Fixing workplace misconduct reporting is a mission that’s snagged London-based Vault Platform backing from Google’s AI focused fund, Gradient Ventures, which is the lead investor in an $8.2 million Series A that’s being announced today.
Other investors joining the round are Illuminate Financial, along with existing investors including Kindred Capital and Angular Ventures. Its $4.2M seed round was closed back in 2019.
Vault sells a suite of SaaS tools to enterprise-sized or large/scale-up companies to support them to pro-actively manage internal ethics and integrity issues. As well as tools for staff to report issues, data and analytics is baked into the platform — so it can support with customers’ wider audit and compliance requirements.
In an interview with TechCrunch, co-founder and CEO Neta Meidav said that as well as being wholly on board with the overarching mission to upgrade legacy reporting tools like hotlines provided to staff to try to surface conduct-related workplace risks (be that bullying and harassment; racism and sexism; or bribery, corruption and fraud), as you might expect Gradient Ventures was interested in the potential for applying AI to further enhance Vault’s SaaS-based reporting tool.
A feature of its current platform, called ‘GoTogether’, consists of an escrow system that allows users to submit misconduct reports to the relevant internal bodies but only if they are not the first or only person to have made a report about the same person — the idea being that can help encourage staff (or outsiders, where open reporting is enabled) to report concerns they may otherwise hesitate to, for various reasons.
Vault now wants to expand the feature’s capabilities so it can be used to proactively surface problematic conduct that may not just relate to a particular individual but may even affect a whole team or division — by using natural language processing to help spot patterns and potential linkages in the kind of activity being reported.
“Our algorithms today match on an alleged perpetrator’s identity. However many events that people might report on are not related to a specific person — they can be more descriptive,” explains Meidav. “For example if you are experiencing some irregularities in accounting in your department, for example, and you’re suspecting that there is some sort of corruption or fraudulent activity happening.”
“If you think about the greatest [workplace misconduct] disasters and crises that happened in recent years — the Dieselgate story at Volkswagen, what happened in Boeing — the common denominator in all these cases is that there’s been some sort of a serious ethical breach or failure which was observed by several people within the organization in remote parts of the organization. And the dots weren’t connected,” she goes on. “So the capacity we’re currently building and increasing — building upon what we already have with GoTogether — is the ability to connect on these repeated events and be able to connect and understand and read the human input. And connect the dots when repeated events are happening — alerting companies’ boards that there is a certain ‘hot pocket’ that they need to go and investigate.
“That would save companies from great risk, great cost, and essentially could prevent huge loss. Not only financial but reputational, sometimes it’s even loss to human lives… That’s where we’re getting to and what we’re aiming to achieve.”
There is the question of how defensible Vault’s GoTogether feature is — how easily it could be copied — given you can’t patent an idea. So baking in AI smarts may be a way to layer added sophistication to try to maintain a competitive edge.
“There’s some very sophisticated, unique technology there in the backend so we are continuing to invest in this side of our technology. And Gradient’s investment and the specific we’re receiving from Google now will only increase that element and that side of our business,” says Meidav when we ask about defensibility.
Commenting on the funding in a statement, Gradient Ventures founder and managing partner, Anna Patterson, added: “Vault tackles an important space with an innovative and timely solution. Vault’s application provides organizations with a data-driven approach to tackling challenges like occupational fraud, bribery or corruption incidents, safety failures and misconduct. Given their impressive team, technology, and customer traction, they are poised to improve the modern workplace.”
The London-based startup was only founded in 2018 — and while it’s most keen to talk about disrupting legacy hotline systems, which offer only a linear and passive conduit for misconduct reporting, there are a number of other startups playing in the same space. Examples include the likes of LA-based AllVoices, YC-backed Whispli, Hootsworth and Spot to name a few.
Competition seems likely to continue to increase as regulatory requirements around workplace reporting keep stepping up.
