DocuSign CEO: ‘we’re becoming a verb,’ company up 37% following public debut

DocuSign CEO Dan Springer was all smiles at the Nasdaq on Friday, following the company’s public debut.

And he had a lot to be happy about. After pricing the IPO at a better-than-expected $29, the company raised $629 million. Then DocuSign finished its first day of trading at $39.73, up 37% in its debut.

Springer, who took over DocuSign just last year, spoke with TechCrunch in a video interview about the direction of the company. “We’ve figured out a way to help businesses really transform the way they operate,” he said about document-signing business. The goal is to “make their life more simple.”

But when asked about the competitive landscape which includes Adobe Sign and HelloSign, Springer was confident that DocuSign is well-positioned to remain the market leader. “We’re becoming a verb,” he said. Springer believes that DocuSign has convinced large enterprises that it is the most secure platform.

Yet the IPO was a long-time coming. The company was formed in 2003 and raised over $500 million over the years from Sigma Partners, Ignition Partners, Frazier Technology Partners, Bain Capital Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, amongst others. It is not uncommon for a venture-backed company to take a decade to go public, but 15 years is atypical, for those that ever reach this coveted milestone.

Dell Technologies Capital president Scott Darling, who sits on the board of DocuSign, said that now was the time to go public because he believes the company “is well positioned to continue aggressively pursuing the $25 billion e-signature market and further revolutionizing how business agreements are handled in the digital age.”

Sales are growing, but it is not yet profitable. DocuSign brought in $518.5 million in revenue for its fiscal year ending in 2018. This is an increase from $381.5 million last year and $250.5 million the year before. Losses for this year were $52.3 million, reduced from $115.4 million last year and, $122.6 million for 2016.

Springer says DocuSign won’t be in the red for much longer. The company is “on that fantastic path to GAAP profitability.” He believes that international expansion is a big opportunity for growth.

France’s BlaBlaCar acquires carpool startup Less in ongoing ridesharing consolidation

The ongoing trend of consolidation in the world of ridesharing continues apace, with the latest development coming out of Europe. BlaBlaCar, the French carpooling platform, is acquiring Less, a young carpooling platform based in Paris and focusing only on urban rides, paying drivers on a per-kilometer rate to incentivize them.

The financial terms are not being disclosed but BlaBlaCar is picking up all of the company’s assets — it mentions skills and IP in app creation and distribution, big data analytics and in-car embedded systems — and employees (around 20 in all).

Less was less than mature. Co-founded by the founder of adtech firm Criteo, Jean-Baptiste Rudelle, it had launched a beta of its service only five months ago, in December 2017 (and it was founded about 18 months ago altogether).

Two salient facts of the ride-sharing industry are that it’s generally a very capital-intensive business — market leader Uber has raised $21 billion, for context — and it is built on economies of scale, and those two forces have been leading to a lot of movement, with the bigger fish snapping up the more promising of the smaller fish, and many more startups going belly up. Less threw in the towel so quickly, in part, because it didn’t see itself able to hit the right growth targets to survive.

“Less is conscious of the challenges of creating a scalable marketplace in the mobility space, and anticipating consolidation within the market, the team wanted to combine its forces with an established industry player”, said Rudelle, the CEO of Less, in a statement to TechCrunch.

BlaBlaCar has made seven other acquisitions in its own efforts to position itself as a Big Fish, including its closest competitor, Carpooling.

Less is not disclosing how many users it had, but BlaBlaCar itself now has around 60 million users in 22 countries.

BlaBlaCar has raised about $335 million in funding to date from investors that include Accel and Insight Venture Partners; and it was last valued at $1.6 billion when it raised $200 million back in 2015 (when it had only 20 million users). Less had raised $19 million from investors that included Index Ventures (who had also been one of Criteo’s early and consistent backers).

