It’s been a long night at VivaTech. The building hosted a very special competition — the TechCrunch Hackathon in Paris.
Hundreds of engineers and designers got together to come up with something cool, something neat, something awesome. The only condition was that they only had 36 hours to work on their projects. Some of them were participating in our event for the first time, while others were regulars. Some of them slept on the floor in a corner, while others drank too much Red Bull.
We could all feel the excitement in the air when the 64 teams took the stage to present a one-minute demo to impress fellow coders and our judges. But only one team could take home the grand prize and €5,000. So, without further ado, meet the TechCrunch Hackathon winner.
Current mining operations lack transparency and clarity in the way they are monitored. In order to understand how a material went from initial discovery in the mine to end product, a new tool is necessary to monitor operations. Myneral.me offers an all-encompassing platform for the metal and mining sector that showcases CSR to both industry partners and end users. Find out more on Myneral.me.
Runner-Up #1: Vyta
Vyta takes patient information and helps doctors understand which patient needs to be treated first. A simple tool like this could make things smoother for everyone at the emergency room and improve treatments.
Runner-Up #2: Scrub
SCRUB = SCRUM + BUGS. Easily track your errors across applications and fix them using our algorithmic suggestions and code samples. Our open-source bug tracker automagically collects all errors for you. Find out more on GitHub.
Runner-Up #3: Chiche
Finding the future upcoming brand depends on the set of data you are using to detect it. First, they do a simple quantification of the most famous brands on social medias to identify three newcomers. Second, they use Galerie Lafayette’s website as a personal shopping tool to propose customers the most adequate product within the three newcomers.
Dr. Aurélie Jean has been working for more than 10 years as a research scientist and an entrepreneur in computational sciences, applied to engineering, medicine, education, economy, finance and journalism. In the past, Aurélie worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Bloomberg. Today, Aurélie works and lives between USA and France to run In Silico Veritas, a consulting agency in analytics and computer simulations. Aurélie is an advisor at the Boston Consulting Group and an external collaborator for The Ministry of Education of France. Aurélie is also a science editorial contributor for Le Point, teaches algorithms in universities and conducts research.
Julien Meraud has a solid track record in e-commerce after serving international companies for several years, including eBay, PriceMinister and Rakuten. Before joining Doctolib, Julien was CMO of Rakuten Spain, where he improved brand online acquisition, retention, promotions and campaigns. Julien joined Doctolib at the very beginning (2014), becoming the company’s first CMO and quickly holding CPO functions additionally. At Doctolib, Julien also leads Strategy teams that are responsible for identifying and sizing Doctolib’s potential new markets. Julien has a Master’s degree in Marketing, Statistics and Economics from ENSAI and a specialized Master in Marketing Management from ESSEC Business School.
Laurent Perrin is the co-founder and CTO of Front, which is reinventing email for teams. Front serves more than 5,000 companies and has raised $79 million in venture funding from investors such as Sequoia Capital, DFJ and Uncork Capital. Prior to Front, Laurent was a senior engineer at various startups and helped design scalable real-time systems. He holds a Master’s in Computer Science from École Polytechnique and Télécom ParisTech.
Neesha Tambe is the head of Startup Battlefield, TechCrunch’s global startup launch competition. In this role she sources, recruits and vets thousands of early-stage startups per year while training and coaching top-tier startups to launch in the infamous Startup Battlefield competition. Additionally, she pioneered the concept and launched CrunchMatch, the networking program at TechCrunch events that has facilitated thousands of connections between founders, investors and the startup community at-large. Prior to her work with TechCrunch, Neesha ran the Sustainable Brands’ Innovation Open — a startup competition for shared value and sustainability-focused startups with judges from Fortune 50 companies.
Renaud Visage is the technical co-founder of San Francisco-based Eventbrite (NYSE: EB), the globally leading event technology platform that went public in September 2018. Renaud is also an angel investor, guiding founders that are solving challenging technical problems in realizing their global ambitions, and he works closely with seed VC firm Point Nine Capital as a board partner, representing the fund on the board of several of their portfolio companies. Renaud also serves on the board of ShareIT, the Paris-based tech for good acceleration program launched in collaboration with Ashoka, and is an advisor to the French impact investing fund, Ring for Good. In 2014, Renaud was included in Wired UK’s Top 100 digital influencers in Europe.
