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10 lessons from Marketo’s growth to a multi-billion-dollar exit

Doug Pepper Contributor Doug Pepper is a managing director at Shasta Ventures. More posts by this contributor A New Revolution Modernizes The Revenue Supply Chain With Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo, I have been reflecting on what an amazing and pioneering company Marketo has been since it was founded in 2006. There are very few tech companies that have defined a new category, executed a successful IPO, been acquired by a private equity firm for more than four times the company’s initial IPO market value and now, at a price of $4.75 billion, become the largest acquisition of a world-class company like Adobe. The credit for this dream-come-true Silicon Valley company goes to the co-founding team of Phil Fernandez, Jon Miller and David Morandi, who together built an amazing customer-first product, defined a breakthrough category and launched a marketing automation company that continues to delight and amaze partners and customers alike. I had the unique pleasure of meeting the founding team in 2006 when they shared their vision and passion for marketing automation. At the time, all they had was a PowerPoint deck. But it was clear then that they had a special idea and the unique capability to build a breakthrough product to deliver on their vision. In all honesty, I couldn’t know how truly extraordinary the company would become. Thankfully, I was lucky enough that the team chose me and my former partner Bruce Cleveland as their first investor and also was fortunate to serve on the board for 10 years. Most recently, I was thrilled that Phil joined me at Shasta. One of the qualities I admire most about Phil — which was apparent all those years ago and continues to this day — is that he never stops iterating to do things better or faster or more efficiently or more thoughtfully. Phil always carried a notebook that said “THINK” on the cover, which epitomizes how he approaches his work. Phil recently shared his “10 Things I’d Do Even Better If I Did It Again” presentation with our team and our founder/CEO community. We believe his insights are “10…

Y Combinator survey confirms what we already know — female founders are too often victims of sexual harassment

Y Combinator has released the results of a survey, completed in partnership with its portfolio company Callisto, highlighting the pervasive role of sexual harassment in venture capital and technology startups. Callisto, a sexual misconduct reporting software built for victims, is a graduate of YC’s winter 2018 class. The company sent a survey to 125 of YC’s 384 female founders, asking if they had been “assaulted or coerced by an angel or VC investor in their startup career.” Eighty-eight female founders completed the survey; 19 in total claimed to have experienced some form of harassment. More specifically, 18 said that inappropriate experience consisted of “unwanted sexual overtures;” 15 said it was “sexual coercion;” four said it was “unwanted sexual contact.” As part of the release of the survey findings, YC announced they’ve established a formal process for their founders to report harassment and assault within Bookface, the startup accelerator’s private digital portal for its founders. “You can report at any time, even years after the incident took place,” YC wrote in the blog post. “The report will remain confidential. We encourage other investors to set up similar reporting systems.” First Round Capital is another investor to recently poll its founders on issues of sexual misconduct. Similarly, the early-stage investor found that half of the 869 founders polled were harassed or knew a victim of workplace harassment. As for Callisto, the 7-year-old non-profit said it will launch Callisto for founders, a new tool that will support victims. Using Callisto, founders can record the identities of perpetrators in the tech and VC industry. The company will collect the information and refer victims to a lawyer who will provide free advice and the option to share their information with other victims of the same perpetrator. From there, victims can decide if they want to go public together with their accusations. Tech’s widespread sexual harassment problem is not new, but more women and victims of harassment have come forward in recent years as the #MeToo movement encourages them to name their harassers. Justin Caldbeck, formerly of Binary Capital, and former SoFi chief executive officer Mike Cagney are among…

