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Flipkart on Monday launched SuperCoin Pay that its customers will be able to use across thousands of retail stores across the country as Walmart-owned e-commerce giant bets on its loyalty program to win and sustain its user base in the world’s second largest internet market.

The Bangalore-headquartered e-commerce giant said it had partnered with over 5,000 retail outlets including TimesPoints, Peter England, Cafe Coffee Day and Flying Machine across India to give its customers a “greater value and choice” to cash in on their Flipkart loyalty program, called SuperCoin Rewards. Flipkart customers earn these SuperCoins when they make purchases on the e-commerce platform.

Customers will be able to pay up to 100% of the bill value through SuperCoins, Flipkart said, pointing out that traditional loyalty programs have struggled to gain traction because they locked customers to their platform and made it difficult to convert reward points to cash.

Its retail partners operate in a wide-range of categories including fashion, grocery, food and beverages, travel, health and wellness. These retail partners will offer a QR code to make it easier for Flipkart customers to redeem their rewards points.

The move comes as giant e-commerce firms in India aggressively partner with physical and digital stores across the country. Amazon, too, has broadened its offering in recent years to offer coupons and discounts that Amazon Pay customers can redeem when making purchases at Urban Company, Domino’s, BigBazaar, More, Oyo Rooms, Licious, BookMyShow, Swiggy, and RedBus, for instance.

“The lines between online and offline shopping are becoming increasingly blurred, and our intention is to make the consumers’ shopping experience more rewarding, no matter where they shop,” said Prakash Sikaria, Vice President of Growth and Monetization at Flipkart, in a statement.

“Being a part of the SuperCoin programme enables our partners to reap the benefits of Flipkart’s 300 million customer base through a truly integrated rewards initiative,” he added.

Flipkart said customers on its platform have earned over a billion SuperCoin to date.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/17/flipkart-supercoin-pay-loyalty-rewards-program-india-amazon/

Paige 16 hours ago

With the last year changing how (and where) many of us work, organizations have started to rethink how well they manage their employees, and what tools they use to do that. Today, one of the startups that is building technology to address this challenge is announcing a major round of funding that underscores its traction to date.

Personio — the German startup that targets small and medium-sized businesses (10-2,000 employees) with an all-in-one HR platform covering recruiting and onboarding, payroll, absence tracking and other major HR functions — has picked up $125 million in funding at a $1.7 billion post-money valuation.

The Series D is being co-led by Index Ventures and Meritech, with previous backers Accel, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Northzone, Global Founders Capital and Picus all participating.

The $1.7 billion valuation is a big jump on the company’s $500 million valuation a year ago, and it comes after a year where the startup has doubled its revenues, and was not on the hunt to raise, with much of its previous fundraising still in the bank.

Personio currently counts some 3,000 SMEs in Europe as customers.

In an interview, Hanno Renner, the co-founder and CEO of Personio, said that the startup would be using the funding to continue building out the product — which operates a little like Workday, but built for much smaller organizations — as well as expanding its presence in Europe.

Although SMEs can be a notoriously challenging customer segment, Renner said that a new opportunity has emerged: a new wave of people in the SME sector have started to realise the value of having a modern and integrated HR platform.

“We started Personio in 2016 wanting to become the leading HR platform for mid-market companies, and we knew it could be a great company, but we realize it can be hard to grasp what HR really means,” he said. “But I think what has driven our business in the past year has been the realization that HR is not just an important part, but maybe the most important part, of any business.”

It may take one magic turn to convert users, he said, by providing (as one example) tools to recruit, sign contracts and onboard new employees remotely. Still, he acknowledges that the mid-market — especially those companies not built around technology — has been “lagging for years,” with many still working off Excel spreadsheets, or even more surprisingly, pen and paper. “Supporting them by helping them to digitize in a more efficient way has been driving our business.”

Personio is not the only startup hopeful that the shift in how we work will bring a new appreciation (and appetite) for purchasing HR tools. Others like Hibob have also seen a big boost in their business, and have also been raising money to tap into the opportunity more aggressively.

Hibob is looking to build in more training tools, underscoring the feature race that Personio will also have to run to keep up.

But given the sheer numbers of SMBs in the European market — more than 25 million, and accounting for more than 99% of all enterprises, according to research from the European Union — the fact that many of them have yet to adopt any kind of HR platform at all, there remains a lot of growth for a number of players.

“SMEs are the backbone of the European economy, employing 100 million people across the continent, but it is also a sector that has been neglected by software companies focused predominantly on large enterprises,” Martin Mingot, a partner at Index who sits on Personio’s board, said in a statement. “Personio changes that, having created a set of powerful tools tailored to address the needs of small businesses.”

