SurveyMonkey has filed confidentially to go public

The IPO window continues to remain open as SurveyMoney, which last raised money in 2014 at a $2 billion valuation, announced today that it has confidentially filed to go public.

SurveyMonkey can file confidentially with the SEC through the JOBS act signed in 2012, which allows those companies to test the waters before they formally release an S-1. It’s increasingly popular as it allows the companies an opportunity to get a gut check while investors appear to have at least some of an appetite for fresh IPOs while not having to spill the entire financial guts of the company publicly. SurveyMonkey is also the latest of a wave of enterprise IPOs in the past six months or so. There’s still plenty that can change given that it’s a confidential filing. We won’t know how much money the company wants to raise, what its business even looks like, or any of the other granular details of the IPO.

SurveyMonkey gives businesses a way to submit surveys to their customers and try to more seamlessly gather feedback about products, customer service, or anything else that a company might be able to measure based on those responses. In an era where tracking all of that data becomes increasingly important thanks to more robust predictive tools and considerably more processing power to make those projections, SurveyMonkey’s data is likely even more valuable than it was when it raised funding in 2014. SurveyMonkey on its own end, too, might be easily able to understand how people are actually rating the companies they work with.

Dropbox and DocuSign are the most recent successful IPOs, both valued at over $10 billion at this point. But there are companies like Zuora, which went public in April, zScalar and others that have seen significant success after they went public. That means that there’s plenty of demand for companies that are about to go public, which is where the saying of the “IPO window being open” comes from.

Prisma co-founders raise $1M to build a social app called Capture

Two of the co-founders of the art filter app Prisma have left to build a new social app.

Prisma, as you may recall, had a viral moment back in 2016 when selfie takers went crazy for the fine art spin the app’s AI put on photos — in just a few seconds of processing.

Downloads leapt, art selfies flooded Instagram, and similar arty effects soon found their way into all sorts of rival apps and platforms. Then, after dipping a toe into social waters with the launch of a feed of its own, the company shifted focus to b2b developer tools — and we understand it’s since become profitable.

But two of Prisma’s co-founders, Aleksey Moiseyenkov and Aram Hardy, got itchy feet when they had an idea for another app business. And they’ve both now left to set up a new startup, called Capture Technologies.

The plan is to launch the app — which will be called Capture — in Q4, with a beta planned for September or October, according to Hardy (who’s taking the CMO role).

They’ve also raised a $1M seed for Capture, led by US VC firm General Catalyst . Also investing are KPCB, Social Capital, Dream Machine VC (the seed fund of former TechCrunch co-editor, Alexia Bonatsos), Paul Heydon, and Russian Internet giant, Mail.Ru Group.

Josh Elman from Greylock Partners is also involved as an advisor.

Hardy says they had the luxury of being able to choose their seed investors, after getting a warmer reception for Capture than they’d perhaps expected — thinking it might be tough to raise funding for a new social app given how that very crowded space has also been monopolized by a handful of major platforms… (hi Facebook, hey Snap!)

But they also believe they’ve identified overlooked territory — where they can offer something fresh to help people interact with others in real-time.

They’re not disclosing further details about the idea or how the Capture app will work at this stage, as they’re busy building and Hardy says certain elements could change and evolve before launch day.

What they will say is that the app will involve AI, and will put the emphasis for social interactions squarely on the smartphone camera.

Speed will also be a vital ingredient, as it was with Prisma — literally fueling the app’s virality. “We see a huge move to everything which is happening right now, which is really real-time,” Hardy tells TechCrunch. “Even when we started Prisma there were lots of similar products which were just processing one photo for five, ten, 15 minutes, and people were not using it because it takes time.

“People want everything right now. Right here. So this is a trend which is taking place right now. People just want everything right now, right here. So we’re trying to give it to them.”

“Our team’s mission is to bring an absolutely new and unique experience to how people interact with each other. We would like to come up with something unique and really fresh,” adds Moiseyenkov, Capture’s CEO (pictured above left, with Hardy).

“We see a huge potential in new social apps despite the fact that there are too many huge players.”

