Latest News

Signifyd Scores $100 Million in Funding


Wipro Ltd. Chairman Azim Premji is backing another U.S. startup, leading a $100 million round in e-commerce fraud-prevention company Signifyd.

The Indian tech titan’s personal investing vehicle Premji Invest led the deal, valuing the seven-year-old company at roughly $400 million, according to a person with knowledge of the deal, who asked to remain anonymous because the details are private.

The cash infusion is the latest in a line of similar late-stage bets by the fund, including business software companies Apttus Corp. and Anaplan Inc. It also marks a major inflection point for Signifyd Inc. which aims to help e-commerce sites stem fraud and reduce the number of legitimate transactions that are improperly declined. 

The San Jose, California-based company plans to double its staff to 320 and open an office in Barcelona during the next year, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Raj Ramanand said.

Like competitors Forter Inc., Riskified Ltd. and others, Signifyd makes software that analyzes online transactions for fraud. It pulls in additional data, including the length of time an email address has been in use, the number of social media contacts connected to a potential customer and the type of device being used. It then uses that information to identify potential shysters and green-light ones that don’t fit a standard profile, but that Signifyd still deems as legitimate.

For example, one bicycle seller was declining roughly 30% of its transactions because the billing and shipping addresses didn’t match, Ramanand said. Upon further analysis of timing (almost all the purchases in question were made in August and September), home values and the like, Signifyd determined these were mostly parents purchasing bikes for their kids starting college. The company’s software approved the transactions and the bike shop recouped revenue, he said.

Nigeria’s Lidya Raises $6.9m Series A Round

Nigerian fintech startup Lidya has raised US$6.9 million in a Series A investment round led by Omidyar Network to allow it to expand its loan book, scale across Nigeria and Africa, and grow its team.

Launched in 2016Lidya is a digital financial services platform focused on improving access to credit for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Africa.

Since its launch, it has made over 1,500 business loans to help MSMEs in farming, hospitality, logistics, retail, real estate, technology, and health get the capital they need to grow their operations.

Having raised US$1.25 million in funding in March of last year, Lidya has now secured a US$6.9 million round led by Omidyar Network, the Silicon Valley impact investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. New investors Alitheia Capital (via the Umunthu Fund), Bamboo Capital Partners, and Tekton Ventures, also joined the round, which included existing investors Accion Venture Lab and Newid Capital.

Naspers Invests $89m in Frontier Car – Emerging Markets Car Auction Start-Up

By David Pilling MAY 23, 2018

South African media group Naspers is investing $89m in Frontier Car Group, an online marketplace for second-hand cars, in a deal valuing the emerging markets focused start-up at about $270m.

The cash injection from Naspers’ classifieds division brings to $170m the amount raised this year by Berlin-based FCG, which this month raised $58m in a Series B funding round after a $22m fundraising in February.

The move comes two months after Naspers earned more than $10bn by trimming its 31 per cent stake in Chinese social media and gaming company Tencent — one of the most successful venture capital investments in history. This month it sold an 11 per cent stake in Flipkart, an Indian e-commerce platform, raising a further $1.6bn.

“Having this war chest will help to accelerate our M&A agenda but only if this makes strategic sense,” said Martin Scheepbouwer, chief executive of OLX Group, Naspers’ classifieds subsidiary.

“Naspers’ DNA is to move confidently and with commitment,” Mr Scheepbouwer said, adding that it was important to move fast. “We have for decades invested in frontier markets where no one else dares to go.”

FCG’s online marketplace fitted OLX’s strategy of making online sales more convenient in often difficult markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia, he said. OLX operates in 40 countries and has 330m users per month.

Frontier Car Group $58M for its Used Car Marketplace

Traffic on Bay Bridge, San Francisco

We’ve seen a large wave of used-car sales startups launch across developed markets like the U.S. and Europe, disrupting a marketplace that has largely been untouched for years. Now a startup focusing on the used car-sales opportunity specifically in developing economies is ramping up its activities.

