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Today — August 21st 2019Your RSS feeds

How Dropbox, Nike, Salesforce, MailChimp, Google and Pepsi welcome their new hires

By Arman Tabatabai
Vladimir Polo Contributor
Vladimir PoloVladimir Polo is the founder and CEO of AcademyOcean, a SaaS tool for interactive onboarding and training. Vladimir has 10 years of management experience (agency & product) and is passionate about SaaS and building strong corporate culture.

The first day of work at a new job can be very stressful. The unfamiliar surroundings and onslaught of new material can cause new hires some degree of discomfort. But sometimes the atmosphere at the new company can be welcoming and can help counteract the stress.

Different companies have their own traditions to help make this transition period more comfortable and memorable for new hires. Some of these traditions include:

  • Team-building day trips for new hires
  • Breakfast with the CEO
  • Tours of the best cafes, parks, and other spots in the neighborhood
  • Office “quests” (or some other gamification of onboarding)
  • Personalized onboarding programs or interactive company academies

Usually, only employees can experience these traditions. But there’s one new-hire tradition that has become extremely popular and often highly publicized: the “welcome kit”.

Welcome kits usually contain a hodgepodge of items that employees will need on the job (pens, notebooks, books, etc.) and things to make employees feel welcome (clothing, stickers, water bottles, or more unusual items — often with the company name or logo on them).

To get a sense of how different companies handle their kits, we talked to four successful startups about their welcome kits in the article below, followed by our look at a dozen more:

Table of Contents:

This article is based on the personal welcome kit collection of Vladimir Polo, founder of AcademyOcean. AcademyOcean is a tool for interactive onboarding and training (and Vladimir Polo is a fan of welcome kits).

Dropbox

Apple exec Susan Prescott is coming to TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise

By Ron Miller

Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of markets, apps and services, has been at Apple since 2003. She worked with the company’s co-founder Steve Jobs, and has witnessed such milestones as the launch of the iPhone and the iPad. Prescott will be coming to TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise in San Francisco on September 5 to discuss Apple’s enterprise strategy.

Prescott has been closely involved in that from the earliest days of the iPhone, and as she told TechCrunch in a 2018 article on Apple’s enterprise strategy, the company was thinking about the enterprise as a potential market from the start. “Early on we engaged with businesses and IT to understand their needs, and have added enterprise features with every major software release,” she said at the time.

When you think about it, it was in fact the iPhone and the iPad that led to the Consumerization of IT and Bring Your Own Device movements, two huge trends in enterprise IT that began in the 2011 timeframe. Later the company helped grow the business further by partnering with such enterprise stalwarts as IBM, SAP, Cisco, GE and most recently Salesforce along with systems integrators like Deloitte and Accenture. Today, the company offers a range of business tools including Apple Business Chat and Apple Business Manager, an IT management tool for managing Macs, iPhones and iPads and the apps that run on them.

All of that adds up to robust enterprise strategy, and Prescott will discuss all of that and more with TechCrunch editors. We’ll dive into Apple’s history in the enterprise and what it’s doing today to enhance that part of its business.

In all, Prescott has over 25 years of technology industry experience. Before joining Apple in 2003, she worked for Adobe where she had a range of engineering, marketing and management roles. Her last position before joining Apple in 2003 was Vice President of product management and marketing in Adobe’s Creative Professional Solutions group.

Grab your $349 tickets today to join the show and meet amazing enterprise leaders. Don’t wait! Ticket prices go up at the door! If you book 4+ tickets you’ll save 20% – book for your team here.

Before yesterdayYour RSS feeds

The five great reasons to attend TechCrunch’s Enterprise show Sept. 5 in SF

By Robert Frawley

The vast enterprise tech category is Silicon Valley’s richest, and today it’s poised to change faster than ever before. That’s probably the biggest reason to come to TechCrunch’s first-ever show focused entirely on enterprise. But here are five more reasons to commit to joining TechCrunch’s editors on September 5 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for an outstanding day (agenda here) addressing the tech tsunami sweeping through enterprise. 

#1 Artificial Intelligence.
At once the most consequential and most hyped technology, no one doubts that AI will change business software and increase productivity like few if any, technologies before it. To peek ahead  into that future, TechCrunch will interview Andrew Ng, arguably the world’s most experienced AI practitioner at huge companies (Baidu, Google) as well as at startups. AI will be a theme across every session, but we’ll address again it head-on in a panel with investor Jocelyn Goldfein (Zetta), founder Bindu Reddy (Reality Engines) and executive John Ball (Salesforce / Einstein). 

