Top tech startup news for today, Thursday, February 6, 2020: Google, Xiaomi, Casper, Netskope, SaaSWorks
Good morning! Below are the top tech startups news for today, Thursday, February 6, 2020.
China’s mobile giants to take on Google’s Play store, report says. The top four China’s mobile giants are reportedly aiming to challenge Google’s Play store dominance, according to a new report from Reuters, citing exclusive sources. China’s Xiaomi, Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Vivo are joining forces to create a platform for developers outside China to upload apps onto all of their app stores simultaneously, in a move analysts say is meant to challenge the dominance of Google’s Play store. Both Oppo and Vivo are owned by Chinese manufacturer BBK Electronics. The four companies declined to comment for this story. Google also did not respond to a request for comment. Google, whose services are banned in China, earned about $8.8 billion globally from the Play store in 2019, said Katie Williams, an analyst at Sensor Tower. Google also sells content such as movies, books and apps on the Play store and collects a 30% commission.
Fleet management startup Maven Machines nabs $7M Series A funding to accelerate growth. Maven Machines, a provider of mobile-cloud technology for transportation safety, operations, and compliance, has closed $7 million in Series A funding to expand product development and accelerate growth. The round was led by Allos Ventures, with additional participation from Hearst Ventures, Riverfront Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital and existing private investors. Founded in 2014 by Avishai Geller, the Pittsburgh, PA-based Maven Machines is the only provider of fleet management software for commercial transportation that combines telematics with workflow, dispatch and route optimization capabilities. The startup blends a combination of IoT sensors, artificial intelligence, software, and wireless communications to provide a 100% real-time platform for both drivers and managers.
Sequoia leads $340 million funding Cloud security startup Netskope. Santa Clara, California-based Netskope announced it has closed $340 million in financing round led by Sequoia Capital. The financing, which includes participation from existing investors, brings the 8-year old startup to a valuation of nearly $3 billion. Founded in 2012 by Sanjay Beri, Netskope is a cloud access security broker (CASB). Using patented technology, Netskope’s cloud-scale security platform provides context-aware governance of all cloud usage in the enterprise in real time, whether accessed from the corporate network, remote, or from a mobile device.
FinTech startup Ocrolus partners with Kiva to launch a new lending program to offer zero-interest loans. Ocrolus, a venture-backed FinTech startup that uses Artificial Intelligence and crowdsourcing to automate financial review processes, today announced a new lending program through a partnership with Kiva, a non-profit organization that enables anyone to make zero-interest loans to specific entrepreneurs in over 85 countries. Ocrolus believes that access to capital can change businesses and change lives. In 2019, through its partners and customers, Ocrolus created a faster application and approval process for over 1.4 million business loans. In fact, over $56.8 billion in loans was funded using data from the Ocrolus platform in 2019. Founded in 2014 by John Guerci, Sam Bobley, and Victoria Meakin, Ocrolus is a fintech infrastructure company that transforms documents into actionable data with over 99% accuracy.
Boston-based tech startup SaaSWorks bags $5M in funding to provide no-app solution for scaling SaaS companies. SaaSWorks, a Boston-based tech startup that provides a revenue operations and customer success solution for scaling subscription businesses, today announced it has received a $5 million investment led by Conversion Venture Capital along with prominent SaaS CEOs, CFOs and executives. SaaSWorks was founded by Jim O’Neill and Vipul Shah in 2019 with a mission to provide customer success and revenue operations (RevOps) solutions for scaling subscription businesses.
Luxembourg-based tech talent recruitment platform startup nexten.io raises $660K seed funding to accelerate growth. nexten.io, a Luxembourg-based tech recruitment platform startup, has closed a total of $660,000 (EUR 600,000) in a new round of seed funding, with EUR 400,000 invested by Expon Capital, and matched by EUR 200,000 from our original investors. Expon Capital supports the development of startups that use digital technologies to make a meaningful impact. Through their Digital Tech Fund, which is dedicated to technology startups in Luxembourg, they have invested €400,000 into nexten.io, which was matched by an additional €200,000 from its original investors. Used by over 150 local companies to hire highly skilled profiles from software engineers to IT security experts, nexten.io matches developers and companies in direct contact to make the recruitment process more efficient.
Casper, a once high-flying unicorn startup, got a massive valuation haircut after Wall Street debut. Casper is a sleep startup that launches a comfortable mattress sold directly to consumers, eliminating commission driven, inflated prices. Casper makes its Wall Street debut with its shares surging nearly 30% following the company’s initial public offering Thursday morning, opening at $14.50, which means the retailer startup is now valued at about $575 million based on where shares opened Thursday. However, as a private company, Casper was valued at $1.1 billion, giving it so-called unicorn startup status. Responding to the lower valuation, CEO Philip Krim, told CNBC in an interview, saying: “Valuations are just moments in time. This is obviously a huge milestone for us. … It doesn’t distract us from building the business we want to build.”