The incoming EU Whistleblower Protection Directive is one piece of regulation Vault expects will increase demand for smarter compliance solutions — aka “TrustTech”, as it seeks to badge it — as it will require companies of more than 250 employees to have a reporting solution in place by the end of December 2021, encouraging European businesses to cast around for tools to help shrink their misconduct-related risk.
She also suggests a platform solution can help bridge gaps between different internal teams that may need to be involved in addressing complaints, as well as helping to speed up internal investigations by offering the ability to chat anonymously with the original reporter.
Meidav also flags the rising attention US regulators are giving to workplace misconduct reporting — noting some recent massive awards by the SEC to external whistleblowers, such as the $28M paid out to a single whistleblower earlier this year (in relation to the Panasonic Avionics consultant corruption case).
She also argues that growing numbers of companies going public (such as via the SPAC trend, where there will have been reduced regulatory scrutiny ahead of the ‘blank check’ IPO) raises reporting requirements generally — meaning, again, more companies will need to have in place a system operated by a third party which allows anonymous and non-anonymous reporting. (And, well, we can only speculate whether companies going public by SPAC may be in greater need of misconduct reporting services vs companies that choose to take a more traditional and scrutinized route to market… )
“Just a few years back I had to convince investors that this category it really is a category — and fast forward to 2021, congratulations! We have a market here. It’s a growing category and there is competition in this space,” says Meidav.
“What truly differentiates Vault is that we did not just focus on digitizing an old legacy process. We focused on leveraging technology to truly empower more misconduct to surface internally and for employees to speak up in ways that weren’t available for them before. GoTogether is truly unique as well as the things that we’re doing on the operational side for a company — such as collaboration.”
She gives an example of how a customer in the oil and gas sector configured the platform to make use of an anonymous chat feature in Vault’s app so they could provide employees with a secure direct-line to company leadership.
“They’ve utilizing the anonymous chat that the app enables for people to have a direct line to leadership,” she says. “That’s incredible. That is such a progress, forward looking way to be utilizing this tool.”
Meidav says Vault has around 30 customers at this stage, split between the US and EU — its core regions of focus.
And while its platform is geared towards enterprises, its early customer base includes a fair number of scale-ups — with familiar names like Lemonade, Airbnb, Kavak, G2 and OVO Energy on the list.
Scale ups may be natural customers for this sort of product given the huge pressures that can be brought to bear upon company culture as a startup switches to expanding headcount very rapidly, per Meidav.
“They are the early adopters and they are also very much sensitive to events such as these kind of [workplace] scandals as it can impact them greatly… as well as the fact that when a company goes through a hyper growth — and usually you see hyper growth happening in tech companies more than in any other type of sector — hyper growth is at time when you really, as management, as leadership, it’s really important to safeguard your culture,” she suggests.
“Because it changes very, very quickly and these changes can lead to all sorts of things — and it’s really important that leadership is on top of it. So when a company goes through hyper growth it’s an excellent time for them to incorporate a tool such as Vault. As well as the fact that every company that even thinks of an IPO in the coming months or years will do very well to put a tool like Vault in place.”
Expanding Vault’s own team is also on the cards after this Series A close, as it guns for the next phase of growth for its own business. Presumably, though, it’s not short of a misconduct reporting solution.
Vienna’s GoStudent raises $244M at a $1.7B valuation for its online tutor marketplace – TechCrunch
Online teaching came into the spotlight for many students and parents in the last year, and today one of the companies that saw a big lift during that rush of activity is announcing a big round of funding to carry it into what has emerged as a more permanent change of habits for many learners.
GoStudent, a marketplace where K-12 students (and their parents) can find and engage with one-to-one video-based tutors in a variety of subjects, has raised €205 million ($244 million), in a Series C round that values the company at €1.4 billion ($1.7 billion).
