Monthly Archives: August 2019

Global gaming has seen $9.6 billion in investments

By the end of 2019, the global gaming market is estimated to be worth $152 billion, with 45% of that, $68.5 billion, coming directly from mobile games. With this tremendous growth (10.2% YoY to be precise) has come a flurry of investments and acquisitions, everyone wanting a cut of the pie. In fact, over the last 18 months, the global gaming industry has seen $9.6 billion in investments and if investments continue at this current pace, the amount of investment generated in 2018-19 will be higher than the eight previous years combined.

What’s interesting is why everyone is talking about games, and who in the market is responding to this — and how.

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The gaming phenomenon

Today, mobile games account for 33% of all app downloads, 74% of consumer spend and 10% of all time spent in-app. It’s predicted that in 2019, 2.4 billion people will play mobile games around the world — that’s almost one-third of the global population. In fact, 50% of mobile app users play games, making this app category as popular as music apps like Spotify and Apple Music, and second only to social media and communications apps in terms of time spent.

In the U.S., time spent on mobile devices has also officially outpaced that of television — with users spending eight more minutes per day on their mobile devices. By 2021, this number is predicted to increase to more than 30 minutes. Apps are the new prime time, and games have grabbed the lion’s share.

Accessibility is the highest it’s ever been as barriers to entry are virtually non-existent. From casual games to the recent rise of the wildly popular hyper-casual genre of games that are quick to download, easy to play and lend themselves to being played in short sessions throughout the day, games are played by almost every demographic stratum of society. Today, the average age of a mobile gamer is 36.3 (compared with 27.7 in 2014), the gender split is 51% female, 49% male, and one-third of all gamers are between the ages of 36-50 — a far cry from the traditional stereotype of a “gamer.”

With these demographic, geographic and consumption sea-changes in the mobile ecosystem and entertainment landscape, it’s no surprise that the game space is getting increased attention and investment, not just from within the industry, but more recently from traditional financial markets and even governments. Let’s look at how the markets have responded to the rise of gaming.

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Games on games

The first substantial investments in mobile gaming came from those who already had a stake in the industry. Tencent invested $90 million in Pocket Gems and$126 million in Glu Mobile (for a 14.6% stake), gaming powerhouse Supercell invested $5 million in mobile game studio Redemption Games, Boom Fantasy raised $2M million from ESPN and the MLB and Gamelynx raised $1.2 million from several investors — one of which was Riot Games. Most recently, Ubisoft acquired a 70% stake in Green Panda Games to bolster its foot in the hyper-casual gaming market.

Additionally, bigger gaming studios began to acquire smaller ones. Zynga bought Gram Games, Ubisoft acquired Ketchapp, Niantic purchased Seismic Games and Tencent bought Supercell (as well as a 40% stake in Epic Games). And the list goes on.

Wall Street wakes up

Beyond the flurry of investments and acquisitions from within the game industry, games are also generating huge amounts of revenue. Since launch, Pokémon GO has generated $2.3 billion in revenue and Fortnite has amassed some 250 million players. This is catching the attention of more traditional financial institutions, like private equity firms and VCs, which are now looking at a variety of investment options in gaming — not just of gaming studios, but all those who have a stake in or support the industry.

In May 2018, hyper-casual mobile gaming studio Voodoo announced a $200 million investment from Goldman Sachs’ private equity investment arm. For the first time ever, a mobile gaming studio attracted the attention of a venerable old financial institution. The explosion of the hyper-casual genre and the scale its titles are capable of achieving, together with the intensely iterative, data-driven business model afforded by the low production costs of games like this, were catching the attention of investors outside of the gaming world, looking for the next big growth opportunity.

The trend continued. In July 2018, private equity firm KKR bought a $400 million minority stake in AppLovin and now, exactly one year later, Blackstone announced their plan to acquire mobile ad-network Vungle for a reported $750 million. Not only is money going into gaming studios, but investments are being made into companies whose technology supports the mobile gaming space. Traditional investors are finally taking notice of the mobile gaming ecosystem as a whole and the explosive growth it has produced in recent years. This year alone mobile games are expected to generate $55 billion in revenue, so this new wave of investment interest should really come as no surprise.

Government intervention

Most recently, governments are realizing the potential and reach of the gaming industry and making their own investment moves. We’re seeing governments establish funds that support local gaming businesses — providing incentives for gaming studios to develop and retain their creatives, technology and employees locally — as well as programs that aim to attract foreign talent.

As uncertainty looms in England surrounding Brexit, France has jumped on the opportunity with “Join the Game.” They’re painting France as an international hub that is already home to many successful gaming studios, and they’re offering tax breaks and plenty of funding options — for everything from R&D to the production of community events. Their website even has an entire page dedicated to “getting settled in France,” in English, with a step-by-step guide on how game developers should prepare for their arrival.

