Shape Security valued at $1bn following $51m funding round

On Thursday (12 September), Santa Clara enterprise security firm Shape Security announced that it had raised $51m in a recent Series F funding …

After a $51m funding round, Shape Security said that an IPO is in the pipeline for the company.

On Thursday (12 September), Santa Clara enterprise security firm Shape Security announced that it had raised $51m in a recent Series F funding round.

The round was led by C5 Capital, with additional participation from returning investors Kleiner Perkins, HPE Growth, Norwest Ventures Partners, Focus Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Top Tier Capital Partners and Epic Ventures.

To date, Shape Security has raised a total of $183m. In a statement regarding the recent funding round, the company also revealed that it has reached a valuation of $1bn.

The anti-fraud company, which was founded in 2011, is headquartered in California, with offices in London and Sydney.

Shape Security is used to defend some of the world’s largest enterprises from fraud in online applications, including more than half of all online banking in North America. The company also serves global brands across telecomms, e-commerce, government, travel and hospitality, insurance and healthcare, claiming that it “protects more accounts from fraud than all other providers in the space combined”.

Growth plans

According to a number of reports, Shape’s founders have said they are planning an IPO now that the company has achieved unicorn status. Despite saying that “preparation for an IPO is part of our plan”, the company did not give a timeframe for launching a public offering.

Co-founder and CEO of Shape Security, Derek Smith, said: “This investment will help us scale our international operations and fuel our AI development.

“Our new and returning investors, coupled with our continued track record of growth, underscore our vision to protect all enterprises from fraudulent internet transactions.”

C5 Capital’s involvement will help the company accelerate growth across Europe and the Middle East. The funding will also support Shape’s continued growth in North America.

André Pienaar, managing partner at C5 Capital, said: “Shape’s growth and product innovation is unlike anything we’ve seen in enterprise security. Shape already protects internet users at scale by detecting and blocking up to 2bn fraudulent transactions daily. This new injection of capital will further the company’s global market penetration.”

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Telstra blocks 2.9m scam calls in one month

Telstra blocked 2.9 million “scam calls” in July this year alone, highlighting the need for industry and government to come together on the issue.

Telstra blocked 2.9 million “scam calls” in July this year alone, highlighting the need for industry and government to come together on the issue.

But CEO Andy Penn said consumers also needed to play a part in the way they dealt with receiving such calls.

Penn said there had been an “exponential increase in the number of scams targeting Australian consumers.”

“In many ways they are like whack-a-mole – you thwart one scam and another one pops up,” he said.

“This is no game though – they usually involve a customer getting a call from an overseas country that dials once and hangs up.

“If the customer calls back they are unwittingly dialling a premium number and will incur significant call costs – and the profits go direct to the scammers and this year they are expected to net more than $500 million from unwary Australian consumers.”

“This is an industry-wide issue of broad community concern and we need industry, government and regulators to work together to address it,” he said.

“For all of this, though, perhaps the most effective response is informed and empowered consumers: consumers who are alive to the risks and part of the response.”

Telstra’s voice and video group owner and executive Paul Kubik said in a blog post last month that the industry generally “is offering many solutions to the issue of scam calling”.

“SHAKEN/STIR is a certificate-based authentication for IP voice calls equivalent to the HTTPS certificate system on the internet,” he said.

“Combined with real-time call analytics and call blocking capabilities (as well as law enforcement activities), the industry is confident that impact of this scourge can be diminished and eliminated over time.”

US carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile have tested and started to use SHAKEN and STIR to block robocalls.

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Congress set for maneuvering to avoid another government shutdown

… curb lawmakers’ concerns regarding Facebook’s ability to limit access to the virtual currency and its potential to be used as a money-laundering tool.

With a limited amount of time to avoid a second government shutdown this year, members of the Senate Appropriations Committee might end up in a full-fledged sprint.

Prior to the August recess, the House passed 10 out of 12 of its annual funding bills. The Senate reached a two-year budget agreement in addition to voting to raise the debt ceiling. Now it’s up to the upper chamber’s appropriators to decide how best to divide the pie among government departments.

The bills they will be voting on starting Thursday include funding for the departments of Defense, State, Labor, Education, Health and Human Services and Energy.

Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, who chairs the committee, said before the recess that he is hoping to bundle at least three of the bills together to ensure the bulk of government programs receive funding.

House Democrats, however, fear that the Senate committee will not reach a resolution before an Oct. 1 deadline. To avoid a shutdown, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a letter to Democratic colleagues that a vote to enact a stopgap measure will take place in the coming week.

“As we wait for them to complete their work so that we can begin conference negotiations,” Hoyer wrote, “a continuing resolution will be necessary to prevent another government shutdown like the one we experienced earlier this year, which harmed thousands of American families.”

If passed, the stopgap measure will temporarily avert a shutdown and buy lawmakers more time to reach a longer-term resolution.

See:Last government shutdown ranked as the longest on record — by a wide margin

Then there are matters that look more like a marathon. Unlike funding the government, many items on Congress’s to-do list are not subject to a hard deadline. Here are some of the issues where lawmakers may pace themselves in order to reach the finish line.

Drug pricing

Before the recess, members of the Senate Finance Committee began pushing legislation that would curb drug-price rises by placing some caps on out-of-pocket spending in Medicare.

Other Washington efforts to rein in pharmaceutical prices have included bills that aim to deter pharma companies from blocking or delaying generic competition, as well as a Trump administration plan to curb rebates that have gone to pharmacy benefit managers. In addition, another bill would require drug makers to justify large price hikes and high launch prices.

