Inspirations

  • Vlocity nabs $60M Series C investment on $1B valuation

    As we wrote last week in How Salesforce paved the way for the SaaS platform approach, the ability to build extensions, applications and even whole companies on top of the Salesforce platform set the stage and the bar for every SaaS company since. Vlocity certainly recognized that. Targeting five verticals, it built industry-specific CRM solutions on the Salesforce platform, and today it announced a $60 million Series C round on a fat unicorn $1 billion valuation. The round was led by Sutter Hill Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. New investors Bessemer Venture Partners and existing strategic investors Accenture and New York Life also participated. The company has now raised $163 million. Company co-founder Craig Ramsey whose extensive career includes stints with Siebel Systems, Oracle and Veeva Systems, says he and his co-founders wanted to take the idea of Veeva, which is a life sciences-focused company built on top of Salesforce, and extend that idea across five verticals, instead o...

  • Europe’s high-growth ecosystem is strong, and weathering global storms

    Around 10 years of ecosystem development has left European high-growth companies in a much stronger position counter their global rivals, according to new research from the FT and Statista dubbed the FT 1000. And in the realm of tech startups, they continue to create the software which is, famously, eating the world. Despite trade wars, Brexit, and a European economic slowdown, tech companies in Europe are still thriving. In fact, some are positively booming. Key companies names in the list included Deliveroo, Taxifym, Darktrac, Buzzoole and Perkbox. As the report implies, tech is simply in a different economy to the normal economy and the reasons are simple: Disrupters are better protected even if economic conditions deteriorate because many are created simply to take market share from incumbent businesses. Even as these incumbent businesses feel the headwinds of the real economy, tech companies are side-stepping them, whether it be via AI, automation or just sheer faster growth. The ...

  • Uber is paying $3.1BN to pick up Middle East rival Careem

    After months and months of rumors it’s finally been confirmed that ride-hailing giant Uber is picking up its Middle East rival Careem in an acquisition deal worth $3.1 billion — with $1.7BN to be paid in convertible notes and $1.4BN in cash. Uber writes that it expects the transaction to close in Q1 2020, pending applicable regulatory approvals. It says it will acquire all of Careem’s mobility, delivery, and payments businesses across the greater Middle East region, which it notes ranges from Morocco to Pakistan. Major markets for Careem are stated to include Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, with the business operating in 120 cities across 15 countries in total. The startup has raised around $772M to date, according to Crunchbase, with investors including Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holdings, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing and Japanese tech giant Rakuten. It was founded as a ride-hailing Uber rival in 2012 but has since dive...

  • Apple TV+ makes Facebook Watch look like a joke

    Apple flexed its wallet today in a way Facebook has been scared to do. Tech giants make money by the billions, not the millions, which should give them an easy way to break into premium video distribution: buy some must-see content. That’s the strategy I’ve been advocating for Facebook but that Apple actually took to heart. Tim Cook wrote lines of zeros on some checks, and suddenly Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Oprah became the well-known faces of Apple TV+. Facebook Watch has…MTV’s The Real World? The other Olsen sister? Re-runs of Buffy The Vampire Slayer? Actually, Facebook Watch is dominated by the kind of low-quality viral video memes the social network announced it would kick out of its News Feed for wasting people’s time. And so while Apple TV+ at least has a solid base camp from which to make the uphill climb to compete with Netflix, Facebook Watch feels like it’s tripping over its own feet. Today, Ap...

  • Abundant’s apple harvesting robots get their first commercial deployment

    We’ve been writing about Abundant Robotics for roughly three years at this point. Now the SRI spin out is finally ready for primetime. Abundant announced this week that New Zealand-based T&G Global will be using its robots to harvest apples. Abundant says the news is part of a plan to be involved in year-round picking, by teaming with companies in both hemispheres, starting with this first deployment in New Zealand. “Developing an automated apple harvester requires solving a number of complex technical problems in parallel, from visually identifying harvestable fruit and physically manipulating it to pick without bruising, to safely navigating the orchard itself,” Abundant CEO Dan Steere said in a press release tied to the announcement. “Our relationship with growers and access to real-world conditions on partner orchards through the development and testing process has been key to getting the technology to the point where it is now commercially viable.” Abundant’s bee...