and CEO Chad Bronstein (previously the chief revenue officer at digital marketing company Amobee) said that retailers will be able to use the Fyllo platform to send promotional texts to regular customers while, crucially, ensuring those campaigns are fully in compliance with state and local regulations. He added that eventually, the platform could be used beyond cannabis, in other regulated industries.

“Beauty, gambling, etc. — the same things need to happen in every regulated industry, they would all benefit from loyalty and compliance automation,” Bronstein said.

In addition, he argued that mainstream brands are increasingly interested in using data around cannabis and CBD consumers, as borne out in a Forrester study commissioned by Fyllo.

Cannabis marketing company Fyllo acquires CannaRegs for $10M

Lisco said this acquisition comes at a crucial time for the cannabis industry, with dispensaries classified as essential businesses in many states, as well as continuing momentum behind marijuana legalization.

“In 2020, cannabis came of age,” he said. “We would say it went from illicit to essential in 10 months … 2021 is really about watching endemic [marijuana] brands try to scale, so that they can capitalize on the explosive growth. They’ve historically been excluded from the kinds of integrated marketing capabilities that other non-endemic [mainstream] brands get to use when they go to market.”

Bronstein said Fyllo aims to bring those capabilities to marijuana brands, first by bringing its compliance capabilities into the DataOwl product. The company also aims to create a national cannabis loyalty platform, allowing a marijuana retailer in one state to easily expand its marketing capabilities into other states in a compliant fashion.

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. DataOwl co-founders Dan Hirsch and Vartan Arabyan are joining Fyllo, as is the rest of their team, bringing the company’s total headcount to 110.

“By integrating with Fyllo, DataOwl’s solutions will reach the widest possible audience via the industry’s most innovative marketing platform,” Hirsch said in a statement.

2020 was a defining year for cannabis: What comes next?

Categories: Business News

HiPeople picks up $3M seed to automate reference checks

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 8:00pm

HiPeople, a HR tech startup based in Berlin that wants to automate the reference checking process, has raised $3 million in seed funding.

Leading the round is Mattias Ljungman’s Moonfire, with participation from Capnamic Ventures, and Cherry Ventures. It follows a $1.1 million pre-seed in late 2019. Notably, the seed round was closed fully remote, without any in-person meetings. “Just like the hiring processes of HiPeople’s clients,” founders Jakob Gillmann and Sebastian Schüller told me in an email.

HiPeople says the investment will be used to support growth so that more recruiters can hire remotely using automated reference checks. Longer term, the company is developing a candidate analytics platform to provide rich data and insights on each candidate and enable what it frames as “data-driven” hiring.

“Abstractly-speaking HiPeople is in the talent insights business,” say Gillmann and Schüller. “It’s mission is to enable better hiring by automatically collecting and analyzing talent data, and providing rich insights. HiPeople currently solves this by automating candidate reference checks from request, to collection, and analysis. This allows companies to extend the information they have on a candidate without additional manual work”.

The idea behind the software-as-a-service is that HiPeople’s approach creates a seamless user experience for the recruiter, and “verified, in-depth reference checks they can trust”. As a result, the startup claims that its users on average collect 2x the amount of references on a candidate, in 50% of the time. “Traditionally, reference checks are underutilized due to the highly manual process, and often only exclusively used for executive hiring. HiPeople dusts off reference checks, and enables rich talent insights by rethinking how they are done,” says HiPeople’s founders.

HiPeople’s customers span fast growing startups to tech scale-ups and more established upper mid-market companies. For example, process mining company Celonis, which doubled its workforce in the last 12 months to 1,200 employees globally, uses HiPeople to improve hiring quality for roles in San Francisco, Munich and Tokyo. “By programmatically conducting reference checks the company hires talent based on verified insights on topics like areas of improvement, skills, teamwork style, or work values,” explains HiPeople.

Adds Moonfire’s Mattias Ljungman: “Workflow automation of repetitive processes, and insights on the candidate that go beyond the limitations of the CV, are a clear pain for anybody in recruiting. The Covid-influenced reality of remote work, hence remote hiring practices, has increased the complexity of finding the right talent. HiPeople created a way to enable anybody who is hiring to make better decisions, whilst improving processes and increasing hiring velocity”.

Gillmann and Schüller tell me that in Europe, HiPeople mainly competes with the existing infrastructure and processes recruiters use to manually conduct references checks. In the U.S., companies like Xref or Crosschq are more direct competitors in terms of automating reference checks.