The U.K. Department for International Trade used this year’s Game Developers Conference as a backdrop for the promotion of their games fund — calling the U.K. “one of the most flourishing game developing ecosystems in the world.” The U.K. Games Fund allows for both local and foreign-owned gaming companies with a presence in the U.K. to apply for tax breaks. And ever since France announced their fund, more and more people have begun encouraging the British government to expand their program, saying that the U.K. gaming ecosystem should be “retained and enhanced.” But, not only does the government take gaming seriously, the Queen does as well. In 2008, David Darling, the CEO of hyper-casual game studio Kwalee, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to the games industry. CBE is the third-highest honor the Queen can bestow on a British citizen.

Over in Germany, and the government has allocated €50 million of its 2019 budget for the creation of a games fund. In Sweden, the Sweden Game Arena is a public-private partnership that helps students develop games using government-funded offices and equipment. It also links students and startups with established companies and investors. While these numbers dwarf the investment of more commercial or financial players, the sudden uptick in interest governments are paying to the game space indicate just how exciting and lucrative gaming has become.

Support is coming from all levels

The evolution of investment in the gaming space is indicative of the stratospheric growth, massive revenue, strong user engagement and extensive demographic and geographic reach of mobile gaming. With the global games industry projected to be worth a quarter of a trillion dollars by 2023, it comes as no surprise that the diverse players globally have finally realized its true potential and have embraced the gaming ecosystem as a whole.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/22/mobile-gaming-mints-money/

As businesses use an increasing variety of marketing software solutions, the goal around collecting all of that data is to improve customer experience. Simon Data announced a $30 million Series C round today to help.

The round was led by Polaris Partners . Previous investors .406 Ventures and F-Prime Capital also participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $59 million, according to the company.

Jason Davis, co-founder and CEO, says his company is trying to pull together a lot of complex data from a variety of sources, while driving actions to improve customer experience. “It’s about taking the data, and then building complex triggers that target the right customer at the right time,” Davis. He added, “This can be in the context of any sort of customer transaction, or any sort of interaction with the business.”

Companies tend to use a variety of marketing tools, and Simon Data takes on the job of understanding the data and activities going on in each one. Then based on certain actions — such as, say, an abandoned shopping cart — it delivers a consistent message to the customer, regardless of the source of the data that triggered the action.

They see this ability to pull together data as a customer data platform (CDP). In fact, part of its job is to aggregate data and use it as the basis of other activities. In this case, it involves activating actions you define based on what you know about the customer at any given moment in the process.

As the company collects this data, it also sees an opportunity to use machine learning to create more automated and complex types of interactions. “There are a tremendous number of super complex problems we have to solve. Those include core platform or infrastructure, and we also have a tremendous opportunity in front of us on the predictive and data science side as well,” Davis said. He said that is one of the areas where they will put today’s money to work.

The company, which launched in 2014, is based in NYC. The company currently has 87 employees, and that number is expected to grow with today’s announcement. Customers include Equinox, Venmo and WeWork. The company’s most recent funding was a $20 million round in July 2018.

Source: https://techcrunch.com

Edge Delta co-founders Ozan Unlu and Fatih Yildiz. (Edge Delta Photo)

Edge Delta co-founders Ozan Unlu and Fatih Yildiz. (Edge Delta Photo)

Edge Delta, a Seattle-based startup that’s building a distributed analytics platform, raised $3 million in seed funding from lead investors MaC Venture Capital and Amity Ventures.

The freshly-launched company was founded by Fatih Yildiz and Ozan Unlu, who met while working at Microsoft. Their paths later diverged when Unlu joined Sumo Logic and Yildiz went on to become an engineer at Twitter.

What brought them back together was a shared belief that the way data is currently managed — by collecting it into the cloud for processing — is fundamentally incompatible with much of tomorrow’s technology. They point to self-driving cars and Amazon Go’s cashier-less stores as examples of applications that needs a lot of data processing to happen close to the source.

“If we can essentially get very close to that data … then we can be 100 times faster, we can be infinitely scalable, we can have better privacy and security posture. And all of it can be fully automated,” said Unlu, who serves as Edge Delta’s CEO. Yildiz is the company’s chief technology officer.

The startup is using federated learning — a distributed form of machine learning — to flag problems related to DevOps and security. Unlu said they are targeting clients across a range of industries that have critical systems that run on edge computing, in which computer processing takes place on hardware in the field, often with limited connection to the cloud.

