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#156 – AI, AI, and more AI, plus FedEx’s new e-commerce platform

by | Jan 15, 2024 | Recent Newsletters

HEADS UP: This is one of my biggest editions of the year. Strap in…

Before we begin, I'd like to welcome OpenStore to the Shopifreaks family as our third official News Partner! 🎉 🥳

OpenStore operates more Shopify stores than any other company with nearly 50 brands and 100k products in their portfolio.

The company was co-founded by Keith Rabois, founder of the real estate acquisition platform OpenDoor, and former exec at PayPal, LinkedIn and Square.

OpenStore offers Shopify merchants two choices — they'll either buy your store or run your business for a year.

  • If you're looking to sell, OpenStore's acquisition process allows qualified store owners to sell their business in as little as two weeks.
  • Alternatively, OpenStore's experts can run your Shopify business for 12 months while you receive guaranteed monthly payments. After the year is over, you can continue with OpenStore Drive, sell your business, or take back all operations yourself.

If you've been reading Shopifreaks for a while and recognize the name OpenStore, it's because I've been following the company since day one — first covering their launch in March 2021, then multiple investment rounds within the year, followed by the launch of their creator app gumdrop, their accelerator program Boost, and their operational unit Drive.

I've been a big fan of OpenStore since the beginning, impressed with how they've grown into a platform that unlocks value for Shopify merchants in all areas of their business. I'm thrilled to be working with OpenStore today as one of our News Partners.

If you're interested in selling your Shopify store or having OpenStore run your store for 12 months, get in touch with them today.

And now back to our regularly scheduled content…

In this week's edition I cover: 

  • AI, AI, and more AI! (no joke)
  • Shopify and X teaming up for social commerce
  • Microsoft's new AI-powered banner ad tool
  • Walmart's partnership with Microsoft to build AI-powered shopping experiences
  • Amazon's AI tools to help customers find clothes that fit
  • Google Cloud's new AI tools for retailers
  • FedEx's new e-commerce platform
  • OpenAI debuting its new GPT Store
  • Tech layoffs beginning in 2024
  • BigCommerce + Marketplacer vs Shopify + Mirakl
  • Apple's Emmy winning commercial

All this and more in this week's 156th Edition of Shopifreaks. Thanks for subscribing and sharing!

Stat of the Week 📈

67% of enterprise retailers are considering changing their commerce platform in the next three years, but 61% said the cost of implementing new tech will be tough. 94% said a timely implementation is important. — According to Shopify

Share this week's stat on X & LinkedIn.

1. Shopify and X team up for e-commerce

X announced that it's entering into a partnership with Shopify, in a deal that would allow Shopify merchants to expand their reach through the X network.

X said in a post, “X 🤝 @Shopify. More to come on this new partnership, enabling all Shopify merchants to reach even more customers by leveraging the power of X!”

Not much is known about the details of the deal, except for what X executive Joe Benarroch posted about the partnership’s future goals:

  • X wants to utilize Shopify’s sales channel to bring more engagement to the platform.
  • Both companies also want to “make it seamless to upload product catalogs onto X.”
  • As well as help merchants “optimize their ad dollars to maximize their outcomes on X.”
  • And lastly “highlight the role X plays in a merchant’s marketing stack.”

Shopify President Harley Finkelstein added that the new partnership will give Shopify merchants more exposure:

“A determining factor in the success of your business is the ability to reach customers wherever they are. More platforms, more choice, more entrepreneurship. More details to come.”

It's about time that X (speaking historically about Twitter too) got serious about e-commerce.

What always drives me wild to think about is that Twitter was one of the earliest adopters of social commerce and quit too early.

Quick backstory…

In 2014, Twitter launched its first official Buy button in partnership with Stripe, Gumroad, Musictoday, and Fancy, before later expanding to a network of partners including Shopify, BigCommerce, Demandware, and Best Buy. However a few years later in 2017, the Buy button was officially phased out, which the company said was due to lack of traction.

