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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Today Crunch News, News Updates, Tech News

Today Crunch News, News Updates, Tech News


SoftBank reportedly balks at commitment to buy $3B in shares from WeWork shareholders

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 05:16 PM PDT

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that SoftBank Group is using regulatory investigations as a way to back out of its commitment to buy $3 billion in shares from existing WeWork shareholders.

WeWork’s spectacular train wreck of an initial public offering was an early harbinger that the good times might be over for a cohort of later-stage investments valued at multiple billions of dollars. And the buyout package was part of a broader effort by SoftBank to work out some of the issues at the most troubled company in its broad portfolio of high-priced, highly valued private startups.

Among those who would be left out of a potential buyback plan is WeWork’s founder and former chief executive, Adam Neumann, who was set to receive up to $970 million for his shares in the co-working company.

Citing a notice sent to WeWork shareholders, the Journal reported that if SoftBank reneged on the buyback, it would not go back on its commitment to give the office sharing company a $5 billion lifeline.

According to the Journal’s reporting, the deal to buy back shares isn’t canceled, and could just be an effort to renegotiate terms in light of the global economic slowdown caused by the world’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, the SEC and the Justice Department, along with New York state regulators, have asked for information from SoftBank about WeWork’s business practices and communications to investors.

Revolut launches Revolut Junior to help you manage allowance

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 05:00 PM PDT

Revolut is introducing a new product specifically targeted toward kids aged 7-17 years old — Revolut Junior. Revolut Junior is a new app and service that integrates directly with the main Revolut app on the parent’s side.

Parents or legal gardians who are also Revolut users can create a Revolut Junior account for their kid. After that, your kid can download the Revolut Junior app and get a Revolut Junior card.

The new app offers a limited set of features with an interface divided in two tabs — Account and Profile. Kids can see a list of transactions in real time in the Account tab. They can configure card settings in the Profile tab. And that's about it.

On the other end, parents can control their kids' spending from Revolut. They can transfer money to a Revolut Junior account instantly. Parents can also access balances and transactions as well as disable some card features, such as online payments. They can also choose to receive notifications when a child is using their card.

The reason why Revolut Junior can attract a ton of users is that Revolut itself already has over 10 million users. It's going to be easier to convince existing Revolut customers to use Revolut Junior over a custom-made challenger bank for teens, such as Kard or Step. Arguably, the biggest competitor of challenger banks for teens is still cash.

As kids grow up, chances are they'll switch to a full-fledged Revolut account if they've been using Revolut Junior for years. Revolut Junior represents a great acquisition funnel as well.

Revolut Junior is only available to Premium and Metal customers in the U.K. for now. The company will eventually roll it out to more users and more countries.

Revolut plans to add more features to Revolut Junior in the future. For instance, parents will be able to set a regular allowance and financial goals. Kids will get savings options, spending reports, spending limits and more.

Facebook is wrongly blocking some links, including coronavirus info

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 04:25 PM PDT

Facebook is suffering from a massive bug in its News Feed spam filter, causing URLs to legitimate websites including Medium, Buzzfeed, and USA Today to be blocked from being shared as posts or comments. The issue is blocking shares of some but not all coronavirus-related content, while some unrelated links are allowed through and others are not. It’s not clear what exactly is or isn’t tripping the filter. Facebook has been trying to fight back against misinformation related to the outbreak, but may have gotten overzealous or experienced a technical error.

A source tipped us off and provided numerous examples of blocked links. We reached out to Facebook for comment and a company spokesperson told us “We're looking into this right now and working as quickly as possible to share information. [I] can confirm at this point that we're looking into the matter, can't confirm what might be happening just yet.”

Facebook’s Guy Rosen later tweeted that “We’re on this – this is a bug in an anti-spam system, unrelated to any changes in our content moderator workforce. We’re in the process of fixing and bringing all these posts back. More soon.” Facebook sent home its content moderators this week and announced it would be relying more on its artificial intelligence systems, warning it could make “more mistakes”.

Upon sharing certain links, users are seeing a warning from Facebook stating “Your post goes against our Community Standards on spam”. It goes on to explain that “No one else can see your post. We have these standards to prevent things like false advertising, fraud and security breaches.”

Earlier this month, Facebook banned ads for protective face masks in an effort to prevent price gouging during the outbreak. Facebook has also been sharing contagion prevention tips atop Instagram’s home screen, sending misinformation to fact-checkers for review, and providing data to researchers.

Facebook has grown into a fundamental communications utility, holding special importance during the COVID-19 crisis. News organizations are sharing life saving tips while non-profits are raising money for artists and businesses impacted by widespread quarantine orders. That means it’s more critical than ever that Facebook keep information flowing properly.

Virtual reality scales back its real world presence

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 04:18 PM PDT

While few things may me feel more like social distancing than suiting up in a haptic feedback suit and strapping a computer to your face, location-based virtual reality startups have begun closing up shop alongside a host of other entertainment businesses.

The closures came quickly Monday as city governments began announcing far-reaching measures.

Disney-backed VR startup The Void announced Monday that they would be closing all of their locations in North America. LA’s Two Bit Circus closed their doors yesterday because of Covid-19. Dreamscape Immersive announced yesterday that it has temporarily closed all of its VR entertainment centers across Los Angeles, Dallas, Columbus and Dubai.

“As much as we enjoy sharing virtual reality worlds with you, we cannot ignore what’s happening in the real world,” a post on Dreamscape Immersive’s site read in part.

Not all location-based VR startups have fully scaled back operations stateside. A16z-backed Sandbox VR has temporarily closed locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco (where city officials have mandated closures for most entertainment venues), though the rest of their U.S. locations appear to remain open for reservations on their website. We’ve reached out for more details.

The broader closings are an unsurprising development as more governments across the country push to temporarily shutter non-essential public businesses, something that has swiftly impacted entertainment venues. AMC and Regal announced yesterday that they would each be closing down all of their US theaters temporarily.

Location-based VR startups have been some of the more resilient companies in the face of what has been a years-long slog for the virtual reality industry. Sandbox VR has raised more than $82 million from investors, Dreamscape Immersive has raised over $36 million, while The Void has raised $20 million.

Most of these startups create or license gaming content and allow consumers to book appointments to try out the title. Their success has largely been tied to their independence from broader consumer VR headset sales which have largely failed to meet early expectations by wide margins.

FAA temporarily closes tower at Chicago’s Midway Airport after employees test positive for COVID-19

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 04:12 PM PDT

In another example for the farreaching effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the FAA today said that it is temporarily closing the tower at Midway Airport, the second largest airport in the Chicago area. In a statement, the FAA says that that several technicians at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. For a while, there was a ground stop in effect for Midway and no flights could take off to land at the airport.

In its statement, FAA notes that the airport remains open and that operations will continue at a reduced rate.

“The air traffic system is a resilient system with multiple backups in place. This shift is a regular execution of a longstanding contingency plan to ensure continued operations. Each facility across the country has a similar plan that has been updated and tested in recent years,” the FAA says in a statement. How exactly the airport will operate without a working control tower is unclear, though. Smaller airports often revert to being uncontrolled fields after the tower closes at night and have procedures in place for this. That’s not typically the case for large airports like Midway, though, which are staffed 24/7.

Update (4:55pm PT): the airport has now clarified how it will keep the tower staffed.

The largest airline at Midway is Southwest Airlines, though Delta Air Lines also flies there.

In a separate statement, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the labor union for aviation safety professionals, asks that all who work at the tower should be tested for the disease. “NATCA is adamant that the testing must occur immediately and is hopeful there will be no additional COVID-19 infections. We are encouraged that the FAA is pursuing the rapid testing of all personnel at [Midway] Tower,” the organization writes.

Fox gets deeper into streaming with $440 million acquisition of Tubi

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 04:04 PM PDT

Fox Corp., the broadcast news and entertainment company holding what remains of the Murdoch Family’s television and cable sports and media assets after the sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney, has agreed to acquire the streaming service Tubi TV  for $440 million. 

Tubi, once of a now-dwindling number of free ad-supported streaming services, will bring a new digitally native consumer offering to Fox with younger-skewing audience that consumes roughly 160 million hours of entertainment on the platform, according to a statement.

Available on over 25 digital platforms in the U.S. and featuring 20,000 titles and 56,000 hours of film and television from 250 content partners — including major studios — will now be able to pull from Fox’s stable of news and sports programming in addition to all that licensed television and film.

Fox said that it will integrate its digital advertising, direct-to-consumer features, and personalization technology into Tubi’s advertising platform. Fox watchers can now expect to see a deluge of Tubi ads flood their appointment watching of Neil Cavuto and Fox and Friends.

“Tubi will immediately expand our direct-to-consumer audience and capabilities and will provide our advertising partners with more opportunities to reach audiences at scale,” said Fox Corp. chief executive, Lachlan Murdoch in a statement. “Importantly, coupled with the combined power of Fox’s existing networks, Tubi provides a substantial base from which we will drive long-term growth in the direct-to-consumer area.”

Tubi’s chief executive, Farhad Massoudi, will continue to lead Tubi’s efforts and said that Fox’s relationships with advertisers and distributors would be a big boost to the company’s growth.

Fox is paying for the Tubi acquisition with money earned from its sale of the 5 percent stake it held in Roku — another ad-supported streamer. The company said it was basically exchanging a passive minority investment in Roku for full ownership and control of a leadership position in the free ad-supported streaming market.

It’ll be interesting to see how Fox adjusts programming on the service which primarily comes from Warner Bros., Paramount, Lionsgate and NBCUniversal .

With the acquisition, Fox becomes the second big old-line network to buy into the ad-supported streaming business. In January, Viacom bought the streaming service PlutoTV for $340 million.

