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2020 will be a challenging year for challenger banks

Over the past year, startup banks have proven that they have a shot at disrupting retail banking. These challengers have amassed a war chest of funding, announced some ambitious international expansion plans and attracted millions of customers.

And yet, building a bank has proven to be even harder than building a startup in general. Retail banks aren’t willing to sit back and watch startups eat their lunch. Here’s a look back at the biggest moves of the year from challenger banks, some trends you should keep an eye on and the upcoming challenges for those startups.

A year of aggressive growth

Due to the regulatory framework and the size of the market, it is much easier to launch a challenger bank in Europe compared to anywhere else in the world. That’s why challenger banks have been thriving in Europe.

When a company gets a full banking license from the central bank of a EU country, the startup can passport its license across all EU countries and operate across the continent.

N26 raised a ton of money in 2019: last January, the Berlin-based startup announced a $300 million funding round, raising another $170 million in July. The company is now valued at $3.5 billion.

With more than 3.5 million customers in Europe, N26 announced some ambitious expansion plans. N26 is now live in the U.S. and is already planning a launch in Brazil.

Revolut has also been aggressively expanding in order to beat its competitors to new markets. In addition to its home market in the U.K., Revolut is available across Europe. In 2019, the company expanded to Singapore and Australia and currently has at least 8 million users.

While Revolut announced that it should launch in the U.S. and Canada by the end of last year, the clock ran out on that prediction. The startup has been very transparent about its expansion plans, even though it sometimes means that you have to wait months or even years before a full rollout.

For instance, Revolut announced in September 2018 that it would launch in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan “in the coming months.” It later became “early 2019,” then “2019.” India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and the UAE have also all been mentioned at some point. In other words: launching a banking product in a new country is hard.

The U.S. is a tedious market as you have to get a license in all 50 states to operate across the country

Monzo has been doing well at home in the U.K. It has attracted 3 million customers and raised £113 million (~$144m) in funding last year from Y Combinator’s Continuity fund. It is expanding to the U.S., but the rollout has been slow.

Nubank is another well-funded challenger bank. Backed by Tencent, the startup has raised a $400 million Series F round from TCV. According to the WSJ, the startup has a valuation above $10 billion.

Originally from Brazil, Nubank expanded to Mexico and has plans to expand to Argentina.

Chime is increasingly looking like the bigger player in the U.S., recently raising a $500 million funding round and reached a valuation of $5.8 billion. It only operates in the U.S.

Starling Bank and Atom Bank only operate in the U.K. Bunq is based in Amsterdam with a product tailor-made for the Netherlands, but it accepts customers across Europe.

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list as it’s becoming increasingly hard to cover all challenger banks.

Subscription-based business model

There are a few basic features that separate challenger banks from legacy retail banks. Signing up is extremely simple and only requires a mobile app. The mobile app itself is usually much more polished than traditional banking apps.

Users receive a Mastercard or Visa debit card that communicates with the company’s server for each transaction. This way, users can receive instant notifications, block and unblock their cards and turn off some features, such as foreign payments, ATM withdrawals and online transactions.

Challenger banks usually customers promise no markup fees on transactions in foreign currencies, but there are sometimes some limits on this feature.

So how do these companies make money? When you pay with your card, banks generate a tiny, tiny interchange fee of money on each transaction. It’s really small, but it could become serious revenue at scale with tens of millions or hundreds of millions of users.

Challenger banks also offer other financial services like insurance products, foreign exchange or consumer credit. Some challenger banks develop those features in house, but many of those features are actually managed by external fintech partners. Challenger banks generate a commission on those products.

But the most promising product is premium subscriptions. While challenger banks started with free accounts and low, transparent fees, they have been selling premium subscriptions for a fixed monthly fee.

Challenger banks have become a software-as-a-service industry with a freemium component

For example, Revolut offers premium accounts for €7.99 per month with higher limits, some insurance benefits that you’d expect from a premium card and access to advanced features, such as cryptocurrencies and disposable virtual cards. There’s a super premium product for €13.99 called Metal with a metal card design, cashback on card payments and access to a concierge feature.

