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General Atlantic buys out SoftBank’s 15% stake in edtech Kahoot, now valued at about $152M vs the $215M SoftBank ponied up 2 years ago

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SoftBank’s retreat from its past investing exuberance continues apace. This morning, Kahoot, the Norwegian startup that provides a popular platform for people to build and use education-focused games, announced that General Atlantic is buying out SoftBank’s entire 15% stake in the company. SoftBank is exiting at a loss. The firm sunk at least $215 million into the company in the last several years. However, 15% of Kahoot’s current market cap (10.415 billion Norwegian Krone) works out to about $152 million (1,562,250,000 NOK).

This looks like an all-secondary round: no new investment coming in alongside the buyout. (We’re confirming this with Kahoot and will update as we learn more.) “Kahoot plans to partner with General Atlantic to accelerate further growth initiatives, drive innovation, and expand its global footprint in homes, schools, and corporations,” the company said in a statement.

Nevertheless, the deal comes as Kahoot, like many other tech companies, continues to feel the pinch of the general downturn in technology stocks and the wider technology market. A year ago, its shares were trading at 70.25 NOK on the Oslo Stock Exchange. They are now worth only 22.77 NOK. And that is with a bump of nearly 27% that Kahoot had this morning on the news of the investment/divestment.

SoftBank, meanwhile, has been in hot water itself, facing up to big losses in its splashy Vision Fund investment vehicles on the back of those wider tech industry doldrums. In August, Vision Fund I reported a loss of over $17 billion for just one quarter (Q1). Vision Fund 2 is reportedly down in value by some 19% on the funds that have been invested so far. Amid layoffs and big executive changes, no surprise, then, that it is now divesting stakes that are underperforming. (It’s still working on a Vision Fund 3 though, so never say die in the world of tech.)

“We are very grateful to SoftBank for their partnership over the past two years. As Kahoot! continues to pursue its mission to improve lifelong learning by building a leading global learning and engagement platform, we are thrilled to add a partner of General Atlantic’s caliber,” Eilert Hanoa, CEO of Kahoot, said in a statement. “The team at GA brings deep experience in scaling global education technology and software businesses and positioning market leaders for long-term success, and we look forward to our next phase of momentum in empowering the learning ecosystem around the world.”

“We believe Kahoot has significant potential for further growth as digital learning solutions continue to be adopted across its work, school, and home markets,” added Chris Caulkin, MD and head of technology for EMEA at General Atlantic. “With its much-loved brand, product-centric approach, and engaged global user base, Kahoot is well positioned to scale, and we look forward to supporting Eilert and the full Kahoot! team in the years to come as they reach and engage ever more users worldwide.” General Atlantic and SoftBank have partnered on many deals in the past, so there was clearly already a relationship between the two and that may have played a factor here as well.

To be fair, since SB Northstar (the SoftBank Group fund making the investment) made its first investment in Kahoot nearly two years ago, in October 2020, Kahoot has grown a lot. It had 1.3 billion users (“participating players”) at that time; now that number is 8 billion.

What started as a “YouTube for education”- style model (big emphasis on user-created content and a way of using what you have made for yourself or your own learning group, but also dipping in and using material made by others) has worked to diversify deeper into enterprise and more. It said today that Kahoot! at Work is used in 97% of Fortune 500 companies for corporate learning and engagement, and that Kahoot! at School is used by approximately 9 million teachers in the classroom. And Kahoot! at Home & Study has over 18 million users as an “at-home gamified learning solution.”

Indeed, the company went large during the Covid-19 pandemic, doubling down on being one of the platforms to help fill the gap of amusement and engagement for students who were no longer in classrooms; and ditto for remote workers as a way of team building and more.

But as with many companies that found business ballooning because of market conditions, now as more people return to the office, students are back in the classroom, and generally budgets are all being reined in in the current economic climate, it will be having an effect on Kahoot as well.

We’ll update this post as we learn more.

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Match restructures executive leadership, hires former Snap VP of Product as new CTO

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Match Group, the parent company of several popular dating apps, including Tinder and Hinge, has announced a revamped executive leadership team. Most notably, the company is bringing on former Vice President of Product at Snap Will Wu as its new chief technology officer in a newly created role. Wu will oversee product innovation across Match’s portfolio of apps, the company says.

During his time at Snap, Wu led the team charged with the creation and commercialization of Snap’s developer platforms. Wu led the creation of many of Snap’s popular features, including the “Discover” content platform, the “Chat” messaging feature and Snap’s social gaming initiative. Match says Wu will now work directly with its executives to launch new features, emerging technologies and innovative products.

“Will is truly a product savant,” said Match Group CEO Bernard Kim in a statement. “For nine years, he has forged new technologies at scale that have redefined user experiences and expectations of social products, particularly amongst Gen Z. I’ve known him for a long time, and have seen the massive impact he’s had on the way people connect at Snap, and I can’t wait to see what he will bring to the dating experience. This leadership team has a deep bench of knowledge, proven track records, and we are all ready to collaborate and capitalize on the opportunities ahead.”

The company also announced that Gary Swindler, who was previously the chief operating officer and vhief financial officer of Match, will become the president and chief financial officer of Group. In addition, Malgosia Green, who was previously CEO of Plenty of Fish, will become chief executive officer of Match Group Asia.

Another leadership change will see Hesam Hosseini, the CEO of Match and Affinity brands, taking on a newly created role as Match Group CEO of Evergreen & Emerging Brands. In this position, Hosseini will oversee Match, Meetic, Plenty of Fish and OkCupid, in addition to emerging brands such as The League, BLK and Chispa. Last, Justin McLeod, the founder and CEO of Hinge, will now report directly to Kim.

