From a Series D funding round for a local unicorn to national recognition for Atlanta’s tech startup scene, May was a major month for business and technology in the Southeast. Get all the top news stories that you need to know in our roundup below. And be sure to subscribe to TechCONNECT for weekly updates on Atlanta’s top tech news.
Atlanta Funding News
Saltbox Raises $10.6M in Series A Funding Round
One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs of online businesses face is finding a place to store the items they’re selling and dealing with the logistics of operating. That’s where Saltbox, which just raised a $10.6 million Series A, comes in. The co-warehousing company provides space for small businesses and e-commerce merchants to operate as well as store and ship goods, all under one roof, because many of those companies are limited to self-storage and mini-warehouse facilities for storing their inventory. With this new capital, the company plans to end 2021 with eight locations, in particular eyeing the Denver, Seattle, and Los Angeles markets. Saltbox also recently hired Zubin Canteenwalla to serve as its Chief Operating Officer. He joined Saltbox from Industrious, an operator of co-working spaces, where he was SVP of Real Estate. Click here to read more about Saltbox.
After Closing a Recent Series C Funding Round, Clubhouse is Now a $4B Company
Clubhouse is now a $4 billion company. In a recent town hall, Co-founder and CEO Paul Davidson confirmed that the rising voice-chat app had closed a new Series C funding round, just months after being valued at $1 billion after the company’s Series B back in January. The round was led by the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz with investors Tiger Global and DST Global joining for the first time. Despite the hype that the social audio app has received in recent months, it has experienced some significant drop-off in new growth this spring. This is likely due to the fact that the app is still invite-only and iOS-only, and because it’s already facing serious competition from Twitter Spaces, which, while in beta, has already rolled out to Android users. Click here to learn more about Clubhouse’s Series C funding round.
Greenlight Financial Raised a $260M Series D Round
Greenlight Financial raised a $260M Series D round, bringing the fintech startup’s valuation to $2.3 billion and padding its unicorn status—which Greenlight reached in September of last year. Greenlight provides debit cards for children and a family-oriented money management platform so parents can help their kids become financially literate. In January, Greenlight released Greenlight Max, an educational investment platform for children that allows them to make real investments with parental approval. Greenlight has seen unprecedented growth in the past year, tripling its year-over-year revenue, doublings its number of users, and doubling its team. The startup was named Atlanta Business Chronicle’s fastest-growing company in the Pacesetter Awards financial services category, and the sixth overall Pacesetter Award winner. With the new funding, the startup is looking to hire 300 new people in the next two years, which would bring their team to more than 575. Click here to find out more about Greenlight Financial and their latest funding round.
Mergers, Acquisitions, & More
TRICK 3D Studio and Music Matters Productions Link up to Bring Virtual Production to Atlanta
The founder of TRICK 3D Studio, Chad Eikhoff, and the founder of Music Matters Productions, Aaron Soriero, recently announced their partnership on Atlanta’s first extended reality (XR) stage—the Music Matters XR Stage. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, industry professionals have dubbed these types of stages and tools ‘virtual production’ since the scenes are rendered from computer-to-stage rather than shooting scenes in an on-location environment. While the practical benefits of shooting in a controlled environment that virtual production affords have been widely recognized during the pandemic, these techniques are winning additional favor due to the fact that XR environments can run the creative gamut – from photo-realistic, cinematic exteriors to out-of-box, abstract worlds – the possibilities are many. This high-tech stage opens the possibilities to shoot with super speed and super capabilities, which brings the immediacy and fun back to the production process. Click here to learn more about the features of the Music Matters XR Stage.
Infinite Giving Launches at Atlanta Tech Village as Fintech Tool for Nonprofits
Karen Houghton is stepping away from her role as Atlanta Tech Village’s Vice President to become a new village resident and startup founder. Karen is launching Infinite Giving, a FinTech platform for nonprofit management. Infinite Giving helps nonprofits invest, endow and liquidate stocks easily with software that automates their investment strategy and grows their giving. With low fees, no minimums, and high transparency, Infinite Giving is set to disrupt the fintech space and help nonprofit donors give once, but have their return last forever. Click here to read more about Infinite Giving.
