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Automated speech recognition gives CX vendor an edge

Sharpen, a vendor of a cloud-based contact center platform, offers an automated transcription service as part of its software package. It’s free, which its customers like, but a few years ago, Sharpen was getting complaints from customers that its transcriptions weren’t accurate.

“The transcription wasn’t great,” said Adam Settle, Sharpen’s vice president of product, who declined to name the automated transcription software vendor that the company used.

The customer wanted to use the service for keyword spotting, he said. But, he added, “searching for a keyword is kind of pointless” if the transcription is wrong.

The complaint sparked Sharpen to search for a new automated transcription vendor. That search eventually led them to Deepgram, an automated speech recognition startup founded in 2015.

A new vendor

Sharpen first became acquainted with Deepgram a few years ago, after seeing it demonstrate its automated speech recognition platform at a conference.

The platform, built on deep learning models, can come pre-trained on Deepgram’s library of calls. Users can upload pre-labeled speech files or label speech as they go, to further train and customize the platform.

Users can run the platform in the cloud or on premises and can access the speech recognition models through APIs.

Sharpen tested the products of numerous startups and big-name tech vendors before choosing Deepgram. Each had its problems, however. Some platforms, like the one from their first vendor, didn’t provide accurate transcriptions. Others, including systems from Google and Amazon, were too expensive, Settle said.

Some platforms “were eight times the cost without being eight times the quality,” he said.

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BigID Data Security Platform is SAP.iO’s First Startup Unicorn

SAP.iO reveals in its 2020 Impact and Insight Report that BigID, one of the its early investments and an SAP Solution Extension Partner, is the first startup unicorn in the SAP.iO portfolio with a valuation of over $1 billion. The company’s data security platform helps organisations secure customer data, satisfy privacy regulations, and manage risks.

According to the Wall Street Journal, following the emergence of increased remote work (brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic) and a rise in high-profile cyberattacks, risk-management and cybersecurity startups are in the spotlight among venture capitalists.

SAP.iO, SAP’s early-stage venture-capital arm, invested an undisclosed sum in BigID in multiple rounds between 2017 and 2019. As of December 2020, BigID announced a $70 million Series D on a valuation of $1 billion. 

In 2019, BigID and SAP forged a global reseller agreement, allowing SAP to sell two BigID powered products: SAP Privacy Management application by BigID and SAP Data Mapping and Protection application by BigID.

Now, more than ever, effectively managing risk and privacy compliance associated with big data is critical and a must for organisations. 

John Licata, Vice President and Fellow at SAP.iO Startup Accelerator explains:

“Data is increasingly valuable, and the backbone to AI, so tapping next-generation cybersecurity technologies is no longer a nice have. It’s a requirement to secure data and leverage it for growth opportunities. At least it should be for the modern enterprise that will witness over 500 billion connected things by 2030.”

Driving Innovation in Data Security

BigID is a recognised as a leader in data-centric personal data discovery and privacy, intelligence and automation. The cybersecurity startup has been bestowed with several awards for its innovative privacy technology, including:

  • 2018 RSA Conference Innovation Sandbox winner
  • CB Insights 2018 Cyber Defender
  • Network Products Guide 2018 IT World Awards “Hot Company of the Year” winner
  • 2019 InformationWeek Vendor to Watch
  • 2019 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer
  • 2020 Forbes Cloud 100
  • Business Insider 2020 AI Startup to Watch
  • Database Trend-Setting Products 2020

Dimitri Sirota, CEO and co-founder of BigID, explains how the startup’s data security platform provide the best of breed point solutions that address enterprise security gaps:

“Since starting in 2016, BigID has aimed to rethink how organisations provide data accountability to their customers through more intelligent data accounting. Before BigID, data privacy was largely about policy and process. BigID put data at the center, redefining how enterprises find, manage and protect their most important asset: their customer and employee data.”

The BigID data security platform leverages advanced machine learning (ML) and identity intelligence to help enterprises better protect their customer and employee data at petabyte scale. BigID’s technology enables organisations to manage IT complexities, minimise risk, and comply with ememerging data protection regulations such as the Europian Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

BigID also plans to expand its marketplace to third-party developers, offering them the ability to build applications on top of its data security platform. According to Sirota, the company aims to further accelerate sales and marketing in 2021.

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Adverity Is Number One in 2021 g2 Winter Report for Big Data Integration Platform

Adverity, a leading marketing data intelligence platform, has ranked number one in the Momentum Grid Report for Big Data Integration in the G2 Winter 2021 Report. It also continues to be recognised as a momentum leader across four other categories – Marketing Analytics Software, Data Visualization Software, E-commerce Data Integration and ETL Tools.

