Atlassian announced today that it was acquiring Halp, an early-stage startup that enables companies to build integrated help desk ticketing and automated answers inside Slack. The companies did not disclose the purchase price.
It was a big day for Halp, which also announced its second product today, called Halp Answers. The new tool will work hand in glove with its previous entry Halp Tickets, which lets Slack users easily create a Help Desk ticket without leaving the tool.
“Halp Answers enables your teams to leverage the knowledge that already exists within your company to automatically answer tickets right in Slack . That knowledge can be pulled in from Slack messages, Confluence articles or any piece of knowledge in your organization,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the deal.
Note that integration with Confluence, which is an Atlassian tool. The company also sees it integrating with Jira support for other enterprise communications tools down the road. “Existing Halp users can look forward to deeper (and new) integrations with Jira and Confluence. We’re committed to supporting Microsoft Teams customers as well,” Atlassian wrote in a blog post.
Halp is selling early, having just launched last year. The company had raised a $ 2 million seed round in April 2019 on a $ 9.5 million post valuation, according to PitchBook data. The startup sees an opportunity with Atlassian that it apparently didn’t think it could achieve alone.
“We’ll be able to harness the vast resources at Atlassian to continue with our mission to make Halp the best tool for any team collaborating on requests with other teams. Our team will grow and be able to focus on making the core experience of Halp even more powerful. We’ll also develop a deeper integration with the Atlassian suite — improving our existing Jira and Confluence integrations and discovering the possibilities of Halp generating alerts in Opsgenie, cards in Trello, and much more,” the company wrote.
Halp’s founders promise that it won’t be abandoning its existing customers as it joins the larger organization. As a matter of fact, Halp is bringing with them a slew of big-name customers, including Adobe, VMware, GitHub and Slack.
Is “Twitter Stories” on the way? Or will we just get tools to send prettier tweets? Well now Twitter has the talent for both as it’s just acquired Chroma Labs. Co-founded by Instagram Boomerang inventor John Barnett, Chroma Labs’ Chroma Stories app let you fill in stylish layout templates and frames for posting collages and more to Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and more.
Rather than keeping Chroma Stories around, Twitter will be splitting the Chroma Labs squad up to work on its product, design and engineering teams. The Chroma Stories iPhone app won’t be shut down, but it won’t get more updates and will only work until there’s some breaking change to iOS.
They’ll join our product, design, and eng teams working to give people more creative ways to express themselves on Twitter
— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) February 18, 2020
“When we founded Chroma Labs in 2018, we set out to build a company to inspire creativity and help people tell their visual stories. During the past year, we’ve enabled creators and businesses around the world to create millions of stories with the Chroma Stories app” the Chroma Labs team writes on its site. “We’re proud of this work, and look forward to continuing our mission at a larger scale – with one of the most important services in the world.”
We’ve reached out to Twitter for more details on the deal and any price paid. [Update: Twitter confirms this is an acquisition, not just and acquihire of the team as it first appeared, though Chroma Stories is shutting down. It refused to disclose the terms of the acquisition, but said all seven employees of Chroma Labs are coming aboard. The team will be working on the Conversations division at Twitter, and the deal is meant to boost its talent, leadership, and expertise for serving public discussions. A Twitter spokesperson also confirms that Chroma will shut down its .business and future versions of the app will not be available.]
Founded in late 2018, Chroma Labs had raised a seed round in early 2019 and counted Sweet Capital, Index Ventures, and Combine VC as investors. Barnett’s fellow co-founders include CTO Alex Li, who was an engineering manager on Facebook Photos and Instagram Stories; and Joshua Harris was a product design manager on the Oculus Rift and Facebook’s augmented reality filters.
With Chroma Stories, you could choose between retro filters, holiday themed frames, and snazzy collage templates to make your Storie look special amidst the millions posted each day. Sensor Tower estimates Chroma Stories had 37,000 downloads to date. That tepid reception despite the app’s quality might explain why the team is joining Twitter.
