ASG MarTech CEO Steve Reardon. (ASG MarTech Photo) , a Silicon Valley investment firm that acquires and then operates software-as-a-service companies, is swooping up six startups and forming a new marketing tech organization that will be based in Bellevue, Wash. The new company, called ASG MarTech, will consist of the six acquired startups and an existing Alpine SG portfolio company called Grade.Us. They will continue operating as standalone offerings as part of ASG MarTech, which will serve digital agencies and brands with a suite of marketing tools. Here are the six acquired startups, with descriptions from Alpine SG: and , managed by Mike Ciaglia, are software platforms for brands and agencies that allow firms to effectively and accurately monitor, test, measure and prove SEO strategies to their customer bases. , lead by CEO Ben Carpel, is an all-in-one online performance dashboard that helps marketers easily monitor and analyze vital enterprise data in one place. , founded by Jack Yu and Nori Yoshida, helps businesses operating multiple locations engage customers quickly and identify opportunities to improve through its monitoring and management platform. The business is a powerful complement to Grade.Us’s presence in the online reputation management market. , founded by Zach Anderson and Jeff Schwerdt, is a marketing platform that enables local business owners to easily control and expand their online reputation. , founded by Vitaly Veksler is a full-service social media management platform that offers both social media monitoring and scheduling of content. ASG MarTech will employ more than 50 people and will be led by CEO , who previously oversaw Alpine SG subsidiary Bill4Time and Grade.Us. “We are incredibly fortunate to be partnering with such quality businesses,” Reardon said in a statement. “Each business has been infused with the passion and energy of an incredibly talented founder and are well positioned to accelerate their already considerable growth.” Alpine SG is backed by Alpine Investors, a private equity firm. In September it Seattle startup Record360 and has bought 18 companies since 2016.
Paul Stahura. (Donuts Photo) Cryptocurrency has yet to catch on with mainstream consumers, in large part due to its volatility. Bitcoin, for example, went from $900 in December 2016 to nearly $20,000 one year later, before dropping back down to less than $4,000 this past December. Now some entrepreneurs have come up with a potential solution: stablecoin, a newer form of cryptocurrency that is pegged to a fiat currency such as the U.S. dollar and allows prices to remain more stable. The idea has caught the attention of , co-founder of domain registrar companies such as Donuts and eNom. He’s leading a $1.2 million round in Seattle startup , which today announced the Series A investment. Stably has developed its own stablecoin called StableUSD (USDS). When a user gives Stably $1 to buy its cryptocurrency, it mints one of its digital tokens. If someone gives Stably back that 1 USDS, it removes the coin from circulation and returns $1 from its cash reserve. The idea is to provide benefits of cryptocurrency — fast transaction speed; anonymity; etc. — with less fluctuation in value. Stably CEO Kory Hoang. (Stably Photo) “We’re simply turning dollars into digital dollars,” said CEO . Stahura, who co-founded Donuts in 2010 and remains chairman at the Seattle area company, said he sees many parallels between cryptocurrency — specifically dollar-backed tokens — and domain names. He said there was room for many companies such as eNom or GoDaddy who were selling the exact same product (.com names). “Same with dollar-backed tokens,” Stahura told GeekWire. “How hard can it be to sell a dollar for $1, especially if that dollar has more utility and lower fees, say, than a credit-card dollar?” Stahura pointed to , a startup backed by big-name investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund that recently passed $200 million in market capitalization for its stablecoin TrueUSD. “I invested because of the sort of familiar opportunity I see, plus I like the energetic and experienced team,” Stahura said. Hoang said that the most immediate use case of stablecoins is as a medium of exchange and a store of value for cryptocurrency traders. “Many exchanges don’t let you easily convert between cryptocurrency and traditional fiat currency,” he said in an email. “A cryptocurrency that has the same value as fiat (i.e. a stablecoin) fixes that, and gives traders more control over their investments, especially in times of volatility.” Hoang, who was previously an analyst at PitchBook, added that the long-term vision is to “enable fast and borderless payments, an efficient and cheaper solution for remittance, and a reliable alternative to money in developing or hyper-inflationary economies.” “The world that stablecoins can enable is one where you can buy a cup of coffee with cryptocurrency,” he said. Stably makes “flat income” on the cash reserve it holds that backs the USDS coins. The company employs nine people and expects to grow as a result of the funding. Other backers include 500 Startups, Beenext, and angel investors. Total funding to date is $1.7 million.