Dan Wernikoff rose to become an EVP at Intuit and general manager of its small business unit and consumer tax group. In both cases he scaled the business-within-a-business from small groups of early adopters to huge hordes of happy SMBs and consumers, by relentlessly measuring early indicators, leveraging core strengths, and focusing on long-term growth goals.
In this conversation with TCV General Partner Tim McAdam, he shares:
Lessons about how selling into SMB markets
differs from enterprise
The best metrics for tracking success, and
Why empathy and understanding matter more than
slick ads and sales techniques.
He also explains how to infuse human expertise
into SaaS models in a way that fits the SMB/consumer mindset.
For these insights and more, settle back and press play.
Dan Wernikoff is a former Venture Partner at TCV.
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 blog 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 above, 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 document, please see
Dublin, ROI, Sept. 04, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Clio, the leader in cloud-based legal technology, announced today it has raised $250 million USD in Series D funding from TCV and JMI Equity. The investment marks one of the largest private transactions in legal technology and a definitive shift for the future of the legal industry.
As reported by the World Justice Project, 59% of individuals in the United Kingdom experienced a legal problem in the past two years, but only 28% were able to access help with many (48%) seeking advice from a friend or family member. Yet, there were over 138,000 practising solicitors as reported by the Law Society of England and Wales, with 63% of those residing in Dublin.
“It’s clear something needs to change when the majority of legal problems don’t receive legal assistance,” said Jack Newton, CEO and Co-founder of Clio. “Clio is committed to building the essential operating system for solicitors, one that focuses relentlessly on unlocking new efficiencies and entry points to legal services. This will allow legal professionals to easily deliver exceptional client experiences, increase their productivity, grow their firms, and make legal services more accessible. This investment will accelerate our ability to realize this vision.”
Founded in 2008, with their European headquarters based in Dublin, Clio will use these funds to amplify efforts to support access to legal services across Europe. Clio is the only legal case management software endorsed and approved by both the Law Society of England and Wales and the Law Society of Scotland due to their robust product, exceptional customer care, and commitment to helping law firms meet GDPR & SRA compliance responsibilities as data controllers.
“At TCV, we partner with innovative companies that are leaders in their industry and offer superior value propositions for their customers,” said Amol Helekar, Principal at TCV, and a member of Clio’s board of directors. “Clio has had long-standing success in transforming a vast industry that has been lagging in technology adoption and we are confident the company will continue to lead on a global scale. We are committed to supporting Clio with TCV’s resources and network in order to help them capitalize on their significant growth opportunities,” added Jake Reynolds, General Partner at TCV.
TCV and JMI have been investment partners to innovative technology companies such as Adaptive Insights, Airbnb, Eloqua, Expedia, Facebook, Netflix, PointClickCare, ServiceNow, and Spotify, and have helped these businesses achieve their growth objectives.
“We believe the legal software space presents significant opportunities for continued disruption, and Clio is the clear leader,” said Matt Emery, General Partner at JMI Equity who has joined Clio’s board of directors. “Clio is not only solving some of the biggest pain points for the legal profession, it is creating a platform for the future of legal services, and we look forward to partnering with the team in the company’s continued growth and success,” added Sureel Sheth, Principal at JMI.
Customers can expect to see ongoing investment in the depth and breadth of Clio’s offerings, with even more powerful and flexible tools for legal professionals to manage and grow their practices, making them more efficient and sustainable as businesses. Mark Britton, former Expedia executive and founder of legal marketplace Avvo.com, will also be joining Clio’s board of directors to provide his own industry experience as the company brings their vision for the future of legal to market.
Raymond James served as legal buyside advisor to TCV for this investment.
Clio (Themis Solutions Inc.), the leader in cloud-based legal technology, empowers legal professionals to be both client-centered and firm focused through cloud-based legal practice management software. Clio has been transforming the industry for over a decade with 150,000 customers spanning 100 countries, and the approval of over 66 bar associations and law societies globally. Clio continues to lead the industry with initiatives like the Legal Trends Report, the Clio Cloud Conference, and the Clio Academic Access Program. Learn more at clio.com/uk.
Founded in 1995, TCV provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry. TCV has invested over $12 billion in leading technology companies and has helped guide CEOs through more than 120 IPOs and strategic acquisitions.
TCV’s software and legal technology investments include Alarm.com, Altiris, Ariba, Avalara, Avetta, Avvo, AxiomSL, CCC Information Services, ExactTarget, ETQ, FinancialForce, Genesys, IQMS, LegalZoom, OpenText, OSIsoft, Rapid7, Rave Mobile Safety, RELEX Solutions, Sitecore, SiteMinder, SMT, Splunk, Toast, Xero, and more. TCV is headquartered in Menlo Park, California, with offices in New York and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, please visit tcv.com.
About JMI Equity
JMI Equity is a growth equity firm focused on investing in leading software companies. Founded in 1992, JMI has invested in over 145 businesses in its target markets, successfully completed over 95 exits and raised more than $4 billion of committed capital. JMI partners with exceptional management teams to help build their companies into industry leaders. For more information visit jmi.com.
SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — HireVue, provider of the most comprehensive suite of AI-driven talent assessment and video interviewing solutions, today announced that global investment firm The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) has signed an agreement to invest in HireVue as its majority investor. Existing shareholders, including TCV, Granite Ventures and Sequoia, together with HireVue management, will remain minority investors.
Over its 15-year history, HireVue has transformed the way companies discover, hire and develop the most diverse set of top talent. HireVue customers, who include over one-third of the Fortune 100, generate strong returns on their investment by reducing the time it takes to hire a candidate by 90 percent on average, and by regularly achieving world-class candidate net promoter scores of more than 70, all while increasing the number of prospective candidates, hiring objectivity and the diversity of hires. HireVue pioneered the video interviewing industry and remains the leader today, delivering a million interviews and over 150,000 pre-hire assessments every 90 days.
“We are delighted to partner with Carlyle to accelerate HireVue’s technology innovation and propel our growth globally,” said Kevin Parker, Chairman and CEO at HireVue. “Carlyle’s culture of ‘performance through collaboration’ makes it our ideal partner as we expand to new markets and enhance our support of enterprise partners around the world.”
“HireVue is the recognized video interviewing and talent assessments leader,” said Patrick McCarter, Managing Director and Co-Head of TMT at The Carlyle Group. “Innovative global enterprises are driving more efficient and effective hiring through HireVue, accessing a broader, more diverse talent pool and significantly reducing bias.”
“We look forward to partnering with Kevin and the entire HireVue team to further accelerate the business and create even greater value for HireVue’s global employees, customers and partners,” said Tyler Parker, Vice President at The Carlyle Group.