By snatching up some of the smartest talent in visual storytelling, Twitter could give its text-focused app some spice. It’s one of the few social apps without a Stories product already, and its creative tools are quite limited. Better ways to lay out photos in tweets could make Twitter more beautiful and less exhausting to sift through. That might make it more appealing to teens and help it boost its user count, which now lags behind Snapchat.
Twitter has become the world’s public record for words. The Chroma Labs talent might make it the real-time gallery for art and design as well.
[Update 3:05pm Pacific: Twitter confirms that this is a full acquisition of the Chroma Labs company, not just an acquisition as we originally printed.]
Infor, which makes large-scale cloud ERP software, has been around since 2002 and counts Koch as both a customer and an investor, so the deal makes sense on that level. Koch was lead investor last year in a $ 1.5 billion investment where the company indicated that it was a step before going public.
It’s not clear if that is still the goal, as sources suggested that staying private might provide the company with more capital flexibility in the future.
Under the terms of the deal, Koch will be buying out the remaining equity stake in Golden Gate Capital, a secondary investor in last year’s investment. The company’s management team will remain in place and Infor will act as a stand-alone subsidiary of Koch.
Company CEO Kevin Samuleson, as you would expect, saw the deal as a positive move that allowed the company to operate with a well capitalized parent behind it. “As a subsidiary of a $ 110 billion+ revenue company that re-invests 90% of earnings back into its businesses, we will be in the unique position to drive digital transformation in the markets we serve,” he said in a statement.
Jim Hannan, executive vice president and CEO of enterprises for Koch Industries saw it similarly with Koch’s deep pockets helping to propel Infor in the future. “As a global organization spanning multiple industries across 60 countries, Koch has the resources, knowledge and relationships to help Infor continue to expand its transformative capabilities,” he said in a statement.
Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says it’s a strange deal on its face, but if Koch leaves Infor alone, it might work out. “When you think you have seen it all, something new comes along: A regular enterprise buys a top five ERP vendor. Now [we’ll have to see] if Koch can ensure Infor keeps building market leading software, using Koch as showcase, or becomes the Koch software affiliate.
“The latter would be an unfortunate outcome. On the positive side, enterprise software built from real user validation, that can also serve as a reference, can be very powerful,” Mueller told TechCrunch. He said it could work out great, but also has the potential to go very wrong, depending on how Koch manages a software asset.
Infor is a huge company. As we reported last year at the time of its investment:
Infor may be the largest company you never heard of, with more than 17,000 employees and 68,000 customers in more than 100 countries worldwide. All of those customers generated $ 3 billion in revenue in 2018. That’s a significant presence.
What the networking company gets with a shiny red ribbon is a security product that helps stop automated attacks like credential stuffing. In an article earlier this year, Shape CTO Shuman Ghosemajumder explained what the company does:
We’re an enterprise-focused company that protects the majority of large U.S. banks, the majority of the largest airlines, similar kinds of profiles with major retailers, hotel chains, government agencies and so on. We specifically protect them against automated fraud and abuse on their consumer-facing applications — their websites and their mobile apps.
F5 president and CEO François Locoh-Donou sees a way to protect his customers in a comprehensive way. “With Shape, we will deliver end-to-end application protection, which means revenue generating, brand-anchoring applications are protected from the point at which they are created through to the point where consumers interact with them—from code to customer,” Locoh-Donou said in a statement.
As for Shape, CEO Derek Smith said that it wasn’t a huge coincidence that F5 was the buyer, given his company was seeing F5 consistently in its customers. Now they can work together as a single platform.
Shape launched in 2011 and raised $ 183 million, according to Crunchbase data. Investors included Kleiner Perkins, Tomorrow Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Baseline Ventures and C5 Capital. In its most recent round in September, the company raised $ 51 million on a valuation of $ 1 billion.
F5 has been in a spending mood this year. It also acquired NGINX in March for $ 670 million. NGINX is the commercial company behind the open-source web server of the same name. It’s worth noting that prior to that, F5 had not made an acquisition since 2014.
