Industry experts say it’s full speed ahead as Snowflake files S-1

When Snowflake filed its S-1 ahead of an upcoming IPO yesterday, it wasn’t exactly a shock. The company which raised $1.4 billion had been valued at $12.4 billion in its last private raise in February. CEO Frank Slootman, who had taken over from Bob Muglia in May last year, didn’t hide the fact that going public was the end game.

When we spoke to him in February at the time of his mega $479 million raise, he was candid about the fact he wanted to take his company to the next level, and predicted it could happen as soon as this summer. In spite of the pandemic and the economic fallout from it, the company decided now was the time to go — as did 4 other companies yesterday including J Frog, Sumo Logic, Unity and Asana.

If you haven’t been following this company as it went through its massive private fund raising process, investors see a company taking a way to store massive amounts of data and moving it to the cloud. This concept is known as a cloud data warehouse as it it stores immense amounts of data.

While the Big 3 cloud companies all offer something similar, Snowflake has the advantage of working on any cloud, and at a time where data portability is highly valued, enables customers to shift data between clouds.

We spoke to several industry experts to get their thoughts on what this filing means for Snowflake, which after taking a blizzard of cash, has to now take a great idea and shift it into the public markets.

Pandemic? What pandemic?

Big market opportunities usually require big investments to build companies that last, that typically go public, and that’s why investors were willing to pile up the dollars to help Snowflake grow. Blake Murray, a research analyst at Canalys says the pandemic is actually working in the startup’s favor as more companies are shifting workloads to the cloud.

“We know that demand for cloud services is higher than ever during this pandemic, which is an obvious positive for Snowflake. Snowflake also services multi-cloud environments, which we see in increasing adoption. Considering the speed it is growing at and the demand for its services, an IPO should help Snowflake continue its momentum,” Murray told TechCrunch.

Leyla Seka, a partner at Operator Collective, who spent many years at Salesforce agrees that the pandemic is forcing many companies to move to the cloud faster than they might have previously. “COVID is a strange motivator for enterprise SaaS. It is speeding up adoption in a way I have never seen before,” she said.

It’s clear to Seka that we’ve moved quickly past the early cloud adopters, and it’s in the mainstream now where a company like Snowflake is primed to take advantage. “Keep in mind, I was at Salesforce for years telling businesses their data was safe in the cloud. So we certainly have crossed the chasm, so to speak and are now in a rapid adoption phase,” she said.

So much coopetition

The fact is Snowflake is in an odd position when it comes to the big cloud infrastructure vendors. It both competes with them on a product level, and as a company that stores massive amounts of data, it is also an excellent customer for all of them. It’s kind of a strange position to be in says Canalys’ Murray.

“Snowflake both relies on the infrastructure of cloud giants — AWS, Microsoft and Google — and competes with them. It will be important to keep an eye on the competitive dynamic even although Snowflake is a large customer for the giants,” he explained.

Forrester analyst Noel Yuhanna agrees, but says the IPO should help Snowflake take on these companies as they expand their own cloud data warehouse offerings. He added that in spite of that competition, Snowflake is holding its own against the big companies. In fact, he says that it’s the number one cloud data warehouse clients inquire about, other than Amazon RedShift. As he points out, Snowflake has some key advantages over the cloud vendors’ solutions.

“Based on Forrester Wave research that compared over a dozen vendors, Snowflake has been positioned as a Leader. Enterprises like Snowflake’s ease of use, low cost, scalability and performance capabilities. Unlike many cloud data warehouses, Snowflake can run on multiple clouds such as Amazon, Google or Azure, giving enterprises choices to choose their preferred provider.”

Show them more money

In spite of the vast sums of money the company has raised in the private market, it had decided to go public to get one final chunk of capital. Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst at Moor Insight & Strategy says that if the company is going to succeed in the broader market, it needs to expand beyond pure cloud data warehousing, in spite of the huge opportunity there.

“Snowflake needs the funding as it needs to expand its product footprint to encompass more than just data warehousing. It should be focused less on niches and more on the entire data lifecycle including data ingest, engineering, database and AI,” Moorhead said.

Forrester’s Yuhanna agrees that Snowflake needs to look at new markets and the IPO will give it the the money to do that. “The IPO will help Snowflake expand it’s innovation path, especially to support new and emerging business use cases, and possibly look at new market opportunities such as expanding to on-premises to deliver hybrid-cloud capabilities,” he said.

