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DoorDash seems to be very interested in self-driving technology — not only did it acquire Scotty Labs (a startup enabling people to remotely control self-driving cars), it also brought on the two co-founders of Lvl5, which was creating high-resolution maps for autonomous driving.
“We’ll share more updates in the near future but for now, we’re really excited to be part of the amazing DoorDash family and looking forward to building something magical together,” Scotty Labs co-founder Tobenna Arodiogbu wrote on in a blog post.
Apple, Google and Mozilla have taken the rare step of blocking an untrusted certificate issued by the Kazakhstan government, which critics say it forced its citizens to install as part of an effort to monitor their internet traffic.
We already rounded up all the startups that presented at the accelerator’s Demo Day 1, but now the team has selected their favorites. (Extra Crunch membership required.)
An unprotected MoviePass database included both customer cards (those are the debit cards used to purchase movie tickets) and personal credit card numbers.
The data set isn’t for commercial use, but Waymo’s definition of “research” is fairly broad, and includes researchers at other companies as well as academics.
Tala looks at behavioral data gathered through an Android app to build a customer’s credit profile. The new round values the company at $750 million.
Popular enterprise news and research site The New Stack is coming to TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise on September 5 for a special Pancake & Podcast session with live Q&A. (And we’re dead serious about the pancakes.)
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.
As companies collect increasingly large amounts of data about customers, the end game is about improving the customer experience. It’s a term we’re hearing a lot of these days, and we are going to be discussing that very topic with Amit Ahuja, Adobe’s vice president of ecosystem development, next month at TechCrunch Sessions: Enterprise in San Francisco. Grab your early-bird tickets right now – $100 savings ends today!
Customer experience covers a broad array of enterprise software and includes data collection, analytics and software. Adobe deals with all of this including the Adobe Experience Platform for data collection, Adobe Analytics for visualization and understanding and Adobe Experience Cloud for building applications.
The idea is to begin to build an understanding of your customers through the various interactions you have with them, and then build applications to give them a positive experience. There is lots of talk about “delighting” customers, but it’s really about using the digital realm to help them achieve what they want as efficiently as possible, whatever that means to your business.
Ahuja will be joining TechCrunch’s editors along with Qualtrics chief experience officer Julie Larson-Green and Segment CEO Peter Reinhardt to discuss the finer points of what it means to build a customer experience, and how software can help drive that.
Ahuja has been with Adobe since 2005 when he joined as part of the $3.4 billion Macromedia acquisition. His primary role today involves building and managing strategic partnerships and initiatives. Prior to this, he was the Head of Emerging businesses and the GM of Adobe’s Data Management Platform business, which focuses on advertisers. He also spent 7 years in Adobe’s Corporate Development Group where he helped complete the acquisitions of Omniture, Scene7, Efficient Frontier, Demdex and Auditude.
Amit will be joining us on Sept 5 in San Francisco along with some of the biggest influencers in enterprise including Bill McDermott from SAP, Scott Farquhar from Atlassian, Aparna Sinha from Google, Wendy Nather from Duo Security, Aaron Levie from Box and Andrew Ng from Landing AI.
Early-bird savings end today, August 9. Book your tickets today and you’ll save $100 before prices go up.
Bringing a group? Book our 4+ group tickets and you’ll save 20% on the early-bird rate. Bring the whole squad here.
August is often considered the black hole of venture capital fundraising. Everyone is on vacation (well, everyone who’s not a founder anyway) while half of Silicon Valley is slogging down to Black Rock City for Burning Man. It understandably can just seem like an exercise in futility to try to raise any funding at all.
I’m here to tell you though that August is not the bleakest month of the year for fundraising (that actually would be December according to data from DocSend we’ve published). In fact, using August effectively for fundraising is perhaps the single most important factor for success in the coming fundraising season (there is a reason that YC Demo Day, one of the largest fundraising events in the calendar, is set for August 19-20 after all).
Let’s walk through a plan of attack.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: yes, VCs take vacation, sometimes sparklingly expensive ones, like the kinds with yachts or the kinds where someone rents out a whole ski chalet (or two). It can seem like an incredibly enviable lifestyle, and it is at a certain point of success, particularly in comparison to the context of a founder who is working around the clock and eating instant ramen.
Synchronize your Fitbits, people. You have 72 hours left to get your fiscal fitness on. Three days to save $100 on tickets to TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019 in San Francisco on September 5. Buy your early-bird ticket by August 9 at 11:59 p.m. (PT) and then go back to counting your steps.
