Tastytrade interview with Chuck Davis of Prodege | Bootstrapping in America

From starting a football newsletter as a teenager that led to an internship with the NFL, to pioneering e-commerce at The Walt Disney Company and leading Fandango and Shopzilla.com as CEO, Chuck Davis has great stories and valuable lessons to share.

Chuck Davis is the CEO & Chairman of Prodege, an internet and media company that is dedicated to “creating rewarding moments” for its members by rewarding them with more than $700 million in cash and free gift cards since inception.

Prodege is the parent company of consumer rewards platform Swagbucks and InboxDollars and cash-back shopping sites MyPoints and ShopAtHome which has awarded over $700 million to its members.

Hear more about Chuck’s journey on this video interview for tastytrade‘s “Bootstrapping in America” episode, hosted by Tom Sosnoff & Tony Battista.

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Chuck Davis is a Venture Partner at TCV. Prodege and tastytrade are TCV portfolio companies. Fandango was a TCV portfolio company.

The views and opinions expressed in the blog post above are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). 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 “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.



WorldRemit Raises $175m in Series D Funding

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Leading mobile payments company WorldRemit has entered into a definitive agreement to raise $175 million in a Series D funding round led by returning investors, TCV, Accel and Leapfrog Investments.

Founded in 2010, WorldRemit is a global leader in smartphone and online payments – providing a convenient, low-cost alternative to expensive brick-and-mortar agents.

WorldRemit handles a growing share of the $700 billion remittances sent each year by expatriates and migrant workers to their home countries. Today, the company serves almost 4 million customers transferring money from 50 “send” countries to 150 “receive” countries.

Breon Corcoran, Chief Executive Officer of WorldRemit, said: “For more than eight years our core purpose has been and continues to be to help migrants send money to their families, friends and communities. Our customers play a key role in the economies where they work and their remittances are important to their home countries.”

“Our mission is to help them transfer money as securely and speedily as possible while reducing the cost to our customers. We will grow our business through differentiation on speed, service, security and value.”

“The leadership team is grateful to our investors for their continued commitment to the business. The new money will help us to further develop the offering and we will launch a solution for small and medium-sized businesses.”

The Series D funding round comes at a pivotal stage in the company’s growth. In 2018, the USA became WorldRemit’s largest send market, following the company becoming one of the first UK financial service firms to secure licenses in all 50 states.

WorldRemit will use this new investment to further drive global growth and diversify the company’s product offering for both money transfer senders and recipients. The company is also set to launch a new money transfer solution targeting small and medium-sized business owners who trade internationally, especially in emerging markets. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including FCA approval.

TCV General Partner John Doran said: “Over the past eight years, Ismail and his founding team have built a fantastic business that offers customers a compelling solution and value proposition. Since passing the reins to Breon and the new management team last year, the business has continued to build on this platform and accelerated. We believe the opportunity and proposition is larger than ever.”

“In 2018, mobile and online payments to emerging markets reached a record high of $528 billion and we expect this number to increase. As WorldRemit handles a growing share of this market, we look forward to continue working with the company to scale its digital platform and expand its service to reach many new customers across the globe.”

Accel’s Harry Nelis said: “Having first partnered with the WorldRemit team in 2014, I have seen the company grow from a London-founded startup to a global business pioneering the future of the remittance market and making international mobile payments more accessible and affordable for millions of individuals and businesses. This investment and CEO Breon Corcoran’s experience leading consumer service-oriented, global digital businesses will help fuel the next phase of global growth. We are excited to deepen our relationship with the team and help them fulfil the company’s vast potential.”

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About WorldRemit

WorldRemit has disrupted an industry previously dominated by offline legacy players by taking international money transfers online – making them safer, faster and lower-cost. We currently send from 50 to 150 countries and operate in 6,500 money transfer corridors worldwide.

On the sending side WorldRemit is 100% digital (cashless), increasing convenience and enhancing security. For those receiving money, the company offers a wide range of options including bank deposit, cash collection, mobile airtime top-up and mobile money.

Backed by Accel, TCV and Leapfrog – early investors in Facebook, Netflix and Slack – WorldRemit’s headquarters are in London, UK with a global presence including offices in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.