Frontier Car Group, a Berlin startup that has built a used-car marketplace targeted specifically at countries outside of Western Europe and North America, is announcing $58 million in funding — $41 million in equity and $17 million in debt funding — to continue expanding its business into Africa, Latin America and Asia, where it has sold 50,000 vehicles since launching at the end of 2016 and is on track to do $200 million in annualised revenues per year.

The Series B brings was led by Balderton Capital and TPG Growth (both of which participated in Frontier’s previous $22 million round), with Fraser McCombs Capitaland Autotech Ventures — two automotive-specific funds — also participating.

Frontier is not disclosing its valuation with this round but a source close to the company said the demand to participate in this round was high and led to two unsolicited Series C term sheets — each for around $100 million — and both on a pre-money valuations of over $200 million.

The $5 billion South Korean Start-up That’s an Amazon Killer

The $5 billion South Korean start-up that’s an Amazon killer

  • Coupang is the largest online retailer in South Korea, with more than $3 billion in annual sales.
  • The 8-year-old start-up is one of a handful of Korean unicorns and is viewed in the country as a strong candidate for an IPO in 2019 or 2020.
  • The company says half of South Korea’s 51 million people have downloaded its mobile app.
  • Amazon, already struggling to crack markets in Asia, has yet to set foot in the South Korean market.
Coupang founder and CEO Bom Kim
Source: Coupang
Coupang founder and CEO Bom Kim

Did those ballet slippers you ordered online turn out to be too small? No problem. Just make a few clicks on your app, place the shoes outside your door — no box, no invoice, no label to print. The slippers will be picked up within hours and you will immediately get a refund.

This scenario is not a glimpse at the future of online retailing but reality now in South Korea, where Coupang has become the largest online retailer in the country. Analysts estimated Coupang’s sales reached $3 billion in 2017. The 8-year-old start-up company is one of a handful of Korean unicorns (companies valued at $1 billion or more) and is viewed in Korea as a strong candidate for an IPO in 2019 or 2020, although the company won’t discuss plans to go public.

With a valuation of more than $5 billion and $1.4 billion in venture capital investment, Coupang is the fastest-growing and best financed e-commerce site of all time in South Korea. It dominates a highly competitive e-commerce market, where no one is making a profit. The company says half of South Korea’s 51 million people have downloaded its mobile app. That may be why Amazon, already struggling to crack markets in Asia, has yet to set foot in the South Korean market.

Meet Toss, the Most Disruptive Fintech Startup in South Korea

Viva Republica is the most disruptive fintech startup in South Korea. Since the 2015 launch of its simple peer-to-peer payments app Toss, banks are finally revamping their user experiences and customers have easier access to financial products. South Korea’s mobile payments have more than quadrupled in that time to $4.6 billion, according to Bank of Korea data.

The startup, funded at $76 million, hasn’t stopped there. After PayPal joined a $48 million investment in Toss in March, Toss has grown from a simple money-transfer app to a diverse consumer-finance platform generating Viva Republica’s $20 million in expected revenue in 2017. Toss thus joins Asia’s ranks of fast-growing mobile P2P payment services, reaching a $12 billion transaction volume in 2017.

Paypal’s Venmo, which says it now processes over $3 billion in monthly transactions, took four years to reach the $1 billion mark in the US. Toss, with 12 million users, got there in about half the time. It has set its sights on breaking even in the near future—a global first in the P2P money-transfer space, says founder and CEO Lee Seung-Gun. 

Although Toss started as a transfer service similar to Venmo, Square Cash and Google Wallet, it has bigger aims, with a business model closer to that of huge and highly profitable Ant Financial and Tencent—that is, offering a broad financial platform rather than just a one-service app.

Candex Raises $3.5 Million To Conquer The Pain Of Enterprise Payments

SAN FRANCISCO, March 23, 2018 — Candex, the simplest way businesses engage, track and pay for high volume services, has raised $3.5 million of series seed funding from Edenred Capital Partners, Partech Ventures, Advisors.Fund, Camp One Ventures, NFX, Tekton Ventures, Big Sur Ventures and fintech angel Mark Goines. The financing positions Candex to accelerate its business in Fortune 500 customers and beyond.