The funding is coming at a time of strong growth. The Vienna, Austria-based startup is now live in 18 countries and sees some 400,000 sessions booked monthly on its platform, up 700% year-on-year (and up 15% month-on-month). It says it is on track to double employees to 1,000 and reach 10,000 tutors by the end of this year. The plan is to expand to more countries — Mexico and Canada are next on the list — and to continue growing its lists of tutors and subjects covered.
(As a point of comparison, when it last fundraised in March, GoStudent was booking a mere 250,000 tutoring sessions over its platform.)
DST Global is leading the round, with SoftBank (via its Vision Fund 2), Tencent, Dragoneer and previous backers Coatue, Left Lane Capital and DN Capital also participating. Vienna, Austria-based GoStudent has raised €291 million to date, including a €70 million round only this past March and €13.3 million in a Series A this past November.
The rapid pace of funding and GoStudent’s rising valuation — this investment makes it the highest-valued edtech startup in Europe, the company said — comes amid a streak of funding rounds for edtech companies.
And that may be no surprise: online and other digital tools in the last year especially felt more relevant (and in many cases were used more) than ever before due to social distancing during the pandemic. (Other recent deals have included funding for Byju’s, Kahoot, Formative, Engageli, Lingoda, Brainly, ClassDojo, Newsela, and Yuanfudao, among many others.)
But in the case of GoStudent, it’s also because the startup itself is also doing an A+ job in scaling its concept.
The company has been around since 2016 — when it started out initially providing a network for people to help each other answer questions (similar to Brainly), as well as connect with tutors, and for tutors to organize classes — but it was only about 2.5 years ago that GoStudent started to focus more squarely on one-to-one tutoring.
GoStudent provides a fully-integrated service, which lets students and their parents select from a range of topics that are typically taught in schools — currently some 30 subjects, including sciences, math, computing, languages, history, business and more — that they can be tutored on generally or specifically with the aim of taking an exam.
Tutoring comes from people who are tested, vetted and interviewed by GoStudent before they can join the platform; and before engaging tutors, parents and students interview an individual tutor and go through a practice lesson as part of that.
Learning plans are then organized according to students’ schedules and what they are setting out to do (they can send over their homework, or chapters they’re studying in school or even a curriculum outline); and the classes, assessments and payments (based on packages booked), are all handled over the platform, too.
Although there are a number of ways of learning a subject over the internet today — and specifically a number of online-only direct tutoring platforms in the market now (including Brainly, Yuanfudao, and others) — Ohswald said that by and large GoStudent’s biggest competition is the bigger in-person business of teaching, and of students and tutors connecting with each other through word of mouth — the “offline shadow market of tutors,” as he calls it.
All the same, while there are tech tools involved in provisioning and running lessons, at its heart GoStudent is also still about humans connecting to help each other, rather than humans connecting with computer programs.
Interestingly, its founders believe that the Covid-19 pandemic effect was not uniformly positive for its business.
“The pandemic had mixed effects,” Ohswald said. “On the one hand there was a natural demand from kids and parents. But with the schools closed, there was less pressure, less exams, less demand for after-school study. That aspect had a negative effect. But more broadly, there was a BIG boost for digital education. So the mindset of the parent and family drastically shifted.”
He noted that many families turned to tutoring to help “support the kids at home, to help them to stop being overwhelmed.” (And I would add, especially in the first part of the lockdown last year when schools were scrambling a little to regroup and teach online, that as a parent, we found it a relief to have at least some consistency with private tutors online at that time.)
What that means, essentially, is that while GoStudent did well in the last year, the company does not want to tie its growth to a specific set of pandemic circumstances that may well become less of an issue in the year ahead.
Indeed, for better or worse, there are bigger factors at play that predate the pandemic. Increasing pressure on students to perform their best competing against others, a continuing focus on testing, and a general level of academic ambition; but also a much easier and cheaper way of finding and connecting with people who can help students feel more supported in their efforts: all of these are also playing a role.