Can you imagine where Twitter would be right now if they had continued down the path of e-commerce?

If instead of quitting early, they had allowed businesses and merchants to slowly catch up and integrate their commerce features into their ecosystems, as well as created additional tools for merchants that positioned Twitter as the center of conversation around product releases, reliable reviews, and social payments?

It was a hugely missed opportunity, and now X has to play catch-up in the world of social commerce thanks to Twitter's shortsightedness.

2. Microsoft launches new AI tools

Microsoft launched Retail Media Creative Studio, an AI-powered tool that can be used to create customized content for retailers, advertisers, and consumers.

In a nutshell, it's a tool that creates banner ads based on images and descriptions from your product page and resizes them to fit various placement types. The tool will automatically pull from your website's colors and fonts to match your brand's aesthetic. 

Here are examples of what it can do:

  • Transform a product photo into a lifestyle image with prompts such as “put this sofa in a cozy living room.”
  • Create headline options based on product titles or other descriptions.
  • Crop and clean up unwanted background or words in an image.
  • Allow for revisions of the images and headlines until you reach a desired output.

Once the banner ad campaign goes live, Microsoft Retail Media will leverage AI to choose and display the most effective creatives based on click-thru and conversion rates.

The tool will be available in preview in the Microsoft retail media platform this month. You can watch a short video of it on action on Microsoft's website.

Microsoft also introduced new AI capabilities for shoppers in collaboration with Walmart, which you can read more about in the next section.

Shopifreaks Partner News

Flowspace partnered with Two Boxes to streamline the returns and recommerce process for sellers and turn potential losses into profitable opportunities. Despite recent reports, Flowspace recognizes that e-commerce returns are not a “problem” but a key service for shoppers and an operational reality for online brands, which is why customer-centric brands tailor their processes to be as simple as possible.

eStreamly is launching two new products this week — a free UGC video alert tracker that allows retailers to identify and monitor user-generated video content about their brand across social media, and a gamification feature called Live Trivia that brings entertaining live trivia games to retailers' website and social channels. The eStreamly team is currently at NRF in New York and have a special offer for Shopifreaks readers who stop by their booth. 

3. Walmart unveils new AI capabilities

Walmart made an appearance at CES 2024 to announce that it teamed up with Microsoft to build AI-powered shopping experiences and AI-powered tools for Walmart associates. 

Here's what they've got going on: 

AI Search – a new search feature will give shoppers more options for interacting with inventory. For example, instead of searching for items like soda and chips, you can look for product recommendations for specific events like a birthday party or game day watch party.

AI Purchase Verification – employees at Sam's Club (which is owned by Walmart) will soon no longer need to check shopping receipts as people leave stores. Instead, it will deploy an AI tool that verifies customer purchases. (Wait, does that one help associates by giving them one less job to do?)

Walmart InHome Replenishment – a tool that will use AI to predict what items in a shopper’s cart need to be replenished in a timely manner, offered as an extension to its ‘InHome’ program that became available to Walmart+ shoppers in 2019.

Augmented Reality – Walmart teased plans to weave AR into its shopping experience with a new ‘Shop with Friends’ social commerce offering that allows shoppers to share virtual outfits with friends for feedback while shopping.

These new algorithmic shopping initiatives will directly compete with similar products by Google and Amazon, which I've reported on in previous editions.

The AI shopping features will be available on iOS and Android devices as well as on Walmart's website.

In other Walmart news… the company is expanding its drone delivery in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. The expansion will serve 1.8M more households in Texas via its partnership with Wing and Zipline by the end of 2024.

Walmart says drone deliveries arrive in 30 minutes or less, with some reaching customers’ doorsteps in as fast as 10 minutes.

