Category: API

An open-source alternative to Google’s firebase – Our investment in Appwrite’s $10M seed round


This post is by Polina Stavrovski from Seedcamp


At Seedcamp, we are energised by the wave of open source companies that have emerged in the tech ecosystem over the last few years. Appwrite is no exception to this rule. When we first reached out cold to Appwrite’s founder Eldad Fux and he pitched us his grand ambitions, we immediately knew we were meeting a force to be reckoned with. Eldad’s vision for becoming the go-to platform for developer needs resonated with us. Today, we are delighted to see Appwrite announce a $10 million seed round led by Bessemer Venture Partners and Flybridge, with participation from us at Seedcamp and Ibex Investors. Appwrite is a self-hosted solution that provides developers with a set of easy-to-integrate REST APIs to manage their core backend needs, and to accelerate their application development through a flexible plug-and-play solution. 

Appwrite has had significant success so far in growing its community: it is one of the fastest-growing open source projects on GitHub with over 10,000 stars, more than 30,000 developers joining the Appwrite community in just the last four months and more than 250 code contributors around the globe. What we like about Appwrite (apart from Eldad’s smile) is that it is both cross-platform and technology-agnostic, meaning it can run on any operating system, coding language, framework, or platform. You can integrate Appwrite directly with your client app and use it behind your custom backend or alongside your custom backend server. 

Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel, Eldad began his career by contributing to (Read more...)

Our investment in Liveblocks $1.4m pre-seed round to make any product collaborative in minutes


This post is by Polina Stavrovski from Seedcamp


All product teams have experienced the frustration of not being able to build collaboratively in real-time with team members. Liveblocks is on a mission to solve this pain point. Remote collaboration is now table stakes for any productivity app, and Liveblocks makes that trivial to implement. We’re excited to announce our pre-seed investment in Liveblocks, alongside Boldstart and a great group of angel investors including Moritz Plassnig (Seedcamp Entrepreneur in Residence!).

Liveblocks’s vision stands in the belief that the next generation of SaaS products are all going to be collaborative in real-time, and their goal is to help companies make that transition more easily. Their first unique API offering that was released in July, is a live presence block API. Product builders can integrate the API into the product with just a few lines of code, and team members will be able to see when someone is on the same page or product, as well as everyone’s cursor position, or text and content selection. Other products in the pipeline include online forms, virtual office, video editing tools, as well as a wide range of features including UI tools, 3D Design tools and presentation tools.

We were super impressed with the team’s background and vision. Previously, Steven ran Easee, a web animation tool that was acquired by Invision. This led him to work on design systems and tooling at Facebook messenger, and he also runs Gifmock, a tool used by thousands of people and enterprises to create Gifs. Guillaume is (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...)

Our investment in Sikoia’s $2.3M seed round to cut through the Fintech noise with a plug & play data and API platform


This post is by Polina Stavrovski from Seedcamp


Sikoia Co-Founders from left to right: Alastair Bulger (CCO), Harry Singh (Technical Director), Alexis Rog (CEO), and Stephen Simmons (Chief Data Officer)

The financial ecosystem is a tricky one. Many different entities have to interact with tedious workflows that make transparent and data-driven decision-making difficult. Sikoia aims to solve this by acting as the unified data platform for financial services to reduce regulatory risk and enable faster decision making. Sikoia’s modular enterprise platform supports various enterprises such as tech companies, lenders, advisers, and fintechs through purpose-built workflows, offering 100+ APIs to pick and choose from, as well as millions of data points to support enterprises’ decision-making. 

We’re beyond excited to back the Sikoia team along with Earlybird and industry angels including Raffael Johnen (CEO of Auxmoney), Fabian Weseman (CFO of Wefox), and Charlie Delingpole (CEO of ComplyAdvantage). 

“Thousands of APIs are opening siloed data sources globally at a rapid pace, but the explosion in the number of touchpoints has created significant complexity and it’s increasingly difficult to integrate this dynamic ecosystem in existing back-end systems and processes,” Alexis Rog, CEO and co-founder of Sikoia, said. “We couldn’t find a comprehensive solution that didn’t require complex manual configuration and lengthy integration. So we decided to build it.” 