Categories: Business News

Landbot closes $8M Series A for its ‘no code’ chatbot builder

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 5:00pm

Barcelona-based Landbot, a “no-code” chatbot builder, has bagged an $8 million Series A led by the Spanish-Israeli VC firm Swanlaab, alongside support from Spain’s innovation-focused public agency, CDTI. Previous investors Nauta Capital, Encomenda and Bankinter also participated in the round.

We last chatted to Landbot back in 2018 when it raised a $2.2 million seed and had 900+ customers. It’s grown that to ~2,200 paying customers, with some 50,000 individuals now using its tool (across both free and paid accounts).

Since its seed it’s also increased recurrent revenues 10x — and is expecting growth to keep stepping up, fuelled by the new financing.

Landbot gets $2.2M for its on-message ‘anti-AI’ chatbot

It says the coronavirus pandemic has supercharged demand for conversational landing pages as all sorts of businesses look for ways to automate higher volumes of digitally inbound customer comms, without needing to make major investments in in-house IT.

Landbot’s customers range from SMEs to specific teams and products within larger organisations, with the startup name-checking the likes of Nestlé, MediaMarkt, Coca-Cola, Cepsa, PcComponentes and Prudential among its customer roster.

“We are seeing strong traction from industries like eCommerce, Financial Services and Marketing Agencies,” CEO & co-founder Jiaqi Pan tells TechCrunch. “The ecommerce segment is one we have seen the most growth in since COVID-19, where we increased 2x the number of customers from ecommerce industry.”

The new funding will be used to double Landbot’s team during 2021 (currently it employs 40 people) — with hiring planned across sales, marketing and engineering.

The startup, which launched its “no code” flavor of chatbot builder back in 2017, previously relocated HQ from Valencia to Barcelona to help with recruitment.

Since Landbot’s launch, the burgeoning “no code/low code” movement has become a fully fledged trend driven by demand for productivity — and lead-boosting digital services outstripping most businesses’ supply of expert in-house techies able to build stuff.

Hence the rise of service-builder tools that make customizable tech capabilities accessible to non-technical staff.

The pandemic has merely poured more fuel on this fire — and low-friction tools like Landbot are clearly reaping the rewards.

‘No code’ will define the next generation of software

Interestingly, as well as competing with other conversational chatbot builders, like San Francisco-based ManyChat, Landbot says it’s seeing traction from customers who are seeking to replace web forms with more engaging chat interfaces.

Its drag-and-drop chatbot builder tool supports information workers to design what Landbot bills as “an immersive web page experience filled with gifs and visual elements to capture the attention of the end-user” — so you can understand the appeal for SMEs to be able to replace their boring old static forms with an experience any smartphone user is familiar with from using messaging apps like WhatsApp.

“In terms of the main competitor in the no-code space, we have some overlap with ManyChat as the most direct competitor for Chatbot. On the other hand, as we have a lot of customers using us to replace their forms we are competing also against form builders like Typeform,” says Pan, the latter another Barcelona-based startup which similarly bills itself as a platform for “conversational” and “interactive” data collection.

Landbot notes it recently acquired India-based Morph.AI, a chat-based marketing automation tool, which it’s using to help convert social, website and ad traffic into leads — also with the aim of further expanding into presence in the Asian market.

To date, 90% of its customers are international, with 60% coming from the U.S., U.K. and Germany.

Commenting on the Series A in a statement, Juan Revuelta, general partner of Swanlaab, said: “The beauty of Landbot is in the drag and drop solution of the product. The simplicity is critical to making this product accessible to everyone across many different types of business. If you’re a small company you don’t have the luxury of time or money to solve issues in customer service or run lavish marketing campaigns.

“Landbot helps all businesses to have truly frictionless conversations with customers and exchange the data they need to make smarter decisions and scale. The team has had a remarkable 2020, and we’re excited to support them in helping more businesses this year.”

ManyChat raises $18M to help businesses tap into messaging

Categories: Business News

<b>VoIP</b> Services Market 2021 SWOT Analysis, by Key Players: Vonage, Comcast, Time Warner ...

