Quolum announces $2.75M seed investment to track SaaS spending

As companies struggle to find ways to control costs in today’s economy, understanding what you are spending on SaaS tools is paramount. That’s precisely what early stage startup Quolum is attempting to do, and today it announced a $2.75 million seed round.

Surge Ventures and Nexus Venture Partners led the round with help from a dozen unnamed angel investors.

Company founder Indus Khatian says that he launched the company last summer pre-COVID, when he recognized that companies were spending tons of money on SaaS subscriptions and he wanted to build a product to give greater visibility into that spending.

This tool is aimed at finance, who might not know about the utility of a specific SaaS tool like PagerDuty, but who looks at the bills every month. The idea is to give them data about usage as well as cost to make sure they aren’t paying for something they aren’t using.

“Our goal is to give finance a better set of tools, not just to put a dollar amount on [the subscription costs], but also the utilization, as in who’s using it, how much are they using it and is it effective? Do I need to know more about it? Those are the questions that we are helping finance answer,” Khatian explained.

Eventually, he says he also wants to give that data directly to lines of business, but for starters he is focusing on finance. The product works by connecting to the billing or expense software to give insight into the costs of the services. It takes that data and combines it with usage data in a dashboard to give a single view of the SaaS spending in one place.

While Khatian acknowledges there are other similar tools in the marketplace such as Blissfully, Intello and others, he believes the problem is big enough for multiple vendors to do well. “Our differentiator is being end-to-end. We are not just looking at the dollars, or stopping at how many times you’ve logged in, but we’re going deep into consumption. So for every dollar that you’ve spent, how many units of that software you have consumed,” he said.

He says that he raised the money last fall and admits that it probably would have been tougher today, and he would have likely raised on a lower valuation.

Today the company consists of a 6 person development team in Bangalore in India and Khatian in the U.S. After the company generates some revenue he will be hiring a few people to help with marketing, sales and engineering.

When it comes to building a diverse company, he points out that he himself is an immigrant founder, and he sees the ability to work from anywhere, an idea amplified by COVID-19, helping result in a more diverse workforce. As he builds his company, and adds employees,  he can hire people across the world, regardless of location.


By Ron Miller

API platform Postman delivers $150M Series C on $2B valuation

APIs provide a way to build connections to a set of disparate applications and data sources, and can help simplify a lot of the complex integration issues companies face. Postman has built an enterprise API platform and today it got rewarded with a $150 million Series C investment on a whopping $2 billion valuation — all during a pandemic.

Insight Partners led the round with help from existing investors CRV and Nexus Venture Partners. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $207 million, according to the company. That includes a $50 million Series B from a year ago, making it $200 million raised in just a year. That’s a lot of cash.

Abhinav Asthana, CEO and co-founder at Postman, says that what’s attracting all that dough is an end-to-end platform for building APIs. “We help developers, QA, DevOps — anybody who is in the business of building APIs — work on the same platform. They can use our tools for designing, documentation, testing and monitoring to build high quality APIs, and they do that faster.” Asthana told TechCrunch.

He says that he was not actively looking for funding before this round came together. In fact, he says that investors approached him after the pandemic shut everything down in California in March, and he sees it as a form of validation for the startup.

“We think it shows the strength of the company. We have phenomenal adoption across developers and enterprises and the pandemic has [not had much of an impact on us]. The company has been receiving crazy inbound interest [from investors],” he said.

He didn’t want to touch the question of going public just yet, but he feels the hefty valuation sends a message to the market that this is a solid company that is going to be around for the long term.

Jeff Horing, co-founder and managing director at lead investor Insight Partners certainly sees it that way. “The combination of the market opportunity, the management team and Postman’s proven track record of success shows that they are ready to become the software industry’s next great success,” he said in a statement.

Today the company has around 250 employees divided between the US and Bangalore in India, and he sees doubling that number in the next year. One thing the pandemic has shown him is that his employees can work from anywhere and he intends to hire people across the world to take advantage of the most diverse talent pool possible.

“Looking for diverse talent as part of our large community as we build this workforce up is going to be a key way in which we want to solve this. Along with that, we are bringing people from diverse communities into our events and making sure that we are constantly in touch with those communities, which should help us build up a very strong diverse kind of hiring function,” he said.

He added, “We want to be deliberate about that, and over the coming months we will also shed more light on what specifically we are doing.”


