Making Work Better: Humu Applies Behavioral Science and AI to Optimize Employee and Enterprise Performance

As the world shifts towards a knowledge economy, enterprises need to re-imagine how they do business. They are realizing that their employees are their most important asset and are searching for a smarter way to engage, encourage, and drive the best performance. Enter Humu, a platform working at the intersection of behavioral science and AI to solve that very issue.

Humu, a recent addition to the TCV portfolio, is rapidly gaining adoption from some of the world’s largest and most complex organizations. Its intelligent technology platform coaches managers and employees into developing work habits that are scientifically proven to drive performance. Humu was co-founded by CEO Laszlo Bock, former Google SVP of People Operations, and is the output of decades of his work and experience in helping make HR a more data-driven function. Laszlo is uniquely positioned to build the Humu technology platform into a must-have for organizations looking to drive employee engagement, optimize performance, and improve productivity.

Specifically, by nudging employees with short, behavioral science-backed recommendations, Humu provides personalized guidance that’s unique to each employee, helping workers to build better habits, while also driving towards organizational goals, including employee retention, manager effectiveness, productivity, and inclusive cultures.

TCV is thrilled to lead Humu’s $60 million Series C. The investment, which follows two years of significant growth for the Company, will fuel new product innovations geared to support managers and their teams. TCV venture partner Jessica Neal, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, has joined Humu’s Board of Directors as part of our new partnership.

TCV’s experience in seeing the magic in the Right Content, Right Person, Right Time

TCV has long understood the value of delivering engaging, timely content to the right person at the right time and has invested based on this thesis for over two decades, including in companies like Netflix (video), Spotify (music), Peloton (fitness), and Newsela (K-12 instructional content).

TCV believes that timely content curation and delivery should extend from our consumer lives to our work lives: if Netflix can feed us more of what we need to keep us entertained, why wouldn’t we benefit from similar capabilities in the workplace? Businesses need a system that serves us the right content at the right time to help us perform better.

What is exciting about Humu? Humu is driving real outcomes

Humu’s AI-based Nudge Engine™ technology drives timely “nudges” to encourage employees to do more of what creates optimal outcomes and experiences for employees and enterprises. Nudges are delivered in curated pathways that are algorithmically generated, sequenced, and tailored to a particular initiative and employee.

At a glance:

  • Every Humu nudge is based on academic research and carefully crafted by Humu “people analytics” experts
  • User experience panels ensure nudges are easy to understand and act on. Feedback loops make it possible to turn off what’s not working, and send more of what is
  • Employees turn to nudges more and more over time. Sustained nudge engagement rates across customers are as high as 95%

At Silicon Valley Bank, Humu’s nudges focus managers and employees on what matters most – and remind them at just the right moments to adjust their habits. That could be in supporting managers who may be too focused on execution at the cost of supporting employee development and encouraging them to find ways to offer their people personalized growth opportunities. Don’t take our word for it…hear it directly from Humu’s customer SVB:

“People don’t have to wait for management to roll out a time-intensive program. Humu provides our employees with relevant, customized feedback that’s not generic or mundane. Nudges democratize the employee engagement process; they make learning much timelier and easier for everyone involved. We have a 70% open rate, which means it’s going really well. The right nudge at the right time really makes all the difference.”

Chris Edmonds-Waters, Chief Human Resources Officer at Silicon Valley Bank

A team that helped build a trillion-dollar business, and is now on a mission to solve work for everyone

Humu’s CEO Laszlo Bock helped build and lead Google’s people function for ten years, a role in which he was responsible for attracting, developing, retaining, and delighting ‘Googlers’ (he distilled a lot of his practices and insights into his book published in 2015, Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead).

He co-founded Humu in 2017 with former Google colleagues Wayne Crosby (former Director of Engineering) and Dr. Jessie Wisdom (former People Analytics Manager). Together, this formidable team founded Humu “to make work better through machine learning, science, and a little bit of love” – not to mention everything they had learned about smart use of data.

“When we began this journey in 2017, we knew our experience in pioneering the field of people analytics would help us build what we believe is the best technology for supporting managers and employees, and we’re proud of the impact we’ve made.

This latest investment, led by TCV, signals our partners’ confidence in our ability to deliver on that promise long into the future, and we’re excited for what we’ll bring to the market, especially for managers, in the months to come.”

Laszlo Bock, CEO of Humu

TCV is excited to be a partner in building a category leader

TCV believes Humu represents an opportunity to back an emerging leader in the HR technology sector, led by a world-class team that’s uniquely positioned to penetrate a massive market with compelling industry growth tailwinds. With this latest round of funding, Humu aims to take steps towards executing its bold vision of facilitating building a unique, high-performing culture for its client organizations based on proven best practices. As a firm that focuses on long-term value creation, TCV believes that Humu, with its deep background in people analytics, has the potential to make a positive impact on the way we all work.

***

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This post is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Passport Raises $39M Series B to Help E-commerce Brands and Marketplaces Level Up International Shipping

  • Published on January 25, 2022

I am excited to publicly announce our Series B funding led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV), one of the largest growth equity firms focused on high growth technology companies. In this round we also welcomed some e-commerce industry superstars to help us along the way – Flexport, FJ Labs, and Pure Imagination as well as angel investors Nik Sharma of Sharma Brands, Kitsch founders Cassandra and Jeremy Thurswell, Shopify’s former VP of Shipping Louis Kearns, Italic CEO Jeremy Cai, and Sid Gupta, CEO of Quince.

We also welcomed Nita Lathia to the leadership team as our Head of Marketplaces. Nita is one of the most experienced and respected innovators in our industry and a pioneer in the design of cross-border delivery solutions for marketplaces. Her vision for disrupting international e-commerce and parcel delivery aligns with our long-term business plans by enabling marketplaces and their sellers to confidently ship anywhere in the world.

Our vision at Passport is to help brands reach their global potential. Today we work with some of the largest brands including Native, Kylie Beauty, Kitsch, and Tommy John. We feel strongly that the best way to accomplish this vision is as a modern international shipping carrier built for e-commerce from the ground up. 

Problem with international shipping today

Cross-border shipping is a complicated problem, one that extends beyond just logistics.

  • International consumers expect a great end-to-end customer experience, especially because the transit times are longer than domestic shipping
  • Merchants must collect and remit the correct amount of duties and taxes, a particularly challenging task since every country has different policies and procedures   
  • Many products require special documentation for shipping around the world, such as pet food and cosmetics
  • And don’t even get us started on international returns!

International shipping built for ecommerce

Passport combines international parcel shipping logistics with everything else a shipper needs to have a successful international program. Passport can provide e-commerce merchants with financial and regulatory compliance of shipments, great end–to-end experience for their customers, and handling of the international returns process. 

We believe this new round of funding will help us achieve two big goals: to further develop our software-based infrastructure for cross-border e-commerce, and to expand on our recent acquisition of Access Worldwide by building out our physical logistics capabilities (hint: better rates and transit times for shippers). We are aiming to combine best in class technology with best in class logistics, and we believe that this investment will help us reach our goals faster.

Today DTC brands, marketplaces, and 3PLs rely on Passport for their international shipping needs, and we hope to continue to add value to this wonderful ecosystem.

I am deeply grateful to all who helped bring Passport to life, from my teammates to investors, customers, and partners. We are committed to our vision and appreciate everyone’s support. 

We are hiring across all teams. Please apply HERE

And if you need any help with your international shipping, please reach out to our team HERE


Humu and TCV Partner on $60 Million in Series C Funding Round, Fueling Growth of Science-Based, AI-Powered Technology to Build High-Performing Teams and Managers

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Jan. 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Humu, the HR technology company combining behavioral science and technology to help employees build better habits at work, today announced $60 million in Series C funding. The round was led by TCV, one of the world’s leading growth equity firms, with additional investors from Humu’s previous funding rounds including Index Ventures, IVP, and SVB Capital, and new investors Global Founders Capital and Blue Ivy Ventures. The investment will fuel new product innovations focused on supporting managers and their teams. TCV venture partner Jessica Neal, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, will join Humu’s Board of Directors as part of the partnership.

The investment follows 10x growth in users over the past two years. Humu, whose platform coaches managers and employees into developing work habits that are scientifically proven to drive performance, has emerged as the leading force in HR technology as companies evolve their people-management strategies in the new age of work. By nudging teams with short, science-backed recommendations, Humu provides personalized guidance that is unique to each employee and also aligned with company goals. With Humu, customers see improvements in retention, manager effectiveness, team performance, and inclusion.

“Humu, through technology and science, can help shift behavior in an organization,” said TCV Venture Partner Jessica Neal and board member at Humu. “Its ability to provide individualized support to employees and managers that can scale across an entire organization and drive outcomes that HR leaders care about is truly unique. Employees who are actively engaged with Humu have shown to be significantly less likely to leave their jobs, effectively lowering retention risks for companies. Feedback from customers is that Humu has become invaluable to their HR efforts. This is not generally the sentiment with HR technology.”