About Accel

Accel is a leading venture capital firm that partners with exceptional founders with unique insights, from inception through all phases of private company growth. Atlassian, Algolia, Avito, Celonis, Cloudera, Crowdstrike, Deliveroo, DJI, Dropbox, Etsy, Facebook, Flipkart, Funding Circle, Kayak, Kry, QlikTech, Rovio, Slack, Spotify, Supercell, UIPath and WorldRemit are among the companies the firm has backed over the past 35+ years. The firm seeks to understand entrepreneurs as individuals, appreciate their originality and play to their strengths. Because greatness doesn’t have a stereotype. For more, visit www.accel.com, www.facebook.com/accel or www.twitter.com/accel.

About TCV

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 120 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV has invested over $1 billion in Europe. TCV’s investments include Airbnb, Altiris, AxiomSL, Believe, Dollar Shave Club, EmbanetCompass, EtQ, ExactTarget, Expedia, Facebook, Fandango, GoDaddy, HomeAway, LinkedIn, Netflix, OSIsoft, RELEX Solutions, 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/.

Media contact: kgagen@tcv.com

About LeapFrog Investments

LeapFrog invests in extraordinary businesses in Africa and Asia. We partner with their leaders to achieve leaps of growth, profitability and impact. LeapFrog companies now operate across 33 markets reaching over 167 million people with financial services and healthcare. 135.9 million are low-income consumers often accessing insurance, savings, pensions, credit and healthcare for the first time. LeapFrog companies provide jobs and livelihoods to almost 124,000 people. These companies have grown on average by 39.2 per cent per annum since LeapFrog’s investment. LeapFrog was recently named by Fortune as one of the top five companies changing the world, the first private equity firm ever to be listed. www.leapfroginvest.com@leapfroginvest

Contacts

For more information:
WorldRemit
Jo Bancroft
media@worldremit.com


Modsy is Transforming the Future of Home Design and Furniture Shopping with $37M in Series C Funding Led by TCV

SAN FRANCISCO (PRWEB) MAY 21, 2019

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 
allie@modsy.com 
modsy@smallgirlspr.com

Katja Gagen 
TCV 
415 690 6689 
kgagen@tcv.com


The Consumer Opportunity — Fireside Chat with Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter, and David Yuan, GP at TCV

TCV recently hosted an offsite on companies extending into consumer, supplier, and employee networks.

ZipRecruiter is one of the few companies that have been able to extend into consumer demand. We were fortunate to have Co-Founder and CEO Ian Siegel join us and share his thoughts on ZipRecruiter’s journey.

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Dave: So maybe to kick us off, tell us a little bit about yourself and ZipRecruiter.

Ian: Sure. ZipRecruiter is an online employment marketplace that I co-founded in 2010. Based in LA, we use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to actively connect people to their next great opportunity.  We’ve helped over 1.8 million businesses of all sizes (from SMBs to Fortune 500 companies) with their hiring needs. Tens of thousands of businesses use us every month to find their next great hires and millions of job seekers search for jobs on ZipRecruiter on a monthly basis.  

Dave: We’ve been talking to each other for a while, and your first demand side offering was allowing employers to use your distribution software application. And if they weren’t getting applicants fast enough, they could push a “boost” button and get more applicant flow. That was a recruiting facing experience. Explain what’s going on in the background.

Ian: We distribute job postings to more than 1,200 sources. That includes job boards, aggregators, talent communities, social networks, etc. We send jobs to online destinations where talent may be congregating and then we pay those sources on a per-click basis for the traffic they can deliver to us. And then there’s TrafficBoost, our own job promotion product. Employers can buy a “Boost” and get more quality candidates faster.

Dave: Great. So, you have this distribution software, and then the “boost button” which is like performance media buying for lack of a better description. And then you started your own candidate profiles. How does that work?

Ian: Good question. The tricky thing about our category is that it represents a point-in-time need. One of the things you need to contemplate when you have consumers, for example, in restaurant reservations or looking for a job, is that they need you for a moment, and then they’re theoretically going to go away. You have to start thinking about what you can do to get a data lock. What are the things you could add to your service? That means they don’t just use you this time but there’s an advantage to using you in subsequent visits or a subsequent need for that service.

We started moving from résumés to profiles. Imagine you are a nurse: You come to our site and upload a résumé. We’ve become very good at enriching résumés and identifying the single skills that employers are really looking for—for example, a nursing license number turns out to be the only thing you need in your profile to be inundated with interest from hospitals and healthcare providers. As a result, you are persistently being found by new employers who can give you subsequent offers.