Google News - VoIP - 2021, January 20 - 12:22pm
Thorough evaluation of the VoIP Services market by seasoned market researchers and veteran business analysts have been considered in the report.
Categories: VoIP News

Podchaser raises $4m to build a comprehensive podcast database

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 8:06am

Podchaser, a startup building what it calls “IMDB for podcasts,” recently announced that it has raised $4 million in a funding round led by Greycroft.

In other words, it’s a site where — similar to the Amazon-owned Internet Movie Database — users can look up who’s appeared in which podcasts, rate and review those podcasts and add them lists. In fact, CEO Bradley Davis told me that the startup’s “vibrant, exciting community of podcast nerds” have already created 8.5 million podcast credits in the database.

Davis said this is something he simply wanted to exist and was, in fact, convinced that it had to exist already. When he realized that it didn’t, he posted on Reddit asking whether anyone was willing to build the company with him — which is how he connected with his eventual co-founder and CTO Ben Slinger in Australia. (Podchaser is a fully distributed company, with Davis currently based in Oklahoma City.)

To be clear, Davis doesn’t think podcast nerds are the only ones taking advantage of the listings. Instead, he suggested that it’s useful for anyone seeing to learn more about podcasts and discover new ones, with Podchaser’s monthly active users quintupling over the past year.

For example, he said that one of the most popular pages is politician Pete Buttigieg’s profile, where visitors don’t just learn about Buttigieg’s own podcast but see others on which he’s appeared. (You can also use Podchaser to learn more about TechCrunch’s Equity, Mixtape and Original Content podcasts, though those profiles could stand to be filled out a bit more.)

Podcast analytics and attribution startup Chartable raises $2.25M

There has been endless discussion about how to fix podcast discovery, and while Davis isn’t claiming that Podchaser will solve it wholesale, he thinks it can be part of the solution — not just through its own database, but through the broader Podcast Taxonomy project that it’s organizing.

“I think if we are successful at standardizing a lot fo the terminology, and if we do an analysis of all podcasts, of how popular they are, that [will help many listeners] to cull and find the good stuff,” he said.

Podchaser plans to add new features that will further encourage user contributions, like a gamification system and a discussion system.

While the consumer site is free, the startup recently launched a paid product called Podchaser Pro, which provides reach and demographic data across 1.8 million podcasts. It also monetizes by providing podcast players with access to its credits through an API.

Davis said the startup was “lucky” that it decided to build a database that’s “agnostic” from any specific podcast player.

“So we had a lot of latitude to work with those platforms, we integrate with many of those platforms and you’re going to see a lot of our credits showing up [in podcast players],” he said.

In addition to Greycroft, Advancit Capital, LightShed Ventures, Powerhouse Capital, High Alpha, Hyde Park Venture Partners and Poplar Ventures also participated in the round, as did TrendKite founder A.J. Bruno, Ad Results Media CEO Marshall Williams and Shamrock Capital Partner Mike LaSalle.

“Even in the face of a pandemic, the podcast market continues to grow at a breakneck pace,” said Greycroft co-founder and chairman Alan Patricof in a statement. “The demand from consumers and brands is insatiable. Podchaser’s data and discovery tools are crucial to taking podcasting to new heights.”

Spotify launches video podcasts worldwide, starting with select creators

Categories: Business News

Drone-focused construction startup TraceAir raises $3.5M

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 7:33am

Bay Area-based construction startup TraceAir today announced a $3.5 million Series A. Led by London-based XTX Ventures, this round brings the company’s total funding up to $7 million. The raise includes existing investor Metropolis VC, along with new additions Liquid 2 Ventures, GEM Capital, GPS Ventures and Andrew Filev.

We first noted the company back in 2016, when it pitched a method for using drones to spot construction errors before they become too expense. It’s a pretty massive field that various technology companies are attempting to solve through a variety of different means, ranging from quadrupedal robots to site-scanning hard hats.

Last February, TraceAir announced a new drone management tool. “Haul Router provides the best mathematically objective hauls for each given drone scan,” the company noted at the time. “Any employee can use the tool to design a haul road and export the results to feed into grading equipment.”

The pandemic has thrown the construction industry for a loop (along with countless others). But unlike other sectors, demand still remains high in many places. TraceAir is hoping its solution will prove beneficial as many outfits seek a way to continue the process in spite of uncertainty.

“The Covid-19 pandemic created new challenges for the U.S. and worldwide construction industries, resulting in delayed projects and growing unemployment rates,” CEO Dmitry Korolev said in a release tied to the news. “Our platform allows industry leaders to manage projects more efficiently and collaborate with their teams remotely, minimizing the need for a physical presence on-site.”

