Connect with us

Uncategorized

Unpacking the C3.ai IPO filing

Published

on

The last thing I recall thinking about C3.ai (C3) was seeing its billboards outside San Francisco and asking myself what the hell the company actually did and how much it was spending on a huge outdoor advertisements.

So much for what I know. The company filed to go public on Friday, and instead of being a cash-burning, buzzwordy mess, C3 is actually in pretty good financial shape, generating both growing recurring software revenues and cash in some quarters.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


C3’s growth is not as regular as some investors might like, but the company has an attractive gross margin profile and even the occasional bit of net income to point to. Its financial picture is therefore generally likable, with a few caveats that we’ll explore.

But what does C3 do, who backed it, and what can we learn from drilling into its numbers? I am glad you asked, because those were precisely the questions that I had going into its filing.

Pull up the document here, and let’s get into the numbers.

Inside the guts of a modern AI company

First, what is C3? The former startup calls itself an enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) company, selling software services that help big companies build AI apps “of extraordinary scale and complexity that offer significant social and economic benefit,” according to its S-1.

The company sells its software in two forms: as a developer environment that lets customers design, build and deploy their AI apps on their cloud of choice, and as a group of pre-built apps users can spin up quickly. If C3 were a startup, I’d ask at this point how efficacious its AI tooling really is, but as this unicorn is worth $3.3 billion and has nine-figure revenue, it must have come up with something that works.

A host of venture capital firms have invested in C3, with the company raising more than $360 million during its lifetime, according to PitchBook data. BlackRock led its Series H, FS Investors led its Series G, its $100 million Series F was led by TPG, Breyer Capital led its Series E, TPG Growth led its Series D, while its Series C and before are a little harder to parse, but it appears that Makena Capital Management and Interwest Partners were active at that stage.

Looking to ownership, founder and entrepreneur Thomas Siebel owns just under 34%, TPG owns 22.6%, and Baker Hughes owns around 15%. The company’s voting power rests in its Class B stock, which Siebel effectively controls.

Right now, is the business itself any damn good?

The numbers

C3 has an annoying fiscal year, a twelve-month period that ends on April 30th. So, when we discuss its most recent two fiscal years, we’re chatting about the four-quarter periods that ended onm April 30, 2019 and April 30, 2020. Afterwards, we’ll drill into the July 31 quarter, the most recent period for which we have data.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

Uncategorized

Adobe expands customer data platform to include B2B sales

Published

on

The concept of the customer data platform (CDP) is a relatively new one. Up until now, it has focused primarily on pulling data about an individual consumer from a variety of channels into a super record, where in theory you can serve more meaningful content and deliver more customized experiences based on all this detailed knowledge. Adobe announced its intention today to create such a product for business to business (B2B) customers, a key market where this kind of data consolidation had been missing.

Indeed Brian Glover, Adobe’s director of product marketing for Marketo Engage, who has been put in charge of this product, says that these kinds of sales are much more complex and B2B sales and marketing teams are clamoring for a CDP.

“We have spent the last couple of years integrating Marketo Engage across Adobe Experience Cloud, and now what we’re doing is building out the next generation of new and complimentary B2B offerings on the Experience platform, the first of which is the B2B CDP offering,” Glover told me.

He says that they face unique challenges adapting CDP for B2B sales because they typically involve buying groups, meaning you need to customize your messages for different people depending on their role in the process.

An individual consumer usually knows what they want and you can prod them to make a decision and complete the purchase, but a B2B sale is usually longer and more complex involving different levels of procurement. For example, in a technology sale, it may involve the CIO, a group, division or department who will be using the tech, the finance department, legal and others. There may be an RFP and the sales cycle may span months or even years.

Adobe believes this kind of sale should still be able to use the same customized messaging approach you use in an individual sale, perhaps even more so because of the inherent complexity in the process. Yet B2B marketers face the same issues as their B2C counterparts when it comes to having data spread across an organization.

“In B2B that complexity of buying groups and accounts just adds another level to the data management problem because ultimately you need to be able to connect to your customer people data, but you also need to be able to connect the account data too and be able to [bring] the two together,” Glover explained.