Having heard the full Capture pitch from Hardy I can say it certainly seems like an intriguing idea. Though how exactly they go about selectively introducing the concept will be key to building the momentum needed to power their big vision for the app. But really that’s true of any social product.

Their idea has also hooked a strong line up of seed investors, doubtless helped by the pair’s prior success with Prisma. (If there’s one thing investors love more than a timely, interesting idea, it’s a team with pedigree — and these two certainly have that.)

“I’m happy to have such an amazing and experienced team,” adds Moiseyenkov, repaying the compliment to Capture’s investors.

“Your first investors are your team. You have to ask lots of questions like you do when you decide whether this or that person is a perfect fit for your team. Because investors and the team are those people with whom you’re going to build a great product. At the same time, investors ask lots of questions to you.”

Capture’s investors were evidently pleased enough with the answers their questions elicited to cut Capture its founding checks. And the startup’s team is already ten-strong — and hard at work to get a beta launched in fall.

The business is based in the US and Europe, with one office in Moscow, where Hardy says they’ve managed to poach some relevant tech talent from Russian social media giant vk.com; and another slated to be opening in a couple of weeks time, on Snap’s home turf of LA. 

“We’ll be their neighbors in Venice beach,” he confirms, though he stresses there will still be clear blue water between the two companies’ respective social apps, adding: “Snapchat is really a different product.”

F-Secure to buy MWR InfoSecurity for ~$106M+ to offer better threat hunting

The ongoing shift of emphasis in the cyber security industry from defensive, reactive actions towards pro-active detection and response has fueled veteran Finnish security company F-Secure’s acquisition of MWR InfoSecurity, announced today.

F-Secure is paying £80 million (€91,6M) in cash to purchase all outstanding shares in MWR InfoSecurity, funding the transaction with its own cash reserves and a five-year bank loan. In addition, the terms include an earn-out of a maximum of £25M (€28,6M) in cash to be paid after 18 months of the completion subject to the achievement of agreed business targets for the period from 1 July, 2018, until 31 December, 2019.

F-Secure says the acquisition will enable it to offer its customers access to the more offensive skillsets needed to combat targeted attacks — specialist capabilities that most companies are not likely to have in-house.

It points to detection and response solutions (EDR) and managed detection and response services (MDR) as one of the fastest growing market segments in the security space. And says the acquisition makes it the largest European single source of cyber security services and detection and response solutions, positioning it to cater to both mid-market companies and large enterprises globally.

“The acquisition brings MWR InfoSecurity’s industry-renowned technologies to F-Secure making our detection and response offering unrivaled,” said F-Secure CEO Samu Konttinen in a statement. “Their threat hunting platform (Countercept) is one of the most advanced in the market and is an excellent complement to our existing technologies.”

As well as having experts in-house skilled in offensive techniques, MWR InfoSecurity — a UK company that was founded in 2002 — is well known for its technical expertise and research.

And F-Secure says it expects learnings from major incident investigations and targeted attack simulations to provide insights that can be fed directly back into product creation, as well as be used to upgrade its offerings to reflect the latest security threats.

MWR InfoSecurity also has a suite of managed phishing protection services (phishd) which F-Secure also says will also enhance its offering.

The acquisition is expected to close in early July, and will add around 400 employees to F-Secure’s headcount. MWR InfoSecurity’s main offices are located in the UK, the US, South Africa and Singapore.

“I’m thrilled to welcome MWR InfoSecurity’s employees to F-Secure. With their vast experience and hundreds of experts performing cyber security services on four continents, we will have unparalleled visibility into real-life cyber attacks 24/7,” added Konttinen. “This enables us to detect indicators across an incredible breadth of attacks so we can protect our customers effectively. As most companies currently lack these capabilities, this represents a significant opportunity to accelerate F-Secure’s growth.”

“We’ve always relied on research-driven innovations executed by the best people and technology. This approach has earned MWR InfoSecurity the trust of some of the largest organizations in the world,” added MWR InfoSecurity CEO, Ian Shaw, who will be joining F-Secure’s leadership team after the transaction closes. “We see this approach thriving at F-Secure, and we look forward to working together so that we can break new ground in the cyber security industry.”

