Hone raises $30M to grow its corporate learning platofrm

One of the co-founders of FanDuel has raised $30 million to fund a startup — Hone — that’s providing a platform for “enterprise-scale,” exec-level learning and development. Coming on the heels of a $16 million Series A round in November, Hone today closed its Series B, which had  contributions from 3L Capital (which led the round), F-Prime Capital, Cowboy Ventures and Slack Fund. The new capital will go toward experimentation with “intelligent” recommendations and reinforcement, CEO Tom Griffiths said, to “enhance the learners’ experience” and “drive even more successful learning outcomes.”

After co-launching FanDuel and helping to grow the sports betting outfit to hundreds of employees, Griffiths tells TechCrunch that he was inspired to reinvent the training experience for today’s workplaces. He connected with Hone’s second co-founder, Savina Perez, at a conference over the shared belief that leadership upskilling should be widely available.

“Given [Perez’s and I’s] complementary skill sets, her experience in business-to-business marketing, and mine in business-to-consumer product, we decided to work together to make our vision to democratize executive-quality people skills education a reality,” Griffiths said. “[W]e set out to democratize access to executive-quality training — making it available to all employees across an enterprise. To do that, we had to make it scalable and accessible — which is why we were online from inception.”

Hone offers live, small-group, exec-focused instruction with modules to reinforce concepts through real-time practice and feedback. Across content verticals like management, team dynamics and well-being, the platform provides curriculum-based training led by instructors including time set aside for peer discussions.

New Hone students enter a four-week bootcamp, with topics selected by the company. From there, they have unlimited access to classes throughout the year.

Corporate learning platforms are practically a dime a dozen (see Go1, EduMe, BetterUp, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and so on), but Griffiths avers that Hone stands out because its content isn’t pre-recorded and emphasizes skills-based courses as opposed to one-on-one coaching. Beyond this, Hone offers automation tools for HR admins, like automatic scheduling and attendance tracking for training.

Instructors are paid “hundreds of dollars per hour,” Griffiths said — increasing with expertise and experience with Hone. He claims that it’s four to five times what they typically earn on one-on-one coaching platforms, warranted because of the greater responsibility and Hone’s pooled budget structure.

Future plans include in-person events where execs will be able to connect and exchange ideas, Griffiths says.

“We’ve implemented integrations with [platforms] like Workday, Rippling and SAP SuccessFactors. We also upgraded our electives offering so learners can choose from an even wider array of master classes in the learner-led portion of their experience,” Griffiths said. “From a content standpoint, we’ve enhanced our core manager training offerings with live practice labs and team-based classes [and] added learning pathways for individual contributors and emerging executives.”

When asked about growth prospects, Griffiths says the pandemic was a “huge tailwind” for Hone, driving its customer base to expand to brands including Indeed, ConocoPhillips, Pacific Sunwear, Allscripts, TomTom and Aramark. While not disclosing revenue, Griffiths says that Hone is actively hiring, with the goal of bringing on roughly 30 employees by the end of the year (the company currently has 70).

“We were extremely well-positioned for the challenges that the pandemic posed for learning and development. And our people-skills focused training is so universal across industries so we haven’t seen much of a slowdown, despite the cooling we’ve seen in the technology industry,” Griffiths asserted. “In fact, there’s a false impression that training budgets are the first to be cut in a down economy. That’s not what happens at companies that are focused on retaining their best talent. If you’re laying people off or freezing headcount, smart companies understand that learning and development is critical to keeping their best people and getting more from them in a tighter environment.”

Hone’s total raised stands at $52 million.

Hone raises $30M to grow its corporate learning platofrm by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

AI-powered parking platform Metropolis bags $167M

Metropolis, a startup building payment infrastructure for parking facilities, today announced that it raised $167 million in a Series B round co-led by 3L Capital and Assembly Ventures with participation from Dragoneer, Eldridge Industries, Silver Lake Waterman, UP Partners, and former deputy mayor of New York Dan Doctoroff. CEO Alex Israel told TechCrunch via email that the proceeds will be put toward product development, expanding the company’s team, and expanding into “new mobility adjacent verticals.”

