Category Archives: Technology
March 8, 2023
By: Vickie Chachere – Florida Trend
Jorge, left, and Julio Brea of Symphonic Distribution
Photo: Zaccardo/Rick Visuals Inc.
Jorge and Julio Brea were just little boys when their family immigrated from the Dominican Republic to Tampa in the early 1990s. As teenagers growing up at the dawn of digital age, they loved both music and technology, and they figured out a way to bring the two together.
Jorge didn’t play an instrument, but he could compose electronic dance music on his computer and by 16 was working as a DJ and producer, going on to release original music and remixes. When he got the entrepreneurial “itch,” Jorge started uploading mp3 files of his music on Myspace, and by his own account was making $100 a day. He turned to helping other artists do the same in the rapidly emerging digital world of music distribution.
In 2006, with no venture capital or outside funding, he founded Symphonic Distribution out of his parent’s home, a company that made it easier for music creators to reach as many outlets and as wide an audience as possible, along with providing marketing, rights management and other services. Julio joined him in the company as did Jorge’s wife, marketing executive Janette Berrios. Their roster of artists eventually expanded to more than 100 in a range of genres, from Latin to electronic and country to classical.
Independent artists can’t just call up streaming services like iTunes and Spotify and ask them to carry their music, so Symphonic Distribution developed proprietary technology that allows artists to distribute music, videos and ringtones through one of the largest global networks of digital partners. And even though Tampa isn’t a city most associate with the music industry, Symphonic Distribution’s presence expanded to Africa, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Spain, and the company’s innovative team — now numbering 145 employees — attracted music industry veterans.
The family’s technological know-how has been a perfect match for an industry where streaming and social media have become dominant forms of music distribution, and where independent artists alternately have unprecedented opportunities but also barriers as big tech companies like Apple and Amazon and the three major labels — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group — put up roadblocks to reaching audiences. Jorge Brea made Billboard Magazine’s Indie Power Players list in 2018 and has stayed there since.
Early in 2022, after raising $37 million from Philadelphia’s NewSpring Capital and Tampa’s Ballast Point Ventures, Symphonic Distribution acquired Nashville-based marketing agency Streaming Promotions and joined with a division of Canada’s Higher Reign Music Distribution, which not only allows it to expand its presence but puts Symphonic on an entirely new level within the industry. For a company that had grown steadily and quietly in Tampa — along the way drawing on local resources and business development expertise from resources like Florida’s Small Business Development Centers — there was one last hometown hill to conquer. In January, Symphonic Distribution was recognized with the Alliance of M&A Advisors Tampa Bay Chapter’s Deal of the Year Award.
I can tell you firsthand that the selection process was more competitive than might be obvious. I was honored to serve as a judge for this year’s competition and was astounded at the complexity and the impact of the deals put before us. Florida has always had a strong entrepreneurial streak, but the deals vying for this year’s award reflect two very important features about the strength of midmarket mergers and acquisitions: The ability of homegrown companies to take the leap to the next level and the interest of outside firms, including multinationals, in acquiring the thriving businesses born here. The community is doing something right when those two things happen with frequency and scale.
The two other finalists for the award were Millian Aire Enterprises, a family-owned commercial and residential heating, ventilation and air-conditioning company that was acquired by Ontario-based global facilities management firm BGIS, and Lake Michigan Credit Union’s acquisition of Tampa-based Pilot Bank. In all three cases, the deals are producing hundreds of high-wage jobs in the area.
As for Symphonic Distribution, the creativity and artistry keeps flowing in big and small ways. In addition to its major moves, it also is partnering with platforms like Pinterest to add music clips to posts. The same week we celebrated with Symphonic at the Deal of the Year Awards (Florida Secretary of Business and Professional Regulation Melanie Griffin and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor joined in the honors), the company announced a music video distribution partnership with Canela Media, a leading Spanish-language streaming service. The Brea brothers leave little doubt that they’re just getting started on a steady drumbeat of success.
