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

Cisco to acquire internet monitoring solution ThousandEyes

When Cisco bought AppDynamics in 2017 for $3.7 billion just before the IPO, the company sent a clear signal it wanted to move beyond its pure network hardware roots into the software monitoring side of the equation. Yesterday afternoon the company announced it intends to buy another monitoring company, this time snagging internet monitoring solution ThousandEyes.

Cisco would not comment on the price when asked by TechCrunch, but published reports from CNBC and others pegged the deal at around $1 billion. If that’s accurate, it means the company has paid around $4.7 billion for a pair of monitoring solutions companies.

Cisco’s Todd Nightingale, writing in a blog post announcing the deal said that the kind of data that ThousandEyes provides around internet user experience is more important than ever as internet connections have come under tremendous pressure with huge numbers of employees working from home.

ThousandEyes keeps watch on those connections and should fit in well with other Cisco monitoring technologies. “With thousands of agents deployed throughout the internet, ThousandEyes’ platform has an unprecedented understanding of the internet and grows more intelligent with every deployment, Nightingale wrote.

He added, “Cisco will incorporate ThousandEyes’ capabilities in our AppDynamics application intelligence portfolio to enhance visibility across the enterprise, internet and the cloud.”

As for ThousandEyes, co-founder and CEO Mohit Lad told a typical acquisition story. It was about growing faster inside the big corporation than it could on its own. “We decided to become part of Cisco because we saw the potential to do much more, much faster, and truly create a legacy for ThousandEyes,” Lad wrote.

It’s interesting to note that yesterday’s move, and the company’s larger acquisition strategy over the last decade is part of a broader move to software and services as a complement to its core networking hardware business.

Just yesterday, Synergy Research released its network switch and router revenue report and it wasn’t great. As companies have hunkered down during the pandemic, they have been buying much less network hardware, dropping the Q1 numbers to seven year low. That translated into a $1 billion less in overall revenue in this category, according to Synergy.

While Cisco owns the vast majority of the market, it obviously wants to keep moving into software services as a hedge against this shifting market. This deal simply builds on that approach.

ThousandEyes was founded in 2010 and raised over $110 million on a post valuation of $670 million as of February 2019, according to Pitchbook Data.


By Ron Miller

Scandit raises $80M as COVID-19 drives demand for contactless deliveries

Enterprise barcode scanner company Scandit has closed an $80 million Series C round, led by Silicon Valley VC firm G2VP. Atomico, GV, Kreos, NGP Capital, Salesforce Ventures and Swisscom Ventures also participated in the round — which brings its total raised to date to $123M.

The Zurich-based firm offers a platform that combines computer vision and machine learning tech with barcode scanning, text recognition (OCR), object recognition and augmented reality which is designed for any camera-equipped smart device — from smartphones to drones, wearables (e.g. AR glasses for warehouse workers) and even robots.

Use-cases include mobile apps or websites for mobile shopping; self checkout; inventory management; proof of delivery; asset tracking and maintenance — including in healthcare where its tech can be used to power the scanning of patient IDs, samples, medication and supplies.

It bills its software as “unmatched” in terms of speed and accuracy, as well as the ability to scan in bad light; at any angle; and with damaged labels. Target industries include retail, healthcare, industrial/manufacturing, travel, transport & logistics and more.

The latest funding injection follows a $30M Series B round back in 2018. Since then Scandit says it’s tripled recurring revenues, more than doubling the number of blue-chip enterprise customers, and doubling the size of its global team.

Global customers for its tech include the likes of 7-Eleven, Alaska Airlines, Carrefour, DPD, FedEx, Instacart, Johns Hopkins Hospital, La Poste, Levi Strauss & Co, Mount Sinai Hospital and Toyota — with the company touting “tens of billions of scans” per year on 100+ million active devices at this stage of its business.

It says the new funding will go on further pressing on the gas to grow in new markets, including APAC and Latin America, as well as building out its footprint and ops in North America and Europe. Also on the slate: Funding more R&D to devise new ways for enterprises to transform their core business processes using computer vision and AR.

The need for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic has also accelerated demand for mobile computer vision on personal smart devices, according to Scandit, which says customers are looking for ways to enable more contactless interactions.