“GoStudent is one of the fastest growing companies that we have ever backed. The company has grown 800% in terms of revenue and 70x in terms of value since 2020 and we are convinced that this is just the beginning,” Nenad Marovac, founder and managing partner, DN Capital, told TechCrunch. “We believe that GoStudent can become one of the top digital schools in the world. By leveraging technology GoStudent democratizes quality education to all at affordable prices.”
Fintech veteran Jitendra Gupta is ready for his new inning — now he is going after banks in India – TechCrunch
For most people in India, having to engage with banks doesn’t instill a sense of joy. Banks in the South Asian market are notorious for making unannounced spam calls to upsell customers loans and credit cards, even when they have been explicitly asked not to do so.
Moreover, when a customer does reach out to a bank with a query, it can take forever to get the job done. Take ICICI Bank, India’s third largest bank and until recently my only banking partner for over six years, for an example.
It is now in its third month in figuring out who exactly in its relationship with Amazon is supposed to re-issue me a credit card. I have moved on with my life, and it looks like they did, too, likely before they even looked at my query.
Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t a big fan of banks, either. If you operate an early-stage startup, it’s anyone’s guess if you will ever be able to convince a bank to issue you a corporate account. So of course, startups — Razorpay and Open — took it upon themselves to fix this experience.
For consumers, too, in recent years, scores of startups have arrived on the scene to improve this banking experience. Whether you are a teenager, or just out of college, or a working professional, or don’t have a credit score, there are firms that can get you a credit card and loan.
But even these services have a ceiling limit of some sort. And customers aren’t loyal to any startup.
“A customer’s relationship is always with the entity where they park their savings deposit,” said Jitendra Gupta, a high-profile entrepreneur who has spent a decade in the fintech world. Since these customers are not parking their money with fintech, “the startups have been unable to disrupt the bank. That’s the hard reality.”
So what’s the alternative? Gupta, who co-founded CitrusPay (sold to Naspers’ PayU) and served as managing director of PayU, has been thinking about these challenges for more than two years.
“If you really want to change the banking industry, you cannot operate from the side. You have to fight from the centre, where they deposit their money. It’s a very time-consuming process and requires a lot of initial capital and experience with banks,” he told TechCrunch in an interview.
After more than a year and a half of raising about $24 million — from Sequoia Capital India, 3one4 Capital, Amrish Rau, Kunal Shah, Kunal Bahl, Tanglin Venture Partners, Rainmatter and others — Gupta is ready to launch what he believes will address a lot of the issues individuals face with their banks.
His new startup, called Jupiter, wants to bring “delight” to the banking experience, and it will launch in India on Thursday.
“We believe that a bank account should be a smart account, where it gives you insight, shares personalized tips and guides you through attaining some financial discipline,” he said.
To be sure, Jupiter, too, will offer loans and other financial services to customers. But instead of making irrelevant calls to customers, it will assess which of its customers are running short on money and give the option to take a credit line from its app itself, he said. “The upsell doesn’t need to happen by way of spam. It needs to happen by way of contextualization and personalization.”
“Jupiter has been built in a deep integration with the underlying bank, allowing the consumer to have a frictionless experience for all their banking needs,” said Amrish Rau, chief executive of Pine Labs, co-founder of CitrusPay and longtime friend of Gupta.
The startup, which employs 115 people, has developed a number of products for customers joining on day one. The products include the ability to buy now and pay later on UPI, a feature first offered in the market by Jupiter, and a mutual fund portfolio analyzer. A debit card, in-app chat with a customer service agent, expense categorisation, finding the right card, determining the existing health insurance coverage, and more are ready to ship, the startup said.
Jupiter is currently working on providing zero mark-up on forex transactions, and frictionless two-factor authentication. The startup has published a public Trello page where it has outlined the features it is working on and when it expects to ship them, as well as features suggested by its beta-testing customers. “I want to establish full transparency in what we are working on to build trust with customers,” said Gupta.
Jupiter will have its own customer relationship team that will engage with the startup’s users. The startup, which last month opened a waiting list for customers to sign up, had amassed more than 25,000 applications as of two weeks ago.