We say with confidence that no tech category’s more competitive than enterprise software. The gigantic, $500 billion market generates a constant flow of multibillion-dollar acquisitions every year. And it takes a special kind of fierce early-stage enterprise startup to jump in, invent new services and shake up old-school incumbents.
More than 1,000 attendees will be in the house to explore this rich, complex topic, TechCrunch-style. Our editors will interview top titans in the enterprise world — like SAP CEO, Bill McDermott; Atlassian co-founder, Scott Farquhar; and Jocelyn Goldfein, managing director at Zetta Venture Partners. They’ll also tap rising founders of upstart startups.
The enterprise just can’t get enough of AI, but large companies face a huge challenge: packaging all that data in machine learning models — a necessary element for using AI to automate processes. That’s why we’re especially excited that Bindu Reddy, co-founder and CEO at RealityEngines, will join us onstage.
Her company aims to create research-driven cloud services to reduce some of the inherent complexity of working with AI tools. Reddy, along with investor Jocelyn Goldfein, a managing director at Zetta Venture Partners, and others will talk about the growing role of AI in the enterprise.
That’s just the tip of the Enterprise iceberg. More than 20 interviews, panel discussions, Q&As and breakout sessions will cover a wide range of technologies, including intelligent marketing automation, the cloud, Kubernetes and even quantum and blockchain. Peruse the agenda to see what else we have in store for you.
Early-bird pricing for TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019 ends in just 72 hours. Buy your ticket by August 9 at 11:59 p.m. (PT) and you’ll save $100. But wait, there’s more — for every ticket you buy, we’ll register you for a free Expo-only pass to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019. Now that’s fiscal fitness.
Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Enterprise? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org]
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.
It’s Mobility Day at TechCrunch, and we’re hosting our Sessions event today in beautiful San Jose. That’s why we have a couple of related pieces on mobility at Extra Crunch.
First, our automotive editor Matt Burns is back with part two of his market map and analysis of the changing nature of how consumers are buying cars these days. Part one looked at how startups like Carvana, Shift, Vroom, and others are trying to disrupt the car dealership’s monopoly on auto sales in the United States.
Now, Burns takes a look at how startups like Fair and premium automakers like Mercedes are disrupting the very notion of owning a car in the first place. Rather than buying a car or leasing one, users with these new services are asked to subscribe to their cars, giving them the flexibility to get a car when they need it and to get rid of it when they don’t. Fair has raised $1.5 billion in venture capital, so clearly the space has caught the eye of investors.
“In simple terms,” co-founder and then CEO [of Fair] Scott Painter, told TechCrunch following its recent raise, “for every dollar in equity we unlock $10 in debt, and we borrow that cash to buy cars.”
Fair works much like a traditional lease with more options. Users can drive the vehicles as long as they’re paying for them and can switch to a different one whenever. This is different from a traditional lease where the buyer is often locked into the vehicle for two to four years. The model makes Fair an excellent option for Uber and Lyft drivers, and in the last year, Uber sold fair its $400 million leasing business to accelerate this offering.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, our China tech reporter Rita Liao takes a deeper look at the quickly changing tides of the ride-hailing industry in China. It’s a fight between intermediation, disintermediation, and who ultimately owns the ride-hailing consumer. As transit in China and the rest of the world increasingly becomes multi-modal, who owns the gateway to figuring out the best method and paying for it is increasingly in the driver’s seat:
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.
Our Silicon Valley editor Connie Loizos hosted an Extra Crunch live conference call with Andreessen Horowitz GP Scott Kupor, who manages all ops for the firm and was formerly head of the National Venture Capital Association. He just published a new book entitled “Secrets of Sand Hill Road” which is a guide to the venture capital industry and how to attract the attention of VCs to your startup.
This was our most popular conference call so far, and it was great to see so many people coming out to chat with Scott. In case you missed it, we have published the full transcript for Extra Crunch members.
Connie: Talking about demystifying venture capital, you’ve been with Andreessen Horowitz for roughly 10 years, pretty much from the outset of the firm. Can you tell us, beyond a warm introduction, what does it take to get a meeting at Andreessen Horowitz? What do you start looking for on paper?
Scott: What we’re really looking for is a couple of things. First, we always think about market initially, because we know that we’re going to be wrong a lot of times and the way we have to invest is we have to believe at the time we make the investment that the market size is big enough to be able to support a standalone, hopefully, public company at some point in time.
So, that’s always the threshold question we’re trying to ask — is the opportunity that they’re going after is as big as it possibly can be? And then, most of the analysis, particularly the early stage, tends to be based on team, because, we don’t really have the benefit of the product yet.
