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Yac

Yac, an online voice messaging platform, has raised $7.5 million in venture funding led by GGV Capital and the Slack Fund, which funded the app last year.

Why it matters: Yac helps companies integrate audio messaging into their workflow. It launched at the beginning of the pandemic and has benefitted enormously from companies needed improved communication during remote work.

Details: The company, which so far hasn't made any money, is focused for now on growth and marketing.

  • It plans to hire for key roles, like heads of revenue, sales and customer success and invest in sponsoring podcasts, newsletters and buying ads. It currently has 9 full-time employees and about 8,000 users.
  • While the pandemic didn't cause the company to shift its product focus, it helped it shift its focus away from having to educate potential users about the benefits of work from home, Yac co-founder and CEO Justin Mitchell tells Axios.
  • "We were doing so much education about remote work and so we were not able to spend time educating people about Yac," Mitchell says. "Once the pandemic hit, we very focused finally about actually talking about the product.

What's next: The company is focusing on making audio easier to use and discover within other apps — mostly workplace tools — like Slack and Asana.

  • That includes notifications, or tools that can translate text messages into voice messages that can be read later.

The big picture: As Axios has previously noted, companies that help other companies communicate, like Slack, Zoom and Twilio, are booming this year thanks to pandemic-driven remote-work. It has been a boon to audio-based communication companies, like Clubhouse, which is raising new funds to fuel its expansion.

  • Even when a vaccine is rolled out and lockdown provisions are lifted, most companies will likely maintain at least some work-from-home flexibility.

Go deeper: Enterprise communication tech companies are booming

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 26, 2021 - Science

Investment in the space industry overcame the pandemic's headwinds in 2020

A SpaceX launch in 2020. Photo: SpaceX

Investment in the space industry continued to grow in the last quarter of 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Space Capital.

Why it matters: The space industry turned out to be far more robust in the face of the pandemic than many experts were initially expecting.

23 mins ago - World

Blinken to visit Ukraine as Russia invasion threat looms

Blinken (R) with President Zelensky. Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/Pool via Getty

Secretary of State Antony Tony Blinken will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday as the country faces an ongoing threat of Russian invasion.

Driving the news: Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to discuss contingency planning. He'll then travel to Berlin to meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and attend a meeting of the "Transatlantic Quad" — France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S.

Updated 29 mins ago - World

At least 3 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least three people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. Officials in Tonga confirmed three deaths in the country's first official statement since the crisis began.