Techstars Seattle Startup Shippable Raises $2.05M For Continuous Integration Platform Built On Docker
Shippable, a Techstars Seattle startup, has raised $2.05 million in seed funding for its continuous integration service that is built using Docker, the popular Linux container used for its lightweight portability. The syndicated round was led by Chris DeVore of Founders Co-op, along with Divergent Ventures, Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Madrona Venture Group and several angel investors.
The service is designed to help developers ship code faster by automating the workflow that software undergoes from the time it is developed to the time it is deployed. Shippable was originally built using its own Linux container. But their original process became complex, especially with the heterogeneous nature in which apps are developed. Docker open sourced the management aspects of LXC containers, making the process for Shippable more unified with varied application environments.
“What I needed 15 developers and over a year to create was handed to me for free, “said Co-Founder and CEO Avinash Cavale about the Docker integration.
Docker, an open-source project led by the company of the same name, makes it easier by automating the workflow from the ground up. Traditionally, continuous integration platforms have depended on using virtual machines to manage the workloads. Cavale said in an email interview that Shippable’s speed and comparable complexity to other services is what makes it a disruptor in the space.
We are the only ones who provide persistent state. i.e. every time a build runs you do not lose the prior state (unless required). Rest of the competition is VM based they reset the environment due to cost structure. That means every build the initial setup of gems, packages and services including git clone that has to be done again. a typical builds runs for 20 minutes, over 12 minutes are just pre-req installs which happens only once on our platform.
The Docker difference is its application-centric architecture as described on StackOverflow:
Docker is optimized for the deployment of applications, as opposed to machines. This is reflected in its API, user interface, design philosophy and documentation. By contrast, the lxc helper scripts focus on containers as lightweight machines – basically servers that boot faster and need less ram. We think there’s more to containers than just that.
Speed is the differentiator in almost any market that is getting disrupted by online services. In turn, online providers need faster ways to serve their customers. For example, a physical retailer will have to increasingly find new ways to minimize the costs that come with having a brick and mortar business. That means changing to a data-driven business that uses code as the base for its innovation.
In that shift to a more code-oriented business, companies have to pay attention to the ways they manage their overall application lifecycle management (ALM) processes. These processes have to reflect the company’s focus on providing customer experiences that are better than what the competition offers.
Virtual machines were ideal for physical servers during the age of IT. They served as the foundation for ALM solutions from companies like HP and IBM. Today, there is a new generation of providers that still use virtual machines as the core of their technology.
Docker, though, changes the game, Cavale said. A VM image on AWS is on average 1.5GB. It can only be restored within the availability zone where it has been deployed. He said to move the VM requires the image to be remade. ”We believe hypervisors will get containerized and as a result the new ALM process and platforms are needed,” Cavale said. “Shippable is starting with continuous integration which is a bridge between the old world and the new world that we see. We will own the dev mind share due to sheer speed and simplicity and evolve the new paradigm of software development.”
The cloud services we know of today were built on client/server systems. These cloud services use hypervisors as the way to virtualize workloads. Most continuous integration platforms were built on VMs, making them useful but comparatively slower to load due to the sheer weight of the VM. Competitors to Shippable include providers like CircleCi, CloudBees, Perforce and Atlassian.
Docker does have different security requirements which will be a hindrance for Shippable. Security can be integrated but it does require knowledge of the Linux container environment. That’s in comparison to virtualization, which as written in InfoQ, has an “extra layer of isolation that the hypervisor brings.”
(Feature image courtesy of Mike Baird on Flickr via Creative Commons)
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Marketing startup Shift is announcing that it has raised $6 million in new funding.
The round was led by European firm DN Capital, with DN managing partner Nenad Marovac joining Shift’s board of directors. Shift CEO James Borow said this funding is specifically aimed at fueling the company’s growth in Europe.
The company already has one office in London and we can expect to see more open in the future, he said, adding that Shift is also working to localize its product for various European markets.
The company started out as a social ad business called GraphEffect. However, it has expanded its vision by building an “open marketing cloud” that allows marketers to join different teams and install different apps (GraphEffect’s social ad-buying tools are available as one of those apps). The company says its customers include American Express. Sony, ATT, and Red Bull.
Borow told me that he sees “a battle of the marketing clouds” shaping up in Europe, with the opportunity for Shift to be the “open and collaborative alternative” to a company like Salesforce.com.
“Making sure that we had an experienced team to help expand in Europe is a big priority,” he said.
“We think we’re in a really strong position, and having additional capital to deploy in this growth is the next step in the plan.”
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Today, Viber is launching a new feature called Viber Out to its entire user base.
See, Viber Out lets Viber users make calls to people who don’t have the Viber app, effectively mimicking a Skype Out feature by charging a low per-minute rate to mobile or landline numbers.
According to Viber, the prices are lower than Skype, as you can check out in the infographic below.
About a month ago, Viber prematurely launched Viber Out to help Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines connect with their loved ones.
