Stackery lands $5.5 million for serverless platform

When Stackery’s founders were still at New Relic in 2014, they recognized there was an opportunity to provide instrumentation for the emerging serverless tech market. They left the company after New Relic’s IPO and founded Stackery with the goal of providing a governance and management layer for serverless architecture.

The company had a couple of big announcements today starting with their $5.5 million round, which they are calling a “seed plus” — and a new tool for tracking serverless performance called the Health Metrics Dashboard.

Let’s start with the funding round. Why the Seed Plus designation? Company co-founder and CEO Nathan Taggart says they could have done an A round, but the designation was a reflection of the reality of where their potential market is today. “From our perspective, there was an appetite for an A, but the Seed Plus represents the current stage of the market,” he said. That stage is still emerging as companies begin to see the benefits of the serverless approach.

HWVP led the round. Voyager Capital, Pipeline Capital Partners, and Founders’ Co-op also participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $7.3 million since the company was founded in 2016.

Serverless computing like AWS Lambda or Azure Functions is a bit of a misnomer. There is a server underlying the program, but instead of maintaining a dedicated server for your particular application, you only pay when there is a trigger event. Like cloud computing that came before, developers love it because it saves them a ton of time configuring (or begging) for resources for their applications.

But as with traditional cloud computing — serverless is actually a cloud service — developers can easily access it. If you think back to the Consumerization of IT phenomenon that began around 2011, it was this ability to procure cloud services so easily that resulted in a loss of control inside organizations.

As back then, companies want the advantages of serverless technology, but they also want to know how much they are paying, who’s using it and that it’s secure and in compliance with all the rules of the organization. That’s where Stackery comes in.

As for the new Health Metrics Dashboard, that’s an extension of this vision, one that fits in quite well with the monitoring roots of the founders. Serverless often involves containers, which can encompass many functions. When something goes wrong it’s hard to trace what the root cause was.

Stackery Health Metrics Dashboard. Photo: Stackery

“We are showing architecture-wide throughput and performance at each resource point and [developers] can figure out where there are bottlenecks, performance problems or failure.

The company launched in 2016. It is based in Portland, Oregon and currently has 9 employees, of which five are engineers. They plan to bring on three more by the end of the year.

SalesLoft soars with $50 M Series C

SalesLoft, an Atlanta-based startup that helps companies manage the contact phase of the sales process, announced a $50 million Series C today.

Insight Venture Partners was lead investor with participation from LinkedIn and Emergence Capital, which also participated in the company’s A and B rounds. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $75 million, so this was a significant capital infusion.

What attracted investors was that SalesLoft has concentrated on an area of the sales pipeline called ‘sales engagement.’ It provides a framework for sales people around how to contact potential customers, how often and with what language. It is significant enough that it caught the attention of Jeff Horing, co-founder and managing director at Insight Venture Partners, who was willing to write a big check.

He sees sales engagement an emerging and fast-growing area of the sales stack. “SalesLoft consistently helps customers increase their pipelines, but also strengthen their relationships with buyers — that’s a huge differentiator,” Horing said in a statement.

Kyle Porter, co-founder and CEO at SalesLoft says that what his company does is essentially create a contact workflow for the sales team. It provides a framework or blueprint, while applying a measurable structure to the process for management. Whether the sale is successful or not, there is an audit trail of all the interactions and what the software recommended for actions and what actions the sales person took.

That involves providing the sales team with the next best actions, which could be an email, a phone call or even a handwritten note.”The suggested email content and phone scripts come from experience with buyers. Here’s the right way to communicate,” Porter said. “At the end of the day, we are enabling our customers to deliver better sales experience,” he added.

The software can recommend the best person to email next with suggested text. Photo: SalesLoft

Machine learning will play an increasing role in building that workflow, as the system learns what types of interactions work best for certain types of customers, it will learn from that, and the system’s recommendations should improve over time.

It appears to be working. The company, which launched in 2011, currently has 230 employees and over 2000 customers including Square, Cisco, Alteryx, Dell and MuleSoft (which Salesforce bought last month for $6.5 billion.) The company reported that they have increased revenue over the last two years by 800 percent (yes, 800 percent).

