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AI data security startup Cyera confirms $300M raise at a $1.4B valuation | TechCrunch

Artificial intelligence continues to be a big threat, but it’s also a huge promise in the world of cybersecurity. Today, one of the startups tackling both the opportunity and the challenge is announcing a major round of funding. Cyera has built an AI-based platform to help organizations understand the location and movement of all the data in their networks — critical for taking the right steps to secure that data, whether to defend against cyberattacks or to keep it from inadvertently leaking into a large language model.

The company has raised $300 million in a Series C round that values it at $1.4 billion, TechCrunch has learned.

Growth rounds continue to be a major challenge for tech startups, so Cyera’s fundraise is notable not just for its size, but also because it nearly triples the company’s valuation in less than a year — it last raised a $100 million Series B in June 2023. This speaks to the company’s traction — it didn’t disclose numbers, but its customers include a number of giant multinationals — as well as its outlook on the market and how it’s addressing that.

TechCrunch and other outlets reported on this fundraise when it was still in the works, and today’s news confirms several of the details we uncovered, including the size of the round and the lead investor, Coatue, which is new to the startup’s cap table. Other new investors include Spark Capital, Georgian, and strategic backer AT&T Ventures.

AT&T is a noteworthy name here. In March, TechCrunch revealed that the multinational carrier had to initiate a mass reset of accounts after the details of 7.6 million current account holders, and more than 65 million former account holders, were dumped online due to a data breach that happened in 2019. Incidents like that are typical of what drives companies to sign up to companies like Cyera, sometimes ahead of any crisis, sometimes in order to prevent another crisis.

“You have no idea how many times a month I get a phone call from a CISO asking delicately for some time,” said Cyera CEO Yotam Segev in an interview. “‘I’ve got something going on,’ they say. ‘I need you. How fast can you guys scan my environment?’ It happens every time. And what we do is, we jump on it. We send a squad, we have them figure out what data was in scope. They sometimes don’t even know what data was breached.” (AT&T’s breach, it should be noted, took place before Cyera was founded.)

In a nutshell, Cyera has built a platform that takes a full assessment of an organization’s data, where it was created, and where it’s stored and where it’s being used.

That’s no small task in itself, since most organizations today work across hybrid environments with a variety of apps, devices, clouds and on-premises servers, with the total amount of data now being counted in tens of zetabytes and exponentially growing to hundreds of zetabytes in the next couple of years, analysts predict. That spaghetti of connections and activity has turned into a nightmare when it comes to auditing data.

Cyera is part of the general category of “posture management,” and there are dozens of others in the space, including big names like CrowdStrike, Zscaler, Wiz, Palo Alto Networks, and Fortinet. All of them will largely agree on why you need to have good posture management: It’s important to know what you have and where it is in order to take care of it. Cyera’s extra step is using AI to handle that process, and it looks at the next generation of enterprise applications and use cases, and the challenges they will pose for data posture management. In today’s world, that next generation is all about one thing: artificial intelligence.

“If you think about it, AI security is where the biggest gap is today for enterprises,” said Segev. “They just have no control over their data, and AI runs on data,” he said in reference to how large language models are built and subsequently work. “But if you don’t even know what data you have, where it lives, how many duplicates of it there are, and what’s the source of truth versus a copy from five years ago, then how are you supposed to actually go and leverage this technology to its full extent? When you think about the risks that AI produces for these companies, it’s all about losing their proprietary data.”

Segev and his co-founder, Tamar Bar-Ilan (CTO), both cut their teeth in the Israeli military, a training ground that puts engineers into real-world scenarios for testing out the most cutting-edge tech. What’s caught the eye of investors is that they have added a strong entrepreneurial layer (plus some charm and salesperson flair) to those learnings.

“We’re going to use this investment to continue to grow our offerings for the customers into the data security platform that they deserve and want,” Segev said. “They don’t want to stitch together 20 products in order to make this program a reality. They want to buy from one vendor.”

