August 6, 2019


Quick note/correction: We yesterday said that a new round for startup Scale AI was led by Index Ventures. Index participated in the round (along with numerous other outfits), but it was led by Founders Fund.

Top News

Phew. U.S. stocks recouped some of their losses today after China backed off from a further escalation in its trade and currency dispute with the Trump administration. More in the WSJ

Snap said today that it will raise $1 billion in short-term debt and plans to invest in more media content, augmented reality features and may also buy other companies, reports Reuters. The company has been enjoying user growth after a tough 2018, but as the outlet notes, it still has to battle against big competitors like Facebook and fast-growing rivals — especially TikTok.  

Mastercard is buying a payments platform owned by Denmark-based Nets for $3.19 billion in its biggest acquisition ever, says Bloomberg. What it gets for its money: an electronic-billing platform and clearing and instant-payment services, though the company warns the deal will impact profits through early 2022, potentially. Nets employs around 3,500 people and provides processing services to more than 240 banks, it says. It was acquired last year by Evergood 5, a firm controlled by the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. More here

Walgreens is closing 200 stores in the U.S. —  fallout from too many pharmacies up and running in U.S. cities, as well as the growing number of consumers spending more time online instead of browsing the aisles. CNBC has more here.

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As Crypto-Backed Loans Take Off, BlockFi Benefits 

Last year, we told you about a New York-based startup that had begun lending cold, hard, cash to cryptocurrency holders who don’t want to offload their holdings but also don’t necessarily want so much of their assets tied up in cryptocurrencies. 

Today, that two-year-old company, BlockFi, is announcing $18.3 million in Series A funding led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, with participation from Winklevoss Capital, Morgan Creek Digital, Akuna Capital and earlier backers Galaxy Digital Ventures and ConsenSys Ventures. 

Apparently, BlockFi is gaining some traction. 

Last year, after raising $1.5 million in seed funding from ConsenSys Ventures, SoFi and Kenetic Capital, it secured $50 million led by Galaxy Digital Ventures (the digital currency and blockchain tech firm founded by famed investor Mike Novogratz) that is used to loan out cash to customers who use their bitcoin and ethereum holdings as collateral. 

The minimum deposit required: $20,000 worth of cryptocurrency. 

According to founder Zac Prince, who talked with Bloomberg about BlockFi’s newest round, enough people are now using those loans that BlockFi has seen its monthly revenue grow more than 10 times since January. 

No doubt the uptick in loans correlates with the rebound in Bitcoin’s value, which was priced as low as $3,400 earlier this year but is now valued at roughly $11,400. 

Prince also told the outlet that he expects annual revenue to hit eight figures by the end of this year. In startup land, that means it’s time to roll out new money-making services. 

More here.

Massive Fundings  

Cockroach Labs, a four-year-old, New York-based open-source distributed database, just raised $55 million in Series C funding led by Altimeter CapitalTiger GlobalManagement and earlier investor GV, with participation from BenchmarkIndex VenturesRedpoint VenturesFirstMark Capital, and Work-Bench. TechCrunch has more here

Cybereason, a seven-year-old, Boston-based endpoint security company that uses machine learning to increase the number of endpoints a single analyst can manage across a network of distributed resources, has raised $200 million. The capital comes from earlier investor SoftBank Group and its affiliates. TechCrunch has more here

Inari, a three-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based plant breeding startup that was founded by the life sciences-focused venture firm Flagship Pioneering and spun out last year, has raised $89 million in Series C funding. Flagship led the round; other investors include Investment Corp. of DubaiEDBI, and Acre Venture Partners. The company says it can develop seeds customized with the traits that help a crop grow best in its local conditions. More here

Klarna, a 14-year-old, Sweden-based company that pops up at the checkout of many online stores, offering to help cover the cost of a purchase by spreading out payment, has raised $460 million in funding at a post-money valuation of $5.5 billion. Dragoneer Investment Group led the round, joined by the Commonwealth Bank of AustraliaHMI CapitalMerian Chrysalis Investment CompanyFörsta AP-Fonden, and others. TechCrunch has more here