Companies are taking advantage of the gig economy and using more vendors than ever to compete and stay nimble. In the typical large enterprise organization, admin layers across departments inefficiently cope with the 90 percent of tail service vendors that account for only five percent of spend. Sometimes the administrative costs exceed what is actually paid.

Everledger Closes US$10.4M in Series A Funding Round

Everledger, a London, UK-based developer of real-world applications based on emerging technologies, closed US$10.4m in Series A funding round.

Toronto-based investment banking firm GMP Securities co-ordinated the round with lead investor, the Canadian arm of Fidelity Investments. Participants in the round included Vickers Ventures Partners, Graphene Venture Capital, and existing investors Tekton Ventures, FPV, Fenbushi, Bloomberg Beta, and Rakuten. In conjunction with the funding, Dr. Finian Tan, currently the chairman of Vickers Venture Partners, joined Everledger’s Board.

The company will use the funds to continue to develop its platform and expand its business reach.

Led by Founder & CEO Leanne Kemp, Everledger is a technology enterprise that tracks the provenance of high-value assets on a global digital ledger. Using blockchain, the company provides stakeholders across supply chains with an immutable history of an asset’s authenticity, existence and ownership. Everledger started off with tracking diamonds and currently has the provenance of over 2 million diamonds cryptographically-certified on the blockchain. This tech solution has since expanded into the world of coloured gemstones, jewellery, fine wine and art, among other industries.

Grabr Gets $8M to Connect Travelers with Luggage Space

grabr team

You might get to actually save money while you’re traveling if you just leave some free space in your bag — or not pay for that travel at all — if Daria Rebenok’s plan plays out.

As avid travelers, and ones longing for products from home they can’t get abroad, she and Artem Fedyaev decided to start Grabr to work on exactly this problem. While you might not be able to get those products you’d find everywhere on shelves in a foreign country on Amazon, or anywhere else online for whatever reason, there are people traveling to and from those countries all the time. Grabr  serves to connect those travelers that have a few square inches or feet in their bags, tasking them with bringing back those products abroad for a fee. Grabr today said it has raised a new $8 million financing round led by Foundation Capital, as well as some additional investors we’ll add at the bottom.

Bug Bounty Startup Bugcrowd Raises $26 Million

Bug Bounty Startup Bugcrowd Raises $26 Million

In 2011, Patrick Webster, a security researcher, notified an Australian pension fund manager of a glaring flaw in its website that allowed him to access people’s personal information. The firm, First State Superannuation, returned the favor by sending the police to his home and threatening to sue him.

The incident was a disaster—a masterclass in how not to treat vulnerability researchers. First State Super eventually backed down and thanked Webster, but not before catching considerable flak for its handling of the affair.

Now First State Super has signed on as an investor in Bugcrowd, a San Francisco-based startup that runs bug bounty programs for businesses. The new round of fundraising, led by venture capital firm Triangle Peak Partners, is worth $26 million.

May Mobility Raises $11.5 Million to Deploy Self-Driving Shuttle Fleets


Michigan -based startup May Mobility, which is trying to swap out current transportation options for corporate and other clients with self-driving small shuttles, has raised $11.5 million in sed funding from investors including BMW i Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures, along with existing investors. The round comes just about a year into the company’s launch, and 2018 will also see May Mobility launch its first commercial operations in the later law of the year.

May Mobility has a team that includes DARPA Urban Challenge participants, as well as vets of Ford, GM, and Toyota as well as the University of Michigan’s automotive engineering programs. The company’s goal has been to provide self-driving solutions that are practical on real routes today, using technology currently available, with defined shuttle paths. It’s also aiming to offer commercial benefit to clients by managing the fleet service from end-to-end, including vehicle maintenance and operation the shuttles on a daily basis.

