Connect with us

Uncategorized

Ageras nabs $73M at a $244M valuation for its accountancy marketplace and bookkeeping tech stack

Published

on

Vertical marketplaces continue to be a key lynchpin in the digital economy, a centralized place where people providing given goods or services can connect with those specifically looking to buy them — a position has become even more prominent in our pandemic economy. Today, a startup out of Denmark called Ageras Group, which has built a dual-purpose platform, providing both accountancy software and a marketplace for small and medium businesses to find accountants, is announcing a round of growth funding to expand its business.

The Copenhagen-based company has closed a round of $73 million from a single investor, Lugard Road Capital. Ageras has now passed 340,000 users across Denmark, the U.S., Sweden, Norway, Holland and Germany, and it says that the plan will be to use the funding to expand into what it generally describes as “growth markets” — new countries, new customer segments, and also adding more services to its software stack — both through organic growth and acquisitions.

“Ageras has established a market leading and best-in-class product offering that is optimally positioned for international expansion and the rising demand for automated business tools,” said Rico Andersen, Ageras’ CEO who co-founded the company with Martin Hegelund, himself a serial investor who has backed the likes of Slack. “This latest financing round will support our ongoing commitment to scaling the Ageras brand and bringing our software offering to new customers across the globe. We look forward to continuing the Ageras story in the years to come.”

Ageras is not disclosing its valuation, but this report in Danish publication Borsen pegs it at 1.5 billion Danish Krone, or around $244 million at today’s rates. We’ve asked an Ageras spokesperson to confirm the figure and will update this post as we learn more.

We’re also asking how much it has raised in the past. Founded in 2012, the startup was bootstrapped for its first five years, and PitchBook discloses only around $220,000 before this round. Previous investors include Investcorp — which took a majority stake in the company in 2017 — and more recently Rabo Bank.

The investment underscores the persistent popularity of the marketplace model for online business, made popular in e-commerce by the likes of Amazon and Alibaba but extended to a range of services as well.

Ageras is not the only company linking accounts and bookkeepers with others in the field including Upwork, Bark, Paro and more. In the area of online accounting services, meanwhile, there are a number of players including established companies like Intuit as well as newer entrants like Pennylane, TaxScouts, Zeitgold, and Stripe-backed Pilot.

The startup today follows a fairly typical labor marketplace model: SMEs seeking accountancy services submit their requirements in three areas — accounting, book keeping or auditing — and in return they receive three leads to contact. That model is one that Andersen and Hegelund know well, having previously built an online marketplace for home service professionals called “Fa det Gjort” (which translates to “Get it done!”).

Alongside this — and to further diversify the business model — the company has expanded into building accounting software, starting first with its own in-house Meneto suite, and then adding to it with two acquisitions, Billy in Denmark and Tellow in The Netherlands.

Lugard appears to be a VC affiliated with U.S. hedge fund Luxor Capital Group and it has also backed the delivery platform Glovo, inRiver, and others. Investcorp, meanwhile, continues to hold a significant stake in the startup as part of its bigger tech investment strategy, which has included acquiring and then selling security firm Avira, and recently taking a stake in India’s logistics startup Xpressbees.

“The combination of Ageras’ mission critical software, backed by a reputation for dependability, insights into the professional service market, an outstanding management team, paired with its cutting-edge research & development has ensured it has continued to grow its market position and deliver an accountancy ecosystem based on high quality recurring revenue,” said Gilbert Kamieniecky, MD and head of Investcorp’s technology vertical, in a statement. “The additional financing secured by Ageras will help to drive international expansion and support the continued innovation of its customer offering.”

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

Continue Reading
Comments

Uncategorized

The rise of the tech workers union and what comes next

Published

on

While not entirely non-existent, the union has been an elusive phenomenon in Silicon Valley. More recently, however, big names like Google and Kickstarter have taken key steps toward forming unions, as have smaller startups like Glitch, which made history this week by signing a collective bargaining agreement – the first team of software engineers to do so. Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama, meanwhile, are currently on the cusp of forming their own historic union. In this panel from TC Sessions: Justice, we discuss how we got here, what comes next and steps tech employees can take.


On Why Now?

As has been the case with management throughout history, tech companies have long fought tooth and nail against labor organizing. Over the course of the last couple of years, however, we may have seen something of a critical mass that could represent the beginnings of a sea change for the industry.

Redwine: It seems like tech workers are reacting to some of the maturity of tech and the expansion of the platforms that we all work on, and also more worker instability in general in the US, especially. I think it’s sort of a response that workers are becoming more formal in their organizing efforts. (Timestamp: 1:08)

Parul Koul (Google):

Koul: A variety of tactics and strategies have been tried, and we’ve been able to analyze the successes and failures of past movements and arrive at a point where we’ve developed enough institutional and organizational knowledge to try something new and – in some ways – more complex. (Timestamp: 3:25)


On Whether The Pandemic Will Spur More Organizing

Covid-19 has radically transformed where – and how – we work. It’s upended many industries and cause millions to lose jobs. Could the pandemic prove to be yet another inflection point for a growing movement.

Koul: In our case, what we saw was companies moving to work from home and then, in certain categories of employees, not really receiving the same benefits […] whether it’s a stipend to buy equipment or even having the benefit from working from home […] We also saw a mass movement and social and political protests against police brutality erupt right in the middle of the pandemic. For me, and many other organizers at Google, it really galvanized us to do something and respond to that in the streets and in our own way. (Timestamp: 6:56)


On How – or if – Unions Can Protect Against Layoffs

For many industries, layoffs have become all but an inevitability during the pandemic. In a number of the aforementioned cases, they’ve continued even in the wake of employee unionizing. Ultimately, how much protection does a union give workers against layoffs?

