Marc Gilman is General Counsel and VP of Compliance at Theta Lake. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law.
Technology has been used to manage regulatory risk since the advent of the ledger book (or the Bloomberg terminal, depending on your reference point). However, the cost-consciousness internalized by banks during the 2008 financial crisis combined with more robust methods of analyzing large datasets has spurred innovation and increased efficiency by automating tasks that previously required manual reviews and other labor-intensive efforts.
So even if RegTech wasn’t born during the financial crisis, it was probably old enough to drive a car by 2008. The intervening 11 years have seen RegTech’s scope and influence grow.
RegTech startups targeting financial services, or FinServ for short, require very different growth strategies — even compared to other enterprise software companies. From a practical perspective, everything from the security requirements influencing software architecture and development to the sales process are substantially different for FinServ RegTechs.
The most successful RegTechs are those that draw on expertise from security-minded engineers, FinServ-savvy sales staff as well as legal and compliance professionals from the industry. FinServ RegTechs have emerged in a number of areas due to the increasing directives emanating from financial regulators.
This new crop of startups performs sophisticated background checks and transaction monitoring for anti-money laundering purposes pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act, the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) and FINRA rules; tracks supervision requirements and retention for electronic communications under FINRA, SEC, and CFTC regulations; as well as monitors information security and privacy laws from the EU, SEC, and several US state regulators such as the New York Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”).
In this article, we’ll examine RegTech startups in these three fields to determine how solutions have been structured to meet regulatory demand as well as some of the operational and regulatory challenges they face.
In its most recent report, Synergy Research, a company that monitors cloud marketshare, found that enterprise SaaS revenue passed the $100 billion run rate this quarter. The market was led by Microsoft and Salesforce.
It shouldn’t be a surprise at this point that these two enterprise powerhouses come in at the top. Microsoft reported $10.1 billion in Productivity and Business Processes revenue, which includes Office 365, the Dynamics line and LinkedIn, the company it bought in 2016 for $26.2 billion. That $10.1 billion accounted for the top spot with 17 percent
Salesforce was next with around 12%. It announced $3.74 billion in revenue in its most recent earnings statement with Service Cloud alone accounting for $1.02 billion in revenue, crossing that billion-dollar mark for the first time.
Adobe came in third, good for around 10% market share, with $2.74 billion in revenue for its most recent report. Digital Media, which includes Creative Cloud and Document Cloud, accounted for the vast majority of the revenue with $1.8 billion. SAP and Oracle complete the top companies
A growing market
While that number may seem low, given we are 20 years into the development of the SaaS market, it is still a significant milestone, not to be dismissed lightly. As Synergy pointed out, while the market feels mature, if finds that SaaS revenue still accounts for just 20 percent of the overall enterprise software market. There’s still a long way to go, showing as with the infrastructure side of the market, things change much more slowly than we imagine, and the market is growing rapidly, as the impressive growth rates show.
“While SaaS growth rate isn’t as high as IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service), the SaaS market is substantially bigger and it will remain so until 2023. Synergy forecasts strong growth across all SaaS segments and all geographic regions,” the company wrote in its report.
Salesforce is the only one of the top five that was actually born in the cloud. Adobe, an early desktop software company, switched to cloud in 2013. Microsoft, of course, has been a desktop stalwart for many years before embracing the cloud over the last decade. SAP and Oracle are traditional enterprise software companies, born long before the cloud was even a concept, that began transitioning when the market began shifting.
Getting to a billion
Yet in spite of being late to the game, these numbers show that the market is still dominated by the old guard enterprise software companies and how difficult it is to achieve market dominance for companies born in the cloud. Salesforce emerged 20 years ago as an early cloud adherent, but of all of the enterprise SaaS companies that were started this century only ServiceNow and WorkDay show up in the Synergy list lumped in “the next 10.”
That’s not to say there aren’t SaaS companies making some serious money, just not quite as much as the top players to this point. Jason Lemkin, CEO and founder at SaaStr, a company that invests in and supports enterprise SaaS companies, says a lot of companies are close to that $1 billion goal than you might think, and he’s optimistic that we are going to see more.
“We will have at least 100 companies top $1 billion in ARR, probably many more. It is just math. Almost everyone IPO’ing [SaaS company] has 120-140% revenue retention. That will compound $100 million or $200 million to $1 billion. The only question is when,” he told TechCrunch.
