Author: Romain Dillet

Sorare raises $680 million for its fantasy sports NFT game



French startup Sorare has announced that it has raised a significant funding round. SoftBank's Vision Fund 2 has led a $680 million Series B round, which values the company at $4.3 billion.

Sorare has built a fantasty football (soccer) platform based on NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. Each digital card is registered as a unique token on the Ethereum blockchain. Players can buy and sell cards from other players. Transactions are all recorded on the Ethereum blockchain.

What makes Sorare unique is that it has partnered with 180 football organizations, including some of the most famous clubs in Europe, such as Real Madrid, Liverpool and Juventus. It creates a barrier to entry for other companies in the space.

With today’s funding round, the company plans to expand to new sports, open an office in the U.S., hire more people and invest in marketing campaigns. You can expect more partnership announcements with professional sports organizations in the future.

In addition to SoftBank's Vision Fund team, Atomico, Bessemer Ventures, D1 Capital, Eurazeo, IVP and Liontree are also participating in the round. Some of the startup’s existing investors are also investing once again, such as Benchmark, Accel, Headline and various business angels.

Sorare generates revenue by issuing new cards on the platform. Players can then buy those new cards and add them to their collection. They can also manage a squad of players and earn points based on real-life performances.

Over time, the value of a card can go up or down. That’s why (Read more...)

Xata is a database service for serverless apps



Meet Xata, a startup with a new take on managed databases. The company runs your database for you and turns it into an API so that you can query and update it from your serverless app. Xata has raised a $5 million funding round. Its product is not yet ready for prime time but the company is sharing details.

Xata seems particularly well suited for Jamstack websites. Jamstack has been a popular way of developing and deploying websites at scale. Popular Jamstack hosting platforms include Netlify, Vercel and Cloudflare Pages.

Applications are deployed on a global edge network and most of the logic is handled by API calls. The result is a website or an application that loads quickly and can handle a lot of traffic.

Deploying a Jamstack website is quite easy as it often integrates tightly with your Git repository. When you commit code changes, serverless platforms take care of deploying your application. Integrating with API-based developer tools is relatively effortless as well as you don’t manage the logic yourself.

For instance, deploying a website with static content and a Stripe checkout module doesn’t require a ton of effort — Stripe manages the payment servers for you. It gets a bit more complicated if you want to use a live database and interact with it. Traditional database software doesn’t rely on API calls across the internet to add a row, search through multiple rows and find data.

Xata is focusing on databases and want to make (Read more...)

Avalanche raises $230 million from private sale of AVAX tokens



Avalanche, a relatively new blockchain with a focus on speed and low transactions costs, has completed a $230 million private sale of AVAX tokens to some well known crypto funds. Polychain and Three Arrows Capital are leading the investment.

The Avalanche Foundation completed the private sale back in June 2021 and is disclosing it today. Other participants in the private sale include R/Crypto Fund, Dragonfly, CMS Holdings, Collab+Currency and Lvna Capital.

Proceeds from the private sale will be used to support the Avalanche ecosystem, which is relatively nascent when you compare it to the Ethereum blockchain for instance. Among other things, the foundation plans to support DeFi (decentralized finance) projects as well as enterprise applications through grants, token purchases and other forms of investments.

Like Solana and other newer blockchains, Avalanche wants to solve the scalability issues that older blockchains face. For instance, if you’ve recently tried to buy an NFT on the Ethereum blockchain, you probably paid $50 or $100 in transaction fees, or gas fees.

The Avalanche Foundation positions its blockchain as a solid alternative to Ethereum. You can run Dapps (decentralized apps) for a fraction of the costs with a much faster time-to-finality. Avalanche supports smart contracts, which is a key feature to enable DeFi projects.

Here’s what Avalanche’s official website says about its blockchain performance:

Image Credits: Avalanche

Having better performance is just part of the problem when you’re competing with Ethereum and other blockchains. Avalanche also needs to attract developers and build a strong (Read more...)

Liveblocks is an API that lets you add real-time collaboration to your product



Meet Liveblocks, a startup that has been working on a set of APIs so that it’s easier to build a collaborative product. Essentially, it lets you create multiplayer experiences on the web or in your app.

