Narrativ helps publishers make more money when they drive sales

Narrativ founder and CEO Shirley Chen said there’s a big revenue opportunity that’s gone largely untapped by online publishers — namely, the links those publishers are already using to direct readers to buy the products mentioned in an article.

Sure, affiliate links are a common business model, where publishers get a cut of the business that they’re sending to retailers. There are even companies like Skimlinks and VigLink that automate this process.

But Narrativ is doing something a bit different. It turns these links into an advertising unit called a SmartLink, where different retailers can bid in real-time for each click.

The company has raised $3 million in funding from investors includingTalis Capital and New Enterprise Associates.

Chen previously worked at the intersection of commerce and media, serving as head of marketing at Moda Operandi, the e-commerce company backed by Condé Nast-owner Advance Publications and LVMH. She argued that SmartLinks are a more effective form of promotion than banner ads (which are intrusive and can be stripped out by ad blockers) and native advertising.

“Native advertising mimics real content,” Chen said. “Narrativ advertising is real content.”

In other words, the product doesn’t require writers and editors to do anything different — it automatically transforms the product links that they were going to include in their articles anyway into SmartLinks. Similarly, readers just click on the links that they want to, and the bidding and redirecting should happen imperceptibly.

Retailers, meanwhile, can run more sophisticated campaigns where they bid different amounts for different users who have different levels of exposure to the brand and product. (Chen contrasted that with the “last click” approach, where all the affiliate money goes to whoever drove the final click before purchase.) And since the bidding happens in at the moment of the click, they get to avoid “link rot” when a product link changes.

Although Narrativ is officially coming out of stealth today, Chen said the product has already been in testing with publishers like New York Magazine, which has seen the value of its content clicks increase by 250 percent, and with retailers like Dermstore, which saw its return on investment increase by 67 percent year-over-year.

In a statement, Dermstore Vice President of Marketing Richie Singh said that before Narrativ, the company wasn’t thinking about promoting itself through editorial content: “The technology just wasn’t there.”

“Our competitors were winning 92% of traffic from editorial links until Narrativ,” he added. “For the first time, we control when a product featured in content drives traffic to Dermstore.” (Here’s a bit more detail about how Dermstore is using Narrativ.)

Beyond plain vanilla links, Chen also said that Narrativ works with other units like product galleries. The key, she said, is that it can’t be intrusive to the reader experience.


Original Source:

Portfolio Update - 11.08.2017

Narrativ, formerly BAMx, have launched out of stealth mode and won “Best Native/Content Advertising Platform” at the Digiday Signal Awards following their case study with Dermstore, America’s 2nd largest beauty e-commerce retailer, who saw their ROI increase 67% YoY and their revenue grow 685% after implementing Narrativ’s market leading technology.

Darktrace have signed $200m+ of contracts to date and recently appeared on Sky News to discuss the ongoing ransom of HBO’s sensitive data by criminal hackers.

Portfolio Update - 21.07.2017

iwoca have partnered with Intesa Sanpaolo, one of Italy’s largest banks with a recent market capitalisation of €48.0bn, to service their small business customers.

Senrio have highlighted a critical and widespread flaw in physical security devices which left major institutions vulnerable to manipulation by remote hackers.


Pirate Studios are participating in the Bristol Harbour Festival, an annual cultural event which attracts 250k+ visitors, and have secured an impressive line-up of musicians to showcase their world-class rehearsal studio technology.



Portfolio Update - 11.07.2017

Darktrace have raised a $75m Series D round led by Insight Venture Partners and are now valued at $825m, a 100%+ uplift to their earlier Series C round which took place in July 2016.

Talis led the $3m seed round of Cyber Observer, a cybersecurity orchestration start-up which provides CISOs with a comprehensive overview of their enterprise’s cybersecurity health and the efficiency of their existing software providers.

Cybersecurity Startup Darktrace Worth $825 Million After New Funding

Darktrace, a hot cybersecurity startup that touts using artificial intelligence to identify and block digital attacks, was privately valued at $825 million after raising a new round of funding worth $75 million.

Darktrace uses machine learning technology and analyzes patterns of network traffic to track threats lurking on corporate networks. The company was founded by University of Cambridge mathematicians and British intelligence agency alumni.