Another demand spike it’s seeing is coming from the pandemic-related boom in ‘Click & Collect’ retail and “millions” of extra home deliveries — something its tech is well positioned to cater to because its scanning apps support BYOD (bring your own device), rather than requiring proprietary hardware.

“COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the need for rapid digital transformation in these uncertain times, and the need to blend the physical and digital plays a crucial role,” said CEO Samuel Mueller in a statement. “Our new funding makes it possible for us to help even more enterprises to quickly adapt to the new demand for ‘contactless business’, and be better positioned to succeed, whatever the new normal is.”

Also commenting on the funding in a supporting statement, Ben Kortlang, general partner at G2VP, added: “Scandit’s platform puts an enterprise-grade scanning solution in the pocket of every employee and customer without requiring legacy hardware. This bridge between the physical and digital worlds will be increasingly critical as the world accelerates its shift to online purchasing and delivery, distributed supply chains and cashierless retail.”


By Natasha Lomas

Arculus raises €16M to upgrade assembly lines with its ‘modular production platform’

Arculus, the Ingolstadt, Germany-based startup that has developed a “modular production platform” to bring assembly lines into the 21st century, has raised €16 million in Series A investment.

Leading the round is European venture firm Atomico, with participation from Visionaries Club and previous investor La Famiglia. Arculus says it will use the injection of capital to “strengthen product development, broaden customer base and prepare for a global rollout”.

As part of the investment, Atomico partner Siraj Khaliq is joining the Arculus board. (Khaliq seems to be on a bit of a run at the moment after quietly leading the firm’s investment in quantum computing company PsiQuantum last month.)

Founded in 2016, Arculus already works with some of the leading manufacturing companies across a range of industries. They include Siemens in robotics, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, Viessmann in logistics, and Audi in automotive.

Its self-described mission is to transform the “one-dimensional” assembly line of the 20th century into a more flexible modular production process that is capable of manufacturing today’s most complex products in a much more efficient way.

Instead of a single line with a conveyor belt, a factory powered by Arculus’ hardware and software is made up of modules in which individual tasks are performed and the company’s robots — dubbed “arculees” — move objects between these modules automatically based on which stations are free at that moment. Underlying this system is the assembly priority chart, a tree of interdependencies that connects all the processes needed to complete individual products.

That’s in contrast to more traditional linear manufacturing, which, claims Arculus, hasn’t been able to keep up as demand for customisation increases and “innovation cycles speed up”.

Explains Fabian Rusitschka, co-founder and CEO of Arculus: “Manufacturers can hardly predict what their customers will demand in the future, but they need to invest in production systems designed for specific outputs that will last for years. With Modular Production we can now ensure optimal productivity for our customers, whatever the volume or mix. This technological shift in manufacturing, from linear to bespoke, has been long overdue but for manufacturers looking ahead at the coming decades of shifting consumer buying behaviours it is mission critical to survival”.

To that end, Arculus is making some bold claims, namely that the company’s technology increases worker productivity by 30% and reduces space consumption by 20%. It also reckons it can save its customers up to €155 million per plant every year “at full implementation”.

Siraj Khaliq, Partner at Atomico, says the manufacturing sector “is huge and the inefficiencies are well known”.

“We estimate that the auto industry alone could save nearly $100bn, were all manufacturers to adopt Arculus’s modular production technology,” he tells TechCrunch. “And beyond auto, their technology applies to any linear/assembly line manufacturing process – in time perhaps a tenfold greater market still. We’ve already seen the Covid-19 crisis hugely boost interest in the wave of startups democratizing automation, as companies try to build resilience into their supply chains. If you’re an exec thinking through this kind of thing right now, the way we see it, using Arculus’s technology is just common sense”.

Asked why it is only now that assembly lines can be reinvented, the Atomico VC says a number of building blocks weren’t in place until now. They include cheap, versatile sensors, reliable connectivity, “sufficiently powerful compute resources”, machine vision, and “learning-driven” control systems.

“And even if the tech could have been deployed, the motivation doesn’t come until you buckle under the pressure of increasing product customisation,” he says. “High-speed linear production lines are pretty efficient if you’re only producing one thing, ideally in one colour. But as this has become less and less the case, the industry reacted by incrementally improving, such as adding sub-assemblies that feed into the main line. You can only go so far with that… to be really efficient you’ve got to start fresh and be modular from the ground up. That’s hard”.