Top for product satisfaction in the Big Data Integration category with a score of 96%, Adverity also holds second place in the ETL Tools category; boasting a higher product satisfaction score than the category leader. 

It maintains third position in the E-commerce Data Integration category, while solidifying its status in the top five Data Visualizations products and remaining in the top ten Marketing Analytics Software products.

G2 rankings are based on data provided by verified users that share their experiences and feedback on software. The platform has more than one million independent user reviews and is read by over four million users each month. Every quarter, G2 Crowd publishes its Grid report, ranking software by extracting data from multiple online sources to determine market presence, satisfaction scores from customers, and market leadership.

The latest recognition follows a positive year for Adverity where it was previously named a Momentum Leader for ETL tools in the G2 Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 reports respectively. During this period it also moved into, and remained, in the Grid Report for Marketing Analytics top ten.

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OKR-focused Gtmhub raises $30M Series B after growing 3x in 2020

 Gtmhub, a multinational startup that builds software to help other companies manage their corporate planning, announced that it has raised a $30 million Series B. The round was led by Insight, and included both participation from new investor Singular and prior investors LauncHub and CRV.

Gtmhub raised capital around 13 months ago, a $9 million Series A. At the time, the new capital was larger than the aggregate of its preceding funding efforts. The startup’s new funding round, like its 2019 Series A, towers above its prior fundraising totals in a similar manner.

How has Gtmhub managed to raise so much money? In a word, growth.

TechCrunch reported at the time of its Series A that Gtmhub had managed 400% growth in annual recurring revenue (ARR) heading into the round, on a year-over-year basis. Similar levels of topline expansion have continued, with Gtmhub COO Seth Elliott telling TechCrunch that the company grew its ARR by a multiple of three last year (measured December 2019 through December 2020).

Around the time Gtmhub raised in 2019, a number of other startups focused on the same software market raised as well, leading to TechCrunch asking “why is everyone making OKR software?

The acronym OKR translates to “objectives and key results,” a planning method that has become popular among American technology firms, and, according to Elliott, is becoming more popular internationally and among non-technology companies.

The startup executive also told TechCrunch that he sees Gtmhub growing alongside two business trends. The first, the rise of OKRs themselves, is a wave that his company is riding, he told TechCrunch. The second, one that he thinks his startup is leading, deals with large companies pursuing corporate transformations to boost their agility; those firms are adopting Gtmhub, he said, which can help them execute their digital transformation, or similar efforts, successfully.

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SAP Among the World’s Top 25 Startup-Friendly Companies and Winner of Corporate Startup Accelerator Award

WALLDORF — SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced it has been recognized with a Corporate Startup Stars Award as one of the Top 25 most active companies to encourage open innovation with startups.

SAP also received a Corporate Startup Accelerator Award for its acceleration efforts and identifying worldwide best practices in corporate-startup collaboration. The announcement was made at the digital award ceremony hosted by open innovation advisory firm Mind the Bridge and the International Chamber of Commerce, on December 15.

Engaging with early stage startups is an important aspect of SAP’s holistic open innovation approach to remain agile and resilient in today’s global marketplace. This includes dedicated programs within SAP’s early stage venture arm SAP.iO to scout and accelerate new ideas and talent inside and outside of the company.

“At SAP, we know that we can mutually benefit from outside-in perspectives to inspire innovation and drive business impact for our customers,” said Juergen Mueller, chief technology officer and member of the Executive Board of SAP SE. “Since 2017, we have helped scale more than 270 promising startups across all lines of business and industries in nine locations across the globe. Providing them with the access and resources they need to build on SAP solutions complements our portfolio and internal innovation efforts, which enables our customers to gain even more value from their SAP investments.”

For the fifth year, startups have been asked to nominate the companies that are most active and friendly in working with small businesses. Started in 2016 under the European Commission’s Startup Europe Partnership initiative, the Corporate Startup Stars Awards have been scaled to include corporations and startups worldwide through the partnership between Mind the Bridge and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“SAP has consistently proven to be one of the most startup-friendly corporations worldwide by engaging with startups in multiple modes, ranging from acceleration and partnerships to investments and acquisitions,” said Alberto Onetti, chairman, Mind the Bridge. “We appreciate the approach SAP.iO has taken and its recent evolution. The combination of startup and employee-driven innovation and the renewed focus on scaling companies makes SAP.iO a benchmark globally for rethinking and optimizing the corporate accelerator model.”

To learn more about how SAP is helping innovators inside and outside of SAP build products, find customers and change industries, please visit SAP.iO.

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @SAPNews.

