Category: Exit

June 8, 2019 Off

Maker Faire halts operations and lays off all staff

By Jill T Frey

Financial troubles have forced Maker Media, the company behind crafting publication MAKE: magazine as well as the science and art festival Maker Faire, to lay off its entire staff of 22 and pause all operations. TechCrunch was tipped off to Maker Media’s unfortunate situation which was then confirmed by the company’s founder and CEO Dale Dougherty.

For 15 years, MAKE: guided adults and children through step-by-step do-it-yourself crafting and science projects, and it was central to the maker movement. Since 2006, Maker Faire’s 200 owned and licensed events per year in over 40 countries let attendees wander amidst giant, inspiring art and engineering installations.

Maker Media Inc ceased operations this week and let go of all of its employees — about 22 employees” Dougherty tells TechCrunch. “I started this 15 years ago and it’s always been a struggle as a business to make this work. Print publishing … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

Twitter bags deep learning talent behind London startup, Fabula AI

By Jill T Frey

Twitter has just announced it has picked up London-based Fabula AI. The deep learning startup has been developing technology to try to identify online disinformation by looking at patterns in how fake stuff vs genuine news spreads online — making it an obvious fit for the rumor-riled social network.

Social media giants remain under increasing political pressure to get a handle on online disinformation to ensure that manipulative messages don’t, for example, get a free pass to fiddle with democratic processes.

Twitter says the acquisition of Fabula will help it build out its internal machine learning capabilities — writing that the UK startup’s “world-class team of machine learning researchers” will feed an internal research group it’s building out, led by Sandeep Pandey, its head of ML/AI engineering.

This research group will focus … Read the rest

May 31, 2019 Off

Foursquare buys Placed from Snap Inc. on the heels of $150M in new funding

By Jill T Frey

Foursquare just made its first acquisition. The location tech company has acquired Placed from Snap Inc. on the heels of a fresh $150 million investment led by The Raine Group. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Placed founder and CEO David Shim will become president of Foursquare.

Placed is the biggest competitor to Foursquare’s Attribution product, which allows brands to track the physical impact (foot traffic to store) of a digital campaign or ad. Up until now, Placed and Attribution by Foursquare combined have measured more than $3 billion in ad-to-store visits.

Placed launched in 2011 and raised $13.4 million (according to Crunchbase) before being acquired by Snap Inc. in 2017.

As part of the deal with Foursquare, the company’s Attribution product will henceforth be known as Placed powered by Foursquare. The acquisition also means that Placed powered by Foursquare will have more than 450 measureable media … Read the rest

May 29, 2019 Off

CrowdStrike sets terms for $378M Nasdaq IPO

By Jill T Frey

CrowdStrike, in preparation for its Nasdaq initial public offering, has inked plans to sell 18 million shares at between $19 and $23 apiece. At a midpoint price, CrowdStrike will raise $378 million at a valuation north of $4 billion.

The company, which develops cloud-native endpoint protection software to prevent cyber breaches, has raised $480 million in venture capital funding to date from Warburg Pincus, which owns a 30.2% pre-IPO stake, Accel (20.2%) and CapitalG (11.1%), according to its IPO prospectus. The business was valued at $3.3 billion with a $200 million January 2018 Series E funding.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based CrowdStrike outlined its IPO plans two weeks ago. The company plans to trade under the ticker symbol “CRWD.”

The cybersecurity unicorn follows several other highly valued venture-backed startups to the public markets, including Uber, Lyft, Pinterest, PagerDuty and Zoom. CrowdStrike’s offering will represent only the second cybersecurity IPO in 2019, however. … Read the rest

May 24, 2019 Off

Luckin leaves bitter aftertaste, now trading below IPO price

By Jill T Frey

In the first few days following Luckin Coffee’s initial public offering, the stock chart for LK looked like a roller coaster. Now it’s looking more like a free fall.

The Chinese Coffee chain successfully completed its highly anticipated offering roughly a week ago, raising more than $550 million after pricing at $17 per share, the high end of its $15-$17 per share range.

Luckin was met with a warm reception from the markets, with the stock skyrocketing roughly 20% to a greater than $5 billion market cap in its first day of trading. However, concerns over the company’s lofty valuation, major cash burn and uncertain path to profitability have caused the stock to nosedive since.

