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Sona, next-generation workforce management for frontline, raises $27.5M Series A led by Felicis

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LONDON, May 14, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Sona, the next-generation, intelligent workforce management platform for frontline enterprises founded by Steffen Wulff Petersen, Oli Johnson and Ben Dixon, announced today its $27.5M Series A. Felicis led the financing with participation from Northzone, Google’s AI-fund Gradient, SpeedInvest, Antler, BAG Ventures, and numerous notable angels participated in the round. Sona has raised $40M+ to date and will use this fresh round of capital to expand its go-to-market function and build more advanced AI capabilities on its platform. In 2023 alone, Sona experienced an explosive 400%+ revenue growth. To date, over 4.6 million shifts have been created on Sona.

The frontline workforce represents nearly 2 billion people worldwide, 56% of the global workforce. In spite of this, frontline innovations have received <1% of VC funding, with 99% of venture investment deployed in technology for white-collar staff. Today, the tools and systems provided to frontline enterprises are ineffective, poorly-integrated, and not built for the complexity of frontline workflows. For decades, this lag in innovation has led to a poor experience for employees and incorrect deployment of labor, leading to unnecessary costs, suboptimal service, and revenue left on the table.

“With Sona, we’re building the ‘self-driving car’ of running a restaurant or a care home”, said Steffen Wulff Petersen, co-founder of Sona. “The last 20 years of workforce management was dominated by legacy point solutions that digitized simple paper processes. Sona is building the next generation of WFM with a truly intelligent platform that enables organizational leaders in complex, multi-location enterprises to put the right people, in the right place, at the right time; and to seamlessly manage their workforce end-to-end.”

Since 2020, frontline enterprises have faced multiple external headwinds: inflationary forces, demand volatility, and staff shortages. These businesses already operate with low single-digit margins and labor mismanagement remains the single biggest, and controllable, cost. Companies are now actively modernizing as they are entering the vendor replacement cycle or moving away from paper and spreadsheets. With Sona’s industry-specific and highly configurable software, their customers can pull multiple efficiency levers. AI acceleration, accurate forecasting, data-driven productivity models, and automated scheduling drive more intelligent deployment of labor which directly translates into significant profit increases.

“It’s great to see Sona provide an industry-leading solution for such a critical area for hospitality. Having been involved with ever-evolving workforce management platforms for nearly ten years, the results seen with Sona are impressive – from smart AI-enabled dynamic forecasting to auto-scheduling and, importantly, employee preferences and a slick ‘consumer grade’ app for ease of use,” said David Campbell, tenured executive (Chairman, CEO) of numerous hospitality businesses (including wagamama, PizzaExpress, The Ivy Collection, Bill’s Restaurants, Ole & Steen) and industry employee initiative Hospitality Rising. “Quite rightly, hospitality businesses are driving productivity and efficiency while building customer service – Sona has demonstrated the ability to help grow sales and optimise staffing.”

Sona’s exponential growth is driven by the speed of product delivery, high configurability, and sector expertise translating into product features specific to the social care and hospitality industries today. Unlike legacy platforms, Sona’s modern technology has been built from the ground up for real-time data processing and insights. Leveraging the Elixir programming language and large language models, Sona offers AI-powered real-time actionable feedback driving intelligent decision making leading to workforce productivity gains.

“We are proud to lead Sona’s Series A round and support its mission to empower frontline enterprises with cutting-edge workforce management solutions,” shared Niki Pezeshki, General Partner at Felicis. “We believe in Sona’s potential to redefine how businesses in sectors like social care, restaurants, and hospitality manage their workforce, and we’re excited to be part of their journey towards reshaping the future of work. Ben, Oli, Steffen and the Sona team have already helped over 100,000 frontline workers schedule shifts, and we know so many more will appreciate smarter software that enables their work.” 

About Sona

Sona is the next-generation, intelligent workforce management platform for frontline enterprises founded by Steffen Wulff Petersen, Oli Johnson and Ben Dixon. Today, care homes, restaurants, and hotels all use Sona to empower their staff, driving intelligent deployment of labor which directly translates into significant operating efficiencies. To learn more, visit www.getsona.com.