TraceAir says the additional funding will go toward its sales and marketing, along with future product developments, including an unnamed product set for release this quarter.

Construction startup Scaled Robotics raises a €2M seed round

Categories: Business News

A first look at Qualtrics’ IPO pricing

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 6:59am

Earlier today, Qualtrics dropped a new S-1 filing, this time detailing its proposed IPO pricing. That means we can now get a good look at how much the company may be worth when it goes public later this month.

The debut has been one TechCrunch has been looking forward to since the company announced that it would be spun out from its erstwhile corporate parent, SAP. In 2019, the Germany-based enterprise giant SAP snatched up Qualtrics for $8 billion just before it was to go public.

Qualtrics is either worth less than we would have guessed, or its first IPO range feels light.

That figure provides a good marker for how well SAP has done with the deal and how much value Qualtrics has generated in the intervening years. Keep in mind, however, that the value of software companies has risen greatly in the last few years, so the numbers we’ll see below benefit from a market-wide repricing of recurring revenue.

Qualtrics estimates that it may be worth $22 to $26 per share when it goes public. Is that a lot? Let’s find out.

Qualtrics’ first IPO range

First, scale. Qualtrics is selling just under 50 million shares in its public offering. As you can math out, at more than $20 per share, the company is looking to raise north of $1 billion.

After going public, Qualtrics anticipates having 510,170,610 shares outstanding, inclusive of its 7.4 million underwriter option. Using that simple share count, Qualtrics would be worth $11.2 billion to $13.3 billion.

Categories: Business News

How and when to build marketing teams at deep tech companies

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 5:15am

Deep tech startups develop cutting-edge innovations with the power to truly revolutionize society. The founding team members at these companies often come from deeply technical backgrounds, which powers rapid product progress but can create bottlenecks on the go-to-market side.

In this post, I outline the answers to four key questions around marketing at early-stage deep tech companies that are post-revenue:

  • What marketing teams at deep tech companies do.
  • When to hire the marketing team.
  • Whether the marketing team needs industry experience.
  • How to source and evaluate talent for the marketing team.

From this post, deep tech startups can formulate their marketing hiring strategy and attract and cultivate top talent to drive their go-to-market plan. Without business execution, even the most groundbreaking innovations do not achieve their intended impact.

What do marketing teams at deep tech companies do?

To set the context, I share below the typical projects of deep tech marketing teams, which look different from marketing in other industries given the greater product focus and complexity, regulatory oversight and longer time to market.

Go-to-market

Marketers leverage the strength of the IP to establish collaborations with large companies, such as pharma companies and institutions, such as the government, universities or hospitals. To this end, marketers develop creative ways to gather lists of, and information on, key contacts at these potential partners. They also build sales collateral, such as demo videos, pitch decks and one-pagers, to more effectively reach and build long-term relationships with these prospects.

More broadly, marketers also develop the go-to-market strategy beyond partnerships. To this end, marketers conduct in-depth market research on business models, monetization strategies and reimbursement channels.

Communications

Marketers create original content to establish the company as a thought leader, build the company’s brand credibility through social media and apply for awards and honors to validate the potential of the company’s solution.

Forecasting

Marketers work with finance and product teams to formulate projections as the company moves into the clinical phase.

When should deep tech companies hire marketers?

The CEO and other members of the founding team take on marketing work in the formation stage to better understand and empathize with the needs, capabilities and opportunities in the department before bringing someone on full time.

Once the product shows signs of repeatable revenue, a marketing lead is needed. Specifically, this is ahead of a large Series A round, after a small Series A round or when a commercial partner has expressed interest in larger, long-term contracts. Instead of the typical chief marketing officer or chief revenue officer title, deep tech startups call this person a chief commercial officer or chief partnerships officer.

For additional support in the formation stage, companies bring on MBA interns and work with their investors. Prior to the Series A, platform teams at deep tech venture-capital funds are hands-on in helping with marketing through actually doing marketing projects for their portfolio companies, ideating on long-term marketing strategy with the founders through regular feedback sessions and connecting founders with vetted marketing contractors or agencies.