Outdoorsy the ‘Airbnb of RV’s’ Raises $25M

Outdoorsy, the ‘Airbnb of RVs,’ rolls up $25 million in fresh funding
by Connie Loizos (@cookie)

According to serial entrepreneur Jeff Cavins, more than 35 million people each year look to rent an RV — 38 percent of them so-called millennials. Yet they often walk away from the experience empty-handed. The reason, he says: There are fewer than 100,000 commercially owned vehicles available from traditional rental services.

Cavins says that his San Francisco-based company, Outdoorsy, is beginning to address this issue by enabling owners of the 14 million privately owned RVs in the United States to rent them to users, à la Airbnb.

The vehicles are mostly sitting around collecting dust anyway, says Cavins, who co-founded the company in late 2014 after heading up seven previous companies — two of which were publicly traded.
Read More >>>

LinkShops – Dongdaemun: An Old Market Learns Some New Tricks

Hwang Jung-ho, 26, looks into a smartphone app to keep track of retailers’ orders he and his team picked up at KwangHee Fashion Mall – one of Dongdaemun’s fashion wholesale market, central Seoul, in mid-December. [PARK SANG-MOON]

People in Dongdaemun, central Seoul start their day after the sun sets. The neighborhood is unlike anywhere else in Seoul. Shoppers, motorcycles and small trucks rapidly move around the narrow brightly-lit alleys, all carrying huge vinyl bags stuffed with clothes.

At 11:30 p.m. on a cold December night, Hwang Jung-ho, 26, started work. He swiftly moved through the corridors of KwangHee Shopping Mall, one of Dongdaemun’s largest wholesale fashion markets. It was close to midnight, but the fashion market was busy. 

Hwang got off the escalator on the third floor and ran to a clothing store. 

“Hi, I’m here for Linkshops,” he called out. “[We have orders for] five ‘vogue knit dresses’ and two ‘stripe blouses.’ Make it quick please.” 

The employee pulled out a small bag with “Linkshops” written on the tag and handed it over. 

Hwang visited a number of other shops, collecting small plastic bags as he went. When he had about 20 small bags he threw them all into a large bag, called a daebong, a Korean portmanteau meaning big bag. Hwang’s daebong is so big that even he could fit inside.

As many as 20 daebongs are filled on just one floor of KwangHee Shopping Mall every night. Each one weighs well over 15 kilograms, but Hwang says he often carries as many as four at the same time.

“I can use both hands, my wrists, shoulders and even thumbs,” he said. “The trick to lifting them easily is pushing with your knee before swinging them up to your shoulder.”

Hwang runs around the narrow corridors with his huge bags, rushing up and down the stairs in between floors instead of using the crowded escalators. He says this is the only way he has time to pick up all the orders received for the night.

When Hwang’s bags are full he loads the clothes onto trucks ready to be distributed around the country in the morning.

By 1 a.m. the corridors are absolutely packed with shoppers, stuffed vinyl bags of all sizes and men like Hwang, running the gauntlet of Dongdaemun’s wholesale shopping center.

Hwang is known as a sa-ib samchon, which literally means a personal purchase uncle in Korean. Hwang and his colleagues are the backbone of Dongdaemun’s wholesale business. They pick up clothes that have been ordered by retail stores around the country, pay on their behalf and then load the goods onto trucks to be delivered in the morning.

But Hwang has one trick that sets him apart from the rest of the sa-ib samchon. While his colleagues scurry around the market desperately trying to keep track of hand-written notes detailing their orders, Hwang keeps track of his business through an app.

Developed by local start-up Linkshops, the app shows Hwang and his team’s assignments for that night, detailing how many units of each item he needs to pick up, what store they come from and what building they’re in. Linkshops also takes care of the money, so Hwang no longer has to act as a financial middle-man for retailers, shaving valuable seconds off each collection.

“The app shows which orders we have to pick up that day and where they are – the store and the building,” he said. “Others cross off product names written on paper with a pen, but we check them off on our app so our entire team shares which orders are left.”