Fox was advised by Allen & Co. on the deal, while Qatalyst Partners served as Tubi’s sole financial adviser.

 

Where top VCs are investing in remote events

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 02:24 PM PDT

The novel coronavirus pandemic has rapidly moved companies into a remote-first world.

Nearly all of the world's largest events have been canceled, put on pause or pivoted to online-only. In the tech world, event cancellations thus far have included SXSW, GDC, Mobile World Congress, Google I/O, Facebook F8, E3 and others.

As more and more hosts consider staging fully remote events as possible alternatives, we decided to take a deeper look into the venture-backed startups focused on supporting large-scale virtual gatherings, like Hopin and Run The World. To further understand the impact of COVID-19, we asked five leading VCs who have invested in or have knowledge of startups focused on remote events to update us on the state of the market and to share where they see opportunity in the sector:

Sarah Cannon, Index Ventures

Which trends in remote events/conferencing excite you the most from an investing perspective?

Join TC tomorrow at 9 am PT for a chat about the latest YC startup batch

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 02:00 PM PDT

Hello TechCrunch friends and family, tomorrow morning at 9 am Pacific Time we’re gathering on Zoom for an in-depth chat about our favorite startups from the latest Y Combinator Demo Day. This year’s installment of the twice-yearly startup event happened yesterday, a week early and online only.

Like many other things, Demo Day was adapted to a new format in the face of COVID-19 disruptions. Despite that, TechCrunch wrote a host of posts on the companies that presented (you can see our notes here), dug into a number of the startups individually (here and here, for example), and sat down with Y Combinator’s CEO for an interview.

We’re wrapping all of that with a group chat about the entire affair. We’d host this from the office in more regular years, but, it’s 2020, and so we’re all gathering on Zoom which means that everyone is invited to listen in.

Here are the details:

  • What? TechCrunch team chat about YC 2020 and all the coolest companies
  • When? 9 am Pacific Time
  • How long? About 30 minutes, give or take
  • Where? Here, on Zoom
  • Should I not mute myself and annoy everyone tuned in? No, please mute yourself

We’re recording the chat, and plan to make it available to Extra Crunch subscribers shortly after we’re done. But the main call is open to everyone, so add it to your calendar and we’ll see you there.

Dear Sophie: How do I get visas for my team to work from home?

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 01:45 PM PDT

Here’s another edition of "Dear Sophie," the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

"Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams," says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. "Whether you're in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column."

"Dear Sophie" columns are accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie:
I sent my startup team home to work remotely for several weeks. We have several folks on visas and work permits — am I supposed to do anything special for them? Can I proactively get visas for future employees to primarily work from home?

— Burrowing in Burlingame

Dear Burrowing,

CO2-based vodka startup Air Co. fully redirects its tech to making hand sanitizer for donation

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 01:40 PM PDT

A NYC-based startup that developed technology that extracts carbon dioxide from the air and combines it with water to create vodka has redirected its entire production capacity toward producing hand sanitizer, every bottle of which will be donated through collaboration with NYC officials, and potentially to local restaurants who employ delivery personnel providing critical service as social distancing and isolation measures continue.

Air Co. launched its vodka just last year, using a process it developed (which has received awards from NASA and XPrize) that is actually net carbon-negative. It involves pulling around one pound of carbon dioxide from the air which is then combined with water and turned into pure ethanol using solar-based renewable energy. Ethanol also happens to be the key active ingredient in hand sanitizer, which is generally between 60% and 95% alcohol in its most effective iterations.

Air Co.’s CEO and co-founder Gregory Constantine told me via email that because the company was founded on the basis of fulfilling a mission of social good, the startup wanted to find some way to help with community efforts to counter the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It naturally turned to producing hand sanitizer made up 70% ethanol, its technology’s primary output.

The company isn’t looking to cash in on the current (ill-advised) panic-buying trends, which see supplies of hand sanitizer sold out or dwindling across major retailers and Amazon . Instead, even though it’s now directing 100% of its production capacity to making hand sanitizer, it’s also donating all of the volume it produces.

While Constantine says that initially they’ve been producing smaller volumes than they’d like, and are looking at ramping production by shifting their methods, they’ve still managed to put out more than 1,000 50mL bottles, and will “continue to make 1,000 bottles per week and push supply as much as our technology allows us to.”

I asked Constantine how they’re figuring out who receives the hand sanitizer they’re donating, given the many possible parties who would appreciate this kind of charitable action.

“We’re going to be directly supplying all donations at the advice of the city,” he said. “We are also looking to work with local restaurants to have them provide food delivery drivers with our sanitizer given that bars and restaurants have had to shut their doors to patrons, leaving delivery services at the forefront of food services here in New York City.”

Given that they have shifted production away from their revenue-generating business for this effort, I also asked Constantine how long they plan to keep this up. Despite uncertainty about how long the need will exist, he said, they’re going to try to continue producing the sanitizer “for as long as [they] can.”

“We have shifted our production and are running on a very limited team to ensure that we are not furthering the spread of the virus in our efforts,” he added. “Every small piece of help from any person or business goes a long way in a time of need like this, and we plan to help however we can.”

Rocket Lab gets NASA certification for official smallsat launches

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 01:37 PM PDT

Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has received Category 1 certification from NASA, meaning it is authorized for use on more important missions, opening up a whole new revenue stream for the growing launch provider.

The certification was largely based on the success of “This One’s for Pickering” in late 2018, the company’s fourth commercial launch, which took a batch of NASA cubesats into orbit as part of the ELaNa-19 mission. This experimental mission was undertaken as part of NASA’s Venture Class Launch Services initiative to test out newer and smaller launch vehicles using non-critical payloads.

“We have a strong partnership with NASA that was established through the ELaNa-19 launch and continues today with the upcoming CAPSTONE mission that will see our Electron launch vehicle and Photon spacecraft deliver a NASA satellite to lunar orbit next year,” said Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck in a news release.

Certification categories go from 1-3, from “high risk” to “low risk,” based largely on successful launches, which as you might imagine is something of a catch-22: You need the launches to get the certification, but you need the certification to get the launches. Fortunately, one can break the cycle with non-essential missions like small experimental satellites — which is sort of the purpose of the VCLS program.

NASA also conducts careful inspections of facilities, manufacturing, and all that. NASA’s Darren Bedell, risk manager for the agency’s Launch Services group, noted that “Rocket Lab’s management team are deliberate in ensuring processes are controlled, repeatable, and measurable to ensure mission success.”

Category 2 certification is in process, but is of course even more stringent and requires six consecutive successful missions with the same rocket configuration. Rocket Lab has 10 in a row at present, but there’s likely a lot of paperwork involved as well.

The company’s next launch is for NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office and the University of New South Wales — window opens on March 27 (local New Zealand time).

Lime pauses scooter operations in select markets amid COVID-19

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 01:22 PM PDT

Lime is pausing its electric scooter operations in California and Washington, as well as throughout the countries of Italy, France and Spain to help keep riders safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like you, we are worried about the cities we love and call home, the people we serve, and our colleagues on the ground,” Lime wrote in a blog post today. “Loving cities means protecting them too. For now, we’re pausing Lime service to help people stay put and stay safe.”

The announcement came a day after San Francisco ordered residents to shelter in place, and shortly before New York City told residents to prepare for a shelter-in-place order. Lime will continue operating in other markets but says it has enhanced its cleaning and disinfecting methods.

Spin, on the other hand, is choosing not to suspend its service in San Francisco, unless the city explicitly asks it to. That’s because it imagines the public transportation system will need support as people are taking essential trips to places like the grocery store or pharmacy.

“During this challenging time in our nation and in light of the CDC's guidance to avoid public transportation to limit exposure to COVID-19, we believe that Spin scooters can be another safe and reliable option,” Spin CEO Derrick Ko said in a statement. “To the extent that it is safe for our employees, we plan to work with the City to determine how best we can support the City's desire and needs for continued safe operations of essential transportation, from rides to grocery stores and pharmacies to medical care and testing facilities.”

In a letter to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency yesterday, Ko outlined how Spin is ready and able to work to support healthcare workers, sanitation workers and other workers who may benefit from its scooters. Currently, Spin is more frequently disinfecting scooters and also encouraging riders to disinfect the handlebars before and after their ride. As for Lime, it says it will keep riders in the loop regarding when it will redeploy its scooters.

Lightspeed-backed WorkOS launches to help startup services become enterprise-ready

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 01:19 PM PDT

With the explosive popularity of B2B services startups, it was only natural that a B2B startup would come along that’s offering a service to help startups become enterprise services themselves.

WorkOS, which is launching out of stealth with seed funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners and others, is building a toolkit to help startups meet the requirements for bringing on enterprise clients. The company aims to get startups set up with an API for single sign-on, directory sync, audit trails, role-based access controls and other key services.

As more startups look to approach enterprise from a bottom-up capacity and focus on creating individual use cases, quickly meeting IT administrators’ expectations can become a shortcut to higher-margin customers. The inspiration for WorkOS came from its founder’s previous email startup, which tried to make a play for enterprise adoption and clients but couldn’t cross what he calls “the enterprise chasm.”

“The feedback I got was, this is a great app but we can't buy this as a company because you're not enterprise-ready,” CEO Michael Grinich told TechCrunch in an interview. “Even if you focus on the end user experience, there's a different buyer at the end of that tunnel with a different set of needs.”

Becoming enterprise-ready means meeting the same compliance requirements that IT administrators need to adhere to, something that can obviously be an issue for a small startup that’s light on resources. On the security side, Grinich says that WorkOS is currently in its SOC-2 Type 2 observation period and should receive certification in Q2 of this year.

