August 19, 2019

Monday! Where did it go?!

Top News

A group of states is preparing to move forward with a joint antitrust investigation of big technology companies, according to the WSJ. The decision, which could involve up to 20 states, adds another layer of scrutiny to an industry already under a federal spotlight, notes the outlet

Lyft announced two weeks ago that share lockups would expire today, which is about a month earlier than expected. Investors had worried that an earlier expiration would flood the market and depress the ride-hail company’s shares, but that didn’t happen, observes CNBC. 

Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency, Libra, already has competition.

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Uncork Capital Cracks Open Two New Funds 

Uncork Capital, the now 15-year-old, early-stage venture firm formerly known as SoftTech VC, has closed up two new pools of committed capital totaling $200 million: $100 million for its sixth early-stage fund, and $100 million for an “opportunity” fund so it can stuff a little more capital into those of its portfolio companies that start to break away from the pack. 

The firm had closed its first opportunity fund with $50 million in mid 2016. It closed its fifth early-stage fund at the same time with $100 million. 

We talked on Friday with Uncork founder Jeff Clavier about the firm, which is currently writing first checks that range from $750,000 to $2 million. He told us that as with Uncork’s most recent set of funds, the idea is to invest in roughly 35 companies across three years, taking 10 percent ownership on average, and up to 12 percent of a portfolio company when it is the lead investor. 

More here.

Massive Fundings, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based online mortgage lender, has closed its Series C round with $160 million in funding, after first securing $75 million, then another $20 million, earlier this year. Activant Capital led the newest capital infusion. Other investors in the round include Ping An InsuranceAlly FinancialCitigroupAmerican Express VenturesGoldman SachsKCKPine BrookHOOPP and Kleiner Perkins. The company has now raised $254 million altogether. Fortune has more here

Juvenescence, a three-year-old, U.K.-based company that’s creating what it calls a longevity ecosystem — a network of interlinked companies co-ordinated by a group of around 20 scientists, drug developers, AI specialists and financial experts — has raised $100 million in Series B funding at a $500 million post-money valuation. Investors in the round include NEX Group founder Michael Spencer and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes. So far, says the Financial Times, Juvenescence has invested in 15 companies working on longevity, including AgeX Therapeutics, a California company developing stem cells to regenerate tissues that fail in old age. More here

RedDoorz, a four-year-old, Singapore-based budget hotel booking site that just announced $45 million in Series B funding at July’s end, says it has now raised $70 million in Series C funding. Asia Partners led the new round, joined by Rakuten CapitalMirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund. Apparently, RedDoorz’s Series B round closed earlier this year, even if it let it slip more recently. TechCrunch has more here

Root Insurance, a four-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based auto insurance upstart that says it uses smartphone data to measure driving behavior and evaluate who’s a safe driver and who isn’t, is raising a $350 million in fresh funding at a $3.5 billion valuation, says the WSJ. According to the report, Coatue Management and DST Global are co-leading the round. More here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Blokable, a nearly four-year-old, Seattle-based multi-story modular housing startup, has raised $23 million in Series A funding. Vulcan Capital led the round, joined by Building VenturesLaunchKapor CapitalMarc BenioffMotley Fool VenturesTen Eighty Capital, and Dennis Joyce, who is the founder of an executive search firm. GeekWire has more here

Simon Data, a five-year-old, New York-based data science company that tries to provide insights that enable its customers to get more out of their marketing, has raised $30 million in Series C funding. Polaris Partners led the round, joined by earlier backers .406 Ventures and F-Prime Capital. The company has now raised $59 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Smaller Fundings  

Ally, a two-year-old, Seattle-based startup that wants to help companies stay on track and hit their goals in an era of rapid change for businesses and markets, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Accel Partners. Other participants in the round include Vulcan CapitalFounders Co-op and Lee Fixelformerly of Tiger Global Management. TechCrunch has more here

Brainbase, a three-year-old, L.A.-based startup that aims to help companies manage and monetize their intellectual property, has raised $3 million led by Struck Capital, with participation from Tectonic CapitalBonfire VenturesSterling Road and Watertower Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

Cere Network, a months-year-old, San Francisco-based blockchain-based customer relations manager, has raised $1 million in seed funding. The company’s investors include Binance LabsNeo Global Capital, and Arrington XRP Capital, among multiple others. Coindesk has more here

Huron, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based maker of personal care products for men, has raised $1 million in seed funding from RXBAR founders Peter Rahal and Jared SmithCXT Investments, and Lean Luxe founder M. Paul Munford. TechCrunch has more here

Internal, a months-old, San Francisco-based startup that wants to help companies better manage their internal consoles so they can ensure that not everyone on staff has access to sensitive data, has raised $5 million in seed funding. Craft Ventures led the round, with participation from Founders Fund and unnamed angel investors. We have more here

MoA Technology, a two-year-old, U.K.-based plant genetics company spun out from the University of Oxford, has raised £6.3 million in Series A funding co-led by Parkwalk and Oxford Sciences Innovation. EU Startups has more here.

New Funds 

Cleo Capital, a year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based seed-stage venture firm, has closed with $3.5 million in capital commitments for its debut fund. Its plan is to invest through female founders who scout out other interesting startups led by women on Cleo’s behalf. Axios has more here

Coefficient Capital, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based venture firm that looks to fund high-growth consumer brands that “align the physical world with the digital universe,” has locked down at least $63.5 million in capital commitments from a total of 16 investors, shows a new SEC filingMore here.


Nio co-founder Jack Cheng has left his position as executive vice president and will transition to the role of adviser after four years of helping build the company. The development is the latest in a series of blows for the Chinese electric vehicle maker after rapid downsizing, massive recalls, and huge losses, notes DealStreetAsia

Harry Markopolos raised the first alarms over Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Now, Markopolos has published a 170-page report claiming that accounting fraud “bigger than Enron and WorldCom combined” lurks within G.E. 

Bill Stasior, the longtime former Apple executive overseeing its Siri digital assistant, has joined Microsoft, continuing a “reshuffling of artificial intelligence leadership at big tech companies,” as reports The Information. 

Essential Reads 

All 84 startups from Y Combinator’s from Demo Day so far. (Good lord, there are more coming tomorrow.) 

RV shipments are slipping in the U.S. in what could be an economic warning sign.  

Time to get those solar panels

We’re still puzzling over this WSJ report that SoftBank plans to lend up to $20 billion to employees to buy stakes in its second Vision Fund. If you work for SoftBank or are an otherwise smart person with an opinion or insight on this one, let us know, would you? We’d love to talk.


Saving a Mercedes. 

playlist of Billie Holiday’s greatest songs. 

Inside the “Friends” writing room.

Retail Therapy 

The top five private colleges that pay off the most.

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