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Tipalti Investors Like What They See in the Cloud

With $13 million in new funding, Tipalti is looking to grow in employees and services. The Agoura Hills firm offers automated cloud-payment services, something more complex than it sounds. Imagine an ad network that exists across a number of countries and has countless payments that need distributing. Each country has a different currency and regulations. Tipalti looks to solve that problem. “Making payments internationally and adhering to rules and regulations is a very difficult task, and a challenge to solve,” said Chief Operating Officer Eran Karoly. And with the Series B funding last month, led by Wicklow Capital in Chicago, the company is looking to get into other businesses. Karoly said the company is planning to expand into online marketplaces – a lucrative opportunity. In addition, he said there is an opportunity to get into brick-and-mortar operations, offering services to accounts payable departments. “The company has been very focused on the online community. However, over the course of the coming year, you will see that our product is well-tailored to brick-and-mortar businesses as well. This problem that exists in the online world is alive and well in the traditional business community,” Karoly said. Tipalti serves more than 250,000 payees and processes more than $1 billion annually. Customers include advertising platform Tapjoy, Internet marketing firm ClickDealer and game marketing company Chartboost. Tipalti was founded in 2010 by Chief Executive Chen Amit and Chairman Oren Zeev, a Silicon Valley tech investor who got in early to big-time firms such as online textbook rental company Chegg and digital audio books provider Audible Inc., bought by Amazon.com in 2008 for about $300 million. Clients pay Tipalti a $750 monthly fee for the service and a small fee per payment processed, which varies by payment method but is “nominal,” according to Karoly. The client can choose whether the payee absorbs all, part or none of the fee. Karoly declined to disclose financial figures or any funding previous to the Series B last month, but did point out that Tipalti has had some prominent investors, including former Netflix Chief Executive Barry McCarthy, Facebook executive Dan Rose and Chegg Chief Executive Dan Rosensweig. PayPal Inc. offers a similar service called Mass Payment system, but Karoly said he views the primary competition to be the traditional method most companies use to process large payments, including spreadsheets and occasional in-house software.  Tipalti has satellite offices in Sunnyvale and Israel, the latter for research and development and where the two co-founders were educated. The new round of funding will be used to expand the sales team. Karoly said the company has nearly 30 employees now, but could look to add as many as 10 new people in the next year – something he is especially excited about. “We started selling our product in 2011 with a single sales person: me,” Karoly said. Old-School Style The founders of Steel Peak Wealth Management LLC in Woodland Hills think financial advisors should be trained the same way they were. This month, the firm will kick off another round of its financial-advisor training program, which includes hiring four to six college grads and putting them on salary as they study for the Series 65 exam, officially known as The Uniform Investment Adviser Law. Trainees will have three months to prepare for the exam. If a trainee fails, they’re fired. “It was the way all of us were brought into the business,” said founder and Chief Financial Officer Ali Zamani. “This also helps us grow our practice.” Once a trainee passes the exam, he or she continues working on salary, adding in commission income based on the clients brought to the firm. At the conclusion of a trainee’s first year, the salary goes down and the commission goes up, though Zamani declined to provide specifics. “Once the salary drops off, no one is going to stick around if they haven’t made progress,” he said. Zamani started the company in 2012 with partners, brother Reza Zamani, and Maziar Esmailbeigi, chief executive and chief investment officer, respectively. The three had spent about 10 years working at various larger houses, including UBS AG and Morgan Stanley, where they were brought up through traditional training programs. The three started their own operation, mostly with customers they already had. “All of our clients that we had built over 12 years transitioned with us. It’s a very relationship-based business,” said Zamani. “Most clients don’t care if we’re at UBS, Morgan Stanley or independent.” Steel Peak handles a variety of investment plans for individuals, from retirement to college financing and more. Zamani declined to disclose the company’s financials, but said growth has been steady. Through the training program, Zamani said he hopes to add four to six new advisors each year. Staff Reporter Elliot Golan can be reached at (818) 316-3123 or egolan@sfvbj.com.

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