TechCrunch Disrupt New York: Dwolla, Skytree

TechCrunch Disrupt New York 2013 was held this week in New York City, with plenty of focus on tech disruption, as well as a lot of apps, demonstrations, funding announcements and product announcements. Funding announcements came from SkyTree, which secured $18 million and Dwolla, raising $16.5 million. The event conversation can be followed on Twitter hashtag #TCDisrupt.

Dwolla raises $16.5 million

Payments network company Dwolla announced that it has raised $16.5 million in new Series C funding led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). The company’s previous investors, Village Ventures, Thrive Capital, and Union Square Ventures also participated in the round. Highlighting Dwolla as an example, legendary venture capitalist Fred Wilson was at TechCrunch Disrupt New York and stated that “money is information, like bits,” noting that giving currency a spin that puts it in a continuum with the many blogging and content companies that his firm has invested in over the years.

“A16z makes bets on companies that change the underlying fabric of their markets and, like Facebook, Twitter, and GitHub, we think Dwolla is going to do it in the banking world,” said Scott Weiss, Partner at Andreessen Horowitz and new Dwolla board member, in a statement about the investment. “The fact that Dwolla’s network can simultaneously meet the needs of a complex enterprise or government, while allowing a parent to pay the babysitter with her phone, reflects just how simple and strikingly different this solution is in the marketplace.”

With the funding Des Moines, Iowa based Dwolla will double its workforce in Iowa and New York.  It will also open an office in San Francisco, adding to existing staff in Des Moines, New York, Omaha, and Kansas City. The Bay area office will be led by Dwolla’s Chief Operating Officer, Charise Flynn, and will be mainly focused on product and business development and marketing.  Dwolla CEO Ben Milne explains why he is so excited about the funding announcement, and why Andreessen Horowitz makes sense – including the fact that he and Marc Andreessen were both born in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

“The reality is that our fundamental business is allowing anybody with an Internet connection get access to their money and exchange it with anybody else they want to receive it,” Milne says. “A lot of that adoption is going to come instead from third-party platforms and products,” he adds. “I don’t see people going to more and more – I see them doing that less and less, while our software is just facilitating the payments.”

Skytree receives $18 million

Machine learning company Skytree announced that it has closed $18 million in Series A funding with U.S. Venture Partners (USVP) as the lead investor. Package delivery giant UPS and Sun Microsytems co-founder Scott McNealy joined the new investor syndicate. The new financing will help fuel an aggressive growth strategy to disrupt the Big Data Analytics market with enterprise-ready Machine Learning. As part of this transaction, USVP General Partner Rick Lewis has joined Skytree’s Board of Directors.

“A new era has dawned, in which enterprises are demanding the advanced, real-time business insights that only Machine Learning can provide. Skytree makes the power of Machine Learning available to all enterprises, with a striking performance advantage over their competition. Since the company’s launch in February 2012, customers have validated our view that Skytree has a huge lead in this fast-growing market. Skytree’s team, technology, and customer traction have made Skytree the company to beat in applying Machine Learning for Advanced Analytics,” said Rick Lewis, General Partner, USVP.

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About the Author

John Rath is a veteran IT professional and regular contributor at Data Center Knowledge. He has served many roles in the data center, including support, system administration, web development and facility management.

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