It would make sense for the company to expand beyond its core offerings as it heads into the public markets, but the cloud data warehouse market is quite lucrative on its own. It’s a space that has required a considerable amount of investment to build a company, but as it heads towards its IPO, Snowflake is should be well positioned to be a successful company for years to come.

Source: Tech Crunch

How to establish a startup and draw up your first contract

Founders are encouraged, incentivized and pressured to begin transacting with customers as quickly as possible to drive growth and revenue. But making legal mistakes early in the game can create costly liabilities down the road.

That’s why we invited James Alonso from Magnolia Law and Adam Zagaris from Moonshot Legal to join us at TechCrunch Early Stage to give us a 360 overview of the legal side of running a startup. We’ve shared highlights from their presentations below, along with a video of the entire panel discussion.

Corporate law 101 for startup founders

James Alonso gave us a presentation on company formation and getting funding. Maybe you’ve already created your startup, but if you’re still working on your own and don’t have any clients or employees yet, these tips are essential before you get your startup off the ground.

When you’re setting up a new company, it forces you to have a discussion about capital structure — who owns shares, how many shares and what kind of shares. There isn’t a single way to design a company on this front and we’ll look at some options later in this article. And because you’re starting a startup, you want to structure your company in a way that makes future financing easy.

Setting up a company also lets you put your IP in a single entity that you’re sharing with other shareholders. “One of the key things you’re doing when you’re forming a company is assigning the IP related to that company into a single entity that holds it all,” Alonso said.

Source: Tech Crunch

As DevOps takes off, site reliability engineers are flying high

Each year, LinkedIn tracks the top emerging jobs and roles in the U.S.

The top four roles of 2020 — AI specialist, robotics engineer, data scientist and full-stack engineer — are all closely affiliated with driving forward technological innovation. Today, we’d like to recognize number five on the list, without which innovation in any domain would not be possible: the site reliability engineer (SRE).

We see the emergence of site reliability engineers not as a new trend, but one closely coupled with the theme of DevOps over the last decade. As coined, it was supposed to be something that you do and not something that you are. However, as time has passed, DevOps has found its way into roles and titles, often replacing “application production support” or “production engineering.”

What we are seeing now and predicting into the future is the rise of site reliability engineer as a title relating to the practice of DevOps and better describing the work to be done. At the time of our writing, there are more than 9,000 open roles for SREs on LinkedIn, a number that is only growing.

Software focused on helping engineers ensure reliability and uptime isn’t a new phenomenon, and the market has supported numerous billion-plus dollar exits, including companies like AppDynamics and Datadog . Nonetheless, we see an impending tipping point in tooling catering to the SRE persona across their entire workflow. We’ll discuss why the market is taking off and share our view of the landscape and the many inspired founders building technology to transform the practice of reliability — a foundational block for innovation across every industry.

Why now?

  • The service is the product: As more applications have moved to being delivered as a service, moving from the realm of IT to SaaS, the service itself has become the product. Anything delivered as a service must keep an eye toward the old, basic concept of customer service. This shift began at the application layer (e.g., Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow) and over time has spread to infrastructure layer software (e.g., Datadog, HashiCorp) and has even impacted on-prem software. As Grant Miller, CEO at Replicated, put it further, “Traditional on-prem software vendors have transitioned away from delivering binary executables (.jar, .war, .exe, etc.) and expecting their customers to set up the necessary components manually. Now, vendors are leveraging Kubernetes as the substrate to deliver a much more automated and reliable experience to their customers, and redefining what ‘on-prem software’ traditionally meant.”

    Source: Tech Crunch

Mastercard acquired and shut down IfOnly, an experiences marketplace hit by Covid-19

Travel has undoubtedly been one of the industries hardest hit in the coronavirus pandemic, constrained by restrictions on how people can move between and within countries, many venues closing, new rules to minimise gatherings, shrinking economies, and a general reluctance among consumers to engage in getting out and about. One startup in the space has been acquired in the wake of that.

IfOnly — an “experiences” marketplace based around access to exclusive, and often expensive, events and people, with a portion of the proceeds that a guest pays for the experience going towards good causes — was quietly acquired and shut down by credit giant Mastercard for an undisclosed sum. Mastercard told TechCrunch that it has folded the tech and team into Priceless — its own experiences marketplace — after initially leading a strategic investment in the company in 2018.

