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:
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:
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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 email@example.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.
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.
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.
Alibaba will be the exclusive provider of Salesforce to enterprise customers in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, and Salesforce will become the exclusive enterprise CRM software suite sold by Alibaba, the companies announced on Thursday.
The Chinese internet has for years been dominated by consumer-facing services such as Tencent’s WeChat messenger and Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace, but enterprise software is starting to garner strong interest from businesses and investors. Workflow automation startup Laiye, for example, recently closed a $35 million funding round led by Cathay Innovation, a growth-stage fund that believes “enterprise software is about to grow rapidly” in China.
The partners have something to gain from each other. Alibaba does not have a Salesforce equivalent serving the raft of small-and-medium businesses selling through its e-commerce marketplaces or using its cloud computing services, so the alliance with the American cloud behemoth will fill that gap.
On the other hand, Salesforce will gain sales avenues in China through Alibaba, whose cloud infrastructure and data platform will help the American firm “offer localized solutions and better serve its multinational customers,” said Ken Shen, vice president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, in a statement.
“More and more of our multinational customers are asking us to support them wherever they do business around the world. That’s why today Salesforce announced a strategic partnership with Alibaba,” said Salesforce in a statement.
Overall, only about 10% of Salesforce revenues in the three months ended April 30 originated from Asia, compared to 20% from Europe and 70% from the Americas.
Besides gaining client acquisition channels, the tie-up also enables Salesforce to store its China-based data at Alibaba Cloud. China requires all overseas companies to work with a domestic firm in processing and storing data sourced from Chinese users.
“The partnership ensures that customers of Salesforce that have operations in the Greater China area will have exclusive access to a locally-hosted version of Salesforce from Alibaba Cloud, who understands local business, culture and regulations,” an Alibaba spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Cloud has been an important growth vertical at Alibaba and nabbing a heavyweight ally will only strengthen its foothold as China’s biggest cloud service provider. Salesforce made some headway in Asia last December when it set up a $100 million fund to invest in Japanese enterprise startups and the latest partnership with Alibaba will see the San Francisco-based firm actually go after customers in Asia.
Car shoppers now have several new options to avoid long-term debt and commitments. Automakers and startups alike are increasingly offering services that give buyers new opportunities and greater flexibility around owning and using vehicles.
In the first part of this feature, we explored the different startups attempting to change car buying. But not everyone wants to buy a car. After all, a vehicle traditionally loses its value at a dramatic rate.
Some startups are attempting to reinvent car ownership rather than car buying.
My favorite car blog Jalopnik said it best: “Cars Sales Could Be Heading Straight Into the Toilet.” Citing a Bloomberg report, the site explains automakers may have had the worst first half for new-vehicle retail sales since 2013. Car sales are tanking, but people still need cars.
Companies like Fair are offering new types of leases combining a traditional auto financing option with modern conveniences. Even car makers are looking at different ways to move vehicles from dealer lots.
Fair was founded in 2016 by an all-star team made up of automotive, retail and banking executives including Scott Painter, former founder and CEO of TrueCar.
In its most recent report, Synergy Research, a company that monitors cloud marketshare, found that enterprise SaaS revenue passed the $100 billion run rate this quarter. The market was led by Microsoft and Salesforce.
It shouldn’t be a surprise at this point that these two enterprise powerhouses come in at the top. Microsoft reported $10.1 billion in Productivity and Business Processes revenue, which includes Office 365, the Dynamics line and LinkedIn, the company it bought in 2016 for $26.2 billion. That $10.1 billion accounted for the top spot with 17 percent
Salesforce was next with around 12%. It announced $3.74 billion in revenue in its most recent earnings statement with Service Cloud alone accounting for $1.02 billion in revenue, crossing that billion-dollar mark for the first time.
Adobe came in third, good for around 10% market share, with $2.74 billion in revenue for its most recent report. Digital Media, which includes Creative Cloud and Document Cloud, accounted for the vast majority of the revenue with $1.8 billion. SAP and Oracle complete the top companies
While that number may seem low, given we are 20 years into the development of the SaaS market, it is still a significant milestone, not to be dismissed lightly. As Synergy pointed out, while the market feels mature, if finds that SaaS revenue still accounts for just 20 percent of the overall enterprise software market. There’s still a long way to go, showing as with the infrastructure side of the market, things change much more slowly than we imagine, and the market is growing rapidly, as the impressive growth rates show.
“While SaaS growth rate isn’t as high as IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service), the SaaS market is substantially bigger and it will remain so until 2023. Synergy forecasts strong growth across all SaaS segments and all geographic regions,” the company wrote in its report.
