YC-backed travel startup Duffel inks $4.7M round led by Blossom Capital, but stays coy on the details

A new London-based travel-industry startup is slowly coming out of stealth mode, but although it’s releasing it’s funding round, it’s keeping the actual product close to its chest. For now. Y Combinator -backed travel startup Duffel says it is working on “a new way to book travel online, aiming at the booking experience “end to […]

A new London-based travel-industry startup is slowly coming out of stealth mode, but although it’s releasing it’s funding round, it’s keeping the actual product close to its chest. For now.

Y Combinator -backed travel startup Duffel says it is working on “a new way to book travel online, aiming at the booking experience “end to end”. A hint at what this might mean is the fact that the team contains alumni from GoCardless and is objectively very experienced in the FinTech world.

So far, that’s all we’re getting. But what we do know is that Duffel is today announcing an investment round of $4.7 million.

Blossom Capital is the lead investor in the round and has built a syndicate with other major investors: The Crankstart Foundation and Index Ventures. Crankstart is the charitable investment vehicle of Michael Moritz .

It’s also revealed that it’s currently participating in the Y Combinator S18 Cohort.

The UK headquartered company was founded by two former early GoCardless employees: Steve Domin and Tom Bates, as well as Vincent Pastor. Steve and Tom join the list of GoCardless-alumni startups, which include the founders of Monzo and Nested. They say the money will be used to expand their engineering team in London.

Steve Domin, founder of Duffel said: “We are building a platform from scratch that will completely redefine the nature of travel experiences booked on web or mobile. The travel industry hasn’t evolved its technology to service the demand and behaviours of its most important customers and the providers – airlines, hotels, transport companies – and their customers are hurting as a result. Travel agents still work on terminals that look like they’re from the 70s and travel buyers still have to browse 10 websites before finding that perfect fare. This shouldn’t be the case any more and we’re planning to solve this issue from the ground up.”

Commenting Blossom Capital founder Ophelia Brown said: “The Duffel team have very ambitious plans to completely reinvent the travel space, so we are very excited to support them in their mission. Similar to payments, before the emergence of next-gen companies like Adyen or Stripe, this is an industry that hasn’t witnessed innovation in decades, still running on antiquated rails and infrastructure. We see huge opportunity for innovation in this multi-trillion dollar industry.”

This is the second firm London-based Blossom has invested in straight out of Y Combinator. Recent investments include Fat Llama, an online marketplace for renting belongings like audio, video, sound and DJ equipment.

Adyen charges ahead in its first earnings as a public company, with H1 revenues up 67% to $298M

After Adyen’s huge debut on the public markets in June that saw the stock go up 92 percent on its first day of trading, the company today published its first earnings as a publicly listed business. The figures underscore to how Adyen — which provides services to merchants and others to power both online and offline […]

After Adyen’s huge debut on the public markets in June that saw the stock go up 92 percent on its first day of trading, the company today published its first earnings as a publicly listed business. The figures underscore to how Adyen — which provides services to merchants and others to power both online and offline transactions — continues to charge ahead in its growth. In the first half of the year, Adyen made revenues of €256.4 million ($298 million), up 67.3 percent compared to a year ago, with net income of €48.2 million, up 74.6 percent.

For some context, in the year that ended December 31, 2017, Adyen generated net revenues of €218 million, up 38 percent compared to 2016. In other words, in the first half of this year, Adyen has already made more than it did in all of the year before.

The stock is currently trading at €574 per share, versus a close of €548.10 the day before.

Adyen said it processed €70 billion in transactions in the period, up 43.1 percent compared to the same period a year ago. This puts it on track to grow processed volumes by about 50 percent for the full year. (Last year’s processed volume was €108 billion.)

Ebitda was €70.3 million, up 83.1 percent, with a margin of 44.9 percent. This was down slightly on last year’s margin, which Adyen ascribed to “continued investment in global team and marketing.”

As we’ve described before, Adyen’s business is predicted on the continued growth of e-commerce, and also the the increasing digitisation of in-person payments that link up data between offline and online transactions.

In each of these cases, merchants or others taking payments — Adyen’s customers include the likes of Netflix, Uber, eBay and Dunkin’ Donuts — potentially have to string together a number of different pieces to not only take payments, but to process them and use the data from them to inform wider business decisions. Adeyn’s solution essentially is to handle all of that for its customers, in order to make the process of taking payments from customers more efficient.

Through our single platform, we provide a holistic view of payments, regardless of sales channel, delivering unique shopper insights while combating fraud and improving payment authorization rates,” the company notes.

