Forbes: The Cloud 100 Rising Stars 2020

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September 16, 2020
by Kenrick Cai
5 Minutes

This article originally appeared on Forbes.

Resilia CEO Sevetri Wilson is building tech tools for nonprofits out of New Orleans.

The Forbes Cloud 100 Rising Stars recognizes 20 startups on the cutting edge of the industry, all with the potential to be among tomorrow’s top private cloud companies. Headlined by a buzzy note-taking app, a newsletter writer’s best friend and several AI standouts, the Class of 2020 is one of the most promising yet.

Some Rising Stars startups focus on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence. That includes Krisp Technologies, which uses AI to remove background noise from video apps such as Zoom, and, which is designing a security system for enterprises that uses computer vision to identify people and objects inside a building.

But it’s in helping old-world industries and processes—like media and note-taking—where some Rising Stars have earned the most buzz. Roam Research recently reportedly raised funding at a $200 million valuation for its tools that help developers, writers and researchers link together connected notes. Descript provides tools to make podcasts, including a feature that creates an AI voice double. And Substack creates publishing software that has proven the tool of the moment for newsletter writers and journalists looking to find new platforms as news industry budgets shrink.

In the first three months of the pandemic, Substack revenues jumped 60%, according to CEO Chris Best. “This model can create a renaissance in writing on the internet,” he says. “Kind of in the same way that ride-sharing is bigger than the taxi industry, a new business model that actually works for the internet could end up being bigger than the newspaper industry ever was.”  

Substack CEO Chris Best {center) is powering a new generation of writers, researchers and reporters.

All 20 Rising Stars companies were handpicked by Forbes and Cloud 100 partners Bessemer Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures, after a submission process and outreach to seek out a wide range of company types and backgrounds. Companies earn selection for their market potential, early traction and industry reputation. Of the 2020 list, 12 companies are based in the San Francisco Bay Area, though others are located in less traditional tech hot spots such as Boise, Idaho, and New Orleans.

Their founders come from a wide variety of backgrounds, too. Some, like former Groupon cofounder and CEO Andrew Mason, who leads Descript, are startup veterans; others, like fraud prevention startup SentiLink’s founders and Forbes 30 Under 30 Finance 2020 honorees Naftali Harris and Max Blumenfeld, are young entrepreneurs. Women-led startup Resilia is helmed by Sevetri Wilson, who is building tools to help nonprofit organizations scale and manage their finances after a decade working with nonprofits in communications. And at strongDM, Elizabeth Zalman has built a data security product that makes it easy to access and audit different parts of an infrastructure stack without using a VPN out of her apartment in New York.

AgentSync cofounders Jenn Knight and Niji Sabharwal are building “compliance as a service” for insurance companies out of Denver.

All of them ambitious entrepreneurs, they’ll look to join the 16 Rising Stars alumni companies that have graduated to the main Cloud 100 list since 2016. Of these, 8 Rising Star alumni have appeared multiple times. And 2 now sit in the Cloud 100 list’s Top 10: design software business Canva (No. 7) and restaurant software maker Toast (No. 10). Former Rising Stars graduating to the main list this year include Front and Figma, from the 2017 list; 2018 honorees LaunchDarkly, Benchling and Gong; and Notion, from 2019.

Check out the full list of Rising Stars below. For the rest of the Cloud 100 package, see here.

  • AgentSync: Insurance regulatory compliance automation (CEO: Niji Sabharwal)
  • AI-powered physical security system (CEO: Shikhar Shrestha)
  • Air cargo booking marketplace (CEOs: Oliver T. Neumann, Moritz Claussen)
  • Courier: Notification design and delivery (CEO: Troy Goode)
  • Descript: Podcast creation tools (CEO: Andrew Mason)
  • Fishtown Analytics: Data transformation and analytics (CEO: Tristan Handy)
  • Krisp Technologies: AI-powered noise cancellation (CEO: Davit Baghdasaryan)
  • Middesk: Business identity and regulatory checks (CEO: Kyle Mack)
  • Modern Treasury: Payment operations (CEO: Dimitri Dadiomov)
  • Netdata: IT infrastructure monitoring and troubleshooting (CEO: Costa Tsaousis)
  • Resilia: Scaling tools for nonprofit organizations (CEO: Sevetri Wilson)
  • Roam Research: Note-taking tool (CEO: Conor White-Sullivan)
  • SentiLink: Financial services fraud prevention (CEO: Naftali Harris)
  • strongDM: Database and server management (CEO: Elizabeth Zalman)
  • Substack: Subscription publishing (CEO: Chris Best)
  • Software sales acceleration in cloud marketplaces (CEO: John Jahnke)
  • The Org: Database for company organizational charts (CEO: Christian Wylonis)
  • Trove: Compensation data and tools (CEO: Matt Schulman)
  • Unioncrate: AI-powered supply chain planning for packaged goods (CEO: Shastri Mahadeo)
  • Vise: AI-powered investment management (CEO: Samir Vasavada)

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