Luckin has dropped around 25% since closing its debut trading day at $20.38 per share, and 40% from its intraday peak of $25.96. As of Friday’s open, Luckin stock sat at $15.44, … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Zendesk acquires Smooch, doubles down on support via messaging apps like WhatsApp

By Jill T Frey

One of the bigger developments in customer services has been the impact of social media — both as a place to vent frustration or praise (mostly frustration) and — especially over messaging apps — as a place for businesses to connect with their users.

Now, customer support specialist Zendesk has made an acquisition so that it can make a bigger move into how it works within social media platforms, and specifically messaging apps: it has acquired Smooch, a startup that describes itself as an “omnichannel messaging platform,” which companies’ customer care teams can use to interact with people over messaging platforms like WhatsApp, WeChat, Line and Messenger, as well as SMS and email.

Smooch was in fact one of the first partners for the WhatsApp Business API, alongside VoiceSage, Nexmo, Infobip, Twilio, MessageBird and others already advertising their services in this area.

It had also … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

The Exit: Getaround’s $300M roadtrip

By Jill T Frey

In August of last year, Getaround scored $300 million from Softbank. Eight months later they handed that same amount to Drivy, a Parisian peer-to-peer car rental service that was Getaround’s ticket to tapping into European markets.

Alven Capital’s Jeremy Uzan

Both companies shared similar visions for the future of car ownership, they were about the same size, both were flirting with expanding beyond their home market, but only one had the power of the Vision Fund behind it.

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 protected]

Alven Capital partner Jeremy Uzan first invested in Drivy’s seed round in 2013. Uzan joined Index Ventures co-leading a $2 million round that valued the company … Read the rest

May 17, 2019 Off

Starbucks’ Chinese nemesis surges 20% in public debut

By Jill T Frey

Shares of Luckin Coffee jumped 20% in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq stock market.

After opening at $17.00, shares of the Chinese Starbucks competitor climbed as high as $25.96, or more than 50%, before settling back down to $20.38 at the market’s close. The company has a market cap north of $5 billion after its first day of trading.

The brick-and-mortar coffee chain has achieved major success in China by offering speedy delivery services to Chinese consumers. The company has nearly 2,400 stores compared to Starbucks’ 3,500, but it has plans to more than double that number by the end of the year as it seeks to become the country’s coffee king.

Luckin’s success doesn’t immediately seem to be thwarting the stock market success of Starbucks, which has had a glowing 2019. The company hit another all-time high Friday, closing out the day at $78.91, up more … Read the rest

May 16, 2019 Off

Fiverr files to go public, reports revenue of $75.5M and a net loss of $36.1M for 2018

By Jill T Frey

Freelance marketplace Fiverr has filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company, which is headquartered in Tel Aviv, is losing money — its net losses grew from $19.3 million in 2017 to $36.1 million in 2018. At the same time, revenue grew by nearly 45%, from $52.1 million to $75.5 million.

“Our mission is to change how the world works together,” Fiverr says in the filing. “We started with the simple idea that people should be able to buy and sell digital services in the same fashion as physical goods on an e-commerce platform. On that basis, we set out to design a digital marketplace that is built with a comprehensive SKU-like services catalog and an efficient search, find and order process that mirrors a typical e-commerce transaction.”

Fiverr was founded in 2010 and, thanks in part to controversial marketing, is seen as … Read the rest

May 10, 2019 Off

Uber’s trading debut: who was (and wasn’t) at the opening bell

By Jill T Frey

Uber finally made its debut Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, ending its decade-long journey from startup to publicly traded company.

So far, it’s been a ho-hum beginning, with shares opening at $42, down from the IPO price. The share price is hovering just under $44.

Thirteen people, including executives, early employees, drivers and customers, were on the balcony for the historic bell ringing that opened the markets Friday. Noticeable absentees were co-founder Garrett Camp and former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick, who was ousted from the company in June 2017 after a string of scandals around Uber’s business practices.

Kalanick, who still sits on the board and has an 8.6% stake in Uber, wasn’t part of the opening bell ceremony. However, Kalanick and Camp were both at the NYSE for the event.

Here is who participated in the opening bell ceremony.

The bell ringer

Austin Geidt, who … Read the rest