Salesforce is the only one of the top five that was actually born in the cloud. Adobe, an early desktop software company, switched to cloud in 2013. Microsoft, of course, has been a desktop stalwart for many years before embracing the cloud over the last decade. SAP and Oracle are traditional enterprise software companies, born long before the cloud was even a concept, that began transitioning when the market began shifting.
Yet in spite of being late to the game, these numbers show that the market is still dominated by the old guard enterprise software companies and how difficult it is to achieve market dominance for companies born in the cloud. Salesforce emerged 20 years ago as an early cloud adherent, but of all of the enterprise SaaS companies that were started this century only ServiceNow and WorkDay show up in the Synergy list lumped in “the next 10.”
That’s not to say there aren’t SaaS companies making some serious money, just not quite as much as the top players to this point. Jason Lemkin, CEO and founder at SaaStr, a company that invests in and supports enterprise SaaS companies, says a lot of companies are close to that $1 billion goal than you might think, and he’s optimistic that we are going to see more.
“We will have at least 100 companies top $1 billion in ARR, probably many more. It is just math. Almost everyone IPO’ing [SaaS company] has 120-140% revenue retention. That will compound $100 million or $200 million to $1 billion. The only question is when,” he told TechCrunch.
Chart courtesy of SaasStr
He adds that annualized numbers are very close behind ARR numbers and it won’t take long to catch up. Yet as we have seen with some of the companies on this list, it’s still not easy to get there.
It’s hard to develop a billion dollar SaaS company, and it takes time and patience, and perhaps some strategic acquisitions to get there, but the market trajectory continues to move upward. It will likely only grow stronger as more companies move to software in the cloud, and that bodes well for many of the players in this market, even those that didn’t show up on Synergy’s chart.
Managing people is perhaps the most challenging thing most people will have to learn in the course of their professional lives – especially because there’s no one ‘right’ way to do it. But Ottawa-based startup Fellow is hoping to ease the learning curve for new managers, and improve and reinforce the habits of experienced ones with their new people management platform software.
Fellow has raised $6.5 million in seed funding, from investors including Inovia Capital, Felicia Ventures, Garage Capital and a number of angels. The funding announcement comes alongside the announcement of their first customers, including Shopify (disclosure: I worked at Shopify when Fellow was implemented and was an early tester of this product, which is why I can can actually speak to how it works for users).
The Fellow platform is essentially a way to help team leads interact with their reports, and vice versa. It’s a feedback tool that you can use to collect insight on your team from across the company; it includes meeting supplemental suggestions and templates for one-on-ones, and even provides helpful suggestions like recommending you have a one-on-one when you haven’t in a while; and it all lives in the cloud, with integrations for other key workplace software like Slack that help it integrate with your existing flow.
Fellow co-founder and CEO Aydin Mirzaee and his co-founding team have previous experience building companies: They founded Fluidware, a survey software company, in 2008 and then sold it to SurveyMonkey in 2014. In growing the team to over 100 people, Mirzaee says they realized where there were gaps, both in his leadership team’s knowledge and in available solutions on the market.
“Starting the last company, we were in our early 20s, and like the way that we used to learn different practices was by using software, like if you use the Salesforce, and you know nothing about sales, you’ll learn some things about sales,” Mirzaee told me in an interview. “If you don’t know about marketing, use Marketo, and you’ll learn some things about marketing. And you know, from our perspective, as soon as we started actually having some traction and customers and then hired some people, we just got thrown into it. So it was ‘Okay, now, I guess we’re managers.’ And then eventually we became managers of managers.”
Mirzaee and his team then wondered why a tool like Salesforce or Marketo didn’t exist for management. “Why is it that when you get promoted to become a manager, there isn’t an equivalent tool to help you with that?” he said.
Concept in hand, Fellow set out to build its software, and what it came up with is a smartly designed, user-friendly platform that is accessible to anyone regardless of technical expertise or experience with management practice and training. I can attest to this first-hand, since I was a first-time manager using Fellow to lead a team during my time at Shopify – part of the beta testing process that helped develop the product into something that’s ready for broader release. I was not alone in my relative lack of management knowledge, Mirzaee said, and that’s part of why they saw a clear need for this product.
“The more we did research, the more we figured out that obviously, managers are really important,” he explained. “70% of customer engagements are due to managers, for instance. And when people leave companies, they tend to leave the manager, not the company. The more we dug into it the more it was clear that there truly was this management problem – management crisis almost, and that nobody really had built a great tool for managers and their teams like.”
Fellow’s tool is flexible enough to work with specific management methodologies like setting SMART goals or OKRs for team members, and managers can use pre-set templates or build their own for things like setting meeting talking points, or gathering feedback from the colleagues of their reports.