By Ron Miller

Tulsa is trying to build a startup ecosystem from scratch

When you think about startup hubs, Tulsa, Oklahoma is probably not the first city that comes to mind.

A coalition of business, education, government and philanthropists are working to foster a startup ecosystem in a city that’s better known for its aerospace and energy companies. These community leaders recognized that raising the standard of living for a wide cross-section of citizens required a new generation of companies and jobs — which takes commitment from a broad set of interested parties.

In Tulsa, that effort began with George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF), a philanthropic organization, and ended with the creation of Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL), a partnership between GKFF, Israeli cybersecurity venture capitalists Team8 and several area colleges and local government.

Why Tulsa?

Tulsa is a city of more than 650,000 people, with a median household income of $53,902 and a median house price of $150,500. Glassdoor reports that the average salary for a software engineer in Tulsa is $66,629; in San Francisco, the median home price is over $1.1 million, household income comes in at $112,376 and Glassdoor’s average software engineer salary is $115,822.

Home to several universities and a slew of cultural attractions, the city has a lot to offer. To sweeten the deal, GKFF spun up “Tulsa Remote,” an initiative that offers $10,000 to remote workers who will relocate and make the city their home base. The goal: draw in new, high-tech workers who will help build a more vibrant economy.

Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 47th-most populous city in the United States. Photo Credit: DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Local colleges are educating the next generation of workers; Tulsa Innovation Labs is working with the University of Tulsa in partnership with Team8 through the university’s Cyber Fellows program. There are also ongoing discussions with Oklahoma State University-Tulsa and the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa about building a similar relationship.

These constituencies are trying to grow a startup ecosystem from the ground up. It takes a sense of cooperation and hard work and it will probably take some luck, but they are starting with $50 million, announced just this week from GKFF, for startup investments through TIL.


By Ron Miller

Flatfile scores $7.6M seed investment to simplify data onboarding

One of the huge challenges companies like enterprise SaaS vendors face with new customers is getting customer data into their service. It’s a problem that Flatfile founders faced first hand in their jobs, and they decided to solve it. Today, the company announced a healthy $7.6 million seed investment to expand on that vision.

The company also announced the release of its latest product called Concierge.

Two Sigma Ventures led the investment with participation from previous investors Afore Capital, Designer Fund and Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI- focused venture fund).

Company CEO David Boskovic says he and co-founder Eric Crane recognized that this is a problem just about every company faces. Let’s say you sign up for a CRM tool like Hubspot (which is a Flatfile customer). Your first step is to get your customer data into the new service.

As Boskovic points out, if you have thousands of existing customers that can be a real problem, often involving days or even weeks to prepare the data, depending on the size of your customer base. It typically includes importing your data from an existing source, then manually moving it to an Excel spreadsheet.

“What we’re trying to solve for at Flatfile is automating that entire process. You can drop in any data that you have and get it into a new product, and what that solves from a market perspective is the speed of adopting new software,” Boskovic told TechCrunch.

Image Credit: Flatfile

He says they have automated the process to the point it usually takes just a few minutes to process the data, If there are problems that Flatfile can’t solve, it presents the issue to the user who can fix it and move on.

The founders realized that not every use case is going to involve a simple one-to-one data transfer, so they created their new product called Concierge to help companies manage more complex data integration scenarios for their customers

“What we do is we provide a bridge between disparate data formats that are a little bit more complex and let our customers collaborate with their new customers that they are onboarding to bring the data to the right state to use it in the new system,” Boscovic explained.

Whatever they are doing it seems to be working. The company launched in 2016 and today it has 160 customers with 300 sitting on a waiting list. It has increased that customer count by 5x since the beginning of the year in the middle of a pandemic.

Any product that reduces labor and increases efficiency and collaboration in a digital context is going to get the attention of customers right now, and Flatfile is seeing huge spike in interest in spite of the current economy. “We’re helping onboard customers quickly and more efficiently. And our Concierge service can also help reduce in-person touch points by reducing this long, typical data onboarding process,” Boscovic said.

The company has not had to change the way it’s worked because of the pandemic as it has been a distributed workforce from day one. In fact, Boscovic is in Denver and co-founder Eric Crane is based in Atlanta. The startup currently has 14 employees, but plans to fill at least 10 roles this year.

“We’ve got a pretty aggressive hiring map. Our pipeline is bigger than we can handle from a sales perspective,” he said. That means they will be looking to fill sales, marketing and product jobs.