Reckers: Kickstarter won its union on February 18, 2020. The pandemic hit in mid-March. The company announced that they were going to have pretty massive layoffs in early-April. That was a very difficult time. We looked at the numbers and did see that a number of the people they were proposing to layoff were advocates for the union or union members. That was very hard to stomach. What happens, though – and where the union comes into play – is that the company was not able to just lay people off like that. Especially under the terms that they wanted to impose unilaterally, without any consultation with staff. The difference was that when the company proposed these layoffs, because there was already a union in place, Kickstarter had to negotiate with the group of employees about the terms of that layoff. (Timestamp: 9:10)


On How to Get Started

First steps toward unionization are often difficult in an environment where organizing is frowned upon management. Many early conversations happen after hours and off-the-clock for fear of repercussion. This can be doubly difficult in an environments like white collar workers tech company, where some employees don’t tacitly understand the benefits of organizing.

Reckers: You can best support each other by getting into conversations with your coworkers and understanding what’s been going on with them. The first question I often get from people is how to first start having conversations. I think that’s a challenge, especially since we’re not taught how to do that. But starting a conversation about what their experiences have been like at the organization or company, how long they’ve been there, how has there changed? What did they want to see when they were hired? What sort of workplace were they looking for? And how can we make sure that we have some way of achieving that? (Timestamp: 24:04)


On Whether Expressions of Support From Management Are Always Positive

Management often adopts the narrative that they support unions following hard fought battles. In the wake of support from certain tech executives and political leaders like Joe Biden, the question arises about whether such sentiments can ultimately have negative repercussions for organizing.

Redwine: First and foremost, it’s really important to remember that the things that people in power say do not matter. All of the power that you have doesn’t come from people at the top giving it to you. It comes from linking arms with the people next to you and taking that power and influence for yourself. (Timestamp: 28:27)

You can read the entire transcript here.

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

PayPal to acquire cryptocurrency custody startup Curv

Published

on

PayPal has announced that it plans to acquire Curv, a cryptocurrency startup based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Israeli newspaper Calcalist originally reported the move. And PayPal has now made an official announcement.

Curv is a cryptocurrency custody company, which means that it helps you store your crypto assets securely. The company operates a cloud-based service that lets you access your crypto wallets without any hardware device.

Curv also lets you set up sophisticated policies so that the new intern cannot withdraw crypto assets without some sort of approval chain. Similarly, you can create allow lists so that regular transactions can go through more easily.

Behind the scenes, Curv uses multi-party computation to handle private keys. When you create a wallet, cryptographic secrets are generated on your device and on Curv’s servers. Whenever you’re trying to initiate a transaction, multiple secrets are used to generate a full public and private key.

Secrets are rotated regularly and you can’t do anything with just one secret. If somebody steals an unsecured laptop, a hacker cannot access crypto funds with the information stored on this device alone.

As you can see, Curv isn’t a cryptocurrency wallet for end users. The company offers its services to exchanges, brokers and over-the-counter desks. If you’re running a fund and you plan on buying a large amount of cryptocurrencies, you could also consider using Curv.

Finally, financial institutions that are looking for a solution to store digital assets and diversify their balance sheet could also work with Curv.

PayPal says that the Curv team will join the cryptocurrency group within PayPal. The payment giant has been gradually rolling out cryptocurrency products. It has partnered with Paxos so that users in the U.S. can buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies from their PayPal account.

In the near future, PayPal also plans to let you buy and sell items using cryptocurrencies. During its most recent earnings release, the company also said that it plans to launch cryptocurrency products in other countries and in Venmo, the consumer fintech super app owned by PayPal.

Terms of the deal are undisclosed and the transaction should close at some point during the first half of 2021. Calcalist reported that PayPal was paying between $200 million and $300 million for the acquisition. A person close to the company says that the transaction was under $200 million. I guess we’ll find out what happened exactly in the next earnings release.

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Last-mile delivery robotics company Refraction AI raises $4.2M

Published

on

Ann Arbor-based Refraction AI announced today that it has raised a $4.2 million seed round. The startup, which debuted on the TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility stage back in 2019, was founded by a pair of University of Michigan professors (Matthew Johnson-Roberson — now CTO — and Ram Vasudevan) seeking to solve a number of issues posed by many delivery robots.

With an initial prototype built on a bicycle foundation, the company’s REV-1 robot is designed to operate in bike lanes and roads, rather than the standard sidewalk ‘bot. The different approach allows the robot to travel at higher speeds (topping out at 15 miles per hour) and removes some of the messy pedestrian-dodging issues that come with sidewalk use (while introducing some new ones on that narrow sliver of asphalt shared by cyclists).

Refraction is currently testing a small fleet in its native Ann Arbor. The seed round, led by Pillar VC, will be used for R&D, expanding the company’s reach and recruiting more customers, with a focus on grocery store and restaurant deliveries. Other investors include, eLab Ventures, Osage Venture Partners, Trucks Venture Capital, Alumni Ventures Group, Chad Laurans and Invest Michigan.

Another key differentiator is the use of cameras, versus LIDAR. The decision comes with some technological trade-offs, but benefits include a lower price point and the ability for the company to more quickly scale its fleet. The technology is also not easily districted by weather conditions encountered in the upper midwest, though it has limitations, too. As the company puts it, if you’re not comfortable walking out in it, the robot probably won’t be, either.

“Our platform uses technology that exists today in an innovative way, to get people the things they need, when they need them, where they live,” CEO Luke Schneider said in a release tied to the news. “And we’re doing so in a way that reduces business’ costs, makes roads less congested, and eliminates carbon emissions.”

With this new funding, the company plans to expand operations beyond its native Ann Arbor, though no additional test markets have been announced.

Continue Reading

Trending