September 7, 2023
We’ve always believed that magic occurs at the intersection of mission-driven founders and amazing technology. And when we find these combinations, it’s our job as venture capitalists to support these startups to our fullest abilities, hoping that the resulting company is one which delivers outsized impact to the world. AI-powered reading coach Ello is one such example, and we’re thrilled to meaningfully increase our investment in their $15 million Series A. The funding comes at a time where urgency for Ello’s product is particularly timely. Via TechCrunch, “According to a 2021 study from Stanford University, reading fluency among second- and third-graders in the U.S. was about 30% behind what would be anticipated in a typical year at the time.”
The Ello team is multidisciplinary, combining technologists with educators, to build a powerful and responsible approach to AI learning. Giving children confidence and capability in their reading is an important component of lifelong capacity building and helping anyone reach their fullest potential. Our interest in this goal transcends Homebrew, as Hunter’s first job was working in a children’s bookstore and Satya was a long-time Board member of KIPP.
Ello uses an AI-powered coach alongside books to meet your child where they are - in abilities and interests - and then bring them along to grow skills and enthusiasm for reading. And this is just the beginning of what Ello has planned.
If working at a well-funded, high quality, ethical AI consumer startup appeals to you, Ello is hiring.
August 7, 2023
Chips make AI work at scale but their performance is also a bottleneck to unleashing the full potential of AI. So it makes sense that one of the most important moonshots is to design new chips that are optimized for AI, especially LLMs. Today MatX, a startup focused on exactly this goal, shared just a bit more about its team and mission. The cofounders worked together at Google and we’re excited to be amongst their backers.
June 29, 2023
The hype around generative AI is palpable. But while there is tremendous potential, there still aren’t many clear examples of true business value being created with the technology, especially for consumers and small businesses. That’s why we were so excited to meet the team at Slang and lead their recently announced Series A financing.
WHO: Alex Sambvani and Gabe Duncan met when they were implementing personalized voice AI as members of the data science team at Spotify. That experience taught them that the power of voice AI could be applied to help businesses of all types, but that the technical hurdles would be too challenging for many of them. They conceived of Slang to bring this transformative technology to small businesses via a simple, fast and highly performant voice AI platform.
WHAT: Slang has built an AI-powered, 24/7 phone concierge that intelligently answers customer calls for small businesses, starting with restaurants. Slang enables customers to implement voice AI with a simple, no-code solution that is up and running in 30 minutes and offers powerful data intelligence that helps drive customer engagement and revenue. Quickly and easily, Slang automatically handles tasks like booking appointments, making reservations, placing food orders, and more, resulting in higher conversion and happier customers.
HOW: Available voice solutions deliver a terrible customer experience (phone directories anyone?), cost exorbitant amounts of money, take months to implement and rarely integrate into other systems that small businesses rely upon (like reservation systems for restaurants). Having staff answer calls distracts them from their core job responsibilities and creates an inconsistent customer experience. Slang stitches together a number of technologies, including natural language processing, text to speech, dialogue management and reservation system APIs, to taking an often troublesome customer touchpoint (answering customer phone calls) for location-based businesses and turning it into a scalable, affordable and actionable revenue channel.
WHY: Small businesses are facing an unprecedented staffing shortage and all-time-high wages — this means it's no longer affordable to answer the phone, resulting in missed calls and lost business. Slang helps SMBs capture more opportunities over the phone and elevate the
customer experience. Over time, Slang will become the conversational AI layer for business — an entirely new channel for businesses to transact, market, and serve their customers.
If being on the cutting edge of technology and helping small businesses thrive sounds exciting to you, join the team at Slang. They are hiring for positions in New York and remotely.
June 14, 2023
At Homebrew, we believe Software Enables the World (our slightly less carnivorous version of ‘software eats the world’). As a result, we’ve always been interested in tools and platforms which build not just new industries, but aid those markets which existed way before the PC. And we’ve been fortunate enough to back many SaaS companies that have found success in construction, agriculture, health care, to name a few “mainline” industries.
When we met the Albert team and learned about their experience building a modern collaboration, data, and productivity stack for the chemical and material science industry it was clear this felt like a Homebrew opportunity. Committed mission-driven entrepreneurs in a vertical that the average startup may never have considered. So when the founders invited us into their seed financing alongside their lead (and our frequent co-investor) Index Ventures, we lept at the opportunity, backing them with our personal capital and bringing along some notable individuals with us.
It’s been a joy working with this strong team and if you’d like to build with them too, Albert is hiring.
May 19, 2023
So what’s a software bill of materials (SBOM)? The simplest way is to think of it as an ingredients label, making sure that the underlying software components (especially open source pieces) are known to anyone using a software product. Without an SBOM, you’re flying blind as to the security and performance risks in a tech stack. That’s why both the public and private sector are pushing for standardization and availability of this data. Enter Manifest.