Our theory is that job seekers never want to miss a great opportunity that’s coming through. There’s this misnomer about the job search category which is that there’s an active and a passive job seeker profile. The reality is that a person who is eagerly full-time searching for work represents only about 12% of the total job-seeking population. The other 88% are people who are somewhere between dissatisfied and happy at their current job but are willing to learn more about new opportunities. 

Dave: So, basically, you’ve gotten the consumer applicant to engage with you, which is quite different, right? You’re running essentially a SaaS business, and then you have to build a consumer business on top of it?

Ian: After two years in, we realized that, no matter how many cool features we put into our product, employers were (and are still) using us for one thing: access to job seekers. The more people we have on ZipRecruiter, the more employers we attract, the more new jobs we have, and the more people we get.  

It’s a virtuous circle.

And so suddenly, we’re not just in the employer business: We’re also in the job seeker business. 

Dave: So how did you go and do this? 

Ian: When our aided brand awareness peaked in the U.S., it became much more important to make sure that job seekers also knew about us. Which is why most of our engineers are now working on some form of search algorithm or search interface. We are deeply thoughtful about focusing on job seekers because, fundamentally, we sell to them.

Dave: Okay. You made the switch, which was tricky since you recognized that you potentially competed with some of your suppliers, and you had to go all in on brand. Or not just brand, but a switch from a business to a consumer business brand.

Ian: It’s always harder to get the buyer than the seller. If you have the buyers, the sellers will come to you. To get to that next level in our category, it’s important to be first and top of mind. When someone decides they’re ready to look for a job, you want to be synonymous with job seeking so they go straight to ZipRecruiter to look for work. 

Dave: How do you balance ongoing management of your product teams and the focus of the organization between both customer groups? Because in reality, you still need to maintain some amount of excitement and engagement around the recruiters while you’re sort of shifting to job seekers. How are you thinking about that?

Ian: It’s such a good question. Let me take you through an exercise that was a real-world problem we had in our business. All of you are hiring managers, right? Would you like it if someone submitted a résumé to you, and ZipRecruiter corrected the grammar? The underlying question is “Do you consider spelling errors and grammatical errors a signal that tells you something’s up?”

Dave: Massive signal.

Ian: Right, signal. If I ask that question to the job seekers, they really don’t like typos. That’s a real-world problem I’m faced with. Who is our customer? The answer is nuanced and depends on the situation. How did we decide who that customer was? In that particular example, we did not correct their spelling and grammar.

Another example: We are the number one-rated job search app on both iOS and Android. How did we become number one? With one simple feature: We tell job seekers when an employer looks at their application. That’s it. The number one thing job seekers hate more than anything is what they call the “résumé black hole”, i.e. when they apply to a job and never hear anything back. In this case, we made the choice for the benefit of the job seeker.

Dave: What about the team? Was it a separate build? Was there significant change since this is a very different business?

Ian: Our product team members were all revenue-focused, which is to say employer-focused. So, we decided to split the team and have one subteam focusing on job seekers and the other subteam focusing on employers. We made a significant investment to support the job seeker subteam and, in some areas, we have multi-year timelines because you can either play to make money or you can play to win. And to win in our category, you need liquidity. You can’t have a marketplace without some form of elite brand recognition and differentiation. 

Dave: Absolutely, great point to end with. Thanks so much Ian!

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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 the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


The Xero Story: Building a Global Platform Out of New Zealand

We believe innovation and great entrepreneurs are everywhere. We’ve been fortunate to back some important technology franchises that were built outside of Silicon Valley. In particular, there’s a strong emerging software ecosystem coming out of Australia and New Zealand. We count two category leaders — SiteMinder in hotel management and Xero, a global leader in accounting software — in the TCV portfolio.

TCV GP David Yuan recently had a chance to chat with Rod Drury, Founder of Xero, about his take on building a business from the region. Rod and his team have created and scaled a massive SaaS platform for small businesses around the world that’s made Xero the largest tech company coming out of New Zealand.

Rod really packs in the lessons for growing companies, including:

  • The advantages of a small home market
  • How to build a global team and business from day one
  • Why Xero IPO’ed first and then scaled the business worldwide
  • How to make the journey its own reward

For this and a lot more, settle back and click play.

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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 the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.