Media Contact:
Lesa Beber, +1 (650) 390-1629, lesa.beber@sap.com, ET
SAP Press Roompress@sap.com

The end of email?: The startup developing an alternative

“The way we manage work, principally through email, needs to change,” says Bill Dobie, the founder of workplace communications startup and Slack-rival Sedna. “We allow really complicated parts of the global economy to be run over email and it’s not fit for purpose.”

In Sedna, Dobie has developed an alternative — one which promises to reduce inbound messages by up to 95% —  and the startup has just secured a $10m Series A round, led by Chalfen Ventures and Stride VC, to expand the model. 

Founded in 2017 and based in London, there are currently 2,000 teams across 80 countries using Sedna, including large-scale commodity and shipping companies like Glencore, Bunge and Norden. 

The company is one of several pitting themselves against conventional email — namely messaging app Slack. It just got bought by Salesforce for a mega $27.7bn and markets itself as the antithesis to email: “You could get buried in emails. Or you could get real work done in Slack.”

How it works

Unlike Slack, Sedna’s team believes that email is so ubiquitously used that any new service needs to be able to engage with the old one. 

Sedna works, then, by putting all of a company’s emails into one stream and then using an API to channel them to the exact right people. 

“The problem Sedna tries to solve,” Dobie explains, “is that information about transactions a company makes is rooted in emails. People want to move more quickly and be certain about the information they use, but the information is in individual email accounts.”

“Our thesis is that the content of a company related to its work should be available to everyone in the business who’s entitled to see it,” he says, “so Sedna works by taking emails and connecting them into a single datastream, so there’s one timeline for a transaction that everyone can access.”

One of Sedna’s clients is a large food company, for example, where inbound transactions emails used to come to 200 email addresses across different people in different areas of the company — but now Sedna sorts incoming information and directs it only to the relevant people.

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UK-based WeGift raises £6.7M to create world’s first real-time digital incentive platform

Rewards and incentives are considered one of the most effective ways to encourage workers to put forth great efforts and work efficiently. Every year over $620 billion (approx £462 billion) of gift cards is issued globally, with half of this value being purchased by corporates to reward or incentivise their employees or customers. This market is growing strongly and is expected to reach $1.9 trillion (approx £1.4 billion) by 2027.  

ending rewards, incentives, and non-cash payouts are manual, expensive, time-consuming, and error-prone. And this is where London-based WeGift comes and changes the broken process. WeGift is a cloud-based, open API solution that allows businesses to transfer value to consumers in real-time and globally. 

Raised £6.7M Series A round

Recently, the digital incentives platform raised $8 million (approx £6.7 million) in a Series A extension led by AlbionVC. Existing investors including Stride.vc, SAP.iO fund and Unilever Ventures also participated in the round. Following the fundraise, Ed Lascelles, General Partner at AlbionVC, will join WeGift’s Board of Directors.

Founder and CEO Aron Alexander commented: “Historically businesses had to spend thousands of hours a year manually buying and distributing digital rewards. WeGift helps companies intelligently automate this process to power new customer acquisition and retention campaigns. We give them instant access to a huge choice of rewards and payouts, an ever-growing network of more than 700 brand partners, across 30 markets and 20 currencies. We are disrupting a broken market on a global scale, and this investment, together with our partnerships with Albion VC, Unilever Ventures, SAP.iO Fund, and Stride. vc, is an instrumental step forward in achieving our vision.”

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Adverity Named a Gartner Cool Vendor

Adverity, a leading marketing data intelligence platform, is recognised in the 25 September 2020 report titled, “Cool Vendors in Marketing Data and Analytics” by analysts Lizzy Foo Kune and Ethan Budgar at Gartner.

Part of the Cool Vendor series, which is designed to highlight innovative vendors, products and services, the new report acknowledges five “marketing data management, analysis and data delivery providers that exemplify emerging capabilities in marketing analytics.”

According to the report, “Acquisitions of marketing dashboard providers have created opportunities for startups to focus on narrower, yet critical, analytics challenges. CMOs can consider these vendors that provide innovative solutions for marketing data management, analysis and data delivery.”

Alexander Igelsböck, CEO and co-founder of Adverity, comments: “We’re delighted to be included in the Cool Vendors in Marketing Data and Analytics report by Gartner. These acknowledgments help to cement our position as a leading marketing data intelligence platform and to move forward with our vision to revolutionise the marketing world with smart data, enabling marketers to understand how they contribute to their businesses’ success.”

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Venture capital funding bias: Why VC business-as-usual must change

Business as usual. For some, this is a welcome relief. On the contrary, for many underrepresented founders, when VCs utter that phrase, it’s not always welcome news. Venture capital funding bias is a very real, and very big problem in tech.