What the acquisition of Less will do potentially is help BlaBlaCar build out its short-distance urban mobility play. The bigger company got its start originally by focusing on long-distance rides, although last year it expanded into city rides with BlaBlaLines.

BlaBlaLines has been building out its service with riders paying drivers directly, in cash, while Less’s model is based on a per-kilometer fee — currently €0.10/km — in the city of Paris, the only place Less had launched. It’s reasonable to expect that one outcome of this deal will be BlaBlaLines taking on a similar pricing model.

“We are delighted to welcome an innovative and talented team that is just as passionate about carpooling as we are,” said Nicolas Brusson, co-founder and CEO of BlaBlaCar, in a statement. “Today’s acquisition takes place at a period of real innovation at BlaBlaCar, following the roll-out of BlaBlaLines across France, and the development of a new algorithm that increases the granularity of our long-distance service.”

Asia-based recruitment app GetLinks nabs investment led by Alibaba’s Hong Kong fund

GetLinks, a Thailand-based startup that offers a job finder app in six countries Southeast Asia and neighboring regions, has closed new funding led by Australia’s Seek group and Alibaba’s Hong Kong Entrepreneur fund.

The size of the investment was not disclosed. GetLinks previously raised $500,000 in 2016, and it later added $150,000 more to that round. GetLinks said Thailand’s SCG and a number of existing investors also took part in the round,

The deal seems highly strategic for the young company given those two lead investors. Publicly listed in Australia, Seek operates employment services in 19 countries, including popular Southeast Asia portals JobStreet and JobsDB. Its interest is centered around GetLink’s digital focus, which includes community events and a mobile app for job-seekers.

Alibaba started its Hong Kong fund, which has a total budget $130 million, in 2015. Its mandate is to support Hong Kong-based companies or ventures led by Hong Kong Chinese founders.

GetLinks doesn’t immediately seem spring to mind — its founder Djoann Fal is French and it was started in Thailand — but the company has an office (and entity) in Hong Kong, while co-founder and chairman Keenan Kwok is from Hong Kong.

The Alibaba fund — which is distinct from Alibaba Group and its e-commerce business — has typically invested in companies that can leverage its massive online retail footprint, but in GetLinks case the two companies are looking to pool their resources around the use of AI and machine learning in education.

GetLinks is planning to expand from recruitment into offering skills and talent training. That, plus is core business, are areas where Alibaba may help with its AI might. The Chinese firm launched a $15 billion initiative into emerging technology, including AI, last year and GetLinks could be one partner to help train its core AI tech and systems.

More generally, Alibaba is also working to build a footprint in Southeast Asia, and GetLinks fits into that focus. Alibaba owns e-commerce firm Lazada, has invested in Indonesia’s Tokopedia and — as we reported earlier this month — it is in talks to invest in Grab. In addition, its fintech affiliate Ant Financial has been busy striking deals across the region.

GetLinks claims to have 500,000 registered job seekers, with 3,000 companies on its platform.

Hasura snares $1.6 M seed for developer-focused Kubernetes solution

Kubernetes has gained in popularity quickly over the last 18 months, but like many highly technical solutions it requires a level of expertise many companies are lacking. A Bangalore/San Francisco startup called Hasura hopes to simplify all of that with a managed Kubernetes solution built with developers in mind.

Today, the company announced a $1.6 million seed round led by Nexus Venture Partners with participation from GREE Ventures.

Kubernetes is a tool that helps companies running containers juggle or orchestrate them. This level of organization is required because the number of containers can grow quickly. If you think of a conductor telling the musicians when to come in and when to leave, Kubernetes plays a similar role for the container system. (For a more complete explanation of containers, see this article.)

The company has focused on getting developers up to speed with the latest technologies quickly. “Our focus from the beginning has been making the application development super fast. How we do that is placing our APIs on top of a PostGres database to deploy any kind of code,” Tanmai Gopal, Hasura CEO and co-founder explained.