This seems a bit counterintuitive, but premium subscriptions have been performing well, according to discussions with people working in the industry. You pay a lot in subscription fees in order to avoid small transactional fees. (And you also get a cool card.)

Challenger banks have become a software-as-a-service industry with a freemium component. It leads to a premium positioning and high expectations from customers.

Revolut’s fees top out at €13.99/month.

Upcoming challenges

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CollabNet VersionOne and XebiaLabs merge to form integrated Agile DevOps platform

Following on the heels of TPG Capital’s acquisition of CollabNet VersionOne last September, the investment company has announced that CollabNet VersionOne would be merging with XebiaLabs. Together the two companies will work to create an integrated Agile DevOps platform.

When TPG Capital first announced it was acquiring CollabNet VersionOne, it had stated that its main strategy was to build a “leading, integrated, enterprise-focused DevOps platform company.” This merger marks a major step towards that goal, XebiaLabs stated.

The merger will combine CollabNet VersionOne’s upstream and Agile planning and version control capabilities with XebiaLabs’ downstream release orchestration and deployment automation functionality, the companies explained.

RELATED CONTENT:
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Report uncovers value stream’s impact on software delivery
Getting the most value out of your value streams

Ashok Reddy, previously a senior vice president at Broadcom, will join the company and serve as CEO. “We are on a mission to fundamentally transform how enterprise software development and delivery is done,” said Reddy. “The combination of CollabNet and XebiaLabs will provide a platform that enables digital transformation at scale with Agile and DevOps processes to continuously adapt, learn, and improve, especially in a world of AI-driven intelligent apps and experiences. I am thrilled to be joining at this critical juncture and look forward to working with the entire team to lead the combined company through its next chapter of growth.”

CollabNet VersionOne’s current CEO Flint Brenton will step aside to focus on family, while XebiaLabs’ current CEO will serve as president of the new company. In addition, XebiaLabs’ EVP and CFO will become the CFO of the new company.

“The combination of CollabNet and XebiaLabs will provide enterprise customers with the end-to-end visibility and management capabilities needed to develop software quickly, reliably, and securely, ultimately helping accelerate their digital transformation and drive business outcomes,” said Nehal Raj and Art Heidrich of TPG Capital. “We congratulate Flint on a successful tenure, and look forward to partnering with Ashok, Derek, and the broader team to further accelerate our strategy to create a leading enterprise DevOps platform company.”

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Daily Crunch: Boeing names a new CEO

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Boeing CEO out following 737 Max fiasco, will be replaced by current board chairman

Boeing’s CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg is CEO no longer, the company announced today. Effective January 13, 2020, current Board Chairman David L. Calhoun takes over the top executive officer spot at the aerospace company, and becomes president, as well.

This isn’t exactly a surprising decision: Boeing’s year has been marked primarily by its handling of the 737 Max issues it faced, which stemmed from aircraft failures that resulted in crashes and the deaths of passengers.

2. Tesla lands $1.4B from Chinese banks to build out its Shanghai gigafactory

Tesla has reportedly secured over $1.4 billion in financing in the form of loans from multiple Chinese banks in order to help fund the construction of its new gigafactory in Shanghai. First Reuters and now Bloomberg reported the funding, with an official announcement supposedly scheduled for sometime this week.

3. TikTok’s national security scrutiny tightens as U.S. Navy reportedly bans popular social app

According to a notice published by the U.S. Navy this past week, TikTok will no longer be allowed to be installed on service members’ devices, or they may face expulsion from the military service’s intranet. This is just the latest example of the challenges facing the extremely popular app.

4. Whatever happened to the Next Big Things?

So what’s next? Jon Evans runs through some candidates for Next Big Thing and wonders whether something has to be next at all.

5. India’s HomeLane raises $30M to expand its one-stop shop for interior design

HomeLane helps property owners furnish and install fixtures in their new apartments and houses. The company has established 16 experience centers in seven Indian cities so that consumers can touch and see materials and furniture.