Chart courtesy of SaasStr
He adds that annualized numbers are very close behind ARR numbers and it won’t take long to catch up. Yet as we have seen with some of the companies on this list, it’s still not easy to get there.
It’s hard to develop a billion dollar SaaS company, and it takes time and patience, and perhaps some strategic acquisitions to get there, but the market trajectory continues to move upward. It will likely only grow stronger as more companies move to software in the cloud, and that bodes well for many of the players in this market, even those that didn’t show up on Synergy’s chart.
When it comes to a cloud success story, Snowflake checks all the boxes. It’s a SaaS product going after industry giants. It has raised bushels of cash and grown extremely rapidly — and the story is continuing to develop for the cloud data lake company.
Dageville founded the company in 2012 with Marcin Zukowski and Thierry Cruanes with a mission to bring the database, a market that had been dominated for decades by Oracle, to the cloud. Later, the company began focusing on data lakes or data warehouses, massive collections of data, which had been previously stored on premises. The idea of moving these elements to the cloud was a pretty radical notion in 2012.
The company started raising money shortly after its founding, modestly at first, then much, much faster in huge chunks. Investors included a Silicon Valley who’s who such as Sutter Hill, Redpoint, Altimeter, Iconiq Capital and Sequoia Capital .
Snowflake fund raising by round. Chart: Crunchbase
It brought on industry veteran Bob Muglia in 2014 to lead it through its initial growth spurt. Muglia left the company earlier this year and was replaced by former ServiceNow chairman and CEO Frank Slootman.
TC Sessions: Enterprise (September 5 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center) will take on the big challenges and promise facing enterprise companies today. TechCrunch’s editors will bring to the stage founders and leaders from established and emerging companies to address rising questions, like the promised revolution from machine learning and AI, intelligent marketing automation and the inevitability of the cloud, as well as the outer reaches of technology, like quantum computing and blockchain.
Distru, a nearly three-year-old, Oakland-based startup whose platform aims to help track cannabis through its seed-to-sale process, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Felicis Ventures, with participation from Village Global, Global Founders Capital, and numerous notable angel investors, including Elad Gil, Katie Stanton, and Avichal Garg.
The deal is an interesting one for numerous reasons, including that it marks Felicis’s first investment in the cannabis space after many months spent looking at a wide array of related startups, says Niki Pezeshki, a principal with the firm. Indeed, though interest in cannabis-related products and services is growing among traditional venture firms as a growing number of states move to legalize and regulate marijuana, there’s lingering concern about what will happen and when at the federal level.
Distru is also entering into a space that tech investors can grok: it’s a software as a service company, one that just happens to give cannabis operators insight into their inventory and order management, their customer relationship management, and their logistics. Most important, Distru’s software helps them automate compliance with complicated and growing state regulations by integrating with Metrc, which is itself inventory tracing software that’s being used by a growing number of states to record the inventory and movement of cannabis and cannabis products through the commercial supply chain. (We wrote about six-year-old Metrc last year when it raised $50 million in funding, including from Casa Verde Capital and Tiger Global Management.)
In the meantime, it seems to pick picking up momentum despite its scale. Among its customers are major cannabis producers and distributors Humboldt Farms and CannaCraft. More, though it has competitors, including nine-year-old, Denver-based, venture-backed MJ Freeway, Hatab says it’s growing steadily based solely on word of mouth. Perhaps most compelling to Felicis and its other backers, the company has been operating in the black for some time. Says Hatab, “I think [our investors] were surprised by how profitable we were.”
And it has a lot of room to grow, no pun intended. Distru operates in California alone today, but Hatab says it plans to follow Metrc into the other markets where it operates today, including Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada and Louisiana.
PagerDuty debuted on the New York Stock Exchange today, and as we type, shares of the nine-year-old, San Francisco-based incident response software company are trading at nearly $39.
That’s up more than 60 percent above their IPO range of $24 per share, which was itself adjusted from the range of $21 to $23 that had been expected earlier and gives the company a valuation of close to $3 billion. That’s an awful lot for a company whose software helps technical teams at 11,000 companies spot problems with applications and respond to incidents. Though it’s growing quickly — revenue was up 48 percent last year — it still pulled in just $117.8 million in 2018. Meanwhile, its net loss widened last year, to $40.7 million from $38.1 million in 2017.