The company started with a live presence state API. If you integrate this API in your product, it means that you can show when somebody joins a page, a project or a document by displaying an avatar in a corner. You can also share the position of everyone’s cursor, text selection or content selection in real time.

Liveblocks is currently testing in private beta a live storage API. This is going to be a key feature as it is going to let multiple people view and edit the same data in real-time. For example, you can use it to develop a Google Docs competitor or if you want to add a whiteboard tool to your service.

The service works across multiple browsers and devices. Behind the scenes, the company uses a WebSocket connection for real-time communication. Pricing depends on the number of simultaneous connections that you expect around the same room, document, experience.

“Guillaume Salles and I decided to work together on a browser-based collaborative presentation/video tool. After months of iteration, we realized that we were spending a majority of our time figuring out how to handle the real‑time collaboration aspect of things, instead of focusing on the core mechanics of the tool,” co-founder and CEO Steven Fabre told me.

“We tried existing (Read more...)

Skello raises $47.3 million for its employee scheduling tool



French startup Skello has raised a $47.3 million funding round (€40 million). The company has been working on a software-as-a-service tool that lets you manage the work schedule of your company. What makes it special is that Skello automatically takes into account local labor laws and collective agreements.

Partech is leading today’s funding round. Existing investors XAnge and Aglaé Ventures are also participating. The startup had previously raised a €300,000 seed round and a €6 million Series A round in 2018.

Skello works with companies across many industries, such as retail, hospitality, pharmacies, bakeries, gyms, escape games and more. And many of them were simply using Microsoft Excel to manage their schedule.

By using Skello, you get an online service that works for both managers and employees. On the manager side, you can view who is working and when. You can assign employees to fill some gaps.

For employees, they can also connect to the platform to see their own schedule. Employees can also say when they are unavailable and request time off. And when something unexpected comes up, employees can trade shifts.

“We really want to put employees at the center of the product,” co-founder and CEO Quitterie Mathelin-Moreaux told me. “They have a mobile app and the idea is to make the work schedule as collaborative as possible in order to allocate resources as efficiently as possible and increase team retention.”

At every step of the scheduling process, Skello manages legal requirements. For instance, Skello remembers mandatory weekly (Read more...)

Folk helps you share contacts with your team



Folk is a new productivity tool started by European startup studio eFounders. And the startup just raised a $3.3 million seed funding round led by Accel with a big group of business angels.

When you think about managing contacts and relationships in a professional environment, you might think that companies have solved this already. An entire category of products and companies have emerged around this idea with CRMs. Popular CRM platforms include Salesforce and HubSpot and I’m sure your sales team loves their CRM.

But what does CRM mean exactly? Customer relationship management. If you work for a team that doesn’t have customers, then CRMs aren’t the most appropriate tools. For instance, PR teams work with journalists, logistics teams work with suppliers, events teams work with multiple kinds of partners, etc.

Folk wants to be the relationship management tool for the rest of the company. Chances are those teams don’t use a CRM. Instead, they often rely on shared spreadsheets or information remains siloed.

The company is even trying to give this new category of contact tools a name and calls is the xRM for extended relationships manager. “In xRM, the ‘x’ stands for anyone: you can use it not only for managing clients but also for journalists, suppliers, partners, for example,” Folk CEO Thibaud Elziere said in a statement.

Image Credits: Folk

Visually, Folk looks like a spreadsheet. You can add columns with specific information. You can also track your progress around a project with tags. Like (Read more...)

Ledgy is an equity management tool for European startups



Every startup founder faces the same issue — how do you manage your cap table and equity plans in a transparent and lightweight manner? If you’re based in the U.S., chances are you’re using an equity management solution like Carta. But if you’re not based in the U.S., you don’t have a ton of options.

Ledgy wants to become the ownership management tool for the rest of the world. Based in Switzerland, several well-known European startups are already using Ledgy, such as Wefox, Kry, Bitpanda, Gorillas and Trade Republic.

The company recently closed a $10 million Series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital. Other investors in the round include Xavier Niel, Harry Stebbings, Visionaries Club, UiPath's Daniel Dines and Front's Mathilde Collin. Some of Ledgy’s existing investors also invested once again, such as Myke Näf, Paul Sevinç, btov Partners, Creathor Ventures and VI Partners.