For companies that require FDA approval, commercial advisors, consultants and board members fully take on the partnership strategy work (which represents the bulk of the marketing needs) prior to the Series A round. Similarly, external consultants, such as marketing agencies, can take over major projects like launch strategy. External consultants can then join the team should their performance be strong.

For drug-development companies, the marketing leader is most crucial when the company enters the clinical phase and prepares for trials, regardless of funding stage.

Do marketing hires need industry experience?

Of course, it is ideal to hire someone with experience selling into the space and someone who is comfortable with the complex supply chains and long sales cycles. However, if the choice is between someone with functional expertise but no industry expertise and someone with industry experience but limited or no functional expertise, it is better to hire the former candidate and leverage the rest of the team for domain expertise. Deep tech is a niche area, so the other team members can support the marketer in developing industry expertise.

Categories: Business News

Bolt Mobility launching into 48 new markets after snapping up Last Mile’s assets

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 5:02am

Bolt Mobility, the Miami-based micromobility startup co-founded by Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, is expanding to 48 new markets after acquiring the assets of Last Mile Holdings.

Bolt Mobility’s rise and Last Mile’s demise captures the uncertainty that plagued micromobility companies in the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic upended business models that were, in some cases, already on shaky ground.

Bolt Mobility and Last Mile were both negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bolt Mobility, for instance, had to shut down in several markets in early 2020 due to the pandemic. The company rebounded after it tweaked its business model and began to partner with local operators, added GM’s former VP global design Ed Welburn as an adviser and came out with a new scooter equipped with dual brakes, 10-inch wheels, LED lights, swappable batteries with 25 miles of range and NanoSeptic surfaces on its handlebars and brake levers designed to rid these common contact points of germs and bacteria.

Last Mile Holdings didn’t fare as well.

If Last Mile Holdings doesn’t sound familiar, the brands it once owned might. Last Mile was a holding company that owned the OjO Electric scooters and Gotcha Mobility, which had a portfolio of electric trikes, scooters and bikes. The company acquired Gotcha in a $12 million cash and stock deal that closed in March 2020.

As Bolt Mobility grew, with its customer base hitting 300,000 users in 2020, Last Mile hit headwinds. Last Mile Holdings, which traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under MILE, ended up selling its U.S. assets in an auction. Bolt Mobility acquired substantially all of the assets of the company for a credit bid of $3 million, according to a filing at the end of the year.

Those assets include 8,500 new devices, including e-scooters, e-bikes, pedal bikes and sit-down cruisers and licenses to operate in 48 new markets, the majority of which (more than 30) are exclusive contracts, according to Bolt CEO Ignacio Tzoumas. The 48 new markets include 18 university campuses.

“The acquisition represents a significant expansion for Bolt on all fronts,” Tzoumas said, adding that the company brought on former Gotcha Chief Operating Officer Matt Tolan, who will now serve as Bolt’s chief commercial officer, as well as about 20 team members who were formerly a part of Gotcha’s tech and operations teams.

Riders in Bolt’s new markets will continue to be able to access and use the e-scooters, e-bikes and pedal bikes through the Gotcha Mobility and Ojo Electric iOS and Android mobile apps. Bolt is working with cities and universities to transition these markets to Bolt’s platform. The acquisition adds e-bikes to the Bolt platform for the first time. Although, the company was already developing its own line of e-bikes that it plans to launch later this year.

Image Credits: Bolt Mobility

Bolt credits its new business model for helping it survive and even thrive in 2020. Instead of continuing to handle the complex and expensive task of fleet management and operations, Bolt decided to partner with local companies. These partners operate Bolt’s fleets on the ground in each individual market. This customizable approach allowed for a business partnership model in select markets where Bolt leased scooters to delivery workers, restaurants and other small businesses, the company said. 

By July, Bolt and its partners were operating in five new or re-launched markets. Bolt also has a backlog of agreements with partners for an additional 20 markets that the acquisition is primed to fulfill, according to the company. 

Tzoumas said Bolt was able to execute the deal without taking on any additional debt, and “under terms that will allow us to continue devoting our resources to expanding and improving our services in all of the markets where we operate.” The acquisition was funded in part by Fuel Venture Capital, an existing Bolt investor.  Bolt is also backed by Sofreh Capital and The Yucaipa Companies.

“We founded Bolt because we believe in micromobility as a movement that can transform the way people live and move within their communities,” Usain Bolt said in a statement. “This expansion proves that anything is possible for micromobility when you support it with talented people, innovative technology, and the incredible work ethic of the Bolt team.”