“As a firm that focuses on long-term value creation, TCV believes that Humu with its deep background in people analytics, has the potential to make a positive, and large, impact on the way we all work,” continued David Eichler, Partner at TCV.

With this latest round of funding, Humu will take steps towards executing its bold vision of making it easy for every organization to build a unique, high-performing culture, based on proven best practices. This vision, which includes manager-focused product developments and an expansion of Humu’s footprint within enterprise customers, will be fueled by hiring for roles within product development, commercial, and science teams.

“When we began this journey in 2017, we knew our experience in pioneering the field of people analytics would help us build the best technology for supporting managers and employees, and we’re proud of the impact we’ve made,” noted Humu CEO Laszlo Bock. “This latest investment, led by TCV, signals our partners’ confidence in our ability to deliver on that promise long into the future, and we’re excited for what we’ll bring to the market, especially for managers, in the months to come.”

As companies continue to navigate uncertainty and transform how (and where) work happens, employees will need more personalized, targeted support than ever. Managers in particular play an increasingly important role in connecting employees with the vision of the C-suite. According to data from Humu, teams are 80% more likely to make improvements when they see their manager taking action. And during the pandemic, employees with a manager who offered them personalized support and development opportunities were 7.9x more likely to stay at their jobs. But this added responsibility has left managers struggling to balance team workloads, boost performance, and combat burnout. Against this backdrop, Humu is enabling managers and employees to engage more quickly, honestly, and constructively, so that they can make work better for themselves and their teams.

By increasing its ability to support managers, Humu will further help companies improve team performance. Specifically, its platform pinpoints the most important habits managers and employees should develop to hit company goals, and then nudges teams into practicing those exact behaviors in their day-to-day work. By combining behavioral science best practices with technology, it empowers leaders to support their people in a way that’s modern and measurable.

Humu works with companies like Expedia Group, Kickstarter, and sweetgreen to deliver timely, personalized, and relevant coaching so that managers and employees can do their best work every day. For more information or to view open positions, visit humu.com.

About Humu 
Humu is an action management platform that makes it easy for employees to improve, every single week. Science shows that the fastest path to improvement is via personalized coaching in the flow of work. That’s exactly what Humu does. Humu nudges managers and their teams to build the specific habits that will lead to their organization’s success. Unlike most tools, Humu combines Nobel-prize winning science and technology to pinpoint which behaviors and people skills leaders, managers, and employees need to be effective. Humu helps customers drive outcomes like improving managers, increasing agility, building more inclusive cultures and boosting team performance.

For more information about how Humu can help your employees, please visit humu.com/web-demo

About TCV 
Founded in 1995, TCV was established with a clear vision: to capture opportunities in the technology market through a specialized and consistent focus on investing in high-growth companies. Since inception, the firm has built a track record of successfully backing private and public businesses that have developed into dominant industry players across internet, software, FinTech, and enterprise IT. TCV has invested over $16 billion to date, including $3 billion in fintech. TCV has helped guide CEOs through more than 145 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV has invested in cutting edge technology companies including Airbnb, Brex, HireVue, Klarna, LinkedIn, Mambu, Miro, Mollie, Netflix, Payoneer, Peloton, Revolut, Trade Republic, Spotify, Wealthsimple, and more. TCV has successfully executed over 350 investments of varying structures, including mid-stage, late stage and public company investments, and has offices in Menlo Park, New York, and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit tcv.com.

Media Contact 
Sydney Perkins 
Mission North for Humu 
humu@missionnorth.com

Katja Gagen
TCV
kgagen@tcv.com

SOURCE Humu


HR technology platform Darwinbox raises US $72 Million round led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) at $1 billion+ valuation

SINGAPORE and HYDERABAD, India, Jan. 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Darwinbox, Asia’s fastest growing HR tech platform, marks another milestone with a $72MN funding round led by Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) along with participation from existing investors Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia India, Lightspeed India, Endiya Partners, 3One4Capital, JGDEV and SCB 10X. The company’s valuation post this round will cross the $1B mark and takes the total investment raised thus far by the company to over $110Mn. The company has grown 200% since the last fund raise from Salesforces Ventures, exactly 12 months ago.

Founded in late 2015 by Chaitanya Peddi, Jayant Paleti and Rohit Chennamaneni, Darwinbox currently stands as the youngest and the only Asian-origin player on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for enterprise Cloud HCM. It is also rated the highest (4.8) globally on Gartner’s customer reviews platform, Peer Insights, racing ahead of its peers like SAP, Oracle, and Workday – a position they secured on the back of innovative technology, deep understanding of market context, intuitive user experience and great customer traction.

“We get most excited investing behind visionary founders that are fundamentally transforming large industries with a highly resonant product,” said Gopi Vaddi, General Partner, TCV. “I am delighted to back an outstanding team that is doing exactly that in a highly impactful, fast-evolving HR technology space and partner with them on their journey to global HCM leadership.” With a quarter century of investing experience, TCV is known for taking a long-term view on its investments and holds a record of 79 IPOs in their portfolio including the likes of Netflix, Facebook, Expedia, Spotify, Airbnb, GoDaddy and Gitlab.

“This investment energizes our mission to continue building technology that enables organizations to unlock the highest potential of their people. We have done this by building a product that puts employees squarely at the center and crafting meaningful experiences for them. This has especially found resonance in this rapidly evolving world of work over the last 2 years with companies having to rethink how they attract, manage and retain their talent,” shared Jayant Paleti, Co-founder, Darwinbox.

The new funding will supercharge Darwinbox’s global expansion plan by allowing the company to accelerate its platform innovation agenda, strengthen its product, engineering, and customer success teams along with scaling its go-to-market presence in South Asia, SEA, and MENA. The company is expecting the overall team to grow by 100% and is also setting up to launch in the US in 2022.

“Investing behind technology to manage talent has become inevitable for organizational success. Darwinbox’s demonstrated ability to build agile, innovative, and user-friendly solutions along with deep customer centricity has made them a platform of choice for several leading enterprises,” added Jessica Neal, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, and a Venture Partner at TCV.

2021 represented one of the most entropic and pivotal years in defining the future of work. The world witnessed “remote” and “hybrid” become common words and the “Great Resignation” impacted organizations all over, forcing them to rethink their talent strategy. The result is a 3-5 year forward shift in digital-first thinking for all things talent.

Darwinbox is at the heart and center of this movement, enabling more than 650 large enterprises to empower and engage their talent with its mobile-first HR lifecycle platform providing Workforce & Talent Management, Employee Engagement, Compensation and Benefits, People Analytics, HR service delivery suites amongst other offerings. More than 1.5 million employees from large conglomerates, fast-growing technology giants and leading global brands like Nivea, Starbucks, Dominos, T-Systems, AXA, Tokio, Cigna, JSW, Adani, Vedanta, Mahindra, Kotak, NSE, Ujjivan, Makemytrip, Swiggy and Tokopedia were able to adapt to the new normal with Darwinbox.

Expanding on the product investments, Chaitanya Peddi, Co-founder and Product Head of the company shares: “Building for extraordinary agility and delivering stellar employee experience have been critical in defining success for Darwinbox’s customers. We will continue to invest in new and innovative technology to deliver a frictionless experience for the work-from-anywhere workforce.”

“In addition, this year, we will be bolstering our platform offering with a host of ancillary services and solutions that enterprises can plug and play to compose an integrated HR tech ecosystem,” he added.

About Darwinbox

Darwinbox is a cloud-based HR Technology platform which caters to an organization’s HR needs across the entire employee lifecycle including Recruitment, Onboarding, Core Transactions (Leaves, Attendance, Directory), Payroll, Travel and Expenses, Employee Engagement, Performance Management, Rewards & Recognition and People Analytics. The innovative platform combines highly configurable workflows, intelligent insights and smart interfaces to help enterprises unleash the true potential of their workforce.

Rated the highest globally among HCM players on Gartner’s customer review platform, Peer Insights, Darwinbox is trusted by 650+ global enterprises with more than 1.5 million employees spread across 90+ countries and is backed by leading investors including Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed India, TCV, SCB 10X, JGDev, Endiya Partners and 3One4Capital.

More at www.darwinbox.com

Media Contact: Gowthami Kanumuru, Darwinbox | Gowthami.k@darwinbox.in | +91 7702436644

About TCV

Founded in 1995, TCV was established with a clear vision: to capture opportunities in the technology market through a specialized and consistent focus on investing in high-growth companies. Since inception, the firm has built a track record of successfully backing public and private businesses that have developed into dominant industry players across internet, software, FinTech, and enterprise IT. TCV has invested over $16 billion to date and has helped guide CEOs through more than 145 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV has invested in cutting edge technology companies including Airbnb, Believe, Brex, Dream Sports, FarEye, HireVue, Mollie, Nubank, Razorpay, Netflix, Nerdy, RELEX Solutions, Revolut, RMS, Sportradar, Spotify, Trade Republic, The Pracuj Group, and Zepz. TCV has successfully executed over 350 investments of varying structures, including mid-stage, late-stage and public company investments, and has offices in Menlo Park, New York, and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit https://www.tcv.com/.