About Felicis

Founded in 2006, Felicis is a venture capital firm investing in companies reinventing core markets, as well as those creating frontier technologies. The firm was the first to offer a Founder Development pledge, providing needed resources to help founders scale themselves. Felicis focuses on early-stage investments and currently manages over $3B in capital across nine funds. The firm is an early backer of more than 49 companies valued at $1B+. More than 100 of its portfolio companies have been acquired or gone public, including Adyen, Credit Karma, Cruise, Fitbit, Guardant Health, Meraki, Ring, and Shopify. The firm is based in Menlo Park and San Francisco in California. Learn more at felicis.com.

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Dubai World Trade Centre Drives Impact as Economic Output Surges to US$4.98 Billion in 2023, up 40% YoY

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DUBAI, UAE, May 20, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), a global leader in the events and exhibitions industry, has once again demonstrated its significant impact on Dubai’s economy in 2023, welcoming 2.47 million participants and hosting 301 events, 76 of which, were large-scale events that attracted 1.54 million attendees, with 46% from overseas.

DWTC’s 2023 Economic Impact Assessment (EIA) Report, based on its 76 large-scale events (2000 or more attendees) revealed an impressive surge in the total economic output, reaching US$4.98 billion, marking an incredible 40% YoY increase, with high returns for adjacent industries such as Travel, Accommodation and Retail, connected to the Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) ecosystem.

DWTC’s large-scale events generated a substantial US$2.87 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) to Dubai’s GDP, retaining an impressive 58% of the total economic output locally. International participation soared by 53%, with overseas visitors driving 6.2 times more contribution than domestic counterparts.

Events hosted at DWTC supported 69,281 jobs, generating US$915 million in disposable household income for the city’s residents. The substantial economic impact of these events extends beyond direct revenue generation, fostering socio-economic development and contributing to Dubai’s status as a leading global business hub.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of DWTC Authority, said: “Aligned with Dubai’s Economic Agenda D33, we continue to spearhead efforts in sector diversification, reinforcing the city’s stature as a leading global business hub. The remarkable accomplishments of 2023, presented in the ‘DWTC Economic Impact Assessment Report’ demonstrate that Dubai’s MICE sector, driven by DWTC, remains a vital pillar of financial resilience and growth underscoring our accelerated strides towards sustainable socio-economic development. The increase in international participation, along with the significant economic impact generated across diverse sectors such as travel, accommodation and retail, highlights the city’s steadfast commitment to propelling business tourism.”

The venue’s formidable events portfolio strategically aligned with Dubai’s economic priorities, showcasing Healthcare, Medical, and Scientific; Information Technology (IT); and Food, Hotel, and Catering as the top contributors. These leading sectors collectively accounted for 59% (US$1.71 billion) of the GVA to Dubai’s economy, and 49% (747,468) of the total large-scale event visitation.

Adjacent sectors, including hotels, air travel, and local transportation experienced a significant boost in economic activity. The direct revenue generated through expenditure was nearly US$2.94 billion.

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Phishing, BEC, and Beyond: Tackling the Top Cyber Threats to UK Banks

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KnowBe4’s new report finds that UK financial institutions face onslaught of cyberattacks at unprecedented rate

LEEDS, England, May 20, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — KnowBe4, the provider of the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, today released its report on cyber threats faced by the financial sector in the UK. The report examines the escalating rise of cyberattacks on this sector, the tactics deployed by cybercriminals and what financial institutions should do to safeguard themselves and their employees.

The report shows that, in general, the financial sector in the UK is under constant attack and that it is grappling to keep pace with ever-evolving cyber threats. A clear urgency is emerging for financial institutions to adapt their security strategies for dealing with more sophisticated cyberattacks as banking is shifting towards being fully digital.

Some key findings in the report reveal a startling landscape of cyber threats:

  • The frequency of ransomware attacks on the financial sector in the UK doubled in 2023, showcasing an alarming escalation.
  • Phishing and Business Email Compromise (BEC) remain the top threats to organisations, which includes financial institutions.
  • AI-driven deepfake audio impersonations are notably on the rise.
  • For the first time, cyberattacks, and their potential to disrupt essential services, were perceived as an acute risk, more so than geopolitical tensions, inflation, or economic recessions.
  • There was a dramatic 81% surge in cyberattacks against UK financial institutions in the year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, outpacing the global increase of 61% during the same timeframe.
  • Multiple UK banks are lacking basic online and app protections, including use of outdated and vulnerable web applications, failure to enforce secure passwords, and the absence of alerts for critical account changes.