Porter says this money sets them up to really scale the company with plans to reach 350 employees by the end of the year. In fact, they have more than 40 openings at the moment.

InVision acquires design visibility tool Wake

InVision, the NY-based design platform focused on collaboration, has today announced the acquisition of Wake.

Wake is a design tool focused squarely on supporting design visibility throughout a particular organization. Wake allows companies to share design assets and view work in progress as designers build out their screens, logos, or other designs. Design team leaders, or other higher-ups at the company, can upvote certain design projects or give feedback on specific tweaks.

InVision CEO Clark Valberg said that one of the most attractive features of Wake is that sharing on the Wake platform was implicit, rather than on InVision where designers have to take an extra step to upload their prototypes on InVision.

Wake will continue to operate independently within InVision, and Valberg has plans to integrate some of the Wake tools into the InVision core product. Moreover, as part of the deal, Wake will be introducing a free tier.

“We’re in the midst of a shift,” said CEO Clark Valberg. “The screen is the most important place in the world. Every company is now a digital product company. The world of design is growing and the Wake product represents a very interesting philosophical vector of that market.”

The entire Wake team will join InVision. Wake was founded in 2013 by Chris Kalani and Johan Bakken, with a customer list that includes Capital One, Spotify, Palantir, Stripe, and Airbnb. In fact, InVision’s Valberg said that Wake’s customer overlap with InVision was one of the first things that alerted InVision to Wake.

Wake has raised a total of $3.8 million, with investments from First Round and Designer Fund.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

10 Tuesday AM Reads

My Two-for-Tuesday morning train reads: • The Spotify IPO Playlist (Wall Street Journal) • The Financial Insecurity Bias (Strategy + Business) see also Why do so many successful people fear being broke? (Rad) • Rational Markets Theory Keeps Running Into Irrational Humans (BloombergView) • What this Silicon Valley VC learned on the ‘Rust Belt Safari’ (Recode) • The Distant Shores of Mars (Scientific…

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Britain’s factories report rise in production for March

Surprise monthly increase comes despite sector experiencing its weakest quarter in a year

Britain’s factories increased production unexpectedly last month despite the sector experiencing its weakest quarter in a year, with signs the growth spurt enjoyed towards the end of 2017 has fizzled out.

Shaking off concerns that heavy snowfall from the “beast from the east” would trigger a slowdown, the UK manufacturing sector maintained a steady pace of growth in March.

Productivity is an economic measure of the efficiency of a workforce. It typically measures the level of output per hour of work, or per worker.

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JPMorgan’s blockchain head is leaving to start her own business

JPMorgan’s key blockchain executive is departing the bank for the world of startups, it has emerged.

Amber Baldet heads up JPMorgan’s Blockchain Center of Excellence, which explores the development of distributed ledger technology and use cases of blockchain technology across the firm’s business. A high-profile figure in the blockchain space in her own right, she is leaving to start her venture, according to Reuters.

Baldet set up JPMorgan’s blockchain strategy and headed up its enterprise-focused Quorum blockchain, which is reportedly being considered for a spinout. As Baldet’s six-year tenure at the bank ends, she will be replaced by Christine Moy, who led blockchain services across the bank’s Investor Services and Capital Markets segments, according to Fortune.

The exit is an example of a talent drain that is beginning to take shape in banking and financial services with engineers and business execs moving over to blockchain and crypto projects that are seen to have serious growth potential.

That’s despite a rocky year to date for crypto, at least in terms of valuations.

Bitcoin reached nearly $20,000 per coin in December but it spent much of March below $10,000. As of today, one bitcoin is worth $7,387, according to Coinmarketcap.com. Top tokens like Ethereum, Litecoin and Ripple are also down significantly on their record January-December prices.

There’s a strong case to be made that a more stable crypto market is for the best, even if there is a loss in value. High prices led to high transaction fees, which made life difficult for developers whilst also adding uncertainty for market speculators and token collectors.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life. (That’s definitely the case lately.)