After a decade of bootstrapping, Octopus Deploy raises $172.5M from Insight Partners

A photo of Octopus Deploy's chief financial officer Sonia Stovell and chief executive officer Paul Stovell

Octopus Deploy’s chief financial officer Sonia Stovell and chief executive officer Paul Stovell

Founded almost a decade ago, Octopus Deploy has grown to serve 25,000 organizations, including Microsoft, NASA, Xero, Disney and Stack Overflow, through bootstrapping. Today the company announced its first outside investment. Insight Partners has taken a minority stake in Octopus Deploy for $172.5 million and will help the automated enterprise software deployment company embark on its next stage of growth.

Octopus Deploy was launched after founder and chief executive officer Paul Stovell observed that many software teams were able to set up continuous integration (CI) servers, but struggled to achieve full continuous deployment (CD). Stovell and his wife Sonia Stovell, Octopus Deploy’s chief financial officer, began working on the company as a “nights-and-weekend” project in 2011. By the next year, it had reached profitability. Now Octopus Deploy employs more than 100 people in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Insight Partners works with software companies to scale up their operations. Other portfolio companies in its ScaleUp Network include Pluralsight, Shopify, Twitter, Calm and Qualtrics. Octopus Deploy plans to use its investment to increase its enterprise market share, especially in the United States.

Stovell told TechCrunch in an email that Octopus Deploy has “declined venture approaches and have been turning away VC firms for years. However, the growth path we’ve been on meant that at some point, it might make sense to bring on an investor.”

“Our largest customer segment was the enterprise, and after consideration, we decided it was the right step to bring on board an investor that understood enterprise go-to-market, scaling up a company, and a partner that understood what the next 5-10 years of growth will look like for Octopus,” he added.

In a press statement, Insight Partners managing director Michael Triplett said, “We routinely talk to our portfolio companies about the products they use or that their customers are using and Octopus Deploy came up over and over. The company has flown under the radar, but when you talk to their customers, they are huge fans. It is clear to us that Octopus is the leader in enterprise deployment automation.”

Atlassian acquires ThinkTilt

Atlassian today announced that it has acquired Brisbane, Australia-based ThinkTilt, the company behind the popular Jira-centric no-code/low-code form builder ProForma. The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition.

The acquisition is meant to help strengthen Jira Service Management, Atlassian’s version of Jira that focuses on IT service management (ITSM). Launched in November 2020, Jira Service Management is meant to remove the barriers between development and IT operations and provide them with a unified platform, but it also enables other teams (think HR, legal or finance) to set up their own service operations.

Edwin Wong, Atlassian’s head of product, IT, tells me that the company already has over 30,000 customers who use Jira Service Management (though to be fair, Jira Service Management is in part a rebrand of Jira Service Desk with additional ITSM functionality, so a lot of these users were previous Jira Service Desk customers).

“One thing that I keep hearing from our customers when we speak to them, is that what makes us different is that Jira Service Management really helps them deliver value quickly, without the cost and complexity of some of the other ITSM solutions that they’ve used in the past. It’s just easier to set up, get going and maintain,” Wong said.

Image Credits: Atlassian

And while at launch, the company’s focus was very much on bringing developers and IT together, Wong stressed that today’s announcement is very much about how IT can help other business teams develop services as well — and cope with the reality of remote and hybrid work.

“Employees now expect digital experiences from the employers and their colleagues as much as they expect them in every aspect of their consumer lives, as these two things blend together,” Wong noted. “Fact is, you can’t really walk up to the HR team anymore when you’re working remote and say, ‘hey, I’ve got someone coming in.’ You can’t go tap on their shoulder and say, ‘hey, upgrade that campaign for me.’ That’s not really going to work anymore.” But ThinkTilt, Wong argues, helps businesses “create amazing customer and employee experiences, and allows anyone to do that really quickly and easily.”

Unsurprisingly, ProForma comes with all the tools you would need to create forms (and there are a lot of them) and it is already deeply integrated with Jira and Jira Service Management. It also features over 300 templates for often used business flows like candidate approval tracking in an HR system, for example. “What we’re really providing for our customers is not just the features and saying, ‘hey, figure it out yourselves,’ but really that practice and the [ThinkTilt] team really brings with them an amazing amount of knowledge with that,” Wong said about ProForma’s set of templates.

