Home » What’s Up: Week of April 19th

What’s Up: Week of April 19th

Mastercard to buy digital ID verification firm Ekata in $850 million deal

Mastercard had agreed to buy digital identity verification company Ekata in a deal valued at $850 million, reports Reuters. The global payments processor bets on a boom in demand for companies in the digital security space.

Ekata’s products allow businesses to separate fraudsters from legitimate customers during digital interactions like opening an online account or making digital payments. It operates in three industries: e-commerce, payments and financial services.

Seattle-headquartered Ekata counts more than 2,000 companies as its partners, including credit reporting company Equifax and software firm Intuit. Its products, which include Ekata Identity Graph and Ekata Identity Network, allow companies to combat online fraud.

In February, Ekata said its revenue had surged in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of e-commerce, boosting demand for services to safeguard against cyber fraud. Ekata added 300 new customers last year, including food and grocery-delivery startup Postmates.

Social software start-up Classy raises $118 million

Classy, a technology company which builds fundraising software for non-profit institutions, has raised $118 million in fresh capital from venture capital firm Norwest Venture Partners and other investors, reports Reuters. 

Existing investors of the San Diego, California-based company, including Salesforce Ventures and Hinge Capital, also participated in the funding round. Classy intends to use the fresh capital to enter new segments, such as corporate donors, as part of its broader strategy to match more high-profile donors with non-profit companies.

Classy primarily focuses on two initiatives – firstly, to help non-profits improve their rates of converting more visitors to donors, and secondly, to retain more donors.

Automation services provider ActiveCampaign raises $240 million  

ActiveCampaign, a cloud software platform that provides automation tools, had raised $240 million, reports Reuters. The deal values the company at more than $3 billion.

The latest round brings the total funds raised so far to $360 million. The company plans to use the proceeds to invest in product development and global expansion.

ActiveCampaign had only 15 people in 2016, said Jason VandeBoom, the company’s founder and chief executive officer, but now the startup employs more than 850 people and caters to at least 145,000 customers. The company plans to scale up to 1,000 employees this year.

Founded in 2003, Chicago-based ActiveCampaign is a platform that provides tools for firms to automate processes such as marketing and sales. This includes many human tasks, such as replying to emails.

LinkedIn-backed Confluent confidentially files for U.S. IPO

Confluent, a real-time event streaming platform, has confidentially submitted paperwork for a U.S. initial public offering, reports Reuters. Mountain View, California-based Confluent, whose other investors include venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures, was valued at $4.5 billion in April 2020 after its last fundraise.

The cloud technology-based company also allows organizations to build applications that react and respond to data flow. The U.S. market for new listings saw companies raising a record amount of capital through stock flotations last year and 2021 is poised to eclipse that soon, with companies having raised a total of about $150 billion through IPOs so far this year.

Baidu’s Jidu Auto to invest $7.7 billion in ‘robot’ smart cars

Jidu Auto, an electric vehicle venture between China’s tech giant Baidu and Chinese automaker Geely, aims to plough 50 billion yuan ($7.7 billion) into producing smart cars over the next five years, reports Reuters.

The funding would come from Baidu and other investors and Jidu would aim to launch its first electric vehicle (EV) in three years, as is standard for the industry, but would make efforts to speed this up. Its first EV would look like a “robot” and would target young customers.

Baidu’s Hong Kong-listed shares jumped as much as 1.34% after Reuters reported Jidu’s investment plan.

The launch of the new auto company in January comes as tech companies around the world are racing to develop smart cars after Tesla’s success in commercializing EVs.

Jidu plans to release a new model every one or one-and-a-half years after its first launch. It plans to sell its car directly to customers to begin with, without using dealerships.

Jidu is considering using chips designed by Baidu, which has over the years developed smart car technologies including autonomous driving, high-definition maps and cloud. Baidu first established its autonomous driving unit Apollo in 2017.