By Ron Miller

IBM Cloud suffers prolonged outage

The IBM Cloud is currently suffering a major outage, and with that, multiple services that are hosted on the platform are also down, including everybody’s favorite tech news aggregator, Techmeme.

It looks like the problems started around 2:30pm PT and spread from there. Best we can tell, this is a worldwide problem and involves a networking issue, but IBM’s own status page isn’t actually loading anymore and returns an internal server error, so we don’t quite know the extent of the outage or what triggered it. IBM Cloud’s Twitter account has also remained silent, though we found a status page for IBM Aspera hosted on a third-party server, which seems to confirm that this is likely a worldwide networking issue.

IBM Cloud, which published a paper about ensuring zero downtime in April, also suffered a minor outage in its Dallas data center in March.

We’ve reached out to IBM’s PR team and will update this post once we get more information.


By Frederic Lardinois

New Harness product lets engineering teams monitor cloud spending in real time

One of the big advantages of using the cloud is ease of deployment. For engineers, being able to dial up infrastructure resources means being able to develop without delays, but it can also lead to big bills at the end of the month if you don’t know what you’re spending.

Harness wants to help with that, and today the startup released a product called Continuous Efficiency. It is designed to help engineering teams use cloud resources in a more cost-efficient manner, and do this in real time as they allocate resources.

Jyoti Bansal, co-founder and CEO at Harness, says that today most companies don’t know the extent of their cloud costs until the finance people get the bill at the end of the month. What’s more, the bill is entirely disconnected from the developers who are responsible for that cost. Finally, he says that at least 35% of that cost is waste, money they didn’t have to spend.

What Harness is hoping to do with this new product is give developers visibility into their spending with the goal that if they see how much waste they are generating they will dial back on usage.

“We are rethinking managing your cloud costs. From the perspective of developers, how do we give context sensitivity to developers so they get a full view of [what they are spending in the cloud],” he said.

Oftentimes, resources go unused or are over allocated, and giving visibility into this should let developers stay on budget, and in some cases save big bucks. To show how this works, the company says that one customer had a Kubernetes cluster configured with an annual cost of $1.6 million. After running the Continuous Efficiency product, it found that just 15% of the cluster compute resources were actually being used. After reconfiguring based on this data, they were able to save $1.3 million over the course of a year.

Image Credit: Harness

While Bansal says the product was in development long before the pandemic started, a tool like this at this particular moment in time is even more important as companies are looking for ways to cut costs.

Harness was founded in 2016 and has raised $80 million, according to Crunchbase data. Bansal formerly co-founded AppDynamics, a company that Cisco acquired in January 2017 for $3.7 billion.


By Ron Miller

Yugabyte lands $30M Series B as open source database continues to flourish

It’s been a big period of positive change for Yugabyte, makers of the open source, cloud native YugabyteDB database. Just last month they brought on former Pivotal CEO Bill Cook as CEO, and today the company announced it has closed a $30 million Series B.

8VC and strategic investor WiPro led the round with participation from existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Dell Technologies Capital. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $55 million, according to the company.

The startup also announced that former Pivotal co-founder Scott Yara would be joining the company’s board. Along with Cook, that brings a distinct Pivotal influence to the company.

Kannan Muthukkaruppan, who was CEO, now holds the title of president. He says that the company has built “a fully open source, high performance distributed SQL database meant for transactional workloads in the cloud.”

Today, in addition to the open source product, it offers a private Database as a Service platform to enterprise customers. This can run on a variety of platforms including public, private, or hybrid cloud or Kubernetes infrastructure. The company also offers a fully managed cloud service, which is currently available on AWS and Google Cloud Platform with Azure support coming in the future.

The founders have quite a pedigree. Muthukkaruppan spent 13 years at Oracle helping build Oracle’s relational engine. Then he moved onto Facebook in the early days where he met co-founders Karthik Ranganathan and Mikhail Bautin. The founding team worked on database technology that helped scale Facebook from 40 million users to over a billion.

It was that background that really caught the attention of Cook. “First of all, there’s a huge market opportunity here that we think we fit into, and it is unique in the sense of the pedigree that this team has, and what they built and the expertise they have across that whole spectrum of being able to scale and have [a database that is] performant across [geographic] zones,” he said.

As the company gets this investment, it’s not only a period of change inside the organization, it is against the backdrop of the worldwide pandemic and economic fallout from that event, but Muthukkaruppan sees momentum here in spite of the macro conditions.