4. Amazon AI helps customers find clothes that fit

Not to be outdone by Walmart this week, Amazon also made some AI announcements

Amazon explained how it's now using large language models, generative AI, and machine learning to power four AI features that help customers find clothing that fits, including:

  1. Fit Insights – this system works by combining the size relationship between a brand’s size systems, the product’s reviews, and the customer’s own fit preferences to make suggestions of the best-fitting size for that customer. Customers can create separate profiles for fit preferences for multiple membres of their family. 
  2. Fit Review Highlights – an extension of the newly added AI-generated Customer Review Highlights introduced last August. This feature extracts information about the apparel's fit from the customer reviews including things like size accuracy, garment fit on specific body areas, and fabric stretch, and then summarizes the findings into an easy-to-ready highlight personalized for the customer.
  3. Improved Size Charts – Amazon Fashion is using AI to extract and clean product size charts from multiple sources and then transforming the data into standardized sizes, removing duplicate information and correcting incorrect measurements to create more accurate charts.
  4. Fit Insights Tool – a tool for sellers to get a better understanding of customers' fit needs so that they can improve how they communicate sizing to customers. For example, if the item is considered to be “true to size” or if it runs small.

Although these apparel sizing tools are a benefit to the customer, they're also designed to help Amazon streamline the incredible volume of apparel returns they deal with each year. By helping customers get the right size garment from the get-go, the AI technology can reduce Amazon's returns expense. 

AI, however, is also proving to be a pain point for Amazon.

It turns out that AI product title and description tools aren't perfect yet.

Shoppers have come across products with AI-generated names like:

  • “I cannot fulfill this request as it goes against OpenAI use policy”
  • “I apologize, but I cannot complete this task it requires using trademarked brand names which goes against OpenAI use policy.”
  • “I'm Unable to Assist with This Request it goes Against OpenAI use Policy and Encourages Unethical Behavior.”

As well as AI descriptions like:

  • “Our [product] can be used for a variety of tasks, such [task 1], [task 2], and [task 3], making it a versatile addition to your household.”

The product listings suggest that companies are using ChatGPT to whip up entire product descriptions, without doing any proofreading, which raises the question — is anyone at Amazon actually reviewing the products that appear on its site?

Amazon provided the following statement: 

“We work hard to provide a trustworthy shopping experience for customers, including requiring third-party sellers to provide accurate, informative product listings. We have removed the listings in question and are further enhancing our systems.”

5. Google Cloud also launches generative AI tools for retailers

Tired of reading about generative AI this week? Me too. However I've got one more story for you about it…

(If you're a new reader, please note that this newsletter is not typically so AI obsessed. However story trends like this are par for the course the week of CES and NRF.)

Google also launched several new tools for retailers that leverage generative AI to improve online shopping experiences and other retail operations, including: 

  • Virtual Agents – that can talk to customers and offer product recommendations based on shoppers' preferences.
  • Enhanced Product Search – a large language model feature that retailers can use to offer a Google-like search experience on their own websites.
  • Customer Service Modernization – a tool that can hep retailers improve their self-service capabilities and increase customer engagement.
  • Catalog & Content Enrichment – tools that will help retailers improve their product catalogs by creating and analyzing product images and descriptions, and then automatically generating new text for descriptions and product metadata. (Hopefully better than ChatGPT, LOL).
  • Retail Software – a new fully managed hardware and software offering that will help retailers deliver modern customer experiences, even if they have no Internet connectivity.

Carrie Tharp, VP of strategic industries at Google Cloud, said generative AI has progressed from a barely recognized concept to one of the fastest-moving capabilities in the technology industry and a must-have for most retailers.

“With the ability to accelerate growth, boost efficiency, fuel innovation, and reduce toil, generative AI solutions are ready to be deployed now, and Google Cloud’s recent innovations can help retailers recognize value in 2024.”

6. FedEx is building an e-commerce platform

FedEx is planning to launch an e-commerce platform called “fdx” later this year, which it describes as an end-to-end online shopping hub that aims to provide sellers with solutions for everything from reaching potential customers to order fulfillment and returns.

