Paperspace scores $13M investment for AI-fueled application development platform

Paperspace wants to help developers build artificial intelligence and machine learning applications with a software/hardware development platform powered by GPUs and other powerful chips. Today, the Winter 2015 Y Combinator grads announced a $13 million Series A. Battery Ventures led the round with participation from SineWave Ventures, Intel Capital and Sorenson Ventures. Existing investor Initialized […]

Paperspace wants to help developers build artificial intelligence and machine learning applications with a software/hardware development platform powered by GPUs and other powerful chips. Today, the Winter 2015 Y Combinator grads announced a $13 million Series A.

Battery Ventures led the round with participation from SineWave Ventures, Intel Capital and Sorenson Ventures. Existing investor Initialized Capital also participated. Today’s investment brings the total amount to $19 million raised.

Dharmesh Thakker, a general partner with Battery Ventures sees Paperspace as being in the right place at the time. As AI and machine learning take off, developers need a set of tools and GPU-fueled hardware to process it all. “Major silicon, systems and Web-scale computing providers need a cloud-based solution and software ‘glue’ to make deep learning truly consumable by data-driven organizations, and Paperspace is helping to provide that,” Thakker said in a statement.

Paperspace provides its own GPU-powered servers to help in this regard, but co-founder and CEO Dillon Erb says they aren’t trying to compete with the big cloud vendors. They offer more than a hardware solution to customers. Last spring, the company released Gradient, a serverless tool to make it easier to deploy and manage AI and machine learning workloads.

By making Gradient a serverless management tool, customers don’t have to think about the underlying infrastructure. Instead, Paperspace handles all of that for them providing the resources as needed. “We do a lot of GPU compute, but the big focus right now and really where the investors are buying into with this fundraise, is the idea that we are in a really unique position to build out a software layer and abstract a lot of that infrastructure away [for our customers],” Erb told TechCrunch.

He says that building some of the infrastructure was an important early step, but they aren’t trying to compete with the cloud vendors. They are trying to provide a set of tools to help developers build complex AI and machine learning/deep learning applications, whether it’s on their own infrastructure or on the mainstream cloud providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

What’s more, they have moved beyond GPUs to support a range of powerful chips being developed to support AI and machine learning workloads. It’s probably one of the reasons that Intel joined as an investor in this round.

He says the funding is definitely a validation of something they set out to work on when they first started this in 2014 and launched out of Y Combinator in 2015. Back then he had to explain what a GPU was in his pitch decks. He doesn’t have to do that anymore, but there is still plenty of room to grow in this space.

“It’s really a greenfield opportunity, and we want to be the go-to platform that you can start building out into the intelligent applications without thinking about infrastructure.” With $13 million in hand, it’s safe to say that they are on their way.

Machinify raises $10 million to help businesses use AI to monetize data

Data is valuable — if you know how to access it and reap the insights from it. That’s where Machinify comes in. The artificial intelligence company just raised a $10 million Series A round led by Battery Ventures with participation from GV and Matrix Partners. “Our core notion is that today, enterprises are collecting a ton […]

Data is valuable — if you know how to access it and reap the insights from it. That’s where Machinify comes in. The artificial intelligence company just raised a $10 million Series A round led by Battery Ventures with participation from GV and Matrix Partners.

“Our core notion is that today, enterprises are collecting a ton of data,” Machinify founder and CEO Prasanna Ganesan told TechCrunch. “But if you look at how many of them are successful in turning it into smarter decision-making to drive efficiency, very few companies are succeeding.”

With Machinify, enterprise customers feed the system raw data, specify what they’re trying to optimize for — whether that be revenue or some other goal — and then the machine figures out what to do from there. Based on past decisions, the machine can figure out the right thing to do, Ganesan said.

A good example of how companies use Machinify is in the healthcare space, where businesses are using the tool to increase the accuracy and speed with which they process claims. By doing so, these companies have been able to increase revenue and reduce costs.

