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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Australia’s Simple lands $17M to grow its marketing intelligence platform worldwide

Simple, an Australia-based business that operates a platform for managing marketing strategies and campaigns, has pulled in $17 million to expand its business in the U.S. and other global markets.

The round was led by BBRC Private Equity, the fund from multi-millionaire retailer Bretty Blundy, with participation from existing backer Perle Ventures.

Unlike most marketing services out there, Simple doesn’t involve itself in execution. It instead is “upstream planning,” which essentially means it helps teams to manage their campaigns by focuses on areas like planning, budgeting, organization, analysis and more. The primary idea is to increase efficiency and value for money from marketing, particularly across the complexity of large and global organizations.

Simple recently tie-up with Microsoft over the launch of its new ‘intelligent market platform’ which, unveiled at Microsoft’s Inspire partners’ conference in Las Vegas, is built on top of the tech giant’s Azure platform. It offers integrations with services like Microsoft Office that are handy for organizations that find themselves working deep in the Microsoft services burrow.

Simple CEO Aden Forrest told TechCrunch in an interview that Simple’s clients span a range of industries, including areas like banking, retail, insurance, gambling. That base is global, but Forrest wants to push on to exploit further opportunities in regional markets.

“This round is about how can we can take what we’ve learned and scale it up and take it global,” he said. “We feel there’s a phenomenal opportunity to take what we’ve learned and push it up through Asia, into the U.S. and across Europe.”

Simple CEO Aden Forrest. Photography by Quentin Jones. 26 Oct 2017.

Forrest, who past stints include a spell as head of enterprise sales at Salesforce Australia/New Zealand, said Australia will remain HQ and tech center for Simple, but the firm plans to deploy local sales and marketing teams in markets were it spies opportunities to go deeper. That’s likely to include the U.S. for sure, although the company already operates a distributed customer service team to cater to its global clientele.


Source: TechCrunch

SmartBear expands software testing market reach with Zephyr acquisition

When a couple of long-established players are competing hard in any given market, one easy way to expand that market is to simply combine forces. That’s what SmartBear Software did today when it bought Zephyr, a fellow software testing firm with deep reach into the Atlassian Marketplace. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Zephyr gives SmartBear a tool that includes Zephyr for Jira. Jira is the popular issue tracking software from Atlassian favored by many developers. In fact, Zephyr is the top grossing app in the Atlassian Marketplace, boasting over 18,000 teams using the tool to execute over 40 million tests, according to information supplied by the company.

That kind of reach appealed to SmartBear CEO Justin Teague. The company claims the combined organizations will give them one of the most complete software testing product portfolios in the market. “The acquisition of Zephyr will establish SmartBear as a leader in test management and broaden our portfolio of high-impact, easy-to- use tools…,” he said in a statement.

For Zephyr, getting acquired gives them increased reach as a combined company that they simply couldn’t build on their own. “By leveraging the industry expertise and array of SmartBear solutions, our customers will continue to benefit from the tools they know and love, while now being able to solve additional software development challenges related to building, testing, and monitoring software applications across the UI and API layer,” Zephyr CEO Scott Johnson said in a statement. (In other words, their existing customers should have nothing to worry about after the transition.)

SmartBear launched in 2009 and was acquired by Francisco Partners, a private equity firm in May 2017. Leveraging additional players in a market to build more substantial marketshare is a typical private equity strategy after acquiring a company. It’s the two companies are better than one approach.

Zephyr launched in 2007 and has raised $31 million. Investors include Frontier Ventures, Cervin Ventures and WTI.


Source: TechCrunch

Blue shrinks down its most popular mic for the $99 Yeti Nano

Blue is about to become a part of the much larger Logitech. For now, however, the company is going to keep focusing on what it does best: creating low-cost USB microphones for novice podcasters. This week, the California company just added another model to the line.

Yeti Nano shrinks the form factor of Blue’s most popular line into something for more economically accessible. At $99, the new microphone slots in between the Snowball ($49/$69) and the new and even smaller Raspberry ($199).

The price is certainly right on the new microphone. And the design language is great — it really does look exactly like a scale model of the Yeti. There’s a headphone input, so you can hear yourself in real-time and a swiveling stand to position it as you see fit. There are also buttons to toggle between pickup patterns so you can switch between single or omnidirection modes, in situations where you’re going for more of a room tone.

Blue sent me a microphone to try out, and honestly, I have to say I’m pretty disappointed with the thing. The sound quality is tinny and generally lacking, compared to other models I’ve used, including the smaller Blue Raspberry.I’d recommend going with the tried and true Snowball, if you don’t mind a larger model. If portability is the main thing, the Raspberry’s a solid enough selection for sticking in a backpack.

The Shadow Grey model is available now from various retailers. Vivid Blue, Red Onyx and Cubano Gold models are coming soon.


Source: TechCrunch

Don’t Pretend Facebook and Twitter’s CEOs Can’t Fix This Mess

CEO naiveté is not a credible excuse for letting fake news and harassment flourish on your platform.
Source: Wired

Your Next Weather Apocalypse: The Smokestorm

Atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass coined the word “smokestorm” to describe city-choking air conditions. Here’s what he says we need to do to prevent another one.
Source: Wired

iPhone SE 2: Rumored specs, features, leaks, price, release date – CNET

Apple might release a sequel to its scrappy iPhone SE “budget” phone. Here’s what we know.
Source: CNET

Facebook fugitive Paul Ceglia fights extradition from Ecuador to US – CNET

Ceglia says his life is at risk, a report says.
Source: CNET

Xiaomi backs Indian consumer lending startup ZestMoney in $13.4M deal

Xiaomi has continued its investment in India after it led a $13.4 million round for fintech startup ZestMoney.

