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ByteDance reportedly scraps deal to sell TikTok to Oracle

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ByteDance reportedly scraps deal to sell TikTok to Oracle

TikTok’s Chinese parent company has scrapped its plans to sell the video-sharing app’s US operations, according to a new report.

Beijing-based tech giant ByteDance has shelved its proposed deal with American firms Oracle and Walmart now that former President Donald Trump is out of office, the South China Morning Post reported Sunday.

Trump’s departure from the White House took away the impetus for the deal given that he was the one who threatened to ban TikTok in the US unless ByteDance sold the app’s American operations, the Hong Kong-based newspaper says.

“The deal was mainly designed to entertain demands from the Trump administration,” an unnamed source who was briefed on the situation told the outlet. “But Trump is gone, and the raison d’être of the deal is gone with him.”

TikTok declined to comment on the report, and Oracle did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The story added to speculation that TikTok’s sale to an Oracle-led group of American investors could be destined for the dustbin under the Biden administration, at least in its current form.

Federal courts have blocked a Trump administration order that would have effectively banned TikTok from operating in the US. In a Thursday court filing, TikTok and the Justice Department asked that the app’s lawsuit challenging the order be put on pause so the Biden administration could review whether the attempted ban was still warranted.

That request came after The Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration had put the deal on hold while officials reviewed whether to push it forward. But White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration had not taken any “new proactive step” on the TikTok front.

“I will note, broadly speaking, that we are comprehensively evaluating … the risks to US data” from TikTok and other potential threats, Psaki told reporters last week.

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BrowserStack, a cross-browser web testing platform for DevOps, raises $200M

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BrowserStack, a cross-browser web testing platform for DevOps, raises $200M

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


BrowserStack, a website testing platform for developer operations (DevOps) teams, has raised $200 million in a series B round of funding.

The funding, which gives the company a valuation of $4 billion, comes as businesses across every sector have had to embrace digital transformation due to the global pandemic. Accordingly, this creates the need for more tools to test software and accelerate the rate at which new features go to market, with the cloud playing an integral role in this process.

“Enterprises today need to release software with speed and quality to remain competitive,” BrowserStack cofounder and CEO Ritesh Arora told VentureBeat. “We replace the need for teams to own and manage an in-house test infrastructure. This means development teams can focus on building quality software at speed, rather than maintaining an in-house testing infrastructure that is complex to build and impossible to scale.”

How it works

Founded in 2011, BrowserStack helps developer and quality assurance (QA) teams test their software on thousands of device, browser, and operating system combinations to identify any bugs — both manually or automatically. The company, which has amassed an impressive roster of customers, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Spotify, says it has 15 data centers around the world, ensuring developers benefit from minimal latency wherever they are.

The crux of the issue is this: a website might work just fine on the latest version of Chrome installed on the most recent Android flagship from Samsung, but what about Firefox on an old version of Windows? All the potential permutations of hardware and software configurations make it difficult for developers and testers to constantly check that their software will work well for all users, which is where BrowserStack’s cloud-based testing platform comes into play, and includes automated Selenium testing for desktop and mobile browsers.

Above: BrowserStack

For companies looking to test prototype or other “work-in-progress” web and mobile apps away from the public stage, BrowserStack also supports testing in local development environments.

“We support every development and testing environment used by developers,” noted Arora. “Local testing allows developers to test applications hosted behind firewalls by creating a secure tunnel between the developer’s environment and BrowserStack’s platform”

On the enterprise side, BrowserStack offers advanced administrative controls, single sign-on support for user authentication, and data governance via network controls. On top of this, BrowserStack offers fairly deep analytics, which can be used to evaluate the performance of software testing automation, for example, while businesses can dig down into metrics around build times and coverage to ensure that they’re testing for the right device / browser combinations.

UsageAnalytics Enterprise

Above: BrowserStack: Usage analytics

Testing times

The broader software testing market was estimated to be a nearly $46 billion industry last year, a figure that’s set to more than double within six years.

BrowserStack had previously raised $50 million at its series A round of funding more than three years ago, and its latest cash injection was spearheaded by Bond, with participation from Insight Partners and Accel. Elsewhere, BrowserStack rival LambdaTest secured $16 million in funding earlier this month, which followed a few months after another notable competitor called Sauce Labs upped its investment from asset firm TPG.

So what is driving demand for such platforms? Well, it seems that the global pandemic has left an indelible mark on just about every company and industry — BrowserStack and its cloud-based brethren are no different.

“Covid has forced every single organization globally to look at work-from-home and remote working options,” Arora said. “This led to a large number of companies looking at cloud solutions to replace their on-premise infrastructure. Covid has also led to the acceleration of digital transformation across sectors, as companies look for ways to scale and increase velocity without relying on their in-house systems.”

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Worker engagement and communication platform Sense raises $16M

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Worker engagement and communication platform Sense raises $16M

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Sense, an AI-powered worker engagement and communication platform backed by Alphabet’s venture capital arm GV, has raised $16 million in a series C round of funding.