With over fifty years of experience in financial technology between Alexis, Stephen, Alastair and Harry, we are convinced that this is the best team to help cut through the noise of an increasingly fragmented Fintech service provider landscape. The four founders’ professional careers are (Read more...)

Balance raises $25M in a Ribbit Capital-led Series A to grow its ‘consumer-like B2B checkout platform’



Balance, a payments platform aimed at B2B merchants and marketplaces, has raised $25 million in a Series A funding round led by Ribbit Capital.

Avid Ventures participated in the financing, in addition to existing backers Lightspeed Ventures, Stripe, Y Combinator Continuity Fund, SciFi VC and UpWest. Other individual investors that put money in the round include early employees and executives from Plaid, Coinbase, Square, Stripe and PayPal, such as Jaqueline Reses, formerly head of Square Capital. The financing comes just over six months after Balance announced a $5.5 million seed round.

The motivation for starting the company was simple, said CEO and co-founder Bar Geron: “We wanted to create an online B2B experience that doesn’t suck.” He and Yoni Shuster, both former PayPal employees, started the company in early 2020.

B2B payments, he said, have historically differed from B2C primarily in that they have not taken place at the moment of purchase (or at the point of sale) but rather within 30 days and with an invoice. This is not an efficient process for merchants or vendors alike, the company maintains.

Meanwhile, most businesses have avoided paying for their supply with credit cards, because cards can quickly max out, Geron said.

“The only element that keeps many merchants offline is payments,” he told TechCrunch. “It’s a process that is stuck in the flow of those marketplaces and keeping them from scaling. We got fascinated with the problem.”

Ramp and Brex draw diverging market plans with M&A strategies



Earlier today, spend management startup Ramp said it has raised a $300 million Series C that valued it $3.9 billion. It also said it was acquiring Buyer, a “negotiation-as-a-service” platform that it believes will help customers save money on purchases and SaaS products.

The round and deal were announced just a week after competitor Brex shared news of its own acquisition — the $50 million purchase of Israeli fintech startup Weav. That deal was made after Brex’s founders invested in Weav, which offers a “universal API for commerce platforms”.

From a high level, all of the recent deal-making in corporate cards and spend management shows that it’s not enough to just help companies track what employees are expensing these days. As the market matures and feature sets begin to converge, the players are seeking to differentiate themselves from the competition.

But the point of interest here is these deals can tell us where both companies think they can provide and extract the most value from the market.

These differences come atop another layer of divergence between the two companies: While Brex has instituted a paid software tier of its service, Ramp has not.

Earning more by spending less

Let’s start with Ramp. Launched in 2019, the company is a relative newcomer in the spend management category. But by all accounts, it’s producing some impressive growth numbers. As our colleague Mary Ann Azevedo wrote this morning:

Since the beginning of 2021, the company says it has seen its number (Read more...)

Givz raises $3M in seed funding to make donations a marketing tool for businesses



Givz, which has developed an API-powered platform that gives brands a way to convert discounts into donations, has raised $3 million in seed funding.

Eniac and Accomplice co-led the financing for the New York-based startup. Additional investors include Supernode Ventures, Claude Wasserstein of Fine Day, Phoenix Club and Dylan Whitman.

Givz was founded in 2017 to make charitable giving more accessible and convenient for the masses. In March 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the company pivoted from B2C to B2B and used the technology rails it had built to create the e-commerce marketing platform that Givz is today.

The company aims to drive “full-price purchasing behavior” by giving consumers the ability to convert the money they would be saving if getting a discount, and donating it to their favorite charities. 

Prior to the funding, Givz had been working with more than 80 enterprise, mid-market and SMB retail and e-commerce clients such as H&M, Tom Brady’s TB12, Seedlip and Terez, and accumulated more than 40,000 individual users. Since the shift last year, the company has helped drive more than $1 million to 1,100 charities, according to CEO and founder Andrew Forman.

It just launched on Shopify, which Forman says will give the startup access to the 1.7 million retailers that use Shopify as their e-commerce platform.