Media Contact: Katja Gagen, TCV| kgagen@tcv.com | +1 415 690 6689


BenchSci Raises $63 Million Series C to Solve Pharma’s Biggest R&D Challenges with AI-Powered Software Platform

Toronto, Canada, Jan. 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — BenchSci, a global leader in machine learning applications for novel medicine development, today announced a $63 million Series C (US $50 Million) funding round led by Inovia Capital and TCV, with participation from existing investors. 

Bringing total investment to $123 million (US $97 million), the funding allows BenchSci to expedite the expansion of its transformative AI-powered software platform that accelerates research in 16 top-20 pharmaceutical companies and over 4,500 leading research centers worldwide. 

Leveraging over 100 proprietary machine learning models, BenchSci’s platform empowers 49,000 scientists globally to optimize their experiment designs and hence research productivity. Building on the success of applications that help scientists select reagents and model systems, BenchSci is evolving its technology to provide a comprehensive platform with capabilities that help leading pharmaceutical companies solve their biggest R&D challenges.

“This funding demonstrates trust in our ability to build and deliver a next-generation AI solution that helps global pharmaceutical companies develop novel medicines faster, ” says Liran Belenzon, CEO, BenchSci. “We’re using breakthrough machine learning technology to shape the future of how life science companies conduct research, from identifying targets, to planning experiments, to determining clinical trial risks.  The confidence demonstrated by global pharmaceutical companies who are early adopters of our new solutions was enough to convince Inovia Capital to fund another round and prompt TCV to back our meteoric hypergrowth.”

In previous funding rounds, BenchSci raised $60 million (US $47 million) from tier one investors including F-Prime, Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI fund), and Inovia Capital. In 2021, BenchSci doubled its team and industry user base and is poised to double again in 2022.

“We strongly believe that the preclinical R&D market remains largely untapped and that BenchSci can become a category-defining leader to bring life-saving drugs to market faster,” says Dennis Kavelman, Partner at Inovia. “Doubling down on a company that we believe in is part of our commitment to being a long-term partner to build global sustainable tech companies.”

BenchSci’s proprietary machine learning models—trained to understand experiments like a Ph.D. scientist—extract critical insights from published scientific data sources and pharmaceutical organizations’ internal databases. The models understand the biomedical significance of extracted data and establish relationships between biological entities. This technology is the foundation of all of BenchSci’s applications, which surface the appropriate information and insights to assist scientists at top global pharmaceutical companies in various stages of R&D. 

“The preclinical research market is in dire need of software to drive efficiencies in the discovery through development process,” says Matt Brennan, General Partner at TCV.  “BenchSci is well-positioned to be the category-defining technology platform for the industry, and we look forward to working with Liran and his team to transform this industry.”

Founded in 2015, BenchSci has rapidly grown its customer base since launching commercially in 2017.  As a Deloitte Tech Fast 50 company, it is one of the fastest-growing companies in the country.

For more BenchSci updates, visit our news page

About TCV 

Founded in 1995, TCV was established with a clear vision: to capture opportunities in the technology market through a specialized and consistent focus on investing in high-growth companies. Since inception, the firm has built a track record of successfully backing public and private businesses that have developed into dominant industry players across internet, software, FinTech, and enterprise IT. TCV has invested over $16 billion to date and has helped guide CEOs through more than 145 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV has invested in cutting edge technology companies including Airbnb, Believe, Brex, Dream Sports, FarEye, Mollie, Nubank, Razorpay, RELEX Solutions, Revolut, RMS, Sportradar, Spotify, Trade Republic, The Pracuj Group, and Zepz. TCV has successfully executed over 350 investments of varying structures, including mid-stage, late stage, and public company investments, and has offices in Menlo Park, New York, and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit https://www.tcv.com/.

About BenchSci

BenchSci’s vision is to bring novel medicine to patients 50% faster by 2025. We’re achieving it by empowering scientists with the world’s most advanced biomedical artificial intelligence. Backed by top-tier investors including Inovia Capital, TCV, F-Prime, Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI fund), and Golden Ventures, our platform accelerates science at 16 top-20 pharmaceutical companies and over 4,500 leading research centers worldwide. We’re a remote-first Deloitte Tech Fast 50 and CIX Top 10 Growth company, certified Great Place to Work®, and top-ranked company on Glassdoor. Learn more at www.benchsci.com.

Media Contacts:

Marie Cook, BenchSci
mcook@benchsci.com

Katja Gagen, TCV
kgagen@tcv.com


How Nerdy Built Trust with Investors, Parents, and Students While Navigating an Ever-Changing Education Landscape

Nerdy (NYSE: NRDY), the EdTech leader behind companies like Varsity Tutors, which offer live instruction, online learning, self-study, and enrichment programs, saw its demand grow exponentially over the last few years, as parents and schools looked for ways to engage students throughout the pandemic and months of distance learning. The shift in learning from offline to online was already well underway, and as we’ve seen in many industries, the pandemic accelerated a systemic change that the company was custom-built to address. That demand alone would have been enough to drive demonstrable growth, yet Nerdy also chose to rework its marketing strategy and adapt its core product to be an even better partner to existing educational institutions. Doing so allowed Nerdy more ways to meet their customers – families and schools – where they were at and help address the critical learning challenges faced during these unprecedented times.

In this episode of Growth Hacks, Kunal and Katja speak to Adam Weber, Chief Marketing Officer at Nerdy, about the lessons he’s learned overseeing all aspects of the company’s marketing, including performance, product marketing, content, and customer relationship management. In addition to crafting Nerdy’s external narrative when the company was going public in 2021, Adam led a seismic shift in the company’s existing search-focused go-to market strategy, which helped build customer trust and credibility with pandemic-weary parents, teachers, and educational organizations. Adam also breaks down how he adapted his strategy when he joined Nerdy after five years leading marketing at Dollar Shave Club.

Key Takeaways:

  • The importance of marketing narrative in building investor trust when taking a company public
  • Why Adam prioritized understanding customer decision making when moving from Dollar Shave Club to Nerdy
  • How Nerdy shifted from a demand-driven, search-focused marketing strategy to a product-driven go-to market strategy
  • Why Nerdy leaned into enrichment rather than just education, and the payoff it had in building ongoing engagement with students and educational organizations
  • Permanent changes that marketers will have to adapt to as a result of COVID-19

To hear more on this, settle in and press play. 

Please find the transcript below, which has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Katja Gagen: Today we’re being joined by a consumer marketing expert. It is my pleasure to introduce Adam Weber who is CMO of Nerdy, a TCV portfolio company in the EdTech space. Adam leads marketing across performance, product marketing, communications, content, and CRM. Thanks for being on the podcast.

Adam Weber: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be on the Growth Hacks podcast today.

Kunal Mehta: Awesome. Well, Adam, maybe you can just tell us where this podcast finds you today.

Adam Weber: I am recording live from my home office in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is where I am from and live with my wife and three kids.

Kunal Mehta: Cool. Maybe you can just give us the wonder years of how you got to where you are today.

Adam Weber: Yeah. I’ll give you the abridged version. I spent eight years at Procter & Gamble in brand management and brand marketing. Which was just awesome, foundational, the best quote unquote MBA you could get by learning in real life.

But probably more notably recently, I helped the marketing at Dollar Shave Club, which was also in the TCV portfolio. From the early days I was the 10th employee all the way, five plus years through when the company was acquired by Unilever in 2016. I got to do a little bit of everything in the marketing world, everything from performance marketing to brand creative content, which was really exciting. If you’re a right brain left brain marketer like myself I also, just to note, had a couple of I don’t want to call them failed, but far less successful startup roles before and after Dollar Shave Club.

So not everything was as rosy as it sounds.

Katja Gagen: It never really is, right? Because growth comes from learning and that comes from succeeding and failing.

Adam Weber: That’s right. A hundred percent.

Katja Gagen: And now you’re at Nerdy. Tell us, what is Nerdy all about?

Adam Weber: So Nerdy, which is led by our flagship consumer brand Varsity Tutors, connects experts and learners to deliver high quality live instruction and online learning in over 3000 subjects in really anything from kindergarten phonics to high school test prep to collegiate academic, even professional certifications.

We deliver it through multiple learning formats. We’re most known for our one-to-one tutoring, but we also deliver live classes in small group formats and in live large auditorium-like formats, and even have a personalized self-study solution to supplement. The company focuses in and really has built that business on the backs of technology and AI, which helps us deliver personalized learning at scale through our expert vetting, the algorithms that match the experts, the learners, and then through our purpose-built live learning platform, which really goes above and beyond the standard video face-to-face interfaces that exist like Zoom.

