WFA Global Marketer of the Year 2019 nominees: Grab’s Cheryl Goh – ‘understand business goals’- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

In order to find the world’s top marketer, The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has once again partnered with Tempemail for the Global Marketer of the Year award 2019.
The shortlist for this year’s award features heads of marketing from L’Oreal, Proctor & Gamble, Burger King, Diageo, Johnson & Johnson and Grab. Votes are now open to the industry and the WFA caught up with nominee Cheryl Goh, Grab’s group vice president of marketing and founding chief marketing officer.
Goh believes marketers of the future need to be able to hold their ground in a room of economists and technologists. She says they need to truly understand economics and financials, as well as where technology is headed and how that will change the way businesses do things.
“Marketers need to really understand financials and in fact, they should even try their hand, at some point, at managing profit and loss (P&L). Looking at the marketing industry, I always wonder why are we not having more marketing leaders lead businesses as CEOs. I feel that’s something that could change at Grab,” she explains.
“A lot of our marketing leaders are actually country heads today. So I think, there is a lot of opportunity for marketers to understand business and financials and P&L better, so that they can learn it.”
She continues: “They deserve a right and a seat at the table to make such decisions. So for me, I think my team should understand financials. They should understand how a P&L works, and they should understand business goals because, I mean, fundamentally, that’s why marketing exists. We exist to help companies achieve their business objectives.”
In addition, Goh says marketers also need to understand the technology and how things like automation and machine learning are going to change some level of decision making when it comes to marketing.
For example, they should ask themselves who should they reach out to, how much should they pay for certain kind of users from a performance marketing or from a customer acquisition cost point of view?
“When this person becomes part of the Grab platform, what are the best services that I should serve to him? So, I think over time, marketers also need to understand the technology and how all of that will change our approach towards marketing to a user,” she explains.
“You used to be you do one ad and buy a broad-based like television, everybody sees the same thing. Today, it’s highly more personalized and more relevant based on various signals.”
Grab, which aspires to become a super app, has since expanded from its core offering of ride-sharing to allowing users to book everything from food delivery to at-home beauticians as well as manage subscription, read news and pay for goods.
For Goh, she says her most important role, as a marketer now is to advance the brand equity and trust of Grab because those are very crucial for executing a super app strategy. She believes that if consumers trust Grab, they will continue to use the various services that the platform has introduced.
In order to do that successfully, she stresses that Grab needs to really go beyond just communications and branding as a team by becoming true guardians of the customer experience.
For example, for a brand that wants to be seen as trustworthy, they will need to be quick and accurate when addressing their customers’ complaints, she says.
That is why Goh’s marketing team recently took over any customer experience and customer service complaints on all social media channels because not only Grab want to be responsive to the issues, it also wants to turn those issues into moments of delight.
“I think, beyond just marketing, we have to think very hard about the customer experience. Another example is across the region, there are a lot of now privacy concerns. So, as marketers, we have to think very deeply and to use things like personalization and intelligence when it comes to our marketing communication tools,” explains Goh.
“We need to serve the right information to the right customer at the right time to protect their experience. So, I think what’s changed for us is that our role is one where we have had to adapt to the fact that what we really need to do for the Grab brand is to continue to build brand equity and trust.”
In the face of digital disruption and a changing agency landscape, Goh is future-proofing her marketing team by ensuring they stay close to business by understanding what are the current business goals and help achieve them.
“Depending on the business, our role as marketers change. For example, if you think about the early days of our transport business. When nobody was using Grab or any ride-hailing service, the most important thing for Grab or for the marketing team was to make sure that we can get everyone to try it, at least, for the first time to drive usage and growth,” she explains.
“That is how we measure ourselves, how do we continue to drive monthly active users, how do we continue to drive app downloads? But of course, as the business matured, the transport business matured and became sustainable, what became more important for us to focus on was things like retention and acquiring high-quality users that have positive lifetime value.”
She continues: “Then, today, across all of South East Asia, e-hailing regulations are coming into play, and marketing’s role is more about working with regulators and also communicating to the public so that they know about the various safety features that we’ve already put into place, things like selfie verification, telematics, insurance, emergency button and all of that.”
The platform launched its advertising arm called GrabAds in 2018 to provide brands with an omnichannel platform to reach commuters and provide additional revenue for Grab’s drivers, who will carry advertisements from brands on tablets inside their cars and emblazoned outside their cars.
It also wants to use GrabAds to work with brands and media partners to carry personalised ads, content and experiences, and generate mass awareness and create bespoke experiences for commuters.
Looking ahead, Goh says advertisers can look at Grab as a way to become contextually relevant in their customers’ lives. For example, an F&B company can advertise to a user that is on their ride home in a Grab car. On their ride home, the user will be able to see an ad and order food from the F&B company.
“Through Grab food delivery, we can even ensure that the pizza arrives at your doorstep as they’re getting home. So, I think, one great opportunity is we’re very contextual. We can bridge that online and offline experience,” explains Goh.
“We also have a lot of rewarded ad units that drive views on conversion because we have things like GrabRewards. We’re able to tell a lot of contextual things about our customers.”
She adds: “It’s very relevant. So I think, for advertisers, there are a lot of opportunities to be more relevant and to explore different types of ways of advertising that maybe combine the offline and online elements.”
You can vote for Goh, or the other finalists for the WFA Marketer of the Year Award, here.