Meanwhile, Arculus also counts a number of German entrepreneurs as previous backers. They include Hakan Koc (founder of Auto 1), Johannes Reck (founder of GetYourGuide), Valentin Stalf (founder of N26), as well as the founders of Flixbus.


By Steve O’Hear

Verizon wraps up BlueJeans acquisition lickety split

When Verizon (which owns this publication) announced it was buying video conferencing company BlueJeans for around $500 million last month, you probably thought it was going take awhile to bake, but the companies announced today that they has closed the deal.

While it’s crystal clear that video conferencing is a hot item during the pandemic, all sides maintained that this deal was about much more than the short-term requirements of COVID-19. In fact, Verizon saw an enterprise-grade video conferencing platform that would fit nicely into its 5G strategy around things like tele-medicine and online learning.

They believe these needs will far outlast the current situation, and BlueJeans puts them in good shape to carry out a longer-term video strategy, especially on the burgeoning 5G platform. As BlueJean’s CEO Quentin Gallivan and co-founders, Krish Ramakrishnan and Alagu Periyannan reiterated in a blog post today announcing the deal has been finalized, they saw a lot of potential for growth inside the Verizon Business family that would have been difficult to achieve as a stand-alone company.

“Today, organizations are relying on connectivity and digital communications now more than ever. As Verizon announced, adding BlueJeans’ trusted, enterprise-grade video conferencing and event platform to the company’s Advanced Communications portfolio is critical to keep businesses, from small organizations to some of the world’s largest multinational brands, operating at the highest level,” the trio wrote.

As Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder and principal analyst at Deep Analysis told TechCrunch at the time of the acquisition announcement, Verizon got a good deal here.

Verizon is getting one of the only true enterprise-grade online conferencing systems in the market at a pretty low price,” he told TechCrunch. “On one level, all these systems do pretty much the same thing, but BlueJeans has always prided itself on superior sound and audio quality. It is also a system that scales well and can handle large numbers of participants as well, if not better, than its nearest competitors.

BlueJean brings with it 15,000 enterprise customers. It raised $175 million since its founding in 2009.


By Ron Miller

Venafi acquires Jetstack, the startup behind the cert-manager Kubernetes certificate controller

It seems that we are in the middle of a mini acquisition spree for Kubernetes startups, specifically those that can help with Kubernetes security. In the latest development, Venafi, a vendor of certificate and key management for machine-to-machine connections, is acquiring Jetstack, a UK startup that helps enterprises migrate and work within Kubernetes and cloud-based ecosystems, which has also been behind the development of cert-manager, a popular, open source native Kubernetes certificate management controller.

Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close in June of this year, have not been disclosed, but Jetstack has been working with Venafi to integrate its services and had a strategic investment from Venafi’s Machine Identity Protection Development Fund.

Venafi is part of the so-called “Silicon Slopes” cluster of startups in Utah. It has raised about $190 million from investors that include TCV, Silver Lake and Intel Capital and was last valued at $600 million. That was in 2018, when it raised $100 million, so now it’s likely Venafi is worth more, especially considering its customers, which include the top five U.S. health insurers; the top five U.S. airlines; the top four credit card issuers; three out of the top four accounting and consulting firms; four of the top five U.S., U.K., Australian and South African banks; and four of the top five U.S. retailers.

For the time being, the two organizations will continue to operate separately, and cert-manager — which has hundreds of contributors and millions of downloads — will continue on as before, with a public release of version 1 expected in the June-July timeframe.

The deal underscores not just how Kubernetes-based containers have quickly gained momentum and critical mass in the enterprise IT landscape, in particular around digital transformation; but specifically the need to provide better security services around that at speed and at scale. The deal comes just one day after VMware announced that it was acquiring Octarine, another Kubernetes security startup, to fold into Carbon Black (an acquisition it made last year).

“Nowadays, business success depends on how quickly you can respond to the market,” said Matt Barker, CEO and co-founder of Jetstack. “This reality led us to re-think how software is built and Kubernetes has given us the ideal platform to work from. However, putting speed before security is risky. By joining Venafi, Jetstack will give our customers a chance to build fast while acting securely.”

To be clear, Venafi had been offering Kubernetes integrations prior to this — and Venafi and Jetstack have worked together for two years. But acquiring Jetstack will give it direct, in-house expertise to speed up development and deployment of better tools to meet the challenges of a rapidly expanding landscape of machines and applications, all of which require unique certificates to connect securely.