Penta, the German challenger bank account for SMEs, raises €7M Series A

Penta, the German fintech startup that offers a digital bank account targeting SMEs, has raised €7 million in Series A funding. Backing the company once again is Inception Capital, with total funding now at €10 million since Penta was founded in May 2016. Launched in Germany in December, and powered by Banking-as-a-Platform solarisBank (rather than holding a banking license of its own), Penta is designed to meet the banking needs of small to medium-sized businesses, including startups. The premise is that SMEs are currently underserved by incumbent banks, including account opening being cumbersome and much more difficult than it should be and exorbitant fees charged for making payments or international money exchange. Penta is also bringing some much-need innovation and features to the German business banking market. One of those is multi-card support to make it easier to manage company expenses. Dubbed ‘Team Access,’ the recently launched feature lets business owners issue multiple MasterCards to employees who need to make purchases on a company’s behalf. Each card is linked to a business’ Penta account but can have custom rules and permissions per card/employee, in terms of how much money can be spent and where. More broadly, the feature is designed to cut down the time and cost of expense management for SMEs. Notably, I’m told that the Berlin-based challenger bank, which has already grown to a team of 40 and plans to get to 100 over the next year, is seeing 68 percent of new customers switching from their existing business bank account, with the remaining 40 percent newly incorporated businesses. That suggest many German businesses aren’t satisfied with the banking status quo, even if they’ve already crossed the account opening hurdle. Specifically, I understand that multi-card support has been one of the main draw, the kind of feature that older banks with legacy software often struggle to deliver.

Entrepreneur First, the company builder backed by Greylock, lands in Bangalore

Entrepreneur First (EF), the London-HQ’d company builder that invests in individuals “pre-team, pre-idea” to enable them to found new startups, is scaling up rapidly, as it promised to so. Already running programs in Paris, Berlin, London, Singapore, and Hong Kong, the so-called talent-first investor is setting up shop in Bangalore, India. Although referred to as the “Silicon Valley of India,” Bangalore fits the EF bill quite well in terms of being a tech hub with latent potential, especially when measured by the small number of truly international startups it has produced. What’s also interesting — and something EF co-founder Matt Clifford noted on a brief call with me on Friday — is that India has long-been a source for tech talent generally but this has often been an export industry, spanning prominent leaders of major U.S. tech companies, right down to traditional development outsourcing. “It’s out chance to help reverse the brain drain,” is one way that Clifford framed it. With that said, EF also notes that, according to Startup Genome, Bangalore’s startup ecosystem is valued at $19 billion, with an estimated 1,800-2,300 active tech startups. “The past decade has seen it shift from a purely skill-based factory model to a more startup mindset. There is a genuine interest in tech and an ability to attract highly skilled tech workers,” says the company builder. To that end, EF will invest around $55,000 in each of the companies developed during its bi-annual Bangalore program, while also providing cohort members a monthly stipend of $2,500 as they develop their startup ideas in the first three months. Segments that EF will primarily focus on include defensible technology, AI, machine learning, and robotics, in addition to any opportunities spotted for deep tech consumer companies in India. Graduating startups from EF Bangalore will pitch to “leading regional and global investors” at Investor Day in Singapore next July, alongside counterparts from EF’s Hong Kong and Singapore programs. Meanwhile, the latest EF expansion follows a $12.4 million funding round in 2017 led by Silicon Valley’s Greylock Partners, which also saw Greylock’s Reid Hoffman join the company builder’s…

AllTrails gets $75M to keep hikers happy

The app for hiking enthusiasts just secured a big round of capital that will help it map more trails worldwide. AllTrails has raised $75 million, led by Spectrum Equity, which has taken a majority stake in the company in the process. Founded in 2010, AllTrails raised a small amount of capital years ago from investors, including 2020 Ventures and 500 Startups. It was also part of AngelPad’s inaugural accelerator class. This is its first sizeable round of equity financing. AllTrails provides what it calls an “outdoors platform” that includes crowdsourced reviews of trails from its community of 9 million avid hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners in more than 100 countries. It also provides detailed trail maps and other content tailor-made for outdoorsy folk. The company says its app has been downloaded more than 12 million times. Gear for making outdoor fitness more enjoyable AllTrails was founded by Russell Cook, who recently left to launch another fitness tech startup called FitOn. The company is now led by Jade Van Doren, who joined as CEO in September 2015. “I grew up camping in the Sierras with my grandfather and backpacking up there,” Van Doren told TechCrunch. “I looked around the space and it felt like there was a lot of room to build something meaningful that would help people find places to get outdoors and feel safe once they are out there.” “I got really excited about doing that and we’ve made a lot of progress toward those goals,” he added. “I enjoy waking up in the morning and knowing what we are building is helping people live healthier and more active lifestyles.” Cook said the business is cash flow positive and wasn’t seeking a venture capital infusion when Spectrum approached. He says their expertise in the consumer space — the firm also has investments in Ancestry, WeddingWire and several others — will be a big value-add for AllTrails. In addition to expanding overseas, the company will use the capital to hire aggressively. As part of the deal, Spectrum’s Ben Spero and Matt Neidlinger will join AllTrails’ board of directors.