By building a more complete picture of each individual in the buying cycle, you can, as Glover puts it, begin to put the bread crumbs together for the entire account. He believes that a CRM isn’t built for this kind of complexity and it requires a specialty tool like a CDP built to support B2B sales and marketing.

Adobe is working with early customers on the product and expects to go into beta before the end of next month with GA some time in the first half of next year.

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Two-year-old Day One Ventures raises new $52.5M fund to invest in Valley startups

Published

on

Back in 2018 Day One Ventures launched in Silicon Valley specifically designed to be both a VC and an investor that would also lead marketing and communications for its portfolio. Two years on, Day One has invested in numerous startups to do just that and has today filed with the SEC its new $52.5M fund.

The new fund is similar to the first one: investing across industries from pre-seed to seed, with occasional series A investments (from $100K to $5M).

The fund was founded and is headed by Russian émigré Masha Drokova, who, since arriving in the US a few years ago, has been variously a PR and angel investor, but famously dumped her former life in Russia as a politician and TV reporter.

Drokova says the fund focuses on ‘day one’ companies, as defined by Jeff Bezos, which have ‘customer obsession’ in-built into their company culture.

She says the fund was raised during the pandemic over zoom with $45 million coming from LPs in the first fund. More than 30% of the capital is invested in POC founders; it has 25 female founders in its portfolio; and 33% of its capital is invested in high-growth ‘impact’ companies. Day one has frequently co-invested with Andreessen, Index Ventures, Founders Fund, and Lightspeed.

The fund has had three exits so far: Lvl5, Acquired, Feastly and has invested in Remote.com (with Index and Sequoia).

So far among its portfolio is:

DoNotPay: British founder Joshua Browder, started a chatbot that pays your parking ticket, cancels subscriptions and gets refunds for you. This raised a $15M series A led by Coatue and Andreessen.
Superhuman: An AI-based email client for execs founded by Brit Rahul Vohra – it has raised $35M series B from Andreessen.
MSCHF: This creates viral and controversial products on a Supreme-drop-like model, invested with Founders Fund.
Truebill: a personal finance & savings app.

The fund says its portfolio companies have now raised $825 million in aggregate; over 25% of its capital is in fintech companies; over 30% in AI-powered startups; and it claims to have hit over 500 media publications for its portfolio.

Speaking to TechCrunch, Drakova said “We choose startups with ‘customer obsession’ as the main focus for selection. Secondly, our value add in communications means we have people like Jack Randall who did comms for Robin Hood on our team. Not many women immigrants to the US have raised as much as this, as fast as this. So it’s a good sign for the market.”

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

India bans another 43 Chinese apps

Published

on

India is not done banning Chinese apps. The world’s second largest internet market, which has banned over 175 apps with links to the neighboring nation in recent months, said on Tuesday it was banning an additional 43 such apps.

Like with the previous orders, India cited cybersecurity concerns to block these apps. “This action was taken based on the inputs regarding these apps for engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” said India’s IT Ministry in a statement.

The ministry said it issued the order of blocking these apps “based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center, Ministry of Home Affairs.”

The apps that have been banned include popular short video service Snack Video, which had surged to the top of the chart in recent months, as well as e-commerce app AliExpress, delivery app Lalamove, and shopping app Taobao Live. Full list here. At this point, there doesn’t appear to be any Chinese app left in the top 500 apps used in India.

Tuesday order comes as a handful of apps including PUBG Mobile and TikTok explore ways to make a return to the country. In recent weeks, PUBG has registered a local entity in India, partnered with Microsoft for computing needs, and publicly vowed to invest $100 million in the country. Though it is yet to hear from the government.

Tensions between the world’s two most populous nations escalated after more than 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a military clash in the Himalayas in June. Ever since, “Boycott China” sentiment has trended on social media in India as a growing number of people post videos demonstrating destruction of Chinese-made smartphones, TVs and other products.

In April, India also made a change to its foreign investment policy that requires Chinese investors — who have ploughed billions of dollars into Indian startups in recent years — to take approval from New Delhi before they could write new checks to Indian firms. The move has significantly reduced Chinese investors’ presence in Indian startups’ deal flows in the months since.

More to follow…

Continue Reading

Trending