“With COVID-19, we actually saw an increased sense of urgency across many enterprises, wanting to move businesses to the cloud and improve their operational and go-to-market efficiency around the product that they were bringing to market,” he said. He believes that the company’s database can be a key part of that.

The company currently has 50 employees, but sees doubling that number in the next 12-18 months as interest in the products continues to grow. Cook says the company has a diverse workforce today, and he will continue to build on that in his hiring practices.

“The more inclusive you can be ties to all our principles and values [as a company] already so we’re not changing how we operate,” he says. He says diversity is not only the right thing to do from a human perspective, it also makes good business sense to have a diverse workforce.


By Ron Miller

Slack’s new integration deal with AWS could also be about tweaking Microsoft

Slack and Amazon announced a big integration late yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Slack will use Amazon Chime for its call feature, while reiterating its commitment to use AWS as its preferred cloud provider to run its infrastructure. At the same time, AWS has agreed to use Slack for internal communications.

Make no mistake, this is a big deal as the SaaS communications tool increases its ties with AWS, but this agreement could also be about slighting Microsoft and its rival Teams product by making a deal with a cloud rival. In the past Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has had choice words for Microsoft saying the Redmond technology giant sees his company as an “existential threat.”

Whether that’s true or not — Teams is but one piece of a huge technology company — it’s impossible not to look at the deal in this context. Aligning more deeply with AWS sends a message to Microsoft, whose Azure infrastructure services compete with AWS.

Butterfield didn’t say that of course. He talked about how synergistic the deal was. “Strategically partnering with AWS allows both companies to scale to meet demand and deliver enterprise-grade offerings to our customers. By integrating AWS services with Slack’s channel-based messaging platform, we’re helping teams easily and seamlessly manage their cloud infrastructure projects and launch cloud-based services without ever leaving Slack,” he said in a statement

The deal also includes several other elements including integrating AWS Key Management Service with Slack Enterprise Key Management (EKM) for encryption key management, deeper alignment with AWS’s chatbot service and direct integration with AWS AppFlow to enable secure transfer of data between Slack and Amazon S3 storage and the Amazon Redshift data warehouse.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy saw it as a pure integration play. “Together, AWS and Slack are giving developer teams the ability to collaborate and innovate faster on the front end with applications, while giving them the ability to efficiently manage their backend cloud infrastructure,” Jassy said in a statement.

Like any good deal, it’s good for both sides. Slack gets a big customer in AWS and AWS now has Slack directly integrating more of its services. One of the reasons enterprise users are so enamored with Slack is the ability to get work done in a single place without constantly have to change focus and move between interfaces.

This deal will provide more of that for common customers, while tweaking a common rival. That’s what you call win-win.


By Ron Miller

SaaS earnings rise as pandemic pushes companies more rapidly to the cloud

As the pandemic surged and companies moved from offices to working at home, they needed tools to ensure the continuity of their business operations. SaaS companies have always been focused on allowing work from anywhere there’s access to a computer and internet connection, and while the economy is reeling from COVID-19 fallout, modern software companies are thriving.

That’s because the pandemic has forced companies that might have been thinking about moving to the cloud to find tools what will get them there much faster. SaaS companies like Zoom, Box, Slack, Okta and Salesforce were there to help; cloud security companies like CrowdStrike also benefited.

While it’s too soon to say how the pandemic will affect work long term when it’s safe for all employees to return to the office, it seems that companies have learned that you can work from anywhere and still get work done, something that could change how we think about working in the future.

One thing is clear: SaaS companies that have reported recent earnings have done well, with Zoom being the most successful example. Revenue was up an eye-popping 169% year-over-year as the world shifted in a big way to online meetings, swelling its balance sheet.

There is a clear connection between the domestic economy’s rapid transition to the cloud and the earnings reports we are seeing — from infrastructure to software and services. The pandemic is forcing a big change to happen faster than we ever imagined.

Big numbers

Zoom and CrowdStrike are two companies expected to grow rapidly thanks to the recent acceleration of the digital transformation of work. Their earnings reports this week made those expectations concrete, with both firms beating expectations while posting impressive revenue growth and profitability results.


By Ron Miller

NetApp to acquire Spot (formerly Spotinst) to gain cloud infrastructure management tools

When Spotinst rebranded to Spot in March, it seemed big changes were afoot for the startup, which originally helped companies find and manage cheap infrastructure known as spot instances (hence its original name). We had no idea how big at the time. Today, NetApp announced plans to acquire the startup.