#2. Data, The Cloud and Kubernetes.
If AI is at the dawn of tomorrow, cloud transformation is the high noon of today.  90% of the world’s data was created in the past two years, and no enterprise can keep its data hoard on-prem forever. Azure’s CTO
Mark Russinovitch (CTO) will discuss Microsft’s vision for the cloud. Leaders in the open-source Kubernetes revolution, Joe Beda (VMWare) and Aparna Sinha (Google) and others will dig into what Kubernetes means to companies making the move to cloud. And last, there is the question of how to find signal in all the data – which will bring three visionary founders to the stage: Benoit Dageville (Snowflake), Ali Ghodsi (Databricks), Murli Thirumale (Portworx). 

#3 Everything else on the main stage!
Let’s start with a fireside chat with
SAP CEO Bill McDermott and Qualtrics Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green.  We have top investors talking where they are making their bets, and security experts talking data and privacy. And then there is quantum,  the technology revolution waiting on the other side of AI: Jay Gambetta, the principal theoretical scientist behind IBM’s quantum computing effort,  Jim Clarke, the director of quantum hardware at Intel Labs, and Krysta Svore, style="font-weight: 400;"> who leads the Microsoft’s quantum effort.

All told, there are 21 programming sessions.

#4 Network and get your questions answered.
There will be two Q&A breakout sessions with top enterprise investors for founders (and anyone else) to query investors directly. Plus, TechCrunch’s unbeatable CrunchMatch app makes it really easy to set up meetings with the other attendees, an
incredible array of folks, plus the  20 early-stage startups exhibiting on the expo floor.

#5 SAP
Enterprise giant SAP is our sponsor for the show, and they are not only bringing a squad of top executives, they are producing four parallel track sessions featuring key SAP Chief Innovation Officer
Max Wessel,  SAP Chief Designer and Futurist  Martin Wezowski and SAP.IO’s managing director Ram Jambunathan (SAP.iO) in sessions including, how to scale-up an enterprise startup, how startups win large enterprise customers, and what the enterprise future looks like.

Check out the complete agenda. Don’t miss this show! This line-up is a view into the future like none other. 

Grab your $349 tickets today, and don’t wait till the day of to book because prices go up at the door!

We still have 2 Startup Demo Tables left. Each table comes with 4 tickets and a prime location to demo your startup on the expo floor. Book your demo table now before they’re all gone!

How healthtech startups can achieve true value

By Arman Tabatabai
Eli Cahan Contributor
Eli Cahan is a medical student at NYU on leave to complete a master’s in health policy at Stanford as a Knight-Hennessey Scholar. His research addresses the effectiveness, economics, and ethics of (digital) health innovation.

Healthtech is apparently in a golden age. Just a few weeks ago, Livongo and Health Catalyst raised a combined $500 million through IPOs with a joint valuation reaching $3.5 billion. Deals such as these are catalyzing a record-breaking 2019, with digital health deal activity expected to surpass the $8.1 billion invested in 2018.

Amidst such abundance, the digital health ecosystem is thriving: as of 2017, greater than 300,000 mobile applications and 340 consumer wearable devices existed—with 200 new mobile applications added daily. No theme has been more important to this fundraising than artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), a space which captured more than one-quarter of healthtech funding in 2018.

Yet, how many of these technologies will prove valuable in medical, ethical, or financial terms?

Our research group at Stanford addressed this question by taking a deeper dive into the saying that, in AI/ML, “garbage in equals garbage out.” We did this by distinguishing digital health algorithms leveraging AI/ML from their underlying training data, documenting the numerous consequences to the outputs of these technologies should the inputs resemble, well, “garbage.”

For example, the utility of genetic risk scores provided by companies such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA (which have estimated valuations of $1.75 and $2.6 billion, respectively) may be limited due to diagnostic biases stemming from the underrepresentation of diverse populations.

Responding to such observations, we provide a variety of recommendations to the developers, inventors, and founders spearheading the advancement of digital health—as well as the funders supporting this charge forward—to ensure that their innovations are valuable to the stakeholders they target.

Healthtech startups still have to prove their value for patients

HPE Growth backs WeTransfer in €35M secondary funding round

By Steve O'Hear

WeTransfer, the Amsterdam-headquartered company that is best know for its file-sharing service, is disclosing a €35 million secondary funding round.

The investment is led by European growth equity firm, HPE Growth, with “significant” participation from existing investor Highland Europe. Being secondary funding — meaning that a number of shareholders have sold all or a portion of their holding — no new money has entered WeTransfer’s balance sheet.

We are also told that Jonne de Leeuw, of HPE, will replace WeTransfer co-founder Nalden on the company’s Supervisory Board. He joins Bas Beerens (founder of WeTransfer), Irena Goldenberg (Highland Europe) and Tony Zappalà (Highland Europe).

The exact financial terms of the secondary funding, including valuation, aren’t being disclosed. However, noteworthy is that WeTransfer says it has been profitable for 6 years.