The companies will be holding a webcast to provide more detail on the news for investors and analysts later today, at 13:30 EEST.

Email security startup Tessian raises $13M led by Balderton and Accel

Tessian (formerly called CheckRecipient), the London-based startup that is deploying machine learning to improve email security, has raised $13 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is Balderton Capital, and existing backer Accel. A number of previous investors also followed on, including Amadeus Capital Partners, Crane, LocalGlobe, Winton Ventures, and Walking Ventures.

Founded in 2013 by three engineering graduates from Imperial College — Tim Sadler, Tom Adams and Ed Bishopon — Tessian is built on the premise that humans are the weak link in company email and data security. This can either be through mistakes, such as a wrongly intended recipient, or through nefarious employee activity. By applying “machine intelligence” to monitoring company email, the startup has developed various tools to help prevent this.

Once installed on a company’s email systems, Tessian’s machine learning tech analyses an enterprise’s email networks to understand normal and abnormal email sending patterns and behaviours. It then attempts to detects anomalies in outgoing emails and warns users about potential mistakes before an email is sent. This, the startup says, makes it different to legacy rule-based technologies and that Tessian requires “no admin from security teams and no end-user behaviour change”.

One neat aspect is that Tessian can get to work retroactively, producing historical reports that show how many misaddressed emails an organisation has sent prior to the installation date. That is bound to help with sales, even if it could give an enterprise’s security team quite a shock, especially in light of recent GDPR data regulation in Europe. The new EU directive stipulates that companies must report data breaches involving personal information to their local regulator and face fines as high as 4 percent of global turnover for the worst data breaches.

In a call late last week with Tessian CEO and co-founder Tim Sadler, he told me the company plans to use the additional funding for R&D, including the launch of new product, and to expand its sales and marketing teams. Since the startup’s seed round last year, the Tessian team has grown from 13 to 50 people.

In terms of future products, Sadler explained that is looking to apply its tech to in-bound email, in addition to Tessian’s current out-bound products. One way to think about email, he says, is that an email address is like an IP address for humans, enabling human to human networks. However, in terms of security, not only are humans an obvious weak point, acting as the gatekeeper to the network and the data that resides on it, email by design is inherently open.

To that end, Sadler tells me that next on Tessian’s roadmap is a way to make in-bound email less prone to data breaches. This will include using Tessian’s machine intelligence to identify spoofed emails or other unusual communication.

“What Tessian have done — and this is why we are so excited about them — is apply machine intelligence to understand how humans communicate with each other and use that deeper understanding to secure enterprise email networks,” says Balderton Capital Partner Suranga Chandratillake. “The genius of this approach is that while the product focus today is on email — by far the most used communication channel in the corporate enterprise — their technology can be applied to all communication channels in time. And, as we all communicate in larger volumes and on more channels, that represents a vast opportunity”.

Meanwhile, Sadler says the startup’s customers span legal, healthcare and financial services, but that any enterprise handling sensitive data are a potential fit. “World leading organisations like Schroders, Man Group and Dentons and over 70 of the UK’s leading law firms are now using platform to protect their email networks,” adds the company.

Google makes $550M strategic investment in Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com

Google has been increasing its presence in China in recent times, and today it has continued that push by agreeing to a strategic partnership with e-commerce firm JD.com which will see Google purchase $550 million of shares in the Chinese firm.

Google has made investments in China, released products there and opened up offices that include an AI hub, but now it is working with JD.com largely outside of China. In a joint release, the companies said they would “collaborate on a range of strategic initiatives, including joint development of retail solutions” in Europe, the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

The goal here is to merge JD.com’s experience and technology in supply chain and logistics — in China, it has opened warehouses that use robots rather than workers — with Google’s customer reach, data and marketing to produce new kinds of online retail.

Initially, that will see the duo team up to offer JD.com products for sale on the Google Shopping platform across the word, but it seems clear that the companies have other collaborations in mind for the future.

JD.com is valued at around $60 billion, based on its NASDAQ share price, and the company has partnerships with the likes of Walmart and it has invested heavily in automated warehouse technology, drones and other ‘next-generation’ retail and logisitics.