Previous backers Sequoia, Accel, Redpoint, and Cyberstarts all also participated in the Series C, and this brings the total raised by Cyera — headquartered in New York with roots in Israel — to $460 million in just three years.

Although Doug Leone is no longer an active partner at Sequoia, he remains a board member at select companies, including Cyera.

“The co-founders here are as good as any I’ve been in business with. They are clear outliers,” he said in an interview. “They had a vision of the increased need and awareness of the need that would hit us like an avalanche. Data is the crown jewel of any company.” 

“The customer’s reactions to Cyera as a platform remind me of our early days at ServiceNow,” said David Schneider, general partner at Coatue Management, in a statement. “I am confident that Cyera will grow to become a key part of enterprise’s data security, which is so crucial with the advent of AI.”

Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

HR startup Rippling is in discussions to raise at a $13.4B valuation, up from $11.25B | TechCrunch

Late stage HRtech startup Rippling is raising new capital. The company’s new round, which has not yet closed, would inject $200 million into Rippling with another $670 million worth of shares being sold by existing stockholders, according to two people familiar with the deal. 

This will be Rippling’s Series F, and could raise its valuation to as high as $13.4 billion on a post-money basis, up from the $11.25 billion valuation it reached when it last raised capital in a $500 million Series E just a year ago. Rippling had raised $1.2 billion total previous to this round.

Reached earlier today, a Rippling spokesperson declined to comment.

Rippling’s last round came together during the Silicon Valley Bank crisis, when Rippling’s funds were suddenly frozen. Rippling founder and CEO Parker Conrad took to X and worked the phones with his banks, investors, and its own customers to raise the cash needed to cover everyone’s payrolls. 

In this round, existing investor Napolean Ta at Founders Fund is prepared to invest up to another $310 million, per two sources familiar with the transaction, which — very notably —  would be the largest check that Founders Fund has ever written for a single company’s round. It’s unclear how much of this cash is for the new Series F shares and how much will be used to buy shares from other investors, because existing investor Coatue is actually leading the round. There’s participation from existing investor Greenoaks, as well.

That Rippling is raising more capital in a year is not a shock; the HRtech market for payroll services and remote labor management is large, growing, and features a slate of well-funded late-stage startups. Rippling competitor Gusto told TechCrunch that it reached $500 million in trailing revenue last year, along with cash flow positivity. Earlier this year Deel, which focuses on payroll for teams that cross borders, said that it had reached $500 million worth of annual recurring revenue.

With Gusto worth around $9.5 billion per Crunchbase data, Deel worth $12 billion, Remote more than $3 billion, and Rippling now at $13.5 billion, there’s a titanic amount of venture capital, founder and employee equity in HRtech today. And new companies are popping up, too. Remofirst recently raised $25 million, for example, to keep working on its low-cost hiring product that competes with many of the companies listed above.

Likewise, with the IPO market still sluggish, existing shareholders, be it employees or existing investors are also looking to sell stakes in private companies to gain liquidity. Large secondary transactions have become en vogue.

Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Avendus, KKR-backed top India venture advisor, in talks to raise $300 million for new fund | TechCrunch

Avendus, India’s leading investment bank for venture deals, is looking to raise about $300 million for its private equity unit, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The Mumbai-based firm, backed by U.S. private equity giant KKR, has established itself as the top financial advisor in India, working with popular growth-stage startups including Zepto, Lenskart, Xpressbees, CaratLane and Atomberg on their funding rounds last year.

With its third private equity fund, Avendus plans to write larger checks more frequently, one of the sources said. The firm raised its second fund, amounting to around $185 million, in 2021. Its maiden fund was $50 million in size.

The sources requested anonymity to discuss private matters. An Avendus spokesperson declined to comment.