“The valuation of the company is not public, but what I can tell you is that it’s definitely up significantly since the Series A in 2015,” WeTransfer CEO Gordon Willoughby tells me. “WeTransfer has become a trusted brand in its space with significant scale. Our transfer service has 50 million users a month across 195 countries, sharing over 1.5 billion files each month”.

In addition to the wildly popular WeTransfer file-sharing service, the company operates a number of other apps and services, some it built in-house and others it has acquired. They include content sharing app Collect (claiming 4 million monthly users), sketching tool Paper (which has had 25 million downloads) and collaborative presentation tool Paste (which claims 40,000 active teams).

“We want to help people work more effectively and deliver more impactful results, with tools that collectively remove friction from every stage of the creative process — from sparking ideas, capturing content, developing and aligning, to delivery,” says Willoughby.

“Over the past two years, we’ve been investing heavily in our product development and have grown tremendously following the acquisition of the apps Paper and Paste. This strengthened our product set. Our overarching mission is to become the go-to source for beautiful, intuitive tools that facilitate creativity, rather than distract from it. Of course, our transfer service is still a big piece of that — it’s a brilliantly simple tool that more than 50 million people a month love to use”.

Meanwhile, Willoughby describes WeTransfer’s dual revenue model as “pretty unique”. The company offers a premium subscription service called WeTransfer Plus, and sells advertising in the form of “beautiful” full-screen ads called wallpapers on Wetransfer.com.

“Each piece of creative is fully produced in-house by our creative studio with an uncompromising focus on design and user experience,” explains the WeTransfer CEO. “With full-screen advertising, we find that our users don’t feel they’re simply being sold to. This approach to advertising has been incredibly effective, and our ad performance has far outpaced IAB standards. Our advertising inventory is sought out by brands like Apple, Nike, Balenciaga, Adobe, Squarespace, and Saint Laurent”.

Alongside this, WeTransfer says it allocates up to 30% of its advertising inventory and “billions of impressions” to support and spotlight up-and-coming creatives, and causes, such as spearheading campaigns for social issues.

The company has 185 employees in total, with about 150 in Amsterdam and the rest across its U.S. offices in L.A. and New York.

Showcase your startup in Startup Alley at Disrupt SF 2019

By Emma Comeau

What’s the lifeblood of any early-stage startup? Money and media coverage. Opportunities to acquire both abound at Disrupt San Francisco 2019, our flagship tech conference that takes place on October 2-4. It’s all about networking and making the right connections to make your startup dreams come true, and there’s no better networking mecca than Startup Alley.

Buy a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package and plant your early-stage startup in the path of more than 10,000 attendees, including leading technologists, investors, 400 accredited media outlets and other leading influencers. The package includes one full exhibit day and three Founder passes.

You’ll have access to three days of Disrupt programming across the Main Stage, the Extra Crunch Stage, the Showcase Stage and the Q&A Stage. You can watch Startup Battlefield, our epic pitch competition, to see who takes home the $100,000 prize. You’ll also receive invitations to VIP events, like a reception with top-tier investors and global media outlets.

You’ll have CrunchMatch at your side to make networking as easy as possible. This free, business match-making platform helps you find and connect with the people who can move your business forward. It matches people based on their mutual business interests, suggests meetings and sends out invitations (which recipients can easily accept or decline). CrunchMatch even lets you reserve dedicated meeting spaces where you can network in comfort.

And how’s this for opportunity? Every early-stage startup that exhibits in Startup Alley is eligible for a chance to win a Wild Card entry to the Startup Battlefield pitch competition. TechCrunch editors will select two standout startups as Wild Card teams to compete for $100,000 in Startup Battlefield.

It might sound like a longshot (and it is), but RecordGram earned a Wild Card spot and went on to become the Startup Battlefield champ at Disrupt NY 2017. Because dreams do come true.

Disrupt San Francisco 2019 takes place on October 2-4. Buy a demo table, exhibit in Startup Alley and network your way to greatness. Come on and show the world what you’ve got.

Is your company interested in sponsoring at Disrupt SF 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

TransferWise’s debit card launches in Australia and New Zealand, with Singapore to follow

By Catherine Shu

International money transfer startup TransferWise’s debit card is now available in Australia and New Zealand, with a Singapore launch expected by the end of this year as the company expands its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. TransferWise’s debit card, which features low, transparent fees and exchange rates, first launched in the United Kingdom and Europe last year before arriving in the United States in June. Since its launch, the company claims the debit card has been used for 15 million transactions.

Australian and New Zealand customers will have access to the TransferWise Platinum debit Mastercard (a business debit card is also available). Cards are linked to TransferWise accounts, which give holders bank account numbers and details in multiple countries, making it easier and cheaper to send and receive multiple currencies. The company says that over the past year, customers have deposited more than $10 billion in their accounts.