Want to reduce fraud? Make a better password, dummy!

Researchers at Indiana University have confirmed that stringent password policies – aside from being really annoying – actually work. The research, led by Ph.D. student Jacob Abbott, IU CIO Daniel Calarco, and professor L. Jean Camp. They published their findings in a paper entitled “Factors Influencing Password Reuse: A Case Study.” “Our paper shows that passphrase requirements such as a 15-character minimum length deter the vast majority of IU users (99.98 percent) from reusing passwords or passphrases on other sites,” said Abbott. “Other universities with fewer password requirements had reuse rates potentially as high as 40 percent.” To investigate the impact of policy on password reuse, the study analyzed password policies from 22 different U.S. universities, including their home institution, IU. Next, they extracted sets of emails and passwords from two large data sets that were published online and contained over 1.3 billion email addresses and password combinations. Based on email addresses belonging to a university’s domain, passwords were compiled and compared against a university’s official password policy. The findings were clear: Stringent password rules significantly lower a university’s risk of personal data breaches. In short, requiring longer passwords and creating a truly stringent password policy reduced fraud and password reuse by almost 99%. Further, the researchers found that preventing users from adding their name or username inside passwords it’s also pretty helpful. Ultimately, having a stringent password policy is far better than have none at all. It’s a no-brainer but it could be an important data point for your next tech project.

Zyl is now a nostalgia-powered photo app

AI-powered photo management app Zyl is going back to the drawing board with a streamlined, more efficient redesign. The app is now focused on one thing only — resurfacing your old memories. Taking photos on a smartphone is now a daily habit. But what about looking back at photos you took one year, three years or even eight years ago? It can pile up quite quickly. Zyl thinks there’s emotional value in those long-forgotten photos. Before this update, Zyl helped you delete duplicates, create smart photo albums based on multiple criteria and collaborate on photo albums. In other words, it was a utility app. But when the company started talking with some of their users, they realized that one feature stood out and had more value than the rest. Applying those AI-powered models to your photo library is a great way to find interesting photos. But nobody was really looking at them. When you open the app, you get a view of your camera roll with your last photos at the bottom. There’s also a big green button at the bottom. When you tap on it, Zyl creates a satisfying animation and unveils an important photo. If you took multiple photos to capture this moment, the app stitches together those photos and create a GIF. You can then share this Zyl with a friend or family member. But the true magic happens if you try to get another Zyl. You have to wait 24 hours to unlock another photo. The next day, the app sends you a notification when your photo is ready. You can always open the app again and look at your past Zyls in a new tab with your most important photos. Unlike Timehop or Facebook’s “On This Day” feature, Zyl doesn’t look at your social media posts and focuses on your camera roll. Zyl isn’t limited to anniversaries either. Just like before, Zyl respects your privacy and leaves your photos alone. They’re never sent to the company’s server — Zyl uses the same photo database as the native one on your iPhone or Android phone so…

The real-life Emery and Evan from “Fresh off the Boat” launch Batu Capital for cannabis, crypto and big data startups

Brothers Evan and Emery Huang, founders of Batu Capital Restaurateur and raconteur Eddie Huang is the best known of the three “Fresh off the Boat” brothers (it was his memoir that inspired the ABC sitcom), but his younger brothers Emery and Evan remain relatively mysterious even to its most loyal viewers. Though the two’s namesake characters are also prominently featured on the show, their real-life counterparts have kept a much lower public profile, making sporadic appearances on Eddie’s social media. Emery and Evan, however, have been busy investing in real estate and recently branched into tech startups. Though their multi-family investment office Batu Capital just launched this year, it reached a big milestone this week when one of their first investments, MJ Freeway, an enterprise software developer for the cannabis industry, entered into a merger agreement with MTech that will make it part of a Nasdaq-listed holding company. The fictionalized versions of Evan and Emery Huang, portrayed on “Fresh off the Boat” by Ian Chen and Forrest Wheeler. (Photo by Vivian Zink/ABC via Getty Images) In an interview, the two brothers told TechCrunch about moving into the tech sector and the startups they want to fund in the United States, China and Southeast Asia. Batu Capital is focused on finding companies in the cannabis, blockchain and crypto sectors, as well as big data. In addition to MJ Freeway, which provides enterprise resource planning and compliance tracking software for the cannabis businesses, its portfolio also includes Vidy, a startup building a new approach to video ads on Ethereum, and Sora Ventures, a crypto-backed blockchain and digital currency venture fund. Batu Capital invests in seed or Series A stage companies or Series C and pre-IPO and its typical check size will be about $500,000 to $2 million. Though Batu isn’t a single family office, instead raising capital from a network of limited partners for each investment, its creation was motivated by Emery and Evan’s desire to protect their family’s assets after several generations of political and social upheaval. “Long story short, our family has made and lost fortunes more than five times…