6. 2019’s 10 defining moments in venture capital

These last 12 months have been replete with scandals, new and interesting upstarts, fallen CEOs and big fundraises. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

7. This week’s TechCrunch podcasts

On the latest episode of Equity, Alex and Kate discuss some new venture funds. And on Original Content, we review Netflix’s “Marriage Story,” as well as the latest Star Wars movie “The Rise of Skywalker.”


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Report uncovers value stream’s impact on software delivery

Value Stream Management (VSM) is quickly becoming the go-to approach as organizations look to fully unlock their software delivery life cycle. According to a recent report, 95% of enterprises either are interested, have plans to or already have adopted VSM. The report was commissioned by CollabNet VersionOne and conducted by Forrester. It looks at responses from more than 300 IT and business professionals to reveal VSM’s role in software development. 

“Connecting and measuring business value to software delivery pipelines is critical for success, however, it’s still a challenge for many organizations,” said Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet VersionOne. “This research reveals the positive impact that value stream management can have on an organization’s bottom line, and most importantly, how it helps create delighted customers. While there is still much the industry needs to learn about adopting a VSM strategy, it’s promising to see the growing awareness and eagerness to start the journey.”

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Getting the most value out of your value streams
2019: How the year of value stream held up
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According to the report, the biggest challenges organizations face in their value delivery efforts include continuous improvement, automation, agility, visibility and collaboration. Less than 40% of respondents believe their organization excels in any one of those areas. Because of these challenges, organizations end up with poorly integrated toolchains, islands of automation, misalignment, and improper workstream. 

When adopting VSM, respondents reported better collaboration across teams, ability to scale Agile and DevOps, better visibility across teams, aligned software delivery with business goals, and ability to measure value. 

“VSM users are twice as likely than nonusers to have a complete picture of software development/delivery work status at the product portfolio, and enterprise levels,” the report stated. “VSM users outperform their peers in their ability to map and analyze, visualize and govern value streams across the entirety of the software lifecycle.” 

In order to unlock VSM’s full potential, CollabNet recommends a dedicated strategy and solution. For instance, they can assign a champion, align data from customers with strategic priorities and map data flow throughout the entire toolchain. Only 28% of respondents currently have the right KPIs necessary for measuring value. 

“Ultimately, the study recommends software organizations either start or grow a VSM initiative, use output and outcome metrics to measure progress and business value and to look for a holistic VSM solution. However, the study also heeds that VSM adopters should first implement a strategy before considering tooling,” CollabNet stated in the announcement of the report.

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Max Q: Launches from SpaceX, Boeing and the ESA

Max Q is a new weekly newsletter all about space. Sign up here to receive it weekly on Sundays in your inbox.

Typically, the holiday season is a slow one in the tech industry – but space tech is different, and this past week saw a flurry of activity including one of the most important rocket launches of the year.

Just about every significant new space company got in on the action during the past seven days, either with actual spacecraft launches, or with big announcements. And everything that went down sets up 2020 to be even crazier.

Boeing’s big year-end mission doesn’t go as planned

Boeing managed to get a crucial test launch in for its commercial crew program – which is NASA’s effort to get U.S. astronauts launching from U.S. soil once again. Boeing launched its ‘orbital flight test’ or OFT on Friday, and the actual rocket launch part of the flight went exactly as intended.

Unfortunately, what came next didn’t match up with what was supposed to happen: The Starliner spacecraft (which wasn’t actually carrying anyone for this test) ran into an error with its onboard mission clock that led to it expending more fuel more quickly than it should have, leaving it with not enough on board to make its planned rendez-vous with the ISS.

… but at least it stuck the landing

The Starliner capsule didn’t dock with the Space Station, but it still completed a number of key objectives, like demonstrating that its docking arm extended properly. Maybe most importantly, it also landed back on Earth on time and on target, per the revised mission plan that Boeing and NASA hammered out once they determined they couldn’t reach the station as planned. In space as in startups, even failures are successes of a kind.