So far FedEx hasn't provided many details, other than to say that fdx is being built as a “data-driven” platform that will use the company's insights to optimize the buying and selling process. It also says:

  • Sellers will have access to the existing network of customers on ShopRunner, which FedEx owns.
  • Customers will be able to see delivery estimates on products as they browse and add things to their carts, even before checkout.
  • Sellers will be provided with carbon emissions reports relating to their supply chain decisions, as well as optimal shipping routes and other data.

FedEx is calling fdx the “first data-driven commerce platform that connects the entire customer journey” — which is a bit of a stretch in my opinion, as a fairly large existing one that starts with an “A” and ends with a “mazon” comes to mind…

It's a lofty goal from a package delivery company, and the name sounds a little too close to “FTX”, the disgraced crypto platform, however I support competition in the space, so I wish them the best of luck. 

The official launch of the platform is planned for fall 2024, however the fdx platform is available in the meantime as a private preview upon request. If you're at NRF right now, you can also visit booth #3674 to see a preview.

7. OpenAI debuts its GPT Store

OpenAI officially launched its GPT Store, a marketplace for customers to access custom versions of ChatGPT created by other users. The store is initially only available to Plus, Team, and Enterprise users.

The custom GPTs are optimized for specific tasks that the standard version doesn’t necessarily support out of the box, and can interact with external applications and draw on proprietary datasets to generate answers.

GPT categories include DALL·E, writing, productivity, research, programming, education, and lifestyle.

A few examples of GPTs include: 

  • Personalized trail recommendations from AllTrails
  • Search and synthesize results from 200M academic papers with Consensus
  • Expand your coding skills with Khan Academy’s Code Tutor
  • Design presentations or social posts with Canva
  • Find your next read with Books
  • Learn math and science anytime, anywhere with the CK-12 Flexi AI tutor

To share a GPT via the new marketplace, users must make it publicly accessible and create a Builder Profile on the platform.

GPT Builders will be paid based on user engagement with their GPTs, which OpenAI says it will provide further details about payments as they get closer.

OpenAI also introduced a new paid tier called ChatGPT Team, which is geared towards organizations and will be available starting at $25/month per user. The tier is positioned as a more accessible alternative to its Enterprise plan which debuted last year.

I tried the Logo Creator by Chase Lean to make up for the terrible logo creation experience I had with ChatGPT last week (story #4). The custom GPT was equally as terrible at coming up with logos as the default ChatGPT.

8. The 2024 layoff season begins

Just when you thought the layoff frenzy was over at tech companies, a fresh wave is upon us for the new year. 

  • Amazon's livestreaming site Twitch is cutting 35% of its staff, or about 500 workers.
  • Amazon is laying off “several hundred” staffers from its Prime Video and MGM Studios division.
  • Amazon's Audible division is laying off around 100 employees, or approximately 5% of its workforce.
  • Google is laying off a few hundred AR Hardware engineers, members of the Google Assistant team, and core engineers, as well as Fitbit co-founders and other Fitbit leaders.
  • Flipkart is set to let go of about 5-7% of its workforce, or around 1,500 employees, by April, initiating the layoffs via performance reviews.
  • Instagram fired 60 employees, mostly technical program managers, signaling a phase-out of the role. Employees affected can choose to reapply and undergo a new interview process to secure positions product managers.
  • Unity Software is laying off 1,800 employees, or about 25% of its workforce, as part of a corporate restructuring plan.
  • Duolingo laid off around 10% of its contract workers, as the company moves to rely more heavily on AI.
Best of luck to all the folks impacted by these layoffs in the new year. 

9. Other e-commerce news of interest

Microsoft became the world's most valuable company on Friday, as its market cap ended a trading session higher than Apple's for the first time since 2021. Microsoft's market cap stood at around $2.887T, its highest ever, while Apple's was $2.875T. Most companies wouldn't mind just being worth the difference!

The eBay photo scam is back, this time with the special edition pink Stanley cups sold at Starbucks inside Target stores. Sellers listed photos of the cups, tricking buyers into thinking they were buying the product itself, when they were actually just buying a photo of the cup. So like an NFT?