Top Atlanta Stories
Atlanta Startup Launches Payment Solution for Restauranteurs
After a successful start in Europe and a $24 million seed round, the restaurant payment solution startup Sunday has picked Atlanta as their U.S. home. Sundayapp expands on the QR code menus that we’ve grown accustomed to during the pandemic. When a customer is ready to leave — whether that’s at the end of the night or after a single cocktail — they simply scan the QR code to pay, giving the customer upwards of 15 minutes back at the end of the meal, and restaurant staff can turn tables over more quickly while ultimately collecting more tips. The app was first tested at Big Mamma Group restaurants in Paris, London, and Madrid- and while they plan to start with restaurant QR codes, they ultimately see Sunday as a B2C payment tool to disrupt physical retail payments. Click here to learn more about how Sunday is streamlining the restaurant payment process.
TechCrunch Breaks Down How Atlanta Became Home to So Many Billion-Dollar Startups
How exactly did Atlanta become a top breeding ground for billion-dollar startups in the Southeast? Click here to read the TechCrunch article that answers this question in much detail. By examining Atlanta’s rich history, including how hosting the 1996 Olympics set the city up for success during the dot-com boom, to highlighting how Atlanta’s demographics are ten years ahead of the U.S.’s transformation into a majority minority society, and finally sharing that entrepreneurs and investors unanimously agree that David Cummings’ decision to reinvest in the city and launch the Tech Village was one of the biggest sparks for the city’s renewed entrepreneurial fervor, this piece lays out exactly how Atlanta’s startup scene has evolved over the years to become what we know it as today. We highly recommend you take the time to check it out.
Andy Stanley and Terminus Cofounder Sangram Vajre Talk About the Importance of Community on a Team
Recently on his leadership podcast, Andy Stanley, the founder and senior pastor of North Point Ministries spoke with Terminus co-founder Sangram Vajre about the importance of creating a deep sense of community on a team. The two discuss how Terminus created a culture of belongship and Sangram shares tips on how leaders can translate these values into their own organizations. The 30-minute episode is filled with actionable steps we can all take to improve company culture, employee satisfaction, and, ultimately, overall success. Take a moment out of your day to listen; you won’t be disappointed.
Expedited Airport TSA Lines Coming Soon, Thanks to Atlanta Security Startup
Expedited airport TSA lines are coming soon, thanks to Atlanta security startup Liberty Defense. According to CEO Bill Frain- two new checkpoint screening technologies, the Shoe Scanner and the High Definition – Advanced Imaging Technology (HD-AIT) system- will increase the throughput capability, probably by 15 to 20%. This comes at a wonderful time as more and more people return to air travel. Click here to learn more about Liberty Defense and when you can expect to see these incredible innovations in real life.
Dunwoody Hopes to Win Over Big Tech with $265 Million Project
According to Douglas Sams at the Atlanta Business Chronicle, a $265 million proposed redevelopment of the vacant Sunkist headquarters- to be known as Campus 244- may give the City of Dunwoody its best shot yet to grab the attention of Big Tech. The site is within walking distance of the Dunwoody MARTA Station, Perimeter Mall, and the towering State Farm glass buildings and has sat vacant for close to a decade. Developers are moving forward with the project without an anchor tenant in place but anticipate demand from the tech sector. Click here to read more about the project.
LinkedIn Workforce Report Shows U.S. Hiring is On the Rise
Because of their unique and valuable insight into the U.S. workforce, LinkedIn releases a report each month about employment trends. In the May Workforce Report, the company shared that U.S. hiring continued its gradual recovery and increased 3.5% month-over-month, reaching pre-Covid highs experienced in February 2020. Plus, national hiring was 69.4% higher in April 2021 when compared to April 2020. The industries with the most notable hiring shifts month-to-month in April were Recreation & Travel (10.3% higher); Entertainment (5.2% higher); and Software & IT Services (3.9% higher). Recreation & Travel and Entertainment in particular were industries hit hard by the pandemic as in-person services were limited. With these large increases, 13 of the 24 industries LinkedIn tracks are now hiring at or above their pre-Covid level. Click here to find out more about national employment trends.
How Hackers are Affecting the Energy, Mining, and Utilities Sector
If you live in or near Georgia, the cybersecurity threats we report on just hit really close to home in the recent weeks. According to Kim S. Nash of the Wall Street Journal: 86% of 355 breaches that took place in the energy, mining, and utilities sector started with social engineering, according to an analysis from Verizon. Hackers are using pretexts in email, phone or other communication to get employee credentials to access a company’s systems. Click here to read more about cyber criminals and existing vulnerabilities.
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