Benchmark-backed Optimizely confirms it has laid off 15% of staff

Optimizely, a San Francisco-based startup that popularized the concept of A/B testing, has laid off 15% of its staff, the company confirmed in a statement to TechCrunch. The layoff impacts around 60 people, and those laid off were given varied levels of severance. Each employee was given 6 months of COBRA and was allowed to keep their laptops.

“As with so many other businesses globally, Optimizely has been impacted by COVID-19. Today, we have had to make a heartbreaking decision to reduce the size of our workforce,” Erin Flynn, chief people office, wrote in a statement to TechCrunch, adding that “today’s difficult decision sets up our business for continued success.”

The startup was founded in 2009 by Dan Siroker and Pete Koomen, on the idea that it helps to have customers experience different versions of the website, also known as A/B testing, to see what iteration sticks best. A year after founding, the startup went through Y Combinator in 2010 and in 2013 it signed a lease for a 56,000-square-foot office in San Francisco.

Optimizely last raised $50 million in Series D financing from Goldman Sachs, bringing its total venture capital secured to date at $200 million. Other investors include Index Ventures, Anddreessen Horowitz and GV.

In June, Optimizely said it handles more than 6 billion events a day. Customers include Visa, BBC, IBM, Wall Street Journal, Gap, StubHub, and Metromile.

Optimizely was not listed as applying for a PPP loan, a program created by the government to help businesses avoid laying off staff. The loans were met with controversy in Silicon Valley, as some thought venture-backed businesses should turn to investors, instead of the government, for extra capital.

Optimizely’s layoffs are somewhat surprising given recent earnings reports that show that enterprise SaaS companies have broadly benefited from the coronavirus pandemic. In an online work world, infrastructure and software services become more vital by the day. Box, for example, helps people manage content in the cloud and it beat expectations on adjusted profit and revenue. So why is Optimizely struggling?

There are a ton of reasons for layoffs beyond what the market thinks about a business. Optimzely’s customers are a mix of heavy-hitters in enterprise, but also include businesses that have struggled during this pandemic, including StubHub and Metromile — both of which had layoffs.

While the pace of layoffs is slowing down, cuts themselves aren’t disappearing. As the stocks show us, it’s a volatile time and businesses are looking for ways to stay financially safe.

4 enterprise developer trends that will shape 2021

Technology has dramatically changed over the last decade, and so has how we build and deliver enterprise software.

Ten years ago, “modern computing” was to rely on teams of network admins managing data centers, running one application per server, deploying monolithic services, through waterfall, manual releases managed by QA and release managers.

Today, we have multi and hybrid clouds, serverless services, in continuous integration, running infrastructure-as-code.

SaaS has grown from a nascent 2% of the $450B enterprise software market in 2009, to 23% in 2020 and crossed $100B in revenue. PaaS and IaaS revenue represent another $50B in revenue, expecting to double to $100B by 2022.

With 77% of the enterprise software market — over $350B in annual revenue — still on legacy and on-premise systems, modern SaaS, PaaS and IaaS eating at the legacy market alone can grow the market 3x-4x over the next decade.

As the shift to cloud accelerates across the platform and infrastructure layers, here are four trends starting to emerge that will change how we develop and deliver enterprise software for the next decade.

1. The move to “everything as code”

Companies are building more dynamic, multiplatform, complex infrastructures than ever. We see the “-aaS” of the application, data, runtime and virtualization layers. Modern architectures are forcing extensibility to work with any number of mixed and matched services.

Los Angeles-based Open Raven raises $15 million from KPCB for its security tech to secure hybrid clouds

Open Raven, the Los Angeles-based security startup founded by a team of cybersecurity veterans from CrowdStrike and SourceClear, has closed on $15 million in new financing only four months after emerging from stealth and in the middle of a global pandemic. 

The company already boasted an impressive roster of investors well-versed in enterprise software and cybersecurity including Upfront Ventures; Goldman Sachs’ chief information risk officer, Phil Venables; RSA’s former chief strategy officer, Niloo Razi Howe; and the cybersecurity company Signal Sciences, whose chief executive, Andrew Peterson, is a Los Angeles native.

Now, the company has added to its haul with new capital and the cybersecurity expertise of Kleiner Perkins’ deep knowledge in the space through investors like Ted Schlein and Bucky Moore, who will be taking a seat on the company’s board of directors.

Investors’ confidence in Open Raven’s potential stems from the simple fact that a majority of all databases will be accessed from a cloud platform within the next two years, according to data from Gartner Inc. and provided by the company.