Rave Mobile Safety Announces Significant Investment from TCV

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., April 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Rave Mobile Safety (Rave), the leading provider of critical communication and data platform solutions trusted to save lives, today announced it has received a significant investment from TCV, one of the largest growth equity firms backing private and public technology companies. The investment and expertise from TCV will help Rave fuel its product innovation and growth plans and position the company to continue to build on its market-leading portfolio of communication solutions deployed by top education and healthcare institutions, enterprises, and state and local public safety agencies.

“Today is a wonderful milestone for Rave and a testament to the tremendous results our customers have seen using the technology that they helped design to improve the safety of those they protect,” said Todd Piett, President and CEO of Rave Mobile Safety. “TCV has a history of investing in category-redefining companies and their partnership reaffirms our innovation track record, market-leading customer retention and the rising demand for holistic crisis and emergency management solutions. This investment will fast-track our vision for the business, and we’re eager to step into this next chapter of our company’s history.”

Since its inception in 1995, TCV has raised over $15 billion across 10 funds and invested over $11 billion in leading technology companies including Netflix, Facebook, Expedia, Spotify, Airbnb, GoDaddy, and Zillow. TCV also brings significant software buyout experience, having partnered with leading vertical market software companies, including ETQ, IQMS, Watermark, SMT, CCC, and Avetta.

“The Rave platform is unique in that it helps effortlessly bring together the various entities involved in citizen safety. We were impressed with Rave’s stellar customer base across multiple industries and steady product innovation in a market that is ripe for disruption,” said Kapil Venkatachalam, General Partner at TCV. “Rave will be able to leverage a broad range of TCV’s resources, including our deep sector knowledge and network of advisors to capitalize on growth opportunities in present and untapped market segments.”

“Today’s safety leaders are utilizing innovative technology to prepare better, respond faster, and communicate more effectively,” said Bob Burke, Venture Partner at TCV. “We are delighted to partner with an experienced executive management team and help shape the company’s expansion following on Rave’s 10 years of consecutive double-digit growth.”

Rave has over 5,000 customers deployed in the United States. The City of Chicago, Washington D.C. Schools, the City of Cincinnati, Iowa State University and City of Virginia Beach are some of the 1,100 customers added during the past year. Thousands of agencies and institutions across law enforcement, 9-1-1, state and local emergency management agencies, corporations, healthcare organizations, K–12 districts, colleges and universities depend on Rave’s solutions.

“The community in Virginia Beach has to not only account for the safety of our 450,000-plus citizens, but also for the millions of visitors who travel to our shores each year,” added Stephen Williams, Director – Emergency Communications Citizen Services for the City of Virginia Beach. “We recently upgraded to the Rave Mobile Safety platform from a legacy system because of Rave’s robust Mass Notification feature set and ability to deliver critical information to 9-1-1. Rave gives us that advantage and the peace of mind that comes from knowing we can shorten response times and handle spikes in activity during our busy tourist season.”

Shea & Company served as financial advisor to TCV. Raymond James & Associates acted as exclusive financial advisor to Rave Mobile Safety.

For more information about Rave, visit RaveMobileSafety.com.

About Rave Mobile Safety
Rave Mobile Safety, a trusted safety software partner, provides the leading critical communication and data platform trusted to help save lives. Used by leading education and healthcare institutions, enterprises and state and local public safety agencies, the award-winning Rave platform including Rave Alert™, Rave 911 Suite™, Rave Panic Button™, Rave Guardian™, Rave Prepare™ and Rave Eyewitness™ SwiftK12™ and Swift911™ protects millions of individuals. Rave Mobile Safety is headquartered in Framingham, Mass. For more information, please visit https://www.ravemobilesafety.com/.

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 software investments include Alarm.com, Altiris, Ariba, Avalara, ExactTarget, ETQ, FinancialForce, Genesys, IQMS, OSIsoft, Sitecore, SMT, and Splunk. 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.

SOURCE Rave Mobile Safety

Media Contacts:

Rave Mobile Safety
Phone: 888-605-7164
PR@ravemobilesafety.com

TCV
Katja Gagen
Phone: 415.690.6689
kgagen@tcv.com

Related Links

https://www.ravemobilesafety.com

Newsela Secures $50 Million Series C from TCV for Growth and Expanded Content

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.

A classroom utilizes Newsela's instructional content platform. With over 20M students and 1.8M teachers on the platform, Newsela is now being used in 90% of U.S. schools.
A classroom utilizes Newsela’s instructional content platform. 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.”