“Machinify is laser-focused on the critical operational issues created by the deployment of what we often call Software 2.0 within enterprises,” GV general partner Adam Ghoborah said in a statement. “Software 2.0 is software that is not written by humans like traditional software but is dynamically driven by AI models and large enterprise datasets. Software 2.0 requires a completely different approach, and we believe that the Machinify platform holds the key to unlocking its value.”

Tiger Global is in talks to invest in cryptocurrency unicorn Coinbase at $8B valuation

Coinbase may raise up to $500 million at an $8 billion valuation. The cryptocurrency trading platform has also announced two new high-level hires.

Days after reports emerged that Tiger Global had led the $245 million round for payments platform Stripe, the firm has set its sights on cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase.

The six-year-old company is in negotiations with Tiger Global to raise up to $500 million at an $8 billion valuation, per Recode.

Coinbase declined to comment on the deal.

Coinbase was most recently valued at $1.6 billion following a $100 million round in August 2017, though the company had previously valued itself at $8 billion amid acquisitions talks with cryptocurrency startup Earn, which it paid $120 million for in April.

Capital from the upcoming deal may be used to buy out shareholders. San Francisco-based Coinbase, a leading digital currency exchange, is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Ribbit Capital, Union Square Ventures, IVP, Spark Capital, Greylock Partners, Battery Ventures, Section 32, Draper Associates and several others. It’s raised $225 million in equity funding to date.

Tiger Global, for its part, is a hedge fund known for its crossover investments in emerging technology companies. The 16-year-old New York-based firm often writes sizeable checks in late-stage companies like Spotify, Ola and Flipkart. Lately, it’s also been busy writing smaller checks. In the last year, it’s led cannabis startup Green Bits’ $17 million Series A and participated in subscription billing and payment service Chargebee’s $18 million Series C.

According to PitchBook, Tiger Global has participated in 24 venture capital rounds so far in 2018.

This morning, Coinbase announced two new hires. The first is Jonathan Kellner, who joined as a managing director of its institutional coverage group. The former CEO of Instinet will lead institutional sales and support organizations and will focus on Coinbase’s effort to introduce cryptocurrency to hedge funds and other traditional institutional investors.

The second addition is Chris Dodds, who will join Coinbase’s board of directors. He currently serves on the board of Charles Schwab and is a senior advisor to The Carlyle Group.

Coinbase has made several additions to its c-suite this year as it enters a major growth phase and presumably preps for an IPO. Most recently, it brought on a former Fannie Mae exec Brian Brooks as its chief legal officer and LinkedIn’s Michael Li as its head of data.

 

Detroit’s StockX raises $44M from GV and Battery to expand marketplace internationally

StockX started as a marketplace for reselling sneakers but has since grown to be much more, bringing its transparent and anonymous marketplace to more verticals. Today the company is announcing a $44 million Series B that will help fuel international and domestic growth while letting the company expand to even more product categories and perhaps […]

StockX started as a marketplace for reselling sneakers but has since grown to be much more, bringing its transparent and anonymous marketplace to more verticals. Today the company is announcing a $44 million Series B that will help fuel international and domestic growth while letting the company expand to even more product categories and perhaps opening StockX stores.

The idea driving StockX is simple: Provide a marketplace with fair pricing and ensure the merchandise is authentic. The result scales to nearly day-trading in consumer goods in the same vein as oil futures. In some cases, the seller never touches the product. Sneakers and other in-demand products are priced and sold at rates set by the market rather than the seller. If a particular sneaker is in demand, the price increases.

StockX is among the fastest growing startups in Detroit and Michigan and currently employs 300 in Detroit and 50 in Tempe, Arizona. Founded in 2016 by CEO Josh Luber, COO Greg Schwartz and Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quick Loans, the company has scaled to see more than $2 million in daily transactions and 800,000 users have sold or purchased items on StockX. Today, at an event in Detroit, Luber told the audience that the company is approaching a billion dollar run-rate.

The company has never been capital contrasted and CEO and co-founder Josh Luber told TechCrunch that the company never thought they would have to turn to institutional financing. That’s the comfort of having a billionaire like Gilbert as a co-founder; Luber said Gilbert was always happy to fund StockX.