SpaceX launches Falcon 9 but misses the fairing catch

SpaceX’s latest launch took place on Monday, and it was a success in just about every regard – except in terms of one of its secondary missions, which was an attempt to catch the two fairing halves that together cover the payload as the rocket ascends to space. SpaceX has been trying to catch these with ships at sea equipped with large nets, and it’s caught one previously. It’ll keep trying, just like it did with rocket booster landings, and could save up to $6 million per launch once it gets the process right.

Europe launched a planet-watcher

The European Space Agency also launched a rocket this week – a Soyuz carrying a new satellite that will observe exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) from orbit. It’ll be able to assess their density from that vantage point, giving us valuable new info about the potential habitability of distant heavenly bodies.

Apple might enter the satellite constellation game

Smartphone iPhone XS mockup. Design template for graphic design, motion graphics, digital marketing.

Apple apparently has its own team internally working on satellite communication technologies. This effort may or may not involve the iPhone-maker actually developing its own spacecraft, but it seems like the overall goal is to develop its own direct wireless communication network to work with iPhones and other Apple hardware.

Amazon is opening a dedicated HQ for its satellite business

Meanwhile, Amazon’s own satellite business is a known quantity called ‘Project Kuiper,’ and the company is going to double down on its investment next year with a new dedicated space for Kuiper’s R&D and prototype manufacturing. Eventually, Kuiper will be a constellation of low-Earth orbit satellites providing broadband to underserved and unserved areas of the globe.

Rocket Lab is already working on its third launch pad

Rocket Lab will be opening a third launch pad, the company announced, just after declaring its second in Virginia this month. The third launch site will be at the same spot as its first – on the Mahia peninsula in northern New Zealand.


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Report: 50% of companies don’t have a plan for Python 2 EOL

Python 2 finally reached end of life (EOL) at the start of 2020. Python 2 EOL means that version of the language will no longer receive any sort of updates, including security updates. 

“We need to sunset Python 2 so we can help Python users by improving Python faster,” the Python Software Foundation wrote on their website. “We released Python 2.0 in 2000. We realized a few years later that we needed to make big changes to improve Python. So in 2006, we started Python 3.0. Many people did not upgrade, and we did not want to hurt them. So, for many years, we have kept improving and publishing both Python 2 and Python 3. But this makes it hard to improve Python. There are improvements Python 2 can’t handle. And we have less time to work on making Python 3 better and faster.”

The Python Software Foundation had initially planned to sunset Python 2 in 2015, but pushed the EOL data back because many people still hadn’t upgraded in 2014. The day has finally come, however, where Python 2 has been sunsetted. ActiveState recently surveyed 1,250 developers to get a better understanding of how companies were preparing for EOL. 

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Only 37% of respondents reported that more than half of their apps were built using Python 2. ActiveState believes that the fact that the other 63% had less than half of their apps in Python 2 is indicative of the fact that many organizations are already in the migration process to Python 3. 

Almost half (47%) of respondents stated that their company had a plan for dealing with the Python 2 EOL deadline. Thirty-one percent of respondents said their company had no plan and 22% of respondents weren’t sure of their company’s plan. “While awareness is high, it’s surprising to note that the majority of all respondents either have no detailed plan, or are unsure they have an extensive plan in place,” ActiveState wrote in the report.

The breakdown of how long organizations have been planning for Python 2 EOL is fairly evenly split between long-term planners (1+ years) and short-term planners (<1 year). Twenty-one percent have been planning for less than 6 months, 15% for 6-12 months, 18% for 1-2 years, and 18% for over 2 years. Non-planners made up 28.61% of respondents.

In addition, about half of respondents stated that they felt they were highly prepared for EOL. Twenty percent felt they were somewhat prepared and 31% are not prepared. “Given the dearth of planning indicated in the previous questions, it’s not surprising that 50% of respondents feel only somewhat or not prepared for Python 2 EOL,” ActiveState wrote. 

Moving forward, a majority of respondents (60%) are planning to or have already migrated their applications to Python 3. Of the remainder, 10% have no plan, 9% don’t know what the plan is, 7% plan to support Python 2 apps themselves, 5% plan to sunset their apps, 2% plan to rewrite in a different language, and 1% plan to purchase commercial support. 