The move for a distribution platform like Google to back a service provider like JD.com is interesting since the company, through search and advertising, has relationships with a range of e-commerce firms including JD.com’s arch rival Alibaba.

But it is a sign of the times for Google, which has already developed relationships with JD.com and its biggest backer Tencent, the $500 billion Chinese internet giant. All three companies have backed Go-Jek, the ride-hailing challenger in Southeast Asia, while Tencent and Google previously inked a patent sharing partnership and have co-invested in startups such as Chinese AI startup XtalPi.

YC alum Modern Health, a startup focused on emotional wellbeing, gets $2.26M seed funding

About one year ago, a note from a CEO thanking his employee for using sick days to take care of her mental health went viral. It was a reminder to Alyson Friedensohn of what she wants to accomplish with Modern Health, the emotional health benefits startup she founded last year with neuroscientist Erica Johnson.

“We want that to be normal. We want the email she sent to be normal, to be able to be that open,” Friedensohn tells TechCrunch.

Modern Health, a Y Combinator alum, announced today that it has raised $2.26 million in seed funding for hiring, accelerating the development of its healthcare platform and growing its network of therapists, coaches and other providers. Offered as a benefit by companies, Modern Health’s services are meant to improve employee well-being and retention rates. The round was led by Afore, with participation from Social Capital, Precursor Ventures, Merus Capital, Maschmeyer Group Ventures, Y Combinator and angel investors.

Friedensohn, Modern Health’s chief executive officer, says several employers have already signed up for its platform, which includes services like counseling and career and financial coaching. One of its newest customers, human resources startup Gusto, hit a 43% utilization rate of its services, including connecting employees to coaches and therapists, among registered users just four days after it began offering the platform. 

The startup is especially proud of the fact that Modern Health’s team is currently all female and Friedensohn wants to parlay their points of view into services that address issues affecting women. For example, the platform already works with providers who specialize in postpartum depression and infertility.

“People don’t talk about what working moms are dealing with and countless things like that,” says Friedensohn, who previously worked at health tech companies Keas and Collective Health. “People don’t want to talk about it because they are worried it will jeopardize their careers, but it makes a difference.”

Several other tech startups are working on mental health care platforms for employers to offer as a benefit, including Ginger.io, Lyra Health and Quartet, which have all have received significant amounts of funding from prominent investors. The space is especially important, given the alarming rise in the United States’ suicide rate and the fact that about 6.7% of all adults in the U.S. have experienced at least one major depressive episode.

One of Modern Health’s priorities is to reach employees before they hit a crisis point. Since many people are daunted by the idea of therapy, the platform connects them to coaches instead to focus on specific issues, like their careers, or overall emotional wellbeing. This helps referrals, Friedensohn notes, because it makes the service feel more approachable.

“They can say to friends, I have this awesome Modern Health coach, versus saying I have a therapist, so it’s way easier for people to engage,” she says.

Modern Health also makes its services more accessible by offering several ways to use the platform: texting, video calls or, for people who don’t want to talk to a therapist or coach yet, meditation apps and other digital tools created by the company. Friedensohn adds that it’s not uncommon for people to write essays on their sign-up forms when registering because it’s the first time they’ve been able to unload their problems.

“People like that it’s coaching,” she says. “What we found is that by focusing on that point, the biggest thing is lowering the barrier to entry, so that people who are depressed are also comfortable reaching out.”

Scooters go mad, Opendoor wants to buy your house, and Meituan’s IPO

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week was something of a first for the crew, twice. First, we had two guests on the show, and, also, we only made it through two and a half topics. The former is good, the latter is, well, we’ll see.

So, this week Matthew Lynley and I were joined by David Chao, co-founder and general partner at DCM, and Steve Vassallo, a general partner at Foundation Capital. Points to both for being guinea pigs.

Heading into our first topic I’m sorry to inform you that, at least in terms of Equity, scooters are the new Uber. So, we wound up talking about both this week. We started with the fact that Bird is raising new capital at an even more staggering valuation than before ($2 billion!), and that Lime is working to raise a truckload of capital itself. (Reports vary, but it’s probably a $250 million equity round at around a $750 million valuation. There may also be some debt in the mix for Lime. More when we lock that down.)