2017 FINTECH 100 Leading Global Fintech Innovators

Congrats to portfolio companies Toss(Viva Republica), Cuvva, and Flutterwave for making the list!

The financial services industry is facing a wave of digital disruption that is starting to reshape the sector. The Fintech 100 celebrates the top companies this bold new space: the 50 leading established players creating change within financial services, and 50 of the emerging fintech stars of tomorrow. The Fintech 100 offers an in-depth view of the most exciting startups and organisations taking advantage of technology to revolutionise the industry. The report is a collaborative effort between H2 Ventures and KPMG.

Move Over Pork Bellies: CME Group To Begin Trading Bitcoin Futures

Love Bitcoin or hate it, Wall Street’s establishment increasingly wants to trade it.

On Tuesday, CME Group the exchange giant that peddles in futures contracts of everything from eurodollars and Treasury notes to oil, natural gas, corn, livestock and even precious metals such as gold announced it would add crypto-currencies to its arsenal.

Later this quarter, CME will begin trading Bitcoin futures by way of a cash-settled contract based on its CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate. The once-a-day rate will set the price of bitcoin futures and will be based on pricing seen on crypto exchanges such as Bitstamp, DGAX, itBit and Kraken.

CME Group Announces Bitcoin Futures on Crypto Facilities

CHICAGO, 31 OCTOBER 201 /CME GROUP/ — CME Group, the world’s leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced it intends to launch bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of 2017, pending all relevant regulatory review periods.

The new contract will be cash-settled, based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate (BRR) which serves as a once-a-day reference rate of the U.S. dollar price of bitcoin. Bitcoin futures will be listed on and subject to the rules of CME.

“Given increasing client interest in the evolving cryptocurrency markets, we have decided to introduce a bitcoin futures contract,” said Terry Duffy, CME Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “As the world’s largest regulated FX marketplace, CME Group is the natural home for this new vehicle that will provide investors with transparency, price discovery and risk transfer capabilities.”

May Mobility is a Self-Driving Startup With a Decade of Experience

May Mobility is a startup making its official debut at Y Combinator’s demo day on Monday, focused on offering autonomous driving technology that companies with commercial fleets will be able to use in the near-term, not a decade from now. But the startup, while young, actually has a decade of experience, thanks to a team that’s been working on autonomous tech since the third DARPA Grand Challenge in 2007.

May Mobility is led by CEO and co-founder Edwin Olson, who used to act as lead investigator on Ford’s autonomous driving program. Olson was also a co-director focused on autonomous driving at Toyota Research Institute, which houses some of the top minds in the world in robotics, and is taking a leave from his current role as an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Michigan to build May.


VCs Hunt for a Food Delivery Business That’s Sustainable

Over the last year, meal-delivery businesses have mostly served up pessimism. Several have closed their doors, the most recent being Maple, a venture-backed New York startup that shut down last week. Others, including Munchery Inc.Postmates Inc. and Zesty Inc., have cut workers. Sprig Inc., which is backed by Accel and other venture capitalists, is burning through $850,000 a month and is seeking a buyer, said people familiar with the matter.


But VCs aren’t giving up on the dream of getting food delivered cheaply through an app. They’re just trying to find ways to do so with fewer subsidies, or even profitably. One promising niche is targeting the hungry office worker. Investors recently put $30 million into Eat Club Inc., which delivers premade lunches in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles. The company, which said it’s profitable, plans to use the money for an expansion to New York.

Eat Club offers similar options to Munchery or Sprig, with about 20 entrées per day, but only delivers to offices with 20 or more employees. Workers can order from an app or website. By delivering an office’s meals together, the company estimates it costs 90 percent less per dish compared with on-demand startups. Eat Club said its couriers drop off 20,000 meals a day, mainly to midsized technology companies such as Flipboard. Eat Club declined to say how many corporate customers have signed up but said it expects to generate $50 million in revenue this year.

Read more–>