As a company, Newsela has grown significantly, increasing staff 50% in the past 12 months. It was in the top 50 (#35) recipients of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™ of 2018, and was named to Fast Company’s list of World’s Most Innovative Companies in 2017 and 2018.

For more information about Newsela or to join the team, visit Newsela.com.

About Newsela

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

About TCV

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/.

Media Contact:
Newsela
Kristen Marion 
623-308-2638 
210900@email4pr.com 

Katja Gagen
TCV
415-690-6689
kgagen@tcv.com

SOURCE Newsela

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NVCA Member Spotlight: TCV

Tell us about your firm. What makes TCV different?

CEOs and Founders tell us how TCV stands out for them: the depth of our knowledge in their particular industry and technology. 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.


Where did the firm’s name come from?

We were founded in 1995 and were originally named Technology Crossover Ventures. “Crossover” means that we’re equally comfortable making both private and public investments, and that we help companies evolve from private to public ownership. Many CEOs appreciate a firm who can be a capital partner at multiple stages of their company’s evolution. For example, we invested multiple times in Netflix as a private company, and continued to support them as an investor after their IPO. Our original investment in the company was 20 years ago, and we continue to be investors today. Over the past 24 years, we’ve had more than 60 IPOs in our portfolio and we bring that experience to every new investment.  

What defines your portfolio?

We look to partner with companies that have already established a leadership position in their market 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 delighting customers, an economic model that is reflective of the value they provide, and an opportunity to scale the business in the future.

How is the firm different today than when you first started?

Today’s technology market is much bigger than it was in 1995, and today TCV is also much bigger than in 1995. During the past 24 years, we’ve invested in hundreds of companies and evaluated thousands more, so our knowledge base, experience, and network has expanded dramatically. Because of that, we’re in a better position today to help companies scale smarter and faster.

Why is TCV a part of NVCA?

We are a collaborative firm, so being part of our own industry association is a natural fit. TCV was a founding member of the NVCA Growth Equity Group (GEG). Through our direct involvement on NVCA committees and task forces, we have witnessed first-hand how the NVCA works as an advocate for entrepreneurs as well as investors.

Tell us about the current VC landscape in your geography/region.

We have offices in Menlo Park, NYC, and London. While our geographic focus has generally been focused on companies headquartered in North America and Europe, most of our portfolio companies are – or are seeking to be – global leaders regardless of where “home base” is. Today, executives are building great companies everywhere, not just in the traditional technology hubs like the Bay Area, Boston, or New York. So we’re increasingly focused on finding the best companies regardless of where they are located.

What’s ahead for your firm in 2019?

Looking outward, we see more great technology companies and talented entrepreneurs than ever before. We recently began investing out of TCV X, a $3 billion fund, and are excited about the portfolio we’re assembling for that fund. Looking inward, we’re focused on making TCV an even better platform for the world’s best technology investors. We continue to grow our organization and provide a compelling career path for investors who can partner with the world’s best technology companies and deliver exceptional returns for our Limited Partners.

Describe your firm’s culture in 5 words or less

“Helping others succeed.” Internally, this means each of us are accountable for the success of the entire TCV team, and each of us are expected to actively support our colleagues. Externally, we all have the ability – and responsibility – to bring the capabilities of the entire firm to our portfolio companies and give them the best TCV has to offer.

About TCV

Founded in 1995, TCV provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry. Since inception, TCV has invested over $10 billion in leading technology companies and has helped guide CEOs through more than 115 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV’s investments include Airbnb, AxiomSL, Dollar Shave Club, EmbanetCompass, ExactTarget, Facebook, Fandango, GoDaddy, LinkedIn, Netflix, Rent the Runway, Splunk, Spotify, 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, visit www.tcv.com.

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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. 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 “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.

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From Startup to Global Scale: Securing and Building the Company’s Culture Are Keys to Success of Tech Leaders

The days when technology chiefs could focus simply on hardware and software are gone. For technology leaders, aligning IT with long-term strategy and attracting and nurturing a winning team has become key in a world where customer expectations are growing, and the pace of change continues to accelerate.

Today’s technology businesses need to think strategically at the local, national, and global level. Many companies run business online or mobile first and are getting creative and competitive advantages from collecting and analyzing consumer data. This provides both opportunities and challenges: on one hand, companies can get access to global customers fast, yet they are also facing competitors both at home and abroad, not to mention threat actors who could be located anywhere and can come at you with sophisticated attacks. It’s your talent against theirs – with your enterprise and your customers in the middle.