Gopal says the idea is to be more than a managed Kubernetes provider by giving developers the tooling they need to get going without having to build the underlying code for every application. “We are going to be the last mile. We’re not just managing the Kubernetes cluster for you. You should have Kubernetes to have control [over your containerized applications], but you also need developer tooling to build on top of it faster,” he said. “We want to automate the unnecessary code writing kind of grunt work. We started off by saying, ‘let’s automate this piece so you don’t have to write this code again’,” he added.

Once they wrote that piece, they realized that this is relevant because this approach enables cloud native in way that wasn’t possible before. “We suddenly realized we were in the right place at the right time, and part of it was luck,” Gopal admitted. It was also skill in providing a set of tools developers could use to build on top of Kubernetes.

Sameer Brij Verma, managing director at lead investor Nexus Venture Partners sees Kubernetes quickly becoming a foundational technology for developers and Hasura is providing a way to get up and running with little expertise. “Using Hasura’s platform, developers can now create cloud-native, portable and “elastic” applications within a few minutes without knowing anything about Kubernetes in the beginning,” Verma said in a statement.

The company launched last year and is split between Bangalore, India and San Francisco.

Etleap scores $1.5 million seed to transform how we ingest data

Etleap is a play on words for a common set of data practices: extract, transform and load. The startup is trying to place these activities in a modern context, automating what they can and in general speeding up what has been a tedious and highly technical practice. Today, they announced a $1.5 million seed round.

Investors include First Round Capital, SV Angel, Liquid2, BoxGroup and other unnamed investors. The startup launched five years ago as a Y Combinator company. It spent a good 2.5 years building out the product says CEO and founder Christian Romming. They haven’t required additional funding up until now because they have been working with actual customers. Those include Okta, PagerDuty and Mode among others.

Romming started out at ad tech startup VigLink and while there he encounter a problem that was hard to solve. “Our analysts and scientists were frustrated. Integration of the data sources wasn’t always a priority and when something broke, they couldn’t get it fixed until a developer looked at it.” That lack of control slowed things down and made it hard to keep the data warehouse up-to-date.

He saw an opportunity in solving that problem and started Etleap. While there were (and continue to be) legacy solutions like Informatica, Talend and Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services, he said when he studied these at a deeply technical level, he found they required a great deal of help to implement. He wanted to simplify ETL as much as possible, putting data integration into the hands of much less technical end users, rather than relying on IT and consultants.

One of the problems with traditional ETL is that the data analysts who make use of the data tend to get involved very late after the tools have already been chosen and Romming says his company wants to change that. “They get to consume whatever IT has created for them. You end up with a bread line where analysts are at the mercy of IT to get their jobs done. That’s one of the things we are trying to solve. We don’t think there should be any engineering at all to set up ETL pipeline,” he said.

Etleap is delivered as managed SaaS or you can run it within your company’s AWS accounts. Regardless of the method, it handles all of the managing, monitoring and operations for the customer.

Romming emphasizes that the product is really built for cloud data warehouses. For now, they are concentrating on the AWS ecosystem, but have plans to expand beyond that down the road. “We want help more enterprise companies make better use of their data, while modernizing data warehousing infrastructure and making use of cloud data warehouses,” he explained.

The company is currently has 15 employees, but Romming plans to at least double that in the next 12-18 months, mostly increasing the engineering team to help further build out the product and create more connectors.

Glowforge opens public orders for its desktop 3D laser cutter

Hardware startup Glowforge, which makes a desktop laser cutter and engraver for home or office use, has finally opened up sales to the general public.

The maker-targeted device, which can ‘print’ (read: engrave/laser cut) a variety of materials including leather, wood, acrylic, glass, and even the metal surface of a Macbook, starts at $2,495 for the entry level machine, rising to a full $5,995 for the pro model — which is billed as faster, able to print larger items, and capable of running for longer periods.

