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Category Archives: Venture Capital Industry
Amadeus and Key Data Announce Business Intelligence Partnership
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.”
careviso announces over $17M in funding
careviso, a healthcare technology company and market leader in molecular diagnostic patient access technology (the “Company”), today announced that it has raised over $17 million in Series B funding led by Ballast Point Ventures with participation from existing investors Mercury and Lytical Ventures. The new funding will enable careviso to broadly expand its existing technology platform into the diagnostic space providing patients with clarity around their cost of care while reducing administrative burdens for physicians.
Founded upon the mission of improving healthcare transparency and access, careviso’s technology platform delivers real-time cost estimates, administrative requirements, and approvals, supporting providers, payors, labs, and patients alike. Since 2017, the Company has sustained substantial growth, providing solutions for over 1,000,000 patients and over 120,000 physicians, and has since expanded beyond a focus on support for prior authorizations. careviso’s propriety technology solutions help healthcare professionals navigate the complexities of diagnostic testing and improve the patient care experience. Previously known as CMT Solutions, careviso recently unveiled a new brand identity reflecting their pivot towards providing a more holistic approach to overall patient access.
careviso’s technology platform, seeQer, is directly aligned with the No Surprises Act, which protects individuals covered under a variety of health plans from receiving surprise medical bills months after a service or procedure. The product solves the requirements surrounding the Good Faith Estimate and the Advanced Explanation of Benefits, for diagnostic services, at the point of care or ahead of time. The Company plans to utilize the funding to support the growth of the platform so that it can be used to satisfy the No Surprises Act throughout the entire diagnostic space.
“Despite the evolution of our healthcare system, one of the largest challenges continues to exist around prior authorizations and transparency around costs, plaguing both physicians and patients alike,” said Andrew Mignatti, Co-Founder and CEO of careviso. “Through this latest fundraise, careviso will grow beyond its core focus on physicians as we pivot towards a broader part of the diagnostic testing process to solve the growing challenges for patients – reducing complexity and providing a clear picture of costs. With the support of our dedicated investors, we are excited for our next phase of development as we execute on our mission to remove the barriers associated with this critical area of the healthcare industry.”
careviso currently serves a substantial customer base in the women’s healthcare space, with over 50% of OBGYN clinics in the U.S. working with careviso. While OBGYN and oncology remain careviso’s core therapeutic areas, the Company is prioritizing expansion into other therapeutic areas with an increased focus on patient access, including radiology and endoscopy.
“The careviso team has an unwavering commitment to improving patient access with unique, innovative, and turnkey technology solutions,” said Matt Rice, Partner at Ballast Point. “We are proud to partner with such a dynamic and purpose-driven team that is well-positioned to scale its innovative technology and robust clinical database to new areas of the healthcare market.”
“careviso’s innovative platform has revolutionized the overall diagnostic process for healthcare professionals and we’ve been thrilled to watch this expertise and technology come to bear on the patient side,” said Aziz Gilani, Managing Director at Mercury. “We are excited to continue our strong support of Andrew and his team in their ongoing mission to inject transparency and efficiency in this complicated aspect of the healthcare spectrum.”
Durham Based Keen Decision Systems Announces 11 Million Dollars in Series B Funding
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.
YPrime Acquires Tryl, a Patient Engagement Solutions Company, Adding More Capabilities to Support Decentralized Clinical Trials
Malvern, PA, February 8, 2022 – YPrime, LLC, a global leader in cloud-based eClinical solutions, announced today the strategic acquisition of Tryl, a software development company with a unique patient engagement solution that brings together beautiful design, dynamic personalization, and applied behavioral science that is designed to boost engagement, reduce dropouts, and deliver outcomes in clinical trials. The acquisition includes the transfer of all staff, development capabilities, and intellectual properties to YPrime, and will integrate with YPrime’s Patient Engagement Technologies solutions.
“YPrime’s major priority has always been to anticipate the needs of tomorrow’s clinical trials and create powerful eClinical tools that simplify the lives of sponsors, sites, and patients,” says Shawn Blackburn, CEO, YPrime. “This combination with Tryl helps us leap ahead in fulfilling our vision of creating the industry’s first-of-its-kind solution to help keep patients more informed and engaged throughout the entire clinical trial process, especially as our industry accelerates toward decentralized clinical trial models.”
