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Sisense nabs $100M at a $1B+ valuation for accessible big data business analytics

Sisense, an enterprise startup that has built a business analytics business out of the premise of making big data as accessible as possible to users — whether it be through graphics on mobile or desktop apps, or spoken through Alexa — is announcing a big round of funding today and a large jump in valuation to underscore its traction. The company has picked up $100 million in a growth round of funding that catapults Sisense’s valuation to over $1 billion, funding that it plans to use to continue building out its tech, as well as for sales, marketing and development efforts.

For context, this is a huge jump: The company was valued at only around $325 million in 2016 when it raised a Series E, according to PitchBook. (It did not disclose valuation in 2018, when it raised a venture round of $80 million.) It now has some 2,000 customers, including Tinder, Philips, Nasdaq and the Salvation Army.

This latest round is being led by the high-profile enterprise investor Insight Venture Partners, with Access Industries, Bessemer Venture Partners, Battery Ventures, DFJ Growth and others also participating. The Access investment was made via Claltech in Israel, and it seems that this led to some details of this getting leaked out as rumors in recent days. Insight is in the news today for another big deal: Wearing its private equity hat, the firm acquired Veeam for $5 billion. (And that speaks to a particular kind of trajectory for enterprise companies that the firm backs: Veeam had already been a part of Insight’s venture portfolio.)

Mature enterprise startups have proven their business cases are going to be an ongoing theme in this year’s fundraising stories, and Sisense is part of that theme, with annual recurring revenues of over $100 million speaking to its stability and current strength. The company has also made some key acquisitions to boost its business, such as the acquisition of Periscope Data last year (coincidentally, also for $100 million, I understand).

Its rise also speaks to a different kind of trend in the market: In the wider world of business intelligence, there is an increasing demand for more digestible data in order to better tap advances in data analytics to use it across organizations. This was also one of the big reasons why Salesforce gobbled up Tableau last year for a slightly higher price: $15.7 billion.

Sisense, bringing in both sleek end user products but also a strong theme of harnessing the latest developments in areas like machine learning and AI to crunch the data and order it in the first place, represents a smaller and more fleet of foot alternative for its customers. “We found a way to make accessing data extremely simple, mashing it together in a logical way and embedding it in every logical place,” explained CEO Amir Orad to us in 2018.

“We have enjoyed watching the Sisense momentum in the past 12 months, the traction from its customers as well as from industry leading analysts for the company’s cloud native platform and new AI capabilities. That coupled with seeing more traction and success with leading companies in our portfolio and outside, led us to want to continue and grow our relationship with the company and lead this funding round,” said Jeff Horing, managing director at Insight Venture Partners, in a statement.

To note, Access Industries is an interesting backer which might also potentially shape up to be strategic, given its ownership of Warner Music Group, Alibaba, Facebook, Square, Spotify, Deezer, Snap and Zalando.

“Given our investments in market leading companies across diverse industries, we realize the value in analytics and machine learning and we could not be more excited about Sisense’s trajectory and traction in the market,” added Claltech’s Daniel Shinar in a statement.

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InsightFinder gets a $2M seed to automate outage prevention

InsightFinder, a startup from North Carolina based on 15 years of academic research, wants to bring machine learning to system monitoring to automatically identify and fix common issues. Today, the company announced a $2 million seed round.

IDEA Fund Partners, a VC out of Durham, N.C.,​ led the round, with participation from ​Eight Roads Ventures​ and Acadia Woods Partners. The company was founded by North Carolina State University professor Helen Gu, who spent 15 years researching this problem before launching the startup in 2015.

Gu also announced that she had brought on former Distil Networks co-founder and CEO Rami Essaid to be chief operating officer. Essaid, who sold his company earlier this year, says his new company focuses on taking a proactive approach to application and infrastructure monitoring.

“We found that these problems happen to be repeatable, and the signals are there. We use artificial intelligence to predict and get out ahead of these issues,” he said. He adds that it’s about using technology to be proactive, and he says that today the software can prevent about half of the issues before they even become problems.

If you’re thinking that this sounds a lot like what Splunk, New Relic and Datadog are doing, you wouldn’t be wrong, but Essaid says that these products take a siloed look at one part of the company technology stack, whereas InsightFinder can act as a layer on top of these solutions to help companies reduce alert noise, track a problem when there are multiple alerts flashing and completely automate issue resolution when possible.

“It’s the only company that can actually take a lot of signals and use them to predict when something’s going to go bad. It doesn’t just help you reduce the alerts and help you find the problem faster, it actually takes all of that data and can crunch it using artificial intelligence to predict and prevent [problems], which nobody else right now is able to do,” Essaid said.

