July SMB News Round-Up

Here’s a look at the SMB tech companies making news this past month.

Square Hits Europe

With very little fanfare, Square is making its debut in the UK, allowing payments in UK Pound. The entry is significant as Europe has much more stringent money processing habits — relying on pins as opposed to signatures. The UK subsidiary of the company was officially renamed to Squareup (UK) Limited, with access rights to other EU countries. Square will now take on its European competitors — Sum Up and iZettle.

Angie’s List Starting to Turn the Ship Around

In our June round-up, we shared Angie’s List’s plans on removing the paywall to compete more directly with review companies like Yelp. Analysts were dubious of Angie’s List’s ability to execute on their Profitable Growth Plan, but the changes are already starting to pay off.

In Q2, the company achieved strong financial results after dropping paywall, with new member signups up 411%. With the soft launch, 700,000 members were added in the month of June. Despite declining revenue YoY, net income came in positively for Q2 at $4.8M, vs -8.3M in the same period last year. It’s clear to see that the strategy is paying off — Angie’s List of in-depth reviews and service level guarantees are encouraging people to buy memberships, despite the removed paywall.

The stock market has taken note of these results. Shares in the company gained 24% last month.

Atlassian Acquires StatusPage

After going public in 2015, Atlassian, the HipChat maker made an acquisition. Atlassian acquired StatusPage, a 3 year old Y-Combinator grad that raised only $290K to date. StatusPage — an industry leader in hosted status pages to display performance info on incidents, downtimes, maintenance and so forth, has many impressive customers ranging from WholeFoods to Netflix.

The acquisition was largely driven by the customer list, as opposed to the technology, which Atlassian would be able to build easily in house. This acquisition will give Atlassian customers the ability to respond to server issues in real time, and resolve issues quickly by the software devs and tech support.

Groupon Still Kicking

After many industry analysts wrote off Groupon, the company came back swinging with much stronger performance than expected. The Groupon stock has gone up up 30% in the past week due to higher than expected performance in Q2, with revenues up 2% to $756.0 million and EPS of $-0.01 vs forecast of $-0.02. In Q2, the company managed to attain 27.9M new users, by focusing on its core business of local merchants and upping its marketing in its home markets.

Bots Are So HOT Right Now

Automation has been seeping into every aspect of our lives these days. These companies are leveraging automation via bots to help separate their businesses from the crowd:

  • Hubspot launched GrowthBot — a Facebook and Slack based chatbot for marketers and salespeople to find information and services via marketing systems that Hubspot is already integrated with (e.g. Google Analytics). As it’s in early beta, we tried playing with GrowthBot, but it’s been ignoring us, so there are still bugs to work out.
  • Sage launched Pegg — the “accounting robot” which allows users to track expenses and manage finances through conversation on Slack and Facebook messenger. The aim of Pegg is to minimize the touch-points with actual accounting software, allowing the end user to manage their business finances through natural language.
  • Zendesk launched Automatic Answers — A machine learning supported customer service tool that helps resolve tickets faster. Repetitive questions are handled by a bot that responds with automated answers and articles that will likely resolve the user issue. Support teams are then better able to focus on troubleshooting unique problems as opposed to focusing on common errors.

Shutterstock Cementing Its Foundation for Image Future

Shutterstock has made a few exciting announcements this July. First of which, continuing on the train of automation, Shutterstock has released an AI based advanced keyword suggestion. This will allow contributors (stock photographers) to add relevant keywords quickly and effectively, minimizing the effort required to upload a picture.

Shutterstock is also partnering with Google to grant the search giant access to its over 90 million photos. This will allow Google to access the Shutterstock library for its digital and mobile display advertising products including Adsense, Adwords and Admob. Shutterstock already integrates with other platforms such as AOL and Salesforce. This partnership will further solidify Shutterstock’s dominance in the industry.powered by AI
* http://seekingalpha.com/pr/16550871-shutterstock-releases-advanced-keyword-suggestion-tool-iphone-using-computer-vision

At SurePath Capital Partners we help startups raise the capital needed to become market leaders. When the time is right, we help our clients achieve profitable, deliberate exit strategies. We only work with startups in the SaaS, e-commerce and marketplace segments. Across those segments we have a deep focus on companies serving the global SMB market. Say hello: info@surepathcapital.com

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