Even Jupiter, which one day wishes to disrupt the banking sector, currently has to partner with banks. Its partners are Federal Bank and Axis Bank.
I asked Gupta about the excitement his investors see in Jupiter. “Everyone believes, as you see with fintech giants such as Nubank globally, that we will become a full bank,” he said.
But for the time being, Gupta said he is not looking to partner with more banks. “I don’t want Jupiter to attract customers because they want to bank with Federal or Axis. I want them to come to Jupiter because they want to bank with Jupiter,” he said.
In the next 12 months, the startup hopes to serve more than 1 million customers.
What does Red Hat’s sale to IBM tell us about Couchbase’s valuation? – TechCrunch
The IPO rush of 2021 continued this week with a fresh filing from NoSQL provider Couchbase. The company raised hundreds of millions while private, making its impending debut an important moment for a number of private investors, including venture capitalists.
According to PitchBook data, Couchbase was last valued at a post-money valuation of $580 million when it raised $105 million in May 2020. The company — despite its expansive fundraising history — is not a unicorn heading into its debut to the best of our knowledge.
We’d like to uncover whether it will be one when it prices and starts to trade, so we dug into Couchbase’s business model and its financial performance, hoping to better understand the company and its market comps.
The Couchbase S-1
The Couchbase S-1 filing details a company that sells database tech. More specifically, Couchbase offers customers database technology that includes what NoSQL can offer (“schema flexibility,” in the company’s phrasing), as well as the ability to ask questions of their data with SQL queries.
Couchbase’s software can be deployed on clouds, including public clouds, in hybrid environments, and even on-prem setups. The company sells to large companies, attracting 541 customers by the end of its fiscal 2021 that generated $107.8 million in annual recurring revenue, or ARR, by the close of last year.
Couchbase breaks its revenue into two main buckets. The first, subscription, includes software license income and what the company calls “support and other” revenues, which it defines as “post-contract support,” or PCS, which is a package of offerings, including “support, bug fixes and the right to receive unspecified software updates and upgrades” for the length of the contract.
The company’s second revenue bucket is services, which is self-explanatory and lower-margin than its subscription products.
Maybe neobanks will break even after all – TechCrunch
Building a consumer-facing fintech company is expensive. And if you want to build one in a sector crowded by both incumbent companies and richly funded startups, it can be super expensive.
That was the lesson we learned in late 2020 by examining operating results from a number of neobanks.
Neobanks are essentially software layers atop banking infrastructure, offering consumers digital-first, mobile-friendly and often lower-fee banking services. The push to rethink consumer banking is a global effort, with neobanks cropping up in essentially every market you can think of. Private investors have shown up in droves to fund competing neobanks because they have the potential to secure users — customers — that generate revenues for long periods of time.
Investors have proven more than willing to fund huge investments in growth and product at many neobanks, leading to steeply negative operating results at the unicorns. In short, while American consumer fintech Chime has disclosed positive EBITDA — an adjusted profitability metric — many neobanks that we’ve seen numbers from have demonstrated a stark inability to paint a path to profitability.
Recent results from Revolut that TechCrunch covered earlier this morning show that the company had a deeply unprofitable 2020. But if we dig into its quarterly results, there’s good news to be found. Neobanks could be maturing into their cost structure at last.
So today we’ll parse the key Revolut financial results and look at what we can dig up from Starling and Monzo. Perhaps the somewhat good financial news from Revolut is not merely to be found at just one neobank?
Here are the big numbers:
- 57% revenue growth from £166 million in 2019 to £261 million in 2020
- Gross profit growth of £123 million in 2020, up 215% from 2019
- Gross margin of 49% in 2020, what Revolut described as nearly a doubling
- 2020 operating loss of £122 million from £98 million in 2019
- Total loss of £168 million in 2020, up from £107 million in 2019
The gist of these figures is that the company’s revenue growth was solid, but improving gross margins allowed its gross profit to spike in 2020.