January 12, 2023
The combination of forward-looking market insights will produce the industry’s most accurate view of worldwide air, hotel, and alternative accommodations bookings.
As travel trends continue to evolve, so have the lodging options available to travelers. From hotels to short-term rentals, travelers have more choices than ever. For hoteliers, property managers, and tourism organizations trying to understand what’s happening in their market and how they are performing against their competitive set, a full picture of accommodation bookings and air traffic is necessary to make accurate, data-driven revenue decisions.
With this in mind, Amadeus, a global leader in travel data intelligence and hospitality technology, and Key Data, a global leader in short-term rental data, have announced a partnership to combine forward-looking business intelligence data for air, hotels, vacation rentals, and other alternative accommodations. The blended data sets will fully integrate to produce a best in class, single view of travel data.
For the first time, this single view of data will also be available to Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) and Convention & Visitor Bureaus (CVBs), ushering in a new, more comprehensive view of travel trends and insights with an easy-to-use set of dashboards and tools.
Jason Sprenkle, CEO, Key Data Dashboard, said, “Customers and businesses that rely on travel data need a single solution that offers a full view of their market, regardless of where travelers choose to stay. By partnering with Amadeus, we not only make it easier for our customers to access travel data, but we also unlock new insights and trends to help these businesses and destinations make decisions earlier, and with more confidence.”
Michael Yeomans, Executive Vice President , Business Intelligence and Data Solutions , Hospitality, Amadeus, commented, “We are very pleased to add this unique data to Amadeus’ robust business intelligence suite. As the travel landscape continues to evolve, we are committed to offering the best breadth and depth of data and insights to our customers. We’re excited about this new partnership which supports our offer expansion as the hospitality industry’s most trusted travel data source.”
September 1, 2022
Combined Company Forms a Powerful Growth Platform for Omnichannel Sellers Worldwide
LONDON, England, Sept. 01, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Linnworks, a leading e-commerce enablement software and order management systems (“OMS”) provider, has announced its formal agreement to acquire SkuVault, a leading U.S.-based provider of inventory management software (“IMS”) and warehouse management systems (“WMS”) solutions. The deal brings together two companies with a shared vision of accelerating growth for omnichannel sellers. Marlin Equity Partners (“Marlin”), a global investment firm with over $8.1 billion of capital commitments under management, will be the majority shareholder of the combined company.
“We are very excited for the combination of our local and global talent that will drive significant value to our customers, employees and partners,” said Callum Campbell, CEO of Linnworks. “We deeply appreciate SkuVault’s leading position within the North American market, driven by its highly differentiated product that offers rich features and functionality across the IMS and OMS value chain, as well as its deep WMS and third-party logistics (“3PL”) capabilities. We look forward to the depth of experience and spirit of innovation that the SkuVault team will bring to the shared company.”
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Linnworks team to drive strategy and innovation in our industry and increase value for our customers,” said Andy Eastes, CEO and Co-Founder of SkuVault. “Together, we intend to address the most difficult challenges growing omnichannel sellers face and help our customers seamlessly integrate their sales channels and warehouses, fulfill orders more efficiently, and ultimately, grow their respective businesses faster.” Upon closing, Linnworks and SkuVault will combine their strengths to offer robust IMS/OMS solutions in the market, with an excellent user experience, extensive breadth and depth of functionality, and globally available implementation and support services.
“We look forward to working with both the Linnworks and SkuVault teams to establish a global category leader in a fast-growing market segment with increased platform breadth and global coverage of customer profiles,” said Peter Chung, a managing director at Marlin. “We believe the businesses are highly complementary, not only from a geographic perspective, but also with each bringing strengths across a number of key product capabilities in order management, inventory management, analytics & forecasting, warehouse management and 3PL support,” said Grant Schachter, a principal at Marlin. “The acquisition of SkuVault underscores Linnworks’ mission to build a leading global provider of e-commerce enablement and OMS solutions,” said Roland Pezzutto, a managing director at Marlin. “Both companies have exhibited strong growth historically, and this transformative merger creates a unique opportunity to accelerate growth through investment in product innovation, go-to-market strategy, account management and support.”