TransferWise’s debit cards allow users to spend in more than 40 currencies at real exchange rates. In an email, co-founder and CEO Kristo Käärmann told TechCrunch that TransferWise decided to launch its debit card in Australia and New Zealand because its business there has already been growing quickly. “In addition to responding to customer demand, launching the card in Australia and New Zealand was also driven by the fact that Aussies and Kiwis are being overcharged by banks for using their own money abroad. It is expensive to use debit, travel and credit cards for spending or withdrawals,” he said.

Käärmann added that “independent research conducted by Capital Economics showed that Australians lost $2.14 billion last year alone just for using their bank-issued card abroad. This is because banks and other providers charge transaction fees every time someone uses their card abroad, plus an inflated exchange rate. Similarly, in New Zealand, Kiwis lost $1 billion simply for using their card abroad.”

One of TransferWise’s competitive advantages is that unlike most legacy banking and money transfer services, its accounts and cards were designed from the start to be used internationally. “While there are existing multi-currency cards that exist in Australia and New Zealand, they are prohibitively expensive to use. For example in Australia, the TransferWise Platinum debit Mastercard is on average 11 times cheaper than most travel, debit, prepaid and credit cards,” Käärmann said.

TransferWise cards don’t have transaction fees or exchange rate markups and cardholders are allowed to withdraw up to AUD $350 every 30 days for free at any ATM in the world.

The company is currently talking to regulators in several Asian countries, a process that can take up to two years, Käärmann said. It was recently granted a remittance license in Malaysia, and plans to make its remittance service available there by the end of this year.

Another day, another reversal in stock fortunes as recession fears grow

By Jonathan Shieber

U.S. stock markets plummeted today as recession fears continue to grow.

Yesterday’s good news about a reprieve on tariffs for U.S. consumer imports was undone by increasing concerns over economic indicators pointing to a potential global recession coming within the next year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 800 points on Wednesday — its largest decline of the year — while the S&P 500 fell by 85 points and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 240 points.

The downturn in the markets came a day after the Dow closed up 373 points after the U.S. Trade Representative announced a delay in many of the import taxes the Trump administration planned to impose on Chinese goods.

In the U.S. it was concerns over the news that the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes had dipped below the yield of two-year notes. It’s an indicator that investors think the short-term prospects for a country’s economic outlook are worse than the long-term outlook, so yields are higher for short-term investments.

China’s industrial and retail sectors both slowed significantly in July. Industrial production, including manufacturing, mining and utilities, grew by 4.8% in July (a steep decline from 6.3% growth in June).  Meanwhile, retail sales in the country slowed to 7.6%, down from 9.8% in June.

Germany also posted declines over the summer months, indicating that its economy had contracted by 0.1% in the three months leading to June.

Globally, the protracted trade war between the U.S. and China are weighing on economies — as are concerns about what a hard Brexit would mean for the economies in the European Union .

The stocks of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix and Salesforce were all off by somewhere between 2.5% and 4.5% in today’s trading.

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson joins Disrupt SF to talk about US crewed spaceflight

By Darrell Etherington

The space race is back on, but this time it’s closer to home: A number of U.S. companies are vying to become the first to return Americans to crewed launches, after an eight-year hiatus marked by the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. Lockheed Martin is one of that very small group, through its partnership with Boeing on the United Launch Alliance, and through its development of the Orion crew capsule, which ticked off an important checkbox in July when it was confirmed complete and ready for mission prep.

Lockheed Martin is at the center of it all, no matter which way you slice it, and that’s why it’s great news that CEO Marillyn Hewson will join us at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019 in San Francisco to talk all about her company’s work with NASA, their progress on bringing back America’s crewed launch capabilities and their designs on the Moon and beyond.

Even after Orion flies with astronauts aboard for the first time, which is currently set to happen sometime next year, Lockheed Martin has yet more ambitious plans — including developing an “early Gateway” to precede the full-scale Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway that NASA aims to install orbiting the Moon to provide a more permanent base of operations for long-term lunar operations.

Lockheed Martin has been in the space business since the 1950s, but private and commercial interest in space has changed a lot in the ensuing years. We’ll talk about what the growing commercial interest in low-Earth orbit and beyond, and the increasing number of launch and service providers, means for Lockheed and its evolution.

Disrupt SF runs October 2 to October 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Tickets are available at an early-bird rate here.

Salesforce is acquiring ClickSoftware for $1.35B

By Ron Miller

Another day, another Salesforce acquisition. Just days after closing the hefty $15.7 billion Tableau deal, the company opened its wallet again, this time announcing it has bought field service software company ClickSoftware for a tidy $1.35 billion.

This one is could help beef up the company’s field service offering, which falls under the Service Cloud umbrella. In its June earnings report, the company reported that Service Cloud crossed the $1 billion revenue threshold for the first time. This acquisition is designed to keep those numbers growing.

“Our acquisition of ClickSoftware will not only accelerate the growth of Service Cloud, but drive further innovation with Field Service Lightning to better meet the needs of our customers,” Bill Patterson, EVP and GM of Salesforce Service Cloud said in a statement announcing the deal.