To use Viber Out, just visit the “More” tab, and choose Viber Out. From there, you’ll be able to purchase Viber Out credit. No update is necessary to access the new feature.
Viber Out is available across iOS, Android and Desktop, with a Windows Phone version coming soon.
Additionally, Viber is including even more stickers to the revenue-generating Sticker Market, launched about a month ago.
As it stands now, Viber stickers and Viber Out represent the entirety of Viber’s business model, but CEO Talmon Marco promises more sources of revenue in the future.
“Profitability is certainly something on our roadmap, but we currently plan to invest more in the business,” said Marco.
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Payments Startup Clinkle Lays Off A Quarter Of Its Staff [UPDATED: New Layoffs In Addition To 30+ Who Already Left]
Stealthy payments startup Clinkle which raised $25 million in outside funding before its product ever launched, has terminated around 25% of its staff (16 people), according to a report posted this morning by Fortune. The news of the layoffs comes amid speculation that there’s internal trouble, and even potentially issues with Clinkle leadership, which has raised doubts about the company’s future.
The news of the layoffs comes shortly after the unearthing of a scathing review of Clinkle operations and its founder, 22 year-old Lucas Duplan, which was left on QA site Quora in late November. Reportedly authored by two former employees, the post lists 31 ex-employees at the startup, though it didn’t clarify who among that list was terminated, versus those who quit or who may have been working part-time or had to return to school – or so points out Business Insider, which found the Quora post originally.
Similar anonymously-posted lists of ex-staff have also showed up on web before, like this list on Pastebin.
The anonymous Quora posters allege that they put in long workweeks, having been promised equity, but never received it. That post had to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt at the time, however, as it seemingly came from someone(s) with an axe to grind. However, combined with this new report, doubts about Clinkle grow.
The company has had a hard time keeping news of its goings-on under wraps, choosing to remain “stealthy” even as large-scale leaks, including screenshots of the interfaces and functionality emerged on sites like YouTube and Tumblr. (We reached out to Clinkle to provide comment, but the company has yet to respond to inquiries. See below for Clinkle’s response.)
Fortune says there had been a plan to disclose the Clinkle layoffs by announcing it alongside the news of high-profile new hires. The company had added COO Barry McCarthy formerly of Netflix, earlier this fall, and last week two of McCarthy’s former Netflix colleagues joined, including former Walmart and Netflix exec Andy Rendich as Clinkle’s VP of operations, and Allison Hopkins, formerly of Palo Alto Networks and Netflix, as VP of talent.
There was some hint from McCarthy that Clinkle needed work on its operations side of the business. As he told TechCrunch at the time, the company needed to build out its customer support team. “We need to build it from scratch, build it to scale, and built it to operate at scale,” he had said. There was not anyone at the company until Rendich who really understood how to do this, though.
Meanwhile, Hopkins was added to help Clinkle pick the right people and teach those already there how to manage. Reading between the lines, it’s a hint that those in charge weren’t ready to drive a company with $25 million in funding and the ambitious idea that it could replace your physical wallet with a mobilized version.
The layoffs then could be very well the result of McCarthy’s work – coming in, clearing house, and installing the right team. And that may be something Clinkle really needed. But as he told Fortune, the layoffs shouldn’t necessarily signal trouble for Clinkle:
“Some young people are leaving, and some very seasoned executives are joining. It’s reasonable to assume that these execs wouldn’t be joining if something was chronically wrong or broken.”
UPDATE: The following is a statement from Clinkle about the layoffs:
Our objective in today’s organizational restructuring is to better allocate our resources and work towards ensuring that we have the right people in the right roles. While turnover is a normal part of any business, especially in the startup world, it’s not easy or enjoyable for anyone. In all cases, we’re committed to managing these things as professionally and as considerately as possible. Today’s moves will better position our executive team to focus on adding the experience and functional expertise that we need.
16 employees (about 25% of the company) were affected in the areas of ops, growth, and human resources. This is in addition to the 30+ employees that were already reported to have left Clinkle by Business Insider.
With regards to the 30+ employees, to put it in perspective, some were part-time, some were students, some were contractors – as we grow, there are going to be changes in business strategy that result in people seeking opportunity elsewhere. As I said, in all situations, we’re committed to managing things as professionally as possible.
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If you thought that the days of Samwer brothers e-commerce investments with the eBays and Groupons of the world were over, think again. Today, their Berlin-based incubator Rocket Internet announced a new and strategic investment partner, the UK physical and online retail giant Tesco. Tesco, which is the world’s second-largest retailer by revenues (after Walmart) will now work in “close cooperation” with the brothers’ incubator. That will begin by leading a $250 million round in Lazada, an Amazon-like online marketplace with operations across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Other Rocket regulars Access Industries, Kinnevik and Verlinvest also participated.
Other aspects of the deal, Rocket says, will include “customer analytics, private label development and supply chain management.” And as another part of the news, it has also expanded operations in the region with Lamido in Indonesia and Vietnam — a social commerce effort “to tap into the large informal e-commerce market of C2C transactions which includes thousands of shops on social networks such as Facebook.”