These are uncertain times to be a startup launching publicly, but Grinich’s description of his company as a “highway onramp to get into [enterprise] ecosystems,” seems apt for startups seeking to quickly build out new revenue streams. Right now, WorkOS operates across a few pricing structures, with a free tier that brings users single sign-on support, as well as a $99/mo developer tier and $499/mo corporate tier that scale up WorkOS’s offered functionality substantially.

First Round, SV Angel, Abstract Ventures, Tuesday Capital and Work Life Ventures are also backers.

Good news, Bay Area, you can still go on a hike (for now)

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 01:10 PM PDT

Yesterday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a lockdown for six Bay Area Counties: San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda. The public health order marks a big step to help reduce the movement of the nearly 7 million people within the Bay Area, as well as the potential transmission of COVID-19.

It is important to note that the mayor, as of today, has not issued a complete and utter lockdown. This means you can still go outside for exercise and leisure, as well as heading to your local grocery store (mine is giving out free flowers to stressed shoppers). You also can order food delivery from your app of choice. Some restaurants are offering food to-go, or if you’re Black Hammer Brewing, crowlers and growlers to-go.

Per the SF Chronicle, bicycling for exercise is fine, as well as driving to hiking trails and beaches for fresh air. I highly recommend a morning stroll at Lands End or Fort Funston. You’ll also catch a good sunset at Bernal Heights or out on one of the numerous piers.

The guidance, if you leave your house, is to remain six feet away from another individual at all times.

After recreational and medical dispensaries were told to halt sales this morning, the San Francisco Department of Public Health tweeted that they can remain in business.

Update: after this story was published the San Francisco Department of Public Health tweeted, saying that dispensaries are “essential businesses” and are open. The story has been updated to reflect this change.

This all in mind, let’s end on a general note. Be kind, tip well and be thankful for moments of humanity and love in this moment of stress. Everyone is scared, and buying out the store’s quantity of toilet paper in one go might not be as thoughtful as you think.

Stocks gain as governments around the world pledge to prop up the global economy

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 01:05 PM PDT

In a volatile trading session that saw the White House signal intentions to release the largest stimulus package since the great recession of 2008, American stocks made up for yesterday’s losses with major indices rising sharply.

The return to gains was welcome after stocks posted huge losses to begin the week, tripping the market’s circuit breakers for the third time in the current period of trading tied to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The response to the White House’s plan to stem economic fallout from the virus is receiving — today at least — good marks.

Part of the plan includes providing American’s with direct financial aid in the form of cash. Other governmental action will provide emergency paid medical leave pay, though America will still lag sharply behind the rest of the world when it comes to worker care. How a few weeks of paid leave will hold up against a patchwork, but increasingly broad, national quarantine isn’t clear at this time. One of the country’s leading political parties was opposed to a more permanent fix.

The U.S. government is not alone in its stimulus plans. The U.K. announced a nearly $400 billion package today, for example. Many other governments have executed other packages, and central banks are doing their bit as well.

Today at the bell the scorecard read as follows:

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: climbed 4.93%, or 994.50, to close at 21,183.02
  • S&P 500: rose nearly 6%, or 142.67 points to close at 2,528.80
  • Nasdaq Composite: was up 430.19 points, or 6.23%, to close at 7,334.78

Each index remains far below its recent highs, and all three are still in bear-market territory.

Individual Performance

Shares of Slack, the popular workplace app that got hit after its guidance was a bit light, rallied today. Uber and Lyft, hit hard in recent weeks as the world has slowly ground to a halt, fell today.

SaaS shares rallied as a group, but failed to make up much ground compared to their recent highs; they remain sharply depressed from prior levels. Cryptos have rallied some in the last 24 hours as well, but, like with most assets, remain far under preceding highs and other local maxima.

In short, while today’s trading was more than welcome, it was just lukewarm comfort after Monday’s epic sell-off. And with the U.S. COVID-19 tallies rising, it isn’t clear if tomorrow is going to follow Tuesday’s direction. After all, this rally came after a meltdown.

Automakers

The Big 3 U.S. automakers — GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — saw shares push lower early in the day. Ford closed flat with a share price of $5.01, while GM and FCA saw shares close 3.24% and 3.12%, respectively.

Automakers globally are facing a downward slide in sales and supply constraints as economies deal with the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ford, VW and Daimler were just a few of the automakers to suspend production at factories across Europe.

Tesla saw shares close 3.34% lower to end the day at $430.20. Tesla shares have continued their volatile run, kicking off the year at around the $430 mark, eventually trading as $917.42 on February 19 and then falling to today’s closing price of $430.20.

Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers called on GM, Ford and FCA to shut down factories in the U.S. for two weeks over concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Pfizer and BioNTech announce joint development of a potential COVID-19 vaccine

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 01:00 PM PDT

Pharma giant Pfizer announced on Tuesday that it’s working on a potential COVID-19 vaccine with BioNTech, a German company working on new kinds of immunotherapy treatments. The joint effort, confirmed Tuesday via a signed letter of intent, will see both partners work together on a messenger RNA-based vaccine that will seek to prevent people from contracting the new coronavirus.

It’s worth a reminder that any vaccine is going to take, at minimum, between a year and 18 months to develop and certify for general human use, so don’t think that this is going to result in any kind of short-term solution. But the collaboration does bring together one of the largest and most established players in the realm of pharmaceutical biotech with a younger company working at the forefront of mRNA-based immune therapies.

These therapies don’t use samples of the virus itself, as typical vaccines do (in either dead or weakened form, to jump-start the body’s natural defenses). Instead, they rely on RNA to kickstart the production of proteins similar enough to the virus that they trigger the body’s development of antibodies effective against the actual target.

This collaboration should result in a clinical test that could kick off as early as April. Both parties aren’t starting from scratch in terms of their work on mRNA-based vaccines: they began working together on R&D to create treatments for the flu starting in 2018.

While work on the collaborative effort begins immediately, across teams located in both the U.S. and Germany, the two partners still have to hammer out details, including financial terms and commercialization of whatever results. The fact that they’re willing to begin working before the ink is dry on those details should give you some idea of the urgency felt behind the project.

This isn’t the only mRNA-based potential COVID-19 vaccine in development: Earlier this week, Moderna announced that they’d already begun human clinical trials of their own coronavirus immunotherapy, after fast-tracking its development in partnership with the National Institutes of Health.

All the companies from Y Combinator’s W20 Demo Day, Part IV: Healthcare, Biotech, Fintech and Nonprofits

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 12:44 PM PDT

Y Combinator’s Demo Day was a bit different this time around.

As concerns grew over the spread of COVID-19, Y Combinator shifted the event format away from the two-day gathering in San Francisco we’ve gotten used to, instead opting to have its entire class debut to invited investors and media via YC’s Demo Day website.

In a bit of a surprise twist, YC also moved Demo Day forward one week citing accelerated pacing from investors. Alas, this meant switching up its plan for each company to have a recorded pitch on the Demo Day website; instead, each company pitched via slides, a few paragraphs outlining what they’re doing and the traction they’re seeing, and team bios. It’s unclear so far how this new format — in combination with the rapidly evolving investment climate — will impact this class.

As we do with each class, we’ve collected our notes on each company based on information gathered from their pitches, websites and, in some cases, our earlier coverage of them.

To make things a bit easier to read, we’ve split things up by category rather than have it be one huge wall of text. These are the healthcare, biotech, fintech and nonprofit companies. You can find the other categories (such as B2B, consumer and robotics) here.

Healthcare and Biotech

Simple Stripes: Aims to make glucose testing cheaper and more accessible by making strips that can be read by any smartphone camera, rather than requiring a dedicated glucose meter. The company says it expects to submit its strips for FDA approval in June.

nplex biosciences: A faster, cheaper way to do the protein panels required in the development of new medications. The company says it has over $4 million in letters-of-intent in the works, including one from a major pharma company.

Healthlane: An app meant to help users in Africa communicate with their doctors, make appointments and track lab results. The company says it has already reached profitability, with a retention rate of 98%.

Breathe Well-being: A 16-week program meant to help users in India with chronic conditions (such as diabetes) in their efforts to lose weight. The company offers a one-on-one diabetes coach who helps the user with tracking things like weight/meals/activity and trains them in cognitive behavioral therapy techniques meant to reduce stress. Currently seeing an $11.2K MRR.

Dropprint Genomics: “Single cell genomics” software meant to reduce the time/financial cost of analyzing individual cell activity to enable better drug discovery. They’ve signed over $1 million in LOIs in two months.

Newman’s: A digital health clinic for men in Indonesia. They’re focusing on problems that are often seen as either embarrassing (hair loss, erectile dysfunction) or are often abandoned (quitting smoking) by making doctor visits easier, cheaper and more private by way of remote consultation. Find our previous coverage of Newman’s here.

Loop Health: Loop Health says that most health insurance in India covers “only hospital stays, not doctor visits.” They’re looking to improve this by offering unlimited access to their designated Loop Health clinics, along with app-based telemedicine.

Synapsica Healthcare: An “AI reporting assistant.” Currently focusing on spinal MRIs, the company says it saves radiologists 80% of their reporting time by automatically annotating measurements and characterizing disc degeneration. The company says it’s currently in a $100K pilot program with a radiology practice tapped by 250 chiropractic clinics.

Volumetric: Volumetric makes 3D bioprinters that create vascularized human tissue. Founded by two PhDs, Volumetric sells its photoactive tissue to pharmaceutical companies and scientists. It’s using the proceeds to move toward building bioprinters and bioinks that can generate functional tissue and even organs. Find our previous coverage of Volumetric here.

Ophelia: Ophelia replaces rehab with telemedicine for America’s 3 million opioid addicts. It lets patients do teleconferenced doctor visits, get prescribed and delivered medications like Buprenorphine and Naloxone, and access therapy without the stigma. The founder started the company after a longtime girlfriend died from opioid addiction, and Ophelia has now treated 40 patients.