Companies will face a lot of challenges when it comes to migrating to Python 3. The biggest challenge companies expect to face is finding replacement packages, with 54% of respondents being concerned about it. Other challenges include testing (40%), converting Python 2 to 3 (37%), supporting Python 2 apps (25%), learning Python 3 (20%), and managing customer expectations (18%).

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A false start for foldables in 2019

A year from now, this is likely to have all blown over. A year from now, the Samsung Galaxy Fold’s turbulent takeoff may well be a footnote in the largest story of foldables. For now, however, it’s an important caveat that will come up in every conversation about the nascent product category.

How history remembers this particular debacle will depend on a number of different factors, the ultimate success of the category chief among them. If foldables do takeoff, the Galaxy Fold’s very public false start will be remembered as little more than a blip. There’s plenty of reasons to root for this — devices have seemingly hit the upper threshold of product footprint. If the trend toward larger screens continues, it’s going to take a clever form factor like this to accommodate that need. 

If foldables are relegated to the dustbin of history, however, the Fold misfire will take much of the heat. It’s clear that a trail of broken units will have little impact on Samsung’s bottom line. Two Galaxy Note 7 recalls were a testament to the hardware giant’s resilience in the public eye, after serving as a rounding error in the company’s bottom line that year. Sending some half-baked models to a handful of reviews wasn’t nearly as major of a mistake, but the category, much like the Fold itself, is in a fragile state.


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SD Times news digest: Saumsung’s Galaxy XCover Pro for enterprises, C++ inliner improvements, and Apache project updates

Samsung introduced the Galaxy XCover Pro, an enterprise-ready smartphone built for business. 

The Galaxy XCover Pro allows users to tailor their experience with two programmable keys to create custom actions with one click, simplifying things like opening a scanner, turning on a flashlight or launching a CRM app without having to swipe through apps, the company explained.

The phone is also protected by Samsung Knox, a defense-grade multi-layered security platform, which provides users with security features such as hardware-backed protection, data isolation and encryption and boot and run-time protection.

The full details on the new phone are available here.

C++ inliner improvements
Visual Studio 2019 versions 16.3 and 16.4 include improvements to the C++ inliner such as the ability to inline some routines after they have been optimized. 

Modules that make heavy use of Eigen will see a significant throughput improvement, according to Microsoft. The optimizer takes up to 25-50% less time for such repros. 

Microsoft added that depending on your application, users may see minor code quality improvements and/or major build-time (compiler throughput) improvements. 

The full details are available here.

The latest Apache project updates
The Apache Software Foundation listed many project updates from the previous week including the release of Apache Jackrabbit 2.20.0, Apache Commons Codec 1.14, OpenNLP 1.9.2, HttpComponents Core 5.0 beta 11 and the release of Apache Wicket 7.16.0 and 8.7.0.

The open-source content repository for the Java platform, Apache Jackrabbit 2.20.0, is an incremental feature release based on and compatible with earlier stable Jackrabbit 2.x releases.

The beta of Apache HttpComponents improves the handling of illegal or invalid requests on the server side and fixes a number of defects in HTTP/2 protocol code found since the last release, according to the Apache Software Foundation. 

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2019’s 10 defining moments in venture capital

Every year, the tech industry experiences moments that serve as guideposts for future entrepreneurs and investors looking to profit from the wisdom of the past.

In 2017, Susan Fowler published her heroic blog post criticizing Uber for its culture of sexual harassment, helping spark the #MeToo movement within the tech industry; 2018 was the year of the scooter, in which venture capitalists raced to pour buckets of cash into startups like Bird, Lime and Spin, hoping consumer adoption of micro-mobility would make the rushed deals worth it.

These last twelve months have been replete with scandals, new and interesting upstarts, fallen CEOs and big fundraises. Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes finally got a court date, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son admitted defeat (see: “In the case of WeWork, I made a mistake”), venture capitalist Bill Gurley advocated for direct listings and denounced big banks’ underwriting skills, sperm storage startups battled for funding and Away’s dirty laundry was aired in an investigation conducted by The Verge.