The newly-public Chinese firm previously said it would invest up to $1 billion in India and Indian startups over a five-year period, and this deal follows its maiden India fintech investment in lending platform KrazyBee.

The new capital is an extension to ZestMoney’s recently closed $6.5 million Series A, and it takes the company to $22 million raised to date. Existing backers PayU, Ribbit Capital and Omidyar Network joined Xiaomi in this ‘Series A2’ round.

ZestMoney was founded in 2015 by British entrepreneur Lizzie Chapman, who moved to India in 2011 to head up payday loan startup Wonga’s division in the country. Wonga — which is reportedly close to shutting down — didn’t ultimately pursue that opportunity. After a spell consulting, Chapman reunited with her former Wonga India colleagues Ashish Anantharaman and Priya Sharma and the trio launched ZestMoney.

Despite close ties to Wonga, it’s fair to say that ZestMoney comes at the problem of consumer loans from a totally different direction.

Payday loan companies have (rightly) come under fire for restrictive terms and a business model that is most lucrative when customers pay back late or default on loans.

In contrast, ZestMoney — and other loan services across Asia — are much more consumer-centric. That’s to say that the businesses monetize when consumers pay back their loans, while terms are considerably more customer friendly.

“New age fintech is much more optimistic” than what’s come before, Chapman told TechCrunch in an interview. “The thesis is ‘Behave well and do good things and you’ll get cheaper pricing.’”

ZestMoney Founders (left to right) Priya Sharma, Lizzie Chapman, and Ashish Anantharaman

The startup also works with banks, rather than against them.

That makes plenty of sense because the idea of giving microloans runs counter to any kind of orthodox thinking at banks in India. Loans of $200-$300 are too small to yield any significant revenue, and banks aren’t in a position go out there and attract thousands of small loans customers that would make it viable.

Then there’s the issue of data. It simply doesn’t exist in the same way it does in the U.S, UK and other Western markets. Few consumers have a credit score, which in conventional banking terms would mean lenders are taking a stab in the dark backing them.

That explanation plus the low volume explains why banks don’t offer the services themselves, but it also goes somehow to understanding why startups like ZestMoney can.

They can essentially act like a funnel for banks, bringing in significant volumes of micro-loan customers by specializing on that area of financing. In ZestMoney’s case, that’s 200,000 applications per month. While by focusing on financial support for single-purchase items — Chapman said electronics, education and learning, and vacations are among the top reasons for loans — the service encourages repeat customers, which in turn provides data which can help vet potential loans.

Added to that, it is also in the common interest within the tech ecosystem to encourage more flexible financing.

Companies like Amazon and Flipkart, which are keen to tap the growth potential of India’s 1.3 billion population, acknowledge that more flexible payment solutions are necessary when the average salary is orders of magnitudes lower than say the U.S. That’s why these e-commerce companies and others work with ZestMoney to subsidize many of the costs around loans. The startup passes that on to consumers, meaning that, often, they get attractive interest-free rates on big-ticket items likes phones or computers.

Chapman concedes that this situation won’t last forever, but she said it helps gain initial reach among some new users and encourage repeat business from existing customers.

Indeed, Xiaomi and ZestMoney have collaborated in a similar way before.

The Chinese firm tapped the startup one year ago to develop its Mi Finance service for Xiaomi customers in India. That relationship, which Chapman said included reciprocal learnings on both sides, led to this week’s investment deal.

ZestMoney is eying a larger round of funding soon as it aims to ramp up its business, and particularly technology. Chapman said the firm is focusing on AI and facial/voice recognition which she believes will enable her company to go beyond tier-one cities in India and reach those who are less comfortable with English and are less experienced in using the internet and digital services.


Source: TechCrunch

Planday raises €35M Series C for its shift-based work collaboration platform

Planday, the workforce collaboration platform for shift workers, has raised €35 million in new funding. The Series C round is led by SEB Private Equity, with participation from previous backers, including Creandum and Idinvest.

The Danish startup plans to use the additional investment to further develop the cloud-based software and to expand into new markets across Europe and North America. This will also include establishing a U.K.-based technology development hub — which represents a major market for Planday — as well as to grow sales and customer support teams in its London office.

Founded in 2013, Planday has developed a flexible rota scheduling platform that is used by businesses to help manage shift workers. The cloud software enables “real-time, contextual communication” between employees, managers and co-workers in shift-based industries that have been traditionally underserved by tech.

Specifically, employees can communicate with each other, swap shifts and clock in and out. Managers can also create ‘smart’ schedule templates, measure their target revenue compared to wage costs and track hours worked.

Planday is also arguably a platform in the true sense of the word, in terms of integrating with integrating with various third-party software offerings that are used by shift-based businesses. This includes payroll/accounting software from from Intuit and Sage, and EPOS software from Lightspeed and iZettle.

“Our mission is to deliver fully integrated solutions that provide a seamless experience for our customers,” says John Coldicutt, Chief Commercial Officer at Planday.

Meanwhile, Planday says its customer base spans 39 countries, and in the U.K., where it is estimated that 26 percent of all work is shift-based, the startup is growing 250 percent annually, although it doesn’t break out actual numbers.


Source: TechCrunch

Phase One pushes photography limits with 151-megapixel IQ4 camera system – CNET

Enough people can afford a $51,990 medium-format camera to keep this ultrapremium company in business.
Source: CNET

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