Israel contends that parking payment infrastructure is outdated on the whole. Parking garages are stuck in the pre-internet age, he asserts — disconnected from the digital payments ecosystem (e.g., schemes like Apple Pay and Google Pay). Certainly, there’s on-demand systems like SpotHero. Meanwhile, FlashParking, Passport, AirGarage, and REEF Technology (formerly ParkJockey) have raised hundreds of millions from SoftBank and others for tech-forward parking management. But these don’t create the same experiences Metropolis can, Israel claims.

“Metropolis is a mobility commerce company, building infrastructure that allows us to transact in the physical world with the seamlessness and ease we experience online,” Israel told TechCrunch via email. “Our platform powers more than 600 parking facilities, we have more than 1.8 million users, and we connect both to thousands of surrounding restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores in more than sixty cities.”

Israel, a serial entrepreneur, sold his last company, ParkMe, to Inrix back in 2015. He said that the experience drove him back to the drawing board to develop a new kind of parking payment and management service.


Image Credits: Metropolis

“Metropolis was founded in 2017 with the vision of creating the foundation for future modes of transportation which would allow for seamless transactions and movement,” Israel said. “In order to realize a future with cars that are electric or autonomous, you have to build the infrastructure for them to operate within, and that starts by bringing brick and mortar locations online. Parking and movement within urban environments have not changed in the past 70 years and we set out to change that.”

To this end, Metropolis — which equips existing parking structures with its systems — enables customers to “drive in and drive out” without having to swipe a credit card or pay with cash. Using computer vision systems trained on an in-house data set, the platform can recognize cars via cameras equipped with Metropolis’ software, automatically charging the corresponding customers’ online account. (To use a Metropolis parking facility, customers have to provide their name, license plate, phone number, and payment method.)

From an app, customers can review their visit and know the price in real time. Metropolis emails the receipt after they drive out.

That’s a convenience, to be sure. But Metropolis is investing heavily on the analytics, sales, and marketing side of the business, where it sees a larger addressable market. According to Israel, the high-rise and parking structure owners and municipalities that Metropolis does business with can better inform pricing, staffing, and maintenance with the insights from the platform. And local businesses can gain visibility — promotions and discounts from grocery stores, coffee shops, and other local merchants that choose to partner with Metropolis appear in the aforementioned app.

“Our data means real-time, accurate, and reliable visibility into usage of, and revenue derived from, built environment assets. For commercial real estate businesses, it’s vital to have visibility into both individual property performance, but also portfolio-wide trends,” Israel said. “We have only scratched the surface of the economic opportunity within our cities. For businesses, Metropolis is able to connect them with new customers and revenue opportunities. For people moving around our cities, Metropolis delivers a checkout-free, just-drive-out experience, facilitating a remarkable journey, while connecting them to the local business around them.”


Image Credits: Metropolis

Gearing up for expansion, Metropolis recently acquired Premier Parking, a Nashville-based company that operated hundreds of parking garages and spaces around the U.S. And last November, Metropolis announced a partnership with Uber, Uber Park, which allows Uber riders to use the Uber app to access locations within the Metropolis network.

Israel says that Metropolis plans to expand its workforce of 2,000 employees to 2,500 by the end of the year to support the expansion. It would appear to have the capital to do so; to date, Metropolis has raised $226 million in total.

“Parking, while historically recession resistant, was not COVID-resistant. So commercial real estate owners and operators turned to Metropolis during the pandemic to find efficiencies and opportunities; as people return to work and travel, we are on a major upswing,” Israel said. “Metropolis built its core business in the middle of a global financial crisis, so while others are hitting the brakes to cut burn, our business is built on solid fundamentals, which is why we attracted so much interest from such a range of investors.”