Cultivate Raises $8M to Bring Scalable AI-Driven Leadership Coaching to the Enterprise

People mingling in conversation

Cultivate, a digital leadership coaching platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to provide in-the-moment feedback and management coaching within the enterprise, today announced an $8 million Series A investment to grow its go-to-market team and product offerings. Trinity Ventures led the Series A round with participation from previous investors Bloomberg Beta, Silicon Valley Data Capital and SAP.iO. Karan Mehandru from Trinity Ventures will be joining the Cultivate board of directors. Cultivate has raised a total of $10 million since the company exited from a Samsung NEXT accelerator program in the summer of 2018.

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SAP.iO provides SAP an opportunity to partner instead of acquire

Rather than acquire every company it believes could benefit its customers, SAP is doing something else — partnering with them.

About 18 months ago, SAP contacted Caitlin MacGregor about her startup, Plum.io. It wanted to invest in her psychometric assessment firm. This outreach is part of SAP’s strategy to partner with companies and avoid acquisitions.

McGregor said the effort by SAP “has made us more credible.” Plum gained business from enterprises. Systems integrators, including Deloitte Consulting, are also expanding the company’s reach. “We’ve definitely been able to increase our growth,” she said.

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How to Build an Entrepreneurial University

“In particular, aligning on expectations from each stakeholder – academia, start-ups, and corporations – is a key to establishing trust and long-term success,” said Ram Jambunathan, Managing Director, SAP.iO.

Universities and industry have a lot to learn from one another – and partnerships between the two can be mutually beneficial while especially serving the university’s entrepreneurial students.

It can be difficult to get these partnerships right, but with a structured collaborative framework on the part of the university, an eye to common values, flexibility and smart programmes for budding start-ups, these partnerships can benefit all involved.

Here’s how universities can better partner with industry and become more entrepreneurial.

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The Fight Over “Employee Experience” is Finally Here

By: Stacia Garr, RedThread Research

The term “employee experience” has become increasingly popular in the last few years — so much so that we began an investigation into what it is and why it matters, which will publish in October. In the course of that research, we came across a wide range of perspectives on what it is, including from vendors like Medallia, Qualtrics, Service Now, and TI People.

But now, the heavy HR technology hitters are here to weigh in on the subject. Today, SAP SuccessFactors announced that their technology category, which we have long known as Human Capital Management, will now be known as Human Experience Management.

Along with this announcement comes a significant redesign of their user experience (UX) to offer a more integrated and holistic view of the information within the SAP SuccessFactors ecosystem in a more accessible format that intends to put individuals, teams, and organizations at the center of the experience. This new interface integrates into one location conversational AI, robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning, nudges, and predictions to try to get people higher quality information more efficiently. There is a lot we like in what the SuccessFactors team has done, and we applaud them for this holistic revamp of their product.

That said, the grand gesture of renaming the category begs us to take a closer look and to ask:

Is this, to borrow my friend and long-time SAPer Steve Hunt’s phrase, simply old wine in a new bottle? Maybe.
Employee experience, as we at RedThread understand it, is about two things:

  • Emotionally-laden events – These often include specific events in the employee life cycle such as the first day at work, a promotion, or returning from a job leave. During these events, employees are vulnerable because their expectations are high, which can suddenly impact their experience.
  • Commonplace exchanges – These are frequent interactions between employees, colleagues, and the organization. These interactions are often relationship-based and happen on an ongoing basis, instead of specific touchpoints, milestones, or moments that matter. During these commonplace exchanges, employees are not as vulnerable as during emotionally laden moments because their expectations are not as high. Yet, these exchanges have a cumulative effect on employee experience. The SAP SuccessFactors team certainly understands the value of emotionally laden events, also called “touchpoints” or “moments that matter”. However, we couldn’t fully tell how this significant user experience redesign will enable managers to better understand – and critically, to enable and improve – how employees experience those touchpoints or commonplace exchanges. It may be that the team is on the earlier parts of the journey or that we just need to see more. So why can’t we just call this new UX old wine in a shiny new bottle? Three reasons:
  1. The Qualtrics acquisition – The SAP SuccessFactors team seems to have a strong vision and appreciation of what Qualtrics, which has a focus on both employee and customer experience, can do (I sure hope so, for $8 billion). They just don’t seem to have turned that into a reality yet, which is reasonable given that the acquisition only closed in January. There are some early indications of their efforts and direction, though. For example, with the new UX, the SuccessFactors team has integrated simple one-question surveys (from Qualtrics) on the quality of manager check-ins into their continuous performance management solution. It sounds like this is just the beginning of what they have in mind.
  2. An ecosystem play – SAP SuccessFactors is making a big deal about it being an ecosystem player, meaning that they acknowledge that they don’t have a monopoly on great ideas and are trying to be better at playing well with others. As a result, the number of apps that can integrate with SuccessFactors has shot up from just 45 last year to more than 250 this year. The variety of these apps enable organizations to build a more customized employee experience that fits their unique needs.
  3. SAP.io – For those of you who don’t know it, SAP.io is SAP’s start-up accelerator, with a vision toward potentially integrating them into the SAP ecosystem. There are several start-ups within SAP.io that are focused on truly transforming the employee experience. One of them, Cultivate (which I have written about several times in other formats), shows significant promise at truly leveraging the existing data and delivering new insights to managers and employees that can help strengthen their relationships (which are so much at the heart of employee experience). We think some of these solutions will increasingly become integrated with this “Human Experience Management” platform.