The latest round is Darktrace's fourth, or "series D," and is led by Insight Venture Partners, a New York-based venture capital firm that has also invested in cybersecurity startups such as Cylance and Tenable Network Security. Existing backers that also participated in the round include Summit Partners, KKR, and TenEleven Ventures.

Darktrace has raised a total of $180.5 million to date.

Among Darktrace's investors is Invoke Capital, the U.K.-based venture capital fund created by tech veteran Mike Lynch, who sold the business software firm Autonomy to HP for $11 billion in 2011. HP later marked down the price of its acquisition by $8.8 billion, and Lynch and HP have been embroiled in heated legal battles ever since.

Although Darktrace would not disclose its revenues, the company said the value of its customer contracts has reached $200 million, increasing 140% between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. A big chunk of that growth is attributable to Darktrace's expansion within the United States where, the company says, sales tripled in the past year.

"We saw sales for autonomous response"—a feature that takes automatic action to slow or stop the spread of digital attacks—"take off since WannaCry and NotPetya," said Nicole Eagan, Darktrace cofounder and CEO, on a call with Fortunereferring to two destructive ransomware attacks that have recently infected business networks worldwide. The automatic response feature, which Eagan referenced and which Darktrace debuted earlier this year, is called "Antigena."

"Orders started coming in quite rapidly when those attacks happened," Eagan said.

Darktrace has 1,000 customers for its cybersecurity product, called Enterprise Immune System, with a quarter of them in financial services, about 15% in telecom and technology, and 12% in industrial systems. The rest are in sectors such as retail, travel, and government. Competitors include Vectra Networks, Palo Alto Networks' Light Cyber, and Deep Instinct as well as Hewlett Packard Enterprise's ArcSight and RSA's Security Analytics.

Darktrace is one among many cybersecurity startups now vying, alongside more established tech companies, to protect businesses from an onslaught of escalating computer threats. In order to succeed, the company must stay a step ahead of attackers and continue to gain adoption while displacing incumbents.

Cybercrime cost the global economy an estimated $450 billion in 2016, as Fortune noted in its July cover story on hacking.

Darktrace's headcount has doubled to 500 people in the past year. Eagan said she planned to put the new round of funding primarily toward hiring sales and marketing staff to continue the company's growth in the Americas and Asia.

Given the uptick in global cyber attacks—WannaCry and NotPetya among them—one can expect the threats to keep on coming.


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Talis take on venture opportunities in Cyber Security, Proptech & Insurance Tech

Cyber Security

While many segments of the technology market are driven by reducing inefficiencies, automating processes and increasing productivity, cybersecurity spending is driven by cybercrime. We have reached unrivalled levels of cyber attacks which are in turn generating a huge number of opportunities in the space:

Cyber Security is now one of the fastest growing areas of Venture Capital thanks to the billions spent on cyber-security annually and the constant stream of major hacks and leaks hitting the headlines.

The depth and breadth of the cyber security market is now so vast, the potential of identifying the next wave of start-up success becomes ever more challenging

Talis has identified several segments of the cyber security market that are poised for significant growth:


Property is one of the biggest asset classes and is considered to have one of the lowest risk profiles. Technology is now disrupting the dynamics of this industry and generating higher yields

A number of trends in property are emerging:

  • The demand for flexible working space is creating a new breed of property-companies which are pushing up property valuations they take over and providing op-co opportunities
  • Long lease rentals have been preferable due to the hassle of short-term leasing. Technology now facilitates easy, efficient and high-yield short-lease rentals
  • Technology innovation allows dis-used / rundown property to be re-purposed cheaply, without changing its use - generating high returns (Currently 500 hectares of empty or under-utilised industrial land across London alone – the equivalent to 750 football pitches)

As a result, investors are pouring money into prop-tech start-ups:

The Proptech market is now expansive: Early application of technology in property revolved around the most visible uses: automating manual processes, improving work efficiency and web-enabled marketing. Recent trends – the sharing economy, crowdfunding, uber-isation, social media and mobile are developing entire new segments within it:

The Talis team has identified several buoyant areas of the proptech market that are brimming with confidence and have a wealth of innovative startups:


The incumbent insurance industry is rife with old, legacy, labour intensive companies