One neat tool more companies should offer: ProForma features a fully functional demo mode that lets you try out the product before even signing up for its free trial.

Jira Service Management, of course, can already build all these workflows, too. That is, after all, what the product is all about. But with ProForma, an HR team could capture all the information they need to capture for a given workflow, with Jira Service Management becoming the backend for those operations. Or they can easily create forms based on existing workflows, too, and enhance the user experience that way.

Over the course of the last five years, Atlassian regularly acquired a company or two per year. Currently, though, it feels like this pace is picking up a bit. Indeed, the acquisition of ThinkTilt marks the company’s fourth acquisition in the last twelve months. In February, it acquired visualization and analytics company Chartio, while in 2020, it acquired helpdesk tool Halp and the asset management company Mindville. If anything, I would expect this pace to increase in the next year as Atlassian aims to capitalize on current trends.

Google misled consumers over location data settings, Australia court finds

Google’s historical collection of location data has got it into hot water in Australia where a case brought by the country’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has led to a federal court ruling that the tech giant misled consumers by operating a confusing dual-layer of location settings in what the regulator describes as a “world-first enforcement action”.

The case relates to personal location data collected by Google through Android mobile devices between January 2017 and December 2018.

Per the ACCC, the court ruled that “when consumers created a new Google Account during the initial set-up process of their Android device, Google misrepresented that the ‘Location History’ setting was the only Google Account setting that affected whether Google collected, kept or used personally identifiable data about their location”.

“In fact, another Google Account setting titled ‘Web & App Activity’ also enabled Google to collect, store and use personally identifiable location data when it was turned on, and that setting was turned on by default,” it wrote.

The Court also ruled that Google misled consumers when they later accessed the ‘Location History’ setting on their Android device during the same time period to turn that setting off because it did not inform them that by leaving the ‘Web & App Activity’ setting switched on, Google would continue to collect, store and use their personally identifiable location data.

“Similarly, between 9 March 2017 and 29 November 2018, when consumers later accessed the ‘Web & App Activity’ setting on their Android device, they were misled because Google did not inform them that the setting was relevant to the collection of personal location data,” the ACCC added.

Similar complaints about Google’s location data processing being deceptive — and allegations that it uses manipulative tactics in order to keep tracking web users’ locations for ad-targeting purposes — have been raised by consumer agencies in Europe for years. And in February 2020 the company’s lead data regulator in the region finally opened an investigation. However that probe remains ongoing.

Whereas the ACCC said today that it will be seeking “declarations, pecuniary penalties, publications orders, and compliance orders” following the federal court ruling. Although it added that the specifics of its enforcement action will be determined “at a later date”. So it’s not clear exactly when Google will be hit with an order — nor how large a fine it might face.

The tech giant may also seek to appeal the court ruling.

Google said today it’s reviewing its legal options and considering a “possible appeal” — highlighting the fact the Court did not agree wholesale with the ACCC’s case because it dismissed some of the allegations (related to certain statements Google made about the methods by which consumers could prevent it from collecting and using their location data, and the purposes for which personal location data was being used by Google).

Here’s Google’s statement in full:

“The court rejected many of the ACCC’s broad claims. We disagree with the remaining findings and are currently reviewing our options, including a possible appeal. We provide robust controls for location data and are always looking to do more — for example we recently introduced auto delete options for Location History, making it even easier to control your data.”

While Mountain View denies doing anything wrong in how it configures location settings — while simultaneously claiming it’s always looking to improve the controls it offers its users — Google’s settings and defaults have, nonetheless, got it into hot water with regulators before.

Back in 2019 France’s data watchdog, the CNIL, fined it $57M over a number of transparency and consent failures under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. That remains the largest GDPR penalty issued to a tech giant since the regulation came into force a little under three years ago — although France has more recently sanctioned Google $120M under different EU laws for dropping tracking cookies without consent.

Australia, meanwhile, has forged ahead with passing legislation this year that directly targets the market power of Google (and Facebook) — passing a mandatory news media bargaining code in February which aims to address the power imbalance between platform giants and publishers around the reuse of journalism content.