Speaking of NFTs, X removed the option for premium users to use a verifiable NFT image as their profile picture, two years after debuting the feature (pre-Elon Musk takeover). The ability for X Premium subscribers to activate the feature via the iPhone version of the mobile app is no longer available and X Premium marketing no longer mentions the feature. 

The X account of the Securities and Exchange Commission was compromised on Tuesday and posted that the regulator had approved a Bitcoin ETF “on all registered national securities exchanges,” which sent the price of Bitcoin temporarily soaring above $48K. SEC chairman Gary Gensler quickly chimed in from his personal account, tweeting that the account was “compromised” and that, “The SEC has not approved the listing and trading of spot bitcoin exchange-traded products.”

BigCommerce and Marketplacer partnered up to allow merchants to transform their online stores into marketplaces. The BigCommerce Marketplace Connector, developed by Web Force 5, allows third-party sellers to list and sell their products directly from their BigCommerce stores, each with distinct products and catalogs.

Speaking of creating marketplaces, Shopify and Mirakl teamed up to allow merchants to launch and grow marketplace sales using Mirakl’s suite of AI-powered platform solutions. Through the new partnership, Shopify merchants can add marketplace sellers into their operations using the Mirakl Platform, as well as sell through other Mirakl-powered marketplace platforms.

So now it's BigCommerce + Marketplacer vs Shopify + Mirakl!

One more Shopify partnership to report on this week… Shopify and Manhattan Associates partnered up to help retailers build unified omnichannel shopping experiences. The partnership will see Shopify's platform combined with Manhattan's omnichannel order management solution, including their post-purchase customer service tools and digital self-service solutions. Nautica will be the first joint customer. 

Firework, a video commerce and engagement platform built for brands and retailers, unveiled a lifelike AI-generated human avatar named AVA, who helps brands transform their sites into virtual stores. AVA serves as an always available brand and product expert, capable of answering customers' questions, offering guidance based on past purchase history, and demoing products in real time. Checkout my LinkedIn post to see it in action. 

In response to the Digital Markets Act which goes into effect on Mar 6th, Google will now let users in the EU select which services like Search, YouTube, Maps, and Chrome share their data, an opt-out that could remove personalized recommendations based on previous activities. However Google says it will still share user data when it's necessary to complete a task, such as paying for a purchase on Google Shopping with Google Pay, or to comply with the law, stop fraud, or protect against abuse. Hmm… The DMA also includes rules on interoperability and competition, such as Google will no longer be able to treat its own services more favorably in Search’s ranking than other services.

Afterpay launched a new tennis-inspired campaign to build awareness of the truly “unbelievable head-turning ways” people can use Afterpay to buy now and pay later. The creative can be seen on Channel Nine during the live broadcast of The Australian Open, as well as BVOD, social and other online channels.

Speaking of commercials, Apple won a 2023 Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial for its The Greatest campaign, which raises awareness of seven people going about their lives, who are living with vision, mobility, or cognitive impairments. The two-minute film showcases how Apple products make life easier for people across the world every day.

Amazon announced a Buy with Prime integration with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, offering shoppers the ability to search and filter for Amazon Prime-eligible items. Shoppers will also be able to add both Prime-eligible and other items to their carts and purchase all items in a single checkout.

Wix introduced a new revenue-sharing initiative for Partners engaged in Wix Studio. Agencies and freelancers can apply through the Wix Studio Workspace and earn a 20% revenue share on new sites created in 2024, as well as a 50% share of revenue from client sales on sites using Wix Payments. Wow that's pretty generous! I'd love to earn 50% revenue on Shopify Payments revenue from all the stores I've opened through their Partner program.

Shopify revealed custom software it built to run its business more efficiently, including Shopify OS, a system that helps leaders make decisions about the business like head count and title recommendations. It also revealed GSD, or “get shit done”, an internal system used for tracking progress on tasks, which gives visibility into work happenings across the company by designating it into various projects, which roll into missions and then themes. So Shopify turned productivity into a video game?