The list of top moments and over-arching trends that defined this year is long. Below, I’ve noted what I think best represent the largest conversations that occurred in Silicon Valley this year, with a particular focus on venture capital, followed by honorable mentions. As always, you can email me (kate.clark@techcrunch.com) if you have thoughts, opposing opinions, strong feelings or relevant anecdotes.

SoftBank Group Corp. chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son speaks during a press conference on November 6, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

1. SoftBank admitted failure: We’ll get to WeWork in a moment, but first, let’s talk about its multi-billion-dollar backer. SoftBank announced its Vision Fund in 2016, holding its first major close a year later. Ultimately, the Japanese telecom giant raised roughly $100 billion to invest in technology startups across the globe, upending the venture capital model entirely with its ability to write $500 million checks at the flip of a switch. It was an ambitious plan and many were skeptical; as it turns out, that model doesn’t work too well. Not only has WeWork struggled despite billions in funding from SoftBank, several other of the firm’s bets have wavered under pressure. Most recently, SoftBank confirmed it was selling its stake in Wag, the dog-walking business back to the company, nearly two years after funneling a whopping $300 million in the then-three-year-old startup. Wag failed to accumulate value and was struck by scandal, leading to SoftBank’s exit. Why it matters: ditching one of its more high profile bets out of the monstrous Vision Fund wasn’t even the first time this year SoftBank admitted defeat. Once an unstoppable giant, SoftBank has been forced to return to reality after years of prolific dealmaking. No longer a leader in VC or even a threat to other top venture capitalists, SoftBank’s deal activity has become a cautionary tale. Here’s more on SoftBank’s other uncertain bets.

2. WeWork pulled its IPO. The biggest story of 2019 was WeWork. Another SoftBank portfolio, in fact the former star of its portfolio, WeWork filed to go public in 2019 and gave everyone full access to its financials in its IPO prospectus. In August, the business disclosed revenue of about $1.5 billion in the six months ending June 30 on losses of $905 million. The IPO was poised to become the second-largest offering of the year behind only Uber, but what happened instead was much different: WeWork scrapped its IPO after ousting its founding CEO Adam Neumann, whose eccentric personality, expensive habits, alleged drug use, desire to become Israel’s prime minister and other aspirations led to his well-publicized ouster. There’s a lot more to this story, click here for more coverage of the 2019 WeWork saga. Why it matters: WeWork’s unforgiving IPO prospectus painted a picture of a high-spending company with no path to profit in sight. For years, Silicon Valley (or New York, where WeWork is headquartered) has allowed high-growth companies to raise larger and larger rounds of venture capital, understanding that eventually their revenues would outgrow their expenses and they would achieve profitability. WeWork, however, and its fellow ‘unicorn,’ Uber, made it all the way to IPO without carving out a strategy of reaching profitability. These IPOs ignited a wide-reaching debate in the tech industry: does Wall Street care about profitability? Should startups prioritize profits? Many said yes. Meanwhile, the threat of a downturn had startups across industries cutting back and putting cash aside for a rainy day. For the first time in years, and as The New York Times put it, Silicon Valley began trying out a new mantra: make a profit.

3. A whole bunch of CEOs stepped down: Adam Neumann wasn’t the only high profile CEO to move on from their company this year. In a move tied to The Verge’s investigation, Away co-founder and CEO Steph Korey stepped down from the luggage company, instead becoming its executive chairman. Lime’s CEO Toby Sun stepped down, shifting to another role within the company. On the public end of the ecosystem, McDonald’s, REI, Rite Aid and many others replaced their leaders. According to CNBC, nearly 150 CEOs left their post in November alone, setting up 2019 to break records for CEO departures with nearly 1,500 recorded already. Why it matters: All of these departures were caused by varying factors. I will focus on WeWork and Away, which took center stage of the startups and venture capital universe. The recent Away debacle reinforces the role of the tech media and its ability to present well-reported facts to the public and enact significant change to business as a result. Similarly, much of Adam Neumann’s ouster came as a result of strong reporting from outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and more. From facilitating a toxic, cutthroat culture to paying millions in company dollars for an unnecessary private jet, Away and WeWork’s situations proved standards for startup CEOs has shifted. Whether that shift is here to stay is still up for debate.