ClickSoftware is actually older than Salesforce having been founded in 1997. The company went public in 2000, and remained listed until it went private again in 2015 in a deal with private equity company Francisco Partners, which bought it for $438 million. Francisco did alright for itself, holding onto the company for four years before more than doubling its money.

The deal is expected to close in the Fall and is subject to the normal regulatory approval process.

Female founders: Apply to the All Raise AMA to win a free Expo Pass to Disrupt SF

By Emma Comeau

Shouting out to all the fierce female founders. Have you applied to participate in the All Raise “ask me anything” (AMA) sessions at Disrupt SF 2019? No? Women, it’s time to act. Apply for an AMA session by the August 30 deadline and you could win a free Expo Only Pass.

You heard that right. We have 30 free Expo Only passes, and we’ll give them away at random to women founders who get accepted to the All Raise program at Disrupt SF 2019.

All Raise, a startup nonprofit committed to accelerating female founder success, will host a day-long AMA event in a dedicated area in Startup Alley (aka the Disrupt expo floor). They’ll schedule a series of 30-minute sessions throughout the day for roughly 100 women founders.

Each session consists of three founders and one of the All Raise community’s leading VCs. You’ll have the opportunity to ask in-depth questions about the next raise, key hires, the competition or any other business issues that keep you up at night. You can learn plenty from experienced, successful investors like these:

  • Dayna Grayson, NEA
  • Susan Lyne, BBG
  • Shauntel Garvey, Reach Capital
  • Eurie Kim, Forerunner
  • Jess Lee, Sequoia
  • Kara Nortman, Upfront
  • Sara Guo, Greylock,
  • Anarghya Vardhana, Maveron
  • Eva Ho, Fika Ventures
  • Sarah Smith, Bain Capital Ventures
  • Jess Lin, Work-Bench

If you’re a U.S.-based woman founder — and you’ve raised at least $250,000 in a seed, A or B round — you can apply for an AMA session. All Raise gives special consideration to founders from underrepresented groups (e.g. Black, Latinx or LGBTQIA women).

All Raise will review the applications and notify the founders. Acceptance is based on availability for session spots, investor fit with industry sector and company stage, as well as demand for certain categories.

If All Raise selects you to participate — and you don’t happen to win a free Expo Only pass — simply buy any pass to Disrupt SF (including Expo Only). All Raise will send an email to let you know what time they’ve scheduled your session.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to get answers and advice from some of the best investors around. Free admission to Disrupt SF 2019 and free investor advice — that’s a potent combination. Beat the August 30 deadline and apply for an All Raise AMA session today!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt San Francisco 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Attend Disrupt SF 2019 for free as a volunteer

By Emma Comeau

Forget the village, people. It takes an army to make TechCrunch Disrupt the well-oiled experience that savvy start-uppers have come to know and love. And we couldn’t do it nearly as well without our incredible volunteers. If you’re looking for a no-budget way to experience Disrupt San Francisco 2019 up-close-and-personal, sign up to volunteer for work exchange, and not only will you get a behind the scenes look at how events are produced, you’ll also earn a free Innovator pass to experience the event.

You’ll work hard, play hard and get free access to all three days of Disrupt SF. Whether you dream of becoming a startup founder, marketer or event coordinator, this is a great way to see what it takes to produce a world-renowned startup conference. Plus, your free Innovator pass gives you access to the full Disrupt experience and all four stages — including the Startup Battlefield competition.

We expect more than 10,000 people at Disrupt SF 2019, and volunteers will handle a variety of tasks to help make this startup conference an epic experience for everyone. At any given time, you might help with registration, wrangle speakers, direct attendees, stuff goodie bags, place signage, scan tickets or help with pre-marketing activities.

We need volunteers on October 1-4. If you can meet the following criteria, we want to hear from you:

  • Attend a mandatory orientation on Tuesday, October 1 at Moscone Center.
  • Work a minimum of 16 hours during the entire conference starting from October 1 (the day before the conference starts) to October 4. You’ll find volunteer shift availability in the application. We might select you for some pre-event opportunities, which would count toward your hours.
  • We will assign volunteer schedules. Shifts run between 2.5 to 6 hours and can start as early as 6 a.m. or end as late as 11:30 p.m.
  • You must provide your own housing and transportation.
  • Due to the high volume of applications, we will notify only the selected applicants.

Lend us a helping hand, and we’ll hand you a free Innovator pass. Save money, gain valuable experience and still have plenty of time to take in all the startup goodness Disrupt SF 2019 has to offer. Apply to volunteer before September 20 to get your free Innovator pass, and we’ll see you in October!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt SF 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Salesforce closes $15.7B Tableau deal

By Ron Miller

In an amazingly quick turn-around for a deal of this scope, Salesforce announced today that it has closed the $15.7 billion Tableau deal announced in June. The deal is by far the biggest acquisition in Salesforce history, a company known for being highly acquisitive.