“We didn’t need money,” Luber told TechCrunch the day before this announcement, adding. “It was really about having external people that that we thought added truly different values than we had around the table.”

Right now the company’s main marketplace centers around sneakers but StockX is built around a platform that works for most ecommerce. It’s a $5 billion market worldwide. Last year the company also launched marketplaces for streetwear, handbags and watches — all verticals with a strong demand in the secondary market.

Scaling the service requires more bodies. Since everything sold on StockX is authenticated — in person — it takes more hands to authenticate more items. With that comes more customer service employees and as the company grows, StockX will need more engineers.

The company is already growing fast but Luber seems ready to double down. In March StockX had 130 people. Today, it’s at 415. He thinks. He confesses it could be a slightly more.

“We have about 50 engineers today and I would quadruple that tomorrow if I could,” he said. “We have about 50 customer service people today. I think it would be safe to double that tomorrow just because the business is growing so fast and we obviously hope it continues to grow as we scale.”

If StockX is going to scale, it needs more employees to ensure the company’s core ethos does not soften. The new round of funding will go far in bringing in the people Luber is seeking including additional members of the C-suite. StockX is running without a CTO, CMO, or CFO — pretty much the entire leadership suite, Luber admits.

It seems this is part of the reasoning behind the funding. The company was not seeking funding but, as Luber tells it, as the company gained attention, investors increasing reached out requesting meetings. Of the meetings they took, there were two firms that meshed with Luber’s vision of growing a marketplace.

The new round of funding comes from GV and Battery Ventures including several high-profile investors including DJ Steve Aoki; model and entrepreneur, Karlie Kloss; streetwear designer Don C; Salesforce founder chairman and co-CEO, Marc Benioff; Bob Mylod, founder and managing partner of Annox Capital; Shana Fisher, managing partner at Third Kind Venture Capital; and Jonathon Triest, managing partner of Ludlow Ventures — only Mylod and Triest are based in the Detroit area.

StockX says it intends to use the funding to expand internationally. Right now StockX only advertises in the US and only supports purchases in U.S. dollars. Going forward it intends to open up local versions of StockX to better support key markets with support for local currency, language and marketing. The company could also open location operations to make shipping and receiving easier and faster.

“In some of these countries, we have, a pretty decent customer base where people are tendered on a VPN,” Luber said. “There are pictures of people that walk around China with a StockX tag hanging off their shoe.”

Fifteen percent of StockX sales currently come from international buyers.

Of the four product categories StockX current sells, sneakers and streetwear make up the bulk of the sales. Before expanding to different verticals, Luber tells me there’s a lot of room for growth in each of the current categories but expanding means more employees.

For instance, each streetwear brand is essentially a sub-vertical, he says, adding that if the company launches a new brand StockX has to assemble a staff around it with brand expertise to build the catalog and product authentication process.

StockX is not ready to announce what other type of products it might sell. Street art seems like one they’re exploring.

Despite the growth, Luber remains committed to Detroit. He said the company will always be headquartered in Detroit and was proud to point to the fact that StockX was the second largest tenant in Dan Gilbert’s marquee Detroit building, One Campus Martius. The company also operates a 30,000 square foot facility in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

StockX could come to other cities though, Luber says. The company is talking about what a StockX “in-real-life” experience would look like: It could be retail, a brand experience, accepting products to be sold or additional operation centers. The company is exploring all the obvious candidates including LA, NYC, San Francisco and Portland.

Detroit’s StockX raises $44M from GV and Battery to expand marketplace internationally

StockX started as a marketplace for reselling sneakers but has since grown to be much more, bringing its transparent and anonymous marketplace to more verticals. Today the company is announcing a $44 million Series B that will help fuel international and domestic growth while letting the company expand to even more product categories and perhaps […]

StockX started as a marketplace for reselling sneakers but has since grown to be much more, bringing its transparent and anonymous marketplace to more verticals. Today the company is announcing a $44 million Series B that will help fuel international and domestic growth while letting the company expand to even more product categories and perhaps opening StockX stores.