“HireVue’s market-leading SaaS platform and suite of recruitment solutions assist global enterprises in finding, engaging and hiring the best talent,” said Nari Ansari, General Partner at TCV. “We are excited about the new partnership with Carlyle and HireVue’s next phase of growth.”
The current executive team at HireVue will continue to lead the company under the direction of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Parker.
Equity capital for the investment will come from Carlyle Partners VII, an $18.5 billion fund. The Carlyle team leading the transaction focuses on investments in global technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) companies. TMT is a core area of focus for Carlyle, representing more than $30 billion of invested equity since inception. Goldman Sachs acted as exclusive financial advisor to HireVue.
The HireVue Assessment and Video Interviewing Platform combine the power of video, AI, game and technical challenges for comprehensive hiring intelligence. Validated behavioral science is the foundation of HireVue’s highly effective pre-hire assessments, which are rigorously bias-tested according to the EEOC’s Uniform Guidelines and used to support greater diversity and efficiency in hiring. HireVue customers report lower attrition and high return on investment.
In addition, the HireVue Assessment and Video Interviewing Platform is the only platform in its industry that can scale to support the growth of enterprise customers. HireVue has achieved numerous industry and federal certifications, including:
ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification
SOC 2 Type 2 assurance
For more information about HireVue or to schedule a demo, visit www.hirevue.com.
HireVue is transforming the way companies discover, hire and develop the best talent by combining the power of video, games and AI for better hiring decisions. The HireVue Assessments and Video Interviewing Platform uses a ground-breaking combination of industrial/organizational science and rigorously tested, predictive artificial intelligence to help customers find and engage higher quality talent, faster. HireVue is available worldwide in over 30 languages and has hosted more than ten million on-demand interviews and one million assessments. Its more than 700 customers worldwide include over one-third of the Fortune 100 and leading brands such as Unilever, Hilton, JP Morgan Chase, Delta Air Lines, Vodafone, Carnival Cruise Line, and Goldman Sachs. For more information, visit www.hirevue.com.
The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) is a global investment firm with deep industry expertise that deploys private capital across four business segments: Corporate Private Equity, Real Assets, Global Credit and Investment Solutions. With $223 billion of assets under management as of June 30, 2019, Carlyle’s purpose is to invest wisely and create value on behalf of its investors, portfolio companies and the communities in which we live and invest. The Carlyle Group employs more than 1,775 people in 33 offices across six continents.
When Beth Grous joined TripAdvisor as Chief People Officer, the popular travel platform was growing rapidly, with 40+ locations around the world. Beth quickly moved to develop Human Resources (HR) as a strategic partner for business functions, so that the team’s initiatives would more directly support company objectives. In this first part of a two-part conversation, Beth talks with TCV GP Nari Ansari about how she re-oriented her team for business partnership. She also explains how her team manages the employee journey within TripAdvisor as strategically as the company manages its customer journeys, so that recruiting and retaining talent is both systematic and flexible for an increasingly diverse workforce.
Nari Ansari: First off Beth, I really appreciate you
taking the time to chat with us. It was great seeing you at TCV’s East Coast CHRO
event in New York with portfolio company people and talent leaders. We had some
great conversations and wanted to share a few topics with a broader audience.
Beth Grous: Absolutely. Great to speak again.
Nari Ansari: Let’s dive right in, starting with
TripAdvisor. What does the company do?
Beth Grous: I think most people who have traveled, or
know someone that’s traveled, are familiar with TripAdvisor. We are the world’s
largest travel platform. We help about 490 million travelers every month plan,
book, and get excited about having the best trip of their life. We’re a global
website, and we also have a mobile app that helps travelers browse more than
three-quarters of a billion reviews and opinions on over eight million
restaurants, accommodations, experiences, airlines, cruises, and so on.
Nari Ansari: When did you join? What motivated you to
Beth Grous: I joined TripAdvisor in September of 2015.
I’ve been a review writing member on the TripAdvisor platform since 2006 so I
was a long-time consumer of the brand and loved it. When I got the call about
the job, I thought that it would be a unique opportunity for me to take the HR
skills, experience and capabilities that I had, and intersect them with a
consumer brand that I have a lot of passion for.
Around the same time frame there was an increasing recognition
at TripAdvisor that with 2,500 employees, and the company growing globally, we
really needed to elevate the people function to work in partnership with the
CEO to execute more strategically against our business and talent priorities. And
so that was very exciting for me as well, thinking about the potential impact I
Nari Ansari: Absolutely. You’re titled Chief People
Officer, so what areas fall under your responsibility?
Beth Grous: That’s a great question, because my job
description is perhaps a little different than most heads of HR.
Chief People Officer, I have all the traditional HR domains:
rewards (compensation and benefits) and HR systems
acquisition (our recruiting engine)
and organizational development
diversity, and inclusion
In addition to those more typical functions, I have a few
other areas of responsibility, including our global real estate portfolio and office
experience for our 40+ offices worldwide, and our social impact function, which
is a combination of both our TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation and our employee
volunteerism and giving activities.
Nari Ansari: Since you became Chief People Officer,
how have you established the HR team as a business partner to the rest of the
organization? What steps did you take, what lessons did you learn as you
industrialized the function, and what advice would you have for other HR
leaders of growing tech companies out there?
Beth Grous: When I joined, I looked around and I
said, “There are some places where we have real strengths, and some places
where we need to fill in some blanks.” Probably the biggest shift we made
was to build out an HR business partner (HRBP) function – we wanted to shift a
portion of our team from being more focused on tactical day-to-day priorities
to taking a pro-active focus towards business objectives and working with their
counterparts throughout the organization. That shift in focus meant that some
people stepped up to develop their skills and to work differently. Other team
members transitioned out of the organization and, also importantly, we had a
few members join from the business side.
It was a significant shift to staff and organize this HR business
Nari Ansari: That’s an impressive shift. Tell us a
bit more about the role and skill set of HR business partners.
Beth Grous: The members of our HRBP team are expected
to have a deep understanding of the business—financials, strategy, and how each
business function aligns and interacts to execute against those objectives. I
encourage the HRBP team to frame their day-to-day work by asking the question:
“How am I working with people at all levels of the organization to help drive
the business forward?” Much of this learning happens on the job—and our
business leaders are very supportive of sharing their expertise. It has been an
important shift for us, because with this knowledge and understanding, they can
then support the business most effectively: defining the right organizational
structure to support strategy, ensuring that we are hiring and developing a
diverse and talented group of employees across the organization, and aligning
rewards, as some examples.
I am fortunate that I work for a CEO and with an executive
team who greatly values the input of our people and human capital team on
matters not just related to HR domain areas, but also matters related to the
overall business. This has been exciting and fulfilling for me and my team.
