Day: June 2, 2021

Crunchbase Q&A with Jessica Lindl, Vice President of Social Impact at Unity



The Crunchbase “Female Founder Series,” is a series of stories, Q&As, and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds and are now leading successful companies.


Throughout her career, Jessica has been a champion for social impact, working to improve learning outcomes and earning potential for all learners worldwide. In 2012, Jessica ran a company using Unity as a platform for social impact and fell in love with the power and scale of the platform as a means for making change. 

As the Vice President of Social Impact at Unity, Jessica focuses on empowering Unity creators and employees to make the world a better place. In this interview, we asked Jessica about how her career path and why she felt this was the right field for her. 

“Even large, successful companies have an obligation to remember that shareholders aren’t the only people invested in their success.” – Unity’s Jessica Lindl on social impact and technology. 


Q: Why did you choose to enter your field/profession?

I’ve always been passionate about education and had a knack for business so a career in social impact and technology seemed like a natural fit for me, and one that I’ve been lucky to spend two decades growing in. 

My mom was a diehard first-grade teacher and I saw how hard it was for her to raise a family while working 70 hour work weeks, so I spent the first decade of my career using technology to make education impactful and easier for (Read more...)

OroraTech’s space-based early wildfire warnings spark $7M investment



With wildfires becoming an ever more devastating annual phenomenon, it is in the whole planet’s interest to spot them and respond as early as possible — and the best vantage point for that is space. OroraTech is a German startup building a constellation of small satellites to power a global wildfire warning system, and will be using a freshly raised €5.8M (~$7M) A round to kick things off.

Wildfires destroy tens of millions of acres of forest every year, causing immense harm to people and the planet in countless ways. Once they’ve grown to a certain size, they’re near impossible to stop, so the earlier they can be located and worked against, the better.

But these fires can start just about anywhere in a dried out forest hundreds of miles wide, and literally every minute and hour counts — watch towers, helicopter flights, and other frequently used methods may not be fast or exact enough to effectively counteract this increasingly serious threat. Not to mention they’re expensive and often dangerous jobs for those who perform them.

OroraTech’s plan is to use a constellation of about 100 satellites equipped with custom infrared cameras to watch the entire globe (or at least the parts most likely to burst into flame) at once, reporting any fire bigger than ten meters across within half an hour.

Screenshot of OroraTech wildfire monitoring software showing heat detection in a forest.

Image Credits: OroraTech

To start out with, the Bavarian company has used data from over a dozen satellites already in space, in order to prove out the service (Read more...)

Confluent’s IPO brings a high-growth, high-burn SaaS model to the public markets



Confluent became the latest company to announce its intent to take the IPO route, officially filing its S-1 paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week. The company, which has raised over $455 million since it launched in 2014, was most recently valued at just over $4.5 billion when it raised $250 million last April.

What does Confluent do? It built a streaming data platform on top of the open-source Apache Kafka project. In addition to its open-source roots, Confluent has a free tier of its commercial cloud offering to complement its paid products, helping generate top-of-funnel inflows that it converts to sales.

Kafka itself emerged from a LinkedIn internal project in 2011. As we wrote at the time of Confluent’s $50 million Series C in 2017, the open-source project was designed to move massive amounts of data at the professional social network:

At its core, Kafka is simply a messaging system, created originally at LinkedIn, that’s been designed from the ground up to move massive amounts of data smoothly around the enterprise from application to application, system to system or on-prem to cloud — and deal with extremely high message volume.

Confluent CEO and co-founder Jay Kreps wrote at the time of the funding that events streaming is at the core of every business, reaching sales and other core business activities that occur in real time that go beyond storing data in a database after the fact.

“[D]atabases have long helped to store the current state (Read more...)

Etsy asks, ‘how do you do, fellow kids?’ with $1.6B Depop purchase



The news this morning that e-commerce marketplace Etsy will buy Depop, a startup that provides a second-hand e-commerce marketplace, for more than $1.6 billion may not have made a large impact on the acquiring company’s share price thus far, but it provides a fascinating look into what brands may be willing to pay for access to the Gen Z market.

First, a few details: Per Etsy, the Depop deal is worth “$1.625 billion consisting primarily of cash, subject to certain adjustments for Depop’s working capital, transaction expenses, cash and indebtedness, and certain deferred and unvested equity for Depop management and employees.” So, $1.625 billion, plus or minus. We’ll use that number this morning.