The idea driving StockX is simple: Provide a marketplace with fair pricing and ensure the merchandise is authentic. The result scales to nearly day-trading in consumer goods in the same vein as oil futures. In some cases, the seller never touches the product. Sneakers and other in-demand products are priced and sold at rates set by the market rather than the seller. If a particular sneaker is in demand, the price increases.

StockX is among the fastest growing startups in Detroit and Michigan and currently employs 300 in Detroit and 50 in Tempe, Arizona. Founded in 2016 by CEO Josh Luber, COO Greg Schwartz and Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quick Loans, the company has scaled to see more than $2 million in daily transactions and 800,000 users have sold or purchased items on StockX. Today, at an event in Detroit, Luber told the audience that the company is approaching a billion dollar run-rate.

The company has never been capital contrasted and CEO and co-founder Josh Luber told TechCrunch that the company never thought they would have to turn to institutional financing. That’s the comfort of having a billionaire like Gilbert as a co-founder; Luber said Gilbert was always happy to fund StockX.

“We didn’t need money,” Luber told TechCrunch the day before this announcement, adding. “It was really about having external people that that we thought added truly different values than we had around the table.”

Right now the company’s main marketplace centers around sneakers but StockX is built around a platform that works for most ecommerce. It’s a $5 billion market worldwide. Last year the company also launched marketplaces for streetwear, handbags and watches — all verticals with a strong demand in the secondary market.

Scaling the service requires more bodies. Since everything sold on StockX is authenticated — in person — it takes more hands to authenticate more items. With that comes more customer service employees and as the company grows, StockX will need more engineers.

The company is already growing fast but Luber seems ready to double down. In March StockX had 130 people. Today, it’s at 415. He thinks. He confesses it could be a slightly more.

“We have about 50 engineers today and I would quadruple that tomorrow if I could,” he said. “We have about 50 customer service people today. I think it would be safe to double that tomorrow just because the business is growing so fast and we obviously hope it continues to grow as we scale.”

If StockX is going to scale, it needs more employees to ensure the company’s core ethos does not soften. The new round of funding will go far in bringing in the people Luber is seeking including additional members of the C-suite. StockX is running without a CTO, CMO, or CFO — pretty much the entire leadership suite, Luber admits.

It seems this is part of the reasoning behind the funding. The company was not seeking funding but, as Luber tells it, as the company gained attention, investors increasing reached out requesting meetings. Of the meetings they took, there were two firms that meshed with Luber’s vision of growing a marketplace.

The new round of funding comes from GV and Battery Ventures including several high-profile investors including DJ Steve Aoki; model and entrepreneur, Karlie Kloss; streetwear designer Don C; Salesforce founder chairman and co-CEO, Marc Benioff; Bob Mylod, founder and managing partner of Annox Capital; Shana Fisher, managing partner at Third Kind Venture Capital; and Jonathon Triest, managing partner of Ludlow Ventures — only Mylod and Triest are based in the Detroit area.

StockX says it intends to use the funding to expand internationally. Right now StockX only advertises in the US and only supports purchases in U.S. dollars. Going forward it intends to open up local versions of StockX to better support key markets with support for local currency, language and marketing. The company could also open location operations to make shipping and receiving easier and faster.

“In some of these countries, we have, a pretty decent customer base where people are tendered on a VPN,” Luber said. “There are pictures of people that walk around China with a StockX tag hanging off their shoe.”

Fifteen percent of StockX sales currently come from international buyers.

Of the four product categories StockX current sells, sneakers and streetwear make up the bulk of the sales. Before expanding to different verticals, Luber tells me there’s a lot of room for growth in each of the current categories but expanding means more employees.

For instance, each streetwear brand is essentially a sub-vertical, he says, adding that if the company launches a new brand StockX has to assemble a staff around it with brand expertise to build the catalog and product authentication process.

StockX is not ready to announce what other type of products it might sell. Street art seems like one they’re exploring.

