Zycada, a company developing automated technologies to accelerate online experiences, today announced it has raised $19 million. According to a spokesperson, the bulk of the capital will be put toward product development, go-to-market efforts, and the launch of a solution for ecommerce customers.
The pandemic motivated a massive surge in online shopping activity, with ecommerce sales jumping 39% in April, according to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index. But winners and losers are likely to emerge within the burgeoning space, and shopper experience plays an important role. 47% of consumers expect a webpage to load in less than two seconds (according to Kissmetrics) and a retailer making $50,000 a day could potentially lose $1.25 million in sales per year from a one-second page delay.
Zycada claims its platform improves time to interact (TTI) speeds for the company’s just under a dozen customers by 10 times compared with Amazon. (In this context, TTI refers to the point at which a page displays its primary interactive content, like a “buy now” button.) Leveraging programmable performance bot technology, Zycada says it can push TTI below 500 milliseconds, anticipating user interactions without requiring configuration from merchants.
Newly appointed CEO James Brear says Zycada’s secret sauce is an AI-powered engine that mitigates packet loss. “Bots” work ahead of customers as software concierges, supporting micro-programming to allow merchants to customize each shopper’s experience. It also leverages a global infrastructure, ostensibly bypassing congestion and disruptions to maximize service availability and uptime at scale. Brear says Zycada has delivered over 120 billion transactions of live traffic to date.
Zycada’s CDN Accelerator product fingerprints each connection end-to-end, measuring and reacting to perturbations in real time to combat things like packet corruption and jitter while maximizing network throughput. The complementary CDN Orchestrator dynamically moves traffic to better-performing networks based on real-time performance, content type, and cost indicators, in accordance with constraints on pricing, geography, capacity, and other variables.
Zycada also offers Video Stream Optimizer, which configures connections to reduce video start time and rebuffer audio by computing the optimal bitrate for each connection and dynamically adjusting the stream. As for Cloud Security, it protects apps against attacks with a machine learning model that evaluates client legitimacy and rejects requests from suspected malicious actors. And Zycada Connection Insights provides a real-time measurement of packet loss for every individual connection, producing analytics so that data is delivered even if apps crash.
Zycada competed to a degree with now-shuttered Instart, a startup that developed technologies to accelerate cloud application delivery. Akamai, which bought out Instart, is another rival. Eight years ago, it acquired Blaze Software, a provider of frontend optimization products that fine-tune the code of pages to ensure faster rendering and transmission.
But Brear notes that Zycada’s solutions are platform-agnostic, supporting existing content delivery network (CDN) plans from Cloudflare and Fastly and requiring only a few hours to install. To date, he claims the company has accelerated “billions” of ecommerce transactions.
“Stats show how critical speed is to online shopping experiences. When an online retailer gains faster Time to Interact (TTI) and page loads speeds, they see growing revenues, higher conversion rates and more repeat business,” Brear told VentureBeat via email. “Up until now, every e-commerce player – both big and small — has had a clear speed disadvantage to Amazon … Our goal is to democratize e-commerce, allowing thousands of retailers to compete with and beat Amazon. We’re not just leveling the playing field, we’re giving these retailers a leg up on their biggest competitor.”
This latest fundraising round brings Zycada’s total raised to over $30 million, following a $10.5 million round in August 2017. Kholsa Ventures led the investment, with participation from Cervin Ventures and other new and existing backers. As a part of the round, Cervin’s Preetish Nijhawan — an Akamai cofounder — has joined San Jose-based Zycada’s board of directors.
Zycada has 20 employees and expects to have 35 by the end of the year.