Vietnamese financial services app MFast gets $1.5M pre-Series A led by Do Ventures – TechCrunch
MFast, a mobile app that lets Vietnamese users in remote areas access financial services, announced today it has raised a $1.5 million pre-Series A. The round was led by Do Ventures, with participation from JAFCO Asia.
Launched in 2019 by fintech company Digipay, MFast says it has been used by 600,000 people to date. It partners with financial institutions who provide services like loans and insurance, and says it has been used to distribute more than 50 billion VND (about $2.2 million USD) worth of insurance products so far, and 5,000 billion (about $217 million) in financial products.. The company told TechCrunch that it currently has 11 financial partners.
MFast’s consumer credit partners include Mirae Asset, CIMB, Mcredit and Easy Credit, and its insurance partners include PVI, PTI and BSH. It claims to have a network of more than 350,000 advisors, who offers their services through the app.
The company pre-qualifies applicants for credit services using predictive machine learning algorithms to identify applicants with high risks of defaulting on their loans, while its insurance customers are matched with plans using a data-driven engine.
The majority, or about 75% to 80% of MFast’s users are in remote provinces or rural areas, which the company says often limits their access to banking and credit-related services.
The funding will be used to expand MFast to more cities and provinces in Vietnam, develop its technology and partner with more institutions. MFast also plans to enter other markets in the future.
Google’s first retail location opened today in NYC – TechCrunch
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Welcome back to the Daily Crunch for Thursday, June 17. Thank you to Walter Thompson and the Extra Crunch staff for taking the reins I took from Alex. I was released from jury duty, so I’ll be seeing you through the remainder of the week, and we’ll be back to regularly scheduled Alex in no time.
But before we get on with the show, I want to let you know that Duolingo’s director of engineering will join us at our City Spotlight: Pittsburgh event in just two weeks. Karin Tsai joined the company in 2012 as one of its first engineers, and saw the company grow from a scrappy startup into a 400-person global business.
The TechCrunch Top 3
Google recently discovered a bug in its Android app that could have allowed an attacker to quietly steal personal data from a device. The company caught it, plugged it and confirmed that it had no evidence that anyone’s data was compromised.
The AI-powered defense company founded by Oculus founder and seller-to-Facebook Palmer Luckey has landed a $450 million round of investment that values the startup at $4.6 billion just four years in.
Startups and VC
Unit has raised $51 million in a Series B round to further its goal of making it possible for non-fintech and fintech companies alike to build banking products “in minutes.”
Disrupting job recruitment disruption: Beamery raised $138 million to continue building out more technology and shake up online job recruitment as we know it. Ingrid reports today that the company calls itself a “talent operating system,” describing that thusly: “A way to manage sourcing, hiring and retaining of people, plus analyzing the bigger talent picture for an organization.”
Nylas, which created an effective way to integrate email, calendars and other tools into other apps using APIs, is announcing a big round of funding to expand its business — $120 million big.
Data analytics for HR is what eqtble is offering, and it just raised a $2.7 million seed round to do it. There is a lot of data to capture when it comes to a company’s staff, and eqtble wants to help you snag it.
The industrial side of cybersecurity: Claroty, a late-stage company that protects big companies, including Pfizer (which it helped to secure its COVID-19 vaccine supply chain — raised $140 million.
5 tips for brands that want to succeed in the new era of influencer marketing
A small startup with the right message can connect with established and emerging stars on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube who will promote your company’s products and services — as long as they understand the influencer marketplace.
Creators have plenty of brands and revenue channels to choose from, but growth marketers who understand how to court influencers will make inroads no matter how small their budget. Although brand partnerships are still the top source of revenue for creators, many of them are starting to diversify.