HawkEye 360, a four-year-old, Herndon, Va.-based company that’s building a constellation of radio-frequency data satellites, has raised $70 million in Series B funding. Investors include AirbusEsriRazor’s Edge VenturesAllied Minds, and Shield Capital Partners. SpaceNews has more here

LanzaTech, a 14-year-old, Chicago-based company that sells technology that transforms carbon pollution into ethanol, a renewable fuel and feedstock for chemicals, has raised $72 million in Series E funding from Novo HoldingsMore here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Awfis, a four-year-old, New Delhi, India-based startup that operates co-working spaces, has raised $30 million in Series D funding led by ChrysCapital. Earlier investors Sequoia Capital India and The Three Sisters Institutional Office also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $81 million. TechCrunch has more here

Carro, a four-year-old, Singapore-based online auto classifieds and financing company, has tacked on $30 million to an earlier Series B financing that brings the round’s total to $90 million. Backers include SoftBank Ventures Asia, the government-linked global investor EDBIDietrich FoundationB Capital Group, and NCORE Ventures, among others. The company has also acquired the Indonesia-based marketplace Jualo (it sells cars, fashion — even property). Terms of that deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here

CompareAsiaGroup, a five-year-old, Hong Kong-based online comparison shopping engine for banking and insurance products and services, just raised $20 million in Series B1 funding led by Experian. (Which is interesting because it first closed this Series B round with $50 million more than two years ago.) The company has now raised roughly $90 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Dough, a new, Chicago-based commission-free online broker that aims to take on Robinhood, has raised $20 million from the venture-backed fintech startup Tastytrade, which will operate Dough as a subsidiary. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here

Fluent Commerce, a six-year-old, Australia-based company that helps traditional retailers rival Amazon by bolstering their online ordering systems, has raised $33 million in Series B funding led by the private equity firm Arrowroot Capital. Financial Review has more here.  

Fynd, a seven-year-old Mumbai, India-based online fashion marketplace, is trading an 87.6 percent stake in its business for $42.3 million from the Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries. TechCrunch has more here

InCountry, a months-old, San Francisco-based data residency-as-a-service platform that looks to enable global data compliance for international business, has raised $15 million in Series A funding from Arbor VenturesGlobal Founders CapitalMubadala and earlier backers Caffeinated CapitalFelicis VenturesCRV, and Team Builder Ventures. Crunchbase News has more here

IVX Health, a seven-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based operator of ambulatory infusion centers, raised $22.5 million co-led by McKesson Ventures and Health Velocity CapitalMore here

Sidecar Health, a year-old, El Segundo, Ca.-based platform that invites users to create insurance plans around their needs and budget by choosing how much coverage they want, has raised $18 million in funding led by GreatPoint Ventures and Morpheus VenturesMore here

Teralytics, a seven-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based company that works with telecom companies and data partners to capture information about people’s geographical locations, movement habits and demographics (completely anonymized and aggregated, it says), has raised $17.5 million in funding. Robert Bosch VC led the round, joined by Innogy VenturesDeutsche Bahn Digital VenturesLBBW Venture CapitalLiil Ventures and earlier investors Atomico and LakestarMore here

TickPick, a seven-year-old, New York-based online ticketing marketplace, has raised $40 million in its first institutional funding from PWP Growth Equity. TechCrunch has more here

Smaller Fundings  

Backbone, a five-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based maker of a cloud-based, workflow suite for consumer goods companies, has raised $10 million in Series A2 funding led by Foundry Group. VentureBeat has more here

DeepCode, a three-year-old, Swiss platform for AI-powered code reviews, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Earlybird, with participation from 3VC and btov Partners. VentureBeat has more here