Nari Ansari: That’s great. I think what’s top of mind
for many company leaders and talent leaders is retaining exceptional talent.
You talked a bit at our recent TCV CHRO event that TripAdvisor very
methodically thinks through, manages, and monitors the customer journey and
that you and your team symmetrically are methodically thinking through,
managing, and monitoring the employee journey as well. Can you talk a little
bit more about what that looks like for your 3,600 plus TripAdvisor team members
today spread across 40+ offices?
Beth Grous: I’m going to make an obvious statement
here. If you retain and engage more of your workforce, you have less of a need
to recruit people…
Beth Grous: We
recognize that those two things sit in a very healthy and logical balance. We
also recognize that turnover in and of itself is painful. You lose
institutional knowledge. It’s disruptive to teams. It slows throughput. It
slows innovation. We’re only as good as the people that we have working in the
right teams and right configurations to execute against our business objective.
We think a lot about how to make TripAdvisor a great place to work, to
encourage not only retention, but also to drive engagement and satisfaction. Just
like our sales team thinks about the “customer first”, we think about how we
can put our employees first. That also means that we are taking their views
into account, so it’s not just about delivering “HR services” to our employees
but having a dialogue with them. This aligns with our brand, which is all about
transparency and providing honest and constructive feedback. For example, we know
that what makes a company a great place to work likely means different things
to different people. To someone early in their career, that might mean, “I
get to have a lot of different experiences and I’m promoted pretty
rapidly.” To someone in a different phase of life or with different
interests or needs, that might be that an individual wants a lot of flexibility
in terms of the hours when they work or the places where they work. We
encourage flexibility, and we also have office spaces with many different
places where people can get away from their desks if that helps them work more
effectively. We think about our workforce just like TripAdvisor (and many
consumer-facing companies) think about their customers, recognizing that one
size doesn’t fit all. That does not mean that we can necessarily be all things
to all people—but we try hard to listen, learn, and discern what’s most
important to our workforce, and meet our employees’ needs, as long as it makes
sense for the business.
I believe that there are some things that transcend all
employees, regardless of role, experience or tenure. Employees want to come to
work at a place where they understand the business objectives, they understand
the strategy, and they know their role, how their role ladders up to executing
against that strategy. So as a company, we spend a ton of time being
transparent about those elements – we do that through company town halls,
through company meetings and through various forms of communication.
Communication is so important, and I don’t think we can ever do enough of it
internally! We’ve found it critical for our employees to understand the
business context and importantly, how they fit into that context, so that they
can be most successful—and therefore we can be most successful as a company.
Nari Ansari: That makes a lot of sense. I
do think that having a much more rigorous multi-faceted view of your employee
base is becoming critical for companies of all sizes and in all
industries. And I also think open communication across the organization
is important, particularly when it feels like change is the only constant these
Another trend – and transition – we are seeing is that HR is
becoming more tech and data driven to deliver on human capital and business
goals. We’ll talk more about this in a follow-up Q&A and address other
topics that are top of mind for today’s HR professionals and tech companies,
including HR’s role in successfully executing acquisitions. Thanks so much for
sharing your thoughts with us, and I look forward to our next conversation.
Beth Grous: My pleasure!
The statements, 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 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,
available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.
The funding marks the largest investment round raised to date by Nubank
Since the last funding in 2018, the firm’s customer base has more than doubled, reaching over 12 million people in Brazil
Nubank’s product portfolio has evolved, now including personal loans, a digital account with debit function for consumers and SMEs in addition to existing credit cards and its Rewards program
The company started its international expansion this year, in Mexico and Argentina
Nubank continues to pursue and hire talent for its four offices worldwide
São Paulo, 26 July 2019 — Nubank, the leader in
financial technology in Latin America, today announced it has raised $ 400
million in its Series F investment round. The round was led by TCV, one of the
largest growth equity firms based in the U.S., and marks TCV’s first
significant investment in Latin America. Existing investors Tencent, DST
Global, Sequoia Capital, Dragoneer, Ribbit Capital, and Thrive Capital also
participated in the round. The transaction is subject to customary closing
With this new round, Nubank
has raised $820 million in seven investment rounds.
Nubank, currently Brazil’s
sixth-largest financial institution by number of clients, started its
international expansion in May of this year. The company has opened offices in
Mexico and Argentina and is preparing to start operations and serve customers
in both countries over the coming months.
The firm also expanded its
product portfolio beyond its original app-controlled credit card and Rewards
products, now including a personal loan product and digital savings accounts
for consumers, as well as small and medium-sized businesses and
“We remain firm in our
mission to fight complexity and give back to people the control of their
finances. Even though the technological change has been transformational for
most industries across the globe, most banked consumers continue to pay absurd
interest rates and fees to receive very poor financial services in return.
Additionally, over two billion people still do not have access to basic
financial services. With this new investment by TCV and our existing investors,
we expect to contribute to meaningfully change this situation by accelerating
our growth in Brazil and supporting the launch of our new Latin American
markets,” says David Vélez, founder and CEO of Nubank.
“We are proud of our
shareholders and their continued support of our business. Since our early days,
we have had the privilege of drawing from the experience of some of the most
successful technology investors in the world, and this round led by TCV further
strengthens our capital base”, continues Vélez. “TCV has supported some of the
most remarkable disruptors of our time, including Netflix, Spotify, and Zillow,
with capital, strategic guidance, and industry expertise, and we look forward
to partnering with them as we grow the business.”
has a long history of backing founder-run businesses that leverage technology
to provide magical experiences to consumers,” says Woody Marshall, General
Partner at TCV. “David Vélez and his team have built an impressive business at
Nubank. We have been impressed by their market position, product-centric DNA
and unrelenting focus on the consumer experience. We look forward to supporting
their expansion into new markets and providing additional services to their
products and internationalization
Nubank started offering
debit and cash withdrawal functions to its digital savings account
(“NuConta”) customers in late 2018, consolidating its digital account
as a complete alternative to meet the basic financial needs of all Brazilians.
Today, more than 8 million Brazilians are already customers of NuConta.
After completing the process
to obtain its license as a financial institution, the company launched in early
2019 a personal loan product, which is now available to over 500,000 customers.
Nubank reached 100% of the 5,570 Brazilian municipalities within 5 years of
activity, a milestone in a country where only 60% of cities have bank branches.
In the second quarter of
this year, the company also began its international expansion, announcing
operations in Mexico and, less than two months later, in Argentina. The two
countries will receive technology and innovation hubs to develop solutions
focused on local financial problems.
In six years of existence,
Nubank reached the mark of more than 12 million customers, becoming Brazil’s
sixth-largest financial institution in number of customers, and the largest
digital bank in the world. Recently, the company entered the corporate market
with the announcement of a new digital account for SMEs, a market with more
than 20 million companies in Brazil.
