Portfolio November 19 2019

BlueVine Raises $102.5 Million To Build Next-Generation Small Businesses

REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. — November 19, 2019 — BlueVine, the leading provider of small business banking, announced it has raised a $102.5 million in Series F round of equity financing. This funding round was led by ION Crossover Partners with participation from all major existing investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, 83North, SVB Capital, Nationwide, Citi Ventures, Microsoft’s venture fund, M12, and private investors. The round also included new investors MUFG Innovation Partners Co., Ltd, O.G. Tech – Eyal Ofer’s VC, Vintage Investment Partners, ION Group, Maor Investments and additional private investors. BlueVine will use the funding to further build and scale its vision for BlueVine Business Banking, an end-to-end banking platform featuring a business checking account seamlessly integrated with BlueVine’s technology-enabled suite of online financing products. The BlueVine Business Checking Account, announced in October 2019, simplifies and enhances the banking experience for today’s small businesses with an intuitive, easy-to-use dashboard and the BlueVine Business Debit Mastercard® to manage everyday finances, while features like 1.00% interest on balances and zero monthly fees will help small businesses save and grow their money. “The recent launch of BlueVine Checking demonstrates our commitment to revolutionize banking for small business owners with a full suite of services designed specifically to meet their unique needs,” said Eyal Lifshitz, CEO and co-founder of BlueVine. “This funding further validates our mission and will help democratize true business-grade banking for small businesses who have been underserved for so long.” “BlueVine has demonstrated a track record of success with their multiple financing products and set themselves apart with their vision of a complete platform of innovative banking products for small businesses,” said Jonathan Kolodny, Partner at ION Crossover Partners. “We’ve been following the company closely since its early days, and have witnessed the demand, and frankly the economic need, for BlueVine’s banking services. We believe the company is exceptionally well-positioned, thanks to its world-class management team, to change the way small businesses manage their financial needs today and in the future.” The funds will help develop future BlueVine Business Banking features, such as integrations with BlueVine’s existing working capital solutions – Line of Credit, Invoice Factoring and Term Loan – which have already provided over 20,000 small business owners with access to more than $2.5 billion in financing since the company’s inception in 2013. The funding round will also help continue to grow the BlueVine team, including hires across engineering, product and revenue organizations. FT Partners advised BlueVine on this transaction. About BlueVine BlueVine empowers small businesses with innovative banking designed for them. BlueVine’s advanced online platform is intuitive and offers a convenient solution for the banking and working capital needs of businesses. BlueVine offers a suite of products designed to meet the diverse financial needs of today’s business owners including BlueVine Business Checking , Line of Credit, Term Loan, and Invoice Factoring. Based in Redwood City, California, BlueVine has provided small and medium-sized businesses with access to more than $2.5 billion in financing and is backed by leading private and institutional investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, 83 North,SVB Capital,Citi Ventures, Nationwide Insurance, and M12 (Microsoft’s Venture Arm). All lines of credit and term loan products are issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC. Bank account services are provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. No monthly fees on a BlueVine Business Checking Account. Card Replacement Fees and Wire Transfer Fees may apply. You may be charged out-of-network ATM fees.  You may be charged a fee by the ATM owners, even if you don’t complete the transaction. The BlueVine Business Debit Mastercard is issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Mastercard International Incorporated and may be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. BlueVine® is a registered trademark of BlueVine Capital Inc. 2019 BlueVine Capital Inc. All Rights Reserved. For more information, please visit www.bluevine.com SOURCE: BLUEVINE