FTX, a year-old, Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency derivatives exchange, has raised $8 million from a blockchain-focused venture capital fund called Proof of Capital and from the blockchain firm Consensus Lab, among others. CoinTelegraph has more here

Penta, a 1.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based business banking startup for SMEs, has raised €8 million in funding led by HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, with participation from Finleap and Fabrick. TechCrunch has more here

Squad, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based social screen sharing and group video chat app that enables users to easily block and report inappropriate behavior, has raised $5 million in seed funding. First Round Capital led the round  and was joined by BetaworksY CombinatorAlpha Bridge VenturesDay One VenturesJane VC, serial founder Gina Bianchini, and early Snapchat employee Sebastian Gil. TechCrunch has more here

Suralink, a five-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based maker of workflow management software for the accounting industry, has raised $5.25 million from Growth Street PartnersMore here

Zero, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based fasting app (one among other fasting apps that are raising alarms in some quarters), just raised $2.8 million from True Ventures and Trinity VenturesMore here

Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings 

Ibotta, a seven-year-old, Denver, Co.-based mobile rewards platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series D funding led by Koch Disruptive Technologies at a $1 billion valuation. The round comes after three previous rounds totaling roughly $85 million. VentureBeat has more here.

New Funds 

Dick Costolo and Adam Bain, Twitter’s former CEO and COO, respectively, are launching a new startup advisory and venture capital firm called 01 Advisors that has raised $135 million in capital commitments per an SEC filing, though it’s reportedly seeking up to $200 million altogether. Axios has the story here

Three members of the New York-based startup studio Human Ventures — Joe Marchese, Nick Bell, and Ashlyn Gentry — are launching a new outfit called Attention Capital to buy, build, and scale media brands and the technologies that power them. Bell, a former VP of content at Snap, and Gentry, a former SVP of growth at Palantir, had joined Human Ventures in March. Marchese, who cofounded Human Ventures, was formerly a president of advertising revenue at Fox Networks. Variety reports that the Attention team hopes to raise between $400 million and $500 million.  

Main Post Partners, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based venture and private equity firm focused on consumer deals (and founded by some former Weston Presidio alums), is looking to raise up to $500 million for a venture fund, shows an SEC filing. The outfit closed its sophomore fund with $700 million late last year. It closed its first fund with $400 million in 2016. More here.


Microsoft yesterday acquired PromoteIQ, a seven-year-old, New York-based company that has focused on helping retailers incorporate ads into their online storefronts. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. PromoteIQ had raised $6.5 million, including from Nauta Capital. CNBC explains the deal here

Publicly traded SurveyMonkey is acquiring GetFeedback, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based customer experience management company. Financial terms aren’t being disclosed in this deal, either. GetFeedback had raised rough $2.3 million in funding, including from Salesforce VenturesMore here.


If JPMorgan wins the coveted role of lead banker in WeWork’s upcoming IPO as is expected, it will be a win for the institution that was many years — and many loans — in the making.


After just five days of streaming, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is boasting one million active subscribers on Mixer, the Microsoft-owned platform that made him jump ship from Twitch. 

Oak HC/FT, which just announced a new fund last week, has this week announced some promotions, including of Nancy Brown to general partner; Dan Petrozzo, Matt Streisfeld, and Michelle Daubar to partner; and Ravi Singh to CFO. More here

Courtney Powell has been named COO of 500 Startups. Powell was previously the founder and CEO of PublikDemand, a startup that went through the 500 Startups accelerator. Business Insider has more here.


Wellington Management is looking to add a principal for its late-stage growth investment team. The job is in San Francisco.

Essential Reads 

In New York, an all-volunteer community is creating its own high-speed internet service

Test-driving the new Apple Card.


The case against octopus farming

Why you’re shopping too much online

Remembering Toni Morrison.

Retail Therapy 

The L.A. penthouse that “Friends” bought and you can buy now, too, if you have $35 million.

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