Nubank today has more than
1,700 employees in Brazil, Germany, Argentina, and Mexico. The company expects
to significantly grow its employee base over the next few years.
“We are always looking
for the best talent in the world. We build strong and diverse teams with
professionals from different cultures to jointly challenge the status quo and
reduce complexity. We are a technology company by nature and, therefore, we
want the best software engineers as part of our global team,” says Vélez.
Nubank is a leading
financial technology company in Latin America. Its first product, launched in
2014, is a no-fee credit card that is fully managed by a mobile app. Almost 30 million people have requested the product since launch, and the company has
passed the 12 million customer mark. In 2017, Nubank launched its
proprietary loyalty rewards program (“Nubank Rewards”), as well as a
digital account (“NuConta”) that is already used by 8 million
people. This year, the company began testing its personal loan product and took
its first steps in international expansion, opening offices in Mexico and
Argentina. To date, Nubank has raised around US$ 820 million in seven
equity investment rounds from TCV, Sequoia Capital, Kaszek Ventures, Tiger
Global Management, QED, Founders Fund, DST Global, Redpoint Ventures, Ribbit
Capital, Dragoneer Investment Group, Thrive Capital and Tencent. Recently,
Nubank was elected as the most innovative company in Latin America and ranked
no. 36 on Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies ranking.
Founded in 1995, TCV
provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology
industry. Since its inception, TCV has invested over $11 billion in leading
technology companies, including more than $1.5 billion in fintech, and has
helped guide CEOs through more than 120 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV’s
investments include Airbnb, AxiomSL, Dollar Shave Club, ExactTarget, Expedia,
Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix, OSIsoft, Payoneer, RELEX Solutions, Rent the
Runway, Splunk, Spotify, Toast, WorldRemit, Xero, and Zillow. TCV is
headquartered in Menlo Park, California, with offices in New York and London.
For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments,
SAN JOSE, Calif., June 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Vectra, the leader in network threat detection and response (NDR), today closed a $100 million round of funding led by TCV, one of the largest growth equity firms backing private and public technology companies. Existing investors also participated in the funding round, bringing the company’s total funding to date to more than $200 million.
Vectra will use the investment to accelerate global market expansion and R&D innovation, solidifying its Cognito platform as the market-leading solution for artificial intelligence (AI)-driven cloud security using NDR.
The cloud has critical security gaps that leave organizations vulnerable. Cyberattackers take advantage of these gaps without leaving a trail of evidence. Underscoring this risk, a recent survey by the SANS Institute found that one in five businesses had serious unauthorized access to their cloud environments this past year alone, and many more were unknowingly breached.
The Cognito platform addresses these security gaps by providing 360-degree visibility into cloud, data center, user and internet-of-things (IoT) infrastructure, leaving attackers with nowhere to hide.
“TCV has an extensive track record of partnering with enterprise security companies, including Rapid7 and Splunk, from growth stage to public,” said Tim McAdam, general partner at TCV and a member of the Vectra board of directors. “In our research on the category, it became clear to us that Vectra was rapidly gaining momentum with customers by rethinking the way enterprises view both network and cloud security. The Vectra Cognito platform is poised to become requisite in the security infrastructure of multinational enterprises and midsize businesses alike.”
“The cloud has inherent security blind spots, making it imperative to eliminate cyber-risks as enterprises move their business to the cloud,” said Hitesh Sheth, president and chief executive officer at Vectra. “The Cognito platform enables them to stop hidden cyberattacks in the cloud. We look forward to partnering with TCV and our existing investors as we continue our rapid growth.”
Vectra experienced 104% growth in annual recurring revenue in 2018 compared to 2017. The company will continue to ramp up initiatives aimed at addressing the global deficit in cloud security, innovating on its existing platform and expanding its global customer base.
About Vectra Vectra® is the leader in network detection and response – from cloud and data center workloads to user and IoT devices. Its Cognito® platform accelerates threat detection and investigation using AI to enrich network metadata it collects and stores with the right context to detect, hunt and investigate known and unknown threats in real time. Vectra offers three applications on the Cognito platform to address high-priority use cases. Cognito Stream™ sends security-enriched metadata to data lakes and SIEMs. Cognito Recall™ is a cloud-based application to store and investigate threats in enriched metadata. And Cognito Detect™ uses AI to reveal and prioritize hidden and unknown attackers at speed. For more information, visit vectra.ai.
About TCV Founded in 1995, TCV provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry. Since inception, TCV has raised over $15 billion in capital and has helped guide CEOs through more than 120 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV’s investments include Airbnb, Altiris, AxiomSL, Dollar Shave Club, EmbanetCompass, EtQ, ExactTarget, Expedia, Facebook, Fandango, GoDaddy, HomeAway, LinkedIn, Netflix, OSIsoft, Rapid7, Rent the Runway, Sitecore, Splunk, Spotify, Varsity Tutors, Webroot, and Zillow. TCV is headquartered in Menlo Park, California, with offices in New York and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit https://www.tcv.com.
Modsy, a leading online interior design service that leverages its proprietary 3D visualization technology to disrupt the way consumers design and shop for their home, announced today the closure of a $37M series C fundraising round led by TCV, with participation from existing investors Norwest Venture Partners, Advance Venture Partners (AVP), Comcast Ventures and others.
This round comes at a time when home design inspiration is plentiful and home furnishings is the fastest growing e-commerce category, but helping consumers bring their ideas to life is still a big pain point. Modsy has been building a transformative consumer experience to solve this market challenge and has scaled rapidly, expanding its customer base 450% since its previous funding round and creating over 2 million shoppable lifestyle renders since it launched. Modsy’s groundbreaking 3D technology offers the fastest way for consumers to receive affordable home design expertise by combining its AI-powered recommendation platform to curate items based on layout, style, color, and price. Additionally, 100% of the personalized product recommendations in each design are completely shoppable, which alleviates the burden of parsing through hundreds of furniture items online and in-store. The new funding from TCV will enable Modsy to continue to rapidly scale while further investing in 3D automation, expanding its retail marketplace and enhancing its design and concierge shopping services.
Shanna Tellerman, Founder and CEO of Modsy, said: “Modsy is the future of furniture shopping and we are thrilled to partner with such a forward-thinking and customer-centric firm like TCV to help us fulfill our vision. I founded Modsy on the premise that in the future we would all be shopping from a personalized catalog-like experience within a virtual version of our real homes. This new round of funding will bring us even closer to this reality. We are excited about partnering with TCV to build Modsy into a household name and furthering our mission of enabling our customers to create the home of their dreams!”