“An ever-increasing focus on patient centricity demands an integrated approach to how patients are engaged,” says Ian Greenfield, CEO of Tryl. “This starts from the moment patients are recruited and continues throughout the entire patient journey. YPrime has a strong vision for the future and by bringing together offerings from our two companies, we can create a novel solution that takes head on the most pressing challenges associated with attracting, engaging, and retaining patients.”
Tryl’s tools provide an experience that is personalized, predictive, empathetic, and relative to the overall patient journey. Tryl’s proprietary engagement score is designed to reduce patient dropout rates. Rooted in consumer experience, the Tryl team applies proven behavioral principles from other industries (such as professional sports and consumer finance) to seek to improve patient adherence to study protocols.
Mark Maietta, President, YPrime expressed his enthusiasm, “The addition of the Tryl team and their innovative solutions will boost patient compliance and reduce attrition, and the timing is perfect. YPrime has built an enviable market position with its strong eCOA and IRT capabilities. Now we can seamlessly layer on complementary solutions to our innovative technology stack for running successful decentralized trials.”
Tryl applies a consumer-grade UX and proven behavioral techniques like design thinking, empathy, and social proof, to increase study compliance and guide participants through complex protocols. Predictive analytics prompt clinicians to step in before subjects drop out. This approach minimizes participants’ burden while maximizing value for sponsors and researchers.
Carterra Takes Part in “Dousing the Pandemic’s Flames”
Source: GEN – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News
Neutralizing antibodies represent an important class of therapeutics that could provide immediate benefit in the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 or as a passive prophylaxis before vaccination. Passive prophylaxis also could be an alternative to vaccination in populations where vaccines have been found to be less efficacious.1
When AbCellera became a participant in DARPA’s P3 (Pandemic Prevention Platform) program in 2018, the aim was to build a pandemic-ready, rapid response, antibody discovery platform capable of developing field-ready medical countermeasures within 60 days of isolation of an unknown viral pathogen. At the time, AbCellera didn’t know that within two years its platform and team would be mobilized to react in record time to a real-life global health scenario, the COVID-19 pandemic.
In every person’s body, billions of antibodies exist, each with unique properties and functions. AbCellera’s full-stack AI-powered antibody discovery platform deeply searches natural immune responses to identify antibodies with desired properties such as virus neutralization, safety, longevity, and manufacturability.
The company’s mission is to make its technology stack available and to empower all antibody-based drug discovery programs. To date, the technology stack has been used in over 100 programs to address a wide range of indications in addition to COVID-19 and other infectious disease.
Putting a plan into action
At the end of February 2020, AbCellera obtained a single blood sample from a recovered COVID-19 patient. Close to six million peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were screened in three days, and thousands of therapeutic antibody potentials eventually narrowed to a final subset of 500 unique antibodies that recognized the interaction between the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein’s receptor binding domain (RBD) and the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) cellular receptor.
These candidates underwent extensive analysis and characterization—approximately 500 data points per molecule. An important aspect of the technology stack is the machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI) tool that allows analysis of large data clouds comprised of approximately 250,000 data points for this data set.
“We were able to visualize the analysis and down selection process using our custom in-house visualization software, Celium,” said Ester Falconer, PhD, chief technology officer at AbCellera, who led the AI-powered antibody discovery platform’s development.
Bryan Jones, PhD, senior research fellow at Eli Lilly and Company, co-led most of the discovery activities that took place at Lilly, in close partnership with AbCellera. His group played a large role analyzing and transitioning the initially discovered set of hundreds of antibodies—through selection, production, and characterization of a narrowed set of antibodies—that ultimately led to the identification of LY-CoV555 (bamlanivimab) for clinical development.
“Due to the rapidly evolving and geographically diverse nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, continued scientific innovation remains critical to develop additional treatments,” said Jones, who adds that Lilly remains committed to developing complementary neutralizing antibodies to address potential SARS-CoV-2 variants that undoubtedly will arise. Currently, a next-generation antibody, LY-CoV1404, is in the preclinical pipeline.
Intense pressure and challenges
“Our platform and the extended team were ready,” said Falconer. “But in reality, this was a new virus that the world was racing against. We had no experience with it and did not know what type of immune response it would elicit. To develop an antibody database to mine, we had only one blood sample from one of the first recovered patients in the United States.
“Plus, this was an early immune response. The blood was drawn 20 days after onset of symptoms. It was not clear what we were going to find. We had one shot, it had to work, and it had to be the fastest discovery ever. The pandemic-ready platform and team had to deliver.”