If you’re in charge of marketing at an early-stage startup, this post explains how to connect with an influencer who authentically resonates with your brand and covers the basics of setting up a revenue-share structure that works for everyone.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
If you live in New York, you can now make your way to Google’s new store, which opened today in Chelsea. The giant’s new brick-and-mortar presence joins the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Amazon so people can peruse its hardware offerings, as well as those of selected not-Google offerings.
It’s an advertising world, and we’re just living in it: Instagram today announced the global launch of ads in Reels, its TikTok rival. Sarah Perez says in her reporting that the ads will be up to 30 seconds in length and vertical in format. Like Reels, the new ads will loop, and people will be able to like, comment on and save them, the same as other Reels videos.
Google this morning announced a line of new virtual machines built on AMD’s third-gen EPYC processor. The new line, called Tau, is x86-compatible and offers a 42% price-performance boost over standard VMs. Google, of course, claims the Tau family “leapfrogs” existing cloud VMs.
Amazon this week announced its Appstore Small Business Accelerator Program, which will reduce the commissions Amazon takes on app developer revenues for qualifying smaller businesses. Previously, Amazon’s Appstore took a 30% cut of revenue, including that from in-app purchases. Now, it will take only 20% from developers who earned up to $1 million in the prior calendar year. The program will additionally offer AWS credits.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
TechCrunch is building a shortlist of the top growth marketers in tech. If you’re a founder, we’d love to hear who you’ve worked with.
If you’re curious about how these surveys are shaping our coverage, check out this interview Extra Crunch Managing Editor Eric Eldon did with Susan Su, head of Portfolio at Sound Ventures, about growth marketing in 2021.
Crypto finance startup Amber Group raises $100M at $1B valuation – TechCrunch
More mainstream venture capital firms are jumping on the crypto bandwagon as investors increasingly consider bitcoin an investable asset, despite the recent massive price drops of a few major cryptocurrencies. Amber Group, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency trading startup, said on Monday it has raised $100 million in a Series B funding round at a pre-money valuation of $1 billion.
The latest valuation is ten times that of the company’s Series A closed in 2019, a $28 million round that counted Coinbase Ventures as one of its investors. Also notably, Amber’s Series B financing was bankrolled by a list of high-profile financial and VC firms, including China Renaissance, which led the round, and Tiger Brokers, Tiger Global Management, Arena Holdings, Tru Arrow Partners, Sky9 Capital, DCM Ventures, and Gobi Partners.
Its past investors Pantera Capital, Coinbase Ventures, and Blockchain.com also participated in the round.
In May, Babel Finance, another crypto asset manager based out of Hong Kong, secured $40 million in funding from a number of big-name institutional investors, including Amber’s investor Tiger Global.
Founded by a group of former investment bankers in their twenties, Amber initially set out to apply machine learning algorithms to quantitative trading but pivoted in 2017 to crypto when the team saw spikes in virtual currency’s trading volumes. The startup now serves both institutional and individual investors, offering them algorithmic trading, electronic market-making, high-frequency trading, OTC trading, borrowing and lending, derivatives, among other products.
The firm launched its mobile app in the third quarter of 2020, widening its scope from institutional clients to retail consumers. It said the trading app has so far accumulated over 100,000 registered users.
Amber has been profitable since its inception, according to its co-founder and CEO Michael Wu, with annualized revenues of $500 million based on figures from January to April 2021.
The startup has seen “record months over the past quarter across both client flow and on-exchange market-making volumes,” said Wu, and it now accounts for “2-3% of total trading volumes in major spot and derivative markets.” Its cumulative trading volumes have doubled from $250 billion since the beginning of the year to over $500 billion. Altogether, it manages around $1.5 billion in trading capital that varies based on BTC and ETH prices.
Amber has over 330 employees worldwide across Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, and Vancouver. The proceeds from its Series B will go towards global expansion.
Singaporean who tortured and killed Myanmar maid gets 30 years in jail
Vienna’s GoStudent raises $244M at a $1.7B valuation for its online tutor marketplace – TechCrunch
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