Portfolio November 11 2019

Voi raises another $85M for its European e-scooter service

Voi Technology, the “micro-mobility” startup that operates an e-scooter service in a 38 cities across 10 European countries, has raised an $85 million in Series B funding. Backing the round is a mixture of existing and new investors. They include Balderton Capital, Creandum, Project A, JME Ventures, Raine Ventures, Kreos Capital, Inbox Capital, Rider Global, and Black Ice Capital. The new funding brings the total raised by Voi to $136 million. Eagled-eyed readers will have noticed that, based on our previous Voi coverage, the total figure is $32 million short. That’s because not all of Voi’s previous Series A commitment was cashed in after the company was offered more favourable terms for its $30 million Series A extension and therefore elected not to draw down the second tranche of its original Series A. Launched in 2018, the company is best-known for its e-scooter rentals but now pitches itself as a micro-mobility provider, offering a number of different transport devices. These include various e-scooter and e-bike models, in a bid to become a broader transport operator helping to re-shape urban transport and wean people off using cars. To date, Voi says it has 4 million registered users and has powered 14 million rides. More recently it has launched new, more robust hardware that has been designed to sustain the rigours of commercial e-bike sharing. The idea is that more suitable hardware will help e-scooter companies improve margins since more rides can be extracted from the life-span of each vehicle. On that note, Voi says it will use the new funding to develop “strong profitable businesses” in the 38 cities where it is already operating, as well as increase its R&D spend to improve its technology platform and products. Earlier this year, the company announced that it is already profitable in the cities of Stockholm and Oslo. “Clearly, we feel we are on track to achieve this in more of our cities and that is our aim,” Voi co-founder and CEO Fredrik Hjelm tells me. “At this point, a key focus for us is to ensure we continue to increase the lifetime of our e-scooters, forge key partnerships and continue to work in those cities which provide the best conditions for a profitable e-scooter business”. Hjelm says that Voi’s version 2 scooters are projected to last over 18 months, which means the company should be in profit before it needs to raise again. However, he wouldn’t be drawn on when that might be. With regards to R&D and improvements to the Voi platform, the company will continue to work on the lifetime of its e-scooters, in addition to improved repair management via integrating “predictive diagnostics”. Hjelm also says Voi is developing “AI-powered” fleet management and more generally the platform’s capability to support future product portfolio expansion. In other words, we can expect new micro-mobility device categories in the future.   SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Portfolio November 5 2019