Backed by Serena Williams and Usain Bolt, Let’s Do This raises $15M from EQT

Categories: Business News

Uppbeat launches a freemium music platform aimed at YouTubers

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 4:20am

A new music platform, Uppbeat, aims to make it easier for YouTubers and other content creators to find quality free music to use in their videos. The system, which is designed to navigate the complexities of copyright claims while also fairly compensating artists, offers an alternative to existing free music platforms, including YouTube’s own Audio Library and Creative Commons’ legal music for videos, for example.

The idea for the startup comes from Lewis Foster and Matt Russell, the U.K.-based co-founders of another music-licensing company, Music Vine, which has been operating for about six years.

Last year, the co-founders realized there was a growing opportunity to address the creator space with a slightly different product.

“We were realizing, more and more, was that the creator space — YouTubers, streamers, podcasters — has become enormous, but there wasn’t a music platform that was doing a nice job for those type of users,” explains Foster. “So we sat down and thought about what the perfect music resource would look like for creators. That led to deciding to build Uppbeat,” he says.

They began developing the Uppbeat website in September 2020 and launched it to the public on Monday.

On the creators’ side, Uppbeat’s key focus is on eliminating headaches over copyright claims, particularly on YouTube.

Currently, if a YouTuber gets a copyright claim over music in their video, it can cause them to lose income. Though YouTube has worked to address this problem over the years with new features and changes to its Content ID match system, it’s still an issue.

“If a YouTuber gets a copyright claim, [YouTube] can de-monetize their video. And if they go through YouTube’s dispute system, it can take as long as 30 days for it to get resolved. It’s a pretty big frustration for YouTubers,” Foster says.

Uppbeat’s music will instead almost instantly clear the claims.

Image Credits: Uppbeat

Similar to Spotify, the Uppbeat website leverages a freemium model, To get started, creators can sign up for a free account that provides access to about 50% of the site’s roughly 1,000-track music catalog and 10 downloads per month. The paid plan offers full catalog access and no download limit.

Free users simply add a credit to their YouTube video description to clear copyright claims, while paid users are added to an approved list, eliminating this extra step.

Because the tracks have to be fingerprinted to fight off unlicensed usage, a copyright claim will still occur. But instead of taking days or weeks to resolve, it will be cleared within about five minutes, the company says. The Uppbeat system clears the claim by checking the video description for the necessary credit and by checking the claim against its list of paid users. This is all automated, too, which helps to speed things up.

Image Credits: Uppbeat

Meanwhile, on the artists’ side, Uppbeat pays as their music is used — even by the free users.

The revenue from the premium subscriptions, and soon, advertising, is divided between the artists on a monthly basis, in proportion to the number of downloads the artist receives.

“What that means from the artists’ perspective is, on average, they’re going to make the same amount from tracks on the premium side as they do on the free side,” says Lewis. “It means, even for free usage, they will get paid,” he adds.

The site will also monetize through audio ads that play as you browse the tracks and listen to the music. (However, these are just promoting the paid plan for the time being.)

Browsing Uppbeat’s catalog is easy, too. The music is organized by genre, theme and style in colorful rows that aim to introduce all the different types of music and beats a YouTuber may need. For example, there’s music customized for use  in the background and other tracks that cater to different moods like inspiring, calm, happy, dramatic and more. A catalog of SFX (sound effects) is expected to be added in a few months, too.

Uppbeat believes its existing music industry connections with producers, composers and songwriters via Music Vine will help them to source higher-quality tracks than other free music services.

At present, the startup is self-funded through revenues from Music Vine, but Foster says they’ve had some VC interest. For now, though, the founders are looking to keep the ownership in-house, for the most part.

However, Uppbeat is experimenting with both a referral program and a profit-sharing scheme. The latter will allow YouTubers who bring Uppbeat new customers, then take the full revenue from those customers for two years’ time.

“We’re taking a massive sacrifice,” Foster admits. “But from from our perspective, the faster we can get Uppbeat out there and well-known in the YouTuber space, then we’re happy to share that [revenue]. We think it’s a cool idea to share that within the YouTuber community, rather than [take] a big private investment,” he notes.

The startup is also considering making shares in the company available to some larger YouTubers, Foster adds.

Today, Uppbeat is a team of eight employees and 12 freelancers, based in Leeds, U.K.