“In the race to virtualize everything, businesses need faster application innovation and better security; both are mandatory,” said Jeff Hudson, CEO of Venafi, in a statement. “Most people see these requirements as opposing forces, but we don’t. We see a massive opportunity for innovation. This acquisition brings together two leaders who are already working together to accelerate the development process while simultaneously securing applications against attack, and there’s a lot more to do. Our mutual customers are urgently asking for more help to solve this problem because they know that speed wins, as long as you don’t crash.”

The crux of the issue is the sheer volume of machines that are being used in computing environments, thanks to the growth of Kubernetes clusters, cloud instances, microservices and more, with each machine requiring a unique identity to connect, communicate, and execute securely, Venafi notes, with disruptions or misfires in the system leaving holes for security breaches.

Jetstack’s approach to information security came by way of its expertise in Kubernetes, developing cert-mananger specifically so that its developer customers could easily create and maintain certificates for their networks.

“At Jetstack we help customers realize the benefits of Kubernetes and cloud native infrastructure, and we see transformative results to businesses firsthand,” said Matt Bates, CTO and co-founder of Jetstack, in a statement. “We developed cert-manager to make it easy for developers to scale Kubernetes with consistent, secure, and declared-as-code machine identity protection. The project has been a huge hit with the community and has been adopted far beyond our expectations. Our team is thrilled to join Venafi so we can accelerate our plans to bring machine identity protection to the cloud native stack, grow the community and contribute to a wider range of projects across the ecosystem.” Both Bates and Barker will report to Venafi’s Hudson and join the bigger company’s executive team.


By Ingrid Lunden

Kustomer acquires Reply.ai to enhance chatbots on its CRM platform

Last December, when CRM startup Kustomer was announcing its latest round of funding — a $60 million round led by Coatue — its co-founder and CEO Brad Birnbaum said it would use some of the money to build more RPA-style automations into its platform to expand KustomerIQ, its AI-based product that helps understand and respond to customer enquiries to take some of the more repetitive load off of agents. Today, Kustomer is announcing some M&A that will help in that strategy: it is acquiring Reply.ai, a startup originally founded in Madrid that has built a code-free platform for companies to create customised chatbots to handle customer service enquires that use machine learning to, over time, become better at responding to those inbound contacts.

Kustomer, which has raised more than $170 million and is now valued at $710 million (per PitchBook), said it is not disclosing the financial terms of the deal.

Reply.ai — whose customers include Coca Cola, Starbucks, Samsung, and a number of retailers and major ad and marketing agencies working on behalf of clients — had by comparison raised a modest $4 million in funding (with the last round back in 2018). Its list of investors included strategic backers like Aflac and Westfield (the shopping mall giant), as well as Seedcamp, Madrid’s JME Ventures, and Y Combinator, where Reply.ai was a part of its Startup School cohort in 2017.

Birnbaum said that the conversation for acquiring Reply.ai started before the global health pandemic — the two already worked together, as part of Reply.ai’s integrations with a number of CRM platforms. But active discussions, due diligence, and the closing of the deal were all done over Zoom. “We were fortunate that we got to meet before Corona, but for the most part we did this remotely,” he said.

Reply.ai was founded back in 2016 — the year when chatbots suddenly became all the rage — and it managed to make it through that and then the subsequent the trough of disillusionment, when a lot of the early novelty wore off after they were discovered to be not quite as effective as many had hoped or assumed they would be. One of the reasons for Reply.ai’s survival was that it had proven to be a builder of effective applications in one of the only segments of the market became a willing customer and user of chatbots: customer service.

While a large part of the CRM industry — estimated to be worth some $40 billion in 2019 —  is still based around human interactions, there has been a growing push to leverage advances in AI, cloud services, and use of the Internet as a point of interaction to bring more automation into the process, both to help those who are agents deal with more tricky issues, and to help bring overall costs down for those who rely on customer support as part of their service proposition.

That trend, if anything, is only getting a boost right now. In some cases, agents are unable to work because of social distancing rules in cases where customer queries cannot be handled by remote workers. In others, companies are seeing a lot of financial pressure and are looking to reduce expenses. But at the same time, with more people at home and unable to my physical queries to stores and more, the whole medium of customer support is seeing new levels of usage.