A deal of this size usually faces a high level of regulatory scrutiny and it can take six months or longer to close, but this one breezed through the process and closed in under two months.

With Tableau, and Mulesoft, a company it bought last year for $6.5 billion, in the fold, Salesforce has a much broader view of the enterprise than it could as a pure cloud company. It has access to data wherever it lives, whether on premises or in the cloud, and with Tableau, it enables customers to bring that data to life by visualizing it.

This was a prospect that excited Salesforce chairman Marc Benioff. “Tableau will make Salesforce Customer 360, including Salesforce’s analytics capabilities, stronger than ever, enabling our customers to accelerate innovation and make smarter decisions across every part of their business,” Benioff said in a statement.

As with any large acquisition involving two enormous organizations, combining them could prove challenging, and the real test of this deal, once the dust has settled, will be how smoothly that transition happens and how well the companies can work together and become a single entity under the Salesforce umbrella.

In theory, having Tableau gives Salesforce another broad path into larger and more expansive enterprise sales, but the success of the deal will really hinge on how well it folds Tableau into the Salesforce sales machine.

Dreading 10x engineers, virtual beings, the fate of Netflix, and Salesforce’s acquisition

By Danny Crichton

The dreaded 10x, or, how to handle exceptional employees

The reality (myth?) is that there are engineers who are ten times more productive than other engineers (some would argue 100x, but okay). Jon Evans, who is CTO at HappyFunCorp, dives into the strengths and weaknesses of these vaunted people and how to manage them and their relationships with other team members.

The anti-10x squad raises many important and valid — frankly, obvious and inarguable — points. Go down that Twitter thread and you’ll find that 10x engineers are identified as: people who eschew meetings, work alone, rarely look at documentation, don’t write much themselves, are poor mentors, and view process, meetings, or training as reasons to abandon their employer. In short, they are unbelievably terrible team members.

Is software a field like the arts, or sports, in which exceptional performers can exist? Sure. Absolutely. Software is Extremistan, not Mediocristan, as Nassim Taleb puts it.

A guide to Virtual Beings and how they impact our world

If your 10x engineers are too annoying to deal with, maybe consider just getting virtual beings instead. The inaugural Virtual Beings Summit was held recently in San Francisco, a conference designed to bring together storyline editors, virtual reality engineers, influencer marketers and more to consider the future of “virtual beings.”

Prodly announces $3.5M seed to automate low-code cloud deployments

By Ron Miller

Low-code programming is supposed to make things easier on companies, right? Low-code means you can count on trained administrators instead of more expensive software engineers to handle most tasks, but like any issue solved by technology, there are always unintended consequences. While running his former company, Steelbrick, which he sold to Salesforce in 2015 for $360 million, Max Rudman identified a persistent problem with low-code deployments. He decided to fix it with automation and testing, and the idea for his latest venture, Prodly, was born.

The company announced a $3.5 million seed round today, but more important than the money is the customer momentum. In spite of being a very early-stage startup, the company already has 100 customers using the product, a testament to the fact that other people were probably experiencing that same pain point Rudman was feeling, and there is a clear market for his idea.

As Rudman learned with his former company, going live with the data on a platform like Salesforce is just part of the journey. If you are updating configuration and pricing information on a regular basis, that means updating all the tables associated with that information. Sure, it’s been designed to be point and click, but if you have changes across 48 tables, it becomes a very tedious task, indeed.

The idea behind Prodly is to automate much of the configuration, provide a testing environment to be sure all the information is correct and, finally, automate deployment. For now, the company is just concentrating on configuration, but with the funding it plans to expand the product to solve the other problems, as well.

Rudman is careful to point out that his company’s solution is not built strictly for the Salesforce platform. The startup is taking aim at Salesforce admins for its first go-round, but he sees the same problem with other cloud services that make heavy use of trained administrators to make changes.

“The plan is to start with Salesforce, but this problem actually exists on most cloud platforms — ServiceNow, Workday — none of them have the tools we have focused on for admins, and making the admins more productive and building the tooling that they need to efficiently manage a complex application,” Rudman told TechCrunch.

Customers include Nutanix, Johnson & Johnson, Splunk, Tableau and Verizon (which owns this publication). The $3.5 million round was led by Shasta Ventures, with participation from Norwest Venture Partners.

Clearbanc co-founder and president Michele Romanow is coming to Disrupt SF

By Kate Clark

Raising venture capital isn’t easy; for some, it’s impossible.

Clearbanc offers startups a fundraising alternative, and in just a few short years, it’s become a household name in Silicon Valley circles. The company disrupts the startup funding process by providing companies cash to buy ads in exchange for a revenue share so those companies aren’t forced to give up equity to venture capitalists. 