YouTube shuts down music companies’ use of manual copyright claims to steal creator revenue

 

Categories: Business News

FBI warns of voice phishing attacks targeting employees at large companies

Google News - VoIP - 2021, January 20 - 4:18am
Using VoIP calls, the attackers trick people into logging into phishing sites as a way to steal their usernames and passwords. PHISHING Button on ...
Categories: VoIP News

Voice over Internet Protocol (<b>VoIP</b>) Services Market 2021 Industry- Emerging Trend, Top Players ...

Google News - VoIP - 2021, January 20 - 4:14am
New Jersey, United States,- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Services Market Report gives a definite examination of the market. After an in-depth ...
Categories: VoIP News

<b>VoIP</b> Software Market Size, Key Players, Segmentation, Demand, Growth, Trend, Opportunity and ...

Google News - VoIP - 2021, January 20 - 3:59am
From network accomplices, new dispatches, to marketing techniques, everything is included the VoIP Software report. This will give a short review of the ...
Categories: VoIP News

Mobile <b>VoIP</b> Market with Potential Impact of Coronavirus (COVID19), SWOT Analysis, Risk Analysis ...

Google News - VoIP - 2021, January 20 - 2:21am
The effect of the Covid-19 outbreak on the Mobile VoIP industry, involving possible opportunities and challenges, drivers and risks, is also investigated ...
Categories: VoIP News

How <b>VoIP</b> Market Will Dominate In Coming Years? Report Covering Products, Financial ...

Google News - VoIP - 2021, January 20 - 1:19am
VoIP Market · IndustryGrowthInsights, 19012021 · Get a PDF Copy of the Sample Report for Free @ · The Major Manufacturers Covered in this Report:
Categories: VoIP News

Rivian raises $2.65B as it pushes toward production of its electric pickup

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 12:38am

Rivian has raised $2.65 billion as it prepares to begin production this summer of its all-electric pickup truck.

The round, which was led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., also included Fidelity Management and Research Company, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Coatue and D1 Capital Partners as well as several other existing and new investors.

Rivian is now valued at $27.6 billion, according to a person familiar with the investment round.

The capital comes at a critical time for Rivian, which is undertaking the design, development, production and delivery of two consumer vehicles (the R1T pickup truck and the R1S SUV), and building out of its electric vehicle charging network as well as fulfilling an order for 100,000 commercial delivery vans for Amazon.

“The support and confidence of our investors enables us to remain focused on these launches while simultaneously scaling our business for our next stage of growth,” Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said in a statement.

This latest round follows two years of heavy investment activity that began in earnest after the company unveiled its electric SUV and pickup truck at the 2018 LA Auto Show.

Just months after that reveal, Rivian announced a $700 million funding round led by Amazon. More deals and investments would follow, including a $500 million investment from Ford — along with a promise to collaborate on a future EV program — and a $350 million investment by Cox Automotive in September 2019. The company closed the year with an announcement that it had raised a $1.3 billion round led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. with additional participation from Amazon, Ford Motor Company and funds managed by BlackRock.

The stream of capital didn’t stop in 2020. Rivian announced in July it had raised $2.5 billion in a round led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. New investors Soros Fund Management LLC, Coatue, Fidelity Management and Research Company and Baron Capital Group along with existing shareholders Amazon and BlackRock joined the round.

To date, Rivian has raised $8 billion since the start of 2019.

Rivian’s factory in Normal, Illinois. Image Credits: Rivian

Rivian hasn’t held back on spending that capital. The company has put more than $1 billion into its factory in Normal, Illinois. The factory, which once produced the Mitsubishi Eclipse through a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler Corporation, has been completely updated and expanded.

The overhaul of the 3 million-square-foot factory is on schedule, but not yet complete, according to the company. A pilot line is operational and is producing validation prototypes of its R1T pickup truck daily.

Rivian also plans to produce the delivery vans for Amazon at the factory. The first van deliveries will be made to Amazon in late 2021.

Rivian is building its own EV charging network, but with an adventurous twist

Categories: Business News

In 2020, VCs invested $428M into US-based startups every day

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 12:36am

Despite a pandemic that sparked a global recession, 2020 was still a record year for venture capital investments into American startups.

According to data shared by PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association, investors poured $156.2 billion into domestic startups last year, or around $428 million for each day of the year. The huge sum of money, however, was itself dwarfed by the amount of liquidity that American startups generated, some $290.1 billion.

