August 12, 2019

Monday! We were busy (busier?) today, so no column but we did want to share the agenda for TechCrunch’s giant Disrupt show, coming up in October. We’re really excited to help out with this one, as we’ll be chatting with David Krane, in his first public appearance since becoming CEO of GV three years ago; big-wheel VCs Theresia Gouw and Ann Miura-Ko, who’ve agreed to come and share what they’re seeing on the frontlines; and two of the best-known people in the fast-growing cannabis industry, Pax CEO Bharat Vasan and Eaze founder Keith McCarty, whose newest company, Wayv, has been called a B2B version of Eaze

Other guest speakers in the mix include Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, and Travis VanderZanden of Bird. Tickets are here if you want to join all of us live at the event, where there’s always a *lot* going on. (You won’t be bored!)

Top News

French regulators gave the green light today to plans by the country’s biggest broadcasters to launch a joint streaming service, Salto, to fight Amazon and Netflix. Variety has more here

Shares of Uber continued to sink today, posting their lowest close ever, after the company reported disappointing second-quarter results last week. The stock dropped 7.6 percent to $37, falling below its previous low of $37.10 in May. Since its spring IPO, Uber shares have shed about 18 percent of their value from the company’s IPO price of $45 per share, notes CNBC.

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Massive Fundings  

LucidWorks, a 12-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose AI-based search engine aims to help individual organizations provide personalized search services for their own users, has raised $100 million in funding. The private equity firm Francisco Partners​ led the round with TPG Sixth Street Partners. Earlier backers Top Tier Capital PartnersShasta VenturesGranite Ventures, and Allegis Cyber also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here

Meesho, a four-year-old, Bangalore-based social commerce company, has raised $125 million in Series D funding. Naspers led the round and was joined by Facebook (interestingly) and earlier backers SAIFSequoia CapitalShunwei CapitalRPS, and Venture Highway. TechCrunch has more here

Zhihu, an eight-year-old, Beijing, China-based rival to the U.S. online Q&A service Quora, has raised $434 million from investors, including some of the country’s largest social media companies. The deal was led by Kuaishou, one of the biggest live-streaming platforms, with participation from Baidu and earlier investors Tencent Holdings and Capital Today. Bloomberg has more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Attentive, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that’s helping retailers personalize their mobile messages (and was founded by the founders of TapCommerce, which sold to Twitter), has raised $40 million in Series B funding. Sequoia Capital led the round, joined by IVPHigh Alpha, and earlier backers Bain Capital VenturesEniac Ventures and NextView Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

Hazel Technologies, a four-year-old, Chicago-based startup whose packaging products promise to extend the quality shelf life of perishable goods, has raised $13 million in Series B funding. Pangaea Ventures led the round; other investors in the round include S2G VenturesThe Grantham FoundationAsahi Kasei VenturesRhapsody Venture PartnersSerra VenturesValley Oak InvestmentsClimate Impact Capital, and ImpactAssets. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here

Herbivore, an eight-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based skincare brand, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Silas Capital led the round, joined by S1 Fund. Geekwire has more here

Light Field Lab, a three-year-old, Morgan Hill, Ca.-based company that’s developing holographic display technologies, has raised $28 million in Series A funding. Bosch Venture Capital and Taiwania Capital co-led the round, and were joined by Samsung VenturesVerizon VenturesComcastLiberty Global VenturesNTT Docomo Ventures,  HELLA VenturesKhosla VenturesAlumni Ventures GroupR7 Partners, and Acme Capital. TechCrunch has more here

Smaller Fundings  

Blade, a year-old, Bay Area-based a new cryptocurrency derivatives exchange that’s launching in three weeks, has raised $4.3 million in seed funding from CoinbaseSV AngelA.CapitalSlow Ventures, serial entrepreneur Justin Kan and Quora cofounder Adam D’Angelo. TechCrunch has more here

Joust Labs, a nearly two-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based financial services platform for freelancers and entrepreneurs, has raised $2.6 million in seed funding led by PTB Ventures, with participation from Accion Venture LabFinancial Venture Studio, and Techstars. CrowdFund Insider has more here

Polarity, a seven-year-old, Plainville, Ct.-based startup whose technology analyzes everything on your PC screen — all the time — and highlights text onscreen for which you could use a little bit more context, has raised $8.1 million in Series “AA” funding led by TechOperators, with Shasta VenturesStrategic Cyber VenturesGula Tech Adventures and Kaiser Permanente Ventures also participating. The startup had closed its $3.5 million Series A in early 2017. TechCrunch has the story here.


Postmates, which confidentially filed to go public in February, plans to make its IPO paperwork public in September, reports TechCrunch, whose sources say the San Francisco-based delivery company is expected to make its debut as a public company by year end. More here.


Verizon, which became the owner of the blogging site Tumblr when it acquired Yahoo is 2017, is offloading the property. According to the WSJ, it is selling the business for a “nominal,” undisclosed sum to WordPress parent company Automattic, which is also taking on roughly 200 Tumblr employees. Inc. In 2013, Yahoo acquired acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion in cash. Verizon subsequently bought Yahoo in 2017. More here

Bayer, the German multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences giant, said today that it’s  buying BlueRock Therapeutics in a deal that values the three-year-old company — formed in 2016 in a joint venture with Bayer and Versant Ventures — at up to $1 billion inclusive of the 40.8 percent stake currently held by Bayer. As part of the acquisition agreement, BlueRock — whose stem cells therapies aim to regenerate heart muscles in patients who’ve had heart attacks or suffer from chronic heart failure — will continue to operate as an independent company. BlueRock is based in Cambridge, Ma. More here.


Ian Chiang was brought aboard as a principal at Flare Capital Partners, a Boston-based firm that closed its second fund last month with $255 million in capital commitments. Chang was previously SVP of product at a Cigna spin-off called CareAllies.


The fortune of the Waltons, the clan behind Walmart, gets $4 million richer every hour (!). (And here’s how the world’s other billionaires are faring.)

Essential Reads 

Softbank has quietly assembled a group of 60-plus veteran executives, including from outside the tech industry, to work inside at its portfolio companies to help advise on growth strategies, hiring, international expansion, and to help find synergies with its other portfolio companies, reports the Financial Times. The team is tasked with bringing battle-hardened experience to the companies, many of which have taken on huge sums of capital far earlier in their trajectory than might have been the case were it not for SoftBank and its massive checkbook.  

How Facebook is changing to deal with the scrutiny of its power

Et tuMicrosoft?


Why Netflix keeps canceling shows after three seasons

A musical about Princess Diana is coming to Broadway

Guy who makes videos of himself popping balloons explains his creative process.

Retail Therapy 

Aura House.

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