Kunal Mehta: Amazing. Your company just did a really nice job going public. Maybe you can tell us what a typical day is like, and what’s changed between being private versus being public from a marketing perspective.

Adam Weber: I think for us, our big principled approach to the process of going public, which, you know, does take a long time, was to just focus on the execution. We thought that was ultimately the best way to deliver the best return for our current investors that were with us when we were private and help us attract the right long-term investors. We have an amazing product. We have a really strong vision for the company. It’s this really transformative time in the category of education right now. We did our best to try and not let the process distract us too much from getting done what we needed to get done.

Kunal Mehta: I think that’s great advice for all marketers. Just continue to keep your heads down and focus. You’ve become an expert in the process of going public, and I think it would be good to just hear, for marketers that are in companies that are about to go public, what is it that they must do to get ready?

Adam Weber: I was actually pleasantly surprised by the process itself and actually what role me as a marketer was asked to play. And what I mean by that is I kind of thought that the process was like a financial only type of discussion. And look, I’ve helped raise different financial rounds in the private sector with Dollar Shave Club in previous years.

And I understood, especially in early-stage companies, the importance of the story and the narrative in those discussions, but I thought with later stage investors, that wouldn’t be as true. What I was really surprised by was that it wasn’t really all about the data. Obviously, financials matter and data are paid attention to, but it was really important to enroll potential investors, even at this late-stage institutional phase, to what makes the company unique, why we’re different and how it can grow into the future. That’s a fundamental aspect of what your job is as a marketer at these companies, and I was kind of thrust in to help develop that story and make sure it was clear and concise and delivered in a way that was interesting to the investment community. I think that was a really surprising and really exciting part of the process.

Katja Gagen: You also made the transition from Dollar Shave Club to EdTech, which is interesting. What are some of the main lessons as a marketer that you bought to Nerdy and what surprised you?

Adam Weber: It was a pretty significant change and particularly in the industry. I think that was probably what my biggest lesson was really understanding that when you transition and especially going from a personal care category to education, then you really have to understand the nuance and the differences between how customers make decisions.

So, for example, Dollar Shave Club: it’s a very affordable razor, you’re thinking about a $6 purchase. Customers will make those decisions very impulsively. In education or tutoring, it’s a highly considered, highly personal decision and people really want to build trust in and really be thoughtful about making that type of investment.

Our go-to markets had to be fundamentally different to reflect the different types of decisions, whether that was, if you think about Dollar Shave Club, our funnel was about just getting to the point of commitment quickly and reducing as much possible decision friction as could exist.

But in Varsity Tutors, we spent a lot of time developing a two-way communication with our customers, helping understand their needs so that we can build trust with them and make sure we deliver the best possible solution for them. I think that the biggest marketing takeaway and strategy change is that you’ve got to know the nuance and the decision-making for the category you’re in and make sure that your go-to market reflects it.

Katja Gagen: Tell us a little bit more about your go-to market strategy? How did you go about this when you joined, or what changes did you make during COVID?

Adam Weber: Maybe to overly simplify it, on the customer acquisition side, it is a very search-based category. There’s a lot of search volume, a lot of people start their discovery process for getting help in the Google bar. We do design a lot of our experiences around understanding that demand, understanding the intent in that demand and personalizing the website experiences and in the tele-sales experience, to basically cater to the different types of intent that come in through search. So that’s a big aspect of the go-to market, and one that’s been kind of really honed over time. Maybe on the flip side, one of the newer aspects of the go-to market and something that we did differently during COVID was we really switched and did a much more product led strategy for growth, which was we put our product experience at the top of the funnel, encouraged people to engage with us.

We offered to them for free through this initiative called star courses, which basically takes highly notable celebrity experts in a field. This was largely focused on K to 12 enrichment topics. So, think of astronauts, animators, experts. We allowed prospective clients to engage with us for free and go to these live classes that were taught by these well-known experts and get really unique experiences from our platform.

I think that helped us go to the top of funnel and build a lot of trust and credibility along the way. Then you nurture those relationships into, you know, more monetized, client base over time. We’re really thinking of our go-to market on the capture, the search query and demand that exists out there, but then also lead with our product experience and build trust at the top of the funnel with content and in interesting unique content.

Kunal Mehta: That’s awesome. You guys rolled out a ton of programs during COVID. I remember my daughter commenting on the astronaut sessions specifically and she just loved it. Maybe you can speak to those, the impact, and the lessons you learned during COVID.

Adam Weber: COVID’s had such a transformational impact on the education category. We were right dead smack in the middle of a lot of that transformation and change that’s occurred. Every metric we study, and track is showing just an incredible level of openness and willingness, and frankly, even now desired preference for learning online that didn’t exist pre COVID. One of the major things was just the change in our business has more and more people are willing to learn through technology which really sets us up for long-term success.

But I do think there was some underlying kind of short-term and potentially even over time trend lines that, that we see happening when I kind of mentioned about star courses, there was this huge growth in enrichment, a desire for people to actually blend fun and learning together which was kind of around pre COVID.

I think what really, really jump-started it was COVID because for a while there, learning was a chore through the schools in particular. It was tough whether it was done remotely, or it was done in isolation. I think that a lot of families turned to online learning as a place where they could bring together and enrich their students and make learning fun again.

We really leaned into that as a trend and really built out an enrichment program that didn’t even exist in our portfolio prior to COVID. The other major trend, and this is one that we kind of think is the most critical one is that learning right now matters more than it ever has.

COVID because of the impact it’s had on schools – I think there’s a McKinsey study that said this – set back students in K-12 by on average five months from where they should be based on their learning journey. I think the result of that is that learning and outcomes matter more than they ever have.

That’s great for our business because the product we deliver I think is absolutely the best thing you can do to address learning loss or to catch up or to get ahead. What we’re seeing as a trendline in our business and how we adapted to that is not only did we see that in our kind of direct-to-consumer business, but we saw and were able to partner with schools for really the first time in our business history.

We developed an institutional strategy that allowed us to go into schools who are catching the blunt force of this COVID learning loss problem. With a teacher shortage that’s happening nationwide, schools are looking for partners like us that can address that need not just in the short term, but now durably over the long-term we believe.

I think the two biggest pivots we’ve seen in our business, or I should say additions to our growth strategy, have been utilizing enrichment as a mechanism to get people into our ecosystem and to have fun while learning. We also address a lot of the academic needs that are in the market right now, by partnering directly with schools.

Katja Gagen: I think Nerdy, or Varsity Tutors, saved many parents during the pandemic, including myself with your virtual summer camps that were awesome because it’s such a variety of topics across various levels. Thank you so much.

Adam Weber: I mean, it is funny you say that. One of the advantages of online is the availability of selection. It’s really hard for your local YMCA or school to deliver a broad option base of summer camps, or afterschool programs. When you’re online and you have a purposeful platform like we do, that’s possible. We can offer 10, 15 different types of summer camps and afterschool programs that just can’t be offered on a local basis.

Katja Gagen: Thanks Adam. As you look into consumer markets, we want to drill deeper in a couple of areas where we’d love to get your input, as a CMO who’s worked for two iconic companies. During COVID, we found that changes that we thought were short-term might be a bit longer. What are some of the other permanent changes that marketers should be planning on?

Adam Weber: I think with all the changes right now in the privacy landscape, I think that marketers need to get really used to measurement being very tough, and I think it’s going to probably get worse before it gets better. Back in the Dollar Shave Club, there was certainly no perfectly insulated silver bullet to measurement, but we definitely had a good grasp on how every dollar you spent was impacting our bottom line.

I think in these days where we have less visibility to what’s happening in the user journey, and we’re able to track it to a far lesser degree than we used to, the key is about triangulation and really being able to get at it from multiple angles on what’s working and what’s not. Sometimes it’s through some of the measurement vehicles that exist in tracking a user online, but also understanding brand health metrics, understanding survey data, and in multiple ways, understanding what’s happening underneath the hood so that you can get better and optimize.

Kunal Mehta: Adam, thank you. We typically end our podcast with a series of rapid-fire questions. I wanted to start with a book and a movie that changed your life.

Adam Weber: On the book front, I don’t know that it’s any single book but I’m a huge fan of presidential biographies which I think really give you an inside track to how decision-making and leadership is really conducted at the highest levels of, really the world. So right now, I’m reading a book, Theodore Rex, which is about Teddy Roosevelt’s kind of formative years as a president, which I find really interesting and is one of the examples of that kind of genre that I really enjoy. On the movie front, I guess I’d go with Dead Poets Society. I watched Dead Poets Society for the first time as a high school junior in my English class. I think it really taught a lot of important things in life like, seizing the day, Carpe Diem, finding yourself, being true to yourself, taking risks. I think it was a really important movie at that stage of my life.