Lilia: Claiming that "in the future, women will freeze their eggs upon graduation," Lilia is an egg-freezing concierge service. The startup charges $500 for concierge, and gets another $500 when somebody is placed in a clinic. Lilia says its total addressable market is $33 billion.

Equator Therapeutics: Equator Therapeutics is developing a drug to help users burn calories without exercise. Founded by a duo of PhDs and a data scientist who worked at a company developing an anti-aging drug, Equator Therapeutics is targeting people dealing with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Altay Therapeutics: Located inside the Bayer Collaborator in San Francisco, Altay Therapeutics has developed small molecule therapies that block disease-causing DNA-binding proteins (or transcriptional regulators). The company’s initial therapies are focused on arthritis, fibrosis, ulcerative colitis and liver cancer.

Tambua Health: Tambua Health uses an “acoustic” stethoscope and proprietary software to provide advanced imaging for lung imaging without the radiation of an x-ray.

Abalone Bio: Founded by serial life sciences entrepreneurs, Abalone Bio is using libraries of yeast cells expressing billions of antibody variants to grow specific antibodies that can activate or inhibit a drug target. Using gene sequencing, machine learning and synthetic biology, the company makes recombinant protein versions of its antibodies and confirms their efficacy in human cell assays. The company’s initial targets are drugs for pain, inflammatory diseases, rare cancer and rare kidney disease.

Felix Biotechnology: Founded by the famous Yale University researcher Paul Turner, Felix Biotechnologies is developing treatments to address antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and fungi. These pathogens cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the United States alone each year, according to the company. On average, someone in the U.S. dies from an antibiotic-resistant infection every 15 minutes. Researchers have warned that more people will die from antibiotic resistance than from cancer by the year 2050.

Genecis Bioindustries: Genecis Bioindustries is turning food waste into compostable plastics. Find our previous coverage on Genecis here.

Candid Health: Candid Health has developed automated billing software for the healthcare industry that follows up with insurance companies and automatically appeals denied claims. It takes a 5% cut of each payment.

Ochre Bio: Ochre says that most donated livers are discarded — despite there being a shortage — due to them containing too much fat for a successful transplant. They’re aiming to “rejuvenate livers outside the body” by finding ways to treat them prior to transplant.

Fintech

Facio: Brazil has a banking problem. An oligarchy of five banks manage the Brazilian market, and they’re slow, have terrible customer service, high APR and don’t serve SMBs. Facio wants to keep workers from falling victim to predatory debt and instead gain financial freedom with a low-priced payroll loan to employees. It integrates with the employer, deducting loans right from their payroll.

delt.ai: Delt.ai is a digital bank that handles payments, invoicing and corporate cards for poorly served SMEs and freelancers in Mexico. The startup is targeting the $50 billion+ market of business deposits in Latin America. Think of Delt.ai is a Brex or a Mercury, but focused on Latin America.

Nexu: Like many other personal financing operations in Latin America, car financing is an expensive, low-tech, arduous process. Nexu, a financing platform for Latin American car dealerships, uses dynamic credit scoring to give car buyers an approval with a turnaround of a few seconds. The founding team met as Wharton MBA candidates.

Fondeadora: Fondeadora is joining Mexico’s saturated fintech scene, with its alternative neobanking debit card. The company offers a fully mobile digital savings account run within its app. Fondeadora says it has 65,000 users and $6.5 million monthly transactions. Albo, another Mexico-focused debit card, currently owns the market share with 200,000 monthly active customers who are spending and making transactions in its platform and $26 million in capital raised. But the banking problem in Mexico is big enough that multiple startups can thrive. Out of the 130 million population of Mexico, 45% are underbanked, meaning they lack deep financial products designed to help them compound wealth through lending and savings features.

Jenfi: Loans money to small businesses in Asia — typically about $10,000 to $100,000 — based on the business’ revenue. We wrote about Jenfi previously here.

yBANQ: A collections and reconciliation system for large B2B companies in India. The company says it has found 18 customers since launching in late January, reaching a GMV of around $18K.

ZeFi: A savings account that converts USD deposits to/from “stablecoin” cryptocurrencies behind the scenes, with ZeFi lending these funds out to borrowers to gain interest.

Grain: Grain hooks your existing debit card to a “responsible” amount of credit (currently capped at $500, and based on your income/cash low), hopefully helping those with minimal/bad credit build up their credit report over time. In the three months since launch, the company says it has signed up 1,000 customers, and expects to make around $80 per customer per year.

CrowdForce: Lets local merchants in Africa act as bank branches, serving as an intermediary on transactions when a bank is too far away. The company says it made $70K in net revenue last month, making an average of $20 per year per customer.

Stark Bank: A banking API to handle B2B transactions for tech companies in Brazil. A little over a year after launch, the company says it’s seeing $12 million in monthly gross volume.

Bamboo: An online brokerage for high-wealth individuals in Africa to buy securities from around the world. The company says it already has over 2,100 investors who have traded over $1.6 million on the platform since launching roughly five months ago, currently accounting for over $10,000 in monthly revenue.

Swipe: Pitching itself as “Brex for Africa,” Swipe gives African SMBs a credit card to help cover payroll and expenses. They onboard businesses by providing them with free expensing/billing tools, then offer credit accordingly. The company says it’s currently working with 30 companies, with $200K in credit deployed.

goDutch: A payments card for splitting costs amongst groups that often share bills, such as roommates. Focusing on India. Charges are put onto one card and deducted from each group member’s account automatically.

Paymobil: Uses stablecoin cryptocurrencies to transfer money across the globe through a Venmo-style app. The founder, Daniel Nordh, notes that he previously led consumer design at Coinbase.

Karat: Karat offers banking, loans and credit cards to influencers. By using data on their popularity to manage risk, Karat has achieved 40% APR on its loans with an average repayment time of 45 days. Thanks to its founders’ experience building influencer tools at Instagram and structuring debt at Goldman Sachs, it’s already signing up stars with over 10 million followers.

Homestead: Homestead helps home owners convert their garages into rental properties at no upfront cost. Homestead pays for all the construction, tenant search and management, and then splits the rent income with the home owner. A new California law allows the state’s 8 million garages to be rented out as living spaces, creating an enormous market opportunity. Homestead’s founders met at MIT’s graduate school of architecture and city planning, and the startup has already done $1 million in sales.

Benepass: Benepass offers a benefits card for startups and small businesses. Using the Benepass debit card, employees can pay for tax-advantaged benefits and wellness perks like flexible spending accounts, childcare, commuting, fitness and education while an app tracks their buying. Free for employers, Benepass has a 6% take rate but can save thousands on income and payroll taxes. With startups desperate to compete with tech giants for top talent, Benepass could ensure employees feel supported.

GAS POS: U.S. gas station owners are racing to upgrade outside pumps with EMV technology, a global standard for credit cards equipped with computer chips. GAS POS was founded to deliver a modern point-of-sale system that will help North America's 180,000 gas stations comply with EMV and make transactions more secure. The company has several sources of revenue, a 3% fee on processed payments, SaaS free for equipment and an offer to customers to provide next-day funding.

YearEnd: YearEnd is building tax software for the paper rich, helping startup employees file their taxes while optimizing for their equity. The startup charges $330 per year for individual users and is hoping to sell to businesses that can add YearEnd as an employee benefit.

GIGI Benefits: India’s GIGI Benefits is looking to be the benefits provider for the nation’s gig economy workers. The business takes a page from companies like last year’s hottest Y Combinator startup, Catch, or the venture-backed Trupo, to provide things like health insurance and retirement investment accounts to gig economy workers.

Easyplan: Easyplan is the Qapital or Digit for India, allowing users to seamlessly save money for certain specific goals.

Haven: Haven is a next-gen platform for servicing home mortgages, offering more modern customer interfaces, better payment modeling for lenders and more.

WorkPay: WorkPay describes itself as “Gusto for Africa” — next-gen payroll and related services targeting small and medium businesses in the region.

Spenny: Spenny is a savings tool for Indian consumers that lets customers start banking money away by rounding up their purchases.

Kosh: Kosh is an algorithmically enhanced savings and investment platform for India, allowing those with good credit to effectively vouch for friends with limited credit to help them borrow.

Nonprofit

Potential: Potential is a nonprofit that wants to connect the formerly incarcerated to jobs and resources. The company works with detention centers and employment organizations to make a more friendly hiring environment.

All the companies from Y Combinator’s W20 Demo Day, Part III: Hardware, Robots, AI and Developer Tools

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 12:43 PM PDT

Y Combinator’s Demo Day was a bit different this time around.

As concerns grew over the spread of COVID-19, Y Combinator shifted the event format away from the two-day gathering in San Francisco we’ve gotten used to, instead opting to have its entire class debut to invited investors and media via YC’s Demo Day website.

In a bit of a surprise twist, YC also moved Demo Day forward one week, citing accelerated pacing from investors. Alas, this meant switching up its plan for each company to have a recorded pitch on the Demo Day website; instead, each company pitched via slides, a few paragraphs outlining what they’re doing and the traction they’re seeing, and team bios. It’s unclear so far how this new format — in combination with the rapidly evolving investment climate — will impact this class.

As we do with each class, we’ve collected our notes on each company based on information gathered from their pitches, websites and, in some cases, our earlier coverage of them.

To make things a bit easier to read, we’ve split things up by category rather than have it be one huge wall of text. These are the companies that are working on hardware, robotics, AI, machine learning or tools for developers. You can find the other categories (such as biotech, consumer, and fintech) here.