The company was built originally on solving the hurdles around digital payments — an area that still has a long way to go, considering that e-commerce is still around 10 percent or less of all transactions across many key markets. But Adyen’s more recent move into physical transactions has been a large boost to business, with point-of-sale processed volumes up 120 percent year-on-year to €6.6 billion. Nevertheless, POS payments accounted for just 9.4 percent of total processed volume, the company noted.

Adyen has been one of the most successful IPOs of the year, and is a reminder that, despite Square still yet to post a net income, there is a lot of opportunity for strong business models in financial services that disrupt existing providers. (And that goes for Square too, despite its profitability for now.) Adyen still has a long way to go before it’s the category leader. While it gave a less positive outlook for future quarters, PayPal in the last quarter alone noted $139 billion in payments processed, as well as $3.86 billion in revenue, on net income of $526 million.

 

Felicis Ventures has a new, $270 million fund, and a new managing director: Victoria Treyger

Felicis Ventures, the early-stage, San Francisco-based venture firmed founded a dozen or so years ago by former Googler Aydin Senkut, has closed its sixth fund with $270 million. It’s Felicis’s biggest vehicle to date (the firm closed its last fund with $200 million in 2016). Yet even bigger news for the team may be its […]

Felicis Ventures, the early-stage, San Francisco-based venture firmed founded a dozen or so years ago by former Googler Aydin Senkut, has closed its sixth fund with $270 million.

It’s Felicis’s biggest vehicle to date (the firm closed its last fund with $200 million in 2016). Yet even bigger news for the team may be its new managing director, Victoria Treyger, who spent the last six-plus years as the chief revenue office of the online lending company Kabbage and before that, spent a couple of years as the chief marketing officer of RingCentral, the cloud phone system company.

It’s easy to understand the attraction on both sides. Treyger gives the firm greater strength when it comes to marketing and fintech know-how. According to Senkut, Treyger is also acutely interested in health-related opportunities, which, not coincidentally, is a growing area of interest for the firm.

Indeed, he argues, persuasively, Treyger was being courted aggressively from operating companies wanting to tap her experience as a C-level executive at two separate but fast-growing companies.

That Treyger decided to pursue venture capital surely speaks to an interest in the industry broadly. But Felicis seems like a particularly good fit for her, too. For one thing, Treyger “basically has an equal spot at the table,” according to Senkut. This isn’t always the case with a new hire into a venture firm, even at the most senior level.

Treyger also joins a now four-person leadership team — including Senkut, Sundeep Peechu, and Wesley Chan — that has, in the parlance of the startup world, been crushing it.

Already in 2018, the firm has seen three major exits, including when Adyen, the Amsterdam-based payments platform, went public in June (it currently boasts a $16.3 billion market cap); when Pluralsight, the corporate learning platform, went public on the Nasdaq in May (it’s currently valued at just north of $3 billion); and when Ring, the video doorbell maker, was acquired in March by Amazon for $1 billion.

Felicis can — and does — further brag that has enjoyed a $1 billion(ish) exit in each of the last seven years. The full list includes: Meraki (acquired for $1.2 billion by Cisco in 2012); Climate Corp (which sold in 2013 to Monsanto for roughly $930 million); Twitch (acquired for $970 million in 2014 Amazon); Shopify (it went public in 2015); Fitbit (it also went public in 2015); Cruise (it was acquired by General Motors for reportedly more than $1 billion in 2016); Dollar Shave Club (acquired for $1 billion by Unilever in 2016); and Rovio (which went public last year).

How was the firm pulled off what seem like an outsize number of hits for a small and relatively young organization? Senkut says one central tenet for the firm is resiliency, meaning Felicis works to ensure that it’s portfolio is “anti fragile,” as described by essayist, scholar, and risk analyst Nassim Taleb, in his 2012 book about “things that gain from disorder.”

As it pertains to Felicis, Senkut says, “We basically want to have many uncorrelated bets — across stages, sectors and geographies — so that no matter what happens in the world, some part of our portfolio is always poised to win.”

The strategy, which has since the firm invest everywhere from Canada to Australia and in between, has certainly paid off so far.

Though early last year Felicis lost its first female general partner, Renata Quinitini, to venture peer Lux Capital (she said her interests and Lux’s began to align better over time),  Felicis describes its newest fund as “oversubscribed.” It’s an easy claim to believe, given the amount of money that investors are looking to park with venture firms, and the performance to date of Felicis in particular.

Still, taking on more investing capital was not a consideration, says Senkut. Asked why not, he laughs. “We know our strike zone,” he says.