In securing the financing, Edge Delta worked with MaC co-founder Adrian Fenty, who was formerly the mayor of Washington, D.C. and an advisor at Andreessen Horowitz, as well as Peter Bell, a general partner at Amity Ventures.

Edge Delta is one of several Seattle-area startups in the edge computing space. Tignis, Balena and Gaia are all working on services that make it easier for companies to build and manage edge computing applications.

Microsoft has made the “intelligent edge” a core focus and earlier this year debuted Azure SQL Database Edge, which was designed with edge computing processors in mind.

Edge Delta has six employees and will soon move into new offices in the South Lake Union neighborhood. The company is actively recruiting engineering talent and plans to hire 12 or more employees in the next year.

Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2019/edge-delta-scores-3m-launch-distributed-computing-platform/

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Incorta, a startup founded by former Oracle executives who want to change the way we process large amounts of data, announced a $30 million Series C today led by Sorenson Capital.

Incorta CEO and co-founder Osama Elkady says he and his co-founders were compelled to start Incorta because they saw so many companies spending big bucks for data projects that were doomed to fail.

“The reason that drove me and three other guys to leave Oracle and start Incorta is because we found out with all the investment that companies were making around data warehousing and implementing advanced projects, very few of these projects succeeded,” Elkady.

A typical data project involves ETL (extract, transform, load). It’s a process that takes data out of one database, changes the data to make it compatible with the target database and adds it to the target database.

It takes time to do all of that, and Incorta is trying to make access to the data much faster by stripping out this step.

Elkady says that this allows customers to make use of the data much more quickly, claiming they are reducing the process from one that took hours to one that takes just seconds.

“Incorta is poised to upend the data warehousing market with innovative technology that will end 30 years of archaic and slow data warehouse infrastructure,” he said in a statement.

The company says revenue is growing by leaps and bounds, reporting 284% year over year growth (although they did not share specific numbers). Customers include Starbucks, Shutterfly and Broadcom.

The startup, which launched in 2013, currently has 250 employees, with developers in Egypt and main operations in San Mateo, Calif. They recently also added offices in Chicago, Dubai and Bangalore.

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Penta, the business banking provider for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that was recently acquired by fintech company builder Finleap, has raised “over” €8 million in new funding.

The round is led by HV Holtzbrinck Ventures. Also participating is Finleap, alongside Fabrick, the Italian platform for open banking and fintech services, which is another of Penta’s existing shareholders. The startup raised a €7 million Series A round in late 2018, and is thought to have had over €18 million investment since being founded in 2016.

Meanwhile, today’s new injection of capital comes shortly after Penta was acquired by Finleap, the German company builder that co-founded and also owns a stake in banking platform solarisBank, of which Penta is a customer. Shortly after the deal went through, it was confirmed that Marko Wenthin, who previously co-founded solarisBank, had become Penta’s new CEO, replacing outgoing CEO and Penta co-founder Lav Odorović.

With a team of over 50, Penta now operates from three offices located in Berlin, Belgrade, and Milan. The latter follows a recent merger with Beesy, the Italian micro-business banking startup. Penta CEO Wenthin says internationalisation will be one of the focuses following HV Holtzbrinck Ventures’ backing.

“Penta has shown an incredible amount of passion for the market, the customers, and the product: it is amazing to see what the team has built since their inception,” he says in a statement. “This funding will allow us to further invest into our product and partnerships to become the financial platform of choice for small and medium sized companies. Additionally, we will push the internationalisation of Penta, starting with Italy this year”.

source: https://tcrn.ch/2KuDwVe

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Just yesterday, we experienced yet another major breach when Capital One announced it had been hacked and years of credit card application information had been stolen. Another day, another hack, but the question is how can companies protect themselves in the face of an onslaught of attacks. Confluera, a Palo Alto startup, wants to help with a new tool that purports to stop these kinds of attacks in real time.

Today the company, which launched last year, announced a $9 million Series A investment led by Lightspeed Venture Partners . It also has the backing of several influential technology execs, including John W. Thompson, who is chairman of Microsoft and former CEO at Symantec; Frank Slootman, CEO at Snowflake and formerly CEO at ServiceNow; and Lane Bess, former CEO of Palo Alto Networks.

What has attracted this interest is the company’s approach to cyber-security. “Confluera is a real-time cyber-security company. We are delivering the industry’s first platform to deterministic-ally stop cyber-attacks in real time,” company co-founder and CEO Abhijit Ghosh told TechCrunch.

To do that, Ghosh says, his company’s solution watches across the customer’s infrastructure, finds issues and recommends ways to mitigate the attack. “We see the problem that there are too many solutions which have been used. What is required is a platform that has visibility across the infrastructure, and uses security information from multiple sources to make that determination of where the attacker currently is and how to mitigate that,” he explained.