Quite candidly, as a first-generation immigrant and woman working with startups for over a decade, it’s very hard to overlook the fact that in 2020 women and people of color continue to be in the large minority when it comes to receiving VC (venture capital) funding and support.

This must change.

Bias in VC funding: Breaking down the stats

Don’t just take my word for it – let’s look at the numbers.

According to Pitchbook, “While overall US venture capital investments in 2020 are on par with previous years […] Investments in women-led companies this year are on pace to be the worst since 2017.” When it comes to black founders, VC performance in Q3 2020 was just as bleak.

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Henkel hosts ideation hackathon for female entrepreneurs

Henkel’s open innovation and collaboration platform, Henkel dx Ventures, will host its second Xathon, a female ideation hackathon. This year’s main partner is “Global Digital Women”. The hackathon aims to empower female tech talents to develop and shape their entrepreneurial mindset and ideas. It will take place on November 20-22, 2020. The application period is now open and closes on October 30. Interested participants can apply at www.henkel.com/digital-business/xathon-2020.

With the Xathon, Henkel wants to advocate female entrepreneurship, promote innovative ideas and drive gender diversity in the start-up and tech scene. In total, 60 female talents will get the chance to participate in this year’s event. Further partners of the Xathon 2020 are accelerateHer, SAP’s early stage venture arm SAP.iO and MVP Factory.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Xathon is going to take place as a virtual event.

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SAP.iO Fund Invests in Neural-Based Search Company Jina AI

SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced that its investment arm, SAP.iO Fund, has backed Jina AI, a Berlin-based company providing an open source neural search solution.

Jina AI combines recent advances in machine learning for computer vision, speech recognition and natural language processing into a new search platform to provide greater accuracy, flexibility and adaptivity to search inputs.

The core project of Jina AI is called Jina on GitHub, allowing users to create a cloud-native search solution powered by deep learning in just minutes. Jina slashes from months to minutes the time it takes to build a production-ready neural search system well suited to business environments that require a fast and lightweight development cycle. Since its release on GitHub in May 2020, this project already has attracted more than 2,000 commits from 48 contributors worldwide. As of now, Jina supports searching text, image, video, audio and cross-modality data, with support for more data types coming in the future.

“As companies accelerate their digital transformations, a clear need has emerged for better, more accurate enterprise search,” said Ram Jambunathan, SAP senior vice president and managing director of SAP.iO.  “We are excited by Jina AI’s potential to provide a highly accurate search solution for SAP customers.”

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BigID named to Forbes Cloud 100


Once an outsider category, cloud computing now powers every industry. Look no further than this year’s Forbes Cloud 100 list, the annual ranking of the world’s top private cloud companies, where this year’s standouts are keeping businesses surviving—and thriving—from real estate to retail, data to design.

SAP.iO’s startup, BigID, was named to the Forbes Cloud 100 list, the annual ranking of the world’s top private cloud companies. Congratulations!

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Hasura Raises $25M in Series B Funding

Hasura, a San Francisco, CA-based data access infrastructure company, raised $25m in series B funding.

The round, which brought the total raised to $36.5m, was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with participation from existing investors Vertex Ventures US, Nexus Venture Partners, Strive VC and SAP.iO Fund and new angel investors including John Thomspon, the current chairman of Microsoft.

The company is using the funding to accelerate its hiring and investment in its open source and commercial product development to support its millions of users.

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Crosschq Announces New Round of Investment from Tiger Global and Rocketship.vc

 Crosschq, pioneers of a new software category for the recruiting industry called Human Intelligence Hiring™, announced today a new round of financing that includes investment from Tiger Global Management and Rocketship.vc. This latest round comes immediately following a strategic financing from Slack and SAP.iO in June which also included re-investment from GGV Capital and Bessemer Ventures.

“We are proud to be partnering with these two great firms as we enter the next phase of our growth,” said Mike Fitzsimmons, CEO of Crosschq. “If we have learned anything from the last several months, it is that the future of work is ripe for disruption. Our use of human intelligence is becoming a foundational element of modern company building.”

Crosschq brings speed, efficiency, accuracy, transparency and accountability to the obsolete, manual process of vetting new job candidates. The new investment comes as Crosschq crosses the 100 customer milestone with customers including Dish, NBA, Upwork, Snowflake, NerdWallet and Glassdoor using the platform to enhance recruiting and make better hires.

“SAP strongly believes that the future of work is inclusive and diverse, and that starts with removing biases in the candidate experience,” said Ram Jambunathan, SAP senior vice president at and managing director of SAP.iO. “Crosschq will bring increased objectivity and consistency to the candidate reference checking process, thereby improving outcomes for both candidates and SAP customers.”

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