Author: Ingrid Lunden

Airbnb acquires Denmark’s Gaest to expand in bookings for meetings and offsites

Airbnb, now valued upwards of $30 billion and inching to an IPO possibly as early as this year, has made an acquisition to continue to diversify its revenues beyond basic booking services for overnight accommodations in private homes. It has acquired Gaest, a startup out of Aarhus, Denmark that provides a marketplace-style platform for people to post and book venues in hourly or daily increments for meetings and other work-related events like offsites in Europe and elsewhere. Gaest’s team — it was founded in 2015 by Anders Boelskifte Mogensen (the CEO), Chris Kjær Sørensen, Christian Schwarz Lausten and Jonas Grau Sigtenbjerggaard...

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Kustomer nabs $35M to take on Zendesk and Salesforce with its Slack-like approach to CRM

Salesforce today dominates the world of CRM with its cloud-based, wide-ranging portfolio of software as a service. Now, a company founded by one of its alums thinks it can take it on with a more modern approach. Kustomer — an “omni-channel” customer support platform that can call in data from just about any other software and apps that a company uses, either to manage its business internally or speak to customers externally — has raised $35 million as it expands beyond SMBs to target larger enterprise customers. The company, based out of New York, had always seen itself as a...

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Sherpa, a Spanish voice assistant, expands Series A to $15M as it passes 5M users

When we think of the AI platforms that are shaping how we use voice to interact with phones, home devices and other services, we tend to think of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google and Microsoft’s Cortana. But there are other players that may prove to have a compelling value proposition of their own. Sherpa.ai, a voice assistant out of Spain that also provides predictive recommendations with a focus on the Spanish language, today is announcing that it has expanded its Series A by $8.5 million to $15 million as it passes 5 million active users of its app. Investors...

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Dosh raises $40M on $300M valuation as its cash back app passes $50M doled out to shoppers

When it comes to reaching would-be customers today, one of the biggest investments that brands and retailers will make is in advertising, to the tune of nearly $630 billion globally. Now, a startup called Dosh, which offers cash back on purchases, is announcing that it has raised $40 million to take on the advertising industry, with the pitch that its app provides a more targeted and guaranteed way of getting consumers to bite. The funding — $20 million in equity and $20 million in venture debt — is led by Goodwater Capital and Western Technology Investment. Previous investors PayPal, BAM Capital and Anthem Venture Partners also participated. Sources close to the company confirm that the funding was done on approximately a $300 million valuation. “Instead of taking all in equity we decided to split because of the strength of the company at the moment,” said Ryan Wuerch, Dosh’s founder and CEO, in an interview, who said the funding would be used for hiring, business development and technology investment. “We want to be opportunistic.” It was only nine months ago that Dosh last raised dosh, $44 million on a $241 million valuation. In the interim, the startup has been on a roll, at one point, in the holiday spending period, hitting number-one among US shopping apps and clocking in some $50 million in cash back to its users, doubling those...

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Zipwhip raises $51.5M for businesses to text customers from any kind of phone line

A surge of audio services using AI are giving voice a boost in customer service, but when it comes to communications in the age of mobile, messaging continues to be a critical platform. Now, a startup called Zipwhip, which provides a platform for businesses to interact with customers by text messages from any business line — landline, VoIP, or toll-free — is announcing funding of $51.5 million to capitalise on that push to bring more text-based messaging into customer service. This round, a Series D, is being led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from previous investors OpenView, M12 (formerly...

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AR startup Meta’s assets sold to a mystery ‘known name’ that will support existing headsets

Augmented reality technology enables us to see things in places where they may not actually exist. And sometimes, that paradigm might also apply to augmented reality startups themselves. Meta, the AR startup that was incubated at Y-Combinator and became the first to ship a set of “end-to-end” AR glasses (including hardware, software, direct tracking optics and SDK) to the market, raising a lot of money and high hopes in the process — only to crash, in recent weeks, into insolvency as it ran both out of money to fund the costly business of building hardware and options to raise...

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IBM and Vodafone form $550M venture to develop cloud, 5G and AI business solutions

IBM is one of the world’s biggest system integrators, but to get closer to where enterprises are actually doing their work, it’s been inking partnerships with companies that build devices and run the networks enterprises are using for their IT, and today comes the latest development on that front. IBM is announcing a new venture with mobile carrier Vodafone, in a deal that will comes in two parts. First, IBM will supply Vodafone’s B2B unit Vodafone Business with managed services in the areas of cloud and hosting. And second, the two will together work on building and delivering solutions in...

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Coursera moves into healthcare education with 100 courses and 2 masters degrees

Coursera, the online learning startup valued at $850 million, has made its name primarily around its classes and degrees in information technology, data science and business. Now nearly seven years into its life, it’s tackling a new vertical. To tap into shifting economic and societal trends, Coursera is moving into health, with around 100 courses in 30 areas, along with two master’s degrees in public health, to help train people to fill current and future talent shortages in health informatics, healthcare management, public health and related roles. Universities that will be offering courses include top schools like Columbia University, Emory...

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