In addition to our judges, here’s the hackmaster who was the MC for the event:
Romain Dillet is a senior writer at TechCrunch. Originally from France, Romain attended EMLYON Business School, a leading French business school specialized in entrepreneurship. He covers many things, from mobile apps with great design to privacy, security, fintech, Apple, AI and complex tech achievements. He also speaks at major tech conferences. He likes pop culture more than anything in the world. He now lives in Paris when he’s not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.
Revenue-based financing is on the rise, at least according to Lighter Capital, a firm that doles out entrepreneur-friendly debt capital.
What exactly is RBF you ask? It’s a relatively new form of funding for tech companies that are posting monthly recurring revenue. Here’s how Lighter Capital, which completed 500 RBF deals in 2018, explains it: “It’s an alternative funding model that mixes some aspects of debt and equity. Most RBF is technically structured as a loan. However, RBF investors’ returns are tied directly to the startup’s performance, which is more like equity.”
Source: Lighter Capital
What’s the appeal? As I said, RBFs are essentially dressed up debt rounds. Founders who opt for RBFs as opposed to venture capital deals hold on to all their equity and they don’t get stuck on the VC hamster wheel, the process in which you are forced to continually accept VC while losing more and more equity as a means of pleasing your investors.
RBFs, however, are better than traditional debt rounds because the investors are more incentivized to help the companies they invest in because they are receiving a certain portion of that business’s monthly revenues, typically 1% to 9%. Eventually, as is explained thoroughly in Lighter Capital’s newest RBF report, monthly payments come to an end, usually 1.3 to 2.5X the amount of the original financing, a multiple referred to as the “cap.” Three to five years down the line, any unpaid amount of said cap is due back to the investor. When all is said in done, ideally, the startup has grown with the support of the capital and hasn’t lost any equity.
At this point, they could opt to raise additional revenue-based capital, they could turn to venture capital or they could tap a tech bank to help them get to the next step. The idea is RBF is easier on the founder and it allows them optionality, something that is often lost when companies turn to VCs.
Silicon Valley entrepreneur Hosain Rahman, the man behind Jawbone, has managed to raise $65.4 million for his new company, according to an SEC filing. The paperwork, coincidentally or otherwise, was processed while most of the world’s attention was focused on Uber’s IPO. Jawbone, if you remember, produced wireless speakers and Bluetooth earpieces, and went kaput in 2017 after burning up $1 billion in venture funding over the course of 10 years. Ouch.
On the heels of enterprise startup UiPath raising at a $7 billion valuation, the startup’s biggest investor is announcing a new fund to double down on making more investments in Europe. VC firm Accel has closed a $575 million fund — money that it plans to use to back startups in Europe and Israel, investing primarily at the Series A stage in a range of between $5 million and $15 million, reports TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden. Plus, take a closer look at Contrary Capital. Part accelerator, part VC fund, Contrary writes small checks to student entrepreneurs and recent college dropouts.
Our paying subscribers are in for a treat this week. Our in-house venture capital expert Danny Crichton wrote down some thoughts on Uber and Lyft’s investment bankers. Here’s a snippet: “Startup CEOs heading to the public markets have a love/hate relationship with their investment bankers. On one hand, they are helpful in introducing a company to a wide range of asset managers who will hopefully hold their company’s stock for the long term, reducing price volatility and by extension, employee churn. On the other hand, they are flagrantly expensive, costing millions of dollars in underwriting fees and related expenses…”
Read the full story here and sign up for Extra Crunch here.
If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Crunchbase News editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm and I chat about the notable venture rounds of the week, CrowdStrike’s IPO and more of this week’s headlines.
Shares of Luckin Coffee jumped 20% in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq stock market.
After opening at $17.00, shares of the Chinese Starbucks competitor climbed as high as $25.96, or more than 50%, before settling back down to $20.38 at the market’s close. The company has a market cap north of $5 billion after its first day of trading.
The brick-and-mortar coffee chain has achieved major success in China by offering speedy delivery services to Chinese consumers. The company has nearly 2,400 stores compared to Starbucks’ 3,500, but it has plans to more than double that number by the end of the year as it seeks to become the country’s coffee king.
Luckin’s success doesn’t immediately seem to be thwarting the stock market success of Starbucks, which has had a glowing 2019. The company hit another all-time high Friday, closing out the day at $78.91, up more than 35% from a year ago, giving the Seattle company a market cap of nearly $96 billion.
Starbucks and Luckin Coffee may seem like mortal enemies, but their rivalry is more complicated than one might immediately think. Check out our Extra Crunch deep dive from earlier this week on the Xiamen-based company’s financials.