Raymond James & Associates served as SkuVault’s financial advisor. SkuVault’s legal advisor was Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP. DC Advisory acted as financial advisor and Goodwin Procter LLP and Mayer Brown International LLP served as legal advisors to Linnworks and Marlin. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Linnworks is a leading commerce automation platform that enables the world’s major marketplaces and sales channels to manage their multi-channel inventory, orders and fulfillment from a single dashboard while providing deep insights across operations. By equipping brands and retailers to conduct commerce wherever their customers are, Linnworks powers businesses to drive growth and boost brand success. Linnworks processes over $8 billion in gross merchandise value each year globally and serves some of the world’s largest, recognizable brands. For more information, please visit www.linnworks.com.
SkuVault’s warehouse and inventory management platform solves one of the biggest challenges in omnichannel retail: managing and tracking inventory at scale. By integrating with critical shipping, e-commerce and channel management platforms, SkuVault delivers inventory quantity, location and velocity with certainty. Today, over 1,200 of the world’s best product sellers trust SkuVault to ensure the success of their businesses. For more information, please visit www.skuvault.com.
About Marlin Equity Partners
Marlin Equity Partners is a global investment firm with over $8.1 billion of capital under management. The firm is focused on providing corporate parents, shareholders and other stakeholders with tailored solutions that meet their business and liquidity needs. Marlin invests in businesses across multiple industries where its capital base, industry relationships and extensive network of operational resources significantly strengthen a company’s outlook and enhance value. Since its inception, Marlin, through its group of funds and related companies, has successfully completed over 200 acquisitions. The firm is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with an additional office in London. For more information, please visit www.marlinequity.com.
July 27, 2022
Key Data Dashboard, the leading provider of trusted vacation and short-term rental data, today announced that it has secured a $5 million credit facility from Signature Bank, a New York-based full-service commercial bank with a dedicated Venture Banking Group serving venture-backed startups and their investors nationwide. This new credit facility will complement a $5 million Series B round led by Ballast Point Ventures and is intended to support several key initiatives.
“We’ll use this new capital to fund Key Data’s high growth initiatives, which include our new direct-to-consumer platform, an expansion of our enterprise data offerings, and an acceleration of our growing international presence,” said Jason Sprenkle, Chief Executive Officer of Key Data.
“We’ve effectively doubled our team, revenue, and customer base over the past twelve months, and we are excited to be leaning further into the explosive growth that the short-term rental industry has been experiencing. The pandemic, the shifting economy, and the overall growth of the space have fueled tremendous demand for our data, as has the recent confluence of real estate and short-term rental data for investors, REITs, and underwriters. We’re eager to keep pace by delivering new tools, expanded offerings, and an unwavering commitment to providing the most accurate, timely, and trusted data available.”
“The hospitality industry continues to evolve as online marketplaces for vacation rentals and investment properties are on the rise. Key Data’s innovative vacation rental data products provide real-time insights and analytics to drive revenue — not only for individual investors but also large-scale property managers and tourism organizations,” explained Dhruv Patel, Senior Vice President in Signature Bank’s Venture Banking Group.
“Jason and his experienced team are no strangers to success. After two prior exits, Glad To Have You™ and 360 Blue, the team was ready to make their mark in another venture and we welcomed the opportunity to be involved. We look forward to working with Key Data and their investors, including Ballast Point Ventures, as the company continues to expand and serve this growing market,” added Patel.
July 19, 2022
DURHAM, N.C.–Keen Decision Systems (“Keen”) announced today that it has closed an $11 million Series B financing led by Ballast Point Ventures IV (“BPV”) to accelerate the industry’s first and only decision optimization engine rooted in predictive analytics. Brand marketers struggle to optimize marketing investments across all online and offline channels. Keen’s unified adaptive marketing mix solution empowers brand leaders to quickly and accurately plan, adjust and report on their marketing mix strategy. Marketing leaders can now account for known and unexpected complexities across their entire marketing landscape through vetted recommendations to improve performance, outpace the competition, and increase profitability.