Givz operates under the premise that “donation-driven marketing” consistently outperforms discounts and costs less, “making it an attractive addition” to corporate marketing.

“We are creating a new marketing category and generating the (Read more...)

Early Affirm employees raise $70M for SentiLink, an identity verification startup



SentiLink, an identity verification technology startup, has raised $70 million in a Series B funding round led by Craft Ventures.

Felicis Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and NYCA also participated in the financing, which brings the company’s total raised to $85 million since its 2017 inception. The company declined to reveal at what valuation the money was raised, saying only it was “at a very high multiple” of its 2019 $15 million Series A led by a16z.

Naftali Harris and Max Blumenfeld founded SentiLink in mid-2017 after their experience working as data scientists at Affirm, where they built out the company’s risk function. At one point during their tenure at the installment loan provider, they came across a “peculiar” fraud case, where 12 identities applied for loans using the same name and date of birth but 12 different Social Security numbers. 

The pair was surprised to discover that all 12 of the identities had real credit reports with 750+ credit scores despite not being real people. It was then they realized how big a problem identity verification was and how poorly it was done, and founded SentiLink with Affirm CEO and founder Max Levchin’s blessing and investment.

San Francisco-based SentiLink aims to help banks, lenders and financial institutions detect fraud at the point of application through a real-time API. Specifically, those APIs detect fake and stolen identities for new account applications. For example, before a bank issues a new credit card, it will send the application information to SentiLink. SentiLink’s (Read more...)

Search API startup Algolia raises $150 million at $2.25 billion valuation



Algolia has raised a $150 million Series D funding round at a post-money valuation of $2.25 billion. Compared to the Series C round from October 2019, the company’s valuation has more than quadrupled. It means that Algolia is now a unicorn with a valuation above $1 billion.

The company is best known for its search-as-a-service product. It lets you integrate real-time search in your app or website using a developer-friendly API. Using an Algolia-powered search feature feels like using Spotlight on a Mac. Results load with each keystroke and appear in just a few milliseconds.

The company now has over 10,000 customers, including some big names, such as Slack, Stripe, Medium, Zendesk and Lacoste. Right now, the company handles over 1.5 trillion search queries per year — that’s a 1,500,000,000,000 if you want to see all the zeros.

Lone Pine Capital is leading today’s funding round. Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, STEADFAST Capital Ventures, Glynn Capital and Twilio also participated in the round. But that’s not all, some existing investors also put more money on the table, such as Accel, Salesforce Ventures, DAG, Owl Rock and World Innovation Lab.

While the company doesn’t share revenue numbers directly, Algolia says that its annual recurring revenue has increased by 180% year over year.

“The future is API-first – a reality underscored by the growth seen by Twilio, Stripe, Algolia and others in the API economy. A huge part of our success has, and will continue to be, our relentless focus (Read more...)

Contentful raises $175M at a $3B valuation from Tiger for its content delivery service



Contentful this morning announced a $175 million Series F round of capital, led by Tiger Global, valuing the unicorn at around $3 billion. Contentful, formerly known as a UI-free content management system (headless CMS), now views itself in a broader light. More simply, Contentful provides customers with a service that will deliver images, words, and other content to their applications and websites around the world, quickly.

According to the company, Tidemark and Base10 Advancement Initiative were added to its cap table in the round, which also saw participation from previous investors. Prior to the round that Contentful announced today, its most recent fundraising event was an $80 million Series E led by Sapphire Ventures in June 2020.

PitchBook data indicates that that round was raised at a roughly $550 million valuation, while our reporting at the time of the company’s Series E includes the tidbit that “a Contentful spokesperson [told TechCrunch] that [the company was] approaching a $1 billion” valuation. Split the difference and it’s clear that Contentful’s new valuation is a multiple of what the company was worth a year ago.

But before we dig into metrics and results — or really a lack thereof — let’s take a minute to chat through Contenful’s business.

What does it do?

TechCrunch caught up with Contentful’s CEO, Steve Sloan (previously of Twilio and Bessemer), and its comms connect, Brian Spittler (previously of Podium), to dig more into its products.

Sloan explained Contentful by analogy, saying that as Twilio served the communications (Read more...)