“We have had the pleasure of working with some of the most successful SaaS companies in the world, and given Personio’s success over the past five years and the immense market potential, we strongly believe in Personio’s ability to build an equally successful and impactful business,” added Alex Clayton, general partner at Meritech Capital, in his own statement. “After many great discussions with Hanno over recent years, we are now excited to be joining the journey.” Clayton is also joining the board with this round.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/17/personio-raises-125m-on-a-1-7b-valuation-for-an-hr-platform-targeting-smes/

Paige 16 hours ago

Bloom & Wild, a London-based startup that takes an updated and online approach to the very traditional business of ordering and delivering flowers, has seen business blossom in the last year. And today, it is announcing a big round of funding to help it double down on the opportunity ahead.

The company has raised £75 million ($102 million), a Series D that it plans to use to continue expanding across Europe (in addition to the UK, it operates today in Ireland, France, Germany and Austria) as it also continues to build out the business through technology, hiring new talent, thinking up more ideas and new partnerships, such as a new deal with supermarket giant Sainsbury’s to spearhead a new brick-and-mortar push.

“We’ve been extremely fortunate to have been able to continue trading when we know how tough the past nine months or so has been for many,” said Aron Gelbard, Bloom & Wild’s co-founder & CEO, in an emailed interview. “It’s been a real joy & privilege to help keep our customers connected with their loved ones when we’ve all been missing being able to see our friends & family. We’ve certainly seen strong sales during periods of national restrictions across our markets, but sales have held strong during periods of relatively limited restrictions as we’ve retained new customers and converted many of our new recipients too.”

The funding is being led by General Catalyst, with Index Ventures, Novator, Latitude Ventures, D4 Ventures (established by Hanzade Dogan), and existing investors such as Burda Principal Investments also participating.

Bloom & Wild is not disclosing its valuation, but it comes on the heels of some very strong growth. Revenues for the company were up 160% in 2020, with some 4 million deliveries of flowers in that period — more than had ever been made in the lifetime of the company previously, it said. That helped push the company into the black, its first profitable year.

Founded in 2014, Bloom & Wild had only raised around $35 million before this, according to PitchBook, which estimates its pre-money valuation at $88 million.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “How can people think about flowers at a time like this? We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, for crying out loud.”

And indeed, that is so. But it seems that there is a special place for flower-based gifts, whether for other people or just for ourselves, that are appreciated especially when times are hard.

And while we’ve also seen people move quickly past that extra toilet paper, face masks and other practical purchases to click buy on many not-totally-essential indulgences — from fancy food and drinks through to nicer furniture since they’re spending so much time at home — I’d argue flowers have a unique position in the indulgence/gifting pantheon.

In the midst of a health pandemic that has severely curtailed how people can interact with each other in person, getting flowers from a person can take on a new and sometimes deeper meaning. The physical presence — the colors, the smells, the rustle of life — they convey can be a proxy for the human interaction that we’re missing.

“We’re privileged to have played our part in keeping people connected in this difficult period, and I’m proud of our growing team for scaling our operations whilst maintaining the signature thought and care we put into every order,” said Gelbard in a statement. “With this new backing from General Catalyst and Index we start 2021 with renewed energy to pursue our vision of becoming the world’s leading and most loved flower company.”

If you’ve ever ordered flowers for someone or for yourself, you know there is no shortage of options for doing so. In the UK alone there are some 7,500 florists according to the British Florist Association, and that’s not counting thousands more online-only retailers (like Bloom & Wild) or the many services that knit these together into wider delivery networks such as Interflora or FTD. FTD has been something of a consolidator here: in 2018 it acquired a US flower delivery startup called BloomThat (which likened itself to an Uber for flowers).

While some people still prefer to shop for tangible things like flowers in person, a lot of that has moved into the virtual world over the years — especially for those ordering flowers to be delivered to someone — making it in some ways much easier to launch and grow online-only flower businesses.

Bloom & Wild’s product approach is to sell flowers as bouquets, and to give people the option of making the smaller of those bouquets extremely easy to deliver, by designing a box that fits through the typical UK mail slot (either in your front door or elsewhere).

The bouquets it sells, meanwhile, are Instagrammably eye-catching, created for the kind of person who might discover them on that social network (where it has around 250,000 followers), and targeted at our modern predicament. (For example, the bouquet pictured above is called “The Ezra”. Its description: “This cocktail of vibrant oranges and soft lilacs reminds us of holidays in the sun. And the people we’d spend them with. Missing your travel buddy? Send them this instant day-brightener.”)

There are options for ordering flowers for offices — although these are almost certainly not getting ordered as much days — and to build subscriptions, as you might with any other D2C product you order online. And once Bloom & Wild gets to know you and what you like, that will inform how and which flowers on the service are presented to you. Over time it’s moved into more than flowers — it sold Christmas trees this season, and offers a few gifts alongside its bouquets — and it is gradually building out a brick-and-mortar presence, too.

But most of all, it seems the company has seen a surge of interest not just because of the efficiency and targeting of its service, but because it has gotten the product right — specifically delivering flowers that people like.

Gelbard points out that the company has “the most direct supply chain in the flower industry, sourcing directly from growers. This means our customers get excellent value and their flowers last longer, arriving in bud and regularly blooming for up to ten days or more.”