In addition to transforming the furniture industry and developing breakthrough technology, Modsy is working to level the playing field of securing funding for female founders. In 2018, 2.2% of women-led companies received venture capital funding, so TCV’s investment in Modsy is significant in helping to further support the growth of female-owned and operated companies. With this round, TCV’s Executive Vice President Tina Hoang-To has joined Modsy’s [female-majority] board alongside Shanna Tellerman, Modsy CEO, Courtney Robinson, Partner at Advance Venture Partners and Jeff Crowe, Managing Partner at Norwest Venture Partners.
Tina Hoang-To, Executive Vice President at TCV, said: “The U.S. home furnishing market is a massive, multi-billion dollar industry and we are seeing a very clear secular shift online. Modsy is redefining the way consumers can buy furniture by leveraging technology and machine learning to introduce efficiency, transparency, and affordability to an antiquated home design industry. We are excited to partner with Modsy and believe the company is well positioned to transform this industry in a significant way.”
Since its previous funding round, the company hired three key executives: Sam MacDonnell, Chief Technology Officer (formerly HotelTonight), Meredith Dunn, Chief Operating Officer (formerly StitchFix) and Mustafa Nafar, VP of Finance (formerly DoorDash, Best Buy). It also launched innovative features that enrich the Modsy journey including Live Swap, an industry-first feature that allows customers to quickly swap furniture and its 3D Style Editor, a groundbreaking tool that enables customers to edit their designs in real-time. Modsy most recently announced its first line of custom sofas and chairs designed completely from customer data to fill a gap in the market when it comes to price, fabrics and style. Modsy’s data-based innovations continue to position the company as a market leader and fast-moving disruptor in 3D technology, design and furniture commerce.
About Modsy Modsy is a leading online interior design service that delivers highly realistic 3D designs of your exact room filled with shoppable pieces of furniture from top brands you can virtually “try on” products and designs before you buy–starting at just $69. At a breakthrough price point, Modsy is providing visualization and design services that were once inaccessible to the masses and making it a no brainer purchase for any consumer on the market for furniture. Modsy provides unlimited revisions to your designs through its groundbreaking tools or by working directly with Modsy Designers. After finalizing a design, Modsy makes the check out process easy and gives customers access to exclusive discounts on their aggregated cart that easily pay back the initial design fee. Modsy’s name even comes from a combination of “modern design” and “easy”! Modsy’s mission is to change the way consumers imagine, design and shop for their homes.
Modsy has raised a total of $70.75M in venture capital funding. In addition to Modsy’s series C round of $37M led by TCV, previous investors include Advance Venture Partners (AVP) who led Modsy’s Series B round of $23M, Norwest Venture Partners who led Modsy’s Series A round of $8M and participated in Series B, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, Comcast Ventures, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Birchmere Ventures, and BBG.
About TCV Founded in 1995, TCV provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry. TCV has invested over $11 billion in leading technology companies and has helped guide CEOs through more than 120 IPOs and strategic acquisitions.
TCV’s internet and software investments include Airbnb, Altiris, AxiomSL, Believe Digital, Dollar Shave Club, ExactTarget, Expedia, Facebook, Fandango, GoDaddy, HomeAway, LinkedIn, Minted, Netflix, Rent the Runway, Sitecore, Splunk, Spotify, TourRadar, Varsity Tutors, and Zillow. TCV is headquartered in Menlo Park, California, with offices in New York and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, please visit http://www.tcv.com.
Media Contacts: Allie Rosenberg Modsy email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
We believe that many SMB and vertical SaaS companies are starting to exhibit platform characteristics. Some of these companies are beginning to build consumer and supplier networks that are expanding the SaaS model dramatically.
We recently brought the pioneers of these new SaaS models together and were fortunate to have Jackie Reses share her thoughts on the emerging lending opportunity for SaaS. Witty, wise, and incredibly insightful, Jackie is a total superwoman. In addition to running Square Capital, Jackie serves on the board of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank and is a former board member of Alibaba. She also worked in private equity for 20 years.
Dave: Great to talk
to you, Jackie! Is it true you started your career on the dark side, as an
Jackie: Yes, I
worked in private equity for 20 years. I just kept going forward. I had a
mid-life crisis without the crisis, as I like to call it. I ran parts of a
large private equity firm, but I much prefer being on the operating side. I
still invest and that’s my fun side project. But I love working at Square. It’s
a really fun place to be.
Dave: Square is certainly
on a tear. Maybe we could start and just talk a little bit about that. Very few
companies reach your scale, and then accelerate. But that’s what you’ve done at
Jackie: Yeah, it’s
exciting. We have driven strong revenue growth at scale since we went public. It’s interesting to think back to when Square
was starting with payments and building on that. That really was the catalyst for
what we should build in an ecosystem in a very different way. Since then, we
have built ancillary products around payments like point of sale, loyalty,
employee engagement, lending, and payroll around an ecosystem.
Dave: You mentioned
that every one of your products is an onboarding product. You don’t think of “land
and then expand,” it’s all onboarding, it’s all “land”?
Jackie: Like lending
we consider it to be a product that will onboard into Square. We have two parts
of our lending business. One is the business lending, and that’s something we
launched with Square sellers, and we extended it outside of Square in the
And then we also have an Installments product which has been
incredible. Installments is a consumer lending product that can have a customer
pay for large purchases with installments, which provides the buyer with
That said, I think about Square Capital first. My job is to
grow Square Capital. That should stand on its own. The product itself has to be
When we launch a new Square Capital product, we launch it
because I think about all inbound customers into Square for lending and then
create a cycle throughout our ecosystem to evolve as they learn about other
Dave: You talked
about Square and the multiple product lines and high rate of self-onboarding.
How core is self-serve to Square?
Jackie: It’s the way we start on every product. They have to be self-serve, elegant and fast as a means to make them remarkable. Driving your thought process around self-serve forces you to create simplicity and ease of use.
Dave: You’ve described
several different businesses that have arguably very different DNA. SMB, point
of sale, consumer cash, credit, etc. How does that work in the same
Jackie: I think
lending is the one that everyone has the hardest time with. If anyone thinks
that payments are regulated, lending is like 10x that.
Managing risk and the dynamics of a high-growth company are very
different disciplines. I think that’s probably the hardest thing I deal with as
an executive at Square. The dynamics of credit risk can really hurt sellers,
and they can hurt us, and they can hurt our ecosystem of investors.