With a starter price-tag of $2.5k Glowforge is clearly not for everyone. Though arguably it does offer more creative bang for your buck than, say, the equally expensive Skydio face-tracking selfie drone. But horses for courses, and all that.

The Seattle-based startup has also topped up with $10M more in VC funding, according GeekWire, from existing investors True Ventures and Foundry Group — who also backed its $22M Series B, in mid 2016, and an earlier $9M Series A.

Glowforge has raised just over $60M at this point, according to Crunchbase, including pulling in almost $30M in pre-sales via a crowdfunding campaign back in 2015. We first covered the hardware startup ahead of that, when it announced its Series A.

Safe to say, it’s been a long journey to turn the founders’ novel idea and prototype into a market-ready and robust laser cutter — and get that into all its backers’ hands.

It’s also clearly been a frustrating process at times. But Glowforge now at least appears confident it can fulfill orders in a timely fashion — it’s offering a May 3 shipping date to new buyers (within the US).

That said, it does not look like all original backers have had their device shipped though.

According to founder Dan Shapiro’s comments to GeekWire, there are some backers who still haven’t got their device — for a few different reasons. “There’s some folks who haven’t replied, asked us not to send it yet, or live in a country that’s awaiting regulatory approval,” he told it.

A quasi-optional air filter component for the Glowforge — which costs an additional $995 — also isn’t shipping until November. (A note on the website says the machine can be used without it, though in that case it warns the placement of the machine “needs a window or 4″ dryer hose”.)

 

Pivotal CEO talks IPO and balancing life in Dell family of companies

Pivotal has kind of a strange role for a company. On one hand its part of the EMC federation companies that Dell acquired in 2016 for a cool $67 billion, but it’s also an independently operated entity within that broader Dell family of companies — and that has to be a fine line to walk.

Whatever the challenges, the company went public yesterday and joined VMware as a  separately traded company within Dell. CEO Rob Mee says the company took the step of IPOing because it wanted additional capital.

“I think we can definitely use the capital to invest in marketing and R&D. The wider technology ecosystem is moving quickly. It does take additional investment to keep up,” Mee told TechCrunch just a few hours after his company rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

As for that relationship of being a Dell company, he said that Michael Dell let him know early on after the EMC acquisition that he understood the company’s position. “From the time Dell acquired EMC, Michael was clear with me: You run the company. I’m just here to help. Dell is our largest shareholder, but we run independently. There have been opportunities to test that [since the acquisition] and it has held true,” Mee said.

Mee says that independence is essential because Pivotal has to remain technology-agnostic and it can’t favor Dell products and services over that mission. “It’s necessary because our core product is a cloud-agnostic platform. Our core value proposition is independence from any provider — and Dell and VMware are infrastructure providers,” he said.

That said, Mee also can play both sides because he can build products and services that do align with Dell and VMware offerings. “Certainly the companies inside the Dell family are customers of ours. Michael Dell has encouraged the IT group to adopt our methods and they are doing so,” he said. They have also started working more closely with VMware, announcing a container partnership last year.

Photo: Ron Miller

Overall though he sees his company’s mission in much broader terms, doing nothing less than helping the world’s largest companies transform their organizations. “Our mission is to transform how the world builds software. We are focused on the largest organizations in the world. What is a tailwind for us is that the reality is these large companies are at a tipping point of adopting how they digitize and develop software for strategic advantage,” Mee said.

The stock closed up 5 percent last night, but Mee says this isn’t about a single day. “We do very much focus on the long term. We have been executing to a quarterly cadence and have behaved like a public company inside Pivotal [even before the IPO]. We know how to do that while keeping an eye on the long term,” he said.

Pivotal Software closed up 5% following IPO, raised $555 million

Stock market investors showed lukewarm enthusiasm for Pivotal Software’s debut on Friday. After pricing the IPO at $15, the company closed the day at $15.73.