2019 has been Clearbanc’s year. It was only natural to invite Romanow to join us onstage at Disrupt SF. Romanow will discuss the funding landscape for startups, Clearbanc’s plans to deploy billions of dollars, as well as a breakdown of when to raise equity cash versus non-dilutive capital. Alongside Brex CEO Henrique Dubugras, Romanow will also talk through serving startups as customers.

This year alone, the company, under Romanow’s lead, launched a campaign to back 2,000 businesses with $1 billion in non-dilutive capital by the end of 2019, raised $120 million across three different equity rounds and, just this week, announced a $250 million fund to continue backing startups through its rev-share model.

Romanow’s career took off as an angel investor on the Canadian version of Shark Tank, Dragons’ Den. Together with co-founder Andrew D’Souza, she started Clearbanc in 2015 with a goal of helping more founders maintain control of their company through larger equity stakes. In conversation with TechCrunch earlier this year, she and D’Souza explained that some 40% of VC dollars end up going to Facebook and Google for digital ad campaigns. That capital, they said, should be put into hiring and other scaling efforts. 

“We are essentially a non-dilutive co-investor,” Romanow said. “VC takes time; it’s a lot of nos and you’re really giving up equity that you can never get back.”

“A lot of founders in the early days don’t calculate what their equity could be worth,” she added. “Like the first $250,000 in Uber is worth $1 billion now.”

Clearbanc, founded less than four years ago, has already put hundreds of millions of dollars in its pockets and, like Brex, has ambitions to support each and every startup out there. Brex and Clearbanc’s leaders will undoubtedly provide a conversation on the state of startups and fintech that can’t be missed.

Disrupt SF runs October 2-4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Tickets are available here.

Vymo raises $18M to help on-the-go salespeople do more

By Manish Singh

Vymo, a New York-headquartered startup that operates an eponymous mobile-first service to help salespeople manage their leads and get more work done, has raised $18 million in a new financing round to expand its footprint in the U.S. and other markets.

The Series B round for the six-year-old startup was led by Emergence Capital, a VC firm that focuses on enterprise cloud firms. Existing investor Sequoia India also participated in the round. Vymo has raised more than $23 million to date.

Vymo serves as a CRM (customer relationship management) solution and also works with other popular CRMs such as Salesforce. The service helps salespeople automatically capture their business calls, visits, messages, emails, calendar and the engagement levels to better track and manage their leads, Yamini Bhat, co-founder and CEO of Vymo, told TechCrunch in an interview.

The ease is crucial for salespeople. “CRMs have existed for more than a decade. But they still see under 15% to 20% day-to-day adoption,” Bhat explained. “Salespeople don’t actively log their activities into the CRM, which creates management challenges. People don’t know which deal will close and when it will close.”

Research and advisory firm Gartner said in a report that “field representatives aren’t going to ‘live’ in [sales force automation systems]…that ship has sailed.” In contrast, more than 75% of Vymo’s registered users log in and take actions on the app every day. Vymo’s offering also looks at a salesperson’s activities to identify what is working best for them and makes recommendations for “high-value activities” to other members based on that.

Vymo, which employs about 100 people, has amassed over 40 enterprise customers, including life insurance firms AIA Group and AXA, in seven nations. More than 100,000 salespeople use Vymo’s service. The startup will use the fresh capital to expand its business in many parts of the world and also begin operations in the U.S. market, Bhat said.

“With its exceptionally high user adoption metrics and steadily expanding user base — 100,000 salespeople at over 40 global enterprises and counting — Vymo is delivering transformational value. It’s the kind of company we at Emergence love partnering with — one that stands to drastically improve the day-to-day work lives of millions of people,” Jake Saper, a partner with Emergence Capital, who joins Vymo’s board as part of the financing, said in a statement.

Shailesh Lakhani, managing director of Sequoia Capital India Advisors, said, “As early partners, we’ve seen Vymo grow rapidly across all metrics, but most importantly in avid adoption by mobile-first workers at some of the largest global enterprises. Vymo is uniquely positioned to become the standard by which sales and distribution is run in these institutions.”

The Exit: The acquisition charting Salesforce’s future

By Lucas Matney

Before Tableau was the $15.7 billion key to Salesforce’s problems, it was a couple of founders arguing with a couple of venture capitalists over lunch about why its Series A valuation should be higher than $12 million pre-money.

Salesforce has generally been one to signify corporate strategy shifts through their acquisitions, so you can understand why the entire tech industry took notice when the cloud CRM giant announced its priciest acquisition ever last month.

The deal to acquire the Seattle-based data visualization powerhouse Tableau was substantial enough that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff publicly announced it was turning Seattle into its second HQ. Tableau’s acquisition doesn’t just mean big things for Salesforce. With the deal taking place just days after Google announced it was paying $2.6 billion for Looker, the acquisition showcases just how intense the cloud wars are getting for the enterprise tech companies out to win it all.

