Connect with us

Latest News

Degreed lands new cash for upskilling in a down market

Published

on

While the pace of layoffs might be slowing down, an extended recession is forcing companies to get smarter about the way they grow. One way to stay lean and stealthy? Have a team that is constantly learning and equally flexible.

Degreed helps employers do exactly that by connecting employees to learning resources to master new skills. The edtech startup today announced it has raised $32 million in venture capital in a round led by Owl Ventures, bringing its total known raised to $182 million. The company was founded in 2012.

At its core, Degreed is an upskilling platform that trains existing employees to enhance their current skill set. It does so by matching employees to lessons around different topics, like remote work or coronavirus. Degreed makes money through a monthly fee for clients and is free for employees.

“It keeps people skilled and employable; nobody should become irrelevant in the future because they lack the right skills,” said CEO Chris McCarthy.

Following its buy of Adepto, Degreed is also building out a career mobility product. Users can look at work opportunities based on current skills and see what they need to work on to get a new role. The skill profile will also let individuals see relevant work and learning opportunities such as jobs, one-off projects or tasks.

Today’s financing is specifically earmarked for the company’s career mobility product, part of the reason it is a smaller sum than previous rounds, says McCarthy.

Like many edtech companies, Degreed said the past six months have included unprecedented engagement from customers; nearly one in seven Degreed accounts have been activated between April and May of this year alone.

The uptick might be a mix of more people looking to become invaluable and more people having fundamentally more time on their hands to work on habits. The high engagement also could be because of uncertainty, according to co-founder David Blake .

“People face uncertainty in their work, but if organizations invest in having better skill insights then they can upskill, reskill and redeploy their people,” he said. The goal is that people can keep their jobs and “futureproof themselves against whatever’s on the horizon.”

Certain skills have been more in demand than others. According to Degreed, communication has seen a 15.5% increase and design thinking has increased 12.8%. Other topics that have seen spikes in engagement include crisis management, resilience, mental health and change management. The bottom line here is that people are interested in working on flexible, human-first skills.

It brings up an interesting question: Can edtech teach non-quantifiable skills like vulnerability? CEO McCarthy says that soft and flexible skills will be “essential” in the future. Like any edtech company, Degreed needs to prove efficacy before it touts success.

Anti-harassment tech Ethena faces a similar hurdle. It is hard to prove whether software makes a difference when it comes to harassment, because so much happens behind the scenes or goes unreported.

Ethena is working on a study right now to see if their software leads to higher retention and less attrition. Another company, MasterClass, is just betting that it can prove value by getting exclusive content for its site from A-list celebrities.

Degreed is going the route of many course providers: certification.

Users can go through a process, called Degreed Skill Certification, where work is vetted, verified and analyzed by data scientists, a panel of experts and machine learning to provide a “ranking.” Users also have to provide references of two people who have first-hand knowledge of the skill and can vouch for accuracy, per the company.

To date, Degreed has connected more than 4 million people at over 250 organizations like NASA and Cisco.

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

Latest News

Syte, an e-commerce visual search platform, gets $30 million Series C to expand in the U.S. and Asia

Published

on

Syte’s cofounders, chief executive Ofer Freyman, chief revenue officer Lihi Pinto-Fryman and chief operating officer Idan Pinto

Syte’s cofounders, chief executive Ofer Freyman, chief revenue officer Lihi Pinto-Fryman and chief operating officer Idan Pinto

Tel Aviv-based visual search and product discovery platform Syte, already used by brands like Farfetch and Fashion Nova, plans to expand in the United States and Asia-Pacific region after its latest funding. The startup announced today it has raised a $30 million Series C, with an additional $10 million in debt.

The round was led by Viola Ventures, with participation from LG Tech Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures, Kreos Capital, and returning investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund. Syte’s last round of funding, a $21.5 million Series B, was announced in September 2019. The startup has now raised a total of $71 million.

Launched in 2015 to focus on visual search for clothing, Syte’s technology now covers other verticals like jewelry and home decor, and is used by brands including Farfetch, Fashion Nova, Castorama and Signet Jewelers. Syte says that its solutions can increase conversion by 177% on average.

The company’s platform includes three main products: Visual Discovery to let brands add camera search, recommendation engines and discovery buttons; “Searchendising,” which automatically generates tags based on visual AI to improve search and recommendation results; and a Discovery Marketplace used by publishers, smart devices manufacturers and social platforms to increase the reach of product advertisements.

Since the beginning of 2020, Syte says its customer base has grown 38%, partly because of the increase in e-commerce traffic caused by COVID-19 movement restrictions.

In the company’s press announcement, chief executive officer and co-founder Ofer Fryman said Syte will focus on developing or acquiring product discovery technology “spanning the full range of our senses—visual, text, voice, and more” to create types of personalized recommendations.

A lot of Syte’s current customers are in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, so its new funding is also earmarked to increase its presence in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific markets.

More social media platforms and e-commerce platforms, including Amazon, Target, IKEA, Walmart, eBay, Snap, and Pinterest, are using visual search and recognition technology to give users an alternative to keyword searches. By simplifying the search process or automatically generating tags, visual recognition technology can help improve search results and product recommendations, resulting in more conversions.