The companies did not share the price, but Israeli publication, CTECH, pegged the deal at $450 million. NetApp would not confirm that price.

It may seem like a strange pairing, a storage company and a startup that helps companies find bargain infrastructure and monitor cloud costs, but NetApp sees the acquisition as a way for its customers to bridge storage and infrastructure requirements.

“The combination of NetApp’s leading shared storage platform for block, file and object and Spot’s compute platform will deliver a leading solution for the continuous optimization of cost for all workloads, both cloud native and legacy,” Anthony Lye, senior vice president and general manager for public cloud services at NetApp said in a statement.

Spot helps companies do a couple of things. First of all it manages spot and reserved instances for customers in the cloud. Spot instances in particular, are extremely cheap because they represent unused capacity at the cloud provider. The catch is that the vendor can take the resources back when they need them, and Spot helps safely move workloads around these requirements.

Reserved instances are cloud infrastructure you buy in advance for a discounted price. The cloud vendor gives a break on pricing, knowing that it can count on the customer to use a certain amount of infrastructure resources.

At the time it rebranded, the company also had gotten into monitoring cloud spending and usage across clouds. Amiram Shachar, co-founder and CEO at Spot told TechCrunch in March, “With this new product we’re providing a more holistic platform that lets customers see all of their cloud spending in one place — all of their usage, all of their costs, what they are spending and doing across multiple clouds — and then what they can actually do [to deploy resources more efficiently],” he said at the time.

Shachar writing in a blog post today announcing the deal indicated the company will continue to support its products as part of the NetApp family, and as startup CEOs typically say at a time like this, move much faster as part of a large organization.

“Spot will continue to offer and fully support our products, both now and as part of NetApp when the transaction closes. In fact, joining forces with NetApp will bring additional resources to Spot that you’ll see in our ability to deliver our roadmap and new innovation even faster and more broadly,” he wrote in the post.

NetApp has been quite acquisitive this year. It acquired Talon Storage in early March and CloudJumper at the end of April. This represents the 20th acquisition overall for the company, according to Crunchbase data.

Spot was founded in 2015 in Tel Aviv. It raised over $52 million, according to Crunchbase data. The deal is expected to close later this year, assuming it passes typical regulatory hurdles.


By Ron Miller

Pitch deck teardown: The making of Atlassian’s 2015 roadshow presentation

In 2015, Atlassian was preparing to go public, but it was not your typical company in so many ways. For starters, it was founded in Australia, it had two co-founder co-CEOs, and it offered collaboration tools centered on software development.

That meant that the company leaders really needed to work hard to help investors understand the true value proposition that it had to offer, and it made the roadshow deck production process even more critical than perhaps it normally would have been.

A major factor in its favor was that Atlassian didn’t just suddenly decide to go public. Founded in 2002, it waited until 2010 to accept outside investment. After 10 straight years of free cash flow, when it took its second tranche of investment in 2014, it selected T. Rowe Price, perhaps to prepare for working with institutional investors before it went public the next year.

We sat down with company president Jay Simons to discuss what it was like, and how his team produced the document that would help define them for investors and analysts.

Always thinking long term

Simons said co-founders Scott Farquar and Mike Cannon-Brooke always had a vision of building a public company from the early days.

“Mike and Scott were intent on building an iconic, multigenerational company. They were always talking about a company that outlasted them. And one of the examples that we always used was Hewlett-Packard, in that they wanted to build a company that stood the test of time,” Simons said. That aspiration was associated with their desire to behave with the discipline of a company that was publicly traded.

“Being a public company demands a level of athleticism and rigor and accountability and discipline in planning and thinking and execution,” he said. “And so I think if you set your sights on being an iconic company, more than likely you will choose the path of being a publicly-traded company because it sort of raises your game.”

It’s worth noting that when the company accepted funding in 2010 from Accel and again in 2014, these were secondary investments, meaning the investors were buying equity directly from the company’s founders and employees. As a result, the first time it raised primary capital was at its IPO.

Moving beyond Australia

Long before the company decided to go public, Atlassian began expanding internationally. By the time the team began drafting the roadshow deck, it had offices in San Francisco and Austin, along with a robust international customer base.

