May 17, 2020

Soundcloud secures $170mn investment

streaming
music
Spotify
soundcloud
Callum Rivett
2 min
Soundcloud will live to fight another day, teams up with ex-Vimeo staff
Music-streaming site Soundcloud has secured $170mn in investment, just as the demise of the Spotify rival looked inevitable.

If approval for the fundin...

Music-streaming site Soundcloud has secured $170mn in investment, just as the demise of the Spotify rival looked inevitable.

If approval for the funding was not secured by Friday, 18 September, the platform faced closure after months of uncertainty and cost-cutting measures - including making 40% of its workforce redundant in July.

Without this investment, chairman Alexander Ljung said the company would not be able to "continue as a going concern," in a note obtained by Axios.

Despite the support of famous artists such as Chance the Rapper and boasting over 40mn users, Soundcloud has struggled to monetise content hosted on its site.

As a result of the investment, Ljung will be replaced by former Vimeo boss Kerry Trainor, whilst Mike Weissman - previously employed by Vimeo as well - becomes chief operating officer.

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In a blog post on the streaming website, Ljung revealed that the "largest financing round in the history of Soundcloud" would ensure that the platform could remain "strong and independent" and be here to stay.

"I've been moved by the outpouring of commentary around SoundCloud's unique & crucial role in driving what global culture is today," wrote Ljung. 

"You've told me how, without SoundCloud, there would be a giant gaping void in today's world of music. We can't have that, and I'm happy to once again say that won't be happening."

"This partnership brings new talent to our team - I'm absolutely not leaving but will be handing the CEO reigns over to Kerry Trainor and this will allow me to fully focus on the role of chairman and the long-term plan."

Reminiscing about the past ten years and the journey that he has undertaken alongside co-founder Eric Wahlforss, Ljung proudly declared that they "are just getting started."

Spotify was in talks to buy out the company back in September 2016, but the $700mn deal fell through in December after concerns about how it could affect their preparations for their potential IPO sometime during 2017.

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Jun 16, 2021

SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data

British Army
SAS
3 min
Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM, explains the important role that SAS is playing in the British Army’s digital transformation

SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation. 

“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.

In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”

Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.

Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”

SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”

With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.

“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”

Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.

“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”

 

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