“At the end of last year, IfOnly, whose technology helps to power, became part of the Mastercard family, bringing their expertise and know-how in-house,” a spokesperson said. “The IfOnly platform will continue to help advance our Priceless strategy and our combined team will be even better positioned and equipped to deliver exclusive experiences for cardholders globally.”

IfOnly had been founded and previously led by Trevor Traina, a businessman, member of one of the wealthiest families in the US, and a well-connected Trump supporter. Traina eventually left the role of CEO when Trump appointed him ambassador to Austria in 2018. He was replaced by John Boris, who had been the CMO of Shutterfly. He still lists the CEO role of IfOnly as his current gig.

Mastercard had been just one of IfOnly’s big strategic investors; others were Hyatt Hotels, Sotheby’s and American Express, while financial backers investors included the likes of Founders Fund, NEA and Khosla. Together, investors had collectively put nearly $50 million into the startup. IfOnly was last valued at about $105 million, according to PitchBook data.

While Mastercard said that it had acquired the company at the beginning of the year, it turned out to be a soft landing for the startup, given the global turn of events and how it has impacted the travel industry.

It was only in July of this year that IfOnly had posted a notice on its site announcing the closure and acquisition. (A reader tipped us on the development last week.)

But before that, IfOnly’s business had ground to a halt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In the archived pages of the site (via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine) the company announced months ago that it would be pausing the availability of its experiences “due to the COVID-19 situation”, saying it would update as it learned more.

The sale (and closure) puts an end to a startup that began life with exclusive experiences that appeared to be aimed squarely at the one percent. One offer (on an archived page) for example offered “a family weekend feasting in Florence, Italy” starting at €62,851 (about $74,000) for four people, and tours of the Champagne region in France.

But the startup appeared to want to widen that out. Another offer included a session with the founders of “Goat Yoga” in Las Vegas for a private feeding and yoga session with baby goats (yes, this is a thing), starting at about $33 per person, depending on group numbers and presumably the number of goats and other parameters. Each experience was tied to a particular charity that would benefit from the purchase.

It also looks like IfOnly had also expanded into single, virtual experiences and those that could be bid on, both directly on its site and in partnership with auctioneers Sotheby’s. These included having customised voicemails created by Susan Sarandon, or bidding on a lunch with Mary Kay Place.

But the writing may have been on the wall, with the startup not formulating any kind of “plan B” on its site in the wake of the global health pandemic. Others that have built businesses around experiences — visiting places, going on tours, meeting famous people and doing other things to engage people in something new either close to home or further afield — have had to completely rethink their approach.

Airbnb — which had moved aggressively into experiences some years ago to complement and expand its accommodation booking platform — in April launched Airbnb Online Experiences, offering virtual tours and other video-based engagements to users.

GetYourGuide, the very well-capitalised Berlin-based startup offering unique tours and other travel-based experiences, has brought in pay cuts and reassessed its business model essentially around the idea of writing off 2020 (that is, assuming no one books for this year), in hopes of a turnaround in the longer term.

Meanwhile, Klook resorted to cutting staff. And yet others like Omaze — which like IfOnly also ties in its experiences with raising money for charity — are still raising money and operating, albeit currently needing to delay some of the experiences they’re selling.

For Mastercard, the Priceless platform is part of the company’s wider efforts to expand its business beyond basic card services. (That’s something that has seen companies like Mastercard, Visa and Amex expand into services for businesses, too, such as Mastercard’s purchase of B2B payments company Nets, and Amex’s purchase of SMB loans platform Kabbage.) Services like Priceless also help Mastercard create more brand loyalty with its customers, and to potentially make better revenues per user through more direct retailing.

As with other experience purveyors like Airbnb, it seems like the Priceless offerings have moved into the completely virtual sphere, selling people a chance to meet sports celebrities online, go backstage at famous theatres, and learn how to mix drinks with well-known mixologists. These may now be powered by IfOnly, but only in part: the option to give to charities doesn’t appear to have carried over with the deal.