A few years ago, when Ledgy co-founder and CEO Yoko Spirig talked with an entrepreneur, the founder showed her how he managed ownership. He opened an Excel spreadsheet and scrolled, scrolled, scrolled… “Each line represented a share. You can imagine how error-prone it is,” she told me.

While the implementation was odd, most companies in Europe are still using Excel spreadsheets to manage ownership. And Ledgy wants to convince those companies that switching to a software solution that has been specifically designed to solve this issue could be beneficial.

“The key has really been to focus on the software infrastructure. What we do is (Read more...)

Botify raises $55 million to optimize search engine indexing



Botify has raised a $55 million Series C funding round led by InfraVia Growth with Bpifrance’s Large Venture fund also participating. The company has created a search engine optimization (SEO) platform so that your content is better indexed and appears more often in search results.

Existing investors Eurazeo and Ventech are also investing in the startup once again. Nicolas Herschtel from InfraVia and Antoine Izsak from Bpifrance will join the board of directors. Valuation has tripled since the company’s previous funding round.

While there are a ton of good and bad practices in the SEO industry, Botify defines itself as “white-hat company”. They respect the terms of services of search engines, they don’t scrape search results for insights, they don’t create shady backlinks on other websites.

“We’re going to optimize every step of the search funnel from first the quality of the website, how it is designed, how is the content going to be enriched with, etc.” co-founder and CEO Adrien Menard told me.

There are now three different components in the Botify product suite. The startup first released an analytics tool that gives you insights about your website. Basically, it lets you see how a crawler analyzes your site.

The company then released Botify Intelligence, which hands you a prioritized todo list of things you can do to improve your SEO strategy. And now, the company is also working on automation with Botify Activation. When Google’s search engine bot queries your site, Botify can take over and answer (Read more...)

Point raises $46.5 million for its premium debit card



Challenger bank Point has raised a $46.5 million Series B funding round. The company offers an account associated with a debit card. And the startup positions itself as a premium debit card company and tries to offer credit card rewards with debit cards.

Existing investor Peter Thiel's Valar Ventures is investing more money in the company and leading the Series B round. Other investors include Breyer Capital, YC Continuity and Human Capital. The company raised a $10.5 million Series A round 18 months ago and a seed round before that, which means that Point has raised $60 million in total.

Point wants to build the anti-credit card. The company tries to keep what’s best about credit cards but leave behind what’s not so good. Many people think credit cards are a slippery slope. If you spend too much money without realizing that you’re not going to be able to make ends meet, you’ll pay interests. Those interests can even make it harder to pay back your credit card debt.

That’s why credit card incentives are both attractive and scary. If you have enough savings or if you earn a lot of money, paying your credit card bill is not going to be an issue. But that’s not always the case.

Point tells you that you should ditch your credit card altogether. When you open a Point account, you can top it up with another debit card or set up direct deposits with your employer. Opening a Point account currently costs (Read more...)

Cajoo raises $40 million for its instant grocery delivery service



French startup Cajoo is raising some money in order to compete more aggressively in the new and highly competitive category of food delivery companies. Interestingly, the lead investor in today’s funding round is Carrefour, the supermarket giant. Headline (formerly e.ventures) is also participating in the round as well as existing investors Frst and XAnge.

Carrefour’s investment isn’t just a financial investment. Cajoo will take advantage of Carrefour’s purchasing organization. This way, Cajoo will be able to offer more products to its customers.

Cajoo is part of a group of startups that try to create a whole new category of grocery deliveries. The company operates dark stores and manages its own inventory of products. Customers can then order items without having to think whether they’ll be home when the delivery happens. Around 15 minutes later, a delivery person shows up with your groceries.

The startup competes with Getir, Gorillas, Flink, Zapp and a few others. It also indirectly competes with traditional retailers and their online ordering systems.

“It’s a category that is incredibly capital intensive,” co-founder and CEO Henri Capoul told me. “We own the entire value chain. If we want to expand, we have to launch hubs, we have to buy products.”

With $40 million on its bank account, Cajoo now wants to solidify its strong market position in its home country. The service is currently live in 10 French cities — Paris, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Levallois-Perret, Boulogne-Billancourt, Lille, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Montpellier.

And yet, the company is (Read more...)