Manifest allows organizations to generate, collect, and operationalize software bill of materials (SBOMs) to achieve insight into the hidden risks of their software, respond faster to vulnerabilities, and procure more secure products. The company recently announced Department of Homeland Security and Air Force contracts, among a number of other commercial customers. Alongside these new relationships is a $6 million seed round, which we were thrilled to participate in (thanks to our friend and coinvestor Ross Fubini for the introduction).
As the Manifest team writes,
Software supply chain vulnerabilities are escalating rapidly. Software supply chain attacks have grown 300% since 2020, and an astonishing 62% of enterprises say they were hit with software supply chain attacks in 2021. Cybersecurity is often referred to as the “horizontal vertical,” touching every industry and every enterprise. The problem of understanding what’s in the software we build and buy is something that has been overlooked for too long, and in recent years, headline-making and business-disrupting cybersecurity vulnerabilities such as Log4shell, Solarwinds, and Apache Struts have brought it front and center.
If Manifest’s mission sounds exciting to you, they are hiring!
May 18, 2023
Every startup financing has something unique to its story, even if a lot of the same patterns emerge. In the case of Adonis’ Series A (led by General Catalyst), much is familiar to those who evaluate new companies: repeat founders with deep insights into the problem they’re solving; quick out of the gate to revenue; building out a team of both former colleagues and new talented members. Much of this was what drew us to them originally, in addition to seeing the opportunity to help increasingly large health care clinic networks use software to improve their revenue management processes.
But when the round completed, it occupied one specific new spot in our own history: the first follow-on round in a Homebrew♾️company, where instead of investing money on behalf of others, we’re using our own capital. But the core of what we do isn’t new at all. Still putting in the work, still looking for venture outcomes, still operating as a team alongside founders. And knowing that we have to earn any ongoing opportunities to follow-on in future funding events. So when the Adonis founders extended the offer to us, in an oversubscribed situation, we were thrilled and eager to deepen our participation.
If Adonis’ mission sounds exciting to you they are most definitely hiring.
May 18, 2023
We typically meet founders at the seed stage, when they have a pretty good sense of the immediate work-to-be-done and also a vision statement for where the startup can go, but everything in-between those two is fuzzy by design. So it’s especially enjoyable to see the curve in-between the ‘start’ and the ‘success’ come into focus. And with Hallow, it’s been a fantastic journey to ride along as investors in their company.
Hallow, the leading Catholic prayer app, just announced its $50 million Series C to further drive growth and product enhancements. As the team writes in its own blog post about the round, the last year has been extraordinary for the company:
This Lent, Hallow was the first faith-based app to ever crack the top 10 apps in the App Store overall coming in at #3 – beating Netflix, Spotify, Instagram, Amazon, Tiktok, YouTube and so many more of the largest apps in the world. It took us almost two years from launching Hallow to get to 1 million prayers prayed in total on the app. This Lent we had over a million prayers prayed each day. We just crossed 225 million prayers prayed in total and, as of last week, now over 10 million downloads.
With a successful subscription model the Hallow story isn’t one of just usage but also of revenue, since a sustainable structure is required for them to continue delivering a quality product to their community (Hallow is structured as a Public Benefit Corporation so business and values are always aligned).
May 17, 2023
A decade ago we shared an office with the Modelbit founders. Not in parallel, as might typically be the case, but serially. You see, Homebrew’s first HQ was a SOMA office that previously housed Periscope Data, Tom and Harry’s first startup together. Yeah there were some other connections - time together at Google being one - but we’ll fondly remember inheriting the early stage vibes (and success!) they left behind in that office. Not to mention getting their errant packages for several months after!
At Periscope Data, Tom and Harry built an industry-leading platform for complex data analysis that allowed cloud data teams to experiment with machine learning and other advanced processes to unlock new value from data. When they decided to return to their data science startup roots with Modelbit, it was a chance to deepen our connection with them beyond misplaced mail by becoming investors in their seed round. The Modelbit team is deep in data science, machine learning and cloud infrastructure. Supporting them as they build in this space was a no-brainer.
So if you’re a data scientist seeking a faster ML deployment platform, check out Modelbit.
April 10, 2023
One of the most exciting aspects of software is its ability to ‘flatten’ the competitive playing field. That is, to help make available capabilities to businesses of all sizes which were previously too expensive, complex, or custom for anyone but the largest companies. The latest generation of AI tools is making this promise true at a fast pace and one we’re especially excited about is Treat.
As they describe, “Treat's AI integrates with your eCommerce stack to analyze your ad creative, customer behavior, and demographic data to generate super-personalized photos that will attract your best customers.” The output is stunning and effective. So it’s no surprise that they’ve raised an $8.5 million seed round to power growth. Homebrew is a supporting investor and looking forward to seeing visual marketing move from one size fits all to the right image for the right customer.