Riskified Announces $165 Million Series E Funding Round Led by General Atlantic

Funding round also includes participation from Fidelity Management & Research Company, Winslow Capital Management and existing investors to support Riskified’s rapid global expansion   NEW YORK, NY – November 5, 2019 — Riskified, the payments and fraud-prevention solutions provider, announced today its Series E funding round of $165 million, led by global growth investor General Atlantic, at a valuation of more than $1 billion. The proceeds will be primarily used by Riskified to more rapidly scale its business domestically and internationally and to expand its product footprint. Riskified’s suite of solutions operates at the intersection of merchants, banks and consumers to optimize the online and omni-channel paths-to-purchase. The company’s AI-powered fraud-prevention solutions enable merchants to instantly and accurately distinguish legitimate customers from fraudulent ones and boost conversion rates. Unlike scoring-based solutions, Riskified’s pioneering chargeback-guarantee model aligns the company’s incentives with merchants. As a result of Riskified’s accuracy, merchants increase sales, reduce the cost of fraud and deliver a better customer experience. Riskified’s solutions also increase bank authorization rates, protect customer accounts from misuse, and allow merchants to offer shoppers alternate payment methods. “Riskified began as a new and unproven approach to fraud prevention and payments. Achieving success required merchants to believe in our vision and partner with us. Today’s announcement is a testament to those partnerships and the leadership position we attained in this important market,” said Eido Gal, CEO and Co-founder of Riskified. “These funds will allow us to continue to develop innovative solutions that help move commerce forward.” “Our work in the payments space has shown us that Riskified’s machine learning-based approach provides material improvements over legacy fraud and risk management solutions,” said Aaron Goldman, Managing Director and Co-Head of General Atlantic’s Financial Services sector. “We believe that the Riskified team is strategically positioned to continue capturing this substantial market opportunity.” “Riskified is the rare blend of realized performance and considerable potential. The company’s innovative model has enabled it to deliver significant ROI to its customers and partners, with a clear runway ahead for strategic expansion of its geographic footprint, product offering, and consumer base,” said Tanzeen Syed, Managing Director in General Atlantic’s Technology sector. “We are thrilled to partner with Eido and the Riskified team to reinvent the payments ecosystem and add real value for customers.” By the numbers: Riskified customers typically see increased order approval rates up to 20% Riskified customers typically reduce their fraud-related costs up to 50% Riskified has experienced hyper growth of 250% CAGR over the past five years ARR surpassed $100m in 2018 and is projected to grow by high double digits in 2019 Riskified analyzes transactions from 235 countries and territories on all 7 continents Riskified has 420+ employees in New York and Tel Aviv and will have a new office in Shanghai before the end of 2019 Riskified works with some of the largest and most innovative merchants in eCommerce, from omni-channel retailers to digital-first merchants. Riskified helps merchants grow their online businesses by enabling international sales, new product offerings and seamless omnichannel flows all while providing the safety merchants require and the flexibility consumers need. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC. served as sole placement agent in this round. Existing investors Qumra Capital, Pitango Venture Capital and Entrée Capital also participated in the round. About Riskified  Riskified helps the ecommerce industry realize its full potential by making it universally safe, accessible and economic. The world’s largest brands – from airlines to luxury fashion houses to gift card marketplaces – trust us to increase revenue, manage risk and enhance their customer experience. Merchants lose billions of dollars to legacy fraud solutions, payment failures, high-friction verification methods and more. Riskified uses powerful machine-learning algorithms to recognize legitimate customers and keep them moving toward conversion. Using Riskified, merchants can safely approve more orders, expand internationally and fulfill omnichannel flows while providing a frictionless customer experience. www.riskified.com About General Atlantic: General Atlantic is a leading global growth equity firm providing capital and strategic support for growth companies. Established in 1980, General Atlantic combines a collaborative global approach, sector specific expertise, a long-term investment horizon and a deep understanding of growth drivers to partner with great entrepreneurs and management teams to build exceptional businesses worldwide. General Atlantic has more than 150 investment professionals based in New York, Amsterdam, Beijing, Greenwich, Hong Kong, Jakarta, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Munich, Palo Alto, São Paulo, Shanghai, and Singapore. For more information on General Atlantic, please visit the website: www.generalatlantic.com. About Winslow Capital: Winslow Capital is a premier growth equity investment firm, founded in 1992 on the same driving principle that continues to guide the Firm today: to deliver successful client outcomes over the long term while carefully managing risk. Winslow Capital is focused on finding the best equity opportunities in the marketplace using repeatable, time-tested processes that are firmly rooted in the fundamental research of individual companies by experienced professionals. The Firm manages approximately $21 billion (as of 9/30/19) in equity strategies including sub-advised mutual funds, separately managed accounts and a private equity vehicle for a wide variety of clients. Winslow Capital is an independent investment affiliate of Nuveen. For more information, visit www.winslowcapital.com.   SOURCE: TECHROUND

Portfolio October 29 2019

Tiqets, a platform for booking museums and other attractions, raises $60M led by Airbnb