Katja Gagen: Thanks Adam. And since you are lifetime learner, what’s one skill you want to pick up or an area you want to learn more about next?

Adam Weber: Lifelong learning is super important for us at Nerdy and something we really believe in. For me, oddly enough I’m kind of starting to get into coding. I’ve never learned how to code. I’m not a developer but my kids who are seven, six and four, are really into coding right now.

And they actually learn on our platform at Varsity Tutors. Through that, I’ve been myself kind of starting to learn and spend more time coding not because I’m using it at work on a day-to-day basis, but because I find it intriguing and challenging. My kids are actually really heavily influencing my learning right now.

Kunal Mehta: I love the way kids just have that impact, right? I know our listeners would love to hear what your favorite marketing metrics are.

Adam Weber: Yeah, I think it’s tough to pick one. I guess ROAS to me is really critical as a marker of return on ad spend, you got to pay the bills and you got to be accountable as a marketer, especially as a CMO. I think ROAS is the ultimate metric of accountability.

But maybe the less notable metric that matters I pay attention to a lot is unaided awareness and I think it really shows the strength of your brand. It shows how top of mind you are in your category, and it usually is most correlated to growth over time. So unaided awareness is maybe the unsung hero of the metric landscape.

Katja Gagen: That’s really interesting. What’s a lesson learned in your career that you would want to pass onto your younger self?

Adam Weber: I think if I were to reflect back on my earlier years of my career, I think you’ve got to think about your career kind of more like chess, not checkers, and plan a couple of moves ahead and realize that not every role is your ultimate destination. When I left Procter & Gamble, I left for a lateral move, less money, not the best title but for me it was a role where I knew I could learn.

I had gaps in what it was going to take for me to become a great marketing leader or a CMO one day. That move out of P&G and into an e-commerce company allowed me to do that and it set me up for success to join Dollar Shave Club, which was obviously a great experience.

Kunal Mehta: I think there’s great wisdom in that, Adam, because the faster you learn, the faster you’re going to rise. So, closing those gaps really matter. Maybe we can end on the most interesting life hack.

Adam Weber: Life hack. This one I definitely have picked up since COVID — the walking meeting. We were remote from the company before COVID, we are now honestly fully remote. Most of my meetings are in video in my home office and I think it’s really important to be present on video for most meetings, but I will take probably one to two one-on-ones per day in all weather, and I will walk them.

It gives me energy. I can actually focus. I don’t multi-task. And of course, it kind of covers my exercise for the day. So, walking meetings is my big life hack.

Katja Gagen: That is awesome. We learned, Adam, that you’re not only a lifetime learner, but also now a lifetime walker. When it’s right, I’m hoping we can take you on a walk and talk more about everything we covered today, from what it’s like to build a CMO in a private and public company, to how CMOs should think about demand gen and why the customer experience matters now more than ever.

But also, how someone who was dealing in the consumer space with shaving and grooming products made the successful transition to the EdTech space. Thanks so much for being on the podcast today, Adam.

Adam Weber: Thanks for having me. This was a lot of fun. And I’d be happy to go on a walk with you any day.

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The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This interview and blog post are not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


How Trulioo Built a Global Go-To-Market Strategy as Its Demand Skyrocketed

Joining a founder-led fast-growth technology company as an outside CEO isn’t an easy task. While Steve Munford had prior experience in taking the helm at founder-led companies, he started his current role as CEO of global identity verification provider Trulioo just as countries were locking down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further complicating his new role was that when Steve joined, Trulioo was embarking on an effort to scale go-to-market and product distribution across multiple geographies.

Indeed, as companies around the world were shifting to digital customer acquisition and virtual operations, their demand for digital identity verification was burgeoning across many sectors. Trulioo helps businesses navigate the complex challenges of instant digital identity verification to support compliance requirements, mitigate risk and deliver positive onboarding experiences that minimize end-user friction. 

In today’s episode of Growth Journeys, Amol speaks with Steve about how he has approached global operations at Trulioo at a time of exponential growth. He takes us through Trulioo’s strategy for understanding the nuances of the various new end-markets that it serves as it scales, and how Trulioo’s customer base is integral to how the company prioritizes go-to-market channels. Steve also provides us his best practices for building trust, communication and preserving a culture across a rapidly growing multinational organization. Steve shares how Trulioo is leveraging its core mission of empowering all seven billion people on the planet to participate in the global economy as a north star for its growth journey. 

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How Steve navigated stepping into the CEO role at a company that was previously founder-led
  • The benefits of building a diverse workforce when expanding a company into new markets across the globe
  • Using customer feedback to understand new markets, prioritize product iteration, and drive growth
  • How Trulioo’s mission of fostering global inclusion for everyone in the digital economy has helped guide the company’s culture, product, and growth journey

To learn more, settle back and press play.

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Please find the transcript below, which has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Amol Helekar: Welcome to Growth Journeys, a podcast series from TCV focused on lessons from the field, from entrepreneurs in the TCV ecosystem. I’m here with Steve Munford, CEO of Trulioo, a global leader in identity verification. Trulioo is on a mission to advance financial inclusion by building a robust digital identity network. Given the rise of digital services usage globally, Steve joins us to discuss the critical role that identity verification plays in underpinning trust and safety in the digital economy. Welcome to Growth Journeys, Steve.

Steve Munford: Thanks, Amol. Great to be here.

Amol Helekar: Steve, Trulioo is an identity verification services provider. For the less tech savvy out there, what does Trulioo do? Why is it important?

Steve Munford: So probably the easiest way to explain it is – think about when you signed up for an online banking account or an online trading platform. When you do that, the company you’re trying to join their platform has to establish trust or has to establish your identity. It could be for a trust and safety use case. Maybe you’re going to go and stay in someone’s house or put something on a marketplace or it could be for a compliance use case. So, think about KYC, Know Your Customer, for the financial industry or any other regulated industry.

When you go on and try to open a new account, you’re going to submit a bunch of information on a form. You’re going to give that organization permission to do some sort of identity check on you. When you submit your information, likely, Trulioo is the layer in between that, that does the identity verification.

We’re that layer in between that establishes, is Amol a real person? Is he really a resident of a certain country? Does he have that specific address? Can I verify all attributes of Amol, so that that organization can begin that relationship? We’re an identity network that links together data and an individual’s attributes from over 195 countries that enables these digital platforms to onboard customers seamlessly without seeing them.

Amol Helekar: Thanks Steve. And what made you join Trulioo? You’ve seen the evolution of cybersecurity now to include identity verification, and it’s an area that is getting a lot of attention. What made you go on this journey?

Steve Munford: I spent my previous 20 years of my career in cybersecurity and the way I like to kind of frame that is I spent 20 years trying to stop bad things from happening on your computer. Identity, as we do, is all about enabling new users to join a platform and that’s a similar type of workflow where you’re trying to make a decision on an action.

But in this case, we’re enabling good things to happen, a new customer coming onto your platform, rather than focusing on stopping the bad things to happen. What really got me excited about Trulioo is this challenge. Doing identity verification in a single country’s hard, but the challenge of doing it on a global scale is incredibly hard.

Today, there’s a lot of piecemeal solutions, a lot of regional solutions, but what Trulioo had started to build, is this truly global platform that enables us to onboard customers globally now and that’s pretty exciting. This whole industry of identity verification is getting bigger and actually the problem’s even getting harder to solve.

Amol Helekar: I know it’s becoming an increasingly big issue for a lot of companies as they advance their global growth agendas and you’re playing a really important part of it. Steve, you’ve run large and small companies around the world, but what are some of the lessons you’ve learned in different geos, across cultures, customers, teams, and approaches?

Steve Munford: I’ve run a company in the UK, I’ve had significant presences in places like Germany or in Asia, and obviously in the U.S. and in Canada. Every country operates a bit differently. There’s cultural nuances between all those different places.

Today, I think almost every company is global and if you’re going to have a global company, you need to have a diverse workforce. You need to have offices, locations, workforces, all around the world. You have to have a leadership team that is truly multicultural, diverse, and is able to motivate and understand the nuances of the cultures.

The other thing that I would say is that, if you are a non U.S.-based company, you really have to figure out how you put two feet in the U.S. Being global, in many respects, is being American, and for a tech company as well. So two lessons is one, building that leadership team that is cross-cultural or diverse. Secondly is, when you’re not in the U.S., operating a company as if you are in the U.S., and making sure you have strong teams, offices, and presence there.

Amol Helekar: Got it. Well, it sounds like a really important challenge that a lot of companies are facing as their businesses go global as well. Another interesting thing Steve, is you’ve inherited founder led businesses now multiple times. How did you go about taking over those companies while maintaining and also shaping a culture to be able to take their business to the next level?