“We were proud of our heritage [as a company started in Australia], but we definitely positioned ourselves as a global company. We had a really strong concentration employee base in both San Francisco and Austin by the time we decided to go public, and we had customers in 140 different countries with 50,000 active customers at the time, and so we were a significant global company,” Simons said.

He said their origins also meant they had to cultivate international markets from early on. By the time the company went public, he said, unlike a lot of startups at that stage, half their market was in North America and half was in other countries, and that was a big selling point for investors.

Gearing up

Simons said the roadshow deck they would create was adapted from the deck they developed when they approached VCs in 2010 for the first round of investment capital. That would eventually lead to a $60 million investment from Accel.

“In many ways that [early investor deck] was the first version where you had to really explain the business, and not just at a high level kind of value proposition to somebody that would potentially buy the software. We needed to explain the business and how it operated and what our financials looked like and how we thought about our market opportunity and what we thought was unique about our company, our business model and our culture.”

Well before Atlassian filed an S-1, big banks began expressing interest in getting to know the company, believing correctly that it would eventually go public. So they prepared a presentation for bankers that introduced the company and explained its mission to people who may not have been familiar, an exercise that also helped them create their roadshow deck.

“This particular deck continued to evolve and take shape from those conversations as we used it,” he said.

Getting down to business

Once the company decided to file for an IPO, it hired a bank and began drafting the S-1 document that would announce its intent to go public. As they went through this process, it laid out much of the information the company would want to include in the roadshow deck.

“There were parts of what we already had communicated in deck form that we could incorporate into the S-1 in a narrative form, and then parts of writing that long-form narrative that we wanted to incorporate back into the deck. A relatively small team worked on both the S-1 document and then recalibrating the deck around the S-1 and vice versa,” Simons said.

The process began in August 2015, but the roadshow deck went through dozens of iterations until they crafted the final version in November 2015. The team also prepared a video of the presentation; around that time, companies were moving away from releasing videos with talking heads standing in front of a backdrop, so they decided to improve their production values.

Hitting the road

Once the deck was ready, the company hit the road and delivered the presentation across the country, starting on the West Coast, moving through the Midwest and ending up in New York City.

They rarely presented the deck start to finish as most investors had seen it ahead of time; instead, presentations tended to be more interactive with attendees asking questions. “Nobody wants to just watch an infomercial, so we were digging into things that either weren’t totally clear to them in the deck or there was a level of detail that they wanted to try to see; so it was not uncommon to have it be conversational,” he said.

The roadshow team flew their spouses out to NYC to meet them for a free weekend, took in a Nets game and a Broadway show and generally relaxed before they went public on December 9, 2015. If the first day was any indication, the offering was a rousing success finishing up 32% on a valuation of $5.8 billion.

The company went public at $21 a share. Today the price sits at more than $188 with a market cap above $46 billion. It seems to have all worked out just the way they planned when they started thinking of going public all those years ago, but there was no way to know that when they sat down to write the deck. No matter how well prepared they were.


By Ron Miller

Atlassian launches new DevOps features

Atlassian today launched a slew of DevOps-centric updates to a variety of its services, ranging from Bitbucket Cloud and Pipelines to Jira and others. While it’s quite a grabbag of announcements, the overall idea behind them is to make it easier for teams to collaborate across functions as companies adopt DevOps as their development practice of choice.

“I’ve seen a lot of these tech companies go through their agile and DevOps transformations over the years,” Tiffany To, the head of agile and DevOps solutions at Atlassian told me. “Everyone wants the benefits of DevOps, but — we know it — it gets complicated when we mix these teams together, we add all these tools. As we’ve talked with a lot of our users, for them to succeed in DevOps, they actually need a lot more than just the toolset. They have to enable the teams. And so that’s what a lot of these features are focused on.”

As To stressed, the company also worked with several ecosystem partners, for example, to extend the automation features in Jira Software Cloud, which can now also be triggered by commits and pull requests in GitHub, Gitlab and other code repositories that are integrated into Jira Software Cloud. “Now you get these really nice integrations for DevOps where we are enabling these developers to not spend time updating the issues,” To noted.

Indeed, a lot of the announcements focus on integrations with third-party tools. This, To said, is meant to allow Atlassian to meet developers where they are. If your code editor of choice is VS Code, for example, you can now try Atlassian’s now VS Code extension, which brings your task like from Jira Software Cloud to the editor, as well as a code review experience and CI/CD tracking from Bitbucket Pipelines.

