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RudderStack raises $5M seed round for its open-source Segment competitor

RudderStack, a startup that offers an open-source alternative to customer data management platforms like Segment, today announced that it has raised a $5 million seed round led by S28 Captial. Salil Deshpande of Uncorrelated Ventures and Mesosphere/D2iQ co-founder Florian Leibert (through 468 Capital) also participated in this round.

In addition, the company also today announced that it has acquired Blendo, an integration platform that helps businesses transform and move data from their data sources to databases.

Like its larger competitors, RudderStack helps businesses consolidate all of their customer data, which is now typically generated and managed in multiple places — and then extract value from this more holistic view. The company was founded by Soumyadeb Mitra, who has a Ph.D. in database systems and worked on similar problems previously when he was at 8×8 after his previous startup, MairinaIQ, was acquired by that company.

Mitra argues that RudderStack is different from its competitors thanks to its focus on developers, its privacy and security options and its focus on being a data warehouse first, without creating yet another data silo.

“Our competitors provide tools for analytics, audience segmentation, etc. on top of the data they keep,” he said. “That works well if you are a small startup, but larger enterprises have a ton of other data sources — at 8×8 we had our own internal billing system, for example — and you want to combine this internal data with the event stream data — that you collect via RudderStack or competitors — to create a 360-degree view of the customer and act on that. This becomes very difficult with the SaaS hosted data model of our competitors — you won’t be sending all your internal data to these cloud vendors.”

Part of its appeal, of course, is the open-source nature of RudderStack, whose GitHub repository now has over 1,700 stars for the main RudderStack server. Mitra credits getting on the front page of HackerNews for its first sale. On that day, it received over 500 GitHub stars, a few thousand clones and a lot of signups for its hosted app. “One of those signups turned out to be our first paid customer. They were already a competitor’s customer but it wasn’t scaling up so were looking to build something inhouse. That’s when they found us and started working with us,” he said.

Since it is open source, companies can run RudderStack anyway they want, but like most similar open-source companies, RudderStack offers multiple hosting options itself, too, that include cloud hosting, starting at $2,000 per month, with unlimited sources and destination.

Current users include IFTTT, Mattermost, MarineTraffic, Torpedo and Wynn Las Vegas.

As for the Blendo acquisition, it’s worth noting that the company only raised a small amount of money in its seed round. The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition.

“With Blendo, I had the opportunity to be part of a great team that executed on the vision of turning any company into a data-driven organization,” said Blendo founder Kostas Pardalis, who has joined RudderStack as Head of Growth. “We’ve combined the talented Blendo and RudderStack teams together with the technology that both companies have created, at a time when the customer data market is ripe for the next wave of innovation. I’m excited to help drive RudderStack forward.”

Mitra tells me that RudderStack acquired Blendo instead of building its own version of this technology because “it is not a trivial technology to build — cloud sources are really complicated and have weird schemas and API challenges and it would have taken us a lot of time to figure it out. There are independent large companies doing the ETL piece.”

Microsoft acquires robotic process automation platform Softomotive

During his Build keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella today confirmed that the company has acquired Softomotive, a software robotic automation platform. Bloomberg first reported that this acquisition was in the works earlier this month, but the two companies didn’t comment on the report at the time.

Today, Nadella noted that Softomotive would become part of Microsoft’s Power Automate platform. “We’re bringing RPA – or robotic process automation to legacy apps and services with our acquisition of Softomotive,” Nadella said.

Softomotive currently has about 9,000 customers around the world. Softomotive’s WinAutomation platform will be freely available to Power Automate users with what Microsoft calls an RPA attended license in Power Automate.

In Power Automate, Microsoft will use Softomotive’s tools to enable a number of new capabilities, including Softomotives low-code desktop automation solution WinAutomation. Until now, Power Automate did not feature any desktop automation tools.

It’ll also build Softomotive’s connectors for applications from SAP, as well as legacy terminal screens and Java, into its desktop automation experience and enable parallel execution and multitasking for UI automation.

Softomotives other flagship application, ProcessRobot for server-based enterprise RPA development, will also find a new home in Power Automate. My guess, though, is that Microsoft mostly bought the company for its desktop automation skills.

“One of our most distinguishing characteristics, and an indelible part of our DNA, is an unswerving commitment to usability,” writes Softomotive CEO and co-founder Marios Stavropoulos. “We have always believed in the notion of citizen developers and, since less than two percent of the world population can write code, we believe the greatest potential for both process improvement and overall innovation comes from business end users. This is why we have invested so diligently in abstracting complexity away from end users and created one of the industry’s most intuitive user interfaces – so that non-technical business end users can not just do more, but also make deeper contributions by becoming professional problem solvers and innovators. We are extremely excited to pursue this vision as part of Microsoft.”

The two companies did not disclose the financial details of the transaction.

Study launched into how startups will return to offices — will WFH continue?

A comprehensive study into how startups will work in the future, in the wake of the global COVID-9 pandemic, has been launched by UK non-profit Founders Forum. The initiative comes in the wake of a number of organizations announcing extended offices closures and ‘Work From Home’ policies.

The group hopes the COVID-19 Workplace Survey will give the startup community actionable data in order that founders can make critical decisions regarding their return to work strategy and service providers (including accelerator programmes, co-working spaces and investors) can best support startups in a “post-COVID-19” world.

The initiative was started by Brent Hoberman, co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Founders Forum, Founders Factory and firstminute capital.

Speaking to TechCrunch, Hoberman said: “Founders are having to make critical decisions about their return to work strategy in isolation”. He says the survey aims to measure “the current action being taken by founders of early-stage businesses regarding their office spaces and remote work strategies” as well as “employee sentiment about returning to the workplace”. This will then help “guide both founders and service providers on what can be done to improve the situation for these startups and their employees”.

The COVID-19 Workplace Survey is an anonymous survey designed to answer these core questions:

  • Are startups re-opening their offices?
  • If not, when do they plan to do so?
  • As soon as the UK government advises that it’s safe to do so?
  • This year? Next year?
  • What safety measures are they taking in order to do so?
  • Beyond this, how has COVID-19 changed thinking surrounding remote work policies?

Hoberman explained: “We want founders to know the answer to ‘How are other Founders changing their workplace strategy?’”.

He added that founders also need to understand how each employee’s remote work environment influences their opinion on remote work policies going forward, given there is no one-size-fits-all solution: “What do different demographics really want in the way of remote work?”.

For service providers like co-working spaces, they will also find out what startups will want from their workplaces (e.g flexible desk space, shared meeting rooms) in the post-lockdown environment.

The survey will run for the next 10 days and the results will be published on TechCrunch.