AI and Machine Learning

Datasaur: A tool meant to help humans label machine data data sets more accurately and efficiently through things like auto-correct, auto-suggest and keyboard hotkeys. It’s free for individual labelers, $100 per month for teams of up to 20 labelers, with custom pricing for larger teams.

1build: Automatic, data-driven job cost estimates for construction companies. You upload your plans, and 1build says it can prepare accurate bids “in minutes.” The company projects a revenue run rate of over $600,000, and says it has completed estimates for mega companies like Amazon, Starbucks and 7-Eleven.

Handl: An API for turning paper documents — including handwritten ones — into structured data ready to be plunked into a database or CRM. While the company says that around 85% of its processing is handled by their AI, it’s backed by humans to validate data when the AI’s confidence is low. Nine months after launch, the company is seeing an ARR of $0.9 million.

Zumo Labs: Uses game engines to generate pre-labeled training data for computer vision systems. By synthesizing the data rather than collecting it from photos/videos of the real world, the company says it can create massive data sets faster, cheaper and without privacy issues.

Teleo: Retrofits existing construction equipment to allow operators to control them remotely. The company says it has built a “fully functional teleoperated loader” since being founded three months ago, and plans to charge construction companies a flat monthly fee per vehicle. The company’s co-founders were previously head of Hardware Engineering and director of Product Manager at Lyft, with both having worked on Google’s Street View team.

Menten AI: Menten AI says it’s using “quantum computing and machine learning” combined with synthetic biology to design new protein-based drugs.

Turing Labs Inc.: Automated, simulated testing of different formulas for consumer goods like soaps and deodorant. Home products and cosmetics can be months of work for R&D labs. Turing has built an AI engine that helps with this process — much like the AI engines used in drug discovery — cutting down the time to days. It’s already working with some of the biggest CPG companies in the world. You can find our previous coverage on Turing here.

Segmed: Segmed is building data sets for AI-driven medical research. Rather than requiring each and every researcher to individually partner with hospitals and imaging facilities, Segmed partners with these organizations (currently over 50) and standardizes, labels and anonymizes the data.

Ardis AI: Ardis AI wants to build the foundation of artificial general intelligence — technology that read and comprehend text like a human. By combining neural networks, symbolic reasoning and new natural language processing techniques, Ardis AI can serve companies that don’t want to hire teams to do data extraction and labeling.

Agnoris: Agnoris analyzes a restaurant’s point-of-sale data to recommend changes to pricing, delivery menus and staffing. For $3,600 per year per restaurant location, Agnoris claims to be able to raise profits by 20%. The company started after the founder opened a restaurant that was packed yet losing money, so it built machine learning tools to improve margins and now it’s selling that software to all eateries.

Froglabs: Froglabs provides weather forecasting AI to businesses for predicting solar and wind energy production, delivery delays, staffing shortages, sales demand and food availability. By ingesting petabytes of weather data, it can save companies money by ensuring their logistics aren’t disrupted. Founded by a long-time Googler who started its Project Loon internet-beaming weather balloons, it’s now signing up e-commerce, retail, rideshare, restaurant and event businesses.

PillarPlus: PillarPlus is a platform that automates the blueprint-designing phase of a building project. It takes a design from an architect or contractor and maps out mechanical, fire, electrical and plumbing details, and estimates the bill of materials and project cost, steps that otherwise take months of work.

Glisten: Glisten uses computer vision and machine learning technologies to develop better, more consistent data sets for e-commerce companies. Its first product is an AI-based tool to populate and enrich sparse product data. Find our previous coverage of Glisten here.

nextmv: Nextmv gives its customers the ability to create their own logistics algorithms automatically — allowing businesses to optimize fleets and manage routes internally.

Visual One: Movement-detecting security cameras can bring up a lot of false positives: there’s motion, yes, but not necessarily anything harmful. Visual One has built an AI platform that integrates with home security cameras to “read” the specific movements that they detect. Owners can create customised alerts so they get notifications only for what they care about. The company’s software can check for furniture-destroying pets, package-lifting thieves, the death-defying antics of toddlers and more. Find our previous coverage of Visual One here.

PostEra: “Medicinal chemistry-as-a-service” is the idea here: PostEra’s platform can design and synthesize molecules faster and at a lower cost than the typical R&D lab, speeding up the research time it takes to test new combinations in the drug discovery process.

Hardware and Robotics

Cyberdontics: Robotics have already revolutionized surgery, courtesy of companies like da Vinci-maker, Intuitive. Cyberdontics is aimed at doing the same for oral surgery, beginning with crowns — one of the more expensive and time-intensive procedures. The company says its robot is capable of performing the generally two-hour procedure in 15 minutes, charging a mere $140 for the job.

Avion: Focused on inhabitants of difficult to reach areas in Africa, Avion is building a drone-based delivery system. The plans consist of medium and long-range medical drones tied to a centralized hub. The drones are hybrid and autonomous with vertical take-off capabilities, able to take 5-kg payloads as far as 150 kms.

SOMATIC: Industrial bathroom cleaning is a prime "dull"/"dirty" candidate to be replaced by automation. Somatic builds large robots that are trained to clean restrooms via VR. The system sprays and wipes down surfaces and is capable of opening doors and riding up and down in the elevator. Find our previous coverage of SOMATIC here.

RoboTire: Anyone who's ever sat in a service shop waiting room knows how time-intensive the process can be. RoboTire promises to cut the wait time from 60 minutes down to 10 for a set of four tires. The company has begun piloting the technology in locations around the U.S. Find our previous coverage of RoboTire here.

Morphle: Designed to replace outdated analog microscopes, Morphle's system uses robotic automation to improve imaging. The startup processes higher-resolution images than far pricier systems and with a much smaller failure rate. Morphle has begun selling its system to labs in India.

Daedalus: Founded by an early engineer at OpenAI, Daedalus is building autonomous software to allow industrial robots to operate without human programming, beginning with CNC machines. The company projects that it can improve productivity in the metal machining market by 5x.

Exosonic, Inc.: Exosonic makes supersonic commercial aircraft that don’t have to produce a loud sonic boom, so they can be flown over land. Its goal is a plane that can fly from SF to NYC in three hours. The CEO worked on NASA’s low-boom X-59 aircraft while at Lockheed Martin. Exosonic now has letters of intent from a major airline and two Department of Defense groups, plus a $300,000 U.S. Air Force contract.

Nimbus: Founded by a serial entrepreneur and based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Nimbus is developing the next-generation vehicle platform for urban transportation. Founder Lihang Nong previously launched the fuel-injection systems developer PicoSpray and is now looking to answer the question, “Can a vehicle be several times more space and energy efficient than today's cars while actually being more comfortable to ride in?”

UrbanKisaan: UrbanKisaan is a vertical farming operation based in India that delivers fresh produce subscriptions to households. Its farms of stacked-up hydroponic tables can be located near cities with just 1% of the land usage of traditional agriculture, and there are no pesticides necessary. In a market with a growing middle class seeking healthy foods, delivering from farm-to-door could let UrbanKisaan control quality and its margins.

Talyn Air: Two former SpaceX engineers have developed a long-range electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for passengers and cargo. The startup has created an electric fixed-wing aircraft that is caught mid-air with a custom winged drone during take offs and landings, an approach that its founders say give this aircraft three times the range of its competitors, at 350 miles.

Developer Tools

BuildBuddy: Two ex-Googlers want to provide a “Google-style development environment” to all by building an open-source UI/feature set on top of Google’s Bazel software. The company says that their solution speeds up build times by up to 10x. It’s free for independent developers, with the price scaling from $4 per user to $49 per user depending on the size of the team and the features required.

Dataline: Meant to let websites gather analytics data from users who are using ad-blocking tools. Claiming that most ad-blocker users care mostly about display ads or cross-site tracking, the company says that first-party analytics gets hit as “collateral damage.” By acting as a “smart proxy” that runs on a sub-domain, Dataline avoids most ad-blocking systems (for now, presumably.)

Cortex: Many modern online software applications are powered by countless independent, purpose-focused tools — or “microservices.” Cortex monitors your app’s microservices to automatically flag the right person (hooking into Datadog/Slack/PagerDuty/etc.) when one breaks.

apitracker: Even if your website seems to be loading fine, the APIs you use to make it work might be having trouble, breaking things in not so obvious ways. Apitracker… tracks your APIs. It monitors the APIs you use, alerting you when one of them starts to fail and providing insights into their overall performance.

Freshpaint: Freshpaint’s “autotrack” system collects all pageviews/clicks/etc. across your site, allowing you to push it into tools like Google Analytics/Facebook Pixel etc. retroactively without requiring your dev team to make manual trackers for each event. The base plan is free for sites with fewer than 3,000 users and $300 for sites with up to 50,000 monthly users, after which point the pricing shifts to custom packaging.

Datree: Datree allows companies to set up rules and security policies for their codebase, and ensures those rules are followed before any code is merged. Charging $28 per developer (noting that it’s free for independent/open source projects), they’ve pulled in ~$230K in revenue to date. Find our previous coverage of Datree here. 

fly.io: Deploys your app on servers that are physically closer to your users, decreasing latency and improving the user experience. If your app grows more popular in a certain city, Fly detects that and scales resources accordingly.

Sweeps: Sweeps claims that they can make your website 40% faster with one line of code, by more intelligently loading all of the third-party tools that a website is using. The team says that their tech not only improves speed but does so while improving SEO.

Orbiter: Orbiter is an automatic real-time monitoring and alert system integrated with Slack to ensure better customer service and revenue management.

Release: Product releases can be tricky. Release provides a staging management toolkit — it builds a staging environment each time there’s a pull request, allowing for faster/more collaborative development cycles.