Marketing challenges are not in short supply these days. Consumer behavior continues to evolve with increased media fragmentation and more tools for marketers to manage. Additionally, unexpected events like inflation, COVID-19, and supply chain issues make planning even more difficult. Keen’s platform analyzes a complete array of data sources, including real-time data, to generate marketing plans that empower marketers to achieve their financial targets.
“We’ve had the benefit of following Keen for a few years now and have been very impressed with Greg Dolan, Josh Busbice and their entire team,” said Sean Barkman, a Partner at Ballast Point Ventures. “Keen is bringing a much-needed solution to the marketplace, and we are thrilled to be partnering with the Company to help Keen win in this large and growing market.” The investment from Ballast Point Ventures will accelerate Keen’s product development and fuel Keen’s brand awareness and continued expansion into new industry verticals. As part of the financing, Sean Barkman will join Keen’s Board of Directors.
“Keen provides best-in-class value to its clients and regularly improves marketing efficiency by 25 percent or more. The Company has been fortunate to experience a unique opportunity in the market as we’ve introduced a new paradigm for decision-making to the marketing industry. This has led to a significant growth trajectory, and we are confident that the collaboration with Ballast Point Ventures will continue to accelerate that growth. This investment represents a reciprocal opportunity for both companies, and I couldn’t be more excited to welcome BPV on board,” said Greg Dolan, Co-Founder and CEO.
August 3, 2021
Source: Visit Tampa Bay
December 14, 2020
NEOGOV, a market leader in public sector human resources software, today announced a definitive agreement to merge with PowerDMS, a leader in cloud-based compliance software that helps customers simplify how they create, track, and attest to policies, training, and industry standards. The merger will expand NEOGOV’s product offerings and further demonstrates its commitment to streamlining the complex processes needed to support the public sector workforce. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
NEOGOV’s full suite human capital management solution enables recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, performance management, payroll, benefits and time and attendance processes specific to public sector and higher education organizations. PowerDMS’ products strategically complement NEOGOV’s platform and capabilities, setting it up for the next chapter of the company’s growth. The merger will help customers solve complex human resource and compliance challenges under one roof by unifying best-in-class human resource tools and document management in an age of increased pressure for additional accountability and transparency.
The merger is subject to regulatory approval. The combined businesses will be operated by NEOGOV, which is headquartered in El Segundo, California. Shane Evangelist, current NEOGOV CEO, will be CEO of the combined company.
“The addition of PowerDMS to the NEOGOV family is a natural fit. It increases our core offering and deepens our expertise around procedure and policy management, which will ultimately enable us to modernize more of the vital systems that serve our citizens,” Evangelist said. “The tremendous team and solutions at PowerDMS furthers our mission to ‘Serve the people who serve the people.’ ”
PowerDMS offers a secure cloud-based policy, compliance, accreditation management solution that helps organizations with transparency, accountability, risk and liability reduction, increases organizational efficiency, and helps save lives. The company provides secure FBI CJIS compliant software tools to organize and manage an organization’s critical documents and industry accreditation standards and allows for training and testing of employees. PowerDMS serves customers in public safety, government, and healthcare and has achieved significant organic growth in these markets.
“Delivering transformative Cloud-based solutions that automate and scale complex processes needed to run local government is at the heart of what both companies do well. By expanding its offering to include the products of PowerDMS, NEOGOV is well-positioned to continue our success and further increase a combined footprint in the public sector,” said David DiGiacomo, CEO of PowerDMS.
The merger of PowerDMS broadens the solutions offered by NEOGOV and further supports the company’s long-term growth strategy and dedication to enhancing its comprehensive capabilities within the human resources software market.
William Blair served as exclusive financial advisor to PowerDMS in the transaction.