Steve Munford: Yeah, I really have had the pleasure of working with some phenomenal founders and helping take their businesses to new places and new phases of growth. And each case is different, but there are some commonalities.

When you come into a company that’s been founder led, the first thing you have to do is understand what that founder was great at, what their DNA is and what they have done to get the company to that stage. Because ultimately, you may be working alongside the founder for a bit, but ultimately, you’re taking over the leadership from that founder. So you first have to start by asking, what is going to be missing when that founder steps aside from the business?

Secondly, as a new person coming into the company, you may have a lot of ideas, what you need to do to grow and scale the company. But you can’t take for granted that you know everything that has been done in the company, or that there are things that aren’t being done for specific reasons. When you’re taking over for a founder, you really haven’t seen everything and you really need to learn about the nuances of the company, the culture, and why they’re doing certain things.

When I’ve come in, in most cases, I’ve had the luxury of watching, learning, digesting and then slowly evolving the business, the culture, building out the team in a thoughtful way that doesn’t break all the good stuff that’s happening, doesn’t break the wonderful culture that may have started, but adds to it, and then allows a company to go to the next stage.

Amol Helekar: Yeah, and I bet it’s an especially important thing to do when you have a company growing as fast as Trulioo. Really taking over a company that has the growth trajectory when you inherit it and also continuing to drive that as it builds more and more scale, which is a fascinating thing to do.

Steve Munford: In many respects you’re a partner to the founder and before you step into the company, if you’re able to spend a lot of time getting to know each other, understanding each other’s nuances, establishing how you’re going to interact and trust and how you, when you come into the business, you’re not going to slow it down, but you’re going to accelerate it. There’s a lot of work in building that partnership, a lot of work in developing that framework for open communication.

But you’re right, especially when the company’s doing well and the goal is not to slow it down, but to further accelerate it, you’ve really got to make sure that when you step in, you’re not doing any harm, but you’re kind of setting both you and the company up to go even faster.

Amol Helekar: I think in Trulioo’s case, it was an especially interesting situation in that, you took over Trulioo right after COVID hit last March. There was so much uncertainty and you probably had to rewrite a lot of traditional playbooks in taking over the company. How did you go about doing that and what kept you going?

Steve Munford: I had the luxury of meeting the founder of Trulioo a couple of years before I joined. I got to know him over time and understand him as an individual. We had lots of good discussions about what he believed the opportunity was for Trulioo, why he felt it was time to bring in an outside leader, and work through a lot of the planning ahead of it.

But you’re right, my first day in the office was just as COVID hit. It actually wasn’t in the office, it was in my basement. I jumped in assuming, like many people, that COVID was going to last a couple of weeks, maybe a couple of months on the outset.

It was kind of a little bumpy at the beginning, but there were some benefits to it. The first one was, I set the goal for myself of meeting 50 people in the first 25 days at the company. When the company was operating over zoom, that was actually pretty easy to do. You would set up Zoom meetings and you were meeting people in Vancouver or in other locations around the world. It was really easy to connect with a lot of people, very, very quickly. That’s point one.

Two is, one of the things that we needed to do as a company is really expand globally. The company was very largely headquartered in Vancouver, and we needed to build a go-to-market and technical capacity, add leaders to the organization, add capacity to the organization, and put two feet in Europe. When you start to open up other offices, I found that because everyone is used to working in a single office, working together in person, the people in those new offices feel like they’re not included in all conversations, or all decision making.

When the world went all remote, opening up new offices or onboarding people in different geographies actually got a lot easier. We learned to work with each other across time zones. For a business, it was interesting because, we talked earlier about why is identity important? Well, if everything goes online, you have to have a layer of identity services to enable that to happen.

The world went online really quickly and so we saw an incredible demand in our business. We were actually running, once COVID hit, in helping to enable our customers to do new workflows online. A lot of new interest in our products and services came onboard. So, yeah, it was an interesting year.

Amol Helekar: You can say that again. And you know, one of the things we’ve talked about, Steve, is how Trulioo is a mission-driven company and really being able to drive financial inclusion all over the world. Could you talk a little bit about how Trulioo helps foster financial inclusion at a global scale?

Steve Munford: Our mission is financial inclusion. We believe ultimately if we are successful, all 7 billion people around the world will be able to participate in the global economy. That’s pretty empowering for people that are in developing countries or far remote locations, because they may have an identity that’s not available digitally.

If we can enable those folks to get online, twofold. One is, they can participate in the global economy, but two is, people offering services and products can reach them and onboard them as customers or employees or whatever they may want to do. We are a mission-driven company and ultimately I think our customers appreciate that because when we go out about helping them do their jobs, we’re coming at it from a place of purpose. And I think that really comes through.

Amol Helekar: It’s a very powerful mission, and one that we feel like we’re still in the very early innings of seeing that play out globally. It’s an exciting spot for the company to be in today.

Steve Munford: Yeah, I think overall the identity industry is in the early innings. Today much of the solutions out there, they only work in a single geography, siloed as they may just do one part of the digital onboarding process. A standalone document verification product, or a standalone fraud solution, or a standalone biometrics checking solution.

The reality is the world needs a platform. They need a platform that is global and a platform that allows you to do that end-to-end identity journey and be flexible depending on the industry, depending on the regulatory environment and depending on the specific goals of the business. That doesn’t exist today. I think we probably have the closest it comes to having a global platform today, but there’s a lot more we need to do. That’s the journey we’re on.

Amol Helekar: It’s a fascinating journey. Over the past couple of years, you’ve been on a really powerful growth journey with a lot of acceleration through the pandemic. From the series D funding round earlier this year, to your 10th year anniversary that you also celebrated this fall. How did you use your past experience to steer Trulioo through this period of hypergrowth?

Steve Munford: One of the keys to our success has been listening to our customers. We really have had the pleasure of working with some of the biggest brands across the verticals that we serve. These customers are incredibly sophisticated. They themselves have growth ambitions and plans that are incredibly ambitious. For us, having built that trusted relationship with these platforms, they guide us to where we need to go.

They guide us to the countries that they want to move into next. They guide us to how they see the identity landscape changing, or maybe where fraud is coming from, or where the regulatory environment is going. Through that dialogue, we’re able to really help prioritize our roadmap, prioritize where we need to innovate ourselves, prioritize areas that we should partner with.

That’s one piece. Second thing, I think how you survive during this time of hyper-growth and doing it during a time where we’re often not together is really establishing the culture of the company, establishing that communication.

Once COVID hit, we went to bi-weekly company meetings. We really stepped up how we were communicating with people. It required a lot of work, but in any business, if you’re going through hypergrowth, communication is key. Doing that when you’re largely doing it over Zoom or remotely, is even more key.

Amol Helekar: Thanks Steve. So, you’ve been the CEO of multiple companies, serving a lot of different types of customers in different segments of the software industry. What’s your most important lesson as a CEO?

Steve Munford: Maybe I’ll give you two. One is, the longer you’re at it, the more you realize it’s all about the team. Bringing on board the right team with the right culture and the right capabilities is incredibly important. Not just thinking about the team you need today, but the team you’re going to need in one, two, or three years. Ensuring that you’re bringing on the leaders that are able to scale and culturally you’re able to work with, and you believe are the leaders of the future of the company. Because changing out leaders, or not having enough bench strength can be a huge, huge inhibitor to growth.

The second point is, ultimately it’s all about great products and establishing product market fit. One of the things that I learned early on is, there’s a lot of false positives out there. You can win one large deal, or you can catch some kind of mistake by your competitor, and you’d be able to capitalize on some unique market opportunity. That doesn’t always mean you got product market fit. So, build great products, ensure you’ve got product market fit and build the right team, and that’s going to allow you to scale.

Amol Helekar: As you’ve put together the team at Trulioo, what are some of the key cultural traits that you’re emphasizing, both with your new executive hires and with the Trulioo team more broadly, as you continue to build the business as a really innovative product company and a company that’s capable of driving this market into the future?

Steve Munford: Certainly, you look for folks that have demonstrated the capacity and the desire to work at scale and work at speed. I think there is a pattern matching that goes on when you look at who you’re adding to the team. Have they done this type of thing before? And did they really like doing it? Because that in itself sets the standard for what “good” looks like and they set the pace and the ambition of the company. I think that’s one important part.

Culturally, there’s really three key values that we’ll talk about as a leadership team that I think are critical. Open communication. Second is operating with velocity. And thirdly is taking ownership for what you do.

As a CEO I have to communicate good or bad, everything in a very open, transparent way. The leadership team needs to do the same. If we can do that, then I think we start establishing trust and we avoid making bad decisions. Secondly, velocity, as a young company or a company that’s trying to be disruptive, is one of our key differentiators or reason that we should win, but if speed is without direction, you run around in circles.