And so top line growth on a lending business is not the
goal. I think you have to have a very different level of responsibility and a discipline
that is almost the inverse to payments, where topline revenue growth can be the
You need to remain focused on what’s good for the end
merchant. There are some lenders out there that have a goal of maximizing loan
size. I think that’s irresponsible. We try to maximize a loan that helps sellers
grow. That’s a very different mindset. We are also very fortunate that we don’t
have channel or customer acquisition costs which helps us take a pretty responsible
Dave: Right. There is a real trade-off between growth, risk, and merchant health. How do you measure your success, what are the metrics you report on?
originations and different views of defaults. We could double our loans if we
wanted to tomorrow. Yet, you double it at the loss of small businesses who
can’t afford the debt that you’re giving up. The one limitation of credit is that
there is a natural debt capacity of what these companies can afford based on
their cash flows. And you’ve got to make sure you’re really good at how to
predict that and then manage it so you’re not putting companies at risk.
Dave: Let’s talk about the risk side. Companies in an earlier phase want to learn. They want to train their algorithms. So in some ways having defaults is actually a data point to trigger. How do you get through that initial learning period?
Jackie: We do the same thing. Although I have to say that many refer to models which really aren’t machine learning models – the data set is too small to be driven off of machine learning.
It’s hard to train models when you have a really narrow data set. Many lenders use basic heuristics to limit who they lend to. That is not a machine learning model – its addition and subtraction in a ton of excel.
Loan losses also can be instructive for
model training, so you need to be willing to invest in your weakest credits in
order to learn. If you look at the public fintech lending companies,
very few of them have actually been successful at long term customer
acquisition and default profiling. It’s a hard, capital intense business and
takes years to do. We think of lending as a platform to help our sellers
grow. The regulatory environment and the amount of capital required to do
this is just really high.
Dave: What about
Jackie: The payments data is super useful but you have the fidelity of moment to moment transactional changes. Matching risk, credit, behavioral and bank data together with payments is very powerful!
Additionally, for model training, its instructive to look at why sellers de-activate off of our system. Insights around business failure and fraud can also be a helpful part of the equation.
Dave: You mentioned
just how different being a lender is than the rest of Square and orientation
around growth, versus risk management. How did you actually set it up so that
it was able to perform this task culturally? Did you wall it off?
Jackie Reses: I
thought about it every day. To be honest I think we’re very unique and lucky at
Square because the way we are owned and run is with a long-term orientation,
which most public companies are not.
Being focused on the long term, you can set up the ethos of
what you need it to be. Because it’s the right answer for that kind of business
long term. But we talk about it every day because it’s really easy to lend
money, and it’s really hard to get it back.
And then the compliance is huge. I have everything
documented in a way that’s profoundly non-tech. And that’s in a product that’s highly
automated. We practically have a lean lending team. And then I have to have all
these policies and reviews and committees. It’s the only product at Square that
has a board committee.
We’re growing fast, but you got to be really strict about it
and stand up if you see issues.
Dave: Let’s switch
gears a little bit. I’d love to take advantage of your experience with Alibaba.
The dynamics in China seem totally different.
Dave: Do you think there’s
a future state in China where you do have to worry about some sort of disaggregation
or actually consolidation of the payment infrastructure?
dynamics in China are really different because there was an escrow system that
existed 10 years ago in China because there were no logistics, and there was no
trust. If you were going to order a package in China, you never knew whether
you were going to get it, how you were going to get it, because neither system
existed around credit and shipping. They just didn’t exist. And so the idea of
an escrow system was the genesis of how Alipay got started. It really became a
predominant payment rail. And it did so in an environment where it matched its
sister company which controls 60 percent of the eCommerce in China. So those
dynamics are really different than the dynamics that exist in the United States
today, where the proliferation of credit options is extraordinary. In the U.S.,
there is no logistics issue with the way we think about freight and the
multiple players. You can trust that if you send a package by FedEx it will
actually show up.
All these dynamics of eCommerce that we take for granted in
the United States are really the reason why there’s such a tight band of
competition in China. I think WeChat is interesting. WeChat evolved after QQ
started. Tencent built an unbelievable business and their second version of it
has just been extraordinary because it’s become like a full utility app for
everyone in China.
So now you have these two non-bank players in China competing
with one another. Neither have really been able to get into the United States. I
don’t know whether you noticed, but you’ll start to see Alipay showing up at a
register. Go ask how many transactions have actually happened at that counter. There’s
the notion of these Chinese tourists that are coming here but they use UnionPay.
That said, there’s not a lot of demand for it at this point
in the United States. I think they’ll have a better time in Southeast Asia
where they’re more connected and Japan, because they’ve got the Softbank
connectivity that still owns a huge portion of Alibaba and Alipay. I just think
it will be much harder in the United States.
David Yuan: Well
Jackie, that was incredible! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your
The statements, 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 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, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in
Creating revolutionary technology for hotels has historically been a slog but lately we’re seeing a change in fate for hotel software companies due to increased investment in the space. One of the biggest investors in hospitality tech is Menlo Park based TCV, the growth equity firm that has invested in breakout companies like Sojern and SiteMinder within hotel tech. TCV has also made major investments in the broader hospitality and travel space such as: Airbnb, TripAdvisor, HomeAway, Expedia, Orbitz, SeatGeek and Toast.
TCV is one of the largest names in the world of technology investing with a successful track record in the massive hospitality and travel vertical. Vertical market software is an extremely hot investment theme right now.
“The easy opportunities for disrupting old-line industries are drying up. Now, many of the up-and-coming start-ups that may become the next unicorns have names like Benchling and Blend. And they largely focus on software for specific industries.” New York Times
Long time TCV investor and former SiteMinder CFO John Burke is excited about the opportunities within the vertical market software. John and his team have identified a trend within a sub investment theme that they’ve coined: “SaaS as a Network”. Here’s how they describe the concept.
“When a SaaS provider starts serving a high enough density of merchants, they can leverage that strength to build two-sided marketplaces with the merchant’s customers, suppliers, and employees.”
David Yuan, TCV General Partner
The general hypothesis is that once vertical market software companies achieve scale with regards to their core products they can always bolt on new point solution functionality but would be wise to focus on a much bigger opportunity. Specifically, TCV believes that these software companies can create two-sided marketplaces that connect their users to new channels of customers, suppliers and employees. Back in February, Hotel Tech Report identified the explosion of marketplaces as one of the 5 biggest tech trends at ITB Berlin, a trend that mirror’s TCV’s investment thesis. Of all the software companies creating marketplaces in hospitality, TCV’s portfolio company SiteMinder has the largest scale to date.
Last year SiteMinder threw its hat in the ring with the launch of SiteMinder Exchange aimed at “breaking down the industry’s notorious integration barriers, connecting hotel systems and applications through smart and simple connectivity.”
“The reality is that few industries are as fragmented as hospitality particularly at the PMS level. There has always been demand for many of the new applications, but innovation has been stifled by lack of connectivity and the sales model makes the economics challenging. Some of these barriers are starting to be broken down by SiteMinder and others which I think can unlock a lot of innovation for the industry. But this is a hard problem and it’s a complicated space with lots of moving pieces so that makes it challenging.”
