Posted on

Extra Crunch Partner Perk: Get 6 months free of Zendesk Support and Sales CRM

We’re excited to announce an update to the Extra Crunch Partner Perk from Zendesk. Starting today, annual and two-year Extra Crunch members that are new to Zendesk, and meet their startup qualifications, can now receive six months of free access to Zendesk’s Sales CRM, in addition to Zendesk Support Suite, Zendesk Explore and Zendesk Sunshine.

Here is an overview of the program.

Zendesk is a service-first CRM company with support, sales and customer engagement products designed to improve customer relationships. This offer is only available for startups that are new to Zendesk, have fewer than 100 employees and are funded but have not raised beyond a Series B.

The Zendesk Partner Perk from Extra Crunch is inclusive of subscription fees, free for six months, after which you will be responsible for payment. Any downgrades to your Zendesk subscription will result in the forfeiture of the promotion, so please check with Zendesk first regarding any changes (startups@zendesk.com). Some add-ons such as Zendesk Talk and Zendesk Sell minutes are not included. Complete details of what’s included can be found here.

Read More

Posted on

Microsoft pursuing TikTok purchase by September 15th, may invite U.S. investors to deal

Microsoft has posted a statement today on its corporate blog that says it will continue discussions on a potential TikTok purchase in the U.S.. As a part of the statement, it says that it may invite other “American investors” to participate on a minority basis.

The company says that this is a result of conversations between CEO Satya Nadella and President Trump. That is, basically, the ‘news’ here. Previous reports and our own digging pointed to the situation being totally in the hands of the White House, with Microsoft willing to make the buy but having roadblocks in the form of Presidential sentiment. If Satya has engaged Trump directly then there could be light at the end of this possibility tunnel after all.

“Following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J. Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States,” the statement reads. “Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”

Microsoft says that in any case their discussions about acquisition from ByteDance would complete no later than September 15th, 2020 and that it is keeping discussion ongoing with the President and the U.S. government.

The purchase would cover TikTok operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand and would result in Microsoft owning and operating it in those markets. One region not mentioned here is India, which could provide an interesting future opportunity for both companies if this deal goes down. If Microsoft can position itself as a steward of TikTok it removes the data issue (if not the over-arching national tensions between China and India).

Unsurprisingly, data and privacy protections ​make an appearance, with Microsoft assuring that “the operating model for the service would be built to ensure transparency to users as well as appropriate security oversight by governments in these countries.”

“Among other measures, Microsoft would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States. To the extent that any such data is currently stored or backed-up outside the United States, Microsoft would ensure that this data is deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred.”

The historical here (if you can call it that because this whole thing has been the work of but a couple weeks tops) is that Microsoft is pursuing TikTok because ByteDance needs to divest it in order to keep it running in the U.S., one of its biggest markets. That need arose when the White House decided that it was important to make a stink about data sovereignty with relation to the China-owned network. Even though social services of many kinds including Facebook, Twitter, Google (all of which are banned in China already) and others offer aggregate data through advertising brokerages that can make deals globally, the opportunity presented itself to run up the anti-China flag and take aim at an easy target — an app that undoubtedly has access to an enormous amount of behavioral data on U.S. citizens and therefore has genuine data privacy concerns.

And then there’s the fun Twitter theory that Trump just got pissed at a comedian who got very popular making fun of him on the platform.

Anyway, now we have another tock in the TikTok ticking clock. We’ll reach out to all parties but this looks like it may be the final result of this weekend’s flurry of news on this. We’ll see you Monday morning.

Read More

Posted on

Workforce training app developer Poka adds strategic investor Schneider Electric

Poka, a workforce training app and software service for industrial companies, has added SE Ventures, the venture capital arm of the European energy and automation conglomerate Schneider Electric to its roster of backers.

The company has raised over $23 million in funding so far for its application and software services package that provides training and tips for workers on the factory floor.

The company said it would use the new funding to expand its global marketing through new distribution strategies and speed up its product development.

Since 2014, Poka has been selling its services to companies including Bosch, Danone, Mars, The Kraft Heinz Company, Johnson & Johnson and Stanley Black and Decker, the company said.

Previous backers of the Quebec City, Canada -based company include Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Groupe Leclerc, and CDPQ, according to the company.

For Poka, demand is driven by the combination of increasing automation and an aging workforce creating a skills gap in industrial facilities.

Poka was designed specifically to address the challenges and needs of large global manufacturers — many of whom are clients of Schneider Electric,” said Poka chief executive Alex Leclerc in a statement. “Our partnership gives us global reach within our target markets and provides value to our joint customers by offering them a more complete path to digital transformation.”

For SE Ventures general partner Grant Allen, the replacement of aging technologies around communication and knowledge-sharing in manufacturing facilities represented an obvious investment opportunity. “The tools and systems used to communicate, capture and share knowledge in commercial production facilities are largely outdated, leaving workers without the necessary information to be effective and safe,” said Allen.