Certainly, its performance has to make the company’s investors — who last assigned the company a valuation of $1.3 billion back in September — very happy. Some of the VCs poised to win big if PagerDuty’s shares continue flying high include Andreessen Horowitz, which owned 18.4 percent of PagerDuty’s shares sailing into the IPO; Accel, which owned 12.3 percent; and Bessemer, which owned 12.2 percent. Other winners include Baseline Ventures (6.7 percent) and Harrison Metal (5.3 percent).
It’s also exciting for CEO Jennifer Tejada, a proven operator who was brought in to lead PagerDuty in 2016 and now becomes part of a small — but growing — club of women CEOs to take their tech companies public, including Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix and Julia Hartz of Eventbrite.
We talked with Tejada earlier today about the company’s big day. In addition to crediting company co-founders (and shareholders) Andrew Miklas and Baskar Puvanathasan, both of whom have since left the company, Tejada thanked PagerDuty co-founder Alex Solomon, who remains the company’s CTO. She also told us a little bit about what today has been like, and how the IPO changes things — and doesn’t. Our chat has been edited for length.
TC: First and foremost, how are you feeling?
JT: It’s been an incredible day. It’s been an incredible several months. You have to enjoy it when it’s going well.
TC: How does the vision for the company change now that it’s public? Have you been thinking ahead to possible acquisitions?
JT: The vision doesn’t change. We intend to do exactly what we’ve been doing, which is to provide the best real-time operations platform available to companies as they undergo digital transformation to meet the growing demands of their customers. We think we’re [facing] an early and very large opportunity that will be available to us for a long time. So our job continues to be to build great products, stay close to our customers, expand regionally and continue doing what has allowed us to be a successful private company.
TC: You and I had talked about the challenges of retaining employees in San Francisco when we sat down together in November. It’s a battle for every local company. How do you keep employees beyond the lock-up period? How do you ensure they stay focused on performance and not your share price?
JT: I think that mindset of, ‘It’s all over when you go public,’ is kind of a Silicon Valley fable. If you look at the most successful SaaS companies on the planet, they’ve gained 10x, 20x, 30x their value post their IPO. I also think what employees look for ahead of their financial success is career success. Am I being developed and recognized and can I build my career at this company? And we’ve worked really hard to create those career opportunities for our employees who [I think see, as I do] the IPO like a racing boat pushing off the dock, across the starting line, and into the open ocean, where the next adventure awaits.
In the meantime, we’ve already lessened our reliance on [overheated job markets] by opening offices in Toronto and Atlanta and Seattle and London and Sydney, even while we’re still hiring in San Francisco and Seattle.
TC: Obviously, Lyft’s shares have been up and down, owing to short sellers. Have you been monitoring short interest? Are you at all concerned about investors driving the price sky high, then selling it on the way down?
JT: I haven’t even looked at the stock price in the last several hours . . . There are a lot of things outside of my control, and the free market is one of them.
TC: PagerDuty is rare in that is doesn’t have a dual-class structure, which can greatly empower leaders over everyone else associated with a company. Presumably, this is a great relief to your investors; I just wonder whether it was ever a consideration?
JT: I’m a little bit of a traditionalist. I’ve been around long enough to know how checks and balances work, and a single-class structure made sense for PagerDuty. Also, dual-class structures tend to emerge more when you have deeply involved founders, and though Alex is still very much a part of the business, PagerDuty’s other two founders have worked outside of the business for some time.
TC: You have plenty of operating experience, including previously running Keynote Systems, but you’ve never taken a company public. Were there ways in which you found the roadshow experience surprising?
JT: I was surprised by how fun it was! [Laughs.] When you have a great story, and a great partner helping you tell it — in my case that’s [PagerDuty CFO] Howard Wilson, who I’ve worked with for 10 years — it’s great. We had a great reception from investors. I loved our IPO team; our [top bank underwriting teams] were both led by women and whenever I had a question, they [had the answer]. I also had this cocoon of experience surrounding me thanks to our board. If anyone tells you that [in this position] they are super comfortable, they’re either lying or [clueless] but I was very lucky. I also have a whole bunch of buddies who are CEOs [and other executives] in SaaS and I’ve been shaking them down for advice for months, so I felt well-prepared.
TC: What was some of the advice you received from those friends about how your life is about to change?
JT: Some of it was about the need to keep people focused and not get distracted, to remind everyone that this is a milestone, not the goal. [Some centered on] surrounding yourself with a great team and the importance of great investor relations, a function you don’t have as a private company but that can create huge value and provide support and understanding of the market.