Threads will soon allow posts to become visible to Mastodon clients, as it shifts its platform into the Fediverse. Beginning in early 2024, replies posted on Mastodon servers will also become visible in the Threads app, and later in the year, users will be able to follow Mastodon accounts within Threads, reply to them and like their posts.

Google is shutting down its free website offering for Google Business Profiles in March, and from then on will redirect customers from those sites to the company's Google Business Profile. Honestly they weren't even really necessary, as all the sites did were regurgitate information from the company's Business Profile. There are plenty of other better free website tools out there that company's can transition into.

eBay entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of MA in regards to actions taken in 2019 by former eBay employees against Ina and David Steiner, who run the EcommerceBytes publication. If you're unfamiliar with what went down between eBay and EcommerceBytes, check out Edition 27 (story #1) about eBay going American psycho on the Steiners. 

Victoria's Secret is tapping into Google Cloud's Vertex AI to enhance its online search capabilities and personalize product recommendations. The company is deploying a generative AI virtual assistant and using AI to optimize inventory forecasting and allow customers to upload and search images, allowing Victoria's Secret to provide custom recommendations for individual customers (or their wives).

Amazon missed a Wednesday deadline to offer remedies to the EU over its $1.7B acquisition of iRobot, after the bloc raised concerns that the deal could stifle competition in the robot vacuum cleaner market. Under EU merger procedures, the deadline for companies to submit remedies typically falls on working day 65 of a Phase 2 investigation, which was last Wednesday. The commission has until Feb. 14 to make a final decision on the deal.

Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are opening headquarters in Saudi Arabia amid pressure from the government, which said it will stop giving contracts to companies without regional headquarters in the country. The three firms have all received licenses to establish regional HQs in Riyadh, just ahead of the deadline set by the government.

Instacart is now letting advertisers use its shopper data to target ads on Google Shopping campaigns, as part of its strategy to let brands target ads off-platform. Last year the company announced partnerships with Roku and The Trade Desk.

Instacart is also piloting ads on its AI-powered smart carts in Southern California. CEO Fidji Simo said, “You can imagine an experience where you are going through the aisles of the store, you drop a box of cookies in your cart and we immediately suggest Dreyer’s ice cream to make ice cream sandwiches with your cookies and we even tell you which aisle you can find this product in.”

JD Logistics is now offering an international express delivery service that will initially cover 23 countries across North America and Europe, facilitating one-way deliveries from China. Looking ahead, the company plans to extend the reach of this service throughout China, allowing customers to book doorstep pick-ups on the WeChat app and receive one-hour pick-up by JD in-house couriers with real-time parcel tracking.

Not to be outdone, Cainiao, the logistics arm of Alibaba, announced a consolidated shipping service to the US that allows consumers to package several items they have bought together, cutting delivery times to as little as five days. Cainiao said the cross-border shipping service would mainly help Chinese consumers and students in the US who tend to buy lots of goods on Chinese e-commerce sites.

Grocery e-commerce sales in the US slipped to $95.8B in 2023, down 0.18% compared with 2022, according to new research by Brick Meets Click and Mercatus. The decline was mainly fueled by a slowdown in order frequency by online grocery shoppers, shrinking for the second consecutive year. What's wild (and sad) is that the data reveals that shoppers ordered less frequently last year, but still ended up spending almost as much as the year before. Grocery prices have gotten out of hand in the US.

Speaking of inflation, PYMNTS reports that according to the latest Consumer Price Index, the most basic expenses, especially shelter, were up 0.3% in December, up from 0.1% in November. On a trailing 12-month basis, prices were up 3.4%, higher than the 3.1% trailing 12-month rate seen in November. 

A PYMNTs survey also revealed that 1 in 7 consumers in the U.S. have used BNPL to pay for gasoline in installments during the past 12 months. This means that folks were paying for gas several months after using the tank in many cases.