There is a roster of other companies that are also working on AI-based visual recognition and search technology for e-commerce. Other startups in the same space that have raised venture capital funding include Donde Search, ViSenze and Slyce.

Gal Fontyn, Syte’s vice president of marketing, told TechCrunch that it differentiates with visual AI algorithms developed by co-founder and chief technology officer Helge Voss, who previously worked as a physicist at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research).

Voss’ background in neural networks and machine learning allowed Syte to build a visual search solution that can produce results with over 95% accuracy in object-matching within less than a second, Fontyn said. Its algorithms have also been trained on millions of products from vendors around the world, which Syte claims gives it the “largest vertical-specific lexicon in the industry.” This is what allows it to recognize several objects within an image, and assign them detailed tags.

Brands that use Syte see a 423% increase on average on ROI, Fontyn added.

Continue Reading

Latest News

June’s third-gen smart oven goes up for pre-order, starting at $599

Published

on

2020 is June’s time to shine. With an increasing number of people stuck and home, trying (and often failing) to fend for themselves in their kitchen, the smart oven startup has a solid opportunity to considerably expand its users base.

“The rise in at-home cooking has caused us to reevaluate June’s cook-programs to achieve more culinary possibilities not captured by a standard home oven,” CTO and co-founder Nikhil Bhogal said in a release.

Today it announced the launch of a third-generation oven, two years after its last major update. From the sound of it, the update is a relatively minor one. There are a handful of upgrades to the oven’s hardware, including a new handle, added guard rails on top of heating elements, quieter fans and a new chipset with better wireless connection.

Image Credits: June Oven

The biggest change to its functionality is the ability to control each of its six heating elements individually (whereas the previous model only controlled them as groups) for more even roasts. The software interface has gotten an upgrade, as well, and the on-board AI camera system is capable of recognizing where the food is placed for optimal cooking and can identify hundreds of different food types.

At $599, it’s still a pricy kitchen appliance. The system amounts to a large, smart toaster oven — albeit one with a bunch of different food-cooking options, from air frying to dehydrating and broiling. The price goes up from there. There’s a $799 bundle that adds a year to the warranty and includes a one-year subscription to the June premium service and a $999 version that includes a bunch of additional add-ons, including air baskets, a pizza and grill kit and additional thermometers.

Pre-orders open today. No word on exact launch date.

Continue Reading

Latest News

Road trippers can rejoice as RVshare raises over $100 million to grow its RV rental business

Published

on

As continentally confined Americans look for domestic vacation options that won’t expose them to too much risk of infection from the pandemic that’s still raging across the country, the RV rental company RVshare has raised over $100 million to capitalize on its historic opportunity.

The company’s new cash has come from the private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners and is intended to provide operational support to meet the booming demand for RVs as Americans hit the road in unprecedented numbers.

Growth for the Akron, Ohio-based company can only be described as absurd. The company saw a 650% increase in bookings from April to May of 2020, according to a report in The Drive.

The resurgence of the RV industry isn’t just pandemically driven, but there’s no doubt that the outbreak of Sars-Cov-2 has played a role in the dramatic surge in demand for campers. Vacationers just don’t have many other options given travel restrictions and risk.

And RVshare certainly isn’t alone in reaping the benefits.

There’s Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV rental company that was founded in 2015, bootstrapped by its founders for a couple of years, and has more recently attracted $88 million in venture funding. That funding included a $13 million extension to a $50 million Series B round that it quietly closed early this year, as TechCrunch reported. Cabana, another startup, launched by a former Lime executive, is merging the RV rental market with hotels. Then there’s Kibbo, which is turning RV parks into a photo worthy version of the hashtag vanlife.

Founded in 2013, RVshare connects RV owners with people who want to rent an RV. Since 2013, the company has amassed a network of over 100,000 recreational vehicles or trailers ranging from deluxe motorhomes to camper vans to trailer attachments. Led by chief executive Jon Gray, RVshare has seen bookings for the fall rising 166% year-on-year from 2019.

“As a result of the pandemic, RVshare has seen an acceleration of growth as consumers have sought out RVs as a way to travel during these challenging times. Tritium is excited to continue investing in this team, business, and a category that is just getting started. Adding the KKR team, with their fantastic set of experiences and resources, will help take RVshare to much greater heights.”

KKR made the investment through its Next Generation Technology Growth Fund II, which closed with $2.2 billion in January 2020. The investment in RVshare is actually the 10th commitment from the fund. Earlier investments include Zwift, ReliaQuest, Artlist, Darktrace, o9 Solutions and Slice.

GCA Global served as financial advisor to RVshare on the deal, according to a statement.

“RVs are the preferred accommodation for the more than 40 million US households that go camping each year,” said Ben Pederson, a Principal with KKR’s Technology Growth team. “Younger generations of travelers are discovering and embracing domestic travel and RVshare is providing a seamless marketplace experience where RV owners can share their passion for camping and unlock the value of their assets.”

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 Latin America Business News

en_USEnglish
es_COSpanish en_USEnglish