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Readying an IPO, Postmates secures $225M led by private equity firm GPI Capital

Postmates, the popular food delivery service, has raised another $225 million at a valuation of $2.4 billion, the company confirmed to TechCrunch on Thursday, ahead of an imminent initial public offering.

Private equity firm GPI Capital has led the investment, first reported by Forbes, which brings Postmates’ total funding to nearly $1 billion. GPI takes non-controlling stakes — between 2% and 20% — in both late-stage private companies and publicly listed ventures.

After tapping JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America to lead its float, Postmates filed privately with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO earlier this year. Sources familiar with the company’s exit plans say the business intends to publicly unveil its IPO prospectus this month.

To discuss the company’s journey to the public markets and the challenges ahead in the increasingly crowded food delivery space, Postmates co-founder and chief executive officer Bastian Lehmann will join us onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt on Friday October 4th.

As Forbes noted, last-minute financings are critical for companies poised to run out of cash and in need of an infusion prior to hitting the public markets. The motives for Postmates’ last-minute financing are unclear; however, the company will certainly begin trading on the stock market at an interesting time. 2019 has proven to be the year of unicorn listings, and former Silicon Valley darlings like Uber and Lyft have struggled to stabilize since their multi-billion-dollar debuts, despite years of support and coddling from venture capitalists.

Meanwhile, activity in the food delivery space has distracted from Postmates’ prospects. DoorDash, for one, recently purchased another food delivery service, Caviar, from Square in a deal worth $410 million. Uber is said to have considered buying Caviar, which had been looking for a buyer at least since 2016, according to Bloomberg. Postmates, for its part, has long been the subject of M&A rumors.

On-demand food delivery, undeniably popular, has yet to prove its long-term viability as a money-making business. At the very least, a sizeable check from a private equity firm ensures Postmates has the capital it needs, for the time being, to accelerate growth and double down on its autonomous robotic delivery ambitions.

Founded in 2011, Postmates is also backed by Spark Capital, Founders Fund, Uncork Capital, Slow Ventures, Tiger Global, Blackrock and others.

Readying an IPO, Postmates secures $225M from private equity firm GPI Capital

Postmates, the popular food delivery service, has raised another $225 million at a valuation of $2.4 billion ahead of an imminent initial public offering, the company confirmed to TechCrunch on Thursday.

Private equity firm GPI Capital has led the investment, first reported by Forbes, which brings Postmates total funding to nearly $1 billion. GPI takes non-controlling stakes — between 2% and 20% — in both late-stage private companies and publicly-listed ventures.

After tapping JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America to lead its float, Postmates filed privately with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO earlier this year. Sources familiar with the company’s exit plans say the business intends to publicly unveil its IPO prospectus this month.

To discuss the company’s journey to the public markets and the challenges ahead in the increasingly crowded food delivery space, Postmates co-founder and chief executive officer Bastian Lehmann will join us on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt on Friday October 4th.

As Forbes noted, last-minute financings are critical for companies poised to run out of cash and in need of an infusion prior to hitting the public markets. The motives for Postmates last-minute financing are unclear, however, the company will certainly begin trading on the stock market at an interesting time. 2019 has proven to be the year of unicorn listings and former Silicon Valley darlings like Uber and Lyft have struggled to stabilize since their multi-billion-dollar debuts, despite years of support and coddling from venture capitalists.

Meanwhile, activity in the food delivery space has distracted from Postmates prospects. DoorDash, for one, recently purchased another food delivery service, Caviar, from Square in a deal worth $410 million. Uber is said to have considered buying Caviar, which had been looking for a buyer at least since 2016, according to Bloomberg. Postmates, for its part, has long been the subject of M&A rumors.

On-demand food delivery, undeniably popular, has yet to prove its long-term viability as a money-making business. At the very least, a sizeable check from a private equity firm ensures Postmates has the capital it needs, for the time being, to accelerate growth and double down on its autonomous robotic delivery ambitions.

Founded in 2011, Postmates is also backed by Spark Capital, Founders Fund, Uncork Capital, Slow Ventures, Tiger Global, Blackrock and others.

Kustomer raises $40M more led by Tiger Global for its omnichannel approach to CRM

On the heels of customer service company Zendesk announcing an acquisition to expand its omnichannel offering, one of the upstarts nipping at its heels has announced a round of funding to continue growing its own platform.

Kustomer, a customer service startup that calls in data from multiple external channels and the software and apps that a company uses to manage its business internally and speak to customers externally, has raised a Series D of $40 million, led by Tiger Global, with participation from previous investor Battery Ventures. The plan will be to bring in more automation and AI processes to reduce more of the repetitive tasks around CRM — a move specifically aimed to help it target large enterprise customers — and to expand further into Europe, CEO Brad Birnbaum said in an interview.

The valuation is not being disclosed with this round, although Birnbaum noted that it is a “very significant uplift” on its previous valuation. PitchBook, as one data point, notes that in its Series B, it was valued at around $121 million post-money. Adding another $75 million to that (Series C and D together), it’s close to $200 million, although that’s likely lower than its actual valuation now, given that uplift. It has raised just under $114 million to date.

More tellingly, Kustomer has been on a fundraising tear in the last 12 months. It was just in January of this year that it announced a Series C of $35 million. Before that, in June 2018, it raised $26 million. (It was not on the hunt to raise another round so soon, and didn’t need the funding immediately, but it was approached by Tiger with an offer Kustomer did not want to pass up.)

