Startup Roundup April 8, 2016


Pinterest In Talks to Bring On Executives From Mobile Startup URX | Re/code

Pinterest is in talks to bring on staff from mobile startup URX, according to three sources familiar with the deal.

URX has raised over $15 million in four rounds of financing since launching in 2013. Two sources said the potential Pinterest tie-up would mainly take the form of a talent acquisition, or an “acqhire,” though one source said URX investors may receive some Pinterest stock in the deal.

Pinterest declined to comment. URX executives did not respond to repeated requests for comment. 


The Aussie startup scene needs more commitment and less conversation

The Australian startup scene is in good shape, but it needs less chatting and more doing.

That was the message from a panel of some of Australia’s top startup and business leaders Thursday. The discussion, held in Sydney as part of the CSIRO’s accelerator program aimed atcommercialising technology and science, touched on whether the Australian government’s innovation rhetoric is becoming reality.

It’s great the conversation around improving funding and tax incentives for startups has started to ramp up here, but it’s not enough, suggested Geoff Culbert, CEO of GE Australia and New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. “You have to take the next step. You have to move from conversation to action,” he said. 


Customer communication startup Intercom raises $50M | TechCrunch

Intercom, a startup helping businesses talk to their customers, has raised an additional $50 million in funding.

Intercom’s products cover everything from website chat to marketing to customer support. When the company raised funding last year, co-founder and CEO Eoghan McCabe (pictured above) said integration is one of the big elements of the company’s strategy — integration across a company, integration with your product and integration with your data.

The startup now says that its headcount has doubled in the past year, to 250, while revenue has quadrupled into the tens of millions of dollars. It also says that it has more than 10,000 paying customers, including Expensify and Trunk Club on the startup side, plus large companies like Rackspace and IBM. 


Meg Whitman wants to ‘curate’ startups – Business Insider

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman is on the hunt for more up-and-coming enterprise startups to invest in and turn into billion-dollar companies, she toldNetwork World’s John Gallant.

She points to the recent investment in a hot cloud startup called Mesosphere as an example of her plan.

Mesosphere offers something it calls a data center operating system (DCOS).

DCOS manages a tech called “containers.” Companies are increasingly writing their applications to fit inside containers sd a way to standardize all the computer CPU/network/memory settings (and so on) an app needs so the app can flit from one computer server to another, or from one cloud data center to another, without breaking. Companies like Apple, Twitter, and Airbnb all use Mesos, a free version of the software that Mesosphere offers.  


Startup Funding Deals Fall to Lowest Level in Four Years – Bloomberg

Venture capitalists made fewer bets in the U.S. last quarter, while putting a larger proportion of their money into the most mature private companies, according to research firm PitchBook Data. The findings show that venture investors are trying to play it safe by backing proven businesses, making it more difficult for newer startups to find capital.

Last quarter had the fewest number of venture deals in four years. Funding rounds dropped 12 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2015, when startup fundingbegan to slow. Investments totaled $17.7 billion in the first quarter of 2016, about flat with the prior period. More than half of that went to late-stage companies. 


Dutch File-Sharing Startup WeTransfer And Its 80 Million Users Are Coming For The U.S. Market – Forbes

Tech companies in the U.S. have found that serving as the digital mailmen of the Internet is a tough business. For a quirky Dutch startup that thinks it’s cracked the model, that means a big opportunity.

While stateside startups have raced to add collaboration tools to their file storing and sharing as the prices for those services have precipitously dropped, WeTransfer chooses to focus on doing its one job very well. “We’re just a really simple file-sharing service, and people actually like it,” says CIO Nalden, who earned one-name status as one of the Netherlands’ first famous bloggers. 


For Fintech Start-Ups, Efforts to Rethink Rules That Cramp Innovation – The New York Times

Getting a financial start-up off the ground is tough enough.

The likelihood of incurring huge legal fees to secure money transmission licenses in all 50 states makes it that much harder. Yet that is what some digital currency start-ups face as a result of a bewildering hodgepodge of regulations across state and national lines that can make it difficult even to know which rules apply.

Hoping to remove at least some of the burden, government agencies in the United States and elsewhere have been increasing their efforts to update the regulations.

Last week, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an arm of the Treasury Department, unveiled a white paper that it said was a first step in helping foster innovation in financial tech, particularly for businesses tied to existing banks. 


Oracle to launch first startup cloud accelerator in India – The Economic Times

Oracle said its first startup cloud accelerator will launch in India, as part of a strategy to expand its base in the country and support the Prime Minister’s Digital India initiatives.

The US technology firm said the first centre would open in Bangalore on April 8, and would be inaugurated by Oracle’s President of Product Development Thomas Kurian.


E-commerce search startup Twiggle scores $12.5M Series A led by Naspers | TechCrunch

Search engines on large e-commerce sites often spit up a lot of results, which is great if you want to browse, but otherwise annoying. Twiggle thinks it has the solution. Internet conglomerate Naspers agrees, because it has led the Tel Aviv-based startup’s $12.5 million Series A. Yahoo Japan, State of Mind Ventures (a returning investor), and Sir Ronald Cohen also participated in the round.

Twiggle, which has raised $14.7 million so far, will launch on several e-commerce sites in August. It hasn’t revealed who its clients are yet, but they will include other Naspers portfolio companies. Some of the group’s most notable e-commerce investments around the world include Flipkart in India, Argentina’s Avenida, and Filipino marketplace OLX. Yahoo Japan also runs some of the largest Japanese e-commerce businesses. 


How This Startup Coach Helps Founders Around The World Raise Millions – Forbes

Andrea Barrica has seen thousands of pitches in her role as venture partner and “pitch coach” at 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley accelerator and global seed fund.  She’s traveled the world, from Ghana to Poland to the Philippines, to help startup founders develop and deliver winning pitches, which have garnered an estimated $50 million in combined investment to date.

We were fortunate to see Barrica in action recently as she coached the latest group of startups – Batch 16—which also happens to be the largest cohort in 500′s history, with 53 companies in total. In line with 500’s commitment to diversity in tech, 26% of the companies in this group have at least one female founder and 32% are from outside Silicon Valley or the U.S. 


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