At TCV, we’ve been focused on talent and culture as critical success factors for more than 20 years. Many of our investments have turned on building or sustaining successful cultures and nurturing them with the right people. For this year’s invitation only CTO/CIO Summit we decided to look at talent and culture together with the challenges of globalizing and securing the enterprise. We brought together over 40 technology executives, including founders, product leaders, TCV partners, and — of course — CTOs and CIOs, in Half Moon Bay, CA, for an opportunity to build peer relationships, learn from shared experiences, and discuss top-of-mind issues facing these leaders. We also mixed up the “talent” for the event itself, drawing not only on working CTOs and CIOs but also career IT experts with consulting and investing experience across multiple industries.

For us, the most important part of the two-day event was gaining a deeper understanding of both the challenges and opportunities technology executives need to balance, including:

  • Winning the Talent Wars and Creating a Winning Culture
  • Building a Globally Distributed Organization
  • Privacy and Identity Initiatives and Securing the Enterprise
  • Our agenda centered around best practices in scaling a global organization. Other topics we discussed included how to integrate acquisitions and best practices in managing a global workforce.

Here are the highlights:

Over dinner, Zillow CTO Dave Beitel spoke about how technology has transformed the real estate industry. Dave joined Zillow in 2005 and has seen the company grow, both organically and with 13 acquisitions in the last 12 years. Dave explained the importance of creating a strong culture across multiple locations and laying out paths to career development to motivate teams as organizations scale. He also provided advice on a common challenge that many growing companies face, particularly how to integrate offshore teams and make them an extension of existing efforts rather than adjacent resources. He also discussed with the group how to achieve success in scale with multiple office locations and different cultural identities.

Tim McAdam led the next day’s first panel with Victoria Schillinger, VP of HR at Alarm.com; Caroline Horn, Partner at Andreessen Horowitz; Michael Morell, Managing Partner at Riviera Partners; and Jonathan Schoonmaker, SVP of HR at FinancialForce. Their topic: winning the talent wars against today’s tech giants. The practical tips flowed freely, starting with university recruiting. Pick a few schools and work them, including both Ivy League schools and state colleges. Build relationships with influential faculty. Introduce your brand to younger students, not just seniors. When they become interns, give them meat to work on, not crumbs – having an impact is what they value most. If they turn down an offer, wait 2-3 years and call again – they may not be having the impact they expected at that big company they chose. Retaining key talent has to be proactive. Sit people down and map out how they will develop themselves and increase their impact by staying with you. Give them management opportunities so they can imagine themselves as leaders. Don’t expect diversity to walk in the door — look for talented, highly motivated people who come from completely different fields such as law or the military. And finally, the 90 days after a new hire starts are more important than the 90 days spent hiring them. Set them up for quick wins, build in plenty of touch-points, and make sure they’re comfortable in the culture.

Ted Coons continued the conversation with a focus on talent and culture, talking with Kameron Kordestani, a partner at McKinsey & Company, and Otto Berkes, CTO of CA Technologies, about building a globally distributed company. Both speakers separated the “artifacts” of culture – posters, slogans, logos – from its essence: ways of working that make the organization succeed. People who embody those essentials should be made ambassadors to new acquisitions or newly built development centers, so that people new to your culture can experience it live. When new team members absorb it, they should be given broader responsibilities in the combined company – this leverages their talent and inspires their original team. Particularly after M&A, the acquired team needs to understand its role and contribution to the combined entity; this should happen quickly and positively. Pay for travel if you can; people in far-flung organizations form bonds faster when they meet in person. Both Otto and Kam warned against sticking too closely to integration playbooks, particularly when the acquired technology is new or different. Sometimes a talent-rich team should not be integrated rapidly. Don’t compromise on security or safety but take time to observe how they work before you impose on a new team – the last thing you want to do is spoil an acquisition by how you integrate it.

TCV EIR Jonathan Shottan, Manmeet Singh, Co-founder and CEO of Dataguise and Pablo Jensen, CTO of Sportradar pulled back the curtain on Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s new privacy laws. Simply put, GPDR is about What, Where and Why: What private data do you have? Where is private data stored? Why do you need to process that private data? Both the compliance challenge and market opportunity of the new regulations are huge and what unites them is the challenge of identifying the vulnerabilities. Many companies mistakenly believe they are compliant, because they encrypt and segregate various types of customer data physically or in the cloud; but when they bring data types together for analysis, they create “PII” – personally identifiable information. The new laws also require companies to delete data if customers demand it, but that’s likely to create havoc with legacy database applications built on relational technology. And how do you delete older data stored on physical media? Enter data masking, at production scale, to stand in for deletion and encryption. First movers — with enough IT spend on decoupling, segregating, and masking data — may even competitively enhance their brands as “more secure” than others.

