Haystack Is Putting All Your Teleworking Tools in One Place

Betting that a considerable number of employees will be working remotely long after the pandemic ends, Haystack officially launched Tuesday to provide a centralized communications, HR and training hub for companies with more than 300 employees.

Its goal is to make big companies feel small.

Haystack centralizes all internal company information such as announcements, commonly viewed resources and employee profiles. It also integrates with the ever-growing list of apps companies employ – such as Slack, Workday, Confluence and Microsoft 365.

"The employee experience is broken," said co-founder and CEO Cameron Lindsay in a prepared statement announcing the launch. "The average employee switches between 30 plus different, disjointed internal applications to find mission-critical information, connect with co-workers to feel included in company culture or understand vital company policies and information."

The Santa Monica-based company has raised $8.2 million to fund its launch from Greycroft, Coatue Management, BoxGroup and Day One Ventures. Advisors and angel investors include prominent startup founders Biz Stone of Twitter, Marc Merril of Riot Games and Ari Mir of Clutter.

Even before its official launch, Nerdwallet, Chime Bank, MeUndies and Bungalow used the service.

"With the culture of remote work becoming more prevalent, the number of systems companies are required to use will increase and only exacerbate the feelings of isolation and confusion many employees are experiencing," Lindsay added.

Haystack Haystack's desktop interface

Competitors include Palo Alto-based AeroFS and Modyo, which is based in Santiago, Chile.

Haystack was created by Lindsay — a Southern California native who attended Stanford University and built employee-centric products at Cornerstone OnDemand — and CTO Haibo Zhao.

Zhao came from Snap Inc, where he ran the special forces product experience team.

Born and raised in a remote village in China, Zhao learned programming on his Nintendo NES so he could build games by himself rather than having to shell out money for game cartridges. He received his PhD in Computer Science from The University of Georgia before landing at Google and then Snap.

Last year's seed round valued Haystack at $26.19 million, according to Pitchbook.

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Social video app Triller's parent company TrillerNet announced two acquisitions Wednesday, along with a new CEO.

The startup acquired Palo Alto-based Amplify.ai, which offers brands an AI chatbot tool to interact with consumers. It was previously integrated into Triller and will now become a wholly-owned subsidiary of TrillerNet, which says it will use the tool to "offer brands and advertisers a unique, fully comprehensive branded content experience, starting with influencer-created short-form content from [Triller] which is pushed through the wider internet while using Amplify's AI tools to properly match the content to consumer," according to a statement.

As part of the deal, Amplify AI's CEO Mahi de SIlva, who was already a TrillerNet board member, will become TrillerNet's CEO. Mike Lu will shift from TrillerNet's CEO to president, and will focus on investor relations.

In a separate deal, TrillerNet also has acquired FITE, a live-events and pay-per-view streaming platform focused on sports. The two companies had previously collaborated to distribute Triller-sponsored boxing matches, and FITE will now become the exclusive global distributor for Triller Fight Club, another of TrillerNet's relatively new subsidiaries.

"The deal represents our ambitions to not only expand Triller Fight Club and grow FITE's distribution relationships, but also to reimagine what, how and when premium music, sports and entertainment is delivered to today's audiences," said Bobby Sarnevesht and Ryan Kavanaugh, who together own the majority of the company's shares, in a joint statement.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The moves represent a continuation of Kavanaugh and Sarnevesht's expansion of Triller, over which they took a controlling stake in late 2019. Late last year the company sponsored a fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., which reportedly generated $80 million in pay-per-view revenue. The company has also recently created its own star-studded content network TrillerTV, launched an NFT marketplace and acquired online rap-battle platform Verzuz.

Sources familiar with the company previously told dot.LA that Triller has explored going public via a SPAC. Those sources said the valuation of the potential move would be dependent on the completion of a series of potential acquisitions. It is not immediately clear whether Verzuz, Amplify.AI or FITE were the targets, nor whether the SPAC plan will still go through.

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