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Snyk grabs $70M more to detect security vulnerabilities in open source code and containers – gpgmail

A growing number of IT breaches has led to security becoming a critical and central aspect of how computing systems are run and maintained. Today, a startup that focuses on one specific area — developing security tools aimed at developers and the work they do — has closed a major funding round that underscores the growth of that area.

Snyk — a company that got its start identifying and developing security solutions for developers working on open source code — is today announcing that it has raised $70 million, funding that it will be using to continue expanding its capabilities and overall business. For example, the company has more recently expanded to building security solutions to help developers identify and fix vulnerabilities around containers, an increasingly standard unit of software used to package up and run code across different computing environments.

Open source was an easy target to hit. It’s used in 95% of all enterprises, with up to 77% of open source components liable to have vulnerabilities, by Snyk’s estimates. Containers are a different issue.

“The security concerns around containers are almost more about ownership than technology,” Guy Podjarny, the president who co-founded the company with Assaf Hefetz and Danny Grander, explained in an interview. “They are in a twilight zone between infrastructure and code. They look like virtual machines and suffer many of same concerns such as being unpatched or having permissions that are too permissive.”

While containers are present in fewer than 30% of computing environments today, their growth is on the rise, according to Gartner, which forecasts that by 2022, over 75% of global organizations will run containerized applications. Snyk estimates that a full 44% of Docker image scans (Docker being one of the major container vendors) have known vulnerabilities.

This latest round is being led by Accel with participation from existing investors GV and Boldstart Ventures. These three, along with a fourth investor (Heavybit) also put $22 million into the company as recently as September 2018. That round was made at a valuation of $100 million, and from what we understand from a source close to the startup, it’s now in the “range” of $500 million.

“Accel has a long history in the security market and we believe Snyk is bringing a truly unique, developer-first approach to security in the enterprise,” said Matt Weigand of Accel said in a statement. “The strength of Snyk’s customer base, rapidly growing free user community, leadership team and innovative product development prove the company is ready for this next exciting phase of growth and execution.”

Indeed, the company has hit some big milestones in the last year that could explain that hike. It now has some 300,000 developers using it around the globe, with its customer base growing some 200 percent this year and including the likes of Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and ASOS (sidenote: you know that if developers at developer-centric places themselves working at the vanguard of computing, like Google and Microsoft, are using your product, that is a good sign). Notably, that has largely come by word of mouth — inbound interest.

The company in July of this year took on a new CEO, Peter McKay, who replaced Podjarny. McKay was the company’s first investor and has a track record in helping to grow large enterprise security businesses, a sign of the trajectory that Snyk is hoping to follow.

“Today, every business, from manufacturing to retail and finance, is becoming a software business,” said McKay. “There is an immediate and fast growing need for software security solutions that scale at the same pace as software development. This investment helps us continue to bring Snyk’s product-led and developer-focused solutions to more companies across the globe, helping them stay secure as they embrace digital innovation – without slowing down.”

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Upflow grabs $2.7 million to streamline payment processes – gpgmail

French startup Upflow has raised a $2.7 million funding round (€2.5 million) from Kima Ventures, eFounders and various business angels. The company tracks your outstanding invoices and makes sure you get paid on time.

If you’re running a small company, chances are you’re using Excel spreadsheets to enter invoice information, check your company’s bank account every day and manually tag invoices that have been paid.

Microsoft Excel has been such a powerful tool for so many different use cases that plenty of startups are trying to replace it — I call this phenomenon The Great Unbundling of Excel. And Upflow is one of those startups.

If you want to replace a system that works well, you need to make it radically better. In order to do that, Upflow has created a payment brick that sits between your bank account and your customers.

Every time you send an invoice, you can write an email from the Upflow interface so that the entire sales team is on the same page. Making this experience collaborative with a software-as-a-service approach is already a big improvement over Excel spreadsheets.

Your invoice features banking information for your Upflow account. When your customer transfers the money, Upflow can instantly mark an invoice as paid. The startup transfers money back to your company’s bank account every day.

Over time, you get insights about your recurring customers, you can see how much money your clients collectively owe you and you can send reminders to late clients.

If you want to read more about Upflow, you can read my profile of the company.

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Mews grabs $33M Series B to modernize hotel administration – gpgmail

If you think about the traditional hotel business, there hasn’t been a ton of innovation. You mostly still stand in a line to check in, and sometimes even to check out. You let the staff know about your desire for privacy with a sign on the door. Mews believes it’s time to rethink how hotels work in a more modern digital context, especially on the administrative side, and today it announced a $33 million Series B led by Battery Ventures.

When Mews Founder Richard Valtr started his own hotel in Prague in 2012, he wanted to change how hotels have operated traditionally. “I really wanted to change the way that hotel systems are built to make sure that it’s more about the experience that the guest is actually having, rather than facilitating the kind of processes that hotels have built over the last hundred years,” Valtr told gpgmail.

