Estonian ride-hailing company Bolt has announced that it has received a €20M investment from International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group. The startup is partnering with IFC, to expand its mobility services in emerging markets.
Aims to make urban travel easy!
Bolt was founded in 2013 by Markus Villig, Martin Villig, and Oliver Leisalu. Previously known as Taxify, Bolt is a transportation platform that provides ride-hailing, micromobility, package delivery, and scooter-sharing services.
The company’s mission is to make urban travel easier, quicker, and more reliable. It has more than 50 million users in over 40 countries across Europe and Africa. The company claims that all Bolt rides in Europe are 100 per cent carbon-neutral as part of its Green Plan, a long-term commitment to reduce the ecological footprint of the company.
In addition, the company also offers safety features in both its rider and driver apps, including an SOS button – to contact emergency services quickly if needed.
Use of the funds
IFC’s €20M investment and advisory services will help Bolt expand mobility solutions that create earning opportunities, stimulate small-scale entrepreneurship, and improve access to transportation in Eastern European and African markets.
The company is already operating in South Africa – its first African market – since 2016. And currently, it offers its services in seven African countries, providing earning opportunities for more than 400,000 drivers in 70 cities across the continent.
IFC’s funding will be targeted towards Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, and African markets, such as Nigeria and South Africa.
Empowering women riders and drivers
Bolt is currently piloting a “Women Only” ride-hailing category in South Africa – a new service aiming to address safety needs and improve women’s mobility by connecting female drivers with female passengers.
IFC will support Bolt’s ongoing work to empower women riders and drivers by improving their access to safe and affordable transportation and creating new economic opportunities.
Markus Villig, CEO and Founder, Bolt said, “We are looking forward to partnering with IFC to further support entrepreneurship, empower women and increase access to affordable mobility services in Africa and Eastern Europe. Together with the investment from the European Investment Bank last year, we are proud to have sizeable and strategically important institutions backing us and recognising the strategic value Bolt is providing to emerging economies.”
A brief about IFC
IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is also the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. It works in more than 100 countries, using its capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries.
In 2020, IFC invested $ 22B in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC Senior VP of Operations, says, “Technology can and should unlock new pathways for sustainable development and women’s empowerment. Our investment in Bolt aims to help tap into technology to disrupt the transport sector in a way that is good for the environment, creates more flexible work opportunities for women, and provides safer and more affordable transportation access in emerging markets.”
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As demand for cloud-native applications is growing, Yugabyte, makers of the cloud-native, open-source YugabyteDB database, is seeing a corresponding rise in demand for its products, especially with large enterprise customers. Today, the company announced a $ 48 million financing round to help build on that momentum. The round is an extension of the startup’s $ 30 million Series B last June.
Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round with participation from Greenspring Associates, Dell Technologies Capital, Wipro Ventures and 8VC. It has raised a total of $ 103 million, according to the company.
Kannan Muthukkaruppan, Yugabyte co-founder and president, says the startup saw a marked increase in interest in both the open-source and commercial offerings in 2020 as the pandemic pushed many companies to the cloud faster than they might have gone otherwise, something many startup founders have pointed out to me.
“The distributed SQL space is definitely heating up, and if anything over the last six months almost in every vector in terms of enterprise customers — from Fortune 500 companies across financial, retail, ISP or telcos — are putting Yugabyte in production to be the system of record database to meet some of their business critical services needs,” Muthukkaruppan told me.
In addition, he’s seeing a similar rise in the level of interest from the open-source version of the product. “Similarly, the groundswell on the community and the open-source adoption has been phenomenal. Our Slack [open source] user community quadrupled in 2020,” he said.
That kind of momentum led to the increased investor interest, says co-founder and CTO Karthik Ranganathan. “Some of the primary reasons to go and even ask for funding was that we realized we could accelerate some of this stuff, and we couldn’t do that with the original $ 30 million we had raised,” he said. The original thinking was to do a secondary raise in the $ 15-20 million range, but multiple investors expressed interest in participating, and it ended up being $ 48 million when all was said and done.