If you’re a brand and would like early access, sign-up via Treat’s website.
April 7, 2023
We love when a team is passionate about infrastructure, and the Satsuma cofounders believe that web3 won’t grow without better tooling for developers. That’s why they raised a $5m seed round to help dApp developers to design custom blockchain data APIs. In their own words:
“Engineers currently have tools to get low-level data, but indexing & processing that data still takes weeks of development time. Writing your own indexing stack requires extra engineering effort to develop and maintain. Meanwhile, existing solutions have issues with slow performance, data lag, and downtime.”
If Satsuma’s mission sounds exciting to you, they’re hiring engineers.
February 23, 2023
We believe strongly that businesses of all sizes need great ‘back office’ HR software to provide and manage payroll, benefits and other administrative requirements. That’s why we’ve invested in companies such as Gusto, Level, Noyo, Finch, and others. But we also believe in what we term ‘front office’ HR - the products that executives, managers and teams need to bring everyone together and produce great results. Recognition, engagement, documentation, surveys, 1:1 meetings - there seems to be an almost endless list of needs that organizations have. But it can seem like a company needs a full-time group to evaluate and administer the disparate, single point SaaS solutions for each one of these needs!
No longer. Several years back, the team at Assembly realized that the majority of companies don’t want 15 different vendors, they want one extensible product that can grow with their needs. A single interface and a single source of truth for the ‘front office’ HR needs across the company. Assembly delivers out of the box modules for your most pressing needs and a no code builder that powers customization and creation of many more culture suite products.
Assembly and its customers weren’t the only people to recognize the significance of this opportunity, investors did too. And so Assembly recently announced the raise of a $10 million Series A to continue growing its team and technology.
If you’re looking to consolidate multiple SaaS HR tools into a single platform (and single bill!), take a look at Assembly. And if working on culture tools that make every company work better together seems exciting, Assembly is hiring.
February 23, 2023
Startups are never easy, no matter what the content marketing might sometimes suggest, but there are moments when you can feel the momentum compounding. And good investors are bloodhounds when it comes to sniffing out companies at that inflection point. So it comes as no surprise that some of Finch’s existing VCs co-led a $40 million Series B.
The Finch team is a methodical and deliberate group of builders, unafraid to challenge and update their beliefs as they navigate the tremendous opportunity in front of them. And this growth isn’t just top-line acceleration (revenue has grown 12x since their Series A), but is accompanied by maturity in where they invest, leading to several months of cash flow positive results along the way. Even if a startup on an impressive trajectory decides to forgo profitability in the near term, knowing how to achieve it and the levers it can pull is a secret weapon during up and down markets.
So if you are evaluating how to pull disparate payroll, benefits, and other employee data into an application or single view, now is a good time to learn about Finch. And if you’re looking at new gigs, consider this well-funded midstage startup with years of professional growth ahead - they’re hiring.
February 23, 2023
It’s not just the high profile NFT phishing scams that web3 participants need to worry about. Whether you’re collecting, investing, speculating or building; using web3 for utility, authentication, or infrastructure; or engaging in some future use cases we can’t even imagine yet, there are folks out there looking to rip you off and steal what’s in your wallet or digital locker. That’s where Stelo comes in.
The team at Stelo Labs has built protection for every type of transaction: Defi and Swaps, NFT marketplace, signatures, malicious contracts. Doesn’t matter, they’re on top of it. They offer a Chrome extension, an API, and a SDK to help you integrate safety all across the user experience.
The talent of the Stelo team, vision for a safer web3, and progress to date hasn’t just attracted users and customers, but also investors. And Stelo is now announcing a $6 million seed round to further its efforts. If what Stelo is working on sounds intriguing, it’s also hiring engineers in NYC/remote.
February 1, 2023
When Daniel Loreto said he was starting Jetpack we said good and handed him money. Ok, perhaps this is an oversimplification of both his founding journey and our investment decision, but not by much. We’d worked with Daniel at Google and Twitter, seeing his skilled and thoughtful approach to building both software products and teams. We knew that he’d bring that same care to this new venture.
Jetpack has raised $10 million to date, led by Google Ventures and Coatue. Today it announced financing, and also made its platform available in beta. While there’s much work ahead, we’re thrilled to be supporting investors in Daniel and the team.
February 1, 2023
We’ve often said that we love investing in startups that are underestimated by other VCs in their early years but by their Series B, they need to have proven who they are. And that’s the story with Crowdbotics, which just announced that funding milestone with a $40m round led by NEA.
Crowdbotics sometimes gets described as an ‘ERP for Software Development,’ allowing enterprises to spin up production-ready hosted applications that aren’t just demos or sandboxes but can scale to the broadest range of internal and external use cases. For example, the U.S. Air Force has flight analysis and training tools powered by Crowdbotics. Literally mission critical software.