The raise comes as the San Francisco-based company reports demand for its platform has “doubled” over the past year, with businesses rethinking their hiring and engagement philosophies to stand out among the competition.

“Traditionally, companies in the highly-skilled, knowledge worker sectors used to face challenges in finding the right candidates,” Sense cofounder and CEO Anil Dharni told VentureBeat. “Today, there is a famine of candidates regardless of the sector. Sectors such as retail, hospitality, and healthcare are struggling to attract and engage with candidates.”

Working capital

Founded in 2015, Sense helps recruiters and staffing agencies broadcast messages to workers, giving key information on new assignments or requesting feedback. According to Dharni, Sense can reduce the time-to-hire figure by between 40-80%, thus lowering the cost and “improving the quality of candidate experience” for businesses of all sizes.

Through its message studio, HR can send messages and reminders, dispatch surveys, and automate all of this by setting up filters and triggers around key events such as the day before a worker is schedule to being a new job. An integrated chatbot allows them to engage with workers before, during, and after a gig has finished, providing them with key information and even fielding questions.

Above: Sense: Chatbot

A core component of the Sense platform is its analytics, which enables businesses to track worker engagement and satisfaction, with stats around message delivery and open rates, chatbot metrics, link clicks, and more.

Frame 1

Above: Sense: Analytics

The Amazon factor

While Sense was once focused exclusively on contractors, it has extended into the broader full-time workforce through targeting industries such as retail, hospitality, logistics, and warehousing. So this means that as well as working in the past with big-name staffing agencies such as Adecco and Apex Systems, Sense now claims retail heavyweights such as Amazon and Sears among its client base.

“Over time, we have discovered that the problems of finding great people and retaining them exists both in the contractor / temp worker front as well as in full-time workers,” Dharni said. “On the general employees side, Sense focuses on companies that have high volume hiring and have a large number of full-time hourly workers. Similar to temporary workers, talent in these industries have high candidate drop-off rates and worker attrition.”

Prior to now, Sense had raised around $23.5 million, including its GV-led series B round of funding two years ago. With its latest cash injection, which saw GV return alongside Avataar Venture Partners and Accel, the company is now well-financed to serve its growing array of enterprise customers.

“Enterprises are realizing that there aren’t enough workers for them to attract and are having to rethink the way they hire,” Dharni  said. “Speed to hire, while lowering the cost of acquisition, has become the number one priority for all enterprises.”

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Templafy, which helps workers create company-compliant documents, nabs $60M

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Templafy, which helps workers create company-compliant documents, nabs $60M

Elevate your enterprise data technology and strategy at Transform 2021.


Templafy, a platform that helps workers at major enterprises such as KPMG, Ikea, and BDO, create company-compliant “on-brand” documents, has raised $60 million in a fresh round of funding.

The raise mirrors similar recent investments elsewhere in the corporate brand management space, such as Exclaimer, which recently raised a whopping $133 million to help companies manage their email signatures.

Founded out of Denmark in 2014, Templafy helps businesses tightly control their corporate templates, documents, fonts, email signatures, and more, ensuring that employees across departments can easily access them wherever they are. This is perhaps more important at a time when workers have been forced to embrace remote work, meaning that they may be more inclined to use an old document template they have stored on their laptop, for example.

“Remote working has highlighted just how difficult it can be to create high-performing business content — such as emails, documents, and presentations — when you’re not in the same physical space as colleagues,” Templafy CEO Jesper Theill Eriksen told VentureBeat. “Accuracy, formatting, brand guidelines and the like can often be overlooked in the remote setting, especially since it’s just a fraction of what employees need to consider when creating contracts, proposals and deliverables.”

Integrated

Templafy integrates directly into companies’ various systems including CRMs, office software, and even stock image tools to ensure that workers are not only using pre-approved content, but can easily keep their documents up-to-date. For example, they can configure charts within a presentation deck to automatically update with the latest sales data.

Templafy effectively connects disparate corporate content into employees’ daily workflow. The email signature manager, for example, ensures that employees always have the most recent legal disclaimers and are kept up-to-date automatically with consistent colors, fonts, and marketing lingo.

Above: Templafy email signature manager

Moreover, because Templafy integrates with the likes of Office 365 and Google Workspace, worker’s can access their company’s Templafy library directly inside the software they most commonly use to create new documents.

Templafy library

Above: Templafy library

Templafy had raised a little over $60 million before now, including a $25 million tranche last year. Its latest cash injection, which included investments from Insight Partners, Seed Capital, Dawn Capital, and Damgaard Company, will be used to help it capitalize on its rapid growth over the past 14 months.

Indeed, since its series C last April, Templafy said that it has quadrupled its customer base, though it refrained from naming any new names. “Templafy has started working with a range of new companies, from Magic Circle law companies and leading consulting firms, [to] banks, insurance companies, and consumer brands,” Theill Eriksen said.

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