And, as Chao’s firm is an investor in the space, we had even more to chew on.

Next up we dug into the massive new Opendoor round. The firm’s new $325 million puts it into a solid position to help people sell their houses. Which markets are the best fit was something for us to unspool, along with public market comps, such as they are. But most critical, at least in my view, was the idea of risk. On that point Vassallo made a reasonable argument regarding stress testing. We’ll see.

And finally, we touched on Meituan’s impending IPO, and how it came to be.

Thanks for sticking with Equity after all this time. We’ll be back next week with another round of chatter about the latest, greatest, and dumbest that tech has to offer.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercast, Pocket Casts, Downcast and all the casts.

Truecaller makes first acquisition to build out payment and financial services in India

Sweden’s Truecaller started out life as a service that screens calls and messages to weed out spammers. In recent times the company has switched its focus to India, its largest market based on users, adding services that include payments to make it more useful. Now Truecaller is putting even more weight behind its India push after it announced its first acquisition, mobile payment service Chillr.

The vision is to go deeper into mobile payments and associated services to turn Truecaller into a utility that goes beyond just handling messages and calls, particularly payments — a space which WhatsApp is preparing to enter in India.

Truecaller doesn’t have WhatsApp -like scale — few companies can match 200 million active users in Indua, but it did recently disclose that it has 100 million daily active users worldwide, while India is its largest country with 150 million registered users.

Truecaller has raised over $90 million from investors to date, according to Crunchbase. TechCrunch reported in 2015 that it was in talks to raise $100 million at a valuation of around $1 billion, but a deal never happened. Truecaller has instead raised capital from Swedish investment firm Zenith. Chillr, which offer payment services between over 50 banks, had raised $7.5 million from the likes of Blume Ventures and Sequoia Capital.

Truecaller isn’t disclosing how much it has paid for the deal, but it said that Chillr’s entire team of 45 people will move over and the Chillr service will be phased out. In addition, Chillr CEO Sony Joy will become vice president of Truecaller Pay, running that India-based payment business which will inherit Chillr’s core features.

“We’ve acquire a company that is known for innovation and leading this space in terms of building a fantastic product,” Truecaller co-founder and CSO Nami Zarringhalam told TechCrunch in an interview.

Zarringhalam said the Truecaller team met with Chillr as part of an effort to reach out to partners to build out an ecosystem of third-party services, but quickly realized there was potential to come together.

“We realized we shared synergies in thought processes for caring for the customer and user experience,” he added, explaining that Joy and his Chillr team will “take over the vision of execution of Truecaller Pay.”

Truecaller added payments in India last year

Joy told TechCrunch that he envisages developing Truecaller Pay into one of India’s top three payment apps over the next two years.

Already, the service supports peer-to-peer payments following a partnership with ICICI Bank, but there are plans to layer on additional services from third parties. That could include integrations to provide services such as loans, financing, micro-insurance and more.

Joy pointed out that India’s banking push has seen many people in the country sign up for at least one account, so now the challenge is not necessarily getting banked but instead getting access to the right services. Thanks to gathering information through payments and other customer data, Truecaller could, with permission from users, share data with financial services companies to give users access to services that wouldn’t be able to access otherwise.

“Most citizens have a bank account (in each household), now being underserved is more to do with access to other services,” he explained.

Joy added that Truecaller is aiming to layer in value added services over its SMS capabilities, digging into the fact that SMS remains a key communication and information channel in India. For example, helping users pay for items confirmed via SMS, or pay for an order which is tracked via SMS.

The development of the service in India has made it look from the outside that the company is splitting into two, a product localized for India and another for the rest of the world. However, Zarringhalam said that the company plans to replicate its approach — payments and more — in other markets.

“It could be based on acquisitions or partners, time will tell,” he said. “But our plan is to develop this for all markers where our market penetration is high and the market dynamics are right.”

Truecaller has raised over $90 million from investors to date, according to Crunchbase. TechCrunch reported in 2015 that it was in talks to raise $100 million at a valuation of around $1 billion, but a deal never happened. Truecaller has instead raised capital from Swedish investment firm Zenith.