After lunch, Ted Coons and Charles Beadnall, CTO of GoDaddy, delved into the transformation of GoDaddy’s culture, a process that started back in 2013. Engineers loved the company’s mission of providing small businesses with a home on the internet, but deterrents included fly-over geography, aging facilities and sensationalist marketing. With a new CEO – and marketing campaign – GoDaddy began recruiting heavily. The challenge was forming a new culture that welcomed both existing employees and a flood of new developers in ways that produced better products, faster. Charles employed a version of the 80/20 rule: if he could populate 20% of a department with more diverse people who modeled the right behaviors, they would tip over the rest. The company hired people based on referrals, recruited many female graduates from local universities and placed experienced diverse hires in senior IT roles. Charles also drew in Ph.D.s from MIT and spent time with teams around the globe to transform a culture while keeping the company focused on growth.

Matt Robinson led the day’s final session on securing the enterprise with Amir Ben-Efraim, co-founder and CEO of Menlo Security; Rob Fry, VP of Engineering at JASK; Robert West, Managing Director at Deloitte LLP; and Christian McCarrick, VP of Engineering at Auth0. Matt first asked the panel how CIOs and CTOs should differentiate among today’s legions of security providers. Recommendations included assessing your vulnerabilities so you’re asking the right questions, getting referrals from peers, and anticipating the inevitable consolidation among security providers. Not every company needs an industry giant – those companies were startups once, and today’s upstarts may have superior technology. The panel then discussed prioritizing among today’s proliferating threats. Getting governance in place is critical – if no one fully owns the security portfolio, priorities will be set for the wrong reasons. If the role falls to you as CTO or CIO, you must be (or become) a good storyteller to convey the threats to your company and build consensus on addressing them. It’s also vital to recognize that malware will get inside your systems, but it won’t be the end of the world if you’re prepared. Ultimately the biggest weakness of all security systems is the human element. Education and training are essential and need to be on the agenda regularly. In addition, Amir argued that companies should hold vendors to a higher standard, aiming to receive 100% efficacy to keep companies protected.

We are grateful for all the valuable insights our speakers shared with attendees and the TCV community we strive to create. We look forward to exploring new topics and connections during our next TCV event.

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The views and opinions expressed are those of the CTO/CIO Summit speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”).  This summary 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.  Not all companies discussed above are TCV portfolio companies.  Any TCV portfolio companies discussed above 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 “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.

 


Match Play: Lessons in Leadership

On the heels of the final rounds of the 50th US Open Tennis Championship, TCV’s General Partner John Doran sat down with George Mulhern, former tennis pro and CEO of Cradlepoint to discuss lessons learned on and off the court. In addition to being CEO of Cradlepoint, a global leader in cloud solutions for 4G/5G-enabled networks, George has been instrumental in driving economic growth in the Northwest region as a venture capitalist. Throughout his 20+ year career, George has drawn on his experiences on the tennis court to succeed through the highs and lows of the ultra-competitive tech industry.

Key takeaways include:

  • How to develop a competitive mentality that keeps you focused
  • The right attitude for responding to adversity
  • Why the mindset of your company’s culture determines long-term success

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John Doran: It’s not every day I get to talk with a fellow tennis player about what the game can teach tech founders and CEOs. How far did your tennis career take you?

George Mulhern: I went to college on a tennis scholarship and then played for a short time on the American Express Satellite tour, which is like the minor league of professional men’s tennis. That was far enough to know that I would have to make my living doing something else.

John Doran: What did tennis teach you about competing in the technology business?

George Mulhern: One of the most important competitive things you learn in tennis is to never give up when you are behind. You can turn around a match completely, like a major pivot in technology, if you keep your head and adjust your strategy and tactics. It truly is not over until it’s over. An equally valuable lesson, one you usually learn the hard way, is to never let up when you are ahead. If you lose momentum it is much tougher to get back on top, and you also give a big shot of confidence to your opponent. The same is true in business. You can never rest on your past successes. Every day is a new game and you have to approach it with the intention and intensity to win.

