Clari revenue forecasting platform snags $150M investment and triples valuation to $1.6B

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.

Startups – TechCrunch

Step Reaches 1 Million Users, Snags Investments From Josh Richards, Alex Rodriguez – Tubefilter

Step Reaches 1 Million Users, Snags Investments From Josh Richards, Alex Rodriguez  Tubefilter
“sweden startups when:7d” – Google News

After 80% ARR growth in 2020, Saltmine snags $20M to help employees return to a ‘new normal’ office

What is working in the office going to look like in a post-COVID-19 world?

That’s something one startup hopes to help companies figure out.

Saltmine, which has developed a web-based workplace design platform, has raised $ 20 million in a Series A funding round.

Existing backers Jungle Ventures and Xplorer Capital led the financing, which also included participation from JLL Spark, the strategic investment arm of commercial real estate brokerage JLL. 

Notably, JLL is not only investing in Saltmine, but is also partnering with the San Francisco-based startup to sell its service directly to its clients — opening up a whole new revenue stream for the four-year-old company.

Saltmine claims its cloud-based technology does for corporate real estate heads what Salesforce did for CROs in digitizing and streamlining the office design process. It saw an 80% spike in ARR (annual recurring revenue) last year while doubling the number of companies it works with, according to CEO and founder Shagufta Anurag. Its more than 35 customers include PG&E, Snowflake, Fidelity and Workday, among others. Its mission, put simply, is to help companies “create the best possible workplaces for their employees.”

Saltmine claims to have a 95% customer retention rate and in 2020 saw 350% year over year growth in monthly active users of its SaaS platform. So far, the square footage of all the office real estate properties designed and analyzed by customers on Saltmine totals 50 million square feet across 1,500 projects.

Saltmine says it offers companies tools to do things like establish social distancing measures in the office. Its platform, the company says, houses all workplace data — including strategy, design, pricing and portfolio analytics — in one place. It combines and analyzes floor plans with project requirements with real-time behavioral data (aggregated through a combination of utilization sensors and employee feedback) to identify companies’ design needs. Besides aiming to improve the workplace design process, Saltmine claims to be able to help companies “optimize their real estate portfolios.”

The pandemic has dramatically increased the need for a digital transformation of how workplaces are designed and reimagined, according to Anurag. 

“Given the need for social distancing capabilities and a greater emphasis on work-life balance in many office settings, few workers expect a complete ‘return to normal,’ ” she said. “There is now enormous pressure on corporate heads of real estate to adapt and modify their workplaces.”

Once companies identify their new needs, Saltmine uses “immersive” digital 3D renderings to help them visualize the necessary changes to their real estate properties.

Singapore-based Anurag has previous experience in the design world, having founded Space Matrix, a large interior design firm in Asia, as well as Livspace, a digital home interior design company.

“I saw the same pain points and unmet needs in office real estate that I did in the residential market,” she said. “Real estate is the second-largest cost for companies and has a direct impact on their largest cost — their people.”

Looking ahead, Saltmine plans to use its new capital to (naturally) do some hiring and continue to acquire customers — in particular, seeking to expand its portfolio of Global 2000 companies.

Saltmine has about 125 employees in five offices across Asia, Europe and North America. It expects to have 170 employees by year’s end and to be profitable by the end of fiscal year 2021.

The company’s initial focus has been in North America, but it is now beginning to expand into APAC and Australia. 

JLL Technologies’ co-CEO Yishai Lerner said JLL Spark was drawn to Saltmine’s approach of making data and analytics accessible in one place.

“Having a single source of truth for data also facilitates collaboration across teams, which is important, for example, in workspace planning,” he told TechCrunch. “This reduces inefficiencies and improves workflows in today’s fragmented design, build and fit-out market.”

JLL Spark invests in companies that it believes can benefit from its distribution and network — hence the firm’s agreement to sell Saltmine’s software directly to its customers.

“As JLL tenants and clients continue to embrace the future of work, they are seeking technology solutions that keep their buildings running efficiently and effectively,” Lerner said. “Saltmine’s platform checks all of the boxes by streamlining stakeholder collaboration, increasing transparency and simplifying data management.”

Startups – TechCrunch

St. Louis startup Pluton Biosciences snags spot in Plug and Play agtech accelerator – St. Louis Business Journal

St. Louis startup Pluton Biosciences snags spot in Plug and Play agtech accelerator  St. Louis Business Journal
“startups when:1d” – Google News

Lang.ai snags $2M to remove technical burden of implementing AI for businesses

Lang.ai, which has developed a no-code platform for businesses, closed on a $ 2 million seed funding round.

The company’s SaaS platform aims to allow business users to structure any free-text data with custom categories built through a drag & drop interface, based on AI-extracted concepts.

Village Global led the financing, which included participation from new and existing backers including Acceleprise, Oceans Ventures, Alumni Ventures Group, 2.12 Angels, GTMFund, and Lorimer Ventures.

Spain-born Jorge Penalva founded Lang.ai in 2018 with the goal of giving any business user the ability “to build enterprise-ready natural language processing models in just minutes.” It was built to give non-engineers a way to automate repetitive tasks in use cases such as customer service and claims processing.