It comes on the heels of a $100 million round in Lazada only six months ago and brings the total invested into Lazada to $486 million.
Rocket Internet — which is known mainly for incubating e-commerce startups — notes that this is the first time that Tesco has invested in a pure-play e-commerce operation. Up to now, Tesco has built an empire on Walmart-style supermarkets, primarily in the UK, using that to expand as a strong and early player in e-commerce in grocery and home goods delivery and later digital goods to complement the sale of electronics.
But the investment news comes at a tricky time for Tesco: the company has long been seen as an aggressive and successful retailer, but its strategy has stumbled in the past two years. In the last quarter sales were down 1.5% in its main UK stores, and sales in other markets in Europe were down 4%, and in Asia 5.1%. In September, it put its U.S. Fresh Easy stores into bankruptcy (so, maybe not so Easy to crack the U.S., after all).
In that context, a focus on new, emerging markets that ride on operations that have already been seeded is a sign to investors that Tesco is now betting big on new opportunities. Emerging markets like Southeast Asia are a key target because they are large, and fast-growing. Southeast Asia as a region has some 600 million consumers who are only now really getting turned on to smartphones and shopping online.
Indeed, this seems to be the rationale for Tesco’s investment. “This investment in Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce retailer continues our strategy of developing leading multichannel businesses in core growth markets,” said Robin Terrell, group multichannel director of Tesco, in a statement. “Lazada is an exciting, pioneering business which has developed a market-leading offer in each of its five markets in just 18 months.”
Notably, Rocket Internet has established e-commerce businesses spanning home goods, fashion, financial services and much more across every continent. It has put a particularly strong focus on operations in emerging markets in recent years because they are growing faster and are less crowded with competition, Oliver Samwer told me earlier this year in an interview. It has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors to build out these operations, often from repeat investors — something that could either point to sustained success if you are a Samwer believer or ponzi-like tendencies focused around clones, if you are one of their detractors.
The real truth is that it’s hard to tell, because as is usual with Rocket Internet, it is not revealing the revenues, net income/loos or any other financial metrics of its operations. However, Tesco is a publicly-traded company, and that will likely lead to demands for greater transparency in the future. (For now Rocket tells us that the operation has some 1,500 employees across five Southeast Asian countries and that Lazada is the “leading online general merchandiser across the region.”
Although Access Industries, controlled by Russian-born (now U.S. citizen) tycoon Len Blavatnik, is a regular Rocket Internet investor, this will be Access’ first investment in Lazada. “We are delighted to welcome Tesco and Access to join our investor group through this funding round,” said Maximilian Bittner, CEO of Lazada Group, in a statement.
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Another exit for a new media startup into the arms of the old media industry: E.W. Scripps, the storied owner of 19 local television stations and daily newspapers in 13 markets across the U.S., today announced that it has acquired Newsy, a digital video news platform, for $35 million in cash. Newsy will become a subsidiary of Scripps.
To mark the video-friendly event, Newsy and Scripps posted a YouTube video.
The deal is expected to close January 1, Scripps said.
This represents a pretty impressive exit for Newsy, which was founded in 2008 and raised under $5 million. It also represents an interesting evolution for Scripps: back in 2007, in a moment of digital chicken that it lost, it spun off its Scripps Interactive division (full of hundreds of millions of dollars in acquired and homegrown assets) and remained E.W. Scripps the publishing company. Since then, it has quietly been building that digital effort back up, with more cautious footing.
This is about Scripps, which was founded in 1879, buying an asset that gives it a digital video component to complement its existing TV and online services — effectively a bridge between the three areas where it already does business if you also count newspapers.
It also gives the company access into an audience that consumes their news (and video) on devices like tablets, and has largely turned away from some of those more traditional platforms where Scripps still bases a majority of its business.
“Newsy adds an important dimension to our video news strategy,” Rich Boehne, Scripps chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. “It’s a next-generation news network designed and built exclusively for digital audiences. Newsy’s uncommon approach to curation and storytelling has helped it build a strong national brand, which fits well with both our current media assets and our ambitions to further develop digital media businesses.”
Newsy’s ad-supported videos are currently delivered to web, mobile, tablet and connected TV platforms, both direct to consumer and via partnerships with (TC’s owner) AOL, Microsoft and Mashable, among others.
The fact that these were named in the release might hint that those partnerships will continue post-acquisition, although this wasn’t specified. What has been is where the service will expand, which will be into more city- and region-based content: “Newsy will become an important news source on the Scripps digital products in local markets,” the company said.
“Scripps is committed to participating in the future of digital media,” said Adam Symson, senior vice president and chief digital officer for Scripps, in a statement. “Newsy is built for the digital audience, especially on the platforms we’re seeing emerge now with highly connected consumers.”
Newsy’s 35 full-time employees and its part-time employees will remain in Columbia, MO, the company says. That will include founder and CEO Jim Spencer. “We are proud to be joining with Scripps, which shares our values of innovation and editorial integrity,” he noted.
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