Signadot: Signadot is monitoring and management software for the microservices that modern startups rely on to power their own applications and services, hopefully flagging issues before they become apparent to the end user.

Raycast: Raycast is a universal command bar for developers and many of the tools they use. Users can integrate apps including Jira, GitHub or Slack and take a Superhuman-like approach to completing forms and tasks. The team is pitching the tool as a way to help engineers get their non-engineering work done quickly.

Cotter: Cotter is building a phone number-based login platform that authenticates a user's device in a workflow that the company's founders say has the convenience of SMS-based OTP without the security issues. The startup is aiming to target customers in developing countries where email is less utilized and less convenient as a login.

ditto: Ditto's founders are hoping to create the Figma for words, helping teams plan out more thoughtfully the copy they use to describe their products and workflows. The collaboration tool created by Stanford roommates Jolena Ma and Jessica Ouyang currently has 80+ different companies represented among their users.

Scout: A continuous integration and deployment toolkit for machine learning experiments inside a GitHub workflow.

ToDesktop: ToDesktop has designed a service to automate all of your desktop application publishing needs. It works with Windows, Mac and Linux and provides native installers, auto-updates, code signing and crash reports without the need for any infrastructure or configurations for developers.

DeepSource: DeepSource is a code review tool that allows developers to check for bug risks, anti-patterns, performance issues and security flaws in Python and Go.

Flowbot: Flowbot is a natural language, autocomplete search tool for coding in Python. It lets Python developers type in plain English when they can’t remember the exact function they’re thinking of, with Flowbot digging through documentation and considering the context to find the code it thinks you’re looking for.

PostHog: PostHog is a software service that lets developers understand how their users are actually working with their products. It’s a product analytics toolkit for open-source programmers.

All the companies from Y Combinator’s W20 Demo Day, Part II: Consumer Companies

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 12:43 PM PDT

Y Combinator’s Demo Day was a bit different this time around.

As concerns grew over the spread of COVID-19, Y Combinator shifted the event format away from the two-day gathering in San Francisco we’ve gotten used to, instead opting to have its entire class debut to invited investors and media via YC’s Demo Day website simultaneously.

In a bit of a surprise twist, YC also moved Demo Day forward one week citing accelerated pacing from investors. Alas, this meant switching up its plan for each company to have a recorded pitch on the Demo Day website; instead, each company pitched via slides, a few paragraphs outlining what they’re doing and the traction they’re seeing, and team bios. It’s unclear so far how this new format — in combination with the rapidly evolving investment climate — will impact this class.

As we do with each class, we’ve collected our notes on each company based on information gathered from their pitches, websites, and, in some cases, our earlier coverage of them.

To make things a bit easier to read, we’ve split things up by category rather than have it be one huge wall of text. These are the companies that primarily focus on selling goods or services to consumers. You can find the other categories (such as hardware, AI, and fintech) here.

Consumer Companies

Apartio: Apartio offers long and short-term rentals to business travelers in Brazil. The company plans to target businesses with employees coming through Brazil, acquiring travelers directly on Airbnb and Booking.com.

Valienta: Valienta is a software that wants to simplify the process of direct selling networks in Latin American countries. Direct selling accounts for $27 billion worth of goods – making it a massive opportunity in Latin America. The 13 million direct sellers are mostly women who resell to personal networks, like the Avon woman in the U.S. Valienta wants to modernize this process with a single app.

Trustle: When a child stops sleeping through the night or starts having tantrums, parenting can feel like they’re flying blind. Trustle is a $50 per month subscription for parents that gives them access to a dedicated parenting and child development expert. The founders think the internet has created too much conflicting advice and opinions for parents, resulting in frantic Googling that doesn’t lead to good advice. Trustle actually wants to solve another problem: there are 180,000 preschools teachers with a masters in child development being paid on average $35K a year, representing an incredibly underutilized and undervalued pool of expertise. Trustle wants to connect the two with its system for parents to learn about and act on their child's cognitive, social, emotional and behavioral development. The founding team includes the former head of impact at Google for Education, a clinical child psychologist and a former EdTech startup founder.

Viya: Viya is a mobile-first, apartment-rental system for the Latin America market. The company offers city center room and apartment leases in conjunction with cleaning, maintenance and laundry services, meant to simplify the life of tenants.

Jamiphy: Jamiphy's pitch is simple: TikTok for musicians. With the shutdown of live events all over the world, the startup certainly has a potential market, providing musicians a place to host short music videos live. The company launched in Indonesia earlier this month.

Breezeful: Uses machine learning to find the best home mortgages in your area, with the company negotiating with lenders on your behalf — and, ultimately, earning a finders fee from lenders when a deal is closed. They’ve made $7K in revenue since launching 9 weeks ago.

Modern Village:  Wants to be the “Chief of Staff” for busy families, charging $30 per month to help handle things like childcare, cleaners, grocery and meal planning, etc. The company estimates that it can save parents around 10 hours per week. Currently in private beta.

LegionFarm: Esports Coaching. Legionfarm charges customers an hourly rate to team them up with top tier/pro players who can coach them in games like Apex Legends, Destiny 2, and Fortnite. The company says that in the last year alone it’s facilitated over 350,000 hours of coaching (with players paying an average of about $16 per hour) with an ARR of $7.2 million. We wrote about Legionfarm previously here.

StayQrious: Online group classes (beginning with coding class) meant for kids in India from age 8-15. The company says it’s seeing 90% student retention since launching three months ago.

Yukstay: A platform meant to increase long-term rentals in Indonesia, providing tools for rental agents to onboard new units and for customers to view/book them. The company says it expects to do $170K in gross revenue in March.

Refund Giant: Helps visitors to the UK reclaim VAT taxes that they’re able to — but often don’t — get refunded when they leave. Users upload pictures of their receipts and RefundGiant handles all the paperwork, taking a 25% cut of any refund.

Sayana: A subscription-based mental wellness app that uses a chatbot-like interface to help users track their feelings while offering mindfulness tips. Currently seeing around $15,000 in monthly revenue, with 25% month-over-month growth.

HelpNow: HelpNow is looking to reduce the time required to get an ambulance in India by mobilizing Uber drivers, providing them with training (AHA certification) and basic life support equipment. They have 347 vehicles on the roads of Mumbai, with over 9100 calls for help serviced. The company was started after the father of one of the founders had a heart attack and was told he’d be waiting over 45 minutes for an ambulance; his dad was saved when they opted to drive him in their own car.

Global Belly: Develops and ships custom-branded products for influencers, focusing first on food (such as baking kits or recipe boxes.) The company says it currently has 17 influencers on the platform with 200 more on the way, and is currently seeing around $25K in monthly revenue.

Whatnot: A marketplace for selling buying/selling professionally authenticated collectibles, beginning with FunkoPop figures. Think GOAT for collectible. The company says it’s seeing $30K per month in GMV roughly three months after launch. Find our previous coverage of Whatnot here.

Pantheon: Modeled on knowledge-based game-show-style events for academic students like the Science Bowl or the UK’s University Challenge, Pantheon is a learning app where middle- and high-school-aged students come together not only to compete against each other, but to meet like-minded nerds to chew the fat. It also serves as a kind of ‘recruitment’ platform, where colleges and companies can discover promising candidates.

Glimpse: Just as we are being told to isolate ourselves to slow the spread of the coronavirus, here is an app to help you pass some time in a less lonely way. Glimpse lets you set up and have short — 2 minutes or less — video chats with friends, or friends of friends. Way less passive than the endless scroll through Instagram, sometimes a quick burst of interaction can be more valuable than a full day of meetings.

Multiverse: Inspired by open-ended games like Dungeons & Dragons and DIY game building on sites like Roblox, Multiverse is a platform that lets you build your own role-playing games.

Nugget: “Instagram for audio,” Nugget lets users record short audio clips, apply filters to juice up the sound, and share them on a social feed. The spontanaeity of a snapshot applied to the medium of podcasting: most definitely an app for our times.

Together: Facebook leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to privacy. Together aims to plug that gap with a paid social media app that it says ensures privacy for its users.

Zelos: Zelos lets gamers earn rewards across multiple video games for free. Its 32K weekly players complete challenges (like scoring three kills in a minute), earning points that can be collected and redeemed for virtual goods, discounts, or raffles. Game developers seeking more engagement are incentivized to integrate with Zelos, which earns money from a $5/month premium subscription for faster point-scoring that it splits with devs.

The Mercer Club: The Mercer Club is a luxury men’s streetwear and shoe rental service. Customers pay $75 per month to rent up to two items per week, so they don’t have to buy a $1000 Gucci hoodie just to wear it for one Instagram. Its “Rent The Runway for men” model has already grown to $100,000 ARR.

Adla: Adla sends college girls boxes of clothes they can try on and buy, then it picks up the rest. Adla improves margins through high geographic density and virality amongst campus communities. It charges a $7 markup per item, and hopes to eventually earn commissions by recommending brands who need to jumpstart their customer base.

Virgil Insurance: Virgil Insurance helps seniors turning 65 to buy Medicare-subsidized health insurance. The online broker makes it easy to compare plans while offering an experience that doesn’t require waiting on hold with a call center. 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day and insurance brokers earn $6 billion in commissions on them per year. The founders previously built fintech startups like Trim for cancelling subscriptions and Octane Lending for financing power-sports vehicle purchases.

Art in Res: Art In Res is a fine art marketplace where customers can buy on layaway. The startup signs up artists who are producing more than they’re selling, then equips them with tools for offering discounts, installment pricing, and monetizing their social media followers. Art In Res’ co-founder was a painter who learned to code to pay the bills, and he’s now partnered with 125 artists looking for a new ecommerce channel.