Despite the growth, Luber remains committed to Detroit. He said the company will always be headquartered in Detroit and was proud to point to the fact that StockX was the second largest tenant in Dan Gilbert’s marquee Detroit building, One Campus Martius. The company also operates a 30,000 square foot facility in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

StockX could come to other cities though, Luber says. The company is talking about what a StockX “in-real-life” experience would look like: It could be retail, a brand experience, accepting products to be sold or additional operation centers. The company is exploring all the obvious candidates including LA, NYC, San Francisco and Portland.

Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong: ‘I’d love to run a public company’

Brian Armstrong, the CEO of cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase, wants to take his company public — maybe on the blockchain. Onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, Armstrong dished on his ambitions for the future of Coinbase. “We are self-sustaining,” Armstrong said. “You know, we’ve been profitable for quite a while. We don’t have any plans […]

Brian Armstrong, the CEO of cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase, wants to take his company public — maybe on the blockchain.

Onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, Armstrong dished on his ambitions for the future of Coinbase.

“We are self-sustaining,” Armstrong said. “You know, we’ve been profitable for quite a while. We don’t have any plans to raise additional capital at this point, but never say never … Someday I’d love to run a public company.”

Armstrong didn’t rule out going public on the blockchain. He said he’s even considered going public on his own platform.

“I think it would be very on mission for us to do that because, of course, we are creating an open financial system,” he said. “Companies could list their stock, which are really tokens, and instead of a cap table, you tokenize the cap table. But I don’t have any decisions on that to share at the moment.”

An innovative exit would be very on-brand for Coinbase. As one of the earliest players in crypto-mania, the company has certainly had to make things up as it goes. It’s worked, as Armstrong said; the company is profitable and was the first-ever cryptocurrency startup to garner a billion-dollar valuation.

Founded in 2012, Coinbase is backed by IVP, Spark Capital, Greylock Partners, Battery Ventures, Section 32, Draper Associates and more. The company was valued at $1.6 billion in August 2017 with a $100 million Series D last year. The financing was reportedly the largest-ever for a crypto startup.

Watch the full interview with Brian Armstrong below.

With $40 million for AuditBoard’s risk and compliance toolkit, LA’s enterprise startups notch another win

Daniel Kim and Jay Lee, the two founders of AuditBoard, a Los Angeles-based provider of a risk and compliance software service for large businesses, grew up middle school friends in Cerritos, Calif. It was from their hometown Los Angeles exurb, that Kim and Lee first began plotting how they would turn their experience working for […]

Daniel Kim and Jay Lee, the two founders of AuditBoard, a Los Angeles-based provider of a risk and compliance software service for large businesses, grew up middle school friends in Cerritos, Calif.

It was from their hometown Los Angeles exurb, that Kim and Lee first began plotting how they would turn their experience working for PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young (respectively) into the software business that just managed to rake in $40 million in financing led by one of venture capital’s most-respected firms, Battery Ventures.

Kim, who had moved on from the world of the big four audit firms to take positions as the head of global audit at companies as diverse as the chip component manufacturer, International Rectifier and the surf and sportswear-focused clothing company, Quiksilver, had complained to his childhood friend about how little had changed in the auditing world since the two men first started working in the industry.

For Kim, the frustration that systems for accounting for risk and compliance — requirements under the Sarbanes Oxley Act passed in 2002, were still little more than Excel spreadsheets tracking information across different business lines.

He thought there had to be a better way for companies to manage their audit and compliance processes. So with Lee’s help, he set out to build one. The two men touted the company’s service and its ability to create an out-of-the-box system of record for all internal audit, compliance and risk teams.

“It had been ten years since I had left audit. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a software for compliance and risk,” Lee said. “Companies still manage Sarbanes-Oxley in Excel.”

There are other tools out there, IBM has OpenPages and ThomsonReuters developed a tool for audit and risk and compliance, but these software services pre-dated Sarbanes-Oxley, and were not made with a modern organization in mind, according to Lee and Kim.

The company counts major clients like TripAdvisor, Lululemon, HD Supply, Express Scripts and Spirit Airlines, among its roster of customers and will use the funding led by Battery to further expand its sales and marketing and product development efforts.