DNA Script has raised $38.5 million in new financing to commercialize a process that it claims is the first big leap forward in manufacturing genetic material.
The revolution in synthetic biology that’s reshaping industries from medicine to agriculture rests on three, equally important pillars.
They include: analytics — the ability to map the genome and understand the function of different genes; synthesis — the ability to manufacture DNA to achieve certain functions; and gene editing — the CRISPR-based technologies that allow for the addition or subtraction of genetic code.
New technologies have already been introduced to transform the analytics and editing of genomes, but little progress has been made over the past 50 years in the ways in which genetic material is manufactured. That’s exactly the problem that DNA Script is trying to solve.
Traditionally, making DNA involved the use of chemical compounds to synthesize (or write) DNA in chains that were limited to around 200 nucleotide bases. Those synthetic pieces of genetic code are then assembled to make a gene.
DNA Script’s technology holds the promise of making longer chains of nucleotides by mirroring the enzymatic process through which DNA is assembled within cells — with fewer errors and no chemical waste material. The enzymatic process can accelerate commercial applications in healthcare, chemical manufacturing and agriculture.
“Any technology that can make that faster is going to be very valuable,” says Christopher Voigt, a synthetic biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, told the journal Nature.
DNA Script isn’t the only company in the market that’s looking to make the leap forward in enzymatic DNA production. Nuclear, a startup working with Harvard University’s famed geneticist, George Church, and Ansa Bio, a startup affiliated with Jay Keasling’s Berkeley lab at the University of California, are also moving forward with the technology.
But the Paris-based company has achieved some milestones that would make its technology potentially the first to come to market with a commercially viable approach.
At least, that’s what new investors LSP and Bpifrance, through its Large Venture fund, are hoping. They’re joined by previous investors Illumina Ventures, M. Ventures, Sofinnova Partners, Kurma Partners and Idinvest Partners in backing the company’s latest funding.
The company said the money would be used to accelerate the development of its first products and establish a presence in the United States.
“As we announced earlier this year at the AGBT General Meeting, DNA Script was the first company to enzymatically synthesize a 200mer oligo de novo with an average coupling efficiency that rivals the best organic chemical processes in use today,” said Thomas Ybert, chief executive and co-founder of DNA Script. “Our technology is now reliable enough for its first commercial applications, which we believe will deliver the promise of same-day results to researchers everywhere, with DNA synthesis that can be completed in just a few hours.”
In an age of online misinformation and clickbait, how do you know whether a publication is trustworthy?
Startup Credder is trying to solve this problem with reviews from both journalists and regular readers. These reviews are then aggregated into an overall credibility score (or rather, scores, since the journalist and reader ratings are calculated separately). So when you encounter an article from a new publication, you can check their scores on Credder to get a sense of how credible they are.
Co-founder and CEO Chase Palmieri compared the site to movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. It makes sense, then, that he’s enlisted former Rotten Tomatoes CEO Patrick Lee to his advisory board, along with journalist Gabriel Snyder and former Xobni CEO Jeff Bonforte.
Palmieri plans to open Credder to the general public later this month, and he’s already raised $750,000 in funding from Founder Institute CEO Adeo Ressi, Ira Ehrenpreis, the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Steve Bennet and others.
Palmieri told me he started working full-time on the project back in 2016, with the goal of “giving news consumers a way to productively hold the news producers accountable,” and to “realign the financial incentives of online media, so it’s not just rewarding clicks and traffic metrics.” In other words, he wanted to create a landscape where publishing empty clickbait or heavily-slanted propaganda might have actual consequences.
If Credder gets much traction, it will likely to attract its share of trolls — it’s easy to imagine that the same kind of person who leaves a negative review of “Captain Marvel” without seeing the movie (this is a real issue that Rotten Tomatoes has had to face), would be just as happy to smear The New York Times or CNN as “fake news.” And even if a reviewer is offering honest, good-faith feedback, the review might be less influenced by the quality of a publication’s journalism and more by their personal baggage or political leanings.
Palmieri acknowledged the risk and pointed to several ways Credder is trying to mitigate it. For one thing, users can’t just write an overall review of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal or TechCrunch. Instead, they’re reviewing specific articles, so hopefully they’re engaging with the substance and specifics of the story, rather than just venting their preexisting feelings. The scores assigned to publications and to journalists are only generated when there are enough article ratings to create an aggregated score.