Microsoft chairman John Thompson, who is also an investor, says this is more than just real-time detection or real-time remediation. “It’s not just the audit trail and telling them what to do. It’s more importantly blocking the attack in real time. And that’s the unique nature of this platform, that you’re able to use the insight that comes from the science of the data to really block the attacks in real time.”

It’s early days for Confluera, as it has 19 employees and three customers using the platform so far. For starters, it will be officially launching next week at Black Hat. After that, it has to continue building out the product and prove that it can work as described to stop the types of attacks we see on a regular basis.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/30/conflura-snags-9m-series-a-to-help-stop-cyber-attacks-in-real-time/

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Learning Management System seems to be the go-to option for start-ups and Fortune 500s, alike. But is your organization ready to make the switch and invest in Online Training software?

Why You Should Use Online Training Software For L&D eLearning courses have become a preferred choice for keeping up to date with learning opportunities.

They contain a wide range of applications, from upgrading corporate certifications to getting a degree from home.

They also allow learners of all ages and academic levels to study at their own pace.

The corporate world makes its own value judgements, and they’re largely based on the bottom line.

In the business world, if it isn’t profitable it’s not worth doing.

Is there an effective way to promote corporate L&D with online training software? Let’s look at 6 benefits of using online training software for L&D..

1. Increased Flexibility
From an employee’s perspective, one of the drawbacks of work is academic stagnation. It’s hard to get time off for studies, and this can lead to high staff turnover. Some of the best and brightest team members may leave employment so that they can seek opportunities for their own development. Employers are equally unwilling to lose office hours.

The Online training software can solve both of these challenges simultaneously. It allows corporate learners to juggle work and school without compromising their jobs. They can study during their commutes, lunch breaks or after they put their kids to bed. They are able to study on their tablets, mobile phones, laptops or desktops so they have a wide variety of study options.

2. Reduced Travel Expenses
Aside from losing actual office time, travelling to and from class can be a burden on your staff. Employees may ask to get off work earlier or come to the office later, in order to accommodate their studies. If the Online training course is sponsored or managed by the office, you would have to fund their travel expenses. You’d also have to find a way to cover their missed work hours. Once again, having in-house courses would resolve all these problems. Team members can study at their desks, which eliminates both travel costs and time off work. Studying at work also positions them for raises, promotions and internal upward movement.

3. Greater Accessibility
These days, corporate teams are global, with employees and offices all over the world. This can make it difficult to reach them all at the same time. With online training software, employees in different departments, branches and time zones have equal opportunities. Online training courses are easier to accommodate than offline ones. This makes it easier for them to absorb technical content. In traditional training, such a situation would require different classrooms, instructors and time slots. Online, you can switch the instructional language with a single click.

4. Customized Online Training Content
Online education can drastically reduce your development costs.This way, different online learners can activate tools that are specifically relevant to them. One employee could prefer daily sessions while another might want weekly sessions. Self-directed tools may help them adjust the online training course to fit the time they are available. They can also select to skip topics they are already familiar with. They’re able to access additional online training resources in areas where they need extra attention. It’s much easier to do this online than in a physical classroom.

5. Personalized Online Training Resources
Using online training software for L&D offers a data cycle that flows both ways. Corporate learners can access extensive libraries, both inside the online training course and on the wider internet. Their study habits and patterns provide metrics and analytics that can be used to improve the online training course. This data is helpful both internally and externally. They can cross-sell it to similar corporates, or use it to create new online training courses for your firm. Internally, the gathered data can help improve how the company is run. It helps management pinpoint corporate trouble spots and resolve them.

6. Enhanced Compliance Rates
One of the main drivers of corporate L&D is industrial compliance. Local regulations often require certifications and licenses that have to be periodically renewed. These licenses might cover security, health, safety, gender matters or even language needs. If you have expats on your team their compliance may be a requirement of their visa or work permit.

In the regular course of running a business, these matters can easily be overlooked. Using an online platform for training can help streamline departments. The accounts team will get reminders when licensing fees are due. They can get in touch with HR or admin, who can prompt individual employees to update their compliance. The whole process runs smoother because of it.

Learning and Development is a key part of smart corporate structuring. Taking the process online saves your organization time and money while increasing efficiency. Flexible schedules allow corporate learners to work at their own pace and convenience. Studying at work or at home reduces corporate travel costs and improves time management. Global employees can access online training content in their preferred tongue, and there are other customization options as well. Thus, online training software for L&D can help you retain your top talent and improve productivity.

Source: https://elearncommunity.com/news/6-benefits-of-using-online-training-software-for-ld/