Although it didn’t “pop” for new investors, pricing at the midpoint of its proposed range allowed Pivotal to raise $555 million. Its public company market cap exceeded $3 billion.

The enterprise cloud computing company has been majority-owned by Dell, which came about after its merger with EMC in 2016. It was spun off from Dell, EMC and VMware in April 2013.

After that, it raised $1.7 billion in funding from Microsoft, Ford and General Electric.

Here’s how it describes its business in the S-1 filing:

Pivotal looks to “provide a leading cloud-native platform that makes software development and IT operations a strategic advantage for our customers. Our cloud-native platform, Pivotal  Cloud Foundry (‘PCF’), accelerates and streamlines software development by reducing the complexity of building, deploying and operating new cloud-native applications and modernizing legacy applications.”

According to the filing, Pivotal brought in $509.4 million in revenue for its fiscal year ending in February. This is up from $416.3 million in revenue for 2017 and $280.9 million in revenue the year before.

The company is still losing a lot of money, however. Losses for fiscal 2018 stood at $163.5 million, improved from the than the negative $232.5 million seen in 2017 and $282.5 million in 2016.

“We have incurred substantial losses and may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to achieve and sustain profitability,” the company warned in the requisite “risk factors” section of its IPO filing.

Pivotal also acknowledged that it faces competition from “legacy application infrastructure and middleware form vendors” like IBM and Oracle. The company says it additionally competes with “open-source based offerings supported by vendors” like RedHat. Pivotal also faces challenges from SAP Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

The company says it believes it will stand out from the pack because of its strong security and easy-to-use platform. Pivotal also claims to have strong brand awareness and a good reputation. It has 118 U.S. patents and 73 pending and is betting that it will remain innovative.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs served as lead underwriters. Davis Polk and Fenwick & West worked as counsel.

The company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “PVTL.”

It has been an active spring for tech IPOs, after a slow winter. Dropbox, Spotify and Zuora are amongst the companies that have gone public in recent weeks. DocuSign, Smartsheet, Carbon Black and Pluralsight are all expected to debut within the next month.

RealSelf, a community for cosmetic treatments, raises $40 million

RealSelf, an online community where people can ask questions, share their experiences and connect with doctors providing cosmetic treatments, has raised $40 million in new funding – its first round of financing since the $2 million raised in 2008, two years after its founding. The round was led by Elephant, a VC firm co-founded by Warby Parker co-founder Andy Hunt.

Hunt will also join RealSelf’s board of directors with the close of this round.

RealSelf offers one of the largest online communities for those who want to learn more about cosmetic procedures, including plastic surgery and other non-surgical treatments, like Botox injections. It’s the sort of thing people don’t necessarily want to talk about openly on social networks, but RealSelf has found a way to get people to socialize around the topic. Its users – anonymously – post reviews, have discussions, ask questions, and even detail their progress in post-op photos series.

Reading through someone’s experiences not only gives people better insight into what a procedure is like, it also provides an emotional support system for those who are recovering.

The idea for the company came from Expedia alum Tom Seery, following a discussion he had with his wife about how hard it was to get the true story about which cosmetic treatments are actually worth the cost and show results. RealSelf’s goal is to bring more transparency to a market where customers before had been sold on promises and hype, often by doctors who would gloss over the downsides – like months spent in painful recovery – or the potential bad outcomes from riskier procedures.

Since its launch, RealSelf has grown to include over 2 million anonymous patient reviews, ratings and photos regarding hundreds of different aesthetic procedures.

And demand for this sort of information continues to grow, along with the overall market.

Last year, for example, there were over 17.5 million surgical and non-surgical cosmetic treatments performed in the U.S., up from 13.1 million procedures in 2010, the company notes. Much of that growth comes from minimally invasive, non-surgical treatments, which outpaced surgeries nearly eight to one.

With more people looking for information about these procedures online, RealSelf has seen its visitor counts climb. Last year, nearly 94 million people visited the site from over 100 countries – a metric that’s up more than 270 percent since 2013. 40 percent of those visitors were from outside the U.S.