In that time, Birnbaum — who co-founded the startup with Jeremy Suriel in 2015 — has told me multiple times about how Kustomer was increasingly winning more clients off Salesforce and Zendesk, with revenues growing by about 350% in the process, with customers including Ring, Rent the Runway, Glossier, Away, Glovo, Slice and UNTUCKit.

So you might guess that Kustomer’s traction, along with a general swing in terms of what enterprises are looking for in a customer service solution, has had something to do with Zendesk’s own turn toward a more omnichannel approach.

Birnbaum and Suriel know something about how the bigger incumbents work — a previous startup they had worked on together, Assistly (where Birnbaum had been a founder too), was acquired by Salesforce.

Birnbaum does not shy away from talking about how Kustomer is faring against competitors, or why its platform is better than theirs.

“We are most proud of the fact that we do omnichannel really well. On our platform you have a threaded conversation, whereas on others the same input might resolve in four separate tickets,” he said. “In many ways, from a product perspective, I think Zendesk is chasing us, but our product is about 10 years younger.”

Kustomer’s decision to use some of this latest investment to continue building out its automation and AI capabilities lines up with bigger developments that we have seen in enterprise software. Birnbaum, indeed, describes Kustomer’s automation of routine tasks as “a form of RPA” (robotic process automation, which has been one of the fastest-growing areas in enterprise software). “If you’re a retailer and someone ordered a shirt and it’s too small, through the Kustomer platform you can both take the order but also fix it if it’s not the right size, or take the return, rather than passing the customer on to another department,” he said. “You will start to see more and more of these developments as we continue building a system of record beyond a simple CRM tool.”

The next step, he said, will be building even more tools to understand the customer. “We are not a marketing platform today, but already people are using it that way, for example to find recently unhappy customers to send them offers, or do promotional outreach to those who have dropped off on their purchases.”

In addition to Tiger Global joining as an investor, Wendi Sturgis, the CEO of Yext Europe and chief client officer at Yext, has joined Kustomer’s board of directors.

“Kustomer is one of the fastest-growing startups in its space, and I am pleased to join them on their mission to redefine what it means to truly put the customer first, radically shift the approach to customer management and ultimately manifest this in state-of-the-art marketing automation,” she said in a statement. “Plus, when it comes to leadership teams, I am drawn most to disruptors — but only those with the highest integrity. I could not have chosen better, in coming to work with Brad Birnbaum and the incredible team he has assembled.”

CleverTap lands $26M for its mobile-focused customer marketing service

CleverTap, an India-based startup that lets companies track and improve engagement with users across the web, has pulled in $26 million in new funding thanks to a round led by Sequoia India.

Existing investor Accel and new backer Tiger Global also took part in the deal, which values CleverTap at $150-$160 million, the startup disclosed. The deal takes CleverTap to around $40 million from investors to date.

Founded in 2015 and based in Mumbai, CleverTap competes with a range of customer experience services, including Oracle Cloud. Its service covers a range of touchpoints with consumers, including email, in-app activity, push notifications, Facebook, WhatsApp (for business) and Viber. Its service helps companies map out how their users are engaging across those vectors, and develop “re-engagement” programs to help reactive dormant users or increase engagement among others.

The company says its SDK is installed in more than 8,000 apps and its customers include Southeast Asia-based startups Go-Jek and Zilingo, Hotstar in India and U.S.-based Fandango . With a considerable customer base in Asia, CleverTap puts a particular focus on mobile because many of these markets are all about personal devices.

“Asia is mobile-first and massively growing,” CleverTap CEO and co-founder Sunil Thomas told TechCrunch in an interview. “A lot of engagement in this [part of the] world is timely… we were sort of born physically on the east side of the world, so we got to scale with all these diverse set of devices.”

That stands to benefit CleverTap as it seeks to grow market share outside of Asia, and in markets like the U.S. and Europe where mobile is — right now — just one part of the marketing and customer engagement process. The company believes that engagement by mobile has a long way to develop there.

“Engagement [in the West] is still email-heavy and not really timely,” Thomas said. “Whereas the East thinks of it as ‘Hey, let’s be proactive… instead of a user coming in to hunt for information, can I provide it when I think he or she will need it?’ ”

Of course, mobile push and in-app notifications can be easily abused.

Most people will know of an app on their phone that falls into that category. So, how does a company know what is too much or what isn’t enough?

“As long as you use push or in-app as an extension of your brand, then I think it’s extremely useful,” explained Thomas. “After all, this is a really competitive world; it isn’t just your app out there — if you can make your brand count when this person isn’t in your app, that’ll help you.”

More broadly, Thomas argued that CleverTap brings data to the table which, ultimately, “changes the whole context in real time.” So a customer can really look holistically at their online presence and figure out what is working, and with which users. In real terms, when used to acquire new users online, he said he believes that CleverTap typically doubles registration conversions and triples the buying rate.

“The cost of acquisition to first purchase is what we really effect,” said Thomas. “It’s that moment you get a new person into your house.”

CleverTap has an office in Sunnyvale and it has just landed in Singapore. Now it plans to add a location in Indonesia before the end of the year. Those expansions are centered around business development, with some customer support, since tech and other teams are in India. Already, according to Thomas, the company is looking to grow in Europe while it is weighing the potential to enter Latin America in a move that could include a local partnership.

The CleverTap CEO is also considering raising more money toward the end of the year, when he believes that the company can push its valuation as high as $400 million.

“That’s very doable based on revenue growth,” he said. “We think that the revenue will demand that valuation.”

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