We definitely don’t even know, quite frankly, how the markets going to evolve. And so, the real question is what is it about this team or set of individuals that makes them uniquely qualified to go after this opportunity? What do they know?
We use this term internally, called an “earned secret”, which is what have you learned that other people might not know that’s going to really enable you to go build something that we know is going to be tough and competitive, and a long slog? And, a lot of the evaluation really starts there.
Our Taipei-based correspondent Catherine Shu attended the local Computex conference, which has long been a major hub in the semiconductor, next-generation silicon, AI and 5G circuits. She wrote up her observations of what’s on the cutting edge of these fields, and what the opportunities for startups are in these hot spaces.
Extra Crunch offers members the opportunity to tune into conference calls led and moderated by the TechCrunch writers you read every day. This week, TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos sat down with Scott Kupor, managing director at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz to dig into his new book Secrets of Sand Hill Road, discuss his advice for new founders dealing with VCs and to pick his brain on the opportunities that excite him most today.
Scott gained inspiration for Secrets of Sand Hill Road after realizing he was hearing the same questions from different entrepreneurs over his decade in venture. The book acts as an updated guide on what VCs actually do, how they think and how founders should engage with them.
Scott offers Connie his take on why, despite the influx of available information on the venture world, founders still view VC as a black box. Connie and Scott go on to shed some light on the venture thought process, discussing how VCs evaluate new founders, new market opportunities, future round potential and how they think about investments that aren’t playing out as expected.
“[Deciding on the right amount of money to raise] is one of the areas where I think people will rely on convention too much, rather than figuring out what makes sense for them. And what I mean by convention is, they say, “Hey, my friends down the street just raised a $7 million A round, so $7 million must be the right size for an A round.”
The way we try to help entrepreneurs think about it is think about the pitch that you’re going to give at the next round of financing. Let’s say you’re raising a Series A, imagine sitting here 18 or 24 months from now doing the Series B financing, what’s the story you’re going to want to be able to tell the investor then, as to what you accomplished over that last 18 to 24 months?
And then, almost work your way backwards to say, “If that’s the story that I want to tell, and we all agree that’s a compelling story where somebody will come in hopefully, and fund it at a valuation that’s higher to reflect the progress of the business, then let’s work our way back, and say “how do we de risk that?””
Image via Getty Images / Heidi Gutman/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank
Connie and Scott also dive deeper into Andreessen Horowitz’ investing and post-investing structure, and what the future of the firm and its key investments may look like down the road.
For access to the full transcription and the call audio, and for the opportunity to participate in future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free.
Connie Loizos: Hi, everyone. It’s time to kick off today’s call with Scott Kupor, a managing partner at the venture firm, Andreessen Horowitz, and more recently, the author of the book, Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It. Thank you so much for making time for us today.
Scott, I’m still in the process of reading the book, but I have to say, much like your colleague, Ben Horowitz’s book, and this is really true, I’m really enjoying it.
Scott Kupor: Well, thank you.
Connie: It doesn’t really feel remotely like work, which I find to be true with the vast majority of business books.
Scott: Well, I appreciate that. I had great help from Ben [Horowitz] in terms of inspiration from his book. So I’m glad to hear that. Thank you very much.
Microsoft and Oracle announced a new alliance today that will see the two companies directly connect their clouds over a direct network connection so that their users can then move workloads and data seamlessly between the two. This alliance goes a bit beyond just basic direct connectivity and also includes identity interoperability.
This kind of alliance is relatively unusual between what are essentially competing clouds, but while Oracle wants to be seen as a major player in this space, it also realizes that it isn’t likely to get to the size of an AWS, Azure or Google Cloud anytime soon. For Oracle, this alliance means that its users can run services like the Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle JD Edwards on Azure while still using an Oracle database in the Oracle cloud, for example. With that, Microsoft still gets to run the workloads and Oracle gets to do what it does best (though Azure users will also continue be able to run their Oracle databases in the Azure cloud, too).
“The Oracle Cloud offers a complete suite of integrated applications for sales, service, marketing, human resources, finance, supply chain and manufacturing, plus highly automated and secure Generation 2 infrastructure featuring the Oracle Autonomous Database,” said Don Johnson, executive vice president, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), in today’s announcement. “Oracle and Microsoft have served enterprise customer needs for decades. With this alliance, our joint customers can migrate their entire set of existing applications to the cloud without having to re-architect anything, preserving the large investments they have already made.”
