Investment Round: Pinterest, Misterb&b, Alto and Clustree

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.

Pinterest Hits $12.3bn Valuation with Latest Funding Round

Social curation platform Pinterest has achieved a valuation of $12.3bn (£9.7bn) following a $150m funding round driven by existing investors, the company has announced. The round slightly increases the firm’s valuation from its last valuation back in March 2015, when it was placed at $11bn based on a $367m investment round.

The company has recently invested further in visual recognition technology, with a new search called Lens introduced in early February that enables users to discover ideas inspired by objects seen in the real world and captured using their smartphone camera. This builds on Pinterest’s existing work with computer vision and visual search capabilities, and is being used to boost its advertising revenues as well as offer additional functionality to users.

The funding round, which will see additional capital invested in visual technology and power additional global expansion, will also help the firm delay its IPO as it strengthens its advertising business, which some industry experts have criticised as limited for a platform with 175m monthly active users.

Pinterest only introduced video advertising last year, and didn’t host any advertising at all until 2014. The firm is clearly aiming to turn this perception around, however, having doubled revenue per search query in the past year and launching its first ever ad campaign with both digital and out-of-home elements recently in a drive to bring in new users.

Misterb&b Raises $8.5m for LGBTQ-focused Holiday Rentals
June is LGBTQ Pride Month in the US, and while startup Misterb&b may be based in France, they’ve certainly got reason to feel proud at the moment. The company has just raised $8.5m from Project A and Ventech to power its apartment renting platform that caters specifically to the LGBTQ community.

The company was started when co-founder and CEO Matthieu Jost experienced an uncomfortable stay while travelling in Barcelona, which convinced him that “a short-term service by and for gay men was needed to help provide not only a safe and comfortable experience, but also one where gay men can connect and expand their sense of community”.

Misterb&b is already operational in 135 countries and boasts 100,000 hosts. The startup began with a focus on gay travellers, but has expanded to become an inclusive platform for the LGBTQ community, ensuring that tourists can be sure of a friendly welcome, especially in countries where homosexuality is still considered taboo or even illegal.

Alto Rebrands from ScriptDash and Announces $23m Investment
Digital pharmacy startup ScriptDash has revealed it is rebranding its services as Alto as it prepares for a nationwide expansion in the US, fuelled by a $23m Series B funding round. The service, which has previously focused on the San Francisco Bay Area, has already delivered over 100,000 prescriptions to 12,000 patients since launching in June 2015.

The new funding will enable the company to not only expand across the US, but will allow it to begin building an easier backend system for doctors, clinics and pharmacists, with the aim of solving some of the communication issues that plague the healthcare infrastructure. The move into enterprise mHealth will also open up new, more sizable revenue streams for the firm.

“We started ScriptDash to simplify the pharmacy experience for those in need,” said Mattieu Gamache-Asselin, CEO and co-found of Alto. “We’ve learned a lot about what it means to provide you with the world-class care you deserve. In that time, we also began to feel that we had a larger story to tell than just a pharmacy that delivers. Our new name, Alto, better embodies our company’s mission to build the world’s most patient-centric pharmacy.”

Creandum Leads $7.9m Round for HR Automation Platform Clustree
French startup Clustree uses machine learning to power an automated HR recommendation platform for career development and recruitment, promising to remove human bias and stereotyping when it comes to analysing internal and external HR data and finding the best people for a given role. Its technology is obviously on the right track, because European investors Creandum have just led a $7.9m Series A round funding the firm.

Idinvest Partners and existing investor Alven Capital also contributed to the round, which will be used to develop the firm’s sales, marketing, engineering and product teams, consolidate its market position in France and prepare for international expansion. The company has already managed to secure a number of multi-year contracts with international firms, and its solution is used in 30 different countries by brands including Carrefour, L’Oréal and Orange.

“Human resources remains a massive market that has not largely been disrupted by technology,” said Carl Fritjofsson, principal at Creandum. “Retaining and developing talent is a big priority for any organisation, and with the development of artificial intelligence we now see a new generation of technology solutions developing to serve this. Clustree is one of the most impressive technologies we’ve seen to support HR decision marking. We strongly believe in a future of data-driven HR, and Clustree is leading the charge.”