StrictlyVC: April 2, 2018

Happy Monday and welcome back.:)


New Yorkers, stay warm. (So nuts.)


Top News


Apple is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers beginning as early as 2020, replacing processors from Intel, says Bloomberg.


The S&P 500 plunged more than 2.5 percent today in the worst start to a second quarter since the Great Depression, and Donald Trump’s recent attacks on Amazon appear to have a hand it it, as the online retailer became the biggest drag on the equity benchmark.


Sponsored By . . .


Just read this. Then share it. And then tell every awesome fintech startup and nonprofit you know — and even some you don’t — that they should apply to the Financial Solutions Lab. (Applications are due April 11, so tick-tock.)


New Fundings


82Labs, a year-old, L.A.-based startup that’s made what it calls a better hangover recovery drink, has raised $8 million in new financing from Altos VenturesSlow VenturesStrong Ventures and Thunder Road Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


Accolade, a 2.5-year-old, Seattle-based on-demand healthcare concierge company, has raised $50 million in funding led by Andreessen HorowitzCarrick Capital PartnersMadrona Venture Group and McKesson Ventures, with participation from Cross Creek Advisors and Madera Technology PartnersMore here.


BioConsortia, a four-year-old, Davis, Ca.-based company that makes microbial products meant to enhance plant phenotypes and increase crop yields, has raised $10 million in Series D funding led by Otter Capital, with participation from Khosla VenturesMore here.


BitPay, a four-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based blockchain payments startup that’s trying to compete with Coinbase, has raised $40 million in funding, including from Aquiline Capital PartnersMenlo VenturesCapital NineG SquaredNimble Ventures and Delta-v CapitalMore here.


Cobalt Robotics, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based maker of indoor security robots that could conceivably replace security guards as well as facilities managers, has raised $13 million in Series A funding. Sequoia Capital led the round, with participation from Founders FundStorm VenturesPromus Ventures, and Bloomberg Beta. CNBC has more here.


Deepgram, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based speech analytics startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from NVIDIA GPU Ventures, the chipmaker’s venture arm. More here., a nearly 10-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based delivery company that operates an army of people who traverse the country on their motorbikes, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Alibaba Holdings at a $9.5 billion valuation in exchange for a controlling stake in its business. is vying for dominance with Meituan Dianping, a startup that’s backed by Alibaba rival Tencent Holdings. Fortune has more here.


FallCall Solutions, a three-year-old, West Hartford, Cn.-based personal emergency assistant app for the elderly, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by Connecticut Innovations.


SiFive, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that’s designed to help any company come up with a custom designed chip for their needs, has raised $50.6 million in funding led by Sutter Hill VenturesSpark Capital, and Osage University Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Verbit, a year-old Israeli startup that says its transcription offering combines artificial intelligence and human input to create an accurate, fast and affordable service, has raised $11 million in seed money led by Vertex venturesOryzn Capital and HV Ventures. The Times of Israel has more here.


Wild Type, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based meat culturing startup, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Spark Capital, with participation from Root Ventures and Mission Bay Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds


Sinovation Ventures, a nine-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture firm led by Taiwanese VC Kai-Fu Lee (he was the founding president of Google China, among other things), is raising up to $500 million for its fourth fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm had raised $302 million for its third fund in late 2016. More here.


Social Capital, the seven-year-old, firm cofounded by VC Chamath Palihapitiya, is in the process of raising what it hopes will be a $1 billion growth equity fund, shows a new SEC filing.


Unitus Seed Fund, a six-year-old, Seattle-based venture firm focused on India, has raised $12.9 million for its second seed fund, according to an SEC filing.




ReNew Power, a renewable energy company headquartered in Gurgaon, India and backed by Goldman Sachs and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, is acquiring competitor Ostro Energy in one of India’s biggest renewable energy deals. Bloomberg has more here.




Alzheon, a five-year-old, Framingham, Ma.-based biopharmaceutical firm developing therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, has revealed its plans to raise $70 million in a pubic offering of 5 million shares that are priced between $13 to $15 a piece. Nasdaq has more here.

nLight, an 18-year-old, Vancouver, Wa..-based semiconductor and fiber laser maker, has registered its plans to raise up to $86.3 million in an IPO. Nasdaq has more here. for an IPO of up to $86.3 million. Nasdaq has more here.


Pluralsight, a 14-year-old, Farmington, Ut.-based online learning startup for coders, has confidentially filed for an IPO, says TechCrunch. More here.


Spotify, the 12-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based streaming company, will hit the public market tomorrow, and analysts expect it to be valued straightaway at between $20 billion and $25 billion.




Asked recently about Facebook’s privacy crisis last month, Apple CEO Tim Cooksaid he “wouldn’t be in this situation” if he were in the shoes of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Now, Zuckerberg has hit back, calling the comments “extremely glib.”


John Giannandrea, senior vice president of engineering at Google and one of the company’s leading public voices on artificial intelligence issues, is stepping down from his position as head of the search and AI units, reports The Information. Its sources say his job is being split into two parts. They also say he’s staying at Google to be “more hands on with the technology.” More here.


Golden State Warriors star Andre Iguodala earns $16 million a year, and for several years, he’s been using some of those earnings to invest in tech, telling CNBC that he has a particularly close relationship with  Andreessen Horowitz. “They’ve kind of taken me under their wing and … showed me some things in the portfolio and how I can integrate my brand into some of their brands.” More here.


Steven Hu, who worked for the Chinese venture firm Qiming Venture Partners from 2009 through 2013 and had left to cofound a mobile game development company, just rejoined the outfit as a partner.


Elon Musk has taken direct charge of Model 3 production, according to a report in The Information.




CircleUp, the crowdfunding site, is looking to hire a general partner to help lead its discretionary, $125 million CircleUp Growth Partners investment fund. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads


Reddit is slowly rolling out a redesign.


LGBTQ dating site Grindr admitted today that it does share some data with third party vendors, including customers’ HIV status, but it says the disclosures are made only when “necessary or appropriate.”


John Krafcik, who runs Alphabet’s self-driving company Waymo, says a Waymo vehicle in a situation similar to that of the self-driving Uber vehicle that two weeks ago killed a pedestrian, would have avoided the same fate. Bloomberg has more here (subscription required).




Every Al Pacino movie, ranked.


Sinclair Broadcast Group is “extremely dangerous to our democracy.” If you haven’t already, watch.


The story of a voice: HAL in “2001” wasn’t always so eerily calm.


Retail Therapy


The best desk lamps, according to architects.


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