Read More

Posted on

Microsoft opens registration for its free, online Build 2020 developer conference

Microsoft has now opened registration for the virtual edition of its online-only Build 2020 developer conference, which will take place from May 19 to 20.

Typically, the event draws more than 6,000 developers, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, that’s obviously not an option. In contrast to Google, which completely scrapped its I/O developer conference this year, Microsoft decided to go ahead with the virtual event. But this will be a very different kind of Build — and not only because it’s online-only.

Not only will the keynotes be shorter (though there will still be Day 1 and Day 2 keynotes), but in response to feedback from developers who have attended previous events, the Microsoft team also decided to focus solely on that audience. In previous years, Microsoft often used Build to announce consumer products, just like Google does at I/O. But that won’t happen this year. And instead of using the keynotes to put an early spotlight on features that won’t be available for half a year or more, the event will be more about providing content that’s immediately useful for developers and new products that are either immediately available or only a couple of months out from getting into the hands of developers.

That also likely means that even though Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will still keynote, there will be less talk about big-picture company philosophy and more about developer tools and APIs.

Some of the keynotes and demos will be live, some will be pre-recorded, but overall, the look and feel of the event shouldn’t be all that different from what developers who previously watched Build from afar experienced. But it will be shorter and more focused than in previous years, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Attendees sit in pods during the Microsoft Developers Build Conference in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Monday, May 7, 2018. The Build conference, marking its second consecutive year in Seattle, is expected to put emphasis on the company’s cloud technologies and the artificial intelligence features within those services. Photographer: Grant Hindsley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Read More

Posted on

With $8 million to consolidate Amazon’s top marketplace sellers, Perch makes its first deals

After raising $8 million in November to roll up top Amazon marketplace companies, the new New York-based startup Perch has begun putting that money to work in its first few deals.
The brainchild of Chris Bell, formerly Wayfair’s head of logistics and a Bain & Co. analyst, Perch is pretty well-positioned to serve as unifier of a bevy of disparate products in one nest.
The company’s recent acquisition include brands selling a sand anchor for beach umbrellas (Beachr), a waterproof apron for cooking, a hip sciatica brace (Bodymate), and other similar products that wouldn’t be out of place in …

Read More

Posted on

With the real estate industry facing headwinds, SoftBank-backed Compass lays off 15% of staff

Compass, the real estate brokerage startup backed by roughly $1.6 billion in venture funding, has laid off 15% of its staff as a result of the shifting economic fortunes created by the global response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to an internal email seen by TechCrunch.
Citing economic fallout that has …

Read More

Posted on

Los Angeles-based CREXi raises $29 million for its online real estate marketplace

Los Angeles is one of the most desirable locations for commercial real estate in the United States, so it’s little wonder that there’s something of a boom in investments in technology companies servicing the market coming from the region.

It’s one of the reasons that CREXi, the commercial real estate marketplace, was able to establish a strong presence for its digital marketplace and toolkit for buyers, sellers, and investors.

Since the company raised its last institutional round in 2018, it has added over 300,000 properties for sale or lease across the U.S. and increased its user base to 6 million customers, according to a statement.

It has now raised $29 million in new financing from new investors including Mitsubishi Estate Company (“MEC”), Industry Ventures, and Prudence Holdings . Previous investors Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Jackson Square Ventures also participated in the financing.

CREXi makes money in three ways. There’s a subscription service for brokers looking to sell or lease property; an auction service where CREXi will earn a fee upon the close of a transaction; and a data and analytics service that allows users to get a view into the latest trends in commercial real estate based on the vast collection of properties on offer through the company’s services.

The company touts its service as the only technology offering that can take a property from marketing to the close of a sale or lease without having to leave the platform.

According to chief executive, Mike DiGiorgio, the company is also recession proof thanks to its auction services. “As more distressed properties hit the market the best way to sell them is through an online auction,” DiGiorgio says.

So far, the company has seen $700 billion of transactions flow through the platform and roughly 40% of those deals were exclusive to the company.

“The CRE industry is evolving, and market players, especially younger, digitally native generations are seeking out platforms that provide free and open access to information,” said Gavin Myers, General Partner at Prudence Holdings, in a statement. “CREXi directly addresses this market need, providing fair access to a range of CRE information. As CREXi continues to build out its stable of services, features, and functionality, we’re thrilled to partner with them and support the company’s continued momentum.”

CREXi joins the ranks of startups based in Los Angeles that have raised money to reshape the real estate industry. Estimates from Built in LA count roughly 127 companies, which have raised in excess of $2.4 billion, active in the real estate industry in Los Angeles. These companies range from providers of short-term commercial office space, like Knotel, or co-working companies like WeWork, to companies focused on servicing the real estate industry like Luxury Presence, which raised a $5 million round earlier in the year.

Source: TechCrunch