Bankin’ raises $22.6 million for its financial coach

French startup Bankin’ is raising a new $22.6 million funding round (€20 million). The company has managed to attract 2.9 million users in France and wants to become the only app you need to manage your money.

Overall, Bankin’ has raised more than $32 million (€28.4 million). Investors include Omnes Capital, Commerz Ventures, Génération New Tech, Didier Kuhn, Simon Dawlat and Franck Lhuerre.

Bankin’ first developed an aggregator so that you could view all your bank accounts from a single app. The company has been using a combination of APIs and scrapping to connect to nearly all French banks, 85 percent of Spanish and British banks and 65 percent of German banks.

The app automatically categorizes your transactions and sends you push notifications to alert you of important changes. There’s also a budget feature that can predict how much money you’ll have at the end of the month.

Bankin’ went one step further and started adding transfers from the app. If you want to ditch your bank app, you need to be able to view your balance and your transactions, but you also need to be able to send and receive money.

And now, Bankin’ wants to become your financial coach with automated recommendations and human-powered conversations. The app was redesigned a couple of months ago to put these recommendations front and center.

For instance, the app can tell you if it’s time to renegotiate your loan, or that you should optimize your savings. The startup partners with other fintech companies, such as Yomoni, Pretto, TransferWise and Fluo, as well as online banks. This could be an interesting acquisition channel for other companies, and a good revenue opportunity for Bankin’.

Finally, Bankin’ also sells access to its API called Bridge. For instance, Sage, Milleis Banque, Cegid and RCA use Bridge so you can connect your third-party bank accounts and view them from your main bank account.

With today’s funding round, the company plans to hire reasonably. There are now 50 people working for Bankin’ and the startup plans to hire 20 more people this year.

Phantom Auto raises $13.5M to expand remote driving business to delivery bots and forklifts

Remote driving startup Phantom Auto has raised $13.5 million of financing in a Series A round led by Bessemer Venture Partners — capital used to expand a logistics business targeting sidewalks, warehouses and cargo yards, all the places where autonomy and teleoperation are being deployed today.

The startup, founded in 2017, has raised about $19 million to date. Byron Deeter and Tess Hatch from Bessemer have joined Phantom’s board.

The so-called “race” to deploy self-driving trucks, robotaxi services and other applications of autonomous vehicle technology on public roads has encountered a speed bump of sorts that has sent ripples throughout the nascent industry.

In short: autonomous vehicles are hard and everyone seems to be waking up to that fact.

As deployment timelines have moved, companies have quieted. Some have pivoted, shuttered or been snapped up in acquisitions by other better-capitalized companies looking for talent. Other companies, like Phantom Auto that are adjacent to the industry, are expanding into new areas as they wait for autonomous vehicle developers to catch up.

Phantom Auto co-founder Elliot Katz emphasized that the company is still working with customers deploying autonomous passenger and commercial vehicles on public roads. This new logistics business, however, holds more near-term potential. 

“We continue to be designed into our customers’ stacks who are focusing on AVs on public roads, but it will take some time for autonomous passenger vehicles and commercial trucks to be deployed at scale,” Phantom founder Shai Magzimof said in a statement.

The company is working with some of the largest logistics companies in the world, Katz said. Phantom Auto isn’t providing a full list of customers yet; one named partner is Dutch yard truck manufacturer Terberg.

Katz told TechCrunch that customers include companies launching autonomous delivery robots. They’re also using the platform to remotely operate forklifts and yard trucks equipped with its teleoperation software. Yard trucks are used by major retailers, for example. 

There has been zero innovation with yard trucks in the past 40 years,” Katz said. “And customers in this segment are itching to gain efficiencies. That’s the name of the game for them. They see this as a path to get there.”

Phantom Auto’s teleoperation platform allows a remote driver, sometimes located thousands of miles away, to take control of an autonomous vehicle if needed. The platform, which uses public cellular networks, isn’t designed to take over in a split second in hopes of avoiding an accident. Instead, it’s used as a safety backup to take control of the vehicle if it encounters a difficult scenario and gets confused, or is even involved in an accident.

In the logistics application, the Phantom Auto system is used in low-speed environments. A remote control center could control a company’s yard trucks anywhere in the country.

Phantom Auto isn’t employing the remote drivers in this use case. Instead, Katz said these logistics customers typically want to train their own employees how to use the platform. And this doesn’t necessarily replace drivers who are on the ground operating these yard trucks or forklifts. The system is seen as a way to use workers at one location that is experiencing a lull in activity to remotely operate a busier spot farther away.

For delivery robots, the platform can be used to help the vehicle handle tricky situations, like stairs or other complex environments.

Spotinst, the startup enabling companies to purchase and manage excess cloud capacity, acquires StratCloud

Spotinst, the cloud automation and optimization startup founded in Tel Aviv but now with offices in San Francisco, New York and London, has acquired AWS partner StratCloud. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, although I’m hearing it combines both cash and stock and was somewhere in the region of $5 million.

As part of the acquisition, StratCloud’s team of 15 people will be joining Spotinst, including founder Patrick Gartlan, who will become VP, Cloud Services at Spotinst. StratCloud hadn’t raised any venture capital but instead was bootstrapped by Gartlan, who was the former CTO of cloud optimization company CloudCheckr.

Founded in 2015, Spotinst enables enterprises to optimize their cloud infrastructure usage by automating the process of using excess — and therefore cheaper — capacity from leading cloud providers.

As TechCrunch’s Ron Miller previously explained, cloud platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, all of which Spotinst supports, have to maintain more resources than they need at any given time. All three companies offer steep discounts to customers who want to access these resources, but they come with a strict condition that the platforms can take those resources back whenever they need them — which is where Spotinst (and today’s acquisition of StratCloud) comes in.

Spotinst’s platform manages the process of acquiring spare capacity, powered by predictive AI, and seamlessly switches providers before it’s withdrawn. This ensures that cloud computing “workloads” keep functioning, while the customer still receives the best possible price.

Meanwhile, StratCloud tech is described as an “optimization platform” that buys, sells and converts reserved capacity, therefore maximizing savings for on-demand infrastructure. “This leads to lower compute payments, without engineers having to change anything in the applications and infrastructure they manage,” explains Spotinst.

Related to this, Spotinst will migrate StratCloud’s several dozen customers to the Spotinst platform, where they’ll continue to receive all of the current functionality.

Overall, the acquisition means Spotinst can now offer a complete solution for cloud users, including offering reserved instances and unused computer power so that enterprises can run any workload and support large-scale migrations on any cloud provider. In addition, Spotinst says the combined technologies give Managed Service Providers (MSPs) a comprehensive tool to optimize cloud workloads for all of their managed customers.

Spotinst claims more than 1,500 enterprise customers in 52 countries, including Samsung, N26, Duolingo, Ticketmaster and Wix. The company currently employs approximately 150 staff across its four offices and has raised $52 million in VC funding to date.