Insurance is undergoing a monumental shift –A fifth of European consumers stated they would buy banking or insurance services from companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon or Apple. (Fujitsu, 2016 survey)

Tech companies such as Google are significantly increasing their investments and partnerships in insurance, showing the desire to enter and dominate this old conservative industry

A number of key trends are driving investments into insurance tech:

  • SaaS is innovating a conservative industry by changing the way insurance companies price risk and by empowering an ongoing relationship between an insurer and insured
  • Incumbent insurers are not able to operate profitably with less than 1,000,000 policies and spend between 60 and 80 cents of each euro of premium on claims

AI was one of the most popular themes in insurance tech investment in 2016, capturing more than $500m of funds

Innovative insurance technologies are targeting different segments of the insurance value chain. Start-ups are rooted in mobile and digital but include a wide range of categories, with fundamental changes in communication, data availability, and computation

The change in the insurance industry value chain is creating a huge market opportunity:

Cybersecurity Orchestration Start-up, CyberObserver, raises $3 million led by Talis Capital

Cybersecurity Orchestration Start-up, CyberObserver, raises $3 million led by Talis Capital

UK-based Talis Capital has led the $3 million funding round of CyberObserver, an Israeli based Cybersecurity management start-up. CyberObserver provides a breakthrough cybersecurity orchestration and awareness management suite that provides CISOs and security domain managers with an unprecedented comprehensive view of their enterprises’ cybersecurity health.

Driven by a powerful analytics engine that calculates on-line measurements, CyberObserver monitors in real-time and provides 3 layers of information:

  • Fool proof indicators of the types of cybersecurity tools that are misconfigured, malfunctioning, or lacking.
  • Security gaps that exist in each security domain, alongside recommendations for pro-active steps to be taken to close them.
  • Continuous analytics that provide alerts on deviation from normal behaviour.

“CyberObserver can be automatically deployed on a corporate network in a matter of a few hours, predefined with security domains and CSCs measurements to deliver real-time Cyber-Security health views” said Itzik Weinstein, CEO of CyberObserver. “Our customers already include some of the largest companies in Israel and the world - from commodity trading giants in the USA, to large energy companies in APAC - our technology delivers inestimable value to their cyber security teams.  The investment will help us expand our international sales efforts, and continue our product development”.

CyberObserver was founded in 2011 by Shimon Becker, Moti Ram and Oded Mass, a team of Israeli security software experts with extensive experience in the methodology, development and management of complex technological systems that combine information technology and people.

“The cyber-security market has an immense number of companies offering products and services to protect digital assets from unauthorised access and malicious use” said Vasile Foca, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Talis Capital. “The number of cyber products required to secure enterprises from inside and outside threats is ever growing which means the demand for management tools to centrally control, reduce risk and exposure, and prioritise threats is growing significantly – we see CyberObserver as being at the front of this market and are excited at the company’s trajectory”.

The global security management market is forecasted to reach $4.5bn by 2018, where the market will see analysts having traditional event and threat response capabilities replaced with machine-speed decision making and response. With the well-documented shortage of security analysts (Frost and Sullivan has forecast a shortfall of 1.5 million trained security experts by 2020), security teams must seek efficiencies through automation when they cannot find the talent they need.

The funding will help CyberObserver to meet growing international demand and expand R&D to increase product development.

About CyberObserver:

CyberObserver is a powerful, comprehensive and easy-to-use orchestration and awareness solution that enables Chief Security Officers, Chief Compliance Officers and IT executives to effectively secure their organizations against cyber-threats. Developed by cybersecurity experts, CyberObserver uses our patented core engine and Critical Security Controls (CSCs) measurements to present a clear picture of enterprise-wide cybersecurity eco-system status and preparedness at any given moment, alerting to breaches and threats as they arise and actions to be taken to secure critical infrastructures across the security eco-system.

About Talis Capital:

Talis Capital is a London based venture capital firm, focused on B2B technology companies within three key areas: Security, Business Intelligence/SaaS and Financial Services. Talis Capital has completed over $380m of transactions since 2009 and has a strong record of investments. Talis has made over 30 venture investments and count some of the fastest growing tech start-ups in its portfolio – Darktrace, Onfido, Iwoca, - among many others.

