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Tue, 30 Oct 2018 12:00:10 +0000
Zynga – TechCrunch

HeadSpin has closed a $20 million Series B, valuing the provider of mobile application performance software at $500 million. New investors ICONIQ Capital, Battery Ventures and EQT Ventures participated in the funding round. Existing backers GV, Telstra Ventures, Danhua Capital, Nexus Ventures Partners and NextWorld Capital did not participate.

The company emerged from stealth last year with Manish Lachwani at the helm. Lachwani was the former principal architect of the Amazon Kindle, chief technology officer of mobile gaming company Zynga and co-founder and chief technology officer of Google-acquired Appurify, which helped developers automate testing and optimization of their mobile apps and websites.

He’s been in the application performance management business for a long time; under his leadership, Palo Alto-based HeadSpin has quickly grown into one of the fastest growing, though relatively unknown, startups in Silicon Valley.

“What HeadSpin has been able to achieve in its first three years is remarkable, and it has already attracted dozens of major clients across the mobile ecosystem,” ICONIQ partner Will Griffith said in a statement. “The company is quickly becoming the new standard of record for all mobile ecosystem players going forward. It’s one of the fastest-scaling software companies we’ve seen.”

HeadSpin works with Tinder, DocuSign and some 200 other app providers, allowing the companies to test and monitor their apps in real time and on real devices before, during and after an app is released. The AI-enabled platform gives developers the ability to experience their app just as any regular user would and highlights high-priority issues so companies can quickly resolve customer’s problems at scale.

Founded in 2015, HeadSpin says it expects to double revenue in 2018 but did not disclose any financial metrics.

Chief technology officer Brien Colwell is the other half of the company’s founding team. Colwell is the founder and former CEO of Nextop.io, a Y Combinator graduate and app optimization startup. Colwell and Lachwani are joined by HeadSpin’s head of product Sriram Krishnan, Tinder’s former head of international growth. Krishnan joined HeadSpin in October 2017 after working with HeadSpin’s toolset in his role at the app-based dating company.

“When I signed up for HeadSpin, I found out how phenomenal the product was,” Krishnan told TechCrunch .

“A lot of what we built was predicated on the fact that the mobile ecosystem is still very new,” he added. “If you think about the apps world, it’s only been around 10 years … It’s the Wild West out there when it comes to understanding performance.”

Thu, 27 Sep 2018 14:45:40 +0000
Investors say HeadSpin, valued at $500M, is ‘one of the fastest-scaling software companies’ ever

Cargo, the startup that helps ridesharing drivers earn money by bringing the convenience store into their vehicles, has raised $22 million in a Series A round led by Founders Fund.

Additional investment came from Coatue Management, Aquiline Technology Growth and a number of  high-profile entertainment, gaming and technology executives that include Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Twitch’s former CSO Colin Carrier, media investor Vivi Nevo, former NBA commissioner David Stern, Def Jam Records CEO Paul Rosenberg, Steve Aoki, Maria Shriver and Patrick and Christina Schwarzenegger.

To date, Cargo has raised $30 million in venture funding. As part of this latest round, Founders Fund partner Cyan Banister is joining the board.

Cargo provides qualified ridesharing drivers with free boxes filled with the kinds of goods you might find in a convenience store, including snacks and phone chargers. Riders can use Cargo’s mobile web menu on their smartphones (without downloading an app) to buy what they need. Cargo has previously partnered with Kellogg’s, Starbucks and Mars Wrigley Confectionery — companies looking for ways to market their goods to consumers.

“In just a few years, ridesharing has evolved from a niche service to an indispensable element of our global transportation system,” Banister said in a statement. “Founders Fund is excited to support Cargo in driving the next evolution: a better on-trip experience for riders and new revenue generating opportunities for drivers.” 

The round follows Cargo’s partnership with Uber and an international licensing deal with Grab. The company, which was founded in 2017, has activated more than 12,000 drivers across 10 cities.

Cargo says it will use the capital to scale its business in the U.S. and internationally. It’s also working on new digital services — a development Banister eludes to — that will improve users on-trip experience. The strategic investments from gaming and entertainment executives is designed to help Cargo develop those digital services for riders.

“Our default behavior in an Uber is to shop, play games and listen to music on our phone. Riders have ordered more than two million products and today transact with us every five seconds,” Cargo founder and CEO Jeff Cripe said in a statement. “We brought riders instant commerce, now we’ll help them discover and enjoy games, music, and entertainment on one in-car platform.”

Existing Cargo investors participating in the round include CRCM Ventures, Rosecliff Ventures, Kellogg’s eighteen94 capital, RiverPark Ventures, and former Uber executives including Chief Business Officer Emil Michael, New York City General Manager Josh Mohrer and former West Coast General Manager William Barnes.

