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Ultimate Software is acquiring PeopleDoc for $300 million

Public company Ultimate Software is acquiring French startup PeopleDoc for $300 million in cash and stock. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018. These two companies both make HR solutions.

Ultimate Software has been around for a while. It went public in 1998 and switched to a software-as-a-service solution in 2002 — this solution is called UltiPro. It lets you manage all things HR, from payroll to benefits, time management, onboarding, performance management and more.

PeopleDoc is a younger French startup that has raised over $50 million. As the name suggests, PeopleDoc lets you centralized all HR documents related to you in a single location. They can come from multiple sources and systems, they’ll all be there.

The startup has also worked on an onboarding solution and other tools to automate HR processes as much as possible. For instance, you can use PeopleDoc to communicate with the HR team and notify them of a change.

Ultimate Software has around 4,100 customers, which represent around 38 million employees. So it’s clear that the company is going after big clients. Each customer employs 9,200 people on average.

PeopleDoc has a thousand customers and serves 4 million employees. While PeopleDoc is significantly smaller than Ultimate Software, it’s a notable acquisition for the startup.

Ultimate Software says that it plans to spend $75 million in cash when the acquisition closes. PeopleDoc shareholders will receive another $50 million a year later.

Finally, Ultimate Software is spending around $175 million in stock for the rest of the acquisition. The company has been doing incredibly well on the stock market, consistently going up over the past ten years.

There are two reasons behind the acquisition. First, Ultimate Software has been mostly focused on American customers. With today’s acquisition, Ultimate Software will be able to convince new international customers, particularly in Europe.

Second, PeopleDoc will continue to operate as a subsidiary as these two companies don’t exactly do the same thing. In fact, Ultimate Software will start distributing PeopleDoc’s services to its own customers next year.

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Japanese startup Paidy raises $55M Series C to let people shop online without a credit card

Paidy, a fintech startup that enables Japanese consumers to shop online without using a credit card, announced today that it has raised a $55 million Series C. The round was led by Japanese trade conglomerate Itochu Corporation, with participation from Goldman Sachs.

The Tokyo-based startup says this brings its total funding so far to $80 million, including a $15 million Series B announced two years ago. One notable fact about Paidy’s funding is that it’s raised a sizable amount for Japanese startup, especially one with non-Japanese founders (its CEO and co-founder is Canadian and Goldman Sachs alum Russell Cummer, left in the photo above with CTO and co-founder Lee Smith).

Paidy was launched because even though Japan’s credit card penetration rate is high, their usage rate is relatively low, even for online purchases. Instead, shoppers pay cash on delivery or at convenience stores, which function as combination logistics/payment centers in many Japanese cities.

This is convenient for buyers because they don’t have to enter a credit card online or worry about fraud, but a hassle for businesses that often need to float cash for merchandise that hasn’t been paid for yet or deal with incomplete deliveries.

Paidy makes it possible for people to buy online without creating an account or using their credit cards. Instead, if a merchant uses Paidy, its customers are able to check out by entering their mobile phone numbers and email addresses. Then Paidy authenticates them with a four-digit code sent through SMS or voice. Every month, customers settle their bills, which include all transactions they made using Paidy, at a convenience store or through bank transfers or auto-debits (installment and subscription plans are also available).

The value proposition for businesses is that Paidy can increase their customer base and guarantee they get paid by using machine learning algorithms to underwrite transactions. The company claims that there are now 1.4 million active Paidy accounts, with the ambitious goal of increasing that number to 11 million by 2020 by expanding to bigger merchants and offline transactions.

In a press statement, Cummer said “We are extremely honored that Paidy’s business concept was highly valued by one of Japan’s most prestigious business conglomerates, ITOCHU. Through this tie-up, we expect to launch new merchants in order to deliver Paidy’s frictionless and intuitive financial solution to a much broader audience.”