It was a big year in security M&A. Consider that in June, four security companies sold in one three-day period. That included Insight Partners buying Recorded Future for $ 780 million and FireEye buying Verodin for $ 250 million. Palo Alto Networks bought two companies in the period: Twistlock for $ 400 million and PureSec for between $ 60 and $ 70 million.
This deal is expected to close in mid-2020, and is of course, subject to standard regulatory approval. Upon closing Shape’s Smith will join the F5 management team and Shape employees will be folded into F5. The company will remain in its Santa Clara headquarters.
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Facebook is building out its gaming business — earlier this year, the company added its Gaming hub to the main navigation menu. And last month, it agreed to buy Beat Games, developer of popular virtual reality title Beat Saber.
PlayGiga, meanwhile has been working with telcos to create streaming game technology for 5G. It also developed a gaming-as-a-service platform, using Intel’s Visual Cloud platform, that will enable telcos and communication service providers to offer streaming games to their customers.
Earlier this year, TiVo said it was preparing to split itself into two — a product and IP business — in order to make itself more attractive to buyers. Today, the company announced those plans have been put on hold as it has instead merged with technology licensor Xperi Corporation, in a $ 3 billion deal.
Tastebuds (discovered by reverse engineering master Jane Manchun Wong) is designed to let users explore the music taste profiles of their friends. It will live as a navigation option alongside your Library and Home/Browse sections.
In Germany, Uber’s ride-hailing business works exclusively with professional and licensed private-hire vehicle companies — so the court ban essentially outlaws Uber’s current model in the country.
Sending people Snackpass rewards became a new way to flirt or show gratitude at Yale. And through the Venmo-esque Snackpass social feed, users could keep up with a fresh form of gossip while discovering restaurants.
Though China’s payment market today is led by local players, including eWallet providers like AliPay and WeChat Pay, there’s room for PayPal to grow in a market where digital payments per year are counted in the trillions, not billions, of dollars.
A little over a year after sparking a legal firestorm for musing that he would take Tesla private for $ 420, Elon Musk is probably glad he didn’t. (Extra Crunch membership required.)
It sounds like the two companies aren’t direct competitors, but they offer related tools: Seismic helps companies create and manage the content they use in sales and marketing, while Percolate expanded from a social media publishing tool to a broader suite of software for managing the marketing process.
As part of the acquisition, Percolate CEO Randy Wootton is joining the Seismic team, where he will continue to lead Percolate, and where he will report to Seismic CEO Doug Winter. The combined company will have a headcount of more than 800 people.
“Both of our companies endeavor to foster better alignment between marketing and sales and improve the buyer/seller interaction, resulting in accelerated deals and pipeline for our customers,” Wootton said in a statement. “Combining with Seismic allows Percolate to provide even more capability to our customer base and more value to the marketing ecosystem.”
The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Percolate raised a total of $ 106.5 million from investors including GGV Capital, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed, Slow Ventures, Lerer Hippeau and First Round Capital, according to Crunchbase.
Seismic, meanwhile, raised a $ 100 million investment at a $ 1 billion valuation last year.
Tilting Point announced yesterday that it has acquired Gondola, a company that aims to increase game monetization by optimizing in-game offers and video ads.
Tilting Point CEO Kevin Segalla described his company’s model as “progressive publishing” — usually, mobile game developers start working with Tilting Point because they need help with user acquisition, and then develop a deeper publishing relationship over time.
“With a select group of our development partners, we’ll acquire an IP, and we’ll … have them take the engine that they already have and create a whole new game,” Segalla said. “It’s really a dual effort between us and the developer.”
To accomplish all this, the company has built artificial intelligence tools to improve user acquisition. But the other side of that equation, in Segalla’s view, is increasing the lifetime value of the users acquired.