Also new is the ‘Your Work’ dashboard in Bitbucket Cloud, which can now show you all of your assigned Jira issues. as well as Code Insights in Bitbucket Cloud. Code Insights features integrations with Mabl for test automation, Sentry for monitoring and Snyk for finding security vulnerabilities. These integrations were built on top of an open API, so teams can build their own integrations, too.

“There’s a really important trend to shift left. How do we remove the bugs and the security issues earlier in that dev cycle, because it costs more to fix it later,” said To. “You need to move that whole detection process much earlier in the software lifecycle.”

Jira Service Desk Cloud is getting a new Risk Management Engine that can score the risk of changes and auto-approve low-risk ones, as well as a new change management view to streamline the approval process.

Finally, there is a new Opsgenie and Bitbucket Cloud integration that centralizes alerts and promises to filter out the noise, as well as a nice incident investigation dashboard to help teams take a look at the last deployment that happened before the incident occurred.

“The reason why you need all these little features is that as you stitch together a very large number of tools […], there is just lots of these friction points,” said To. “And so there is this balance of, if you bought a single toolchain, all from one vendor, you would have fewer of these friction points, but then you don’t get to choose best of breed. Our mission is to enable you to pick the best tools because it’s not one-size-fits-all.”


By Frederic Lardinois

Salesforce names Vlocity founder David Schmaier CEO of new Salesforce Industries division

When Salesforce announced it was acquiring Vlocity for $1.33 billion in February, it was a deal that made sense for both companies. Today, the company announced that the deal has closed and Vlocity CEO David Schmaier has been named CEO of a new division called Salesforce Industries.

Vlocity has built several industry-specific CRM tools such media and entertainment, healthcare and government on top of the Salesforce platform. While Salesforce has developed some of its own industry solutions, having a division devoted to verticalized tools creates additional market opportunities for the company.

Schmaier sees the new division as a commitment from the company on the value of an industry-focused approach.

“As Vlocity becomes part of what we’re calling Salesforce industries, this will be a larger group within Salesforce to really focus on bringing these industry-specific solutions to the customer, helping them go digital and working in a whole new way,” Schmaier told TechCrunch.

Salesforce president and COO Bret Taylor will be Schmaier’s boss. Writing in a blog post announcing the new division, Taylor said that like so many aspects of technology solutions these days, the industry focus is about helping companies with digital transformation. As the world changes before our eyes during the pandemic, companies are being forced to move operations online, and Salesforce wants to provide more specific solutions for customers who need it.

“Companies in every industry have a digital transformation imperative like never before — and many are accelerating their plans for a digital-first, work-from-anywhere environment. With Salesforce Customer 360 and Vlocity, our customers have the most advanced industries platform as well as tools and expert guidance completely tailored to their specific needs,” Taylor wrote.

Schmaier says the fact that his company’s tooling was already built on top of Salesforce allows them to really hit the ground running without the integration challenges that combining organizations typically face after an acquisition like this one.

“I’ve been involved in various mergers and acquisitions over my 30-year career, and this is the most unique one I’ve ever seen because the products are already 100% integrated because we built our six vertical applications on top of the Salesforce platform. So they’re already 100% Salesforce, which is really kind of amazing. So that’s going to make this that much simpler,” he said.

It’s likely that Salesforce will continue to build on the new division and add additional applications over time given the platform is already in place. “We basically have a platform now inside Salesforce to build verticals. So the cost to build new verticals is a fraction of what it was for us to build the first one because of this industry cloud platform. So we are going to look at opportunities to build new ones but we’re not ready to announce that today. For starters, we are forming this one organization,” Schmaier said.

The company reported a record quarter last Thursday, but light guidance for next quarter spooked investors and the stock was down on Friday (It is up .77% today as of publication). The company does not rest on its laurels though and having a division in place like Salesforce Industries provides a more focused way of dealing with verticals and another possible source of revenue.


By Ron Miller

Equinix is buying 13 data centers from Bell Canada for $750M

Equinix, the data center company, has the distinction of recently recording its 69th straight positive quarter. One way that it has achieved that kind of revenue consistency is through strategic acquisitions. Today, the company announced that it’s purchasing 13 data centers from Bell Canada for $750 million, greatly expanding its footing in the country.

The deal is financially detailed by Equinix across two axes, including how much the data centers cost in terms of revenue, and adjusted profit. Regarding revenue, Equinix notes that it is paying $750 million for what it estimates to be $105 million in “annualized revenue,” calculated using the most recent quarter’s results multiplied by four. This gives the purchase a revenue multiple of a little over 7x.