Airbnb  is best known as the place you go to find somewhere to stay that’s not a hotel. Now, it has made an investment in a startup that points to its bigger ambition to be a go-to destination for experiences. Tiqets, a startup out of Amsterdam that has built a platform for booking tickets for museums and other attractions, has raised $60 million in a Series C round led by the travel giant to expand its platform and wider business. Tiqets has sold millions of tickets in more than 60 countries to date, it says. The investment also includes participation from previous backers HPE Growth and Investion, and it brings the total raised by Tiqets to $100 million. Luuc Elzinga, the CEO and co-founder of Tiqets, said the startup is not disclosing its valuation, but said it was “really happy” with the number. This is, for now, a financial investment for Airbnb rather than a strategic one. In other words, the two companies have yet to work together, said Elzinga, although that is the hope longer term. “Airbnb will be involved in the business,” he said, “and that’s interesting because we can also learn from how they scaled.” Scaled is almost an understatement. Starting as a modest marketplace for people to offer spare rooms and sofas to travelers, Airbnb is now part of the guard of outsized startups, raising $4.4 billion in venture funding, valued at $31 billion and on the road to an IPO in 2020. “Travelers are seeking out a diverse range of experiences when they visit a new city,” said Airbnb Art and Culture Director Philippe Magid, in a statement. “The Tiqets team has effectively used new technology to connect travelers to communities and we are excited to support their work.” In the wider tourism and travel industry, museums and attractions revenues are estimated to be worth some $160 billion, with ticketing accounting for $60 billion of that. The gap in the market that Tiqets is targeting is the shift we’ve seen in how and why people — both tourists but also those visiting museums and attractions in their own home towns — purchase tickets to go to these places. While some are still waiting to line up outside a venue for hours, others are opting to go online to buy in advance and use mobile tickets to speed up the process. Museums and most other attractions are not often the places that come to mind when you think “technology,” and Tiqets comes in and provides a service to them so they can meet the demands of more digitally savvy visitors. Museums and other attractions are now gradually starting to think of how to use this to their advantage. There was a Very British uproar in the 1980s when London’s Victoria & Albert Museum ran an ad campaign about how it was an “ace caff with a quite nice museum attached.” (It is a beautiful cafeteria.) But nowadays those cafes, and the ever-present gift shops, are some of their biggest revenue spinners, so offering tickets online reduces some of the friction of getting people into venues, and into better moods, to spend more money later. And, if users “check the box,” the venues can also build their marketing databases to boot. Tiqets, founded in 2014, is still a relatively young business. Elzinga said it works with some 3,000 museum groups and attractions — with its customer list including some of the world’s most-visited institutions, such as the Louvre in Paris. It also partners with some 2,500 travel agencies and portals — Ctrip is another big customer — that integrate with Tiqets’ APIs to upsell customers with tickets to venues after they have booked their trips. Some 35% of its revenues currently come by way of these third-party deals. Tiqets’ plans for the investment will be to expand its coverage to more attractions, and to extend deeper into smaller towns beyond the big cities where it’s currently most active, specifically building out better self-service technology (not unlike Airbnb’s for hosts) to make it easier to onboard to its platform. It’s now available in 14 languages, so adding more localisation is also on the cards. On the part of Airbnb, the investment is part of a bigger strategy for the company to make investments into smaller startups that are strategically aligned with what it’s aiming to build into its own business. Other investments have included stakes in Oyo, the India-based hotels chain; corporate accommodation specialist Lyric Hospitality; reservations platform Resy (which eventually got acquired by Amex) and co-working space The Wing. Sometimes Airbnb also acquires companies outright, although in the case of Tiqets, Elzinga said that Airbnb did not approach it to acquire the company. The vast majority of Airbnb’s growth has come by way of people posting and booking accommodation in private homes, but Airbnb’s interest in Tiqets underscores how the company is itself extending the revenue it can make per user by building out the longer tail of services it offers to its users beyond booking travel accommodation. Current offerings include Experiences (in-city, one-day activities), Adventures (multi-day guided tours) and restaurant listings. One area where Tiqets does not plan to expand is into performance or seated event ticketing, à la Ticketmaster or Eventbrite. “Our focus and opportunity will continue to be museums and attractions,” Elzinga said. Part of the reason for this is that so many of them continue to provide paper-based, kiosk-issued tickets, but also because of the rise of the blockbuster, and the new awareness of public safety in crowded, high-profile, iconic tourist spots. “It’s getting more complex, with timed entry and issues like crowd management.” Longer term, it will be interesting to see how and if Airbnb works more closely with Tiqets. Both are targeting what is a massive opportunity. Travel and tourism are some $8.8 trillion and will account for 10.4% of global GDP in 2019, according to one estimate.   SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Portfolio October 28 2019

