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Talkdesk nabs $100M at more than $1B valuation for its smart call centers

Talkdesk, the provider of cloud-based contact center software, has raised $100 million in new funding from Viking Global Investors, a Connecticut-based hedge fund, and existing investor DFJ. The round values the company at north of $1 billion, Talkdesk co-founder and chief executive officer Tiago Paiva confirmed to TechCrunch, but he declined to disclose the exact figure. The company, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve customer service, targets mid-market and enterprise businesses, counting IBM, Dropbox, Stitch Fix and Farfetch as customers. “Imagine a company has a million customers and they want to reach out for support, what Talkdesk does is allow the customer to connect with a company in the best way possible,” Paiva told TechCrunch. “If you call into Farfetch, they will be using Talkdesk so they can see what products you’ve bought, what your tastes are, what you’ve complained about before. It gives them the history of everything so they can take care of your problem faster.” Talkdesk launched an app store for enterprise call center customers Founded in Portugal in 2011, Talkdesk has offices in San Francisco and Lisbon. With the latest investment, it plans to expand to the U.K., as well as double down on its investment in AI. The company has previously raised about $24 million in equity funding, including a $15 million round in mid-2015. It also was a Startup Battlefield contestant at TechCrunch Disrupt NY in 2012. “Today’s digital-first customers expect immediate and personalized answers, yet the majority of companies have not yet adopted a flexible, cloud-native platform to enable this level of agility and service,” DFJ partner Josh Stein said in a statement. “We believe that 2019 will be the year that cloud-based contact centers become the rule, not the exception.”

China’s secret startup advantage: liquidity

This year’s rush of IPOs from Chinese tech companies has dominated headlines, but what’s more interesting is how quickly they got there. Traditionally, “going public” represented the gratifying culmination of sleepless nights and missed birthdays that went into building a company. The peak of a lengthy climb, where founders and VCs would finally see the fruits of their labor.  However, Chinese companies appear to be reaching that peak much quicker than their American peers, heading to the public markets only a few years after initial venture investments, and often with little operating history.  Analyzing twenty of the most high profile Chinese tech IPOs this year, the average time from first venture investment to IPO was only around three to five years. Take e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, which pulled in $1.6 billion less than three years after its Series A.  Or the recent IPO of EV-manufacturer NIO, which raised a billion dollars just three-and-a-half years after its Series A and having just delivered its first car in June. China IPO data for 2018 compiled from NASDAQ, Pitchbook, and Crunchbase That’s less than half the average 10-year timeline for venture-backed US tech companies that went public in 2018, including Dropbox, Eventbrite, and DocuSign, which all IPO’d more than a decade after their initial investments. Differences in market maturity, government involvement, and support from large tech incumbents all undoubtedly play a factor, but the speed to liquidity for the Chinese companies is still astounding. Faster liquidity can push cycle of returns, fundraising, reinvestment Speed to liquidity is a critical metric for the health of a startup ecosystem. It creates a positive cycle where faster liquidity can drive faster fundraising, faster reinvestment, faster startup building, and faster public liquidity again.  An accelerated cycle could be especially appealing for funds with LPs that require faster returns due to cash commitments or otherwise. It’s important to note that venture returns are a function of capital and time, so quicker exits will also drive higher returns for the same amount invested.  For example, a $1 million investment with a $5 million exit after ten years would generate an Internal Rate of…

WeTransfer is getting weird…

What do you do if you’re a European startup competing against the likes of Box and Dropbox, and are looking to make a splash in international markets like the U.S.? Well, if you’re the Dutch startup WeTransfer (which raised a cool $25 million about three years ago to take the U.S. market by storm), you get weird. Really, really, avant garde-level weird. WeTransfer, Funky Dutch Cousin Of Dropbox And Box, Gets $25M To Go Large In The U.S. The latest overture to the hipsterati is the company’s three video set collaboration with King Krule (which I applaud for no other reason than it lets me write about King Krule on the site). Here’s the first video from the collaboration between the (Beyonce-and-Tyler-the-Creator-and-New-Yorker-approved) artist and the file transfer and storage service. On the WePresent “platform” (which, back in my day, we would have called a “web zine”), Krule discusses the process for creating the video — as he will for all subsequent releases — with its directors and creative team. The first video in the series was directed by longtime Krule collaborators Michael and Paraic Morrissey who work under the nom de video cc. Wade. The King Krule collab isn’t the first time that WeTransfer looked to cash in on some cultural cache. The company has teamed up with McSweeney’s on a story collaboration called “Clean” written by Shelly Oria and Alice Sola Kim. Whether or not these forays into the world of the Kool Kidz are the result of a shift in strategy brought on by the company’s relatively new chief executive, Gordon Willoughby (formerly of Amazon), they’re pretty great. (At least, in the sense that we’re writing about WeTransfer for the first time in a few years.) WeTransfer’s founder leaves CEO role, ex-Amazon exec steps in for commercial push I can’t say whether WeTransfer’s file sharing service is notably better or worse than Box or Dropbox, but their hipster cred is undeniable. Points to you, WeTransfer. Points to you.

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