Because Etsy is a public company and the transaction is material, it provided a good deal of information on the acquisition. The key facts that relate to the scale of Depop’s business are as follows:

  • 2020 gross platform spend, revenue: “Depop’s 2020 gross merchandise sales (GMS) and revenue were approximately $650 million and $70 million, respectively, each increasing over 100% year-over-year.”
  • Historical gross platform spend trend: “Depop’s GMS grew at a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 80% from 2017-2020.”

At $70 million in 2020 revenue, Depop is being valued at a multiple of 23.2x of the previous year’s top line. That’s rich, but not impossibly high for a company that just had a huge pandemic year. (Though it is somewhat notable that Etsy is valuing Depop as if it was a high-growth SaaS business and (Read more...)

Iterative raises $20M for its MLOps platform



Iterative, an open-source startup that is building an enterprise AI platform to help companies operationalize their models, today announced that it has raised a $20 million Series A round led by 468 Capital and Mesosphere co-founder Florian Leibert. Previous investors True Ventures and Afore Capital also participated in this round, which brings the company’s total funding to $25 million.

The core idea behind Iterative is to provide data scientists and data engineers with a platform that closely resembles a modern GitOps-driven development stack.

After spending time in academia, Iterative co-founder and CEO Dmitry Petrov joined Microsoft as a data scientist on the Bing team in 2013. He noted that the industry has changed quite a bit since then. While early on, the questions were about how to build machine learning models, today the problem is how to build predictable processes around machine learning, especially in large organizations with sizable teams. “How can we make the team productive not the person? This is a new challenge for the entire industry,” he said.

Big companies (like Microsoft) were able to build their own proprietary tooling and processes to build their AI operations, Petrov noted, but that’s not an option for smaller companies.

Currently, Iterative’s stack consists of a couple of different components that sit on top of tools like GitLab and GitHub. These include DVC for running experiments and data and model versioning, CML, the company’s CI/CD platform for machine learning, and the company’s newest product, Studio, its SaaS (Read more...)

Iterative raises $20M for its MLOps platform



Iterative, an open-source startup that is building an enterprise AI platform to help companies operationalize their models, today announced that it has raised a $20 million Series A round led by 468 Capital and Mesosphere co-founder Florian Leibert. Previous investors True Ventures and Afore Capital also participated in this round, which brings the company’s total funding to $25 million.

The core idea behind Iterative is to provide data scientists and data engineers with a platform that closely resembles a modern GitOps-driven development stack.

After spending time in academia, Iterative co-founder and CEO Dmitry Petrov joined Microsoft as a data scientist on the Bing team in 2013. He noted that the industry has changed quite a bit since then. While early on, the questions were about how to build machine learning models, today the problem is how to build predictable processes around machine learning, especially in large organizations with sizable teams. “How can we make the team productive not the person? This is a new challenge for the entire industry,” he said.

Big companies (like Microsoft) were able to build their own proprietary tooling and processes to build their AI operations, Petrov noted, but that’s not an option for smaller companies.

Currently, Iterative’s stack consists of a couple of different components that sit on top of tools like GitLab and GitHub. These include DVC for running experiments and data and model versioning, CML, the company’s CI/CD platform for machine learning, and the company’s newest product, Studio, its SaaS (Read more...)

Reading the IPO market’s tea leaves



Although it’s a truncated holiday week here in the United States, there’s been a bushel of IPO news. This morning, we’re going to sort through the updates and come up with a series of sentiment calls regarding these public offerings.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. 

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Here’s what’s in our basket of news items this morning:

  • Marqeta‘s first IPO price range (fintech)
  • 1st Dibs‘ first IPO price range (e-commerce)
  • Zeta Global‘s IPO pricing (martech)
  • The start of SoFi trading post-SPAC (fintech)
  • The latest from BarkBox (e-commerce)

A brief note on why we care to do all this work:

We care because it’s worth knowing what current demand is for venture-backed shares on the public markets. The third quarter is expected by many in the private markets to be an active period for exits. So, for founders, investors, and a host of technology startup employees, we’re gearing up for a busy period.

And today’s IPO climate could be the on-ramp to that rush of unicorn liquidity. So let’s understand where we’re starting through the prism of debut updates en masse.

Marqeta

  • First IPO price range: $20 to $24 per share
  • Max IPO raise: $1,254,545,448
  • Implied simple valuation range: $10.6 billion to $12.7 billion

The last known private-market value of Marqeta was set in May 2020, when the company raised $150 million at what PitchBook estimates was a $4.3 billion valuation. From that perspective, (Read more...)