Kustomer has been taking on the bigger names in CRM, including Salesforce (where Birnbaum and his cofounder Jeremy Suriel previously worked), Zendesk and Oracle, by providing a platform that makes it easier for human agents to handle inbound “omni-channel” customer requests — another big trend, leveraging the rise of multiple messaging and communications platforms as potential routes to both speaking to customers and seeing them complain for all the world to see. So moving deeper into chatbots and other AI-powered tools is a natural progression.

Birnbaum said that one of its key interests with Reply.ai was its focus on “deflection” — the term for using non-human tools and services to help resolve inbound requests before needing to call in a human agent. Reply.ai’s tools have been shown to help deflect 40% of initial inbound queries, he noted.

“Some companies have been dealing with a significant increase in inbound volume, and it’s been hard to scale their teams of agents, especially when they are remote,” he said. “So those companies are looking for ways to respond more rapidly. So anything they can do to help with that deflection and let their agents be more productive to drive higher levels of satisfaction, anything that can enable self service, is what this is about.”

Other tools in the Reply toolkit, in addition to its chatbot-building platform and deflection capabilities, include agent assistant tools for suggesting relevant answers, as well as suggestions for tagging (for analytics) and re-routing.

“We are excited for Reply to join Kustomer and share its mission to make customer service more efficient, effective and personalized,” said said Omar Pera, one of Reply.ai’s founders, in a statement. “As a long-time partner of Kustomer, we are able to seamlessly integrate our deflection and chatbots technologies into Kustomer’s platform and help brands more cost-effectively increase efficiency. We look forward to working with Brad and the entire team.”


By Ingrid Lunden

VMware to acquire Kubernetes security startup Octarine and fold it into Carbon Black

VMware announced today that it intends to buy early-stage Kubernetes security startup, Octarine and fold it into Carbon Black, a security company it bought last year for $2.1 billion. The company did not reveal the price of today’s acquisition.

According to a blog post announcing the deal from Patrick Morley, general manager and senior vice president at VMware’s Security Business Unit, Octarine should fit in with what Carbon Black calls its “intrinsic security strategy” — that is, protecting content and applications wherever they live. In the case of Octarine, it’s cloud native containers in Kubernetes environments.

“Acquiring Octarine enables us to advance intrinsic security for containers (and Kubernetes environments), by embedding the Octarine technology into the VMware Carbon Black Cloud, and via deep hooks and integrations with the VMware Tanzu platform,” Morley wrote in a blog post.

This also fits in with VMware’s Kubernetes strategy, having purchased Heptio, an early Kuberentes company started by Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, two folks who helped develop Kubernets while at Google before starting their own company,

We covered Octarine last year when it released a couple of open source tools to help companies define the Kubernetes security parameters. As we quoted head of product Julien Sobrier at the time:

“Kubernetes gives a lot of flexibility and a lot of power to developers. There are over 30 security settings, and understanding how they interact with each other, which settings make security worse, which make it better, and the impact of each selection is not something that’s easy to measure or explain.”

As for the startup, it now gets folded into VMware’s security business. While the CEO tried to put a happy face on the acquisition in a blog post, it seems its days as an independent entity are over. “VMware’s commitment to cloud native computing and intrinsic security, which have been demonstrated by its product announcements and by recent acquisitions, makes it an ideal home for Octarine,” the company CEO Shemer Schwarz wrote in the post.

Octarine was founded in 2017 and has raised $9 million, according to Pitchbook data.


By Ron Miller

Atlassian acquires Halp to bring Slack integration to the forefront

Atlassian announced today that it was acquiring Halp, an early stage startup that enables companies to build integrated help desk ticketing and automated answers inside Slack. The companies did not disclose the purchase price.

It was a big day for Halp, which also announced its second product today called Halp Answers. The new tool will work hand in glove with its previous entry Halp Tickets, which lets Slack users easily create a Help Desk ticket without leaving the tool.

“Halp Answers enables your teams to leverage the knowledge that already exists within your company to automatically answer tickets right in Slack . That knowledge can be pulled in from Slack messages, Confluence articles or any piece of knowledge in your organization,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the deal.

Note that integration with Confluence, which is an Atlassian tool. The company also sees it integrating with Jira support for other enterprise communications tools down the road. “Existing Halp users can look forward to deeper (and new) integrations with Jira and Confluence. We’re committed to supporting Microsoft Teams customers as well,” Atlassian wrote in a blog post.