The Exit is a new series at TechCrunch. It’s an exit interview of sorts with a VC who was in the right place at the right time but made the right call on an investment that paid off. [Have feedback? Shoot me an email at lucas@techcrunch.com]

Scott Sandell, a general partner at NEA (New Enterprise Associates) who has now been at the firm for 25 years, was one of those investors arguing with two of Tableau’s co-founders, Chris Stolte and Christian Chabot. Desperate to close the 2004 deal over their lunch meeting, he went on to agree to the Tableau founders’ demands of a higher $20 million valuation, though Sandell tells me it still feels like he got a pretty good deal.

NEA went on to invest further in subsequent rounds and went on to hold over 38% of the company at the time of its IPO in 2013 according to public financial docs.

I had a long chat with Sandell, who also invested in Salesforce, about the importance of the Tableau deal, his rise from associate to general partner at NEA, who he sees as the biggest challenger to Salesforce, and why he thinks scooter companies are “the worst business in the known universe.”

The interview has been edited for length and clarity. 


Lucas Matney: You’ve been at this investing thing for quite a while, but taking a trip down memory lane, how did you get into VC in the first place? 

Scott Sandell: The way I got into venture capital is a little bit of a circuitous route. I had an opportunity to get into venture capital coming out of Stanford Business School in 1992, but it wasn’t quite the right fit. And so I had an interest, but I didn’t have the right opportunity.

Emergence’s Jason Green joins TC Sessions: Enterprise this September

By Robert Frawley

Picking winners from the herd of early-stage enterprise startups is challenging — so much competition, so many disruptive technologies, including mobile, cloud and AI. One investor who has consistently identified winners is Jason Green, founder and general partner at Emergence, and TechCrunch is very pleased to announce that he will join the investor panel at TC Sessions: Enterprise on September 5 at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco. He will join two other highly accomplished VCs, Maha Ibrahim, general partner at Canaan Partners and Rebecca Lynn, co-founder and general partner at Canvas Ventures. They will join TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos to discuss important trends in early-stage enterprise investments as well as the sectors and companies that have their attention. Green will also join us for the investor Q&A in a separate session.

Jason Green founded Emergence in 2003 with the aim of “looking around the corner, identifying themes and aiming to win big in the long run.” The firm has made 162 investments, led 64 rounds and seen 29 exits to date. Among the firm’s wins are Zoom, Box, Sage Intacct, ServiceMax, Box and SuccessFactors. Emergence has raised $1.4 billion over six funds.

Green is also the founding chairman of the Kauffman Fellow Program and a founding member of Endeavor. He serves on the boards of BetterWorks, Drishti, GroundTruth, Lotame, Replicon and SalesLoft.

Come hear from Green and these other amazing investors at TC Sessions: Enterprise by booking your tickets today — $249 early-bird tickets are still on sale for the next two weeks before prices go up by $100. Book your tickets here.

Startups, get noticed with a demo table at the conference. Demo tables come with four tickets to the show and prime exhibition space for you to showcase your latest enterprise technology to some of the most influential people in the business. Book your $2,000 demo table right here.

Location-based virtual reality goes to the mall as The Void plans a rollout in 25 more locations

By Jonathan Shieber

The Void, a developer of immersive virtual reality entertainment centers, is partnering with the multinational, multihyphenate mall developer Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield to build 25 new locations around the world.

Location-based virtual reality has become the default gateway into the consumer market for virtual reality headsets, given that adoption of the consumer wearable device hasn’t been all that robust.

Utah-based The Void has some big intellectual property behind its immersive experiences, including ‘Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire’ from Lucasfilm; Walt Disney Animation’s ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’; and ‘Ghostbusters: Dimension.’

Through the partnership with Westfield in the U.S., the company intends to launch pop-ups at the Westfield World Trade Center in New York,  the Westfield San Francisco Centre, Westfield Santa Anita on the outskirts of Pasadena and Westfield UTC in San Diego. The Void notes that all of those locations will become permanent going forward.

The companies also intend to take the show on the road with openings planned for Paris, London, Amsterdam, Chicago, Copenhagen, Oberhausen, San Jose, Calif., Stockholm and Vienna.

This partnership between the two companies reflects some harsh realities for both businesses. For virtual reality it’s the limited home adoption of headset entertainment, and for shopping malls, it’s the rise of e-commerce and the conversion of these public spaces from shopping destinations to broader entertainment hubs.

It’s a fact that Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield chief executive Christophe Cuvillier acknowledged in a statement about the partnership. “Over the past years, our industry has evolved dramatically. In a connected world, shopping is not enough anymore,” Cuvillier said in a statement. “Today, our customers expect to be entertained and brought together to share memorable, engaging sensory experiences.”

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