John Burke, TCV Executive Vice President
SiteMinder’s Exchange marketplace is aimed at allowing other applications to access the firm’s broad user base consisting of more than 30,000 hotels worldwide. Most of those hotels are using SiteMinder’s highly popular channel manager which connects hotel inventory to 3rd party distribution channels as well as other products within the firm’s broader guest acquisition platform such as a rate intelligence tool and an online booking engine. The firm is betting that it can add value for users by allowing them to try more hotel tech applications with ease and in turn create new business opportunities for those suppliers.
We sat down with Burke to discuss his views on hotel tech, the future for platforms like SiteMinder Exchange and highlight the most cutting edge developments happening right now within the hotel space.
How did you get into venture investing?
I’ve been in and around venture since 2011. I started my career with EY in their audit and transaction advisory teams. Getting into venture was a bit of good timing and persistence. The TCV team were looking for an immediate hire and decided to take a chance. I was with TCV from 2011 to 2014 as part of the B2B software team. As I thought about what was next for me, I was drawn to the experiences and mentorship of the TCV Venture Partners (e.g. former senior operating executives such as Erik Blachford). The tech market at that time had been heating up with a few high-profile IPOs. It was my belief that the next wave of great investors was not going to be able to rely on multiple expansion or financial engineering. I believed the best investors over the next 10 years would need to be partners driving actual business growth.
That brought me to SiteMinder down in Sydney, Australia. TCV had just led the Series B investment in the company, and the fundamentals of the business were remarkable. On top of that, they were ramping up for aggressive growth across Europe, SE Asia and were about to launch in the U.S. which I thought would be great experience. I was also excited to work with Mike Ford and the entire SiteMinder team. Mike is a special entrepreneur who is not only very smart and a product visionary, but also authentic and humble. I joined SiteMinder initially in an analytics role and then for the next 3.5 years as CFO. For family reasons, we decided to move back to the U.S. last year, where I reconnected with TCV and rejoined the team. I continue to spend a lot of time in the hospitality and vertical software space and TCV just led an investment in Toast, an exciting next-generation restaurant platform.
Tell us about TCV.
TCV was founded in 1995 as a $100M venture fund and today has raised over $15 billion across 10 funds, focusing exclusively on technology companies. We recently began investing out of TCV X, a $3 billion fund. TCV looks to partner with companies that have potential for a sustained category leadership position and are looking to succeed at an even greater scale. This typically means that a company has been growing for several years — with a history of customer trust and engagement and a business model that is reflective of the value they provide. We are flexible on transaction type with experience in public and private markets and are comfortable in minority or majority positions. Over the past 24 years, we’ve had more than 60 IPOs in our portfolio and have worked with some of the largest franchises in technology including ExactTarget, Facebook, Netflix, GoDaddy and Spotify.
At this point, I’ve talked with many investors in the space which helps me appreciate how the various funds are different. For TCV, I think it’s the depth of industry knowledge and a growth mindset. We have close to 100 team members now and our investment team focuses every day on technology and goes deep in verticals and sub-verticals. When we identify a compelling technology trend, we take the time to thoroughly understand the underlying drivers, business model, and competitive environment. Having a developed perspective means we can have much more meaningful conversations about a company’s business and growth opportunities and are positioned to be a better thought partner for the executive teams as they drive towards expansion and category leadership. We’re not afraid to make bold bets especially when we have conviction on category leadership and to do whatever it takes to help companies reshape industries.
Can you talk about TCV’s view on hotel tech and its SiteMinder investment?
Travel and Hospitality has been a core focus of TCV for well over a decade. In addition to SiteMinder, the active portfolio companies we are working with include Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Sojern, Tour Radar, and Klook. Previously we were investors in Expedia, HomeAway, Orbitz, and Travelport, among others.
For SiteMinder, TCV led the Series B round and we have continued to stay active with the company as the lead director since then. Two of my partners David Yuan (General Partner) and Erik Blachford (Venture Partner) continue to serve on the Board of Directors.
SiteMinder has an incredible history, where is the company today?
SiteMinder is a hotel guest acquisition platform that connects hotels to future guests, so hoteliers can go back to doing what they love. It’s trusted by more than 30,000 hotels of all sizes, across 160 countries and has helped generate more than 87 million reservations worth over US$28 billion in revenue for hotels each year.
SiteMinder is based in Australia, how did you come across the investment?
It was a team effort. Back in 2011 to 2013 we spent a bunch of time mapping out the ecosystem for online travel and hospitality attending industry shows like HITEC and Phocuswright. Ultimately, we identified the channel management sector as promising albeit a lesser known segment in the category. Our view at the time was that online travel was increasingly complicated and in flux with new players vying for hotel distribution. Independent hotels were harder to aggregate but would also allow these same middlemen an ability to offer differentiated supply that was higher margin. Channel management became interesting because it aggregated and provided connectivity to this supply. We thought this was a hard problem particularly to do in a cost-effective way but when executed it could be highly strategic given the long-tail nature of both hotel supply and PMS. From there we focused on the best product and category leader which led us to SiteMinder. One of my colleagues got us an introduction to Mike Ford through an employee. We then got on the 14-hour flight over to Sydney and created a deal.
What’s one piece of advice you have for hotel tech entrepreneurs when raising capital?
Test the investors. Anyone can look at metrics, but make sure you push them on the nuances of your positioning and make sure they understand the depth of your industry and strategic implications of the various alternatives. Mike did this to us in a big way when we pursued SiteMinder and it always stuck with me.
One pitfall I’ve seen is entrepreneurs who get ahead of themselves with regards to the amount of capital raised or valuation and focus on those items vs. choosing the right partner. This can have implications down the road. I would say to raise what you need and what strategically makes sense given your market and opportunity. And focus as much time and energy as you can on the partner. In addition to the strategic perspective which is table stakes, I tend to think entrepreneurs should focus on investors with candor (to drive constructive feedback delivered in the right way) and humility (it’s all about the team and this also makes it more fun).
How do you think the hotel technology space will change over the next 5-years?
It’s a great time to be in hotel technology given how dynamic this market is. I think we are still early in the growth journey for hotel software. In my mind, there is no doubt that software will continue to play a larger and larger role in the next 5 years and continue to reshape the industry and guest and operator experience. We have also been spending a bunch of time on a thesis we are excited about, called “SaaS as a Platform and SaaS as a Network,” which is around the continued extension of the SaaS business model and platform companies leveraging their position in creating marketplaces with employees, suppliers, or customers. I think this trend has many opportunities in travel.
For hotels specifically, I think data, connectivity, and personalization will only increase in importance. Tools like SiteMinder Exchange, which is a data layer connecting PMS with applications and demand channels, can be a big part of this and drive innovation.