Right now, Fellow is live with a number of clients including Shoify, Vidyard, Tulip, North and more, and it’s adding new clients who sign up on a case-by-case basis, but increasing the pace at which it onboard new customers. Mirzaee explained that it hopes to open sign ups entirely later this year.
Sales teams have long turned to tech solutions to help improve how they source leads, develop relationships and close deals. Now, one of the startups that helps out at a key point in that trajectory is announcing a round of growth funding to help fuel its own rapid growth. Showpad, a sales enablement platform that lets salespeople source and organise relevant content and other collateral that they use in their deals, has raised a Series D of $70 million.
The funding, which brings the total raised by Showpad to $160 million, is coming in the form of debt and equity. The equity part is co-led by Dawn Capital and Insight Partners, with existing investors Hummingbird Ventures, and Korelya Capital also participating. Silicon Valley Bank is providing debt financing. This is one of the first big investments out of Dawn’s Opportunities Fund that we wrote about last week.
The company is not disclosing its valuation but Pieterjan Bouten, the CEO who co-founded the company with Louis Jonckheere (currently CPO), confirmed that it has doubled since the $50 million Series C that it raised in 2016, with the company growing 90% year-on-year at the moment in terms of revenues.
And as a point of reference, another sales enablement player, Seismic, last December raised a Series E of $100 million at a $1 billion valuation.
Founded in Ghent, Belgium, Showpad today operates across two main headquarters, its original European base and Chicago. The latter was the homebase of LearnCore, a company that Showpad acquired last year that focuses on sales coaching and training, which has been used as a strategic acquisition to expand Showpad’s primary product, a platform that acts as a kind of content management system for sales collateral. (Today, while Chicago is where Showpad builds its go-to market efforts and professional services, Ghent focuses on engineering and product, he said.) As it happens, Chicago is also the headquarters of Seismic.
As Bouten sees it, Showpad is part of what he considers to be the fourth pillar of the technology marketing stack: storage (the cloud services where you keep all your data), CRM, marketing automation and sales enablement, where Showpad sits.
While the first three are key to helping to manage a salesperson’s activities and work, the fourth is a crucial one for helping to make sure a salesperson can do his or her job more effectively. Traditionally a lot of the content that salespeople used — presentations, white papers, other materials — to help make their cases and close their deals would be managed offline and directly by individual salespeople. Showpad has taken some of that process and made it digital, which means that now teams of salespeople can more effectively share materials amongst each other; and interestingly the material and its link to successful sales becomes part of how Showpad “learns” what works and what doesn’t.
That, in turn, helps build its own artificial intelligence algorithms, to help suggest the best materials for a particular sales effort either to someone else in that team, or to other salespeople using the platform.
“To date there has been enormous innovation in automating the marketing and sales workflow. However, in the end, sales comes down to one person selling to another,” said Norman Fiore, General Partner at Dawn Capital and member of the Showpad Board, in a statement. “Historically, this has been an offline process that has been wildly inconsistent and opaque. Showpad’s suite of products succeeds in bringing this process online for the first time with data-rich feedback loops on the effectiveness of teams, managers, salespeople and even individual pieces of sales content.”
This is a crowded area of the market with a number of standalone companies building sales enablement solutions, but also other companies within the sales stack also adding on enablement as a value-added service. For now, though, Bouten notes that these are more strategic partners than competitors. Salesforce is a partner, he says, and “We integrate with Salesloft to make sure sure emails that are sent out are using the right content. We become the single source of truth but also are being used for outreach.”
Today, the company has around 1,200 enterprise customers, including Johnson & Johnson, GE Healthcare, Bridgestone, Honeywell, and Merck, and the plan going forward will be to continue building out the services that it offers around its sales enablement software.
“You can equip sales people with the best content, but if they are not trained and coached in the right way, it goes nowhere,” he said.
At its NEXTGen event in Munich, BMW today announced that it is running ahead of schedule in its efforts to offer at least 25 electrified vehicles. Previously, the German luxury car manufacturer was shooting for 2025, but it now says that it will offer these 25 vehicles by 2023.
As BMW’s Klaus Fröhlich stressed at a press event ahead of today’s announcement, BMW will continue to offer a full range of vehicles that span from fully-electric to hybrids and standard combustion-engine powered cars for the foreseeable future. More than half of the 25 vehicles the company is talking about today, though, will be fully electric.
“We are moving up a gear in the transformation towards sustainable mobility, thereby making our company fit for the future: Over the past two years, we have consistently taken numerous decisions that we are now bringing to the roads,” said BMW CEO Harald Krüger. “By 2021, we will have doubled our sales of electrified vehicles compared with 2019.”