In addition to helping users network and review their own treatments, RealSelf also allows doctors to answer users’ questions, create profiles, share their own before-and-after’s, and offer consultations to those who contact them.

The company makes money by offering these doctors a way to target their potential customers, and has been profitable for years as a result.

Every month, RealSelf facilitates around 500,000 connections between consumers and doctors, the company says.

The funding will allow RealSelf to add fuel to its fire, says its founder.

“Our investors bring incredible experience and insight in building household name brands and businesses for the long-term. I am thrilled to have Elephant and our other new investors join our roster and welcome Andy to our board,” said Seery, in an announcement about the round. “We’ve bootstrapped RealSelf into a market leading position that helps millions learn about cosmetic treatments and connect with doctors. Now is our time to step on the gas. We are doubling down to grow awareness, drive innovation and extend our global reach to help anyone considering cosmetic treatments make more confident decisions,” he added.

The company, which already has over 200 employees, plans to hire “significantly” this year, and double its office space in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood in June. It has also just brought on its first CMO, Tanja Omeze, previously the head of marketing for the Amazon Video Store, and who had led marketing at Weight Watchers, Verizon Wireless and Scholastic.

“Tom and the team at RealSelf have done an amazing job building a trusted marketplace where consumers and medical experts come together to share information and connect,” said RealSelf’s new board member, Hunt. “Historically, we have invested in companies that provide consumers with transparency in complex markets. RealSelf has built the leading platform allowing consumers to find detailed information, share stories and make better, safer decisions about extremely personal aesthetics choices,” he said.

 

 

 

Eventbrite acquires Spanish ticketing platform Ticketea

Eventbrite has been shopping again in Europe — announcing today that it’s picked up Spanish ticketing firm, Ticketea. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The Madrid-based events discovery and ticketing platform lets people find and book tickets for a variety of live experiences — including festivals, concerts and performing arts shows. It focuses on Spanish speaking countries and small and mid-sized event organizers.

Eventbrite said the acquisition will help expand its global footprint in music events, including via the Arenal Sound, Viña Rock, Low Festival, and Dreambeach festivals.

It also flagged Ticketea’s “robust ecosystem of third-party integrations” — selling tickets for prominent entertainment events and brands, such as The Billy Elliot Musical, Cirque du Soleil, and Museo Nacional del Prado — as another attraction.

In a statement on the acquisition Julia Hartz, CEO and co-founder of Eventbrite, lauded Ticketea’s approach to solving the event industry’s challenges — saying its “robust discovery platform” was of interest, along with the company’s “strong leadership position” in the southern European market (not just Spain).

“There is incredible synergy between our two companies from a business, platform, and brand perspective,” added Hartz. “We’re thrilled to welcome their talented team, who shares our core mission of bringing people together through live experiences, to the Eventbrite family.”

Javier Andres, co-founder and CEO of Ticketea, is joining Eventbrite as country director for Spain and Portugal.

“We have been building a significant market presence in Spain for nearly a decade. It’s exciting to be recognized by the global leader in event technology as they invest more heavily in our growing market,” he said in a supporting statement.

“We look forward to extending the impact of both our team and technology far beyond country borders, to the more than 180 countries and territories where their powerful platform gives rise to millions of events today.”

According to Crunchbase Ticketea has raised just $5.7M since being founded, all the way back in 2009, so its investors — which include Madrid-based VC firm Seaya Ventures — are likely to be patting themselves on the back about a nice little return on their investment.

Ticketea is not the only European ticket firm that Eventbrite has bagged in recent years. Last year the billion-dollar event-management platform also acquired Ticketscript, a ticketing startup based out of Amsterdam.

In 2017 it also splurged on US-based Nivite, and Ticketfly — picking the latter up from Pandora, and shelling out $200M.