Source: Tech Crunch

With $11 million in fresh capital, Bolt Bikes rebrands to Zoomo

Bolt Bikes, the electric bike platform marketed to gig economy delivery workers, has a new name and a fresh injection of $11 million in capital from a Series A funding round led by Australian Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The round also included equity from Hana Ventures and existing investors Maniv Mobility and Contrarian Ventures, together with venture debt from OneVentures and Viola Credit.

The Sydney, Australia-based startup that launched in 2017 is now called Zoomo, a change that aims to better reflect a customer base that has expanded beyond gig economy workers to include corporate clients and everyday consumers. Mina Nada, co-founder and CEO of the newly named Zoomo, also told TechCrunch that he wanted to ensure the company wouldn’t be confused by other similarly named businesses.

“When we set up Bolt back in 2017, the name was fine in Australia, but as we’ve gone international we’ve come up against at least three other companies called Bolt, two of them in the mobility space,” Nada explained. On-demand transportation company Taxify rebranded as Bolt in May 2020. Another company known as Bolt Mobility provides shared scooter services.

Zoomo, which has operations in Australia, the UK, New York and soon in Los Angeles, sells its electric bikes or offers them as a subscription. Its primary business has been subscriptions for commercial use, which includes the electric bike, fleet management software, financing and servicing. Subscribers get 24-hour access to the bike. A battery charger, phone holder, phone USB port, secure U-Lock and safety induction is included.

Zoomo has sales and service centers in the markets where it offers subscriptions, which includes Sydney, New York and the UK. The company plans to use the new funding to expand its subscription footprint — which means adding physical sales and service centers — to Los Angeles and Brisbane as well as within New York.

The company’s strategy is to slowly expand where its subscription service is offered, while ramping up direct sales. The need for physical locations limits how quickly Zoomo can expand its subscription product. Selling the bikes to corporations and other users allows the company to generate more revenue, grow its geographic reach and build brand recognition as it slowly expands its more capitally intensive subscription service.

Zoomo also plans to use the funding to add new corporate categories such as parcel, mail and grocery deliveries that its bikes can be used for as well as other models better suited for individual consumers.

Source: Tech Crunch

Extra Crunch discount now available for military, nonprofits and government employees

We’re excited to announce that government, nonprofit and military employees can get an Extra Crunch membership at a discounted rate of $50 per year, plus tax. If interested in claiming the deal, please contact our customer service team from your .org, .gov, .mil or similar work-related email domain. We’ll also accept other forms of verification, such as proof that the organization is a 501c3 or an employment ID. Our customer service team can be reached at

Extra Crunch unlocks access to our weekly investor surveys, daily private market analysis and in-depth interviews with experts on fundraising, growth, monetization and other core startup topics. Find answers to your burning questions about startup and investing through Extra Crunch Live, and stay informed with our members-only Extra Crunch newsletter. Other benefits include a faster-loading and cleaner experience, 20% off future TechCrunch event tickets and savings on software services like DocSend, Typeform, Crunchbase and more.

Learn more about Extra Crunch benefits here.

Source: Tech Crunch

Earn the best backlinks with high-quality content and digital PR

A lot is debated in the SEO world, but nearly everyone can agree that links are and will continue to be vitally important to the health and rankability of a website.

Luckily, link building and brand awareness goals can be built into your content marketing strategy, which can be vastly elevated by combining your efforts with digital PR.

I’ll walk through how creating high-quality content and pitching it correctly to top publishers can earn you the valuable backlinks you’ve always wanted (and if you employ this strategy on an ongoing basis, the increase in organic traffic you’ve always wanted, too).

Choosing the right content idea

I have to start by saying that the most important thing about being cited in news sources is that you have to be newsworthy. Now that might go without saying, but what we as marketers might consider newsworthy about our brands isn’t necessarily newsworthy to a writer or to the greater public.

Content ideation tip #1: The best way to ensure your newsworthiness is to gather and analyze data. Even if the data set already exists, if it hasn’t been analyzed and presented in a straightforward, applicable, easy-to-understand way, your illustration of the data could be considered new and valuable.

I’ll touch on this again in a moment. But first, let’s dive into the content example I’ll be using throughout this piece.

Source: Tech Crunch

Startup Alley exhibitors: register for VC-led Fundraising & Hiring Best Practices webinar

It’s a classic “last but not least” moment for the all the savvy early-stage startup founders exhibiting in Digital Startup Alley at Disrupt 2020. The final webinar in our three-part interactive series takes place on August 26 at 1pm PT / 4pm ET]. Don’t forget to register right here.