These databases may exist on several different service providers cloud computing platforms making it that much more difficult to secure and track the data as it’s accessed by different users. Put simply, data security tools weren’t built to handle this kind of data fluidity across multiple services. These instances of what Open Raven calls “data sprawl: can lead to misconfigurations that have become one of the biggest security threats, according to a study by TechCrunch’s parent company, Verizon 

“Today’s data security problem bears little resemblance to the historical challenges that drove the creation of the last generation of products,” said KPCB’s Moore, in a statement.

Co-founded by Crowdstrike’s former chief product officer, Dave Cole, and the founder of the open source code monitoring service, SourceClear, Mark Curphey, Open Raven has a tool that monitors, maps, and manages how data moves through an organization.

In the cloud-based computing environments that have become standard operating practice during the work-from-home era created by the COVID-19 pandemic, data is moving to an increasingly vast number of points outside of a centralized network.

As Cole told dot.la when his company first emerged from stealth many security breaches are just “instances where an org simply lost control of what data they had where, and it ended up on the internet. And people found it before they did.”

Open Raven offers a free version of its service to map out networks and visualize where and how data moves. The core functionality will be available for free under an Apache 2.0 license, but there’s a premium version of the product where the company will provide additional services for paying customers.

“The transition to the cloud and out of physical data centers means that data stores change more quickly than ever before – leaving numerous unanswered questions,” said Dave Cole, co-founder and CEO of Open Raven, in a statement. ec

Los Angeles-based Open Raven raises $15 million from KPCB for its security tech to secure hybrid clouds

Open Raven, the Los Angeles-based security startup founded by a team of cybersecurity veterans from CrowdStrike and SourceClear, has closed on $15 million in new financing only four months after emerging from stealth and in the middle of a global pandemic. 

The company already boasted an impressive roster of investors well-versed in enterprise software and cybersecurity including Upfront Ventures; Goldman Sachs’ chief information risk officer, Phil Venables; RSA’s former chief strategy officer, Niloo Razi Howe; and the cybersecurity company Signal Sciences, whose chief executive, Andrew Peterson, is a Los Angeles native.

Now, the company has added to its haul with new capital and the cybersecurity expertise of Kleiner Perkins’ deep knowledge in the space through investors like Ted Schlein and Bucky Moore, who will be taking a seat on the company’s board of directors.

Investors’ confidence in Open Raven’s potential stems from the simple fact that a majority of all databases will be accessed from a cloud platform within the next two years, according to data from Gartner Inc. and provided by the company.

These databases may exist on several different service providers cloud computing platforms making it that much more difficult to secure and track the data as it’s accessed by different users. Put simply, data security tools weren’t built to handle this kind of data fluidity across multiple services. These instances of what Open Raven calls “data sprawl: can lead to misconfigurations that have become one of the biggest security threats, according to a study by TechCrunch’s parent company, Verizon 

“Today’s data security problem bears little resemblance to the historical challenges that drove the creation of the last generation of products,” said KPCB’s Moore, in a statement.

Co-founded by Crowdstrike’s former chief product officer, Dave Cole, and the founder of the open source code monitoring service, SourceClear, Mark Curphey, Open Raven has a tool that monitors, maps, and manages how data moves through an organization.

In the cloud-based computing environments that have become standard operating practice during the work-from-home era created by the COVID-19 pandemic, data is moving to an increasingly vast number of points outside of a centralized network.

As Cole told dot.la when his company first emerged from stealth many security breaches are just “instances where an org simply lost control of what data they had where, and it ended up on the internet. And people found it before they did.”

Open Raven offers a free version of its service to map out networks and visualize where and how data moves. The core functionality will be available for free under an Apache 2.0 license, but there’s a premium version of the product where the company will provide additional services for paying customers.

“The transition to the cloud and out of physical data centers means that data stores change more quickly than ever before – leaving numerous unanswered questions,” said Dave Cole, co-founder and CEO of Open Raven, in a statement. ec

Partners at B2B European VC henQ discuss remote work’s biggest advantages

HenQ, an Amsterdam-based VC that invests in European B2B software startups typically at seed and Series A, recently disclosed the first close of its fourth fund at €70 million. The final close is expected to top out at between €75-€85 million later this year, and the firm has already begun backing companies out of the new fund.

However, what sets henQ apart from many VC firms isn’t just its pure focus on B2B software but that its team is fully remote. Primarily investing in the Nordics and Benelux, henQ doesn’t have any official offices, with the team working from different temporary locations. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, henQ closed deals remotely.