One CEO said to just make sure you keep having fun, to try and stay “you,” to find joy in the same things as before. There will be stressful moments and tough questions — that’s true of any company that’s scaling — but I heard a lot of advice about just taking care of myself, including on the roadshow. In fact, there were a lot of really supportive notes and private tweets that, in a job that can feel lonely, made me feel not alone, and I’m very appreciative of that.
TC: People call IPOs just another funding event, but that’s kind of baloney, isn’t it? If you had to list the most meaningful moments in your life on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being the most important, where might today fall? Would today be up there on that list?
JT: When I think of most meaningful moments, I think of the day my daughter was born, and my wedding. Another day that was very meaningful to me was when I approved our pledge to donate one percent [of PagerDuty’s equity, one percent of its product and one percent of employees’ time] to social impact. We did it a lot later in the game than some companies; our equity was already valuable. But we knew that it was going to create meaningful impact over time.
But yes, it is a gratifying day, especially for the co-founders who were pulling the idea together for PagerDuty a couple of years before they even launched it, and for employees who’ve been with the company for nearly as long and who turned down safer and higher-paying jobs along the way. Seeing their joy today — that is a memory that will be in my top 10 for sure.
Lisa Hawke is VP of Security and Compliance at Everlaw, and Vice Chair of Women in Security and Privacy.
Slack and other consumer-grade productivity tools have been taking off in workplaces large and small — and data governance hasn’t caught up.
Whether it’s litigation, compliance with regulations like GDPR or concerns about data breaches, legal teams need to account for new types of employee communication. And that’s hard when work is happening across the latest messaging apps and SaaS products, which make data searchability and accessibility more complex.
Here’s a quick look at the problem, followed by our suggestions for best practices at your company.
The increasing frequency of reported data breaches and expanding jurisdiction of new privacy laws are prompting conversations about dark data and risks at companies of all sizes, even small startups. Data risk discussions necessarily include the risk of a data breach, as well as preservation of data. Just two weeks ago it was reported that Jared Kushner used WhatsApp for official communications and screenshots of those messages for preservation, which commentators say complies with record keeping laws but raises questions about potential admissibility as evidence.
Our students and clients are roughly evenly distributed across D2C e-commerce, B2B, mobile apps and marketplaces.
When we try to control for founder skill and funds raised, the types of startups that first reach profitability do so in this order:
Small-to-medium business SaaS
On average, an e-commerce company is more likely to first reach profitability than an SMB SaaS company.
Before I explain why, let me explain how we’re differentiating startups: I use the word “type” instead of “business model” or “markets” because I’ve learned that business model and market are often not the best predictors of success. Instead, it’s your approach to customer acquisition. That’s what typically determines the likelihood of profitability.
Moka, a startup that wants to make talent acquisition a little more data-driven for China-based companies that range from smartphone giant Xiaomi to Burger King’s local business, announced Monday that it has raised a 180 million yuan ($27 million) Series B round of funding.
The deal was led by Hillhouse Capital, an investor in top Chinese technology companies such as Tencent, Baidu, JD.com, Pinduoduo — just to name a few. Other investors who took part include Xianghe Capital, an investment firm founded by two former Baidu executives, Chinese private equity firm GSR Ventures and GGV Capital.
Moka claims more than 500 enterprise customers were paying for its services by the end of 2018. Other notable clients are McDonalds and one of China’s top livestreaming services YY. It plans to use its new capital to hire staff, build new products and expand the scope of its business.
Founded in 2015, Moka compares itself to Workday and Salesforce in the U.S. It has created a suite of software aiming to make recruiting easier and cheaper for companies with upwards of 500 employees. Its solutions take care of the full cycle of hiring. To start with, Moka allows recruiters to post job listings across multiple platforms with one click, saving them the hassle of hopping between portals. Its AI-enabled screening program then automatically filters candidates and make recommendations for companies. What comes next is the interview, which Moka helps streamline with automatic email and message reminders for job applicants and optimized plans for interviewers on when and where to meet their candidates.
That’s not the end, as Moka also wants to capture what happens after the talent is onboard. The startup helps companies maintain a talent database consist of existing employees and potential hires. The services allow companies to keep a close tap on their staff, whose resume update will trigger a warning to the employer, and alerts the recruiter once the system detects suitable candidates.