Hideout: The U.S. restaurant business is a $860 billion market and yet 59% of all orders are by millennials are for takeout or delivery, states Hideout. The startup is building a portfolio of delivery-only, restaurant brands, starting with a Japanese katsu sando concept, an organic bowls brand and soon an Italian subs and bento box-focused concepts.

Duffl: Duffl is targeting the real-time and often last-minute needs of college students by providing delivery within 10 minutes of common essentials. The company stores frequently purchased products near campus and hires students to deliver those goods via electric scooters. Revenue is generated through a delivery fee and margins optimized from buying products in bulk.

 

Thunderpod: Sort of like a fitness-fueled Tomagotchi. Each user gets a “Thunderpod” avatar, and it grows with each activity you do: the app records your movements, you can do fitness challenges against friends, or you can dip into is a large catalog of user-created fitness challenges, such as dances. One of a growing number of consumer and social apps coming out of India’s booming tech market.

Carupi: Carupi has developed a peer-to-peer marketplace for used cars that started in Brazil, and plans to come to the U.S. by the first quarter of 2021.

Motion: The team at Motion is building an extension that helps Chrome users manage their time on the web more efficiently. The tool goes beyond a simple blacklist and whitelist, with a more flexible structure allowing users to shift their habits over time on sites they have designated as "unproductive." The tool is free for now but the team hopes to eventually develop a broader B2B strategy after becoming a favorite product of consumers.

Cron: Cron is building a Superhuman for Google Calendar. Cron's co-founder Rapheal Schaad previously designed the original iA Writer app. His new startup is charging $19 per month to give G Cal power users some added power features that cleans up workflows and integrates with other productivity apps.

Moons: Moons describes itself as a SmileDirectClub for Latin America. Launched in March 2019, Moons offers orthodontic treatments as well as clear aligners, and claims it is half the price of SmileDirectClub. The company has $600,000 in monthly sales, and has hired over 200 people across 15 retail locations. Find our previous coverage of Moons here.

Chutney: Targeting India's emerging population of online users, Chutney wants to be the "Amazon for India's mass market." Using WhatsApp, customers can purchase fresh fruits and veggies from nearby mom and pop stores and have next day pickup.

Yassir: Yassir is an app that is designed for French-speaking Africa. It wants to offer a suite of financial services for an estimated population of 430 million people across 29 countries.

EduRev: EduRev is an edtech company targeting 200 million Indian students that are preparing for exams. The subscription cost for the exam prep platform is $50 a year, and it has over 450,000 monthly active users. Instead of after-school coaching, EduRev is an app that provides preparation courses to students digitally.

Riya Collective: Indian wedding attire is expensive, so Riya Collective launched a Rent The Runway-style offering specifically focused around it. The clothing rental startup is founded by two Indian American entrepreneurs, and uses a data-driven styling and sizing algorithm. Riya Collective has grown from $10,000 in monthly revenue to $50,000 in monthly revenue in three months.

TagMango: A "Cameo for India" TagMango lets users book personalized shoutouts from top influencers and celebrities. The startup is, in simple terms, cashing in on making Bollywood more interactive and accessible. TagMango charges an average of $20 per video.

FitnessAI: With 18,000 paying users, FitnessAI generates personalized weight lifting plans. The founder, Jake Mor, has been building applications for 10 years — and fitness apps for four years. The startup charges $90 per year. Find our previous coverage of FitnessAI here.

GiveAway: Founded 12 months ago, GiveAway is creating a peer to peer marketplace to give away used things. It has successfully completed over 170,000 transactions across a user base that spans 5 countries. Unlike a traditional marketplace, GiveAway makes its users buy goods with virtual currency through bidding.

Deep Meditate: Charging $26 a year, Deep Meditate offers a personalized meditation practice. The app currently has 158,000 monthly active users.

Pahamify: Founded by a Youtube science influencer in Indonesia, Pahamify is an app to help Indonesian students pass the college entrance exam. The startup goes against traditional methods of preparation, such as in-person tutoring, and charges roughly $24 a year to students. Each month, per the company, 65,000 users are using Pahamify.

Edlyft: Founded by two former high school classmates and Computer Science majors who reunited in the Bay Area after college, Edlyft provides a mentor network, tutors, and peer support for college students who may lack a background in CS, but are pursuing it as a major or career.

All the companies from Y Combinator’s W20 Demo Day, Part I: B2B Companies

Posted: 17 Mar 2020 12:42 PM PDT

Y Combinator’s Demo Day was a bit different this time around.

As concerns grew over the spread of COVID-19, Y Combinator shifted the event format away from the two-day gathering in San Francisco we’ve gotten used to, instead opting to have its entire class debut to invited investors and media via YC’s Demo Day website simultaneously.

In a bit of a surprise twist, YC also moved Demo Day forward one week citing accelerated pacing from investors. Alas, this meant switching up its plan for each company to have a recorded pitch on the Demo Day website; instead, each company pitched via slides, a few paragraphs outlining what they’re doing and the traction they’re seeing, and team bios. It’s unclear so far how this new format — in combination with the rapidly evolving investment climate — will impact this class.

As we do with each class, we’ve collected our notes on each company based on information gathered from their pitches, websites, and, in some cases, our earlier coverage of them.

To make things a bit easier to read, we’ve split things up by category rather than have it be one huge wall of text. These are the B2B companies — those that primarily focus on selling to other businesses. You can find the other categories (such as hardware, AI, and consumer) here.

B2B Companies:

Alude: Property tech in Brazil is a hot market, with startups like Loft and unicorn QuintoAndar raising mega growth stage rounds. Alude wants to control the distribution channel with its simplified home leasing/buying process. Its system automates the process of background checks, document collection, insurance purchasing and online signing. This modernized tech is free for brokers, and the company plans to monetize by selling mortgage and insurance to customers.

Vori: Vori wants to be the operating system for the American grocery supply chain. Even in 2020, supermarkets still have an old school paper and pen ordering process with wholesale distributors. Vori acts as a B2B marketplace for supermarkets and distributors, helping stores produce inventory from vendors in a more efficient way. It says it has 24 active stores using its tech, and is also supporting over 150 distributors in Northern California. Vori acts also as a product discovery engine for supermarkets, helping them stay competitive with Whole Foods and Amazon.

Linkana: Linkana is compliance-driven procurement software in Latin America. There are 40,000 companies in Latin America that spend $60,000 yearly in procurement solutions, creating a $2.5 billion market opportunity. The four-person co-founding team has members who have worked together for nearly a decade.

Weav: Interviewing new candidates at work can be a time suck, and there isn’t a great way to organize and synthesize feedback from the team. Weav records and transcribes interviews for hiring teams so that companies can reach decisions faster and conduct fewer interviews. Led be an ex-Apple/Google/Microsoft team, Weav says it’s building state of the art NLP tools that leverage information retrieval, topic modeling and entity recognition.

ElectroNeek RPA: Everyone agrees that robots are the future of automation, but actually deploying the technology often requires a great deal of expertise. ElectroNeek is building a desktop and cloud-based interface designed to help streamline the automation process for IT employees and business professionals without a robotics background.

Reaktive: Aimed at creative professionals like animators, video editors and engineers, Reaktive is designed to replace desktop hardware with cloud-based solutions. The company claims its offering is 100x faster than traditional solutions, greatly reducing things like an eight-hour rendering job down to 45 seconds. The company has already closed $2.2 million in purchase orders from studios.

Eze: Eze is building a used smartphone market that functions like a commodities exchange. The system will update in real time with the fluctuating price of a wide range of different mobile devices. Devices will be sold to wholesalers in bulk, who turn around and sell them to retailers.

Oda: Aggregates real estate data from listing services and government records into a unified API. The company says it’s currently working with 4 pilot companies.

Okay: Hooks into tools like JIRA, GitHub, GCal, and Pagerduty to give engineering managers a dashboard to better understand how their teams are working and improve efficiency (by, for example, reducing meetings that might break up productivity). Charges $350 per manager.

Tajir: A marketplace to help small stores in Pakistan get inventory. The company says that currently nearly all distribution to “mom-and-pop” shops in Pakistan is done offline; Tajir brings the process into a mobile app with free next day delivery.

GuruHotel: A website and property management/booking system for hotels. Eight months after launch, they’re working with 26 hotels and seeing $20k a month in revenue. The base plan provides a basic hosting/booking engine in exchange for a 5% booking commission, while premium plans introduce other features, such as property management tools, for $350 to $499 a month in addition to commission.

Riot Security: An anti-phishing tool that automatically tests your employees with faux-phishing emails based on the most recently discovered phishing techniques. It starts at $200 a month for companies with under 50 employees, with the price shifting to custom scaling after that. The tool is currently in pilot tests with six companies, with an MRR of $1,000. Find our previous coverage of Riot Security here.

LabGrid:  A project-tracking and collaboration tool meant to help biotech companies and labs communicate more efficiently than they might over email.

Trimwire: Hooks into a company’s bank accounts and credit cards to automatically reduce monthly costs by flagging anomalies and hunting for potential savings on recurring expenses (such as forgotten subscriptions).

Upflow: Aiming to be the “Venmo of B2B,” Upflow focuses on getting unpaid invoices paid. It automatically sends customized emails and registered letters to unpaid accounts, updates designated team members when account status changes, and handles payments. They charge $50 per month for companies with fewer than 30 invoices per month, scaling it up to $225 per month for companies doing less than $3M annually. Find our previous coverage of Upflow here.

Explo: Explo is meant to let non-technical employees analyze large amounts of data without having to know how to write/run SQL queries, instead providing them with a point/click interface for generating reports. The team says it has over 400 companies on its waitlist.

Workbench: Workbench is developing a platform purpose-built for hardware companies for sourcing suppliers and storing information/specs about the components they use.