In addition, Palmieri said the reviewers “are also being held accountable,” because users can upvote or downvote their comments. That affects how the reviews get weighted in the overall score, and in turn generates a rating for the reviewers.
“It will take time for the weight of your reviews to be meaningful, and there will be a visible track record,” he said.
While I appreciated Palmieri’s vision, I was also skeptical that a credibility score can actually influence readers’ opinions — maybe it will matter when you encounter a new publication, but everyone already has set ideas about who they trust and don’t trust.
When I brought this up, Palmieri replied, “What we see in today’s media landscape is the left wing media attacks the right wing media, and vice versa. We never get a sense of what our fellow news consumers feel. What’s more likely to change your perspective and make you question yourself? It’s going to a rating page at an article, pointing out a specific problem in that article.”
To be clear, Credder isn’t hosting articles itself, simply crawling the web and creating rating pages for articles, publications and writers. As for making money, Palmieri said he’s considered both a tipping system and an ad system where publications can pay to promote their stories.
TechCrunch readers can check it out early by visiting the Credder website and using the promo code “TCNEWS”.
Extra Crunch offers members the opportunity to tune into conference calls led and moderated by the TechCrunch writers you read every day. This week, TechCrunch’s Kate Clark sat down with Eric Yuan, the founder and CEO of video communications startup Zoom, to go behind the curtain on the company’s recent IPO process and its path to the public markets.
Since hitting the trading desks just a few weeks ago, Zoom stock is up over 30%. But the Zoom’s path to becoming a Silicon Valley and Wall Street darling was anything but easy. Eric tells Kate how the company’s early focus on profitability, which is now helping drive the stock’s strong performance out of the gate, actually made it difficult to get VC money early on, and the company’s consistent focus on user experience led to organic growth across different customer bases.
Eric: I experienced the year 2000 dot com crash and the 2008 financial crisis, and it almost wiped out the company. I only got seed money from my friends, and also one or two VCs like AME Cloud Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures.
nd all other institutional VCs had no interest to invest in us. I was very paranoid and always thought “wow, we are not going to survive next week because we cannot raise the capital. And on the way, I thought we have to look into our own destiny. We wanted to be cash flow positive. We wanted to be profitable.
nd so by doing that, people thought I wasn’t as wise, because we’d probably be sacrificing growth, right? And a lot of other companies, they did very well and were not profitable because they focused on growth. And in the future they could be very, very profitable.
Eric and Kate also dive deeper into Zoom’s founding and Eric’s initial decision to leave WebEx to work on a better video communication solution. Eric also offers his take on what the future of video conferencing may look like in the next five to 10 years and gives advice to founders looking to build the next great company.
For access to the full transcription and the call audio, and for the opportunity to participate in future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free.
Kate Clark: Well thanks for joining us Eric.
Eric Yuan: No problem, no problem.
Kate: Super excited to chat about Zoom’s historic IPO. Before we jump into questions, I’m just going to review some of the key events leading up to the IPO, just to give some context to any of the listeners on the call.
Shares of Fastly, the service that’s used by websites to ensure that they can load faster, have popped in its first hours of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company, which priced its public offering at around $16 — the top of the estimated range for its public offering — have risen more than 50% since their debut on public markets to trade at $25.01.
It’s a sharp contrast to the public offering last week from Uber, which is only just now scratching back to its initial offering price after a week of trading underwater, and an indicator that there’s still some open space in the IPO window for companies to raise money on public markets, despite ongoing uncertainties stemming from the trade war with China.
Compared with other recent public offerings, Fastly’s balance sheet looks pretty okay. Its losses are narrowing (both on an absolute and per-share basis according to its public filing), but the company is paying more for its revenue.
San Francisco-based Fastly competes with companies that include Akamai, Amazon, Cisco and Verizon, providing data centers and a content-distribution service to deliver videos from companies like The New York Times, Ticketmaster, New Relic and Spotify.
Last year, the company reported revenues of $144.6 million and a net loss of $30.9 million, up from $104.9 million in revenue and $32.5 million in losses in the year ago period. Revenue was up more than 38% and losses narrowed by 5% over the course of the year.
The outcome is a nice win for Fastly investors, including August Capital, Iconiq Strategic Partners, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Amplify Partners, which backed the company with $219 million in funding over the eight years since Artur Bergman founded the business in 2011.
Before Postmates, Lehmann cofounded Curated.by, a real-time tweet curation platform based out of London. The German native founded Postmates in March 2011 and turned the brand into a household name.
