August 16, 2019

Friday! [Gallops through burbling brook.] Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.:)

Top News

Stocks rallied today as a rebound in bond yields eased fears of a recession that sent stocks tumbling earlier in the week. The Dow, however, still lost 1.5 percent on the week.

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Upfront Ventures Beefs Up, Adding Two More General Partners to Its Roster of Now Eight GPs 

Upfront Ventures, the 23-year-old, LA-based venture capital firm, is gearing up for far more deal-making. In addition to filing paperwork with the SEC this summer to raise its third growth-stage investment fund (it is also investing a $400 million early-stage fund and probably announcing another soon), the firm just added two new general partners to its lineup of investors. 

One of them, Michael Carney, joined Upfront as a principal in 2015 after working as an editor at the news site PandoDaily, and, before that, working as an investor and analyst at a boutique merchant bank called Worldvest. 

The firm’s second new general partner is Aditi Maliwal,  who has also circled in and out of investing before, including stints as an associate with Crosslink Capital and, more recently, spending several years with Google, where Maliwal worked in corporate development before becoming a product manager. 

We talked with both this week to learn more about what they’ll be shopping for — and from where.

Massive Fundings  

RD Station, an eight-year-old, Brazil-based digital marketing startup that’s focused on small and medium-size businesses, has raised $50 million in Series D funding by Riverwood Capital. Other investors in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to roughy $90 million, include TPG GrowthDGF InvestimentosRedPoint EventuresAstella Investimentos, and Endeavor Catalyst. Crunchbase News has more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Motif FoodWorks, a seven-month-old, Boston-based spinoff company of another venture-backed startup, Ginko Bioworks (Motif is developing ingredients to replace animal protein), just raised $27.5 million in funding led by General Atlantic led, with participation from CPT Capital. The company had raised a separate $90 million when it launched by in February. The Spoon has more here

Sorted, a nine-year-old, Manchester, England-based company whose delivery management platform helps physical and digital retailers more effectively manage their deliveries and returns, has raised €16.5 million in Series B funding. Merian Chrysalis led the round, joined by Praetura Ventures and NVM Private Equity. EU Startups has more here

ZenLayer, a five-year-old, L.A- and Shanghai-based software-defined network and cloud services startup, just raised $30 million in Series B funding. Forebright Capital led, the round, joined by Volcanics Venture and F&G VentureMore here.

Smaller Fundings  

Coinmine, a 16-month-old, L.A.-based that’s making crypto mining hardware and software, announced a $2.5 million seed round of financing from M13 VenturesRepublic LabsGumi Crypto and early Uber investor Shervin Pishevar. CoinDesk has more here

Nudge Rewards, a seven-year-old, Toronto-based startup that connects restaurant, retail and hospitality companies to front-line employees through an employee engagement app, has raised roughly $8.3 million (U.S. dollars) in new funding led by Jump Capital. Earlier investors also joined the round, including Brightspark VenturesGeneration VenturesStandUp Ventures and the Business Development Bank of Canada. The Globe and Mail has more here.


SmileDirectClub, a Nashville, Tn.-based maker of at-home teeth straightening systems, has filed for a $100 million IPO after raising roughly $400 million in private funding, most recently at a $3.2 billion post-money valuation. The American Association of Orthodontists, which has concerns with the company’s product and processes, cannot be pleased by this development. In fact, SmileDirectClub cites as a risk factor that orthodontists have warned against using tele-dentistry platforms. More here.


Oracle yesterday asked a federal court to order CryptoOracle, a New York blockchain-focused venture capital startup, to get another name. Oracle filed a lawsuit against Crypto Oracle LLC and Lou Kerner, its owner and managing partner, alleging trademark infringement and cybersquatting in the Northern District of California. Kerner is a name many will recognize; he was formerly an analyst with Wedbush Securities, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. The complaint claims his New York City-based startup, founded in December 2017, intentionally chose the brand name CryptoOracle “to trade on Oracle’s reputation as an innovator and leader within the technology industry, and to evoke among consumers the goodwill that Oracle has built in its own famous brand.” The Next Web has more here.


Asana, the 11-year-old work management platform cofounded by Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz, is looking for someone to head up its business development efforts. The job is in San Francisco.


If you don’t already have a “voice assistant in your home that’s spying on you (and also assisting you!), you’re in dwindling company. According to eMarketer, nearly 40 percent of U.S. internet users will have one in their home by the end of this year. In related news, Google’s assistant is apparently still the smartest, but Amazon Alexa is getting better faster.

Essential Reads 

Google has been quietly testing an events-centric crowdfunding service for YouTubers. Called Fundo, the service allows creators to invite their fans to virtual meet-and-greet sessions and other online paid events

Thrifting is gaining traction, thanks to more budget — and environmentally conscious — customers, and big retailers are taking notice, with Macy’s, J.C. Penney Co., and Patagonia beginning to sell pre-owned goods

Facebook Marketplace is so popular that one in three people in the U.S. use it monthly, says the company. But users say it has become fertile ground for scams and misconduct


Wait, miniature horses are among the most commonly used service animals?  

“Silicon Valley” heads to Washington in its final season (trailer). 

We would also wait for gasoline that costs 30 cents per gallon.

Retail Therapy 

Deep thoughts T-shirts.

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