For now, the software is installed on-prem at its current set of customers, but the startup plans to create a SaaS version of the product in 2020 to make it accessible to more customers.

The company launched in 2015, and has been building out the product using a couple of National Science Foundation grants before this investment. Essaid says the product is in use today in 10 large companies (which he can’t name yet), but it doesn’t have any true go-to-market motion. The startup intends to use this investment to begin to develop that in 2020.

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Centaurs, centurions, centipedes: the $100M ARR CLUB

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week Kate was in SF, Alex was in Providence and there was a mountain of news to shovel through. If you’re here because we mentioned linking to a certain story in the show notes, that’s here. For everyone else, let’s get into the agenda.

We kicked off with a look at three new venture funds. In order:

  • Tusk Ventures: Tusk’s new fund, worth $70 million, is an effective doubling of its prior fund’s $36 million size. The politically savvy firm has put money into Coinbase, and other companies that deal with regulated industries.
  • Sapphire Ventures: SAP’s former corporate venture fund Sapphire Ventures announced a whopping $1.4 billion fundraise this week. Sapphire may be one of or the most successful CVC spinouts to date.
  • Moxxie: Katie Jacobs Stanton, known for co-founding #ANGELS, just closed her debut fund on $25 million. Kate chatted with her about her experience fundraising her very own fund, some of her previous investment and her plans for Moxxie Ventures, so there was plenty to unpack here.

From there we turned to the gender imbalance in the world of venture capital. This year, companies founded by women raised only 2.8% of capital. These not-so-stellar statistics are always worth digging into.

We then took a quick look at two different venture rounds, including ProdPerfect’s $13 million Series A and Pepper’s smaller $5.6 million round. ProdPerfect’s round was led by Anthos Capital (known for investing in Honey, which sold for $4 billion). The company has $2 million in ARR and is growing quickly. Pepper, formed by former Snap denizens, is working to help other startups lower their CAC costs in-channel. Smart.

And finally, Alex wanted to bring up his series on startups that reach the $100 million ARR threshold (Extra Crunch membership required). A first piece looking into the idea led to a few more submissions. There seem to be enough companies to name the grouping with something nice. Centurion? Centipede? Centaur? We’re working on it.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

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Huckleberry raises $18M to put small business insurance online

The insurance industry, sleepy and ancient, is ripe for disruption. We’ve seen companies like Lemonade, Hippo and Rhino get in on that opportunity. Today, an insurtech company focused on small business insurance has raised $18 million to keep growing.

Meet Huckleberry, whose Series A was led by Tribe Capital, with participation from Amaranthine, Crosslink Capital and Uncork Capital.

Huckleberry launched in 2017 to offer business insurance, including workers’ compensation and general liability, all through an online portal.

Small business insurance coverage is not like car insurance or renters insurance. It’s not as simple as filling out a few forms and getting a quote. Even if a few platforms do have algorithms for providing quotes, you can’t really close the deal unless you get on the phone.

It’s an incredibly tedious and stressful process. In fact, Huckleberry co-founders Bryan O’Connell and Steve Au first came up with the idea for Huckleberry when they were seeking out their own small business coverage for a previous startup idea.

The industry itself is incredibly fragmented, which is caused in part by the fact that small business coverage underwriting varies wildly from business to business. For example, the policy for three or four restaurants might look relatively similar. However, a fast food restaurant might be identified as a higher risk with regards to workers’ compensation than a Michelin-star restaurant, where workers might be more eager to get back to work and take home their tip money. These differences come in the form of location, operations and many other factors, as well as business vertical.

Huckleberry has worked to build out myriad coverage verticals, including food and beverage, fitness, retail, legal, healthcare, hair and beauty and more.

The firm offers worker’s comp, as well as a package policy that includes general liability, property and business interruption insurance. Customers also can purchase add-ons like hired and non-owned auto insurance, employment practices liability insurance (EPLI), liquor liability insurance, employee dishonesty coverage, professional liability insurance, equipment breakdown coverage and spoilage coverage.

Huckleberry isn’t itself an insurance carrier, but does have the authority to underwrite and sell policies on behalf of the carrier. That said, Huckleberry’s expansion both by vertical and geography is more difficult than your average software startup. The regulatory landscape of insurance in the U.S. goes state by state.

“Our biggest challenge is navigating 50 states’ worth of extremely complicated regulations on something that is much more complicated than a software product,” said O’Connell. “We’re trying to protect individual workers and businesses all while staying fully compliant in every market.”