He also notes that the company has built a “bespoke technology and data science platform” focused on a quick and easy ordering experience on app or web. Lastly, “in a traditionally commoditised industry reliant on paid search, we’ve taken an innovative approach to product and brand development,” he notes, pointing to the “letterbox flower” invention.

“Bloom & Wild has infused the traditional flower giving experience with predictive analytics and technology to deliver a fresher, less-travelled bouquet to the people you care most about,” said Adam Valkin, MD, General Catalyst, in a statement. “What’s most impressive about Aron and his team has been their duality of focus since launch. They’re bringing industry-leading efficiency to the intricate supply chain challenges of flower delivery while simultaneously building a beloved experience that connects with consumers in a remarkably authentic way.”

Martin Mignot, Partner at Index Ventures added: “Bloom & Wild team have reinvented every aspect of flower delivery and gifting, challenging the status quo at every stage. Through relentless execution, Aron and his team have created a delightful experience for customers, becoming the fastest growing flower business in Europe. We’re thrilled to partner with them as they scale internationally.”

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/17/uks-bloom-wild-raises-102m-to-seed-its-flower-delivery-service-across-europe/

Paige Yesterday, 06:50PM

Virgin Orbit launched its LauncherOne rocket to orbit for the first time today, with a successful demonstration mission that carried a handful of satellites and will attempt to deliver them to low Earth orbit on behalf of NASA. It’s a crucial milestone for the small satellite launch company, and the first time the company has shown that its hybrid carrier aircraft/small payload orbital delivery rocket works as intended, which should set the company up to begin commercial operations of its launch system very soon.

This is the second attempt at reaching orbit for Virgin Orbit, after a first try in late May ended with the LauncherOne rocket initiating an automatic safety shutdown of its engines shortly after detaching from the ‘Cosmic Girl’ carrier aircraft, a modified Boeing 747 that transports the rocket to its launch altitude. The company said that it learned a lot from that attempt, including identifying the error that caused the failsafe engine shut down, which it corrected in advance of today’s mission.

Virgin’s Cosmic Girl took off at just before 2 PM EDT, and then released LauncherOne from its wing at roughly 2:40 PM EDT. LauncherOne had a “clean separation” as intended, and then ignited its own rocket engines and quickly accelerated to the point where it was undergoing the maximum amount of aerodynamic pressure (called max q in the aerospace industry). LauncherOne’s main engine then cut off after its burn, and its payload stage separated, crossing the Karman line and entering space for the first time.

It achieved orbit at around 2:49 PM EDT, and will release its payload of small satellites in roughly 30 minutes. We’ll update this post to provide the results of this part of its mission later, but this is already a major milestone and huge achievement for the Virgin Orbit team.

Virgin Orbit’s unique value proposition in the small launch market is that it can take off and land from traditional runways thanks to its carrier aircraft and mid-air rocket launch approach. That should provide flexibility in terms of launch locations, allowing it to be more responsive to customer needs in terms of geographies and target orbital deliveries.

In 2017, Virgin Orbit was spun out of Virgin Galactic, to focus exclusively on small payload orbital launch. Virgin Galactic then devoted itself entirely to its own mission of offering commercial human spaceflight. Virgin Orbit itself create its own subsidiary earlier this year, called VOX Space, which intends to use LauncherOne to deliver small satellites to orbit specifically for the U.S. national security market.


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/17/virgin-orbit-reaches-orbit-for-the-first-time/

Paige Yesterday, 02:40PM

A GitHub internal investigation has revealed the company made “significant errors of judgment and procedure” in the firing of the Jewish employee who cautioned his coworkers about the presence of Nazis in the DC area on the day of insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In a blog post today, GitHub COO Erica Brescia said the company’s head of HR took full responsibility for what happened and resigned from the company yesterday. GitHub did not disclose the name of the person who resigned, but it’s widely known that Carrie Olesen was the chief human resources officer at GitHub.

In a tweet last night, GitHub’s senior director of global HR services, Gia Colosi, made some comments about the company and human resources. That tweet has since been deleted but the screenshot is below.

Image Credits: Screenshot/Twitter

In a later tweet, she went on to say that, “Women are in HR to clean up men’s messes. I done and tired.”

Meanwhile, GitHub says it has “reversed the decision to separate with the employee” and is talking to his representative.

“To the employee we wish to say publicly: we sincerely apologize,” Brescia said in the blog post

After the fired employee made a comment in Slack saying, “stay safe homies, Nazis are about,” a fellow employee took offense, saying that type of rhetoric wasn’t good for work, the former employee previously told me. Two days later, he was fired, with a human relations representative citing a “pattern of behavior that is not conducive to company policy” as the rationale for his termination, he told me.

In an interview with TechCrunch earlier this week, the now-former employee said he was genuinely concerned about his co-workers in the area, in addition to his Jewish family members. During that interview, he said he would not be interested in getting his job back, but would be interested in other forms of reconciliation.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/17/githubs-head-of-hr-resigns-in-light-of-termination-of-jewish-employee/

Paige Yesterday, 01:35PM
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