“At the end of the day, scaling a game boils down to two simple things, [cost per install] and LTV,” he said. “Strong developers are working to improve the LTV of their players, but there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit that with the right toolset you can use to improve the lifetime values. That’s what Gondola is about … We’ve been following for years, and we said, ‘Let’s bring this in-house.’ ”
Gondola currently offers four modules: Target Optimization (choosing the best offer for a player), Rewarded Video Ad Optimization (choosing the right amount of virtual currency to reward a player for watching a video ad), Store Optimization (choosing the right store items to show a player) and Currency Optimization (choosing the best virtual currency amounts for offers and promotions).
The financial terms of the acquisition — Tilting Point’s first — were not disclosed. As part of the deal, Gondola CTO André Cohen is joining Tilting Point as its head of data science, while his co-founder and CEO Niklas Herriger remains involved as an executive advisor.
Sisense announced today that it has acquired Periscope Data to create what it is calling a complete data science and analytics platform for customers. The companies did not disclose the purchase price.
The two companies’ CEOs met about 18 months ago at a conference, and running similar kinds of companies, hit it off. They began talking and, after a time, realized it might make sense to combine the two startups because each one was attacking the data problem from a different angle.
Sisense, which has raised $ 174 million, tends to serve business intelligence requirements either for internal use or externally with customers. Periscope, which has raised more than $ 34 million, looks at the data science end of the business.
Both CEOs say they could have eventually built these capabilities into their respective platforms, but after meeting they decided to bring the two companies together instead, and they made a deal.
“I realized over the last 18 months [as we spoke] that we’re actually building leadership positions into two unique areas of the market that will slowly become one as industries and technologies evolve,” Sisense CEO Amir Orad told TechCrunch.
Periscope CEO Harry Glasser says that as his company built a company around advanced analytics and predictive modeling, he saw a growing opportunity around operationalizing these insights across an organization, something he could do much more quickly in combination with Sisense.
“[We have been] pulled into this broader business intelligence conversation, and it has put us in a place where as we do this merger, we are able to instantly leapfrog the three years it would have taken us to deliver that to our customers, and deliver operationalized insights on integration day on day one,” Glasser explained.
The two executives say this is part of a larger trend about companies becoming more data-driven, a phrase that seems trite by now, but as a recent Harvard Business School study found, it’s still a big challenge for companies to achieve.
Orad says that you can debate the pace of change, but that overall, companies are going to operate better when they use data to drive decisions. “I think it’s an interesting intellectual debate, but the direction is one direction. People who deploy this technology will provide better care, better service, hire better, promote employees and grow them better, have better marketing, better sales and be more cost effective,” he said.
Orad and Glasser recognize that many acquisitions don’t succeed, but they believe they are bringing together two like-minded companies that will have a combined ARR of $ 100 million and 700 employees.
“That’s the icing on the cake, knowing that the cultures are so compatible, knowing that they work so well together, but it starts from a conviction that this advanced analytics can be operationalized throughout enterprises and [with] their customers. This is going to drive transformation inside our customers that’s really great for them and turns them into data-driven companies,” Glasser said.
JFrog, the popular DevOps startup now valued at more than $ 1 billion after raising $ 165 million last October, is making a move to expand the tools and services it provides to developers on its software operations platform: it has acquired Shippable, a cloud-based continuous integration and delivery platform (CI/CD) that developers use to ship code and deliver app and microservices updates, and plans to integrate it into its Enterprise+ platform.
Terms of the deal — JFrog’s fifth acquisition — are not being disclosed, said Shlomi Ben Haim, JFrog’s co-founder and CEO, in an interview. From what I understand, though, it was in the ballpark of Shippable’s most recent valuation, which was $ 42.6 million back in 2014 when it raised $ 8 million, according to PitchBook data. (And that was the last time it raised money.)
Shippable employees are joining JFrog and plan to release the first integrations with Enterprise+ this coming summer, and a full integration by Q3 of this year.
Shippable, founded in 2013, made its name early on as a provider of a containerized continuous integration and delivery platform based on Docker containers, but as Kubernetes has overtaken Docker in containerized deployments, the startup had also shifted its focus beyond Docker containers.