Match says the new changes are designed to maximize profitability, enhance growth, streamline operations and prioritize new business opportunities. The move comes as Match is looking to grow its business beyond traditional, swipe-based matchmaking and into the so-called “metaverse.” Match has spoken previously about its plans for a dating metaverse, complete with a virtual goods-based economy, real-time audio and the ability for online daters to meet up in a virtual space to have conversations.

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A network of knockoff apparel stores exposed 330,000 customer credit cards

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If you recently made a purchase from an overseas online store selling knockoff clothes and goods, there’s a chance your credit card number and personal information were exposed.

Since January 6, a database containing hundreds of thousands of unencrypted credit card numbers and corresponding cardholders’ information was spilling onto the open web. At the time it was pulled offline on Tuesday, the database had about 330,000 credit card numbers, cardholder names, and full billing addresses — and rising in real-time as customers placed new orders. The data contained all the information that a criminal would need to make fraudulent transactions and purchases using a cardholder’s information.

The credit card numbers belong to customers who made purchases through a network of near-identical online stores claiming to sell designer goods and apparel. But the stores had the same security problem in common: any time a customer made a purchase, their credit card data and billing information was saved in a database, which was left exposed to the internet without a password. Anyone who knew the IP address of the database could access reams of unencrypted financial data.

Anurag Sen, a good-faith security researcher, found the exposed credit card records and asked TechCrunch for help in reporting it to its owner. Sen has a respectable track record of scanning the internet looking for exposed servers and inadvertently published data, and reporting it to companies to get their systems secured.

But in this case, Sen wasn’t the first person to discover the spilling data. According to a ransom note left behind on the exposed database, someone else had found the spilling data and, instead of trying to identify the owner and responsibly reporting the spill, the unnamed person instead claimed to have taken a copy of the entire database’s contents of credit card data and would return it in exchange for a small sum of cryptocurrency.

A review of the data by TechCrunch shows most of the credit card numbers are owned by cardholders in the United States. Several people we contacted confirmed that their exposed credit card data was accurate.

TechCrunch has identified several online stores whose customers’ information was exposed by the leaky database. Many of the stores claim to operate out of Hong Kong. Some of the stores are designed to sound similar to big-name brands, like Sprayground, but whose websites have no discernible contact information, typos and spelling mistakes, and a conspicuous lack of customer reviews. Internet records also show the websites were set up in the past few weeks.

Some of these websites include:

  • spraygroundusa.com
  • ihuahebuy.com
  • igoodlinks.com
  • ibuysbuy.com
  • lichengshop.com
  • hzoushop.com
  • goldlyshop.com
  • haohangshop.com
  • twinklebubble.store
  • spendidbuy.com

If you bought something from one of those sites in the past few weeks, you might want to consider your banking card compromised and contact your bank or card provider.

It’s not clear who is responsible for this network of knockoff stores. TechCrunch contacted a person via WhatsApp whose Singapore-registered phone number was listed as the point of contact on several of the online stores. It’s not clear if the contact number listed is even involved with the stores, given one of the websites listed its location as a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Houston, Texas.

Internet records showed that the database was operated by a customer of Tencent, whose cloud services were used to host the database. TechCrunch contacted Tencent about its customer’s database leaking credit card information, and the company responded quickly. The customer’s database went offline a short time later.

“When we learned of the incident, we immediately contacted the customer who operates the database and it was shut down immediately. Data privacy and security are top priorities at Tencent. We will continue to work with our customers to ensure they maintain their databases in a safe and secure manner,” said Carrie Fan, global communications director at Tencent.

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All Raise CEO steps down again

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Less than a year after assuming the role, All Raise CEO Mandela SH Dixon has stepped down from her position at the nonprofit. The entrepreneur, who previously ran Founder Gym, an online training center for underrepresented founders, said in a blog post that the decision was made after she realized “being in the field working directly with entrepreneurs everyday” is her passion. Dixon said that she will be exploring new opportunities in alignment with that.

Her resignation is effective starting February 1st, 2023. She will remain an advisor to the Bay Area-based nonprofit.

This is the second chief executive to leave All Raise since it was first founded in 2017. In 2021, Pam Kostka resigned as the helm of the nonprofit to rejoin the startup world as well; Kostka is now an operator in residence and limited partner at Operator Collective, according to her LinkedIn. With Dixon gone, Paige Hendrix Buckner, who joined the outfit as chief of staff nine months ago, will step in as interim CEO. In the same blog post, Buckner wrote that “Mandela leaves All Raise in a strong position, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue the hard work of diversifying the VC backed ecosystem.”

Dixon did not immediately respond to comment on the record. It is unclear if All Raise is immediately kicking off a permanent CEO search.

The nonprofit has historically defined its goals in two ways: first, it wants to increase the amount of seed funding that goes to female founders from 11% to 23% by 2030, and, second, it wants to double the percentage of female decision-makers at U.S. firms by 2028.

In previous interviews, Dixon said that the company will work on creating explicit goals around what impact it wants to have for historically overlooked individuals. The data underscores the challenge ahead. Black and LatinX women receive disproportionately less venture capital money than white women; non-binary founders can also face higher hurdles when seeking funding, as All Raise board member Aileen Lee noted in the blog post.  The nonprofit has created specific programs for Black and Latinx founders but has not disclosed a specific goal for the cohort yet. These disconnects can be lost if not tracked. All Raise’s last impact report was published in 2020 and they’re working on bringing that analysis back, Lee tells TechCrunch in an interview.

“All Raise is in great hands with Paige as interim leader and we’ve got a lot of exciting things that we’re shaping and scaling,” Lee said. “We have to all continue to link arms to try and continue to make improvements for our industry…we’ve made good progress that we can’t let up.”

Since launch, the nonprofit has raised $11 million in funding, and opened regional chapters in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, DC and, soon, Miami.

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