NEOGOV is the leading provider of an integrated HR, payroll, and talent management solution for the public sector. NEOGOV customers report increased employee productivity and engagement, time and cost savings, improved regulatory requirement compliance, and reduced paper processes, with a net result of better services for citizens. Serving over 6,000 organizations, NEOGOV provides intelligent HR for the public sector. More information at www.neogov.com.
Founded in 2001, PowerDMS offers a cloud-based compliance management platform that helps users reduce risk and liability, protect reputation, increase efficiency, and save lives. The company provides software tools to organize and manage an organization’s critical documents and industry accreditation standards and allows for training and testing of employees. Most of the over 4,000 PowerDMS customers represent high-risk industries with compliance requirements in the healthcare, government, and commercial sectors. To learn more, go to www.PowerDMS.com .
December 3, 2020
(Greenville, S.C) November 30, 2020 – Mailprotector, a Greenville, SC-based cybersecurity company, announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently issued U.S. Patent No.10708244 for Bracket®, a system and method for encryption, storage, and transmission of digital information.
The problem with traditional encryption methodologies is the complexity of the applications, implementation, and decoding processes. With Bracket, users simply wrap the subject line in brackets and hit send. The process for opening and decoding messages is equally effortless. Bracket features include:
- Messages encrypted using AES256 standards & geographically distributed key.
- Fool-proof sign-in mails with a secure, expiring link. No more lost passwords!
- Encrypted email can be sent from any email app on any device.
- MX-free for Office 365. No need to change records so they route through filtering services.
Bracket also includes an encrypted file transfer service, Bracket Share, which gives users a personalized file transfer page with an easy URL (share link) that they can provide to anyone. Shared files and messages show up in the Bracket inbox like a regular message. Other features include customizable links, personalized invitations, and sender validation.
“We are elated at the patent office’s acknowledgment of Bracket as a revolutionary encryption technology.” Says David Setzer, CEO of Mailprotector. “One of our core goals is to empower managed services providers with unique and highly valued services they can take to market. While our partners usually provide all the external validation we need, this patent confirms our commitment to technical innovation. Bracket gives MSPs a true advantage and differentiator in the security and encryption space, solves real end-user needs, and delivers highly profitable recurring revenue streams.”
Will Nobles, founder and CEO of IT services firm Vector Choice Technology Solutions, is leveraging Mailprotector’s encryption technology with a 1000 user healthcare provider, various attorneys, and other clients. “Innovations from our vendors, bringing new ideas like Bracket and Bracket Share, is invaluable to our business,” emphasizes Nobles. “With other systems, you have to install extensions in Outlook, and users have to follow multiple steps. Bracket is a lot easier to use, which means our clients are more apt to add the protection instead of sending email unencrypted.”
“Our design goal was to make security more accessible to users and our partners, not to create technology for technology’s sake,” adds Mailprotector’s CTO, Ben Hathaway. “That’s what makes Bracket special. The combination of ease of use with innovative and highly effective encryption. Our unique approach, detailed in the patent, allows us to offer users complete data privacy and security in a simple to use solution.”
Mailprotector empowers its users with a portfolio of cloud-based email security, management, and hosting services sold exclusively through the worldwide IT services channel. Products include inbound and outbound email security, email continuity, email archiving, email encryption, and business-class hosted email solutions. More information is available at www.mailprotector.com.
October 9, 2020
By: Alex Wilhelm
From a cluster of insurance marketplace startups raising capital earlier this year, to neoinsurance provider Lemonade going public this summer at a strong valuation, Hippo’s huge new round and Root’s impending unicorn IPO, 2020 has proven to be a busy year for startups and other growth-oriented private tech companies focused on insurance.
That news cycle continues today, with The Zebra announcing that it has reached a roughly $100 million run rate, and, perhaps even more notably, that it has turned profitable.
TechCrunch most recently covered the car and home insurance marketplace startup in February, when it raised the first $38.5 million in a Series C eventually worth $43.5 million that Accel led. As we noted at the time, the startup joined “Insurify ($23 million), Gabi ($27 million) and Policygenius ($100 million) in raising new capital this year.”