The acquisition speaks to the consolidation that is afoot in the world of DevOps, where developers and organizations are looking for more end-to-end toolkits, not just to help develop, update and run their apps and microservices, but to provide security and more — or at least, makers of DevOps tools hope they will be, as they themselves look to grow their margins and business.
As more organizations run ever more of their operations as apps and microservices, DevOps have risen in prominence and are offered both toolkits from standalone businesses as well as those whose infrastructure is touched and used by DevOps tools. That means a company like JFrog has an expanding pool of competitors that include not just the likes of Docker, Sonatype and GitLab, but also AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Azure and “the Red Hats of the world,” in the words of Ben Haim.
For Shippable customers, the integration will give them access to security, binary management and other enterprise development tools.
“We’re thrilled to join the JFrog family and further the vision around Liquid Software,” said Avi Cavale, founder and CEO of Shippable, in a statement. “Shippable users and customers have long enjoyed our next-generation technology, but now will have access to leading security, binary management and other high-powered enterprise tools in the end-to-end JFrog Platform. This is truly exciting, as the combined forces of JFrog and Shippable can make full DevOps automation from code to production a reality.”
On the part of JFrog, the company will be using Shippable to provide a native CI/CD tool directly within JFrog.
“Before most of our users would use Jenkins, Circle CI and other CI/CD automation tools,” Ben Haim said. “But what you are starting to see in the wider market is a gradual consolidation of CI tools into code repository.”
He emphasized that this will not mean any changes for developers who are already happy using Jenkins or other integrations: just that it will now be offering a native solution that will be offered alongside these (presumably both with easier functionality and with competitive pricing).
JFrog today has 5,000 paying customers, up from 4,500 in October, including “most of the Fortune 500,” with marquee customers including the likes of Apple and Adobe, but also banks, healthcare organizations and insurance companies — “conservative businesses,” said Ben Haim, that are also now realizing the importance of using DevOps.
One of the biggest providers of domain names and web hosting in Europe is changing hands today. One.com, which has around 1.5 million customers mainly across the north of the region, has been sold by private equity firm Accel-KKR to Cinven, another PE player that focuses on investments in Europe.
Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but as a rough guide, Cinven once owned and sold another European hosting provider of comparable size: it acquired Host Europe Group in 2013 for $ 668 million and then sold it in 2016 for $ 1.8 billion to GoDaddy two years ago almost to the day. At the time of the sale, Host Europe Group also had about 1.5 million customers.
One.com and its business segment represent a significant, if not wildly evolving, part of the tech landscape: for as long as businesses and consumers continue to use the web, there will be a need for companies who sell and host domain names and provide services around that.
With a catchy domain name of its own, One.com has been riding the wave of that solidity of purpose for several years already. KKR-Accel says that organic growth at the company has been accelerating at a rate of 20 percent and that revenues under its four-year ownership doubled to €60 million ($ 69 million) with profitability growing 50x on a marketing pitch in which it positions itself as the ‘budget’ option to businesses.
“The vision of One.com since its founding has been to deliver value-added and easy-to-use solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses and prosumers,” said Jacob Jensen, Founder and CEO of One.com, in a statement. He is staying on to continue leading the company.
Cinven says it is interested in growth the business by way of acquisition, specifically: “There are opportunities to accelerate the growth of the business organically and through acquisition.”
In other words, expect some consolidation moves in the future where some of the smaller providers in Europe potentially get gobbled up to create a bigger entity with better economies of scale. That’s needed not just because GoDaddy has ramped up its presence here, but because the likes of Amazon has only grown in stature and provides a number of other services to users to make its offerings more sticky.
“We are very excited to invest in One.com alongside Jacob. It is a high quality business with an attractive brand and scalable technology platform, operating in a market with structural growth drivers,” said Thomas Railhac, Partner at Cinven, in a statement. “This is a subsector we know well through Cinven’s successful investment in HEG in Fund 5, continuing to invest in both the organic growth story and targeted acquisitions.”
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