I also think there will continue to be more dominant global players with companies like Ctrip continuing global expansion and Google, Facebook/Instagram, and TripAdvisor starting to see momentum on their new models. The lines in the accommodation industry will continue to blur as Airbnb ramps up their investment and focus on hotels as well.
I also feel labor management will matter more, and there will be new innovative ways to tackle this challenge. This is something we’ve seen in the retail vertical which I think will also make its way to the travel industry.
People often say that the hotel industry is a bit slow to adopt technology. Do you agree?
I agree. But I don’t think it’s been driven by the lack of interest or desire. Hoteliers care deeply about guest experiences and the ones that I’ve spent time with often always go above and beyond what’s expected. The reality is that few industries are as fragmented as hospitality particularly at the PMS level. There has always been demand for many of the new applications, but innovation has been stifled by lack of connectivity and the sales model makes the economics challenging. Some of these barriers are starting to be broken down by SiteMinder and others which I think can unlock a lot of innovation for the industry. But this is a hard problem and it’s a complicated space with lots of moving pieces so that makes it challenging.R
If you were leaving venture capital tomorrow and forced to start a hotel technology company — what would it be?
That’s a tough one. Part of working in an operator role at SiteMinder helped me realize how hard it is to be an entrepreneur and scale a company. This only deepened my respect for what they do. I’m a big believer that you need to follow your heart, so I’d want to align it to something I am passionate about. Maybe I’d do something connecting hotels/travel and yoga which is something I’ve come to enjoy. And being a CFO and travelling a lot, I also think the opportunities in corporate travel remain significant.
What is the most interesting or surprising thing that you’ve learned from investing in hotel tech?
Not too much is surprising me at this point. It feels like there is never a dull day in hotel tech! One thing I did notice about some of the larger players in the space is that they serve hospitality, but at their core they are surprisingly not hospitable. One of my partners recently did a podcast with the former CMO at Airbnb and Coca-Cola and he talked about authenticity as an enduring and compounding competitive advantage. I think this is something that will matter more and more. I think it will eventually catch up with those companies who forget that, especially in hospitality tech.
What is the best book you’ve read lately and why?
“The Outsiders” by Will Thorndike. I read it a couple of years ago and it continues to stand out to me. The book profiles eight understated CEOs who took a different approach to corporate management. These “outsider” CEOs often didn’t have the charisma that society has conditioned us to expect and were often in their position for the first time. Humble, unassuming and often frugal, they shied away from advisors and the hottest new management trends, instead focusing on a pragmatic and a disciplined approach to capital allocation which drove extraordinary returns. I found myself getting lost in each of their stories and admiring their independent thinking and patience to wait for the right opportunity. “Shoe Dog” and “Limping on Water” are two others I enjoyed.
What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I love yoga and meditation.
For all the startups that might want to pitch in TCV’s office, what can you tell them about your investment criteria?
We recently began investing out of TCV X, a $3 billion fund, so the opportunities we pursue are typically between $30–300M. We tend to be flexible on all other aspects of a transaction type and focus on category leadership potential and growth. I really enjoy spending time with entrepreneurs and would love for folks to reach out even if they are a bit early. Companies can scale quickly so we would love to start a relationship well in advance.
The views and opinions expressed in the post above are that
of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its
affiliates (“TCV”). 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. This post is
intended solely for prospective portfolio companies and their agents regarding
TCV’s potential financing capabilities. The TCV portfolio companies identified above,
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 document, please see
NEW YORK, March 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Leading instructional content platform, Newsela, announced today a $50 million C investment from growth equity firm TCV, who has a history of backing successful content platforms, including Netflix and Spotify. Newsela will use these funds to accelerate its rapidly expanding footprint in schools across the country. With over 20M students and 1.8M teachers on the platform, Newsela is now being used in 90% of U.S. schools.
Newsela sources and curates rich, engaging digital content from hundreds of partners, making it accessible and personalized to student interests. Teachers rely on Newsela as a trusted source to help them move past lecturing and deliver a more modern social learning approach that fosters deeper connections with every student in the classroom, piques their curiosity, and enables discussion.
The investment from TCV will also fuel expansion of Newsela’s new Custom Collections offering, allowing districts to customize materials that match their unique curriculum standards.
“At TCV, we focus on finding transformative EdTech companies, and Newsela has proven to be a tool that boosts learning outcomes,” said Woody Marshall, General Partner at TCV. “Our investment will help extend the platform and make it more accessible and even more valuable to students, teachers, and administrators. We are especially excited by the great engagement and feedback that Newsela already has with their users.”
As part of the transaction, Woody Marshall, a General Partner at TCV, has joined Newsela’s Board of Directors.
“Today’s digital-savvy kids have unprecedented access to content they care about. But in the classroom, they’re often limited to textbooks and other outdated, inflexible materials that aren’t engaging. Most teachers resort to piecing together content found in web searches, which is not sustainable. This lack of relevant, safe, reliable and accessible materials has created a massive engagement gap in our schools. The future of education lies in closing this gap,” said Matthew Gross, CEO of Newsela.
“With high-speed broadband now ubiquitous and 1:1 computing (a non-shared laptop available to every student) the norm in classrooms, school districts are actively seeking solutions to this problem. They’re increasingly choosing Newsela to provide safe, trusted, accessible and engaging content and assessments, while giving teachers the freedom to personalize for their students’ interests and needs. With this investment from TCV, we will scale efforts to help districts turn their technology infrastructure into quantifiable results that improve learning outcomes.”
For more information about Newsela or to join the team, visit Newsela.com.
Newsela is an Instructional Content Platform that combines engaging, leveled content with integrated formative assessments and insights to supercharge engagement and learning in every subject. Students and teachers use Newsela to find digital content from 100+ of the best sources—from National Geographic to NASA, Biography.com to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Washington Post to the Wichita Eagle. Content is instructionalized to meet students where they are, with interactive tools and analytics to take them where they want to go. Newsela has become an essential solution for schools and districts, with a presence in over 90% of U.S. K-12 schools. Newsela is the content platform for the connected classroom. www.newsela.com
Founded in 1995, TCV provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry. Since inception, TCV has invested over $11 billion in leading technology companies and has helped guide CEOs through more than 115 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV’s investments include Airbnb, Altiris, AxiomSL, Believe, Dollar Shave Club, EmbanetCompass, EtQ, ExactTarget, Expedia, Facebook, Fandango, GoDaddy, HomeAway, LinkedIn, Netflix, OSIsoft, Rent the Runway, Sitecore, Splunk, Sportradar, Spotify, TourRadar, Varsity Tutors, WorldRemit and Zillow. TCV is headquartered in Menlo Park, California, with offices in New York and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, visit https://www.tcv.com/.