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Wed, 08 Aug 2018 06:23:42 +0000
In-car commerce startup Cargo raises $22 million led by Founders Fund

Hansel, an India-based startup that enables more agile product development inside companies, has pulled in $4 million as it seeks to expand its business to the U.S..

The startup was founded in 2015 and it operates a real-time mobile app development platform that simplifies the process of product iteration inside companies. That’s to say that once a product is launched there’s a lot of work that is done to develop it, test new ideas and optimize but many companies overlook the process or lump it with the general engineering, which includes initial product development.

Hansel argues that product development and iteration are different, and its wider aim is to enable dedicated ‘product ops’ inside companies that until now never considered the process to be distinct from app development, or perhaps don’t have the budget.

“Product iteration is often neglected as people want to move to the next thing, but that means product building is only half done,” Varun Ramamurthy, CEO of Hansel, told TechCrunch in an interview. “We want to significantly accelerate product iteration and provide a platform for ‘product ops.'”

“Big firms like Facebook and Uber champion product ops teams inside their business but they have already built the infrastructure and have dedicated specialists. That allows them to move at breakneck on launched product and features, their competitive advantage is speed to market,” he added.

The Hansel ‘Lake’ platform is a single repository that decouples product development from the code itself, allowing teams to create a range of different experiences — iterations — that can be pushed out to different user segments. The company charges users based on end-user numbers, such as monthly active user bases,  but it also includes customized pricing for some premium features, too.

Ramamurthy is formerly of Zynga in the U.S. among other places, and he met his Hansel co-founders Mudit Krishna Mathur and Parminder Singh while the trio were at Flipkart, the Indian e-commerce giant.

“We got together at Flipkart and saw a huge difference in speed between Facebook, other top firms and the rest of the world,” Ramamurthy recalled. “When it comes to speed of personalization and iterations of product, the rest of the industry had a lot of catch up. We want to help separate iterations and personalization from general engineering… today it is all confused.”

Hansel founders Varun Ramamurthy, Parminder Singh and Mudit Krishna Mathur

The startup has focused on India to date where Ramamurthy said it has large mid-market companies and enterprises as clients, including Uber rival Ola, Paytm and Magicpin. That work has given the team of 23 people a good grounding on what to expect for clients, how to work with them and how to package its service, and now the next phase is to do more business in North America.

Hansel is using the new funding to open an office in the Bay Area, where it has recruited its first two hires to drive business development and sales. Ramamurthy himself plans to spend more time in the U.S. as part of the effort, which will also see a product marketing team hired Stateside. R&D and product development will remain anchored out of Hansel’s India office.

This new round takes Hansel to $5.4 million raised to date. Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia and India led this Series A with participation from existing backers IDG Ventures India and Endiya Partners.

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Wed, 16 May 2018 04:13:15 +0000
India’s Hansel raises $4M to bring its app development platform to the US

Mercari, the eBay-like service that is Japanese first tech startup unicorn, has filed to go public in an IPO that could raise as much as $1.1 billion.

The company is scheduled to list on the Toyko Stock Exchange’s Mothers Market — a board for high-growth companies — on June 19.

The company reached the symbolic $1 billion valuation mark in 2016 when it raised a $75 million Series D. In doing so it became the first Japanese tech startup to become a pre-IPO unicorn. Earlier this year, that valuation jumped to $2 billion following a $47 million investment.

The five-year-old company operates an online ‘flea market’ that lets consumers sell unwanted goods with a focus on mobile.

Japan is its core market, but the company expanded into the U.S. in 2014 and last year it entered Europe, initially via the UK. It boosted its overseas strategy in June 2017 when it hired former Facebook executive John Lagerling as its first chief business officer to guide its global strategy.

The business passed 100 million downloads worldwide at the end of 2017. Mercari said that over 30 million downloads are in the U.S., with more than 60 million in Japan. Speaking earlier this year, CEO Shintaro Yamada — who sold his previous startup Unoh to gaming firm Zynga in 2010 — said success in the U.S. is essential if Mercari is to become an international player.

Reuters reports that Mercari’s forecasted share price of 2,200-2,700 JPY per share would see the company raise up to 117.6 billion JPY ($1.1 billion) at a total market cap of 365.4 billion JPY, $3.3 billion.

It’s common for Japanese startups to go public, but it traditionally tends to happen much earlier than in the U.S or other parts of the world. That’s often times down to investors — who seek to reduce the risk of their money not returning — and a relative lack of capital for startups, but Mercari has held out longer than most and that might set an example for future companies.

For another thing, the return on investment is impressive for many of Mercari’s backers, according to data from 500 Startups partner Yohei Sawayama — who tweeted out JPY estimates for potential returns.

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