For now, the direct interconnect between the two clouds is limited to Azure US East and Oracle’s Ashburn data center. The two companies plan to expand this alliance to other regions in the future, though they remain mum on the details. It’ll support applications like JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Oracle Retail and Hyperion on Azure, in combination with Oracle databases like RAC, Exadata and the Oracle Autonomous Database running in the Oracle Cloud.
“As the cloud of choice for the enterprise, with over 95% of the Fortune 500 using Azure, we have always been first and foremost focused on helping our customers thrive on their digital transformation journeys,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and AI division. “With Oracle’s enterprise expertise, this alliance is a natural choice for us as we help our joint customers accelerate the migration of enterprise applications and databases to the public cloud.”
Today’s announcement also fits within a wider trend at Microsoft, which has recently started building a number of alliances with other large enterprise players, including its open data alliance with SAP and Adobe, as well as a somewhat unorthodox gaming partnership with Sony.
Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration chief, became known during his tenure for his efforts to regulate the tobacco and e-cigarette industries — and for his particular focus on Juul, the fast-growing e-cigarette company that Gottlieb squarely blames for creating a “youth epidemic” of e-cigarette use by teenagers.
Indeed, when he announced that he would be stepping down from his post in early March, it seemed Gottlieb had dealt the tobacco industry a winning hand. There was even talk that he’d been pressured to leave by conservative groups along with some Republicans in Congress, including Senator Richard Burr, who’d blasted Gottlieb on the Senator floor in January over a plan to ban menthol cigarettes. (Burr’s home state of North Carolina produces more tobacco than any other state.)
But Gottlieb isn’t giving up so easily, he says. In an interview this morning, Gottlieb said there was nothing more to his resignation than his stated reason at the time: his family. “I was commuting from Westport (Connecticut) to Washington every Friday night; I was only home with my three young kids on Saturdays,” he told us. “fter two years, that got difficult. Had I to do it over again, I would have thought about moving my family down to [Washington] at the outset. The inevitability [otherwise] was that I was always going to be time-limited in this job.”
Gottlieb, who just rejoined the venture firm New Enterprise Associates as a special partner focused on healthcare, further suggests that he will continue to bang the drum when it comes to e-cigarette usage as a private citizen. To wit, in addition to his work at NEA, where he previously served as a venture partner from 2007 until joining the FDA in 2017, Gottlieb is becoming a regulator contributor at CNBC, where he will appear both on television and in print. He also anticipates contributing to the Wall Street Journal and to the Washington Post and to writing deeper dives in medical journals. (“I was publishing on an almost weekly basis” before joining the FDA, Gottlieb notes.)
Indeed, though Gottlieb will have plenty of demands on his time — he has also resumed an earlier role as a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank — he says he’s not done with the work he started in Washington, noting that he’s “very efficient” when it comes to both his writing and policy work and insisting that he will “still be actively engaged.”
Partly that owes to Gottlieb’s concerns that Juul — which hitched its wagon to tobacco giant Altria in December by selling it a 35 percent stake in its business for $38 billion — is only becoming more pervasive owing to the tie-up.
Gottlieb still very much believes that the company “bears an outsized responsibility for this public health crisis” wherein one in five people in the U.S. now vapes occasionally, and a growing percentage of those users are teenagers. With Altria’s marketing muscle and much bigger retail footprint, says Gottlieb, Juul adoption could well erase a generation of gains against the fight against nicotine addiction.
As for whether Gottlieb’s public campaign will have real teeth, that remains to be seen. It also isn’t yet clear how aggressively or not the acting FDA commissioner, Ned Sharpless, will be when it comes to battling big tobacco, particularly considering the 80-plus lobbyists employed by Juul in Washington and that, according to the New York Times, have three primary goals: fighting proposals to ban flavored e-cigarette pods, pushing legislation that includes provisions denying local governments the right to adopt strict vaping controls, and working to make sure that bills to discourage youth vaping do not have stringent enforcement measures.
Gottlieb says he’s optimistic. “He’s a cancer doctor,” he notes. “He has certainly expressed interest in advancing [the] policies [the FDA has already set in motion].”
At the very least, at an all-hands meeting last month, Commissioner Sharpless suggested that fighting nicotine addiction remains a priority. Among his other comments, he said agency will “maintain our focus on ending the use of combustible cigarettes among adults, and on preventing kids from ever starting.
“That includes undertaking vital research to ensure we have the data necessary to make informed regulatory decisions on electronic cigarette products, so that we can reverse the growing epidemic of youth ENDS [electronic nicotine delivery systems] use. We simply won’t tolerate misleading marketing or selling tobacco products to children.”