John Doran: Pro players often talk about knowing their competition and anticipating how a certain player will try to compete against them. Do you see parallels in your business life?

George Mulhern: My experience was that no matter how much you study your competition before a match, it is impossible to completely predict how they will behave. It is more important to have keen situational awareness, flexibility in your own game and the agility and willingness to rapidly adapt. Then you’re ready no matter what the opponent comes at you with.

John Doran: In tennis, top players often try to balance their strengths and stamina and stay in a match with a view to turning around the momentum. Has there ever been a time when you would conserve energy against an opponent in a long match?

George Mulhern: The context for those comments is that players today are achieving a level of conditioning that is unprecedented for tennis. They’re hitting harder and running more for every ball. So you can win a match by outlasting the other player, not just outplaying them. The same is true in technology. If you are investing enough time and effort into that level of conditioning, you don’t need to conserve your energy. Your competitor should run out of gas before you do. By conditioning I mean ensuring that you have, or are acquiring, the skills and capabilities your company needs to sustain success for as long as you stay in business.

John Doran: It’s often said that success in tennis is as much about the mental side of the game as it is about physical talent.  In your world now, as CEO, having a strong mental game is fairly pivotal as well. How do you keep your mental game sharp in the tech business?

George Mulhern: There are all kinds of distractions when you are playing competitive tennis: fans, competitors, weather, injuries, illness, even the last shot you missed. You need the mental toughness to put all those things aside and focus on what is most important, which is the point you are playing right now. It is the same in the tech business. The distractions are different – there is always the latest shiny object grabbing at your attention – but the challenge is the same. You have to stay focused on the key value drivers of your business.

John Doran: On the WTA tour, I understand that coaching is now allowed during matches at certain times, giving the coach a potentially bigger influence on the outcome of a match. Can you share any feedback that you took from your tennis coaches over the years that you still use today?

 George Mulhern: My college coach, whom I now think of more as “Yoda,” taught me it’s not about who has the best strokes or shots. It’s about a simple decision you have to make: (Yoda voice) “Winner, do you want to be?” If you do want to win, then the challenges of becoming a winner don’t feel like a sacrifice. They energize you. You are more than willing to put in the hours of practice and conditioning. You embrace the need to change something in your game if that’s necessary, and you summon the courage to fight until the last shot of the match even when you’re tired and it starts to feel hopeless.

John Doran: Applying the coaching metaphor to your business experience, what kind of performance feedback is most valuable?

George Mulhern: Direct and honest is the best. As you rise in an organization, more people will tell you how great you are. You have to find the folks that will tell you the things that aren’t so positive and nice to hear. As you move into higher levels of leadership you need to grow a thicker skin, but with some permeability so you can accept critical feedback and not over-personalize it. It’s just business. You use the feedback to improve and move on.

John Doran: One of the commonalties about this generation of top tennis players, especially in the men’s game, is the ability of the top players to continually improve and add to their games, allowing people such as Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic to stay on top for so long. In the business and technology world, how do you ensure you’re making the necessary improvements to your game to stay ahead of the competition?

George Mulhern: My first year of college tennis, it really hit home to me that I had to get better every day, because there are a whole bunch of other guys out there who certainly are. It is the same in technology. Every technology company’s culture has to instill a sense of urgency and willingness to embrace and adapt to change. Your existing competitors are striving to improve, new competitors are starting up, and they all want to take your market share. At Cradlepoint we say, “stay humble and hungry, or you will be.”

John Doran: Even the greatest tennis players of all time have lost big matches throughout their careers. What can business leaders learn from that? How do they recover?

George Mulhern: It’s one match. Learn from it, adapt where you need to, and get over it. People in your organization will take their cues from you and react the way you do, so don’t run around like your hair is on fire. Just go to work on finding the path to the next success.

John Doran: Did any of the great tennis players of the past inspire you in ways that affected your success in business?

George Mulhern: One of my life lessons came from a tennis idol of mine – Arthur Ashe. When he was asked what it takes to become a champion, he said “start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”  Whenever I am faced with what seems like an insurmountable challenge or problem, I remember that quote.  If you just take that first step, the next step becomes clearer, and then so does the next.

John Doran: Thanks so much for your insights, George.

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TCV is an investor in Cradlepoint.

The views and opinions expressed in the transcript above are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”). This transcript 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 “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/