Avendus first gained prominence as India’s startup ecosystem first started to take shape, capitalizing on the fact that many of its well-known rivals — including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan — initially paid less attention to the Indian market. That was partly due to deal sizes in the early days: Typically they were less than $30 million, not substantial enough to generate significant fees, making it less attractive for many banner names to engage.

But as the Indian startup ecosystem flourished in the past decade, becoming the third-largest in the world, it has attracted global giants, including SoftBank, Tiger Global and General Atlantic, as well as sovereign wealth funds like Temasek, GIC, ADIA, Khazanah, PIB and Mubadala, which have collectively poured tens of billions of dollars into startups small and large in India.

Avendus employs more than 150 bankers and was the top financial advisor in India last year. It provided services in over 30 deals, including merger and acquisition transactions, according to Venture Intelligence, a private market insight platform.

In the past decade, similar to financial advisors in other regions, Avendus has diversified its offerings, venturing into wealth management, credit financing and private equity. Last year, the firm also expanded its financial advisory services to the Southeast Asian region.

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Robotic Automations

Furnished rental startup Blueground defies proptech woes with $560M in revenue, a new $45M raise | TechCrunch

Alex Chatzieleftheriou founded Blueground in 2013 after being frustrated with the dearth of short-term furnished apartments in Europe. He had been traveling as a consultant for McKinsey, living almost exclusively in hotel rooms for months.

“One time the company had to pay up to €15,000 for a hotel room in Amsterdam. And there wasn’t enough space nor a kitchen to cook,” he said. “I tried renting apartments for a month or more. But it was difficult, and landlords weren’t open to buying furniture. So I had created a business that would solve my problem.” 

Some years later, at the height of the pandemic, business was booming for his startup’s category — short-term, furnished apartment rental companies — as people roamed the world while working from home.

Now that many employers have called workers back to offices, the demand for temporary housing has cratered.  

Some of his competitors didn’t survive. Zeus Living and WanderJaunt shut their doors and returned the keys. Some became acquisition opportunities for Blueground. In 2022, the company gained a strong foothold in Latin America by buying Tabas, an operator of over 9,000 furnished apartments in Brazil. Within months, Blueground snagged Travelers Haven, a 15-year-old business that provides on-demand housing to workers in nearly 20,000 cities throughout the United States. In 2023 it picked up Nestpick, a marketplace for furnished apartment operators, like Kasa and Placemakr, and created a partner network giving customers access to an additional 18,000 apartments.

Blueground now operates a global network of move-in-ready homes for stays of a month or more and has raised $45 million in Series D funding from new investor Susquehanna Private Equity Investments along with other backers, including WestCap, Chatzieleftheriou told TechCrunch. The New York–based company said it also secured a debt facility from Barclays with participation from Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and HSBC, which replaced and upsized the $40 million of debt Blueground obtained from Silicon Valley Bank in 2021.

Blueground leases apartments in popular neighborhoods and then equips and furnishes them for renters. The company currently manages 15,000 apartments in 32 markets in 17 countries. In addition to taking out its own leases, Blueground has recently begun to franchise with local operators in Japan and Thailand.

The company didn’t reveal its new valuation, but Chatzieleftheriou said that the company’s value has increased since its previous round. That valuation was reportedly $750 million after raising a $140 million Series C in September 2021.  

It’s no secret that the fundraising environment has been extremely challenging for late-stage companies, especially those in the proptech sector, which has been battered by rising interest rates.

Chatzieleftheriou told TechCrunch that his company’s fast growth and near-profitability helped convince investors to fork over the latest funding. 

Sales jumped by 70% to $560 million in 2023 over 2022’s $300 million in gross revenue, Chatzieleftheriou said. Gross margin — that’s after it pays landlords for leases — is approximately 35%, he added, and he expects Blueground to have positive cash flow in 2024.

While further acquisitions seem likely, given Chatzieleftheriou’s prediction of industry consolidation, the immediate focus is integrating these recent purchases. The new funding will go toward market expansion, technology investments, and possibly the ultimate financial goal: an IPO.

Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

DCVC wanted to raise $500M for its first climate fund, but the market had other plans | TechCrunch

DCVC’s target for its first climate-focused fund, DCVC Climate Select, has been all over the place and highlights the roller-coaster venture fundraising conditions of the last few years and how LPs aren’t as quick to back new strategies from established managers.

The Silicon Valley VC firm launched the fund in December 2022 with a $500 million target, according to an SEC filing. A year later, it lowered its target to $300 million after its year of fundraising brought in only $157 million of commitments by then, according to a December 2023 SEC filing. Now, a source familiar with the matter tells TechCrunch that things have started to fall into place and $400 million may be a more accurate reflection of where the fund is headed.

A recent New Mexico Inno article about New Mexico SIC’s $50 million commitment to the fund that also mentions the $400 million target is “consistent with our expectations around the fund,” DCVC spokesperson Nate Nickerson told TechCrunch over email.

DCVC is a deep tech firm co-founded by Matt Ocko, known for decades of investments (like MosaicML, bought by Databricks) and Zachary Bogue, known for Square, AngelList, Uber and for his annual ​“Deep Tech in Davos” event. As part of the Davos event in February, Bogue called out AI applications for climate technologies as one of the “major opportunities” for DCVC, alongside tech bio and robotics.

This climate fund is targeting climate startups at the mid-stages where the firm thinks the climate startup ecosystem is currently underfunded, according to materials from a recent New Mexico State Investment Council meeting where the GP presented. Although this is DCVC’s first climate tech dedicated fund, the firm has invested $360 million from other funds into such startups over the last decade, also according to New Mexico SIC’s March 26 meeting.

While Nickerson said the initial $500 million figure was just a pro forma amount before the fund could take on money from LPs, the industry standard is that this number does represent a fund’s target. Internally, people at the firm know that the firm had to adjust its expectations to more “sober” market conditions, the source familiar with the matter said.

This person added that DCVC’s existing portfolio climate companies started seeing some wins entering 2024 that could be helping the fundraising journey. One example is Twelve, which creates products traditionally made using fossil fuels from carbon. It recently signed a 14-year purchase agreement with the International Airlines Group — which includes airlines like Aer Lingus and British Airways — to buy 260 million gallons of Twelve’s more sustainable aviation fuel.

“These are not small deals, small numbers, small evidence. This is the kind of financial performance for skeptical customers,” the source said. “A huge secular change is possible in these massive [industries]. These disruptor companies are putting numbers on the board consistent of what you would expect with public companies one day. That’s a very persuasive fact pattern.”

DCVC isn’t the only fund to lower a target or hold a final close on less capital than it expected after a tougher 2022 and 2023 fundraising cycle. Tiger Global’s latest fund raised $2.2 billion of its $6 billion target. In the first half of 2023, firms such as Founders Fund, Insight Partners and TCV all slashed their fund targets.

Fundraising got incredibly tough for venture firms across the board in 2022 and 2023. While 2022 set a new fundraising record for U.S.-based firms — $172 billion, according to PitchBook — analysts said that largely was due to funds raised in 2021 closing in 2022. The real effects were felt in 2023. U.S. firms raised $66.9 billion in 2023, according to PitchBook, the lowest total since 2017 and a 61% decrease from the record-setting year prior.

On the other hand, climate investing is one of the few hot spots, outside of AI, that’s attracting increasing VC attention and doing well for VC fundraising as well. Climate-focused VC funds have raised more than $710 million so far in 2024, according to data from Preqin, on track to match or surpass last year’s $2.17 billion raised and not far off 2022’s record of $2.9 billion.

While both LPs and analysts have told TechCrunch that they aren’t expecting 2024 to be a significantly better year for VC fundraising — some think it might be worse than 2023 — for DCVC’s new climate fund, things may actually be headed in a better direction than its recent SEC disclosures have indicated.

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