Former Pivotal president Bill Cook came on board as CEO at the same time they were announcing their last funding round in June, and brought some enterprise chops to the table. It was his job to figure out how to expand the market opportunity with larger high-value enterprise clients. “And so the last six or seven months has been about that, dealing with enterprise clients on one hand and then this emerging developer-led cloud offering as well,” Cook said.
The company has a three-tier offering that includes the open-source YugabyteDB. Then there is a fully managed cloud version called Yugabyte Cloud, and finally there is a self-managed cloud version of the database called Yugabyte Platform. The latter is especially attractive to large enterprise customers who want to be in the cloud, but still want to maintain control of their data and infrastructure, and so choose to manage the cloud installation themselves.
Yugabyte started last year with 50 employees, doubled that to this point, and now expects to reach 200 by the end of this year. As they add employees, the leadership team is cognizant of the importance of building a diverse and inclusive workforce, while recognizing the challenges in doing so.
“It’s work in progress as always. We’ve added diversity candidates right along the whole spectrum as we’ve grown but from my perspective it’s never sufficient, and we just need to keep pushing on it hard, and I think as a leadership team we recognize that,” Cook said.
The three leaders of the company have been working together remotely now since the announcement in June, and had only met briefly in person prior to the pandemic shutting down offices, but they say that it has gone smoothly. And while they would obviously like to meet in person again when the time is right, the momentum the company is experiencing shows that things are moving in the right direction, regardless of where they are getting their work done.
Note: The article originally stated this was a Series C round, but the company later clarified that it was a B-1 round; we’ve updated the article to reflect that.
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Clari, the revenue operations platform that helps companies predict revenue outcomes, announced $ 150 million Series E today on a $ 1.6 billion valuation, a number that more than triples its 2019 Series D valuation of $ 500 million.
Silver Lake led the latest investment with participation from B Capital Group and existing investors Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Madrona Ventures, Thomvest and Tenaya Capital. The company reports it has now raised a total of $ 285 million.
While COVID made 2020 trying for everyone, a company with a product that allows executive teams to understand and predict revenue at a granular level was obviously going to be in demand, and Clari saw a lot of interest over the last year.
“It was a surreal year for us, given the momentum we had and all of the tough news we saw going on around us. For us, the usage metrics were just off the charts, as people need visibility and predictability and control over their revenue forecasts,” company co-founder and CEO Andy Byrne told me.
While Byrne didn’t want to discuss revenue specifics, he did point out that he beat the revenue plan he submitted to his board by 110%. He said the performance has led to a lot of inbound investor interest in the company.
“That’s why we’ve had such great investor interest is that [VCs] were hearing in the investment community about how transformative Clari has been […] just giving companies what we call revenue confidence, being able to go and understand where you’re going to be and to accurately predict the impact the pandemic is going to have on your trajectory, good or bad,” Byrne explained.
To this point, the company has been working with sales and marketing teams, but Byrne says that the company is expanding the scope of the product to bring that same predictability to other parts of an organization.
Clari has mostly focused on technology companies with customers like HPE, Workday and Adobe, but it has plans to expand beyond that vertical. In fact, one of the ways Byrne plans to put today’s investment to work is to push into other verticals, which could also benefit from this kind of revenue visibility.
The company is up 300 employees with plans to double that number by the end of 2021. Byrne says he is building a positive work culture and points to recently being recognized as one of the best places to work by Inc., Bay Area News Group, #GirlsClub and Built In. He says they have made progress when it comes to diversity hirings across a number dimensions, but admits there is still work to be done.
“We actually specifically [established] a commission around diversity and inclusion that has board level [backing] that we’re running to continue to do better work there. Having said that, we still recognize that we’re not too dissimilar to a lot of companies where we feel like there’s so much more that we need to do,” he said.
At this point in the company’s evolution with plenty of money in the bank and a healthy valuation, Byrne did not shy away from the IPO question, although as you would imagine, he wasn’t ready to discuss specifics.
“I would say the answer is unequivocally yes, and we’re building toward this. […] We don’t have a timeframe upon which we know where we’re going to go public, but the next goal is to get to the IPO starting line,” he said.