The Zebra released a number of financial performance metrics as part of its Series C cycle, including that it recorded revenues of $37 million in 2019, and that it had reached a $60 million annual run rate around the time of its Series C. The Zebra also said that it could double in size this year, putting it above a $100 million run rate by the end of 2020.
With that history in hand, let’s talk about the company’s more recent performance.
A changing market
According to the company, The Zebra recorded net revenue of $6 million in May, 2020. That number grew to around $8 million in September. For those of you able to multiply, $8 million times 12 is $96 million, or a hair under $100 million. According to a call with the The Zebra’s CEO Keith Melnick, the company’s September was very close to $8.3 million, a figure that would put it on a $100 million run rate.
Given that our $100 million ARR club has a history of granting startups a little wiggle room when it comes to their size, it seems perfectly fine to say that The Zebra has reached revenue scale of $100 million; at its current rate of growth, even if its final September revenue tally is a hair light. the company should reach a nine-figure topline pace in October.
According to Melnick, while the bulk of The Zebra’s revenue isn’t recurring, a growing portion of it is. Per the CEO, around 2-5% of The Zebra’s revenue was recurring last year, a figure that he said is up to around 10% today. (If The Zebra binds an insurance policy itself, and that policy is renewed, its commissions can recur.)
What drove the company’s quick 2020 growth? In part, the insurance market changed, with insurance networks that depended on in-person sales seeing their ability to drive business slow thanks to COVID-19. Insurance marketplaces like The Zebra stepped in to assist, helping move some offline demand online. Melnick detailed that dynamic to TechCrunch, adding that when certain advertising channels saw demand fall, his company was able to leverage inexpensive inventory.
A number of factors appear to have added to The Zebra’s rapid growth thus far in 2020. Our next question is whether other, related players in the insurtech startup space have seen similar acceleration. More on that in a few days.
Finally, regarding The Zebra, the company said that it is now profitable. Of course, profit is a squishy word in 2020, so we wanted to know precisely what the company meant by the statement. Per the company’s CEO, it is generating positive net income, the gold-standard for profitability as the metric is inclusive of all costs, including the non-cash expenses that startups tend to strip out of their numbers to make the results look better than they really are.
If other players in the insurtech space are surfing similar trajectories, all that capital that went into the sector around the start of the year is going to appear prescient.
September 29, 2020
By Jennifer Groese
The National Association of Business Resources has announced the Summer 2020 winners of its 10th annual Best and Brightest Companies to Work For? competition. It’s with great pride and enthusiasm to share that AVOXI was one of their high scorers, joining other prominent companies like BlackBerry?, Gables Residential?, and T-Mobile? as recipients of this award.
This program provides the business community with the opportunity to gain recognition, showcase their best practices, and demonstrate why each of them would be an ideal place to work. Determined by a third-party market research firm, the criteria is based annually on market conditions and trends, then applied throughout the country.
“We’re thrilled to be named as one of the nation’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For?,” says David Wise, CEO of AVOXI. “The fact that we’re winning this award in 2020 speaks volumes to the strength of the culture we’ve built here at AVOXI and the impressive team of employees we have! Despite having to swiftly move our entire global team to a work-from-home environment, our employees have remained resilient and committed, enabling our company to continue growing. Culture is at the core of everything we do, and it’s something we’ll continue nurturing, regardless if we’re in an office together or digitally connecting from our homes.”
Over the past several years, AVOXI has invested in and nurtured its global employee programs, resulting in a proactive and highly engaged team. The Human Resources department continually collects internal feedback from employees on innovative ideas that keep them fulfilled and giving-back.
“We’re constantly looking for new and exciting ways to support and engage with our employees. I’m very proud to see that our hard work and culture are being recognized on a national level,” says Lauren Sallarulo, HR Specialist at AVOXI.
While the winners are not ranked, the highest-scoring 101 national companies are scheduled to be showcased this October in a week-long celebration during the virtual Illuminate Business Summit. For more information, please visit www.thebestandbrightest.com!