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Airbnb mafia fund Wave Capital makes it official, closing its debut fund with $55 million

A couple of weeks ago, Airbnb announced some major changes to the ways it compensates employees before it goes public.

At least two former Airbnb employees and a longtime VC will be ready to fund those who leave when it does. They’ve been waiting on this moment since last summer, in fact. That’s when former Airbnb data scientist Riley Newman left the firm to start work on a venture firm, quickly enlisting the help of his colleague of several years, Sara Adler (Airbnb’s former head of corporate development) and former Madrona Venture Group principal David Rosenthal. What they set out to do with that fund, Wave Capital, is fund marketplace startups, including — especially, even — those founded by other former employees of the home-rental giant.

It’s an idea that has resonated with investors. Wave just closed its debut fund with $55 million in capital commitments, slightly more than the three were targeting. They’ve already begun putting it to work, too. To find out more about those bets, and where the three expect to shop next, we asked them for a few more details. Our chat has been edited for length.

TC: How exactly did this firm come to pass?

DR: Riley is really the hub for all of us; his wife and mine grew up together in Marin and have remained best friends since early childhood. As Riley’s career at Airbnb progressed and my career in VC progressed, we talked about doing something together at some point in time.

RN: Meanwhile, Sara and I sat beside each other and together reported to the person who was effectively Airbnb’s CTO and we were part of a number of working groups together. David and I started talking about doing something together and we quickly drew Sara into our plans.

TC: “Marketplaces” is both a huge mission for a venture fund and a narrow one. Why pursue it?

DR: For me, when I was at Madrona, we incubated the [dog services company] and I saw the power of marketplaces and the importance of helping them get off the ground. And Riley and I talked a lot over the years about how he watched Greg McAdoo [formerly of Sequoia Capital and now of the venture firm Bolt] work with Airbnb in the early days, and the importance of a true lead board member. And we thought that between our three collective experiences, we could play that role.

SA: As a member of the corp dev team at Airbnb and at Dropbox and Facebook before that, I could also see the impact of investors even on the final stages of companies’ journeys.

TC: You’ve now fully closed the fund from institutional investors, including the fund-of-funds Cendana Capital. How many companies do you expect to support with it?

DR: We think roughly 18 to 20 companies. We intend to lead every round and to take board seats. We want to play the same role as Greg did at Airbnb.

SA: We expect for each partner to do one to two deals per year.

TC: You haven’t invested together in the past, and establishing an investing history together is usually really important to institutions that invest in venture funds. How did you persuade them that this wasn’t an issue?

RN: It was definitely a process. [Laughs.] We were told no multiple times. We had not invested together and it did come up quite a bit and was a disqualifying thing for people who care a lot about that. We underwent a monster due diligence process with [the investment consulting company] Cambridge Associates that thankfully put us on [institutional investors’] buy list. But we dealt with every flavor of [no] before that. I think what won everybody over were the skill sets that each of us have, and how well-rounded they are in combination with one other.

SA: I think our approach [appealed to investors], too. It’s kind of like what venture used to be 20 years ago, both in terms of the size of the investments we plan to make and the time and energy we intend to spend with the companies we fund.

TC: How many investments have you made so far, and how dependent on Airbnb are you for your deal flow? I know Nate Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, is an advisor to Wave.

RN: Alma was our first investment. We spent months with [co-founder] Dan Hill [who was formerly a director of product and performance marketing at Airbnb and whose startup connect prospective donors with local philanthropies]. We helped them firm up their marketplace design and design a long-term strategy and our [check] was built around a financial model that we built for them to get them from seed to a Series A round.  We’ll have to go out and execute on that, but that process determined what they needed.

We have another investment at the finish line.

SA: Airbnb will be a big part of our network, especially with our first fund, because we know exactly who the great people are at the company, which you only know by working with them. But across my time at Airbnb and Dropbox and Facebook, I’ve been a part of acquiring 30 companies and I’ve interacted with thousands more during the evaluation process, so there’s a deep network of founders for us to draw from.