With TodayTix Presents, TodayTix is starting to produce its own live shows

Mobile ticketing app TodayTix is getting into the show production business with the launch of a new program called TodayTix Presents. While TodayTix is sometimes described as the mobile version of the TKTS booth where you can pick up last-minute tickets to Broadway shows, CEO Brian Fenty said that he sees the service’s real competitors as “anything you can do with your night, outside of work — that’s Netflix and ‘Orange is the New Black,’ that’s post-season baseball, that’s a pitcher of margarita.” At the same time, Fenty said after driving a total of $250 million in sales and to 4.6 million customers, the company has built a rich trove of data about people’s cultural interests. So with that in mind, it made sense for TodayTix to follow Netflix’s footsteps with “the same ethos that they had, to develop and to nurture programming and content that’s intimately connected to what users and what customers want to see.” This doesn’t mean TodayTix is going to be producing spectacular Broadway productions. Instead, Fenty pointed to the TodayTix Live concert in Brooklyn last month as the first of these shows. That concert, which celebrated TodayTix’s five-year anniversary and was hosted by Darren Criss, featured (mostly) Broadway stars like Matthew Morrison and Ariana Debose, who (mostly) performed pop standards. Fenty said future TodayTix Live events won’t follow the exact same format, but the idea is to continue featuring popular artists in intimate settings — he compared it to “MTV Unplugged.” In fact, he suggested that with 300 attendees, last month’s concert was about as big as these shows will get. And because these are small, one-off events, Fenty said they’re not competitive with the big shows that TodayTix works with. “[Our partners] are doing longform, high-budget, highly developed shows that take years to develop and are fully baked,” he said. “Really what TodayTix Presents is supposed to be is a work-in-progress, an intimate way to see an artist.” TodayTix already has plans for another New York City event in November, and then two in December. Fenty said “the cadence should roughly be a few events per…

Readdle’s Denys Zhadanov to talk about bootstrapping at Disrupt Berlin

Readdle might not be a familiar name, but chances are you’ve been using some of their mobile apps. The Ukrainian company is a bootstrapped success story with 100 million downloads, 135 employees and a profitable business. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Readdle Vice President Denys Zhadanov is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin to talk about this remarkable journey. Readdle is behind some of the most popular productivity apps on iOS, such as Spark, PDF Expert, Calendars 5, Scanner Pro and Documents. When you browse the top charts in the App Store, there’s always a Readdle app here and there. The App Store has been around for ten years and has created a major shift in the tech industry. Many companies wouldn’t be around without the App Store and the Play Store, such as Uber, Snap, Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram. But the App Store isn’t just about social apps and big venture capital funding rounds. Readdle was there from day one and launched its first app back in 2008. They’ve been growing steadily, launched dozens of paid productivity apps, shut down some of them and iterated on the most successful ones. Readdle’s biggest bet right now is Spark. The company wants to create a better email client for iOS and the Mac. This is an ambitious product with many competitors, including Microsoft’s Outlook and Google’s Gmail. The company is trying a software-as-a-service business model for this product with premium features. In many ways, building such a strong company without external funding is even more impressive than the average startup. And I can’t wait to hear Zhadanov’s take on that. Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on November 29-30. In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup. Denys Zhadanov Vice President of Marketing, Readdle Denys is a Vice President of marketing at Readdle. He is also an advisor, a speaker, and a connector between Ukraine and Silicon Valley. Readdle…

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