StrictlyVC: April 30, 2018

Monday! Welcome back.:)
Top News
Sprint and T-Mobile are officially looking to merge. If the deal is approved, the resulting company would be the nation’s second-biggest wireless carrier after Verizon, controlling roughly 100 million customers. That might not sit so well with policymakers who are already concerned about the growing power of some U.S. companies. The Washington Post has more here

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear an internet privacy case involvingGoogle that could put the brakes on an increasingly common form of settlement in class action suits that funnels money to unrelated third parties and charities instead of to those affected by the alleged wrongdoing. Reuters has the story here

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, is reportedly planning to leave the company after clashing with its parent, Facebook, over WhatsApp’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption.
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SoFi’s Mike Cagney is Back with a New Startup and a Whole Lot of Funding
Mike Cagney, who was ousted last summer from the lending company he founded, is back with a new startup and a whole lot of funding from at least one of his previous investors. 

Per a new report in Bloomberg, Cagney who earlier this year formed a new lending startup called Figure, has raised $50 million to grow the company, which plans to use the blockchain to facilitate loan approvals in minutes instead of days. 

According to the company’s site, its lending products will include home equity lines of credit, home improvement loans and home buy-lease back offerings for retirement. The round was led by DCM Ventures and Ribbit Capital and included participation from Mithril Capital Management, Cagney confirmed to Bloomberg. 

Ribbit Capital in Palo Alto, Ca., has been leading investments in the world of fintech and digital currencies from nearly its founding nearly six years ago. Others of its many bets include the online consumer lending company Affirm and Point, a startup that buys equity in U.S. homes.

 Mithril, cofounded by Peter Thiel, prides itself on funding companies that take time to build, with funds that have longer investing timelines than do most traditional venture vehicles. The cross-border firm DCM Ventures, meanwhile, is perhaps the most interesting participant in this round.  

More here.
New Fundings
A-Mansia, a young, Belgium-based microbiome company, has raised $15.7 million in funding led by Seventure PartnersMore here

Datavant, a healthcare data company spun out of Softbank-funded Roivant Sciences last year, has raised $40.5 million in funding co-led by Roivant and Datavant’s CEO, Travis May. FierceBiotech has more here

Dugout, a two-year-old, London-based social network for football fans, has raised $11.7 million in funding led by sports owners David and Frank McCourtMore here

Flexport, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based software-powered freight forwarder, quietly announced $100 million in funding from the Chinese courier company SF Express. The deal aims to help the company expand its operations into China. Flexport has now raised a little more than $300 million altogether, including from First Round CapitalBloomberg BetaFounders FundDST Global and Y CombinatorMore here

LeaseLock, a three-year-old, L.A.-based company that’s looking to replace security deposits with insurance, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Wildcat Venture Partners, with participation from Hivers & StriversLiberty Mutual Strategic VenturesAmerican Family Ventures and Moderne VenturesMore here

Minim, a year-old, Manchester, N.H.-based IoT platform for in-home cybersecurity, raised $2.5 million in seed funding co-led by Flybridge Capital Partners andFounder Collective. American Inno has more here

SAMCO, a three-year-old, Mumbai, India-based firm discount brokerage firm that says it’s building mutual fund, lending, and research and advisory businesses, has raised $7.5 million in Series B funding from earlier backers and the London-based investment firm Bay Capital Investment Partners. Inc42 has more here.
New Funds
New Funds Baidu is reportedly establishing a new, $500 million fund to invest in internet and AI companies in China. Named Changcheng Investment Partners, it will be the third tech-focused venture fund that Baidu has established. China Money Network has more here

Sky9 Capital, a venture capital firm founded by Ron Cao, formerly of Lightspeed Venture Partners, has closed its third fund with $200 million in capital commitments. The capital will be invested mainly in early-stage, China-based startups. China Money Network has more here.
Alzheon, a Framingham, Ma.-based pre-revenue developer of small-molecule therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, just withdrew its IPO registration. FierceBiotech has more here

GreenSky, an Atlanta, Ga.-based online loan platform that’s backed by Pimco and the private equity firm TPG, filed on Friday for an IPO, listing its initial offering size as $100 million, a placeholder amount. Bloomberg has more here

Kiniksa Pharmaceutical, a Lexington, Ma.-based biotech company focused on inflammatory disease, has filed to go public. The company’s lead drug is an already-approved rare disease treatment. Boston Business Journal has more here

Scholar Rock, a Cambridge Ma.-based startup focused on muscle-wasting disorders, disclosed in a filing on Friday that it’s looking to raise up to $75 million by listing its shares on the Nasdaq under the ticker “SRRK.” Its backers include FidelityPolaris Partners and The Kraft Group. Nasdaq has a bit more here.
Exits Marriott Vacations Worldwide has agreed to buy publicly traded ILG for about $4.7 billion in a stock and cash deal, creating the largest luxury brand for timeshare vacation resorts. More here.
People Jonathan Faerber has left his job as CFO at GV to take the same position with Section32, the venture firm launched last year by former GV CEO Bill Maris. 

Larry Harvey, the founder of the Burning Man event now held in Nevada, just passed away at age 70 after suffering a stroke earlier this month.  

Alexa exec Charlie Kindel says he left Amazon last week to spend more time with, well, his smart home. (He’s also just fried, he said.)

Oops. Twitter sold data access to Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University academic who also obtained millions of Facebook users’ information that was later passed to a political consulting firm without the users’ consent. 

Microsoft’s chairman and former Symantec and IBM exec John Thompson has joined Lightspeed as a venture partner.
According to a new report on voice assistants released today by PwC, younger users are adopting voice technology at a faster rate than their older counterparts — but they’re somehow using voice assistants less often.
Essential Reads
Forget the Facebook leak. China is mining data directly from workers’ brains on an industrial scale. Volkswagen and ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing say they’re are closing in on a joint venture to share technology and develop mobility services in China. The WSJ has more here

Thanks to Warby Parker, whose founders met at Wharton, the school is becoming a sort of incubator for direct-to-consumer startups.
Harsh but  funny

NBA playoff predictions

Trafficking in vintage scents
Retail Therapy
Pssst. A number of Bose products are $50 off today.

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