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The exit-value figure was a record as well, as were the 321 rounds worth $100 million — nearly one for each day of the year.

But while the U.S. venture capital market in 2020 was hot, it was not newly so. In 2018 and 2019, VCs invested around $140 billion into domestic startups, making last year’s $156 billion result a record, but not a shocking departure from previous years.

A first read of the data indicates that the U.S. venture capital market is still getting larger in scale and later-stage in focus. But inside those well-worn trends are a host of notable movements that both underscore what we observed last year in real-time and teach us something new about today’s venture capital market.

So far, 2021’s startup financing and exit market appears to be the mirror of what we saw in late 2020. So we’d best understand the past so we can forecast what we’ll see in Q1 of 2021.

To avoid getting too lost in the data, we’ll proceed by stage, pulling out key facts for each step of the startup lifecycle. Feel free to scroll to the one that makes the most sense for where your company is or where your fund invests.

Seed

In the U.S., seed deal count was high in 2020, around 5,227 per PitchBook’s estimates. Those rounds were worth just over $10 billion, making it the third year in a row in which American seed-stage startups managed around $10 billion in capital against around 5,000 rounds.

Boring, yeah? Not really. Inside those numbers are the whole year’s ups and downs: The fact that the seed data is so close to 2018 and 2019 levels is almost silly.

The real surprise from seed, per PitchBook’s report, is that these valuations actually fell on a year-over-year basis in 2020. This, despite the fact that seed deal sizes rose.

Considering these two trends at once, it appears likely that, on average, VC ownership as a percentage of seed-stage companies rose in 2020.

Frankly I was just surprised to see a form of startup valuation decrease after expanding for nearly a decade.

Categories: Business News

Fintech startup Vise brings on Andrew Fong (formerly Dropbox) as CTO

Startup News - 2021, January 20 - 12:00am

Vise, a fintech firm that focuses on helping financial advisors rather than automating them out of existence, has today announced that it is bringing on Andrew Fong as its chief technology officer.

Fong hails from Dropbox, where he served as VP of Infrastructure Engineering. He actually started out as a site reliability engineer at Dropbox back in 2012, climbing the ranks to engineering director, and then senior director of Engineering – head of Infrastructure before becoming to vice president.

Before Dropbox, Fong was an engineer at YouTube and Aol.

Vise brought on Fong to scale up its technical team following its most recent fundraise, a $45 million in Series B led by Sequoia Capital. In total, Vise has raised $63 million since launching on the TC Disrupt stage in 2019. You can check out the video of their demo here.

Meet Vise AI, the startup reimagining portfolio management

Vise uses AI to support financial advisors in their relationships with clients, giving them the ability to justify and explain (with data) the reason for making this or that investment, as well as the ability to customize a portfolio quickly.

Top of mind for Fong is scaling up the engineering department from 20 people to 75 by the end of the year, and Fong explained that diversity, equity and inclusion must be front and center in that endeavor.

“Vise is in the early stages of building out its engineering organization,” Fong told TechCrunch. “It’s imperative that we weave in DEI as a first principle to our recruiting at this stage and ensure we are maturing our processes with DEI in mind.”

At Dropbox, Fong started out as a team leader building a team of 40, and by the time he left, led a team of more than 250 people. He explained that he learned a lot during that eight-year period, and made a lot of mistakes, and was eager to see how that knowledge could be reapplied at a different firm.

“What would it be like to do this again with the knowledge I have now?” asked Fong. “What things would I do differently? How would I improve upon it? How can I actually take that knowledge and leverage it in a way that helps others in the industry or my peers at Vise? Can I provide a perspective that they don’t necessarily have today?”

Fong was first connected with Vise while he was still at Dropbox. He spoke to Vise co-founder Runik Mehrotra on an explanatory call, and remembers feeling like no matter where his path took him, he wanted to stay connected to Mehrotra and Vise.

“This is somebody that just has something about him,” he said of Mehrotra. “There’s just like an ‘it’ factor that made me feel like I wanted to work with him.”

Fong says that recruiting during COVID, with extremely limited face-to-face contact, is one of the biggest challenges ahead for both himself and Vise in general.

Trillions are at stake in the retirement wars, and Vise nets $14.5M from Sequoia to manage it

Categories: Business News

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