Halp is selling early, having just launched last year. The company had raised a $2 million seed round in April 2019 on a 9.5 million post valuation, according to Pitchbook data. The startup sees an opportunity with Atlassian that it apparently didn’t think it could achieve alone.

“We’ll be able to harness the vast resources at Atlassian to continue with our mission to make Halp the best tool for any team collaborating on requests with other teams. Our team will grow and be able to focus on making the core experience of Halp even more powerful. We’ll also develop a deeper integration with the Atlassian suite — improving our existing Jira and Confluence integrations and discovering the possibilities of Halp generating alerts in Opsgenie, cards in Trello, and much more,” the company wrote.

Halp’s founders promise that it won’t be abandoning its existing customers as it joins the larger organization. As a matter of fact, Halp is bringing with them a slew of big-name customers including Adobe, VMware, Github and Slack.


By Ron Miller

As private investment cools, enterprise startups may try tapping corporate dollars

Founders hunting down capital in the middle of this pandemic may feel like they’re on a fool’s errand, but some investors are still offering financing, even if the terms might not be as good as they once were. One avenue that appears to remain open: corporate venture capital.

The corporate route offers its own set of unique challenges, depending on the philosophy of the organization’s investment arm. Some are looking strictly for companies that fit neatly into their platform, while others believe a solid investment is more important than a perfect fit.

Regardless of style, these firms want their investment targets to succeed on their own merits, rather than as part of the organization the funding arm represents. To get the lay of the land, we spoke to a couple of firms that take very different approaches to their investments: Dell Technologies Capital and Salesforce Ventures.

Corporate venture is a different animal

Corporate venture funds aren’t typically as large as private ones, but they have a lot to offer, such as global sales and marketing support and a depth of knowledge that offers direct benefits to a young upstart. This can help founders avoid mistakes, but there is danger in becoming too dependent on the company.

The good news is that these companies are often not leading the round, but are instead providing some cash and guidance, which leaves entrepreneurs to develop and grow on their own. While the pandemic is forcing many changes in approaches to investment, the two corporate venture capital firms we spoke to said they will continue to invest, and their theses remains pretty much the same.

If you have an enterprise focus and you can convince these firms to take a chance, they offer some interesting perks a private firm might not be able to, or at the very least provide a piece of your funding puzzle in these difficult times.


By Ron Miller

Daily Crunch: Zoom acquires security startup Keybase

Zoom acquires some encryption expertise, Uber makes a big investment in scooters and we review the new 13-inch Macbook Pro.

Here’s your Daily Crunch for May 7, 2020.

1. Zoom acquires Keybase to get end-to-end encryption expertise

Keybase, whose encryption products include secure file sharing and collaboration tools, should give Zoom some security credibility as it goes through pandemic demand growing pains. A number of Zoom security issues have come to light the last couple of months as demand as soared and exposed security weaknesses in the platform.

Under the terms of the deal, Keybase will become a subsidiary of Zoom and co-founder and Max Krohn will lead the Zoom security engineering team, reporting directly to Yuan to help build the security product.

2. Uber leads $170 million Lime investment, offloads Jump to Lime

As part of the deal (which was reported earlier this week but is now official), Lime is also acquiring Uber’s micro-mobility subsidiary Jump. There will be more integrations between Uber and Jump in the future, but both apps will remain active for now.

3. Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch review

With this week’s news, the 13-inch becomes the third and final member of the MacBook family to get the new keyboard. It’s not “Magic” as the name implies (Apple really does love the M-word), but Brian Heater says improvements are immediate and vast.

4. Nintendo sells a lot more Switches, as people stay and home playing Animal Crossing

The company says it has sold 21 million Switch units in the past year, handily beating a 19.5 million forecast. 6.2 million of those systems were the newer, cheaper Switch Lite, which hit the market in September. All of this comes as Nintendo has run up against shortage through a combination of increased popularity and a a global supply chain knocked off balance from COVID-19.