With the executives, you want to make sure that they are very complete in their thinking. They can analyze problems. They can understand when to make a quick decision where they need to be more thoughtful, but ultimately, they can balance off that speed and direction and do both. I think that’s really critical because ultimately it is the leadership folks that set their priorities and set the direction.

Then lastly, taking ownership. We’ve all seen this before, is that the great executives like good or bad, they own their mistakes. They’ll actually share ownership of their success often. But they lead by example, and they take ownership for what they do, and they demand that level of accountability within their teams.

Amol Helekar: We can see that in spades in the type of products and the experience you’ve been able to drive within Trulioo and for your customers and that’s been so critical to Trulioo’s success over the past few years. Steve, thank you. This has been an educational and really inspiring discussion. It was great to have you on Growth Journeys and I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with the audience out there. And thanks to all of you for listening.

Steve Munford: Thanks Amol, been a pleasure.

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The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. This interview and blog post are not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCV or any of the securities of any company discussed. The TCV portfolio companies identified, if any, are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this interview and blog post, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Brex Appoints Karandeep Anand as Chief Product Officer; Raises $300 Million in Series D-2 Round

January 11, 2022 04:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–U.S. fintech company Brex, the company reimagining finance for growing businesses, today announced the appointment of Karandeep Anand as the company’s Chief Product Officer. The company also announced it has raised an additional $300 million in a Series D-2 round led by Greenoaks Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV).

Anand brings extensive product leadership experience to Brex, and most recently led Meta’s business products group, which served more than 200 million businesses globally. Prior to that, Anand spent 15 years at Microsoft, where he led the product management strategy for Microsoft’s Azure cloud and developer platform efforts. Anand will lead Brex’s product portfolio expansion efforts.

The latest funding round will enable Brex to deepen its investment in expanding the company’s product portfolio, serving a wider range of finance needs for fast-growing companies. Since the company’s founding in 2017, Brex has raised a total of $1.2 billion from investors and is currently valued at $12.3 billion.

“Brex has always moved fast. But as the company has scaled, they’ve managed to get even faster, accelerating their growth since our last investment,” said Neil Mehta, Founder and Managing Partner of Greenoaks. “Brex is building a full financial operating system that keeps getting more comprehensive, all of which will delight existing customers and attract new ones. We are thrilled to continue working with the Brex team, and we look forward to being partners for years to come.”

“Brex is fundamentally transforming financial operations with a growing suite of innovative financial products and a magical user experience,” said David Zhang, Partner at TCV. “We are honored and excited to continue joining founders Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi on their journey to becoming one of the most important fintech franchises in the world.”

“We are grateful for the ongoing commitment and belief our investors have in Brex, and for the opportunity to continue to invest in how we serve our customers,” said Henrique Dubugras, Co-CEO of Brex. “As we expand our product portfolio, we are incredibly lucky to have Karandeep join the team to lead this important initiative. Karandeep understands our customers and knows how to build and scale business products with consumer-grade ease to meet the needs of fast-growing companies.”

“Brex is a market disruptor and the opportunity to create economic opportunity for millions of people and businesses globally through innovation in financial products is incredibly exciting,” said Karandeep Anand, Chief Product Officer of Brex. “The opportunity ahead for Brex is expansive, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to create products that will help our customers grow their businesses.”

About Brex

Brex is a powerful financial stack designed to serve the next generation of growing businesses. By integrating software, services, and products into one experience, we help customers effortlessly extend the power of every dollar, so they are free to focus on big dreams and fast growth, without worrying about wasted spend. We proudly serve tens of thousands of businesses, from small private companies to many of America’s most beloved public brands.

Contacts

Karen Tillman, CCO at Brex
press@brex.com

Katja Gagen, Marketing at TCV
kgagen@tcv.com


Record-breaking fundraising of €486 million for Qonto, to further accelerate European growth and become the finance solution for 1 million SMEs and freelancers by 2025

Paris, January 11, 2022 – Qonto, the leading European business finance solution, announced today it has raised €486 million in Series D funding, bringing Qonto’s valuation to €4.4 billion. This amount is unprecedented in the French fintech ecosystem and is one of the largest funding rounds ever recorded in French history. This latest round is jointly led by new investors Tiger Global and TCV, in addition to eight other new contributors: Alkeon, Eurazeo, KKR, Insight Partners, Exor Seeds, Guillaume Pousaz, Gaingels and Ashley Flucas. They will join current investors Valar, Alven, DST Global and Tencent who are all renewing their support by participating in this new funding round.

Since its launch in France in 2017, Qonto has been committed to building the first all-in-one finance solution for SMEs and freelancers. Qonto simplifies everything from everyday banking and financing to bookkeeping and spend management, allowing its customers to focus on what truly matters. The company currently has more than 220,000 clients across four markets (France, Germany, Italy, and Spain). With this new funding round, Qonto’s ambition is to become the finance solution of choice for one million European SMEs and freelancers by 2025.

To support its high-level goals, Qonto will:

  • Continue expanding its product offer through in-house development, new strategic partnerships and potential acquisitions to ensure it offers its clients the best product available on the market;
  • Further grow its market penetration across Germany, Italy and Spain and new markets. In 2021, the company opened local offices in Barcelona, Berlin and Milan to fully tailor its offer to each market and lay down roots in those local ecosystems to foster closer partnership. Qonto is expanding particularly rapidly across these markets: the company has quadrupled its revenue over the past two years. Qonto will further accelerate its strong momentum across Europe by investing over €100 million in each market (Germany, Italy and Spain) over the next two years. Qonto also plans to reinforce its European leadership by launching in new markets by 2023. In 2025, it is expected that 75% of new clients will come from outside France.
  • Recruit new talent and quadruple its team to more than 2,000 by 2025, 50% of new hires to be based outside of France. In part, this will be achieved thanks to the creation of a new Customer Support Operations Hub, to be based in Barcelona and designed to maintain its outstanding customer support while further scaling. To reinforce its international recruitment strategy and meet the expectations of an increasingly agile and mobile talent pool, the company will also launch a European “Qonto Campus” program to enable international mobility between the local offices.

Alexandre Prot, co-founder and CEO of Qonto: “Since our launch in 2017, we’ve constantly strived to create the finance solution that energizes SMEs and freelancers, empowering them to achieve more. This new Series D funding round is an amazing opportunity for us to accelerate our hyper-growth trajectory by investing in our product, our customer service and our power to attract new talents. This funding round reveals the incredible dynamism of the French and European Tech ecosystem. We count on policymakers to continue their efforts to ensure entrepreneurship can succeed, leading to European and global champions that deliver innovation. This is only the beginning of our journey to best serve SMEs and freelancers and we couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds for us and our ambitions. The Qonto team is honored to welcome the most prestigious international investors to support our mission to become the leading business finance solution.”

John Curtius, Partner at Tiger Global: “Qonto has revolutionized business finance for SMEs and freelancers by marrying simplicity with a unique all-in-one service. The company has seen a significant increase in clients across its European markets during the coronavirus pandemic. This also shows that customers’ needs are evolving during these unprecedented times. We have tracked Qonto’s incredible growth for some time and are delighted to partner with the entire Qonto team and support their mission to serve a rapidly growing European market.”

“We at TCV love to back visionary founders and could not be more excited to partner with Alex, Steve and the rest of the Qonto team, said John Doran, General Partner at TCV. “We look forward to supporting them as they continue to bring best-in-class banking and finance solutions to millions of SMEs and freelancers across Europe.”

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About Qonto

Qonto is the leading European business finance solution. It simplifies everything from everyday banking and financingto bookkeeping and spend management. With its fast and innovative product, highly responsive customer service andtransparent prices, Qonto energizes SMEs and freelancers so that they can achieve more.

Founded in 2017 by Steve Anavi and Alexandre Prot, Qonto serves more than 220,000 clients in 4 countries (France,Germany, Italy and Spain) and employs more than 500 talents in Paris, Berlin, Milan and Barcelona. Since itscreation, Qonto has raised a total of €622 million from Valar, Alven, the European Investment Bank, Tencent, DSTGlobal, Tiger Global, TCV, Alkeon, Eurazeo, KKR, Insight Partners, Exor and Gaingels to support its global growthambitions.Qonto has been listed by the French government in the Next40 index, which brings together the 40 most promisingscale-ups in France with the potential to become a global leader.

About Tiger Global

Tiger Global is an investment firm focused on public and private companies in the global Internet, software, consumer, and financial technology industries. Tiger Global’s mission is to generate world-class investment returns over the long term. Tiger Global aspires to do so in a way that makes its partners and portfolio companies proud, as the company builds a unique, global investment platform.