Equinix also provided an adjusted profit multiple, saying that the 13 data center locations “[represent] a purchase multiple of approximately 15x EV / adjusted EBITDA.” Unpacking that, the company is saying that the asset’s enterprise value (similar to market capitalization, a popular valuation metric for public companies) is worth about 15 times its earnings before interest, taxes, deprecation and amortization (EBITDA). This seems a healthy price, but not one that is outrageous.

Global reach of Equinix including expanded Canadian operations shown in left panel. Image: Equinix

The acquisition not only gives the company that additional revenue and a stronger foothold in the 10th largest economy in the world, it also gains 600 customers using the Bell data centers, of which 500 are net new.

As much of the world is attempting to digitally transform in the midst of the pandemic and current economic crisis, Equinix sees this as an opportunity to help more Canadian customers go digital more quickly.

“Equinix has been serving the Canadian market in Toronto for more than a decade. This expansion and scale gives the Canadian market a clear and rapid migration path to digital transformation. We’re looking forward to deepening our relationships with our existing Canada-based customers and helping new companies throughout the country position themselves for digital success,” Jon Lin, Equinix President, Americas told TechCrunch.

This is not the first time that Equinix has taken a bunch of data centers off of the hands of a telco. In fact, three years ago, the company bought 29 centers from Verizon (which is the owner of TechCrunch) for $3.6 billion.

As telcos move away from the data center business, companies like Equinix are able to come in and expand into new markets and increase revenue. It’s one of the ways it continues to generate positive revenue year after year.

Today’s deal is just part of that strategy to keep expanding into new markets and finding new ways to generate additional revenue as more companies use their services. Equinix rents space in its data centers and provides all the services that companies need without having to run their own. That would include things like heating, cooling, racks and wiring.

Even though public cloud companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Google are generating headlines with growing revenues, plenty of companies still want to run their own equipment without going to the expense of actually owning the building where the equipment resides.

Today’s deal is expected to close in the second half of the year, assuming it clears all of the regulatory scrutiny required in a purchase like this one.


By Ron Miller

Aaron Levie: ‘We have way too many manual processes in businesses’

Box CEO Aaron Levie has been working to change the software world for 15 years, but the pandemic has accelerated the move to cloud services much faster than anyone imagined. As he pointed out yesterday in an Extra Crunch Live interview, who would have thought three months ago that businesses like yoga and cooking classes would have moved online — but here we are.

Levie says we are just beginning to see the range of what’s possible because circumstances are forcing us to move to the cloud much faster than most businesses probably would have without the pandemic acting as a change agent.

“Overall, what we’re going to see is that anything that can become digital probably will be in a much more accelerated way than we’ve ever seen before,” Levie said.

Fellow TechCrunch reporter Jon Shieber and I spent an hour chatting with Levie about how digital transformation is accelerating in general, how Box is coping with that internally and externally, his advice for founders in an economic crisis and what life might be like when we return to our offices.

Our interview was broadcast on YouTube and we have included the embed below.


Just a note that Extra Crunch Live is our new virtual speaker series for Extra Crunch members. Folks can ask their own questions live during the chat, with past and future guests like Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, GGV’s Hans Tung and Jeff Richards, Eventbrite’s Julia Hartz and many, many more. You can check out the schedule here. If you’d like to submit a question during a live chat, please join Extra Crunch.


On digital transformation

The way that we think about digital transformation is that much of the world has a whole bunch of processes and ways of working — ways of communicating and ways of collaborating where if those business processes or that way we worked were able to be done in digital forms or in the cloud, you’d actually be more productive, more secure and you’d be able to serve your customers better. You’d be able to automate more business processes.

We think we’re [in] an environment that anything that can be digitized probably will be. Certainly as this pandemic has reinforced, we have way too many manual processes in businesses. We have way too slow ways of working together and collaborating. And we know that we’re going to move more and more of that to digital platforms.

In some cases, it’s simple, like moving to being able to do video conferences and being able to collaborate virtually. Some of it will become more advanced. How do I begin to automate things like client onboarding processes or doing research in a life sciences organization or delivering telemedicine digitally, but overall, what we’re going to see is that anything that can become digital probably will be in a much more accelerated way than we’ve ever seen before.

How the pandemic is driving change faster


By Ron Miller