Investment Round is our weekly update on which firms have secured new funding, which areas are seeing the most financing, and who is putting up the cash that enables these firms to pushing the capabilities of mobile marketing further.
Salesforce Ventures Launches $100m Fund for AI Solutions
Salesforce Ventures, the corporate investment group of enterprise software firm Salesforce, has announced the foundation of a $100m (£77.4m) fund as part of its new AppExchange partner program. The programme aims to bring more developers into the company’s $389bn app economy, as well as speed up the development of AI-driven applications and components on the Salesforce platform.
The Salesforce Platform Fund follows the success of a similar initiative last year, the Salesforce Lightning Fund, which has already been fully deployed. The fund will invest in entrepreneurs and companies who are building intelligent, transformative apps and components on the Salesforce platform in the hope of extending the power of Salesforce for customers. Salesforce Ventures will also partner with other venture capital firms to identify joint investment opportunities that will help the company grow its ecosystem.
The partner program that accompanies the fund announcement aims to reduce friction for developers hoping to create software for Salesforces’ enterprise app marketplace. The program is implementing a new business model and onboarding experience for developers, as well as introducing new technology tools for developers, ISVs and startups.
“The convergence of AI, IoT and massive datasets has created incredible new opportunities for developers to move beyond the app – and build components, intelligent bots, data streams and more,” said Leyla Seka, executive vice president of AppExchange for Salesforce. “The new AppExchange Partner Program empowers the next generation of Salesforce ISVs with a single destination for everything they need to succeed.”
Watch Korea’s Ticket Monster Conquer with $1.4bn Valuation
Korean mCommerce marketplace Ticket Monster has had a storied history, involving an acquisition by LivingSocial, followed by one by Groupon, and then being spun out into its own company again. However, today brings some unqualified good news in the form of a major cash injection that strengthens the firm’s position as an independent company in one of the world’s most mobile-centred markets.
The company has raised $115m in a round led by Simone Investment Managers, alongside existing investors KKR and a number of unnamed global sovereign wealth funds. The funding, which brings the company’s valuation to $1.4bn, will be used to build out the firm’s newer grocery business and expand its travel operations.
Tmon Fresh, the company’s newest vertical, sees the firm enter the grocery sales and delivery sector, which rival eCommerce player Coupang has yet to do. South Korea’s grocery brands are also struggling to make progress in this area, so Ticket Monster is hoping that it can stake an early claim, and is planning on fresh investment in the area soon.
Robinhood Targets Unicorn Status with $110m Round
Stock trading app Robinhood has recently reached 2m total users and celebrated 17 per cent month-on-month growth for its revenue-driving Robinhood Gold subscription package, so it’s no surprise that the firm behind the software is celebrating joining the list of startups with a billion-dollar-plus valuation. After a $110m Series C round of funding, the company now boasts a $1.3bn valuation.
Investment was led by DST global, with participation by existing investors NEA, Index Ventures and Ribbit Capital, as well as new investors Greenoaks and Thrive. The round is a considerable boost to the company, which had previously only seen around $66m in investment, but strong user growth has kept the company afloat, and since its public launch in 2015, it has quickly become the fastest growing brokerage ever.
According to a company spokesperson, the firm plans to use the new injection of capital to accelerate the expansion of its products and services, and is already hard at work on a number of exciting releases. With the app adding around 140,000 accounts per month, the company is unlikely to slow down in the near future, and is also eyeing a return to international expansion following an aborted entry into China in partnership with Baidu Finance.
Medical Imaging Analysis Firm Locates $7m
AIdoc Medical is applying the power of machine learning and computer vision advancements to medical scanning and imaging analysis, supporting the important work done by radiologists and other clinicians. The Israeli company is obviously on the right track, as it’s just secured $7m in funding.
The investment round was led by TLV Partners, with participation from previous investors including Magma Ventures and Emerge. The team is planning to use the new capital to expand its core research and development team, as well as strengthening its customer success and marketing teams both in the US and Israel.
“Advancements in AI by leading technology companies, the open sourcing of AI technology, the decrease in the price of compute power and the availability of digital data has set the scene for significant innovation through AI across several traditional industries,” said Rona Segev, co-founder partner at TLV Partners.