Successes from its previous funds include Mendix (acquired by Siemens) and SEOshop (acquired by Lightspeed).

I spoke to partners Jan Andriessen, Mick Mackaay and Jelmer de Jong to learn more about henQ, what it’s like to be a fully remote VC and how the firm envisions the post-pandemic era.

TechCrunch: Can you be more specific regarding the size of check you write and the types of companies, geographies, technologies and business models you are focusing on?

Jan Andriessen: Our main focus is seed rounds, in which we often are the lead investor. We also invest in Series A rounds, often as a co-investor. Initial check sizes vary from €500,000 to €3.5 million.

A typical seed investment has a product and perhaps a few pilot customers. The key here is not revenue (which is OK to be zero), but there is proof of the actual need for the product.

Most of our recent deals were in the Nordics and Benelux, the areas where we spent the majority of our time. But we have also invested in the Baltics, Czech Republic and the UK. For henQ 4, we expect this to be the same: the bulk of our investments will be in the Nordics and Benelux, with an occasional deal in broader Europe.

In terms of technology and business trends, one of the things we firmly believe in is the consumerization of enterprise software: successful startups are centered around their customers and focus on the job to be done. More generally, we have always been focused on startups with staying power: companies that have a right to exist over time, not just now, as they deliver a product that touches the core processes of their customers and operate at the heart of their customer’s business.

For example, looking at our portfolio, Zivver delivers secure communication solutions for hospitals and governments. Stravito works deep in the research departments of FMCGs, delivering a knowledge management platform. Mews runs the full operations of hotels with their property management system, and Orderchamp enables retailers to digitize their buying process.

We see the business model of a company as a means, not an end. Most of the startups we invest in charge a SaaS plus implementation fee, and have a more enterprise-sales driven business model. We are not afraid to invest in startups that have a more complex and longer sales cycle, and are not per se looking for SaaS ‘by-the-book.'

Jane VC, a new fund for female entrepreneurs, wants founders to cold email them

Want to pitch a venture capitalist? You’ll need a “warm introduction” first. At least that’s what most in the business will advise.

Find a person, typically a man, who made the VC you’re interested in pitching a whole bunch of money at some point and have them introduce you. Why? Because VCs love people who’ve made them money; naturally, they’ll be willing to hear you out if you’ve got at least one money maker on your side.

There’s a big problem with that cycle. Not all entrepreneurs are friendly with millionaires and not all entrepreneurs, especially those based outside Silicon Valley or from underrepresented backgrounds, have anyone in their network to provide them that coveted intro.

Jane VC, a new venture fund based out of Cleveland and London wants entrepreneurs to cold email them. Send them your pitch, no wealthy or successful intermediary necessary. The fund, which has so far raised $2 million to invest between $25,000 and $150,000 in early-stage female-founded companies across industries, is scrapping the opaque, inaccessible model of VC that’s been less than favorable toward women.

“We like to say that Jane VC is venture for every woman,” the firm’s co-founder Jennifer Neundorfer told TechCrunch.

Neundorfer, who previously co-founded and led an accelerator for Midwest startups called Flashstarts after stints at 21st Century Fox and YouTube, partnered with her former Stanford business school classmate Maren Bannon, the former chief executive officer and co-founder of LittleLane. So far, they’ve backed insurtech company Proformex and Hatch Apps, an enterprise software startup that makes it easier for companies to create and distribute mobile and web apps.

“We are going to shoot them straight”

Jane VC, like many members of the next generation of venture capital funds, is bucking the idea that the best founders can only be found in Silicon Valley. Instead, the firm is going global and operating under the philosophy that a system of radical transparency and honesty will pay off.

“Let’s be efficient with an entrepreneur’s time and say no if it’s not a hit,” Neundorfer said. “I’ve been on the opposite end of that coaching. So many entrepreneurs think a VC is interested and they aren’t. An entrepreneur’s time is so valuable and we want to protect that. We are going to shoot them straight.”

Though Jane VC plans to invest across the globe, the firm isn’t turning its back on Bay Area founders. Neundorfer and Bannon will leverage their Silicon Valley network and work with an investment committee of nine women based throughout the U.S. to source deals. 

“We are women that have raised money and have been through the ups and downs of raising money in what is a very male-dominated world,” Neundorfer added. “We believe that investing in women is not only the right thing to do but that you can make a lot of money doing it.”

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