Moka is among a wave of startups founded by Chinese entrepreneurs with foreign education and work experiences. Zhao Oulun, whose English nickname is Orion, graduated from the University of California, Berkley and worked at San Francisco-based peer-to-peer car sharing company Turo before founding Moka with Li Guoxing. Li himself is also a “sea turtle,” a colloquial term in Chinese that describes overseas-educated graduates who return home to work. Li graduated from the University of Michigan and Stanford University, and had worked at Facebook as an engineer.
When the founders re-entered China, they saw something was missing in the booming domestic business environment: effective talent management.
“Businesses are flourishing, but at the same time many of them fall short in internal organization and operation. To a large extent, the issue pertains to the lack of digital and meticulous operation for human resources, which slows down decision-making and leads to mistakes around talents and company organization,” says chief executive Zhao in a statement.
Moka’s mission has caught the attention of investors. Jixun Foo, a partner at Moka backer GGV Capital, also believes China’s businesses can benefit from a data-driven approach to people management: “We are positive about Moka becoming a comprehensive HR service provider in the future through its unique data-powered and intelligent solutions.”
Today, Zendesk announced it has hired three new executives — Elisabeth Zornes, former general manager of global support for Microsoft Office, as Zendesk’s first chief customer officer; former Adobe executive Colleen Berube as chief information officer and former Salesforce executive Shawna Wolverton as senior vice president, product.
The company emphasized that the hirings were about expanding the executive suite and bringing in top people to help the company grow and move into larger enterprise organizations.
From left to right: Shawna Wolverton, Colleen Berube and Elizabeth Zornes
Zornes comes to Zendesk with 20 years of experience at Microsoft working in a variety of roles around Microsoft Office. She says that what attracted her to Zendesk was its focus on the customer.
“When I look at businesses today, no matter what size, what type or what geography, they can agree on one thing: customer experience is the rocket fuel to drive success. Zendesk has positioned itself as a technology company that empowers companies of all kinds to drive a new level of success by focusing on their customer experience, and helping them to be at the forefront of that was a very intriguing opportunity for me,” Zornes told TechCrunch.
New CIO Berube, who comes with two decades of experience, also sees her new job as a chance to have an impact on customer experience and help companies that are trying to transform into digital organizations. “Customer experience is the linchpin for all organizations to succeed in the digital age. My background is broad, having shepherded many different types of companies through digital transformations, and developing and running modern IT organizations,” she said.
Her boss, CEO and co-founder Mikkel Svane, sees someone who can help continue to grow the company and develop the product. “We looked specifically for a CIO with a modern mindset who understands the challenges of large organizations trying to keep up with customer expectations today,” Svane told TechCrunch.
As for senior VP of product Wolverton, she comes with 15 years of experience, including a stint as head of product at Salesforce. She said that coming to Zendesk was about having an impact on a modern SaaS product. “The opportunity to build a modern, public, cloud-native CRM platform with Sunshine was a large part of my decision to join,” she said.
The three leaders have already joined the organization — Wolverton and Berube joined last month and Zornes started just this week.
BetterCloud began life as a way to provide an operations layer for G Suite. More recently, after a platform overhaul, it began layering on a handful of other SaaS applications. Today, the company announced, it is now possible to add any SaaS application to its operations dashboard and monitor usage across applications via an API.
As founder and CEO David Politis explains, a tool like Okta provides a way to authenticate your SaaS app, but once an employee starts using it, BetterCloud gives you visibility into how it’s being used.
“The first order problem was identity, the access, the connections. What we’re doing is we’re solving the second order problem, which is the interactions,” Politis explained. In his view, companies lack the ability to monitor and understand the interactions going on across SaaS applications, as people interact and share information, inside and outside the organization. BetterCloud has been designed to give IT control and security over what is occurring in their environment, he explained.
He says they can provide as much or as little control as a company needs, and they can set controls by application or across a number of applications without actually changing the user’s experience. They do this through a scripting library. BetterCloud comes with a number of scripts and provides log access to give visibility into the scripting activity.
If a customer is looking to use this data more effectively, the solution includes a Graph API for ingesting data and seeing the connections across the data that BetterCloud is collecting. Customers can also set event triggers or actions based on the data being collected as certain conditions are met.
All of this is possible because the company overhauled the platform last year to allow BetterCloud to move beyond G Suite and plug other SaaS applications into it. Today’s announcement is the ultimate manifestation of that capability. Instead of BetterCloud building the connectors, it’s providing an API to let its customers do it.
The company was founded in 2011 and has raised more than $106 million, according to Crunchbase.