“We were impressed with AuditBoard’s product and its customer traction. With more CFOs now turning to dedicated, cloud-based software tools for various tasks, from ERP to tax compliance to procurement, we see a big opportunity for AuditBoard to continue to grow,” said Michael Brown, a general partner with Battery Ventures and the latest board member on AuditBoard’s board of directors. “We have invested before in similar companies that sell technology to CFOs — ranging from Avalara* and Intacct* to Outlooksoft* and Bonfire*– and we are excited to partner with Daniel, Jay and their team, who have already built a significant business in a short amount of time.”

AuditBoard raised a small seed round from friends and family, and followed that up with Donnelly Financial Solutions, a strategic investor who partnered with AuditBoard in 2017 to further develop its Securities and Exchange Commission reporting and Sarbanes-Oxley toolkit.

Now, AuditBoard joins a growing list of Los Angeles business-focused software companies that are beginning to scale dramatically in the city.

Long known for its advertising, marketing, and entertainment technology companies, large business-to-business software vendors are cropping up across the Los Angeles region. In addition to AuditBoard’s big round, companies like ServiceTitan, which raised $62 million in funding through an investment round led by Battery Ventures earlier in the year, are also making a splash in the Los Angeles business tech scene.

Earlier big rounds for companies like InAuth, the security firm; Factual, a location-based targeting service; PatientPop, the management tool for physicians offices; RightScale, a cloud management and cost optimization service; and Oblong Industries, a collaboration and computer interface developer, all speak to the breadth of the business-to-business talent that’s emerging from Hollywoodland.

 

Siemens acquires low-code platform Mendix for $700M

Siemens, the giant German technology company, today announced that it has acquired Mendix, the popular low-code application development platform, for €0.6 billion (or about $700 million). Mendix, which was founded in the Netherlands but now has its headquarters in Boston, will continue to operate as usual and keep its name, but Siemens notes that it […]

Siemens, the giant German technology company, today announced that it has acquired Mendix, the popular low-code application development platform, for €0.6 billion (or about $700 million). Mendix, which was founded in the Netherlands but now has its headquarters in Boston, will continue to operate as usual and keep its name, but Siemens notes that it will also use the company’s technology to accelerate its own cloud, IoT and digital enterprise ambitions.

“As part of our digitalization strategy, Siemens continues to invest in software offerings for the Digital Enterprise. With the acquisition of Mendix, Siemens continues to add to its comprehensive Digital Enterprise and MindSphere IoT portfolio, with cloud domain expertise, cloud agnostic platform solutions and highly skilled people,” said Jan Mrosik, CEO of Siemens’ Digital Factory Division.

Mendix’s service is already deeply integrated into IBM’s, SAP’s and Pivotal‘s cloud services. Mendix co-founder and CEO Derek Roos notes that his company and Siemens first discussed a strategic partnership, but as those talks progressed, the two companies moved toward an acquisition instead. Roos argues that the two companies’ visions are quite similar and that Siemens is committed to helping accelerate Mendix’s growth, extend the company’s platform and combine it with Siemens’ existing MindSphere IoT system.

“If you’ve ever wondered which low-code platform will have the viability to invest and win in the long term, you no longer have to guess,” Roos writes. “This commitment and investment from Siemens will allow us to accelerate R&D and geo-expansion investments significantly. You’re going to see faster innovation, more reach and an even better customer experience from us.”

Over the course of the last few years, “low-code” has become increasingly popular as more and more enterprises try to enable all of their employees to access and use the data they now store. Not every employee is going to learn how to program, though, so tools like Mendix, K2 and others now make it easy for non-developers to quickly build (mostly database-backed) applications.

Siemens also today announced a new company structure, dubbed Vision 2020+. The details of that aren’t all that interesting, but the company does note that it was to strengthen its growth portfolio through investments in fields like IoT integration services. The Mendix acquisition is part of that, but I’m sure we’ll see a few similar moves in the near future.

Ahead of today’s acquisition, Mendix had raised about $38 million from investors like Battery Ventures, Prime Ventures and HENQ Invest.