August 9, 2019

Friday! [Shoots the lights out.] Hope you have a wonderful, sunny weekend, everyone. 🙂

Top News

A draft executive order from the White House could put the Federal Communications Commission in charge of shaping how Facebook, Twitter and other large tech companies curate what appears on their websites, according to CNN sources. Politico reported on the draft earlier this week. 

In related news, during a meeting today with Facebook, Google, and Twitter, Trump administration officials expressed interest in tools that might anticipate mass shootings or predict attackers by scanning social media posts, photos and videos. The White House proposed that the tech could serve as an early-warning system for potential attacks, though the tech leaders reportedly voiced doubt that such technology is feasible. They also expressed fear over privacy risks that such a system might create for all users.

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Massive Fundings  

Proterra, the 15-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based maker of zero-emissions, heavy-duty electric vehicles, has authorized up to $75 million in share sales in a new round of funding that would push its valuation to a little more than $1 billion. The fundraising effort comes as the company is reportedly exploring an IPO. TechCrunch has more here

Wheels Up, a six-year-old, New York-based private aviation start-up that counts Tom Brady and Serena Williams as members, has raised $128 million in Series D funding that values the company $1.1 billion. Franklin Templeton co-led the round with funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price and Fidelity Management & Research. CNBC has more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Lendingkart, a five-year-old, Gujarat, India-based lender for small businesses, has raised $30 million as part of a Series D round from Fullerton Financial HoldingsBertelsmann India Investments, and India Quotient. The company has now raised $143 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Smaller Fundings  

Cambridge Crops, a year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based startup that’s using silk-based proteins to extend the shelf life of perishable foods, has raised $4 million in funding by The Engine, the venture capital firm launched by MIT in 2016. Other backers include Refactor CapitalClosed Loop VenturesBluestein & AssociatesSOSV and Supply Chain VenturesMore here

Curbio, a two-year-old, Potomac, Md.-based real estate technology startup that orchestrates turnkey renovations for home sellers, then gets paid back once the home is sold, has raised $7 million in Series A funding. Camber Creek and Brick & Mortar Ventures co-led the round. More here.


WeWork is planning to make public its prospectus for its IPO as early as next week, says Bloomberg. WeWork is reportedly looking to raise more than $3.5 billion, which would make it the second-largest U.S. IPO this year.


Cybersecurity firm McAfee is acquiring NanoSec, a four-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based cloud-native security platform that promises it can protect any app, on any cloud, at any scale. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. NanoSec has never revealed much about its funding situation. Fortune has more here

Vector, a three-year-old, Tucson, Az.-based microsatellite launch company that has raised roughly $100 million from investors and is comprised of space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, has run into trouble. According to Space News, founding CEO Jim Cantrell is no longer with the company, though Vector isn’t sharing why. Space News sources also say one of Vector’s largest backers, Sequoia Capital, has also withdrawn funding for the company. Vector had closed on $70 million in Series B funding last October. More here.


Jeff Bezos let’s it all hang out in Saint-Tropez

In a profile of Jack Dorsey, former Twitter staffers describe their old boss as quirky and, sometimes, exhausting, with one saying that he “speaks in riddles,” while another says Dorsey’s pronouncements can be so long on metaphor and short on specifics that “it was like listening to a fortune-cookie talk.” 

Uber has reportedly been canceling scheduled on-site interviews for tech roles, with job applicants being told positions are on hold due to a hiring freeze in engineering teams in the U.S. and Canada. Uber didn’t respond to repeated requests for comments from Yahoo Finance.

Essential Reads 

Schoolchildren as young as 16 years old in China are working grueling and illegal hours to produce Amazon Alexa devices. They’re reportedly classified as “interns,” and their teachers are paid to encourage and accompany them

SoftBank Group is reportedly in advanced talks to invest in Mexican used car platform Kavak and the financial technology firm Konfio, Reuters says. The talks underscore SoftBank’s interest in Mexico as it pours money into Latin America through its $5 billion Innovation Fund focused on Latin America. 

There’s talk today of Goldman Sachs dipping into subprime lending for its new credit card with Apple, but Goldman has been lending to subprime consumers for some time. We talked with top Goldman executive Marty Chavez about the practice last year; his response as to why Goldman would embrace it was, “You always want to be testing in the lower FICO scores because you can see things coming.” (We think that by “things,” he meant an economic crash.)


“Today” show, does your cruelty know no bounds

How social media shapes our identity

Why we keep falling for phishing emails.

Retail Therapy 


Bluetooth speakers from Sonos, coming soon maybe.

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