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Freshworks raises $100M

Freshworks , a company that offers a variety of business software tools ranging from IT management to CRM for sales and customer support software, today announced that it has raised a $100 million funding round co-led by Sequoia and Accel Partners, with participation from CaptialG. The company’s last funding round came in the form of a $55 million Series F round led by Sequoia in 2016. Today’s round brings the San Bruno-based company’s total funding to $250 million, at a valuation that’s now north of $1.5 billion, the company tells us. Freshworks also today noted that it now pulls in over $100 million in annual recurring revenue. In addition to the new funding, Freshworks also today announced that it has hired a former AppDynamics VP of finance and treasury Suresh Seshardi as its CFO. Seshardi helped AppDynamics prepare for its IPO, so it’s a fair bet that he’ll do the same at Freshworks. AppDynamics, of course, famously didn’t actually IPO but was instead acquired by Cisco only hours before the team was supposed to ring the bell on Wall Street. Freshworks CEO Girish Mathrubootham tells us we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for his company to IPO. “Freshworks hasn’t started the IPO process but we do feel that we will eventually go public in the U.S.,” he said. “With that said, our primary focus right now is on growing the business and investing in our platform. When the timing is right, we’ll make that decision.” Freshworks, which launched its first product back in 2010, also tells us that it plans to use the new cash to invest in its platform and especially in looking at how it can use AI to bring new innovations to its tools. Current Freshworks users include the likes of Sling TV, Honda, Hugo Boss, Toshiba and Cisco. In total, the company’s tools are now in use by about 150,000 businesses, making it one of the larger SaaS providers you have probably never heard of.  

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Honda reportedly retires the iconic Asimo

Honda is ceasing development of Asimo, the humanoid robot that has delighted audiences at trade shows for years but never really matured into anything more than that, the Nikkei reports . But while the venerable bot itself is bowing out, the technology that made it so impressive will live on in other products, robotic and otherwise. Asimo (named, of course, after science fiction pioneer Isaac Asimov) is older than you might guess: although it was revealed in 2000 as the first credibly bipedal walking robot, it had at that point been under development for more than a decade. The idea of a robot helper that could navigate a human-centric environment and interact with it in the same way we do was, of course, attractive. But the problem proved, and still proves, harder than anyone guessed. Even the latest humanoid robots fail spectacularly at the most ordinary tasks that humans do without thinking. Asimo, which operated in a sort of semi-pre-programmed manner, was far behind even these limited capabilities. That said, Asimo was an innovative, advanced and ambitious platform: its gait was remarkably smooth, and it climbed ramps and stairs confidently on battery power. It could recognize people’s faces and avoid obstacles, and generally do all the things in a minute-long demo that made people excited for the robot future to come. Alas, that future seems as far off today as it did in 2000; outside of factories, few robots other than the occasional Roomba have made it past the demonstration stage. We’ll get there eventually. And the research that went into Asimo will help. It may not be the actual robot we have in our homes, but this kind of project tends to create all kinds of useful technology

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GM is supplying next-gen batteries for Honda EVs

GM has expanded its collaboration with Honda to supply the Japanese automaker with next-generation batteries. These will go in EVs built mainly for the North American market, and though neither company stated when they would start using the new power...

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Techstars in Detroit outgrows Ford Field and is moving to WeWork

Techstars Mobility has a new home. The accelerator program is moving from Ford Field to the 7th floor of WeWork Merchant’s Row. This puts the program in a central location in Detroit’s growing tech scene, giving participants the opportunity to interact with other entrepreneurs looking to be, as they say in Detroit, a big fish in a small pond. Techstars Mobility has made in impact in Detroit since its first program in 2014. The program has invested in 33 startups who have raised $45 million. Focusing on all areas of mobility, the program leverages partnerships with top automakers and suppliers to utilize Detroit’s long history of innovating mobile transportation. The 2018-2019 program will work with CSAA Insurance Group, Bosh, Ford Motor Company, Honda, Volvo and others. It’s an impressive group spanning the mobility space from automakers to insurers. I’ve long pointed to Techstars programs as a good example of using an area’s strengths to grow startups. Detroit’s Mobility program is the perfect example. To me, it makes more sense to build on an area’s proven industry than try to copy what works elsewhere. It allows the Motor City to continue to be the Motor City rather than trying to become Silicon City.

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