The report further delves into the prevailing cyber threats in the sector as well as real-life examples. It also provides some practical advice on how financial institutions can protect themselves against cyber threats and cyberattacks.

Addressing the urgency of the situation, Javvad Malik, lead security advocate at KnowBe4 stated, “These findings underscore a stark reality for the UK’s financial sector – they are being attacked at an unprecedented rate. Cyber defences need to adapt with the same speed and intelligence as the threats themselves. In addition to traditional security strategies, fostering a culture of security awareness to mitigate the inherent human risk of any organisation is no longer optional; it is a cornerstone for survival against cybercrime.”

To download a copy of KnowBe4’s report on UK financial institutions, click here.

About KnowBe4
KnowBe4, the provider of the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, is used by more than 65,000 organizations around the globe. Founded by IT and data security specialist Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4 helps organizations address the human element of security by raising awareness about ransomware, CEO fraud and other social engineering tactics through a new-school approach to awareness training on security. The late Kevin Mitnick, who was an internationally recognized cybersecurity specialist and KnowBe4’s Chief Hacking Officer, helped design the KnowBe4 training based on his well-documented social engineering tactics. Organizations rely on KnowBe4 to mobilize their end users as their last line of defense and trust the KnowBe4 platform to strengthen their security culture and reduce human risk.

Media Contact
Amanda Tarantino
Public Relations Officer
KnowBe4
[email protected]  

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Driven Properties Selects Yardi to Centralise Residential & Commercial Operations & Elevate Customer Experience

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Dubai-based property management company to streamline management processes with a single cloud-based solution

Dubai, UAE, May 20, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Yardi® is proud to announce that Driven Properties, a leading property brokerage, investment, and consultancy company, has chosen Yardi to enhance its property management operations and resident experience. Driven Properties, known for its extensive residential and commercial portfolios, offers customizable property solutions and wealth management services to clients across the UAE and abroad.

The implementation of the Yardi Residential Suite will allow Driven Properties to optimize their management operations comprehensively – from property marketing and resident screening to rent collection and maintenance. Yardi’s resident portal and app will enable residents to self-serve, enhancing convenience and accessibility by facilitating payments, lease renewals, personal detail management, and real-time maintenance updates.

“At Driven, we’re thrilled to adopt Yardi’s innovative technology to propel our operational capabilities to new heights and ensure unparalleled services for all stakeholders,” shared Grace Kenny, Director of Property Management at Driven. “With Yardi as our central property management platform, we will be able to streamline operations and improve communication across the business.”

“With Yardi’s cloud-based solutions, Driven can eliminate disparate systems, streamline its software requirements into a single solution, improve insights into portfolio performance, and enhance resident and investor relations,” said Said Haider, Senior Director of the Middle East at Yardi. “We are excited to announce Driven Properties as our latest client in the UAE and look forward to helping them further grow across the region.”

Experience how Yardi can seamlessly improve your residential operations with an end-to-end solution.

About Yardi

Celebrating its 40-year anniversary in 2024, Yardi® develops and supports industry-leading investment and property management software for all types and sizes of real estate companies. With over 9,000 employees, Yardi is working with clients globally to drive significant innovation in the real estate industry. For more information on how Yardi is Energised for Tomorrow, visit yardi.ae

About Driven Properties

Driven Properties is an award-winning real estate brokerage and property management company headquartered in Dubai. Since its inception in 2012, the company has been raising standards for the industry, and has grown into one of the leading full-service real estate consultancies in the region.

In a city that is synonymous with real estate, our deeply knowledgeable consultants are offering their expertise and unparalleled service to most demanding clients from all over the world. Driven Properties is a member of Forbes Global Properties, a consortium of 100 best brokerages in the world.

For more information, visit drivenproperties.com.

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