TC: There’s so much late-stage capital sloshing around. Do you think about how it will impact what you’re doing at the earliest stages of these companies’ lives?

DR: The tail is really wagging the dog in a lot of cases right now. I don’t necessarily see so much capital as good or bad; what’s important to us is that founders use their capital as a tool to accomplish their aims. When you let capital start driving your decisions, there are very real unforeseen circumstances.

TC:  Are there any sectors about which you’re particularly excited?

DR: We’re sector agnostic. We believe in the business model, whether it’s consumer or b2b or healthcare. Crypto, we’re a little scared by, but I suppose those are marketplaces, too.

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Mode raises $3M Series A to put sensor data in the cloud

True Ventures has led the $3 million round for Mode, a real-time database that gives companies instant access to sensor data. GigaOm founder and True Ventures partner Om Malik has joined the startup’s board of directors as part of the deal.

Sensor data is collected from vehicles, cell phones, appliances, medical equipment and other machines. Businesses deploying these sensors, however, often don’t have back-end databases or tools to understand what that data means for the real world.

San Mateo-based Mode wants to help them make sense of it by moving the hoards of sensor data to the cloud, where they can better understand their devices and derive actionable insights. For now, Mode is targeting the solar, medical and manufacturing industries.

“We focus on data collection because we want to address common infrastructure challenges and let customers spend their time utilizing data for their businesses,” said Gaku Ueda, Mode co-founder and Twitter’s former director of engineering.

Ueda and co-founder Ethan Kan, who was previously the director of engineering at gaming startup 50Cubes, have a long history of friendship. True Ventures’ Malik says that’s part of what attracted him to the company.

“Companies are not a straight line,” Malik told TechCrunch. “You go through ups and downs. If you have a good co-founder, you have someone to get you through it.”

The round brings Mode’s total funding to $5 million. The company, which is also backed by Kleiner Perkins, and Fujitsu, will use the Series A financing to connect additional sensors to the cloud and expand its team.

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Bleximo raises $1.5M for its quantum computing accelerators

Bleximo, a startup that aims to build “quantum accelerators” — basically quantum-based, application-specific integrated circuits — today announced it has raised a $1.5 million seed round led by Eniac Ventures. Other investors in this round include Boost VC, Creative Ventures, KEC Ventures and Gyan Kapur.

Instead of building a general-purpose quantum computer like IBM, Rigetti and others, Bleximo, which was founded by Cyclotron Road fellow and quantum physicist Alexei Marchenkov, wants to focus on building quantum processors that focus on very specific applications. Before founding Bleximo, Marchenkov worked at Rigetti Computing, where we worked on developing that company’s technology for general-purpose quantum computers.

“At Eniac, we believe general quantum computing is still far away, but Bleximo’s approach of building vertical quantum computing architecture will bring this nascent technology to the mainstream in a more practical way — much like vertical AI is here today before general AI,” said Vic Singh, founding general partner at Eniac Ventures. “We are excited to support founder Alexei Marchenkov, a recognized expert in quantum computing, and the Bleximo team to help build this reality.”

Right now, Bleximo is mostly looking at speeding up simulations of new materials and molecules for drug development. Quantum computing lends itself to solving these kinds of problems, though the company argues that its technology is just as applicable to solving problems in energy, finance, manufacturing and security.

Not everybody seems to agree that general quantum computing is all that far away, though, so it remains to be seen whether a real market for this kind of specialized quantum co-processors (Bleximo calls it a “qASIC”) will really develop, especially given that a quantum computer will also be some form of hybrid machine that combines classical and quantum computing. If it does, though, Bleximo seems well-positioned to capitalize on it, especially given that its technology will be a bit simpler (as far as one can say that about anything quantum computing) and won’t need the large amount of qubits with long coherence times that a general-purpose quantum computer would need.