In some ways, this announcement simply puts an exclamation point on the fact that we are moving away from an era of seeing people as cogs and more toward seeing them as unique humans, which is something we obviously strongly applaud.

From the perspective of being an HR technology market observer, though, we see this as something different. This announcement heralds the mainstreaming of the employee experience concept, which again, is a good thing. As SuccessFactors further refines how employee experience shows up in their platform, they will heighten awareness of the need to take an employee-first perspective.

However, this announcement does also mean that the fight over what “employee experience” really means – and what it should look like from a technological perspective – has really begun in earnest.

And what is a fight without a worthy opponent?

Look out for the good folks in Pleasanton to weigh in with their perspective very soon. I imagine announcements coming from this year’s Workday Rising event in October will carry at least a nugget or two on what they’re thinking.

Predicting Job Success and Preparing Enterprises for the Future of Work

Plum company logo

Everywhere I turn, I hear concerns about technology and workforce automation causing job losses. For employers, however, it seems that the real worry lies not in eliminating but retaining their workforce.

How can they prepare their existing talent pool – and their organizations – to thrive in the new economy? How can they deal with the impending mass migration of jobs toward those requiring new skills?

Those are the fundamental questions that emerged from my discussion with Emily Lambert, Content Marketing specialist at Plum, Inc. Plum offers a solution, also called Plum, that is now available on SAP App Center. It uses the precepts of industrial and organizational psychology combined with – you guessed it – artificial intelligence (AI) to help organizations hire, grow, and retain top talent.

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German Multinational SAP Launches 1st Foundry Program in Tel Aviv with 7 Startups

Foundry owners pictures cutting ribbon

We are excited to welcome these entrepreneurs to the SAP.iO family and help them accelerate their business with SAP,” said Alexa Gorman, head of SAP.iO Foundries EMEA (Europe, Mideast, and Africa). “We recognize that Israel has a dynamic high-tech ecosystem and our Tel Aviv Foundry reflects our commitment to the Israeli ecosystem.” The selected startups will have SAP’s support and access to its technological expertise, the multinational said in a statement.

“We believe in their ability to offer a variety of advanced solutions for SAP’s customers,” said Orna Kleinmann, managing director at SAP Labs Israel and SVP Technology & Innovation Cloud Experience, of the Israeli startups.

The seven selected startups for the 12-week program are:

  • ARpalus, a Caesaria-based AR and predictive analytics retail technology startup founded just this year. ARpalus is building a platform for the automatic collection and deep analysis of shoppers’ behavioral data.
  • EasySend, a Tel Aviv startup founded in 2016 that helps financial enterprises improve customer experience and increase operational efficiency through a platform that enables businesses to present customers with digital forms in a simple interface.
  • GrowthSpace, a startup developing a tailored online coaching platform for enterprise employees.
  • Outgage, a SaaS “marketing first” direct mail platform for email marketing and analytics.
  • Silverback, a Tel Aviv startup founded in 2014 that built a sales intelligence platform for online marketplaces.
  • Supersmart, a Rosh Ha’ayin-based retail tech startup founded in 2014 that provides a “Scan&Go” solution with advanced loss prevention capabilities, enabling consumers to instantly check out their fully- loaded cart or basket.
  • YOUTILIGENT, a Petah Tikva startup founded in 2016 that developed a connected consumer solution for connected appliances using machine learning and IoT tech.