10. Seed rounds, IPOs, & acquisitions

Finn, a Munich-based startup that operates a platform for new car subscriptions, raised €100M in a Series C round led by HV Capital, Korelya Capital, and others, bringing its total amount raised to $250M in equity and $1B in debt. The company will use the funds to expand its tech and reach, with a move into more electric vehicles and cloud-based tools to manage its services. 

Pier, a SaaS platform that offers developer-friendly API tools to help companies with their own credit products, raised $2.4M in a round that included Y Combinator, Liquid 2 Ventures, and others. The company will use the funds to develop its technology that helps businesses launch credit products in weeks, rather than months.

Icreon, a NY-based customer experience transformation company, acquired ChangeCX, a Texas-based full-service omnichannel consultancy specializing in digital commerce solutions, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will enhance Icreon's commerce expertise with composable commerce solutions across platforms like commercetools, NewStore, Salesforce, and other providers.

Rokt, a global e-commerce platform that focuses on enhancing the purchase experience for its clients, agreed to acquire AfterSell, a Shopify partner that helps retailers create customizable checkout and post-purchase experiences, for an undisclosed amount. Through the acquisition, Rokt will gain access to AfterSell's client base, which include Good American, KitchenAid and Bloom Nutrition, and the ability to expand its offerings to small and medium sized businesses. 

Returnmates, now rebranded as Sway, a platform that aims to reduce retailers' costs of returns, raised $19.5M in a Series A round led by 7GC, bringing its total amount raised to $26.5M. The company rebranded to Sway as a way to show its evolution beyond returns to last-mile delivery capabilities and will use the funds to expand its infrastructure, technology, and footprint to better support its partner brands and shoppers.

Bank of America has given Jio Platforms, an Indian telecom and digital conglomerate, a $107B valuation, as the company is about to undertake an IPO. This valuation is 64.6% higher than the $65B valuation it was given when Meta, Google, and other giants participated in a multi-billion dollar investment round in 2020.

PhotoRoom, a Paris-based AI image editing app that caters to e-commerce vendors and media specialists, is raising between $50-$60M on a pre-money valuation between $500-$600M from Balderton, which led the startup’s previous round, and other investors, according to TechCrunch sources. In the three years since its launch, PhotoRoom has reached more than 100M downloads of its apps and is on track for ARR of $50M.

AppDirect, a San Francisco and Montreal-based platform for buying, selling, and managing tech through a network of IT advisors, raised $100M from CDPQ, bringing its total amount raised to almost $500M. The company will use the funds to expand its financing program for small and medium sized tech businesses ., a Brazil-based open source front-end development platform for Deno, JSX, and Tailwind, raised $2.2M in a round led by MAYA Capital. Since its inception in Oct 202, Deco has signed over 65 clients and amassed a community of more than 2,400 web developers and 36 integration partner agencies. It will use the funds to inject AI tech into its platform and bring on additional engineers so that the company can grow into new markets, particularly the US.

Conta Simples, an expense management and corporate card company in Brazil, raised $41.5M in a Series B round led by Base10 Partners. Conta Simples boasts 30k active users and has issued 500k physical and digital corporate credit cards for a total payment volume of around $3B since its inception. It will use the new funds to grow its team and move upstream to handle bigger customers.

Logicbroker, a provider of multi-vendor commerce SaaS solutions, acquired Cortina, a platform that offers advanced marketplace connections with Shopify, Squarespace, and WooCommerce. Cortina's vendor and product discovery tools and notification, billing, and bundling systems will be integrated into the Logicbroker portal for the combined customer base.

Patchworks, a software company that helps e-commerce businesses automate and manage data flows across complex IT systems, raised £1.75M from Gresham House Ventures as a follow-on investment of a recent £2M round, bringing Gresham's total investment in the business to £10.5M. The new capital will be use to fund the company's global expansion.

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See you next Monday,


Paul E. Drecksler
[email protected]
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PS: Did you hear about the new dating app for arsonists? They'll send you new matches every day.