Ah the list we've all been waiting for. pic.twitter.com/PndSjQf8yt

— Kate Clark (@KateClarkTweets) December 3, 2019

4. The IPO market was unforgiving to unicorns: WeWork never made it to the stock markets, but Uber, another scandal-ridden unicorn, did. The company (NYSE: UBER), previously valued at $72 billion, priced its stock at $45 apiece in May for a valuation of $82.4 billion. It began trading at $42 apiece, only to close even lower at $41.57, or down 7.6% from its IPO price. Not stellar, in fact, quite bad for one of the largest venture-backed companies of all time. Uber, however, wasn’t the only one to struggle with its IPO and first few months on the stock market. Other companies like Lyft and Peloton had disappointing results this year confirming the damage inflated valuations can cause startups-turned-public companies. Though a rocky IPO doesn’t mark the end of a company, it does tell you a lot about Wall Street’s appetite for Silicon Valley’s top companies. Why it matters: 2019’s tech IPOs illustrated a disconnect between the public markets and venture capitalists, whose cash determines the value of these high-flying companies. Wall Street has realized these stocks, which NYT journalist Erin Griffith recently described as “Publicly Listed Unicorns Miserably Performing,” are far less magical than previously assumed. As a result, many companies, particularly consumer tech businesses, may delay planned offerings, waiting until the markets stabilize and become hungry again for big-dreaming tech companies.

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SD Times news digest: GitLab.com transitions CDN to Cloudflare, LaunchDarkly raises $53 million, and Datadog launches partner network

GitLab.com has announced that it is changing its content delivery network to Cloudflare. Currently, they are using Fastly to serve content, but switching to Cloudflare will allow them to have a single vendor for CDN, WAF, and DDoS protection.  

According to GitLab, this will only affect some GitLab.com users, not GitLab self-managed users. Affected users will need to reconfigure their firewalls to new IP ranges. Custom runner images or private runners that cache DNS or SSL certificates may also be affected.

GitLab will start exploring other Cloudflare features like WAF once they have confirmed that traffic is flowing properly. 

LaunchDarkly raises $54 million in funding
The feature management platform just completed a $54 million funding round, bringing its total funding to $130 million. This round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and Threshold Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Uncork Capital, Vertex Ventures, and Bloomberg Beta also participated.

The company will use this funding to address the increased demand for their platform. According to the company, last year, they served over 1 trillion feature flags per day for 1,000 of their customers. This was an increase of 500% from 2018. LaunchDarkly believes the increased demand was due to increasing pressure for companies to innovate faster and “deliver exceptional user experiences.”

Datadog announces new partner network
The monitoring and analytics provider will be using this new program to expand its existing support for channel partners. Members of the Partner Network will receive benefits such as go-to-market collateral, self-service training for implementation, opportunity registration in the Partner Portal, and a Partner Locator Listing. 

Managed service providers, system integrators, resellers, referral partners, and technology partners building on the Datadog platform are eligible to join. 

“Partners have been an important part of Datadog’s success, bringing our cloud monitoring platform to customers through a wide variety of channels,” said Deniz Tortop, VP of worldwide channels & alliances at Datadog. “The Datadog Partner Network will strengthen these commitments and increase our support for alliances, benefitting our partners, our customers, and the industry.”

Synopsys joins new Autonomous Vehicle Computing Consortium
The Consortium brings automotive, automotive supply, semiconductor, and computing experts together to accelerate the delivery of safer, more affordable vehicles. Synopsys will actively contribute to the development of recommendations for architectures and computing platforms that can be used to address the challenges of deploying self-driving vehicles at scale. 

“The Autonomous Vehicle Computing Consortium is focused on tackling the complexities and obstacles associated with the deployment of autonomous vehicles,” said Pereira, Armando, president of the Autonomous Vehicle Computing Consortium. “We look forward to Synopsys’ active contribution to the consortium, helping to define a reference architecture and platform that address the design requirements for autonomous driving and move today’s prototype systems to reality.”

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