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סאפ השיקה בתל אביב אקסלרטור לסטארט-אפים

סאפ השיקה היום (ג’) בתל אביב את האקסלרטור שלה, SAP.io Foundry, שמיועד לסטארט-אפים שמפתחים פתרונות לארגונים על בסיס של תוכנה כשירות (SaaS), ושהטכנולוגיה שלהם יכולה להתממשק עם הפתרונות של החברה הגרמנית. התכנית הראשונה של המיזם החלה בחודש זה ותסתיים בדצמבר, ובכוונת החברה לקיים שני מחזורים בכל שנה. בסאפ כבר עובדים על המחזורים שיתקיימו בשנה הבאה, ומחפשים חברות. כל מחזור מיועד לחברות מתחום אחר, כשהפעם משתתפים בו סטארט-אפים בתחום הדיפ טק.

SAP’s Venture Arm Announces Startups Selected for Tel Aviv Foundry

Foundry owners pictures cutting ribbon

SAP.iO, the early-stage venture arm of multinational enterprise software company SAP SE, unveiled on Tuesday the seven startups chosen to participate in the first cohort of its new Tel Aviv-based accelerator program, SAP.iO Foundry. As part of the 12-week program, the startups will receive mentorship and access to SAP’s data, technology, and customer base. SAP already operates its foundry program in Paris, Berlin, Munich, New York City, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

The companies are retail analytics startup ARpalus Ltd.; EasySend Ltd., a startup providing customer service technology for financial institutions; online coaching company Growth Space Ltd.; marketing startup Outgage Inc.; online marketplace analytics startup Silverback Associates Ltd.; instant checkout company Supersmart Ltd.; and smart appliances startup YOUTILIGENT smart solutions Ltd.

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German Tech Giant SAP Launches Tel Aviv Start-up Accelerator

Foundry owners pictures cutting ribbon

German software giant SAP further expanded its significant Israeli operations on Tuesday as the company launched the newest branch of its SAP.iO “Foundry” start-up accelerator in Tel Aviv. The SAP.iO Foundry program is part of SAP’s multi-million dollar global innovation strategy to accelerate early-stage business-to-business (B2B) start-ups and provide hi-tech solutions to more than 400,000 customers.

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SAP.IO מכריזה על תוכנית FOUNDRY SAP.IO ראשונה בת”א

(SAP SE (NYSE: SAP הכריזה היום, על נבחרת בת שבע חברות סטארטאפ ישראליות הנכללות בסבב הראשון של SAP.iO Foundry TLV. התוכנית המהווה חלק מאסטרטגית החדשנות של SAP, נועדה לספק סיוע ותמיכה לחברות סטארטאפ צעירות (early stage) מתחום ה-B2B בבניית תוכנות אשר יספקו ערך משמעותי עבור לקוחותיה של SAP. לחברות הסטארטאפ תהיה גישה לייעוץ ייעודי, חשיפה לממשקי התכנות של SAP בתחומי התוכנה והטכנולוגיה והזדמנות לשיתופי פעולה עם הלקוחות של חברת SAP.

BigID announces $50M Series C investment as privacy takes center stage

BigID's company logo

It turns out GDPR was just the tip of the privacy iceberg. With California’s privacy law coming on line January 1st and dozens more in various stages of development, it’s clear that governments are taking privacy seriously, which means companies have to as well. New York startup BigID, which has been developing a privacy platform for the last several years, finds itself in a good position to help. Today, the company announced a $50 million Series C. The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners with help from SAP.iO Fund. Today’s investment brings the total raised to more than $96 million, according to Crunchbase.

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SAP Launches SAP.iO Foundry its Acceleration Program in Singapore

SAP SE recently announced SAP.iO Foundry Singapore, its first acceleration program in Singapore.

SAP.iO Foundry Singapore program acceleration program aims to help the Southeast Asian startups for their growth, giving them the exposure to programmable application interfaces (APIs), SAP technology and curated mentorship along with the chances to team up with SAP customers.

The first cohort will consist of seven early-stage Intelligent Enterprise startups focused on business-to-business (B2B) technology.

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SAP gets into accelerator space in SG with 7 B2B startups

Global software company SAP has launched SAP.iO Foundry Singapore, its first acceleration programme in Singapore. The accelerator’s first cohort will consist of seven early-stage startups focused on business-to-business technologies, including several that help improve customer experience.

SAP.iO Foundry aims to accelerate Southeast Asian startups, providing them access to curated mentorship, exposure to SAP technology and application programmable interfaces, as well as opportunities to collaborate with SAP customers.

Companies currently include TADA, which offers a data-driven customer advocacy and engagement platform that helps brands attract, engage and retain customers; and Size n Fit, which provides an eCommerce add-on to help online shoppers find apparel that fits and reduce returns. Meanwhile, Flowcast uses patented machine-learning algorithms to harness untapped, complex data to automate credit decision-making and LuxTag provides anti-counterfeiting and anti-theft solutions through blockchain.

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