The logistics and food delivery market is clearly growing, particularly when you look at the sheer amount of cash flowing into startups like Postmates ($678 million) and competitors DoorDash ($1.4 billion) and Deliveroo ($1.5 billion). That said, the business of on-demand delivery has its challenges. The fact that humans are delivering real-world products using actual transportation in the physical world creates a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong.
But Postmates has never played it safe.
The startup continues to iterate and experiment with new types of products and models. In 2017, Postmates took on a handful of new competitors with the launch of alcohol delivery. The company tried its hand at grocery delivery in a number of ways, including launching its own grocery delivery service as well as partnerships with Instacart and Walmart.
The company has also continued to evolve its Postmates Unlimited product, a subscription which allows power-users to pay $9.99/month to skip the delivery fees.
But perhaps most impressive is the fact that Postmates was able to keep the product fresh while expanding… rapidly.
Seven months ago, Postmates was available in 550 cities across the country. Now, the service is operational in 3,000 cities nationally, available to 70 percent of the people in the U.S., with more than 500K merchants on the platform.
We’re thrilled to sit down with Lehmann at Disrupt to discuss lessons learned and what happens next. Disrupt SF runs October 2 to October 4 at the Moscone Center in SF. Tickets are available here.
Despite concern at its high losses and little chance of near-term profitability, Luckin seems to have been greeted positively by investors. The company priced its shares at the top of its $15-$17 range and it upsized the share offering to 33 million, three million more than previously planned. That gives Luckin an initial net raise of $571.2 million, although that could increase to $650.8 million if underwriters take up the full additional allocation of 4.95 million “greenshoe” shares that are on offer.
The company will list on Friday under the ticker “LK.”
Luckin filed to go public last month, just weeks after it closed a $150 million Series B+ funding round led by New York private equity firm Blackrock, which interestingly holds a 6.58% stake in Starbucks. The deal valued Luckin at $2.9 billion and it took the three-year-old company to $550 million raised from investors to date.
The company has burned through incredible amounts of cash as it tries to quickly build a brand that competes with Starbucks, and the presence that the U.S. firm has built over the last 20 years in China. Through aggressive promotions and coupons, the company posted a $475 million loss in 2018, its only full year of business to date, with $125 million in revenue. For the first quarter of 2019, it carded an $85 million loss with total sales of $71 million.
Health[at]Scale, a startup with founders who have both medical and engineering expertise, wants to bring machine learning to bear on healthcare treatment options to produce outcomes with better results and less aftercare. Today the company announced a $16 million Series A. Optum, which is part of the UnitedHealth Group, was the sole investor .
Today, when people looks at treatment options, they may look at a particular surgeon or hospital, or simply what the insurance company will cover, but they typically lack the data to make truly informed decisions. This is true across every part of the healthcare system, particularly in the U.S. The company believes using machine learning, it can produce better results.
“We are a machine learning shop, and we focus on what I would describe as precision delivery. So in other words, we look at this question of how do we match patients to the right treatments, by the right providers, at the right time,” Zeeshan Syed, Health at Scale CEO told TechCrunch.
The founders see the current system as fundamentally flawed, and while they see their customers as insurance companies, hospital systems and self-insured employers; they say the tools they are putting into the system should help everyone in the loop get a better outcome.
The idea is to make treatment decisions more data driven. While they aren’t sharing their data sources, they say they have information from patients with a given condition, to doctors who treat that condition, to facilities where the treatment happens. By looking at a patient’s individual treatment needs and medical history, they believe they can do a better job of matching that person to the best doctor and hospital for the job. They say this will result in the fewest post-operative treatment requirements, whether that involves trips to the emergency room or time in a skilled nursing facility, all of which would end up adding significant additional cost.
If you’re thinking this is strictly about cost savings for these large institutions, Mohammed Saeed, who is the company’s chief medical officer and has and MD from Harvard and a PhD in electrical engineering from MIT, insists that isn’t the case. “From our perspective, it’s a win-win situation since we provide the best recommendations that have the patient interest at heart, but from a payer or provider perspective, when you have lower complication rates you have better outcomes and you lower your total cost of care long term,” he said.
The company says the solution is being used by large hospital systems and insurer customers, although it couldn’t share any. The founders also said, it has studied the outcomes after using its software and the machine learning models have produced better outcomes, although it couldn’t provide the data to back that up at that point at this time.
The company was founded in 2015 and currently has 11 employees. It plans to use today’s funding to build out sales and marketing to bring the solution to a wider customer set.