Pro tip: You must be a Digital Startup Alley exhibitor to access this webinar (and other Disrupt 2020 events coming soon to the internet near you). Not an exhibitor yet? Buy a Digital Startup Alley Package and the webinar will be the first of many benefits coming your way. More on those in a minute.

Bonus pro tip: Curious about the look and feel of Disrupt 2020? Check out the video of our latest Ask Me Anything session: How TechCrunch turned Disrupt into a virtual event.

Got your pass? Tune in, bring your questions and get ready for a masterclass called Fundraising and Hiring Best Practices. Every startup founder needs to understand how these essential aspects work to mount a successful startup, and we have seasoned experts to guide the way.

The panel, moderated by our own Natasha Mascarenhas, includes Sarah Kunst (Cleo Capital) and Brett Berson (First Round Capital). Learn tips and effective strategies to help you secure funding for your startup. Learn to avoid pitfalls when you begin to hire — getting it right is one of those make or break moments.

Exhibiting in Digital Startup Alley can be one of the smartest investments you’ll ever make. Exhibit and demo your tech and talent to thousands of global Disrupt attendees. Use your custom exhibit page to feature your pitch deck or marketing video and collect leads from people who visit the page.

CrunchMatch, our free AI-powered networking platform, helps you find and connect with people who can help grow your business — investors, potential customers, media and other influencers. It helps them find you, too. Even better, CrunchMatch is live right now. Translation: more time to pitch, demo and schedule 1:1 virtual meetings.

You exhibitor status also gives you exclusive access to upcoming speed networking and interview sessions with accelerators and founder organizations. Connect with the likes of iFundWomen, Backstage Capital, Techstars, Plug and Play and Global Startup Ecosystem. There’s no telling where one conversation with any of these groups might take you.

Don’t miss out on our Fundraising & Hiring Best Practices webinar on August 26 at 1pm PT / 4pm ET. Already an exhibitor? Register to attend here.

And don’t miss out on the opportunities that come from exhibiting in Startup Alley. Be savvy. Buy a Digital Startup Alley Package, register for the webinar, and do everything in your power to drive your business forward.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Source: Tech Crunch

Osmind pitches clinical management and data analysis for mental health practices using psychedelics

Jimmy Qian and Lucia Huang, the co-founders of a new clinical practice management and data analysis platform for mental health providers focusing on cutting edge psychedelic treatments, met at Stanford University. 

The two both come from healthcare backgrounds. Huang, whose mother was a biomedical engineer, worked as an associate at Warburg Pincus focused on healthcare and worked at the startup Verge Genomics before heading to Stanford’s business school while Qian was in medical school at Stanford.

Both also went to high school in the Bay Area and were intimately familiar with the mental health crisis affecting the communities around Silicon Valley.

Qian worked on a few non-profits in the mental health space through his undergraduate years at Penn and then again in the Bay Area while he was at Stanford.

Osmind’s founders say the goal for their young startup is to help patients access innovative treatments to mental health by providing clinicians and pharmaceutical companies with software and services that will make the provision of care, and proof of the efficacy of treatment, more readily available.

There are 11 million Americans that are resistant to most mental health therapies, according to Huang and Qian. Those patients can cost the healthcare as much as $250 billion, they said. “Nobody has been able to help this patient population,” said Huang in an interview. “Pharma doesn’t develop drugs for them.”

Now graduating with Y Combinator’s latest cohort of companies, Osmind’s public benefit corporation intends to aggregate data from the sickest patient population and provide that data to drug developers for clinical trials and to help insurers route patients to the treatment providers that can benefit them the most, according to Qian.

The company, which launched its services two months ago, already has 30 practices using its software covering 3,000 patients.

“The beauty of all of this is that it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Huang. Providers get a software platform that streamlines administrative tasks and provides patient outreach and remote monitoring services. They also have a web portal that allows them to view patient progress.

Qian said its a service designed for physicians that are not necessarily technically savvy. It also provides a dataset that can be used to clinically validate some of these more experimental forms of therapy including psychedelics and ketamine treatment.

“We improve the care journey,” said Qian. “These are clinics that don’t have the manpower to do that.. You can’t call your patients every single day.”

Source: Tech Crunch

Palantir and the great revenue mystery

Source: Tech Crunch