Inside SaaS - July 26th, 2019 |

Inside SaaS (Jul 26th, 2019)

Hipcamp raises $25M/ Salesforce partners with Alibaba / Gusto nearly doubles value

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1. Campsite marketplace startup Hipcamp has raised $25 million in a Series B round. Andreessen Horowitz, which now values Hipcamp at $127 million, led the round citing a "huge and growing market" for the great outdoors in the U.S. According to Kampgrounds of America, 62 percent, or 79 million, of US households are active campers, up from 58 percent in 2014. "A lot of this growth is driven by millennials, who make up 41% of new campers and who are drawn to camping as a way to unplug from technology and be physically active," writes Andrew Chen, general partner of Andreessen Horowitz. -- TECHCRUNCH

2. Gusto has nearly doubled its valuation within a year by raising a $200 million Series D round. The San Francisco-based HR SaaS firm is now valued at $3.8 billion following the new investment round, which was led by investors including Fidelity Management & Research Co. and Al Gore’s UK-based Generation Investment Management. Gusto recently crossed the 100,000-client mark, which includes mostly small- and medium-sized businesses. It charges a monthly subscription fee for using its platform, which helps to manage various HR functions, such as payroll, employee onboarding, time tracking, retirement and health insurance. The new funding will be put into exploring new products at an R&D office that opens in New York this September. -- CRUNCHBASE

3. Salesforce is expanding its footprint into China’s $12 billion cloud computing market by making Alibaba its exclusive partner there. The tie-up is seen as a validation of Alibaba's cloud service leadership in China, and bestows the Chinese tech giant led by Jack Ma exclusive rights to provide the Salesforce CRM enterprise product suite in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. The deal comes amid rapid growth in the Chinese cloud industry, which is up nearly 75 percent year over year, and accounted for 12 percent of the global market, according to IDC, a market research provider. -- FT

4. has attracted £2.4 million ($3 million) in seed round funding to boost machine learning capabilities. The London-based conversation-as-a-service firm was founded in 2017 and employs AI-based technology to create natural conversations that can be delivered 24/7 via popular channels, such as Alexa, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which it can provide in over 100 languages. The plug-in is already serving a diverse range of industries, including police, central and local governments, and private sector companies. -- PROLIFIC LONDON

5. Esports news and data aggregation app Strafe closed a $3 million seed round from an early-stage esports investment fund. The Stockholm-based startup claims to provide the “widest tournament coverage on mobile,” covering real-time scores, statistics, and news for a number of popular esports games, including  League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. The app also contains a social betting function. -- ESPORTS OBSERVER

6. Indonesian telemedicine mobile app Halodoc raised a Series B+ funding round worth about $100 million. The extended investment round included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Allianz X and Prudential, which are both customers of Halodoc's services. Founded in 2016, the startup serves on average 7 million patients per month throughout Indonesia, with 80 per percent of patients residing outside the large cities of Jakarta and Surabaya. Halodoc also has over 2 million users and 20,000 registered doctors on its platform, and works with 1,300 pharmacies to deliver medications. -- BLOOMBERG (paywall)

7. Blaze, an ERP platform for the cannabis industry, has raised $1 million in seed funding. The Los Angeles-based startup aims to help legal cannabis businesses better organize their operations "from farm to dispensary." Co-founder and CEO Christopher Violas started the venture to help cannabis companies ensure compliance with legal regulations -- notoriously fragmented state by state in the U.S. -- and integrate technology across the industry's main verticals: cultivation, distribution, delivery, retail and manufacturing. -- FINSMES

8. Stock-trading app Robinhood raised $323 million to bring its valuation to $7.6 billion. The Series E funding round was led by DST Global, a Hong Kong-based VC firm specializing in late-stage investments. Robinhood's app allows users to make commission-free investments in stocks, options, ETFs and cryptocurrencies, and the New York-based company plans to use the new funds to expand its business into becoming a consumer-focused bank in the U.S. The so-called Robinhood Bank will be powered on software provided by FISFiserv or Infosys, and an official request to launch it was submitted in April. -- BANKING TECH

9. The Tech in Asia Conference has featured four edtech startups in the run-up to this year's Jakarta-held event on October 8-9. The edtech startups featured are all from Indonesia and include PTN Go, a test prep app; Arkademi, an online courses platform; Foodizz, a food business platform; and, a guidance counselor service. This year, the Tech in Asia conference expects over 6,000 attendees and more than 150 speakers. -- TECH IN ASIA

10. AI-powered autonomous checkout platform Standard Cognition has landed $35 million. The Series B investment brings the value of the San Francisco-based startup, which was founded in 2017, to $535 million. The AI-tech firm hopes to empower retailers with self-checkout technology. Standard Cognition has deployed its platform in five stores across the U.S. and Japan. -- TECHCRUNCH

Correction: The last Inside SaaS newsletter issued on July 24 misstated  Tim Berners-Lee's role in "creating the internet." Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, while Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn are widely considered the be the creators of the internet protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP.

This newsletter is written and curated by Justin Calderón. Justin is based out of Barcelona, Spain, and has covered technology and SaaS news for a variety of publications, including the BBC and Newsweek. Follow him on Twitter at @justinfuyun

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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