Jet Admin: A drag-and-drop tool for building internal tools without code, hopefully freeing up dev team resources. Connects to databases and services like Stripe/Google Analytics/Salesforce and allows teams to piece together tools by way of pre-built widgets. Free for indie developers, or $19 per user for teams with up to 10 members.

Battlecard: Trains your sales team on what to say to unhappy customers through simulation (complete with synthesized unhappy customer voice). Teams collaborate to write their “playbook” of responses for different situations, sharing the answers/phrasing they’ve found to work best. Roughly a month after launching, the company says it has already booked over $35k in annual recurring revenue.

SnackThis: Is a collaborative, browser-based tool for motion design. Imagine a remote team fine-tuning moving typography in a video, or the way an app moves from screen to screen. One of the co-founders previously sold his motion design-heavy company to GoPro for $80M.

Zeo Auto: Fleet management and tracking for companies with automative fleets in India, allowing them to do things like view current vehicle position, replay past trips, calculate fuel costs, etc. Compatible with over 50 different GPS devices. The company says it has onboarded 2,000 fleet owners, bringing 30,000 vehicles onto the platform.

Savvy: Built for companies unable to offer group insurance plans, Savvy lets them instead give employees a tax-free stipend to put toward an individual health plan of their choosing. The company says that it’s working with over 30 companies after launching two months ago, accounting for roughly $100K in ARR.

Flowdash: “Human-in-the-loop” operations are those that require a human at some point in a process to make a final call — think claims processing, or moderating user-flagged content. Flowdash helps human-in-the-loop teams build new tools with minimal coding, allowing them to integrate them into services like Slack or Gmail. Their base plan starts at $25 per user per month, increasing if you need things like analytics or on-prem deployment.

Dropee: Dropee helps independent retailers in Southeast Asia buy things in bulk from large brands, charging said brands $8 per store for insight on what is or isn’t selling. The company says it’s seeing over $40K in monthly revenue.

NUMI: Helps retailers and marketplaces in Africa import U.S. goods, handling the challenges involved with freight and customs. Currently in a pilot program with Carrefour, which they expect to account for over $500K per year in sales.

Pilot: Pilot handles payroll, benefits and compliance for hiring remote contractors. Companies pay $60 per contractor per month for Pilot to help treat contractors like full-time employees by offering benefits, stock options and expense reimbursements. With COVID-19 quarantines familiarizing more companies with remote work, there could be a big market for ensuring their retention and productivity by making them feel like part of the team.

SEND: SEND is a digital freight forwarder and customs broker for Africa that manages cargo shipping by air, truck, and sea. SEND optimizes routing for faster, more reliable deliveries by bringing documentation online and letting clients just deal with the one company instead of up to a dozen shipping vendors. SEND’s founders are brothers, and see an opportunity to be the Flexport of Africa by conquering the market before that $3.2 billion valuation startup can reach the continent.

Brokrete: Brokrete, a delivery marketplace app, was developed to connect contractors with available concrete suppliers with the most competitive price. The startup's founders are aiming to capture a piece of what they describe as a $120 billion market opportunity. They've already made some headway, by first demoing the app with contractors and then launching its product in December. The company began in the Canadian marketplace and is expanding to Houston this spring.

Paneau: The founders of Paneau are aiming to create a new way for businesses to advertise to ride-hailing customers by placing interactive tablets inside Uber and Lyft vehicles. The tablet can be used by riders to make purchases and even re-route the car. Paneau is already generating revenue — some $11,000 a month — by charging $0.96 cents per trip.

Bego: Bego has created an app focused on the Latam market that uses machine learning to predict future locations of cargo delivery and helps match truckers to customers in an effort to reduce the number of "empty miles." For now, the startup has one route — Mexico City to Nuevo Laredo — where 42% of all cargo in Mexico is moved.

99minutos: This Latam startup is focused on last-mile delivery for e-commerce purchases. The startup has a wide geographic footprint of 19 cities across two countries with 15,000 deliveries daily and plans to expand to Colombia and Peru later this year. 99Minutos is now launching delivery with electric vehicles and in Mexico is the last-mile delivery partner for Amazon, MercadoLibre and Walmart.

Farm Theory: Farm theory buys the "ugly" yet fresh and fit-for-consumption vegetables from Indian farmers and then sells and delivers the produce directly to restaurants in India. The vegetable delivery service says it can save restaurants up to 30%.

HYPHY: As advertising matures alongside user-generated social media content, HYPHY is aiming to create a market for consumers to sell their photos and videos directly to brands. The marketplace is a way for brands to source media more quickly for advertising or marketing campaigns.

Zaam: Zaam is building a platform to simplify B2B onboarding, reducing complexity and pushing customers through the tiring process of data and document requests through automating as much as possible. The startup says they have hit $120M ARR in the past two months.

HireSweet: HireSweet is building a hiring platform that pushes recruiters towards ideal candidates that may not explicitly be looking for a new job. The platform analyzes behavior like who is updating their LinkedIn, adding to open source projects on Github, or nearing a vesting cliff. The team earned $150K in MRR last month. Find our previous coverage of HireSweet here.

Stryve: Stryve wants the hiring process to pivot to video, replacing phone screeners with video chat questionnaires. The team bills the platform to cut down on endless scheduling back-and-forth's and boost turnaround.

Paragon: Paragon is a low-code API builder, helping speed up the time to build APIs, API-based interactions and integrations

Syndetic: “Shopify for data,” Syndetic is a platform that lets organizations make their static datasets more dynamic and useful

Cadence: Cadence is a platform for meetings that should have been emails. The early access platform is focused on eliminating meetings related to sharing project updates. It does this by integrating with task management tools and letting employees easily share on Slack what they've been working on, who they've been working with, and what's on the docket.

Zynq: Zynq is building an enterprise calendar tool that helps companies schedule meetings more efficiently across the board. The service helps slot meetings to appropriately sized meeting rooms at opportune times so that companies don't feel like they're outgrowing their offices too quickly.

Castodia: Castodia hooks your databases into Google Sheets, ensuring that the information there is always up to date and users aren’t stuck manually importing CSV files time and time again.

Onetool: Onetool is building an all-in-one platform that allows startups to subscribe and save, paying for a single subscription while using a variety of vendors to meet their needs. The company hopes its platform can boost discoverability of new SaaS tools and simplify the lives of founders who are having to manage so many subscription services.

Dashworks: Dashworks is aiming to build a search tool that bring together all of the information from your various collaboration tools and databases. The platform relies on deep integrations across a wide variety of apps and boasts customers including Zapier, Stanford and Armory.

Laserfocus: Laserfocus is creating an app that layers onto your CRM and allows salespeople to quickly work their way through calls, emails and meetings with potential clients. The app wants to re-bundle the tasks currently separated across a handful of apps and cut down on distractions for salespeople who are eager to gather information about potential clients.

TrueNorth: To help fix inefficiencies in the fragmented trucking industry, TrueNorth offers a software solution for independent truckers. Think of it as an operating system, but for trucks, to help with everything from fuel and maintenance, to route optimization and load tracking.

Taiv: Taiv wants to help your local neighborhood sports bar better monetize the commercials you see on those in-bar TVs. Charging $4,200 a year per location, Taiv lets businesses replace live commercials with business advertisements about specials or deals. Find our previous coverage of Taiv here.

Humanly: Humanly wants to automate job candidate screening for companies that typically receive a high volume of applications. The company says its tech helps keep screening consistent, while removing bias. Customers include Farmers Insurance, Feather and Grin.

BuildPlane: BuildPlane has designed a next generation toolkit for commercial construction management. The company’s software tracks document requests, manages change orders, handles subcontractor billing and payments, and requests for quotes and pricing. It’s an industry category that has already produced billion-dollar businesses like Procore and PlanGrid.

SINAI: SINAI Technologies is a next generation software platform that lets organizations plan their carbon emissions strategy: it tracks different departments and processes within a company and then gives recommendations on where to reduce carbon emissions to meet internal and external goals. Find our previous coverage of SINAI here.

Logarithm Labs: Logarithm Labs is a project management service for chip designers covering data pipelines, scripting interfaces, and portals and dashboards to parse, structure, and analyze data generated in chip design work

Snapboard: Snapboard provides software tools to create dashboards, visualizations, and applications without code. Find our previous coverage of Snapboard here.

Slingshow: Slingshow is a download-free video recording and delivery application for customer service and complaint resolution. All a customer has to do is take a video of their problem with an explanation and send it off via Slingshow to explain a problem and get help.

Pulley: Pulley is a next generation cap table management tool. Private companies can use it to issue employee & investor equity and maintain ownership records as a company scales. Like Carta, it has a free tier for smaller startups. Unlike Carta, its focus is first (and currently only) on serving founders rather than investors. The founder is a repeat entrepreneur who sold a previous company to Microsoft.

Rosebud AI: Welcome to the dystopian future of corporate spokesmodeling campaigns. Rosebud.ai creates digital avatars and models for any occasion. Companies can filter by demographic, age, and style.

Termii: Termii is a multi-channel marketing and communications service, providing APIs for SMS and user verification for African businesses.

Able Jobs: Able Jobs trains candidates in India on the skillsets companies need most so that businesses can hire better candidates more quickly. They did 130 placements in February

Skypher: Skypher automates the security questionnaire development-and-response process.

Terusama: Taking logistics management all the way to the dockside, Terusama provides scheduling software for freight pickup and digital sign ins for haulers.

Mistro: Mistro lets employers provide benefits and perks to remote teams in over 200 countries. They can offer health insurance, co-working space, development classes, food, IT equipment and more that workers pay for through a Mistro credit card. Teams around the world are embracing remote work due to coronavirus. That trend could last, creating a big market for whoever can help companies attract the best work-from-homers.

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