About TCV

Founded in 1995, TCV was established with a clear vision: to capture opportunities in the technology market through a specialized and consistent focus on investing in high-growth companies. Since inception, the firm has built a track record of successfully backing public and private businesses that have developed into dominant industry players across internet, software, FinTech, and enterprise IT. TCV has invested over $16 billion to date and has helped guide CEOs through more than 145 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV has invested in cutting edge technology companies including Airbnb, Believe, Brex, Dream Sports, FarEye, Mollie, Nubank, Razorpay, RELEX Solutions, Revolut, RMS, Sportradar, Spotify, Trade Republic, The Pracuj Group, and Zepz. TCV has successfully executed over 350 investments of varying structures, including mid-stage, late stage and public company investments, and has offices in Menlo Park, New York, and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit https://www.tcv.com/.


Miro Raises $400M in Series C Funding Round to Accelerate Innovation Through Visual Collaboration in the New Hybrid Workplace

January 05, 2022 06:45 AM Eastern Standard Time

SAN FRANCISCO & AMSTERDAM–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Miro, the online platform accelerating innovation through visual collaboration, announced it has closed $400M in Series C financing. This investment will support Miro’s continued focus on helping organizations and enterprises unlock creativity, increase productivity, strengthen collaboration, and rapidly innovate. With the global movement to remote and hybrid work, Miro has increased its user base to 30M and now works with 99% of Fortune 100 companies as they adopt a new, digital-first way of working.

This new infusion of capital brings Miro’s total funding to $476M and a post-money valuation of $17.5B. As a profitable company, Miro will invest the capital in product development and programs designed to bring the visual collaboration platform to more enterprises, and continue expanding its global footprint. Investors in the Series C round include ICONIQ Growth, Accel, Atlassian, Dragoneer, GIC, Salesforce Ventures, and TCV.

Since Miro raised its $50M Series B funding round in April 2020, the company has increased its user base by 500% (from 5M to 30M) and its paying customer base by 550% (from 20,000 to 130,000).

Miro, which pioneered the visual collaboration category, brings teams together in a shared online workspace that begins as a blank canvas to solve complex problems, design products and services, improve processes, exchange ideas and bring them to life in an agile way. The platform enables a new way of working that allows teams to co-create quickly and inclusively — no matter where they are located — through more than 100 app integrations and nearly a thousand templates designed to help teams start quickly.

“For more than a decade, Miro’s vision has been to create an infinite canvas for better collaboration, both in-person and online, helping organizations unlock creativity and drive meaningful outcomes,” said Andrey Khusid, Co-founder and CEO of Miro. “We believe that our platform is now more important than ever as organizations around the globe are redefining the way they work — looking for new ways to engage teams and do away with siloed thinking. Thousands of organizations use Miro’s platform every day to harness the power of collaboration to nurture new ideas, solve complex problems, and bring new products to market. We believe that the ‘Miro way’ will be the spark that enables teams to transform imagination into execution and opportunity into reality.”

Through its advanced collaboration platform, Miro is helping enterprises, non-profit organizations, and universities tackle complex challenges that can impact millions of people around the globe, during critical times of transformation. Miro’s customers use the infinite canvas to bring much-needed medical treatments to market, design category-defining products, and create new paths for learning.

Miro’s customers include many of the world’s most innovative companies, including Cisco, Dell, Deloitte, HP, Kaiser Permanente, Liberty Mutual, Okta, and many more. Miro currently has 20 enterprise customers each paying more than $1M per year each.

Key company milestones over the past 12 months include:

  • Doubling headcount from 585 to more than 1,200
  • Opening five new hubs, including Berlin, Munich, London, Sydney, and Tokyo, bringing the total global footprint to 11 hubs worldwide
  • Deepening partnerships by introducing new integrations with Atlassian, Cisco, Google Workspace, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and others to enable users to add Miro’s visual collaboration layer to their existing workflows, tools and processes

“Since our initial investment, Miro has scaled with tremendous momentum, strong market leadership, and incredible product velocity,” said Matthew Jacobson, General Partner at ICONIQ Growth and Miro Board member. “We believe Miro sits at a powerful intersection between asynchronous and synchronous work that captures and ignites creative processes everywhere. In our view, Miro’s culture of customer centricity makes it well-positioned to address a myriad of use cases across hybrid work for more than a billion knowledge workers globally. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Andrey and the entire Miro team.”

“Miro’s platform helps millions of users, organizations, and enterprises around the world to collaborate, strategize, and execute in creative ways using visual collaboration,” said Alex Kayyal, SVP and Managing Partner, Salesforce Ventures. “In this all-digital work-from-anywhere world, Miro’s mission to bring impactful collaboration to hybrid work environments is vital. We have been deeply impressed by the company’s product centricity, fast growth and community ecosystem, and view Miro as a generational company that is disrupting productivity.”

“Miro is in a unique category of companies that have built their success on sound business fundamentals and product-led growth,” said John Doran, General Partner at TCV. “Global organizations are adopting the platform to engage teams and collaborate in more meaningful ways, for use cases ranging from designing products, managing business transformation, to implementing complex processes efficiently and productively. Miro’s intuitive, accessible, and purpose-built collaboration platform allows teams to bring everyone to the table to co-create, and positions Miro as a critical element of the new software stack driving modern, hybrid work models.”

“Enterprises are experiencing an undeniable shift in the ways that their teams come together to achieve business objectives and goals, and are eager for technology that can help foster stronger collaboration and engagement,” said Chris Hecht, Head of Corporate Development of Atlassian. “Miro offers organizations technology that has the power to truly transform the way they work to create more, build more, and achieve more together.”

Additional investors include Howie Liu (Co-founder and CEO, Airtable), Andrew Ofstad (Co-founder, Airtable),Frank Slootman (Chairman and CEO, Snowflake), and Dan Springer (CEO, DocuSign).

Miro and the Miro logo are trademarks of RealtimeBoard, Inc., in the United States and in jurisdictions throughout the world. All other trademarks, trade names, or service marks used or mentioned herein belong to their respective owners.

About Miro

Miro is an online, visual collaboration platform designed to unlock creativity and accelerate innovation among teams of all kinds. The platform’s infinite canvas enables teams to lead engaging workshops and meetings, design products, brainstorm ideas, and more. Miro, co-headquartered in San Francisco and Amsterdam, serves 30M users worldwide, including 99% of the Fortune 100. Miro was founded by Andrey Khusid and Oleg Shardin in 2011 and currently has more than 1,200 employees in 11 hubs around the world. To learn more, please visit https://miro.com/index/.

About ICONIQ Growth

ICONIQ Growth partners with exceptional entrepreneurs and leaders who drive global impact and change. We are inspired by visionaries defining the future of their industries by building company cultures that endure. Our unique investment platform harnesses the power of ICONIQ Capital’s vibrant ecosystem of founders, pioneers, and business leaders with the goal of delivering tangible value and amplifying our portfolio companies’ success from early growth stage to IPO and beyond. ICONIQ Growth’s portfolio of innovators includes Adyen, AirBnB, Alibaba, Alteryx, Automattic, BambooHR, Braze, Chime, Collibra, Coupa, Datadog, Docusign, Gitlab, Marqeta, Miro, Procore, Red Ventures, Relativity, ServiceTitan, Snowflake, Sprinklr, Truckstop, Uber, Wolt, and Zoom, among others. For more information and a complete list of portfolio companies, please visit https://iconiqgrowth.com/.

About Salesforce Ventures

Salesforce Ventures is the global investment arm of Salesforce and is focused on partnering with the most ambitious enterprise technology companies at every stage in their journey. Since 2009, Salesforce Ventures has invested over $3 billion in over 400 leading companies including Databricks, DocuSign, Guild Education, Hopin, monday.com, nCino, Snowflake, Snyk, Stripe, Tanium, and Zoom. Salesforce Ventures provides portfolio companies with unparalleled access to Salesforce, one of the fastest-growing enterprise software companies in the world, including strategic advisory, customer introductions, and the strongest cloud ecosystem. Salesforce Ventures has invested in more than 25 countries with offices all over the world including in San Francisco, Irvine, New York, London, Tokyo, and Sydney. Follow @SalesforceVC and learn more at salesforce.com/ventures.

About TCV

Founded in 1995, TCV was established with a clear vision: to capture opportunities in the technology market through a specialized and consistent focus on investing in high-growth companies. Since inception, the firm has built a track record of successfully backing public and private businesses that have developed into dominant industry players across internet, software, FinTech, and enterprise IT. TCV has invested over $16 billion to date and has helped guide CEOs through more than 145 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV has invested in cutting edge technology companies including Airbnb, Believe, Brex, Dream Sports, FarEye, Mollie, Nubank, Razorpay, RELEX Solutions, Revolut, RMS, Sportradar, Spotify, Trade Republic, The Pracuj Group, and Zepz. TCV has successfully executed over 350 investments of varying structures, including mid-stage, late stage and public company investments, and has offices in Menlo Park, New York, and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit https://www.tcv.com/.

Contacts

Allison Menozzi
Miro
allison@miro.com

Katja Gagen
TCV
kgagen@tcv.com