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Impala raises $20 million to build the API of the hotel industry

Impala raises $20 million to build the API of the hotel industry

Impala has raised another round of funding just a few months after raising an $11 million Series A round. This time, the startup is raising a $20 million Series B round led by Lakestar. Latitude Ventures is also participating in the round.

The company is building a service that works pretty much like Plaid, but for hotel rooms. The hotel industry relies on old school “property management systems” to manage rooms, room types, pricing, extras, taxes, etc.

Instead of asking hotels to switch to an entirely different property management system, the company is upgrading those systems with a modern API. This way, you can build applications that query hotel data directly with a few lines of code. You get a standardized JSON response from the API.

Impala is currently compatible with a handful of property management systems. The company is still adding more systems in order to cover a wider range of hotels.

300 hotels are currently working with Impala, such as Accor hotels (Mercure) and Hyatt-branded hotels. The company currently has a backlog of 3,500 hotels. It really shows that the industry has been waiting for a product like this.

While Impala is still focused on surfacing data in an easy-to-code manner, the company is already thinking beyond read-only data. The startup wants to let developers book rooms directly using the Impala API.

It could open up hotel bookings to many other services. For instance, you could imagine being able to book rooms on Lonely Planet’s website. Services selling train tickets and flights could upsell you with hotel rooms.

In order to offer rooms on the usual hotel booking services from Booking Holdings websites (Booking.com, Priceline, Agoda, Kayak…) and Expedia Group websites (Expedia, Hotels.com, HomeAway, Trivago…), many hotels currently work with channel managers to send out information to multiple services at once. In the future, Impala could replace those channel managers with its API.

France improves stock options policies for startup employees

France improves stock options policies for startup employees

A couple of weeks ago, France’s digital minister Cédric O announced some changes when it comes to stock options in France. President Emmanuel Macron is going to talk about the new policy today ahead of the World Economic Forum.

While I don’t want to be too technical, here’s a quick overview of the changes.

First, the price of stock options (also known as BSPCE in France) won’t be based on the same VC-determined valuation. Let’s take an example — a VC fund invests in a Series A round, valuing the company at €12 million.

If you join the company after, you can get stock options based on a lower valuation, which increases the chances of higher returns. Going forward, there will be a different valuation for employees getting stock options.

Second, if you work for a foreign startup but you’re based in France, you couldn’t receive stock options. For instance, if you’re a Citymapper employee — a startup that is headquartered in London — based out of the Paris office, you could forget about stock options. Employees based in France can now receive stock options even if the company isn’t incorporated in France.

Third, the French Tech Visa now also works for foreign companies with an office in Paris. If you work for Berlin-based N26 and you want to hire a great Brazilian data scientist in your Paris office, you can now go through the fast-track visa process for startup employees.

Last year, VC firm Index Ventures coordinated an effort to overhaul stock option policies across Europe by lobbying policymakers. Hundreds of tech CEOs have signed the ‘Not Optional’ letter since then.

According to Index Ventures, Germany, Spain and Belgium are the lowest-ranked European countries when it comes to the regulatory framework around stock options.