Signal AI taps $25M for public data-based market intelligence that spots trends and risks

Media monitoring — where news sources and other public information outlets are scanned regularly for mentions of specific organizations — is a well-established service used by companies for market intelligence and to measure sentiment around their businesses. Today, London-based Signal AI, which has built a substantial operation in the area, has raised $25 million to expand to newer frontiers: applying AI to that public data to also spot themes, risks and opportunities to make better decisions; and continuing to take that business to new markets. The Series C is being led by Redline Capital,  with previous VCs MMC Ventures, GMG Ventures  (an investment firm linked to the Guardian Media Group)  and Hearst Ventures  also participating. The startup, which has now raised around $43 million, is not disclosing its valuation, but CEO and founder David Benigson said that it is “significantly higher” than before (it last raised $16 million a year ago), after growing revenues at well over 100% each year for the last two. The presence of not one but two media-linked investors in the round points to the startup’s roots: Signal AI  had previously been called Signal Media and worked mainly around the task of media monitoring in the more traditional sense: tracking how companies were being mentioned in the press. Benigson said the reason for the rebrand was to “signal” to the world how the startup was widening its remit, both in terms of its sources of data and also in terms of its customers and how they now utilize Signal’s technology. The challenge and opportunity that Signal AI is tackling is the fact that the world is awash in information, much of it unstructured and usually bombarding us from many angles, but tantalising all the same for hinting at the insights that it might hold if it could be looked at in a more comprehensive way. “When we started six years ago, it was by aggregating news data and tapping the repository of global, traditional media,” Benigson said. “We have since broadened into social media, broadcast and radio, and regulatory information and started to apply more machine learning to structure that data.” In addition to selling services directly, the company now partners with third parties to build analytics around more targeted subjects, such as a changing regulatory climate in a specific area, which in turn is sold on by the third parties to other clients. The company, for example, works with Deloitte’s  tax division to monitor how tax codes are evolving and likely to move over time: the firm used to keep its own clients up to date verbally on these details, and now it sends alerts automatically with insights — a switch that Benigson said has saved the company $100 million a year in human and overhead costs. Signal AI sits in a relatively new, not clearly defined area of business. It can be comparable with the likes of Meltwater, Cision  (Gorkana) and even Dataminr when it comes to reading media in real time. But it also works a little like business intelligence or market analytics in its predictive analysis. The company refers to its specific area as “augmented intelligence”: “There is a trend / emerging category that is far less crowded and defined than business intelligence or analytics,” Benigson said. “For me, it’s around taking those same values of BI and applying them to the world of data that sits outside the organization. There are very few companies that use augmented intelligence, although we are seeing management consultancy firms and others we potentially compete with convening around this space.” It’s that open water that has attracted investors to the company. “In this new digital era of news and content, having an adaptive platform to help the world’s leading organizations see around the corner is invaluable,” said Nicolas Giuli, partner at Redline Capital, in a statement. “Signal AI’s team of data scientists and engineers have been at the forefront of the AI revolution and we are excited to take this journey with them as they continue to scale across the world.” In this day and age, data is indeed very much a hot commodity, but I’d argue that it’s also a hot potato. By that, I’m referring to the rise of security breaches, people’s growing awareness of how their personal information is being used (and too often misused) and regulation that now draws lines on how data can be used, after organizations failed to draw those lines themselves. All of these have made concepts like data analytics and data mining, even around supposedly anonymised information, feel more nefarious and unclear in their target purposes and ends. That potentially spells trouble ahead for companies that dabble in this space. Benigson, for his part, was unequivocal on where Signal AI stands on any kind of anonymised or other potentially personal data: “We purposefully avoid those data sets because we feel that the challenges are not being met,” he said. The exception, he noted, was in cases where a company uses its own internal data for its own purposes, but this does not feed into Signal’s AI engine, which focuses only on publicly available third-party content. “We have no plans to incorporate that kind of data ourselves. We have an opportunity to do this in an ethical manner.”   SOURCE: TECHCRUNCH