There is a “significant chance” for Congressional action this fall on drug pricing, said lobbyist Bruce Mehlman from the firm Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas in a recent note.

Facebook’s cryptocurrency

California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, who serves as the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, said that the panel plans to resume its investigation into Facebook Inc.’s FB, -1.79% cryptocurrency, Libra. Shortly before the recess, the head of Facebook’s crypto effort — David Marcus — testified before that House panel and the Senate Banking Committee.

Marcus agreed to comply with government regulation, but his testimony failed to curb lawmakers’ concerns regarding Facebook’s ability to limit access to the virtual currency and its potential to be used as a money-laundering tool.

Read more:Facebook’s Libra could be more dangerous than 9/11, congressman says

Waters also said that her committee will be seeking testimony from top financial regulators including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger.

Cannabis banking

The cannabis industry has disclosed spending more than $1.6 million so far this year to lobby lawmakers on matters such as passing the SAFE Banking Act, which would offer protections for banks that serve cannabis companies, as well as the STATES Act, which would help states that have legalized marijuana.

Before the August recess, Idaho GOP Sen. Mike Crapo, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, suggested there are strong grounds for reducing the vulnerability of banks that work with the booming marijuana industry. But analysts still have sounded downbeat on the prospects of the SAFE Banking Act.

Gun control

In the wake of 2019’s many mass shootings, Democratic lawmakers are expected to push for increased gun-control laws. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested in the past week that his fellow Republican lawmakers are placing the burden on President Donald Trump to propose a plan to curtail gun violence.

McConnell added that he expects to hear back from the White House this coming week and wants to make sure that senators “would actually be making a law and not just having serial votes.”

Robocalls

The House in July passed a bill known as the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act by a sweeping majority of 429-3.

One consumer advocate — the National Consumer Law Center’s Margot Saunders — has said the bill goes the farthest in cracking down on robocalls compared with other bills such as the TRACED Act, which passed the Senate in May in a 97-1 vote. In a recent column for the Hill, Saunders called for lawmakers to pass the provisions of both the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act and the TRACED Act into law.

Mehlman, the lobbyist, said there is a “significant chance” for Congressional action this fall on robocalls.

Related:How to avoid getting scammed when planning a last-minute getaway

And see:Scam robocallers stole nearly $1 billion last year

Inside the Startup Topic No Founder Wants to Confront

… number of unicorns minted during the same period in 2018, according to the latest MoneyTree report by CB Insights and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

But here’s the thing: The sky-high valuations probably won’t last. If you dig into the data, it’s clear that while there is more money available, it is flowing through fewer deals. And in some cases, bidding wars among VCs artificially prop up valuations. According to PitchBook’s Venture Monitor report, startup valuations are starting to flatten in the later stages, which is not completely unexpected after about a decade of increases. To be sure, no one is yet ringing alarm bells–though the trend could indicate a significant shift coming in investor sentiment, the report explains.The performance of unicorn darlings like Lyft and Uber, which are both trading below their IPO valuation, could also bring about a trickle-down effect to the private market.

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Sales and marketing fastest growing job profiles at soon-to-be-unicorns

These Soonicorns include Droom, Capital Float, ShareChat and UrbanLadder. If you look at the employment landscape, these 30 firms provided direct …

Indian tech startups, particularly Unicorns, have absorbed niche tech talents, even paying them an over 50 percent premium than the market average in some cases. And Soonicorns or soon-to-be Unicorns are no less.

But there’s a difference. For Soonicorns, it is not just the tech talent that deserves a premium. Sales and marketing personnel also have bright prospects as companies look to scale and expand.

According to a report on the talent and human capital growth dimensions of 30 Soonicorns by Xpheno, a specialised tech and engineering staffing firm, though techies form the majority of personnel hired, it is the sales and marketing space that saw the highest growth.

These Soonicorns include Droom, Capital Float, ShareChat and UrbanLadder. If you look at the employment landscape, these 30 firms provided direct employment to over 36,000 employees and garnered an investment of over $4.9 billion.

Sales and marketing jobs grew 41 percent and 15 percent, respectively whereas IT talents grew only 9 percent. In some cases, sales was the only functional area that saw any recruitment such as in media and entertainment, though marginal.

Kamal Karanth, co-founder, Xpheno, agreed that the number of personnel recruited for sales and marketing space was high.

An industry analyst, who Moneycontrol spoke to earlier, said sales and marketing are becoming an important aspect when you need to reach scale. “Because after you have a successful product in place, it is the sales and marketing personnel will take the product to the end customer,” the analyst.

This is true of startups, especially the Soonicorns, who are looking to scale up their businesses and in need of robust marketing and sales force.

These companies are also investing in recruiting senior management in a bid for higher valuation and a potential Unicorn status. The Xpheno report revealed that “Over the last three years (up to August 2019), Soonicorns have added close to 200 senior personnel to their teams across different functions and divisions.”

Consumer Services, Ecommerce and Enterprise Tech accounted for about 71 percent of the total senior hires among Soonicorns in this period. This is despite the gradual reduction in numbers over the same period.Get access to India’s fastest growing financial subscriptions service Moneycontrol Pro for as little as Rs 599 for first year. Use the code “GETPRO”. Moneycontrol Pro offers you all the information you need for wealth creation including actionable investment ideas, independent research and insights & analysis For more information, check out the Moneycontrol website or mobile app.

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