5. How will digital media survive the ad crash?

Bustle Digital Group’s Jason Wagenheim told us that he’s anticipating a 35% decline in ad revenue for this quarter. And where he’d once hoped BDG would reach $120 or $125 million in ad revenue this year, he’s now trying to figure out “what does our company look like at $75 or $90 million?” (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Apple awards $10 million to rapidly scale COVID-19 sample collection kit production

Apple has awarded $10 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to COPAN Diagnostics, a company focused on producing sample collection kits for testing COVID-19 to hospitals in the U.S. The money comes from the fund that Apple established to support the development and growth of U.S.-based manufacturing — to date, the fund has been used to support companies tied more directly to Apple’s own supply chain.

7. Sonos debuts new Arc soundbar, next-generation Sonos Sub, and Sonos Five speaker

Sonos has introduced a trio of new hardware today, adding three new smart speakers to its lineup, including the Sonos Arc soundbar that includes Dolby Atmos support, as well as Sonos Five, the next version of its Sonos Play:5 speaker, and a third-generation Sonos Sub.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.


By Anthony Ha

Zoom acquires Keybase to get end-to-end encryption expertise

Zoom announced this morning that it has acquired Keybase, a startup with encryption expertise. It did not reveal the purchase price.

Keybase, which has been building encryption products for several years including secure file sharing and collaboration tools, should give Zoom some security credibility as it goes through pandemic demand growing pains.

The company has faced a number of security issues in the last couple of months as demand as soared and exposed some security weaknesses in the platform. As the company has moved to address these issues, having a team of encryption experts on staff should help the company build a more secure product.

In a blog post announcing the deal, CEO Eric Yuan said they acquired Keybase to give customers a higher level of security, something that’s increasingly important to enterprise customers as more operations are relying on the platform, working from home during the pandemic.

“This acquisition marks a key step for Zoom as we attempt to accomplish the creation of a truly private video communications platform that can scale to hundreds of millions of participants, while also having the flexibility to support Zoom’s wide variety of uses,” Yuan wrote.

He added that that tools will be available for all paying customers as soon as it is incorporated into the product. “Zoom will offer an end-to-end encrypted meeting mode to all paid accounts. Logged-in users will generate public cryptographic identities that are stored in a repository on Zoom’s network and can be used to establish trust relationships between meeting attendees,” he wrote.

Under the terms of the deal, the Keybase will become a subsidiary of Zoom and co-founder and Max Krohn will lead the Zoom security engineering team, reporting directly to Yuan to help build the security product. The other almost two dozen employees will become Zoom employees. The vast majority are security engineers.

It’s not clear what will happen to Keybase’s products, but the company did say Zoom is working with Keybase to figure that out.

Keybase was founded in 2014 and has raised almost $11 million according to Crunchbase data.


By Ron Miller

Orca Security raises $20M Series A for its multi-cloud security platform

Orca Security, an Israeli cloud security firm that focuses on giving enterprises better visibility into their multi-cloud deployments on AWS, Azure and GCP, today announced that it has raised a $20 million Series A round led by GGV Capital. YL Ventures and Silicon Valley CISO Investments also participated in this round. Together with its seed investment led by YL Ventures, this brings Orca’s total funding to $27 million.

One feature that makes Orca stand out is its ability to quickly provide workload-level visibility with the need for an agent or network scanner. Instead, Orca uses low-level APIs that allow it to gain visibility into what exactly is running in your cloud.

The founders of Orca all have a background as architects and CTOs at other companies, including the likes of Check Point Technologies, as well as the Israeli army’s Unit 8200. As Orca CPO and co-founder Gil Geron told me in a meeting in Tel Aviv earlier this year, the founders were looking for a big enough problem to solve and it quickly became clear that at the core of most security breaches were misconfigurations or the lack of security tools in the right places. “What we deduced is that in too many cases, we have the security tools that can protect us, but we don’t have them in the right place at the right time,” Geron, who previously led a security team at Check Point, said. “And this is because there is this friction between the business’ need to grow and the need to have it secure.”

Orca delivers its solution as a SaaS platform and on top of providing work level visibility into these public clouds, it also offers security tools that can scan for vulnerabilities, malware, misconfigurations, password issues, secret keys in personally identifiable information.

“In a software-driven world that is moving faster than ever before, it’s extremely difficult for security teams to properly discover and protect every cloud asset,” said GGV managing partner Glenn Solomon . “Orca Security’s novel approach provides unparalleled visibility into these assets and brings this power back to the CISO without slowing down engineering.”

Orca Security is barely a year and a half old, but it also counts companies like Flexport, Fiverr, Sisene and Qubole among its customers.


