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Mambu raises $122M at a $2B+ valuation for a SaaS platform that powers banking services

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Challenger banks, incumbent banks, and all of the many businesses that are making inroads into any kind of banking service all have something in common: when it comes to launching a new product like a credit line or a deposit or current account, these days many of them are opting not to build from the ground up, but are instead using third-party technology to power these services. Today, one of the big players in providing that tech is announcing a large round of funding to expand its business, underscoring the growth in this market.

Mambu, a Berlin-based startup that describes itself as an SaaS banking platform — providing, by way of APIs, technology to banks and others to power lending, deposit and other banking products — has closed a round of €100 million (about $122 million at today’s rates). The funding gives Mambu a post-money valuation of €1.7 billion (just over $2 billion at today’s rates), the company has confirmed.

CEO and co-founder Eugene Danilkis said it will be using the money to expand deeper in the 50 markets where it is already active, as well as focus more on specific regions like South America and Asia. (And for those keeping tabs on the “Is the Bay Area dead?” story, it’s one of the many tech companies with its US offices established in Miami.)

Mambu has been seeing 100% growth year-on-year, but notably, Mambu covered 50 markets when it last raised money, €30 million in 2019, so you can argue it has some investing and expanding to do on that front.

The round is being led by TCV, with Tiger Global and Arena Holdings, along with past investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Runa Capital and Acton Capital Partners, also participating. TCV, known for making big growth round bets (it’s invested in the likes of Netflix, Facebook and Spotify in the past) has also been carving out a name for itself for backing some of the biggest names in European fintech and e-commerce, with recent investments including Revolut, Spryker, Mollie and Relex.

The market that Mambu is courting is the vast opportunity for a new wave of banking and financial services that tap into the growth of smartphone and web usage.

Long gone are the days where people have to go into physical banks to take out or deposit money, or fill out loan applications and meet with assessors who ultimately decide whether you or your business will get money or not. In fact, many of those brick-and-mortar locations don’t even exist anymore. In their place are apps, websites, and on-demand services that live wherever people are spending time and money online.

Mambu’s platform, according to Danilkis, covers some 7,000 different banking products at the moment. These are roughly split across three primary categories: lending, current accounts and deposit accounts, but the sheer number of products really speaks to just how many ways and forms in which you are offered banking services today. (Take credit for example: you can get it through various kinds of cards, point of sale pay-later products, straight loans, and so on.) Alongside its own products, it also provides links through to certain third-party financial services like TransferWise, additional services such as security (perhaps a given for a banking platform) and a platform for “process orchestration” (its equivalent of providing business process management tools).

Gartner estimates (cited by Mambu) put the banking software market at over $100 billion and growing at double-digits, and Mambu’s customer list reveals the range of companies that are vying these days for a piece of that action: they include the likes of challenger banks like N26 and OakNorth, but also large incumbent banks like Santander and ABN Amro, and telecoms carriers like Orange, which together cover some 20 million customers and some $12 billion under management, Mambu said.

And indeed, the bigger opportunity has also meant that companies like Mambu have a large and growing list of competitors too: they include newer companies like Rapyd and Unit, as well as Thought Machine, which raised a big round last year; Temenos and Italy’s Edera. It will be interesting to see how newer entrants in the SaaS banking-platform space disrupt what are, effectively, becoming incumbents in their own right: Mambu is now approaching 10 years old (it was founded in 2011). That could lead to consolidation, too.

Turning back to that customer list, I can understand the logic of a company not really in the business of financial services like a telco, or a neo-bank taking an API-based service to power banking — it focuses instead on building clever algorithms for running those services, and fast interfaces to make them easy to use — it was interesting to me to see large banks on that list, too. It turns out that the reason is because banks are up against it in another way.