Portfolio Update - 29.06.2017

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Darktrace have been highlighted for their role in helping to protect the UK following the recent barrage of global cyber-attacks.

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Second Home’s upcoming London Fields site, planned to launch in November, has been designed to provide a family-friendly environment for full-time working parents with on-site childcare facilities including a staffed crèche, and cultural programmes to encourage parent-child activities.



Portfolio Update - 22.06.2017

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Darktrace have been named as the sole cybersecurity firm in Wall Street Journal’s “Top 25 Companies To Watch” list for 2017. They also continue to expand into new verticals and have begun to provide cybersecurity M&A due diligence after signing with MACOM, a global semiconductor enterprise with a market capitalisation of c. $3.6bn.

Luminance’s market-leading technology has been recognised by CognitionX, a prestigious awards ceremony highlighting the most innovative firms utilising Artificial Intelligence with fellow award winners including Tesla and Google Deepmind.

Portfolio Update - 15.06.2017

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Onfido have been named as one of the world’s 30 most promising Technology Pioneers by the World Economic Forum, a prestigious achievement previously held by Google, AirBnB and Spotify.  As a Technology Pioneer, Onfido will benefit from several dedicated community events including the World Economic Forum’s upcoming annual New Champions conference, commonly nicknamed “Summer Davos”, which will take place later this month.  

eporta have been selected to represent the UK on a trade mission to the US where they will meet with executives from Silicon Valley giants including Google, Apple and LinkedIn.

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Portfolio Update - 07.06.2017

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iwoca has been named as one of Europe’s top 50 FinTech firms by reputable judges, including the UK PM’s FinTech Business Ambassador, after being selected from a list of 1,500 competitors.

CensorNet, a SME cybersecurity firm, has successfully integrated Multi-Factor Authentication technology into its offering. Going ahead its clients will benefit from enhanced protection against the growing threat of network breaches, with 81% currently due to weak or stolen passwords, whilst gaining real-time visibility and control of their online applications.

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Luminance has partnered with Cederquist, a leading Swedish law firm, and is now live in 12 countries with 110 global client transactions to date since its launch in September 2016.



Portfolio Update - 19.05.2017

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Darktrace successfully fought off WannaCry’s global ransomware attack which is estimated to have infected over 200,000 systems worldwide.

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Talis co-led the $3m seed fundraising round of AKUA, an Internet-of-Things tracking solution for cargo owners with numerous global clients including the US Government.

Portfolio Update - 12.05.2017

Darktrace are now approaching a Unicorn valuation after striking a partnership with Siemens to protect the vulnerable critical infrastructure of utilities and energy enterprises.  After recently winning four Stevie Awards including “Fastest Growing Tech Company”, they have now been nominated by the Evening Standard for “Tech Start-up of the Year” as well.

eporta, a B2B trade marketplace, has grown to provide over 1,000 high quality supplier brands under the impressive leadership of their CEO & Founder Aneeqa Khan who led Zoopla’s £1bn IPO at the age of 27.

Luminance, a leading AI platform, has had explosive growth since its launch in September 2016 with 110 deployments and shows no signs of slowing down after partnering with Uría Menéndez, a major Iberian law firm.

Onfido, a global ID verification start-up operating in 195 countries, continues to assert its dominance with 400% Year-on-Year growth since 2012 and 1,500 clients including Deliveroo, Uber, and Tesco.

Innovate Finance flies fintech delegation to Davos

Innovate Finance, the independent membership organisation representing UK’s global FinTech sector, is returning to Davos this week with a delegation of members to discuss this year’s theme of Responsive Leadership

NatWest strikes deals to pass on unwanted business

The state-backed lender, which is part of Royal Bank of Scotland, is joining forces with Iwoca, which offers working capital to small businesses, and Together, a property-secured lender, as a way to refer business and commercial customers that do not meet NatWest’s appetite for risk.

The Selfie as Mobile Banking's Fraud Fighter

The Selfie as Mobile Banking's Fraud Fighter

"Financial institutions have reported to have taken weeks to onboard new clients and expect it go up in the future," Celent analysts Arin Ray and Neil Katkov wrote in a recent report. "Some are concerned that a prolonged and cumbersome onboarding process could become a competitive disadvantage."