By Frederic Lardinois

Rapid7 is acquiring DivvyCloud for $145M to beef up cloud security

Rapid7 announced today after the closing bell that it will be acquiring DivvyCloud, a cloud security and governance startup for $145 million in cash and stock.

With Divvy, the company moves more deeply into the cloud, something that Lee Weiner, chief innovation officer says the company has been working towards, even before the pandemic pushed that agenda.

Like any company looking at expanding its offering, it balanced building versus buying and decided that buying was the better way to go. “DivvyCloud has a fantastic platform that really allows companies the freedom to innovate as they move to the cloud in a way that manages their compliance and security,” Weiner told TechCrunch.

CEO Corey Thomas says it’s not possible to make a deal right now without looking at the economic conditions due to the pandemic, but he says this was a move they felt comfortable making.

“You have to actually think about everything that’s going on in the world. I think we’re in a fortunate position in that we have had the benefit of both growing in the past couple years but also getting the business more efficient,” Thomas said.

He said that this acquisition fits in perfectly with what he’s been hearing from customers about what they need right now. “One area of new projects that is actually going forward is how people are trying to figure out how to digitize their operations in a world where they aren’t sure how soon employees will be able to congregate and work together. And so from that context, focusing on the cloud and supporting our customers’ journey to the cloud has become an even more important priority for the organization,” he said.

Brian Johnson, CEO and co-founder at DivvyCloud says that is precisely what his company offers, and why it should fit in well with the Rapid7 family. “We help customers achieve rapid innovation in the cloud while ensuring they remain secure, well governed and compliant,” he said. That takes a different playbook than when customers were on prem, particularly requiring automation and real-time remediation.

With DivvyCloud, Rapid 7 is getting a 7-year old company with 70 employees and 54 customers. It raised $27.5 million on an $80 million post-money valuation, according to PitchBook data. All of the employees will become part of the Rapid7 organization when the deal closes, which is expected to happen some time this quarter.

The companies say that as they come together, they will continue to support existing Divvy customers, while working to integrate it more deeply into the Rapid7 platform.


By Ron Miller

Spark fast follows with a $25M Series B round into customer success platform Catalyst

The world has been turned upside down the past few weeks, but one lesson of business remains as important as ever: treating your customers well is the best avenue to future business strength, particularly at a moment of extreme stress.

As businesses come to terms with the economic crisis underway, executives are moving resources from customer acquisition to customer retention — and that’s proving very lucrative to startups that service the customer success market.

Case in point: New York City-based Catalyst, which I profiled just last summer following its $15 million Series A led by Accel’s Vas Natarajan, has seen huge revenue growth the past few months. The data-driven customer success platform has seen its revenue grow by 380% since the Series A financing according to CEO Edward Chiu.

Steep revenue growth is (unsurprisingly) attractive to investors, and in a moment of fortuitous timing, the company signed a $25 million Series B term sheet with Spark Capital just as the COVID-19 crisis was getting underway.

Chiu said Catalyst wasn’t seeking the investment, having much of its Accel round still in the bank, but he ultimately decided that having the extra capital in hand through a looming economic recession was the right decision. The capital officially hit the bank account at the end of March, and was led by the firm’s growth investor Will Reed.

While the company didn’t disclose the valuation, a source with knowledge of the matter quoted a valuation of $125 million. That’s a serious valuation for a company that launched just two years ago in April of 2018.

Outside of more funding, the core story of the company’s product remains the same. Catalyst wants to bring together all the data sources and team members who interact with customers — everyone from designers and engineers to customer success managers — into one dashboard to ensure that everyone has accurate and up-to-date access to all the information they need on the health of every customer.

The one airbrush: the company’s previous URL of getcatalyst.io has become catalyst.io, and officially re-launched this morning.

One growth area that the company is exploring outside of the B2B space of its existing customers is in healthcare, where the company has seen some inbound interest. Chiu says that Catalyst is exploring the steps required to reach HIPAA compliance with its platform, and hopes to expand to more sectors over time with the capital from its Series B.

The Catalyst team. Photo via Catalyst.

When we last checked in with the company, Catalyst had 19 employees and was targeting 40 employees by July 2020. Chiu said that Catalyst is already at 35 employees, and will likely hit 60 to 70 employees by the end of the year.


By Danny Crichton