“Yes, banks have the functionality and capability, but launching something new is often a case of speed and cost,” said Danilkis. “The banks might have a generation-2 system but many will be much older. And  changing how a financial product behaves is very difficult and highly risky because even a small change can create problems. And those systems are not designed to work with APIs, so it is extremely hard if not impossible to connect to other systems, never mind in real time. Certain solutions or offerings become impossible or impractical to build yourself.”

John Doran, the TCV partner, is joining Mambu’s board with this round, and while the company may be seen as an incumbent to some, its early mover position has helped it not only gain market share, but to stand out for investors as one of the players with staying power.

“Mambu was one of the first companies to leverage the opportunity to move banking software into the cloud,” he said in a statement. “The team has built a highly composable, truly cloud-native product in a multi-billion dollar, rapidly-growing market traditionally dominated by large, slow-moving on-prem vendors. We have been following Mambu’s progress for many years and are truly delighted to be able to partner with Eugene and the entire Mambu team on their journey to expand their offerings to customers worldwide.”

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Apple’s new editorial franchise, Apple Podcasts Spotlight, to highlight interesting creators

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Apple today announced a new editorial franchise called Apple Podcasts Spotlight, which aims to highlight rising podcast creators in the U.S. The editorial team at Apple will select new podcast creators to feature every month and then give them prominent screen real estate in the Apple Podcasts app and promote them across social media and elsewhere. This will allow creators to reach a wider audience, similar to how the App Store showcases a selection of recommended apps and games with large banners at the top of its screen.

The first Spotlight creator is Chelsea Devantez, who hosts the podcast Celebrity Book Club. On Fridays, Chelsea and special guests including Emily V. Gordon, Gabourey Sidibe, Ashley Nicole Black and Lydia Popovich will meet to discuss the memoirs of “badass celebrity womxn,” as an announcement describes it.

The idea for the show began a year ago when Devantez was reading Jessica Simpson’s memoir and started recapping it on Instagram. The reaction from her followers prompted her to expand the concept into a podcast.

Upcoming episodes will feature Oscar-nominated writer and producer Emily V. Gordon talking Drew Barrymore’s “Little Girl Lost;” actress Stephanie Beatriz discussing Celine Dion’s memoir “My Story My Dream;” Leighton Meester on Carly Simon’s “Boys in the Trees;” and a special Valentine’s Day episode where Chelsea and TikTok star Rob Anderson read Burt Reynolds’ and Loni Anderson’s competing divorce memoirs.

“Apple Podcasts Spotlight helps listeners find some of the world’s best shows by shining a light on creators with singular voices,” said Ben Cave, Global Head of Business for Apple Podcasts, in a statement about the launch. “Chelsea Devantez has created a fun, vibrant space with Celebrity Book Club for listeners to gain new perspectives on the celebrities we thought we knew. We are delighted to recognize Chelsea and Celebrity Book Club as our first Spotlight selection and look forward to introducing creators like Chelsea to listeners each month,” he added.

Apple says future Spotlight creators will be announced monthly from across a range of podcast genres, formats and locations, and will often focus on independent and underrepresented voices. The content is previewed ahead of selection to ensure quality, but there are no specific requirements about the podcast size and reach.

In general, the new Spotlight creators will debut toward the front of the week, but the specific days are fluid to adapt to holidays, major cultural events, and others. The next Spotlight selection, for example, will launch in mid-February.

The Spotlight creators will be featured at the top of the Browse tab of Apple Podcasts and will be promoted through the Apple Podcasts social media accounts. Some form of in-app featuring will continue throughout the entire month the creators are in the “spotlight.”

Apple says it will also collaborate with the featured creators on their own channels. And, over time, you’ll see promotion via additional Apple-operated channels including outdoor advertising in major U.S. metros.

The news of the new editorial program comes shortly after a report from The Information suggested Apple is working to expand its podcasts platform with the introduction of a podcast subscription service, threatening rivals like Spotify, SiriusXM and Amazon.

Though Apple Podcasts still leads the market, Spotify has been catching up by spending over $800 million on podcast companies, like Anchor, the Ringer, Gimlet Media, and more recently, podcast ad company Megaphone.