He said most of the innovation in this space has been in the B2C area, using Airbnb as a prime example. He wants to bring that kind of change to the way hotels operate. “That’s essentially what Mews is trying to do. [We want to shift the focus to] the fundamental things about why we love to travel and why people actually love to stay in hotels, experience hotels, and be cared for by professional staff. We are trying to do that in a way that that actually delivers a really meaningful experience and personalized experience to that one particular customer,” he explained.

For starters, Mews is a cloud-based system that automates a lot of the manual tasks like room assignments that hotel staff at many hotels often still have to handle as part of their jobs. Valtr believes by freeing the staff from these kinds of tedious activities, it enables them to concentrate more on the guests.

It also offers ways for guests and hotels to customize their stays to get the best experience possible. Valtr says this approach brings a new level of flexibility that allows hotels to create new revenue opportunities, while letting guests choose the kind of stay they want.

From a guest perspective, they could by-pass the check-in process altogether, sharing all of their registration details ahead of time, and then getting a pass code sent to their phone to get into the room. The system integrates with third-parting hotel book sites like and Expedia, as well as other services, through its open hospitality API, which offers lots of opportunities for properties to partner with local businesses.

The company is currently operating at 1000 properties across 47 countries, but it lacks a presence in the US and wants to use this round to open an office in NYC and expand into this market.”We really want to attack the US market because that’s essentially where most of the decision makers for all of the major chains are. And we’re not going to change the industry if we don’t actually change the thinking of the biggest brands,” Valtr said.

Today, the company has 270 employees spread across 10 offices around the world. Headquarters are in Prague and London, but the company is in the process of opening that NYC office, and the number of employees will expand when that happens.

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Energy Vault raises $110 million from SoftBank Vision Fund as energy storage grabs headlines – gpgmail

Imagine a moving tower made of huge cement bricks weighing 35 metric tons. The movement of these massive blocks is powered by wind or solar power plants and is a way to store the energy those plants generate. Software controls the movement of the blocks automatically, responding to changes in power availability across an electric grid to charge and discharge the power that’s being generated.

The development of this technology is the culmination of years of work at Idealab, the Pasadena, Calif.-based startup incubator, and Energy Vault, the company it spun out to commercialize the technology, has just raised $110 million from SoftBank Vision Fund to take its next steps in the world.

Energy storage remains one of the largest obstacles to the large-scale rollout of renewable energy technologies on utility grids, but utilities, development agencies and private companies are investing billions to bring new energy storage capabilities to market as the technology to store energy improves.

The investment in Energy Vault is just one indicator of the massive market that investors see coming as power companies spend billions on renewables and storage. As The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend, ScottishPower, the U.K.-based utility, is committing to spending $7.2 billion on renewable energy, grid upgrades and storage technologies between 2018 and 2022.

Meanwhile, out in the wilds of Utah, the American subsidiary of Japan’s Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems is working on a joint venture that would create the world’s largest clean energy storage facility. That 1 gigawatt storage would go a long way toward providing renewable power to the Western U.S. power grid and is going to be based on compressed air energy storage, large flow batteries, solid oxide fuel cells and renewable hydrogen storage.

“For 20 years, we’ve been reducing carbon emissions of the U.S. power grid using natural gas in combination with renewable power to replace retiring coal-fired power generation. In California and other states in the western United States, which will soon have retired all of their coal-fired power generation, we need the next step in decarbonization. Mixing natural gas and storage, and eventually using 100% renewable storage, is that next step,” said Paul Browning, president and CEO of MHPS Americas.

Energy Vault’s technology could also be used in these kinds of remote locations, according to chief executive Robert Piconi.

Energy Vault’s storage technology certainly isn’t going to be ubiquitous in highly populated areas, but the company’s towers of blocks can work well in remote locations and have a lower cost than chemical storage options, Piconi said.

“What you’re seeing there on some of the battery side is the need in the market for a mobile solution that isn’t tied to topography,” Piconi said. “We obviously aren’t putting these systems in urban areas or the middle of cities.”

For areas that need larger-scale storage that’s a bit more flexible there are storage solutions like Tesla’s new Megapack.

The Megapack comes fully assembled — including battery modules, bi-directional inverters, a thermal management system, an AC breaker and controls — and can store up to 3 megawatt-hours of energy with a 1.5 megawatt inverter capacity.

The Energy Vault storage system is made for much, much larger storage capacity. Each tower can store between 20 and 80 megawatt hours at a cost of 6 cents per kilowatt hour (on a levelized cost basis), according to Piconi.

The first facility that Energy Vault is developing is a 35 megawatt-hour system in Northern Italy, and there are other undisclosed contracts with an undisclosed number of customers on four continents, according to the company.

One place where Piconi sees particular applicability for Energy Vault’s technology is around desalination plants in places like sub-Saharan Africa or desert areas.

Backing Energy Vault’s new storage technology are a clutch of investors, including Neotribe Ventures, Cemex Ventures, Idealab and SoftBank.

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