Portfolio October 17 2019

CrossLend announces €35 million funding round

Santander InnoVentures, Santander Group’s fintech venture capital fund, has announced today it is leading the funding round (Series B) of CrossLend, the Berlin-based pan-European digital debt marketplace. The round also includes funding from existing investors Lakestar, ABN AMRO Ventures, and Earlybird. Founded in 2014, CrossLend provides a digital debt marketplace for consumer, SME, invoices, mortgages and other forms of  debt originated by banks and alternative originators. CrossLend makes the assets available to a wide range of institutional investors, such as banks, investment funds and insurance companies. This allows loan originators to expand their origination capacity and increase income while at the same time it helps to reduce pressure from capital requirements. Institutional investors with the need to invest in fixed-income assets are provided with a broad range of new investable assets in a transferable form. This allows more capital to flow into Europe’s economy and makes the lending and investment ecosystem more efficient, transparent and profitable. Santander InnoVentures, true to its “invest and partner” model, is exploring cooperation alleys with the company, as one basis for the investments were the significant cooperation opportunities. In light of the value-add that CrossLend can provide to banks and asset managers, more institutions are expected to join as equity investors over the next few months. Santander InnoVentures’ investment comes as the European Commission’s capital markets union initiative is set to deliver an action plan by the end of 2019 to provide new sources of funding for businesses, reduce the cost of raising capital, increase options for savers across the EU, facilitate cross-border investment and make the EU financial system more stable, resilient and competitive([1]). CrossLend’s digital debt marketplace infrastructure is closely aligned with core elements of previous EU action plans and already enables pan-European fixed-income investment in the absence of a true capital markets union. Manuel Silva Martínez, partner and head of Investments at Santander InnoVentures, said: “By developing technology that digitises processes done manually today and building a regulatory infrastructure that allows for a truly pan-European platform, CrossLend is addressing several key opportunities: the ability for banks to mobilise balance sheet assets for regulatory capital optimisation, and connecting alternative originators and banks alike with new sources of capital in-market and cross-border, all of this seamlessly and profitably. CrossLend has the opportunity to become an industry standard, interlinking capital markets in Europe and potentially elsewhere as they eye further international expansion. Oliver and his team have the right DNA to execute on this ambitious vision, and I am thrilled to actively support them in shaping it together.” Manuel will join CrossLend’s advisory board. About Santander InnoVentures Santander InnoVentures is Banco Santander’s $200 million corporate venture fund. SIV invests in start-ups in fintech and adjacent areas to accelerate their growth, support great entrepreneurs and teams, and support them with the capital, scale and expertise of the Santander Group. Since launching in 2014, the fund has invested in more than 25 companies, being one of the most active bank-backed fintech corporate venture in the world. Over 70% of the fund’s portfolio companies are now in strategic engagements with Santander. More info: www.santanderinnoventures.com About CrossLend CrossLend is a digital debt marketplace with a mission to make the world’s lending and investment ecosystem more efficient, transparent and profitable. By means of an innovative securitisation solution, CrossLend seamlessly connects originator supply with institutional investor demand, creating beneficial opportunities for both. With lenders empowered to lend more and investors able to deploy their capital more efficiently, liquidity is available to flow where it is needed: a win-win situation for all. CrossLend is backed by an array of prestigious equity investors from Europe and the U.S., including Lakestar, CME Ventures, Earlybird, ABN AMRO’s Digital Impact Fund, solarisBank, finleap, the Luxembourg Future Fund (EIF and SNCI) and now also Santander InnoVentures. CrossLend is working to create a secondary market which, together with its primary market, will further strengthen its efforts to make the capital markets union a reality. More info: www.crosslend.com [1] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/capital-markets-union   SOURCE: CROSSLEND