The speed at which things needed to progress was the biggest challenge. “Because of the urgency,” Jones recalled, “we were making decisions based on little data and testing a new virus, while simultaneously trying to coordinate these activities across multiple organizations ranging from Lilly and AbCellera, to the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to the numerous academic collaborators who were providing critical data.”
All of these efforts played out against a backdrop of everyone trying to learn how to work nearly completely remotely.
Antibodies were characterized deeply to ensure that any data points that could direct the team in the right direction would not be overlooked. The number of data points per antibody highlights the importance of the visualization software Celium and the infrastructure AbCellera developed to generate, aggregate, and process the data. High-stakes decision making was made in real time.
The discovery efforts, which have been detailed in Science Translational Medicine, included the rapid identification and characterization of the potent anti-spike neutralizing antibody, LYCoV555, derived from PBMCs isolated from a patient after recovery from COVID-19.1
It takes a village
“With the right team and technology, what seems impossible is achievable. With Lilly, we broke the mold for the fastest discovery through IND for any drug, challenging the current drug development process,” Falconer said. “It does not need to take years and years. Nearly six million cells were screened in three days, antibody genes were sequenced in an additional two days, and antibodies were generated and tested a week later—an incredible feat.”
“There really was not a tremendous difference in the workflow of discovery, clinical development, and manufacturing, except that everyone was singularly focused,” Jones added. “But a key difference was partnership with the FDA to identify innovative approaches to get treatments to patients as quickly as possible. We learned that a large and committed group of people concentrated on a sole objective can do amazing things.”
Pandemics are unpredictable
Bamlanivimab proceeded from sample to Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in just over eight months, a groundbreaking achievement in the development of antibody therapeutics. In November 2020, the FDA granted an EUA for bamlanivimab alone, and subsequently granted an EUA in February 2021 for bamlanivimab together with etesevimab (LY-CoV016), for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kg) with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing, and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.
Due to the sustained increase of SARS-CoV-2 variants that are resistant to bamlanivimab alone, Lilly requested and received in April 2021 a revocation of the EUA for bamlanivimab used alone. The EUA remains in effect for the combined use of bamlanivimab and etesevimab.
The Carterra LSA facilitated the rapid kinetic characterization of the selected recombinantly expressed antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and the RBD.
Spike protein–dependent viral entry is initiated by upward movement of the RBD at the apex of the protein, allowing access to bind the ACE2 cellular receptor. Upon receptor engagement, coordinated proteolytic cleavage and shedding of the S1 subunit occur, and conformational rearrangement of the S2 subunit leads to viral fusion with the cell and transfer of genetic material.1
“The LSA allowed for an extensive epitope analysis to be performed on the antibody panel which demonstrated broad epitope coverage, distinct classification into known binder categories such as S1 and S2, and the determination of neutralization of ACE2 binding,” said Dan Bedinger, PhD, applications scientist team lead at Carterra.
These assessments were key elements in the ranking and selection of the subset of leads for further characterization.
The ability to rapidly complete these analyses in a parallel, unattended fashion with minute amounts of recombinant antigen—a scarce and valuable resource—made it possible to characterize the full candidate panel in an extremely accelerated development timeline, 90 days from initiation to first in human.
According to Bedinger, no other bioanalytical platform could have provided this rich picture of epitope binning classification, a picture that delivered a deep understanding of the interaction between sequence diversity and epitope recognition.
Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium
As variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge, Carterra is collaborating with the Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium (CoVIC), a Gates Foundation–sponsored program. CoVIC has collected nearly 300 antibodies from a wide variety of sources that target the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
In a highly interdisciplinary effort across many institutions, these antibodies are being evaluated for a variety of properties including viral neutralization and escape, effector function, epitope recognition, and binding specificity. The LSA is being utilized to characterize the relative binding of each antibody to a variety of spike mutants and to create a comprehensive epitope binning profile.
“Data show that these antibodies can be clustered into epitope communities which map to various regions or faces of the spike protein when analyzed by cryo-EM,” said Bedinger. “Clones within these communities often share properties like neutralization and binding sensitivities to certain types of mutations.”
With a high-throughput approach, new antibodies can be rapidly binned into relevant communities and compared against the existing antibody population to understand their novelty and to predict their behavior.