SiriusXM, meanwhile, bought podcast management and analytics platform Simplecast, ad tech platform AdsWizz, and podcast app Stitcher. Not to be left out, Amazon just a few weeks ago announced it was acquiring the podcast network Wondery.

Beyond helping the creators grow their audience, Apple says the larger goal with the program is to welcome new audiences to podcasts, in general.

Though podcasts are growing in popularity, the monthly podcast listener base is just 37% in the U.S., according to Edison Research. That means it’s nowhere near being an activity that’s popular among a majority of the U.S. population at this time. Before Apple can effectively monetize podcasts as a subscription service, it needs to help get more people listening to podcasts on a regular basis.

Apple declined to say if the program would expand outside the U.S. at a later date.

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We’ll discuss the future of the gig economy and contract works at TC Sessions: Justice on March 3

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Like so many other subjects, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought concerns about the gig economy and contract workers into sharp focus over the past year which is why we’ll be diving into this topic at TC Sessions: Justice on March 3.

From food delivery services like Seamless to warehouse and fulfillment jobs at places like Amazon, these often low-paid jobs have kept people supplied with essentials during one of the most difficult moments in modern American history.

But why is it that jobs our society has labeled “essential” often carry the least number of protections for those who fulfill them? Is there a way to ensure a safety net for the people who need it the most?

As the pandemic continued to rage, California passed Proposition 22. The law was regarded as a big win for companies like Uber and Lyft (who pumped a collective $200 million into promotions) and a tremendous step back for workers looking for basic employment rights. But the battle between the Prop 22 proponents and the gig workers who oppose it continues. A group of rideshare drivers in California and the Service Employees International Union have filed a lawsuit alleging Proposition 22 violates California’s constitution.

To discuss the gig worker economy and its future in a post-Prop 22 world, we will be joined by Jessica E. Martinez, the co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, an organization devoted to promoting health and safety conditions for workplaces; Vanessa Bain, a gig worker activist who co-founded the Gig Workers Collective; and Christian Smalls, a former Amazon worker turned activist.

TC Sessions: Justice will be held online on March 3. Get your tickets today!


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Wendy Xiao Schadeck becomes Northzone’s first New York partner

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Northzone‘s new partner Wendy Xiao Schadeck isn’t new to the firm — she actually joined back in 2015.

Before entering the venture world, Schadeck co-founded co-working and childcare startup CoHatchery. And as a Northzone principal, she’s already been involved in the firm’s investments in Spring Health (mental health), 3box (cloud infrastructure), Livepeer (blockchain-based video transcoding) and Magic.link (user authentication).

More broadly, Northzone says Schadeck helped to develop the firm’s investment theses around crypto, consumer technology, health, developer/web 3.0 infrastructure.

“Wendy has already proven herself through very insightful sector-driven thought leadership and has solidified our position in the New York ecosystem,” said General Partner Pär-Jörgen Pärson in a statement. “She has defined and redefined an honest, authentic and inspiring dialogue between herself as an investor and the entrepreneurs she supports.”

Schadeck told me that her interests have “crystallized” around three key areas — “open data, open finance and open community.” And she said that with her promotion to partner, she will be able to work even more closely with founders, a topic she’s become “obsessed” with.

“We’ve all seen this VC meme, ‘How can I be helpful?’ and I’ve sometimes accidentally literally said it,” Schadeck said. “But we mean it: Other than providing capital, first and foremost, on good terms, what other dimensions are there that are becoming more and more important? … How can I customize my approach to provide what the founder needs from me?”

While Schadeck is Northzone’s first New York-based partner (its other partners are in London and Stockholm), she said she will make investments outside the region, albeit with an NYC focus.

“We’ve tried to do this matrix approach, where we both have sectors that we’re pretty excited about and build expertise and experience in, as well as relationships” she said. “And those relationships are better with local entrepreneurs.”

 

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