The company expects that its electrified car sales will continue to grow by more than 30 percent per year up to 2025. Indeed, it expects to have sold more than half a billion fully-electric or plug-in hybrids by the end of 2019. That’s a tough goal to achieve, Krüger admitted. He also noted that BMW plans to power all of its plants with renewable energy from next year onward.
Right now, that number is definitely driven by sales of the somewhat quirky i3, with 150,000 on the roads today. Then, over the course of the next few years, the i3 will be joined by a fully-electric Mini, iX3 and then the i4 and iNext.
By 2020, all of these plug-in hybrids will also feature a new tool that will make driving them in cities that ban combustion engines from their city centers: BMW eDrive Zones. This feature will automatically detect when you enter a zone where only electric vehicles are allowed and then switch to running on batteries until you leave.
Like many good ideas, CrowdStrike, a seller of subscription-based software that protects companies from breaches, began as a few notes scribbled on a napkin in a hotel lobby.
The idea was to leverage new technology to create an endpoint protection platform powered by artificial intelligence that would blow incumbent solutions out of the water. McAfee, Palo Alto Networks and Symantec, long-time leaders in the space, had been too slow to embrace new technologies and companies were suffering, the CrowdStrike founding team surmised.
Co-founders George Kurtz and Dmitri Alperovitch, a pair of former McAfee executives, weren’t strangers to legacy cybersecurity tools. McAfee had for years been a dominant player in endpoint protection and antivirus. At least, until the emergence of cloud computing.
Since 2012, CrowdStrike’s Falcon Endpoint Protection platform has been pushing those incumbents into a new era of endpoint protection. By helping enterprises across the globe battle increasingly complex attack scenarios more efficiently, CrowdStrike, as well as other fast-growing cybersecurity upstarts, has redefined company security standards much like Salesforce redefined how companies communicate with customers.
“I think we had the foresight that [CrowdStrike] was going to be a foundational element for security,” CrowdStrike chief executive officer George Kurtz told TechCrunch this morning. The full conversation can be read further below.
CrowdStrike co-founder and CEO George Kurtz.
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There are hundreds of associates working at VC firms traipsing through meetups and coffee meetings trying to find the best new startups. If you are looking to fundraise though — and fundraise quickly — how do you approach these nebulous non-check-writers?
This week, I wrote a guide based on my experience as a VC associate at two firms. The answer is that yes, they can matter, and it usually is quickly apparent how valuable they can be.
Associates can be helpful, they can and should be nice, and they have a useful role to play in the venture landscape. But let’s be clear: they can’t write checks, and checks is what you are looking for. They can be useful mechanisms to get the right meetings with the right partners at exactly the moment you are ready to fundraise. You probably shouldn’t piss them off by being an asshole to them, but at the end of the day, they are not the decision-maker. And if you learn anything about sales, it is that you want to pitch the person that holds the purse strings.
Women’s fertility is a major area of investment for VC firms these days, and several prominent investors are doing deep dives into the space. Our healthtech writer Sarah Buhr interviewed several VCs about what they’re seeing in the space and why fertility is suddenly in the limelight:
Buying a car is painful. Dealerships are the worst, and the options are endless. The rise of the Internet produced powerful tools for shoppers, but in the end, most buyers still have to trudge down to a car lot.
For this series of articles, TechCrunch spoke with several founders and investors attempting to rethink car buying. It’s clear these startups are the underdog in this fight. Most consumers buy cars the same way as their grandparents did and for good reason. Dealerships nationwide fought for years to enact laws and regulations that protect their businesses.
Several young companies are attempting to put the dealership online. Companies like Carvana, Shift, Vroom and Joydrive are putting the entire car buying process online, allowing customers to buy, trade-in and even test drive vehicles without talking to a salesman in an oversized golf pullover.
In the next part of this series, we’ll look at companies like Fair that are moving consumers away from purchasing and into short-term leases. Even automakers are trying something new. Tesla sells directly to consumers while Volvo, BMW, Mercedes and others are launching subscription options to give owners even more flexibility.
Several companies are building online car dealerships. Shoppers find and buy a vehicle solely through these sites, and often, the cars are delivered to the buyer. These online dealerships even take trade-ins.
Three services dominate this space, and they were all founded in 2013. Carvana, Shift, and Vroom hit the market at the same time but have experienced different paths. One thing is clear though: it takes hundreds of millions of venture capital money to build an online dealership.
Emily Melton, co-founder and managing partner, Threshold Ventures (formally known as DFJ Ventures), points to consumer’s changing expectations and an optimized process across all kinds of vehicles. She invested in Shift’s recent $140m round.