Why entrepreneurs find Tampa Bay the right place to grow and realize their dreams
Source: Visit Tampa Bay
As with many entrepreneurs, Founder and CEO Jorge Brea’s dreams took root in his childhood home. He started Symphonic Distribution in a spare bedroom of his parents’ house in 2006.
Symphonic helps independent artists and record labels get their music on streaming platforms and into the ears of listeners around the world.
In addition to being named to the Billboard magazine Indie Power Players list in 2018 and 2019, Brea has now grown his digital music services company to a team of over 50 passionate people in Tampa, Brooklyn, Denver, Nashville and Bogota, Colombia.
And while Brea’s vision and drive paved his way, Tampa Bay provided a supportive and thriving location in which to make his dreams a reality — and give them ample room to grow.
“I think Tampa is getting more creative and becoming a technology hub. It’s great to see new entrepreneurs and different types of business come into the area,” Brea says.
Ranked a best place to live
Tampa Bay’s quality of life earned it a spot on the 2019 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live list, and it was named a community where it’s cheaper to buy a home than to rent. Plus, Money magazine named Tampa Bay the Best Big City in the Southeast in 2015, and in 2018, WalletHub ranked Tampa Bay one of the top communities in Florida to start a business.
“Billions of dollars in public and private investment are transforming the way Tampa Bay works, lives and plays. Coming over the horizon, we have the building of new office space, major funding for tech incubators and loads of new options for urban living,” says Santiago C. Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay.
Millions in venture capital
“Tampa Bay combines a welcoming, small-town feel with the amenities of a major American city,” Corrada says. “It’s easy for newcomers to find their niche here. Tech startups, nonprofits, restaurants and entertainment — entrepreneurs from nearly every industry sector quickly discover that Tampa Bay residents reward creativity and vision with time and money — including millions in venture capital.”
Brea of Symphonic Distribution knows that firsthand. In 2017, equity firm Ballast Point Ventures put $4 million into the Tampa Bay-based firm, which also offers design, audio mastering, marketing, merchandising and licensing services. Brea says that funding has helped him hire senior staff the company needs to become increasingly competitive, and raise Symphonic’s profile even further, around the world.
“To say that we’re headquartered here and that we have global presence and global clients, including real superstars that are platinum artists, I think really does help shine a big light into what’s happening with Tampa and its development,” Brea says.
Relentlessly (if quietly) preparing the future
In 2011 Peter Thiel famously quipped, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” His comment was taken by some to suggest that entrepreneurs and their backers had shifted away from transformational technologies.
One year later Moderna Theraputics was founded, and one year after that Lucira Health was. Both received backing from venture firms, and both are now transforming the COVID-ravaged world: the former by creating a vaccine to battle the most devastating health crisis the world has experienced in over 100 years, and the latter by creating the first at-home (self administered) test for the same.
In our little corner of the world two of our own portfolio companies, Carterra and Y-Prime, are involved in important COVID-related work on vaccines, testing, and therapeutic trials.
- Carterra is playing a meaningful role in the fight against COVID, continuing their work with the Gates Foundation and the La Jolla Institute of Immunology. The Carterra LSA platform for accelerating the discovery of therapeutic antibodies is being used to screen therapies and to investigate virus mutations that will make COVID-19 more difficult to treat or vaccinate against. Eli Lilly and AbCellera used the LSA platform, which enables 100 times the binding data to be collected in 10% of the time with 1% of the sample (vs. competing platforms), to bring an antibody from concept to clinical trials in 90 days – a process that normally takes years.
- COVID has altered the landscape of clinical outcome assessments (COAs), creating significant new challenges in patient participation and data collection. Most sponsors have no experience with virtual trials and have seen delays and cancellations in their urgent work. In this interview, Y-Prime’s Vice President of Strategic Solutions Donna Mongiello discusses trends in the “virtualization” of clinical trials. Y-Prime is helping to transform how eCOAs recruit patients, distribute devices, train sites and patients, and gather data.
While it is true that not every start-up may be as historically meaningful as the aforementioned, and technological innovation doesn’t always move as linearly or breezily as imagined in the movies, more than a few of them are always laying the groundwork for a future that is healthier and happier for us all.
NEOGOV and PowerDMS Join Forces
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 .
Mailprotector Awarded Patent for Bracket Email Encryption Technologies
(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.
The Zebra reaches $100M run rate, turns profitable as insurtech booms
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.