“It can be installed in our cloud or theirs,” Penalva said. 

Lang.ai saw its revenue double from the last quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021 and the seed funding was motivated mainly to continue that momentum.

“We’re getting demand in the form of projects with our larger customers, so we needed the funding to be able to support that demand,” Penalva told TechCrunch.

In his previous role of CEO of Séntisis, Penalva realized that processes driven by free-text data remained a blind spot for many companies. 

“Today, millions of dollars and hours are invested by companies to manually read and process textual information captured from disparate areas of their business,” he said.

His mission with Lang.ai is to “empower businesses to put AI to work for them, without the technical complexities of building and training custom algorithms.” 

Specifically, Penalva said that Lang.ai’s product analyzes a customer’s historical data “in minutes” and suggests AI-extracted concepts to build custom categories through a drag & drop interface. The custom categories are applied in real-time to automate “tedious” tasks such as the manual tagging and routing of support tickets, the processing of insurance claims and the dispatching of field engineers to incoming work order requests.

Put simply, Lang.ai’s goal is to remove the technical burden of implementing AI for a business.

Lang.ai’s community of users (called “Citizen NLP Builders”) consists of mostly non-technical business roles, ranging from customer service operations to marketers, business analysts and UX designers.

Customers include Freshly, Userzoom, Playvox, Spain’s CaixaBank, Yalo Chat and Bancolombia, among others. 

Ben Segal, director of infrastructural efficiency at Freshly, described the platform as “so nimble.”

“Out of the box, it took us two days to make automated tagging 15% more reliable than a previous platform that we had had in production for 2 years, with the added benefit that now all of our teams can tap into and exploit our support data,” Segal said. “The marketing team has built workflows to understand key customer moments. Our data and analytics team is super excited about having all these new tags in Snowflake, and it’s crazy how easy it is to use.”

Penalva is proud of the fact that Lang.ai’s engineering team is primarily based in Spain and that he has been able to grow the 10-person company outside of his native country.

“With very few resources, it took us a little over two years to build an enterprise-grade product and find the right set of early customers and investors who are aligned with our vision,” he said. “I moved to the US from Spain to build a global company and this is just the beginning…Lang has always been powered by immigrant hustle, and it has been core to our values since day 1.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Scratchpad snags $13M Series A to simplify Salesforce data entry

Scratchpad is an early stage startup that wants to make it easier for sales people to get information into Salesforce by placing a notation layer on top of it. Today, it announced a $ 13 million Series A led by Craft Ventures with participation from Accel.

The company has now raised a total of $ 16.6 million including the $ 3.6 million seed round we covered in October. Co-founder and CEO Pouyan Salehi says that he wasn’t really looking to add capital, but the investors understood his vision and the money will help accelerate the product roadmap.

“To be honest, it actually wasn’t on our radar to raise again so soon after we raised what I consider a substantial seed. We had plenty of runway, but we started to see a lot of bottom-up user growth, this bottom-up motion just really started to take hold,” Salehi told me.

He says that lead investor David Sacks, who has built some successful startups himself, really got what they were trying to do, and the deal came together fairly easily. In fact, the company caught the attention of Craft because they were hearing about Scratchpad from their portfolio companies.

The bottoms up approach is certainly something we have seen with developer tools and with software for knowledge workers, but companies often take aim at sales through the sales manager, rather than trying directly to get salespeople to use a particular tool. This approach of getting the end users involved early allows them to gain traction with members of the sales team before approaching management about paid versions.

Traditionally, sales teams don’t like the tools that are thrust upon them. They are essentially databases and even with a visual interface, it doesn’t really match up with the way they work. Scratchpad gives them an interface like a spreadsheet or notes application that they are typically using to hack together a workflow, but with a direct connection to Salesforce.

What the paid tiers provide is a way to bring all this data together and get a bigger picture view of what’s happening on the sales team, and it helps ensure that people are using Salesforce because the data in Scratchpad links to the Salesforce database automatically.

The company has completed the initial work of building the individual salesperson’s workspace, but the next phase, and part of what this capital is going to fund, is building the team workspace and seeing how this data can flow from individuals to a team view to give management more insight into what their individual reps are doing. This includes notes, which usually don’t make it into Salesforce, but provide a lot of context about interactions with customers.

It’s resonating with thousands of users (although Salehi didn’t want to share an exact customer number just yet). Customers include Autodesk, Brex, Lacework, Snowflake and Twilio.

Sacks says that he liked the viral way the product has been spreading. “Once a rep starts using Scratchpad, two things tend to happen: it becomes a daily habit, and they share it with their teammates. This phenomena of viral spread is rare and indicates a very strong product-market fit,” he said in a statement.

Startups – TechCrunch

‘Don’t take Tom Bossert’s word on Trinity Cyber’: startup snags big-name board additions – SC Magazine

‘Don’t take Tom Bossert’s word on Trinity Cyber’: startup snags big-name board additions  SC Magazine
“startups when:1d” – Google News

Oslo-born startup SafetyWing snags $8 million to expand insurance options for remote teams – Tech.eu

Oslo-born startup SafetyWing snags $ 8 million to expand insurance options for remote teams  Tech.eu
“startups when:1d” – Google News