If Crowdbotics sounds interesting to you, they’re hiring.
January 31, 2023
The classic “On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog” cartoon still rings true today. Within a B2B context, nobody knows if you’re the business you claim to be - when you’re applying for a financial product, entering a marketplace, or participating in any other number of transactions where fraud is an issue. Enter TrueBiz and the trend of KYB (Know Your Business).
Customers of TrueBiz use its platform to speed their onboarding of new business customers, quickly and accurately validating data and identity. The result is a better customer experience, reduced fraud, and increased revenues. Nice combination, right?
Coming out of Y Combinator, TrueBiz raised a $2.4 million seed and we’re excited to be supporting investors.
January 18, 2023
The dirty little secret of SaaS is that seat-based pricing doesn’t work for the vendors or the customers. Vendors don’t capture economics aligned with the true value they provide and customers often pay for seats that go unused or underutilized. That’s why the software and cloud services markets are already moving to consumption-based pricing. Leading companies such Snowflake, Confluent and MongoDB have already shown the benefits of usage-based pricing and now the rest of the world is catching on. It’s for that reason we're so delighted to finally share our investment in Amberflo, which just announced a $15 million Series A financing.
WHO: Puneet Gupta and Lior Mechlovich experienced the pain of building usage-based billing firsthand while at Amazon Web Services. Their teams were responsible for some of the original metered, usage-based cloud services at AWS. While there, they saw the need for both accurate measurement of consumption and flexible billing and invoicing. With this deep expertise and hands-on experience, the team decided to launch Amberflo and make it possible for any company to employ usage-based metering and billing.
WHAT: Amberflo manages end-to-end metering, pricing, invoicing, and billing infrastructure for software and cloud services companies. By implementing Amberflo, companies are able to optimize their product-led growth (PLG) conversion, decrease customer acquisition costs and increase net revenue retention. Customers also benefit by paying software fees that are tied directly to value.
HOW: Amberflo built a robust, accurate real-time usage metering platform that is decoupled from a scalable, flexible billing and invoicing service. In the words of one customer, “the idea of separating metering from pricing and billing is a stroke of genius.” It’s this insight that has enabled Amberflo to already power usage-based billing for companies such as LaunchDarkly and Firebolt.
WHY: The shift towards usage-based pricing is gaining more and more momentum. Product-led growth is changing how users are adopting software. Building the metering and billing infrastructure needed to support these trends is complex, expensive and time-consuming. Amberflo offers a comprehensive solution out of the box, making it possible for every company to take advantage of usage-based opportunities in billing and beyond.
January 17, 2023
Some of the ideas to help Earth’s climate are about changing our day to day behaviors -- undoubtedly an important component of a broad plan for stability. But other projects are aimed at using technology to fundamentally improve the capabilities of what nature has already provided. Living Carbon is one such project, working on creating plants with enhanced carbon removal characteristics. And now they have $21 million of additional capital to commercialize their trees.
“If we continue to double the number of trees we plant every year from 2023 to 2030, we can sequester 604 million tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent to removing 1.66% of 2021 global emissions. This would require less than 5% of reforestable land in the US.”
Congratulations to the Living Carbon team! If this work sound intriguing to you, they’re, of course, hiring!
January 13, 2023
We’re excited to follow-on Rippling’s announcement that they’ve acquired Fuzzbuzz with our own congratulations. Fuzzing is an automated testing technique especially well-designed to identify longtail security vulnerabilities and errors.
When we met the Fuzzbuzz team coming out of YC they had a mission-orientation around the value of quality software. Not just in our everyday desktop SaaS applications, but in medical devices, autonomous cars, and anywhere a bug or security flaw could cause real harm. As part of Rippling, the Fuzzbuzz team will join an already impressive engineering organization to strengthen and extend platform infrastructure.
November 22, 2022
Sometimes the key to an interesting consumer product is taking a behavior that everyone is doing (or trying to do) already and making it magical. We’ve long wondered why our mobile cameras don’t do more to enhance photos, and the major operating systems are taking incremental steps via OCR to ‘unlock’ what’s contained within the image. But then we met Alexander Mahedy and heard his vision for Pager, which convinced us there was another way to think about this opportunity. Mobile screenshots. We have camera rolls full of them, which we forget, or manually annotate, or send to friends with text notes. But what they should really be is natively useful and natively sharable.
Enter Pager.xyz. Unlocking the internet of screenshots by making the objects, music, apps, places in your screenshots into clickable links. Wired covered their launch, noting this might lead to a much more open web vs being silo’ed by an app or OS sharing stylesheet. We agree and think ultimately it’s about the sharing, discovery layer Pager can power beyond the ‘simple’ utility of adding links. Google Ventures also agrees, and they led the $5.2m seed round, joining us and other pre-seed backers.
If what Pager is working on sounds interesting to you, they’re HIRING.
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