August 21, 2019

Wednesday! This one zoomed past, though we did make it to CNBC for a quick chat with our former colleague and CNBC host Jon Fortt. You can check that out here if you’re interested in IPO talk and whether or not direct listings will become more prevalent.  

More tomorrow. 🙂

Top News

Amazon said today that it’s launching its biggest campus in the world in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.  

Turns out hiring wasn’t nearly as strong in 2018 and early 2019 as the government initially reported — by about a half-million jobs. The economy had about 501,000 fewer jobs as of March 2019 than the Bureau of Labor Statistics initially calculated in its survey of business establishments. That’s the largest revision since the waning stages of the recession of 2009, notes MarketWatch. 

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ThredUp, Whose Second-Hand Goods Will Start Appearing at Macy’s and JCPenney Stores, Just Raised a Bundle 

ThredUp, the 10-year-old fashion resale marketplace, has a lot of big news to boast about lately. For starters, the company just closed on $100 million in fresh funding from an investor syndicate that includes Park West Asset Management, Irving Investors and earlier backers Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Upfront Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and Redpoint Ventures. 

The round brings ThredUP’s total capital raised to more than $300 million, including a previously undisclosed $75 million investment that it sewed up last year. 

A potentially even bigger deal for the company is a new resale platform that both Macy’s and JCPenney are beginning to test out, wherein ThedUp will be sending the stores clothing that they will process through their own point-of-sale systems, while trying to up-sell customers on jewelry, shoes, and other accessories. 

It says a lot that traditional retailers are coming to see gently used items as a potential revenue stream for themselves, and little wonder given the size of the resale market, estimated to be a $24 billion market currently and projected to become a $51 billion market by 2023. 

We talked yesterday with ThredUp founder and CEO James Reinhart to learn more about its tie-up with the two brands and to find out what else the startup is stitching together. 

You’ve partnered with Macy’s and JCPenney. Did they approach you or is ThredUp out there pitching traditional retailers? I think [the two companies] have been thinking about resale for some time. They’re trying to figure out how to best serve their customers. Meanwhile, we’ve been thinking about how we power resale for a broader set of partners, and there was a meeting of the minds six months ago. We’re positioned now where we can do this really effectively in-store, so we’re starting with a pilot program in 30 to 40 stores, but we could scale to 300 or 400 stores if we wanted. 

How is this going to work exactly with these partners? We have the [software and logistics] architecture and the selection to put together carefully curated selections of clothing for particular stores, including the right assortment of brands and sizes, depending on where a Macy’s is located, for example. Macy’s then wraps a high-quality experience around [those goods]. Maybe it’s a dress, but they wrap a handbag and scarves and jewelry around the dress purchase. We feel [certain] that future consumers will buy new and used at the same time. 

Who is your demographic, and please don’t say everyone. It is everyone. It’s not a satisfying answer, but we sell 30,000 brands. We serve lots of luxury customers with brands like Louis Vuitton, but we also sell Old Navy. What unites customers across all brands is they want to find brands that they couldn’t have afforded new; they’re trading up to brands that, full price, would have been too much, so Old Navy shoppers are [buying] Gap [whose shopper are buying] J. Crew and Theory and all the way up. Consistently, what we hear is [our marketplace] allows customers to swap out their wardrobes at higher rates than would be possible otherwise, and it feels to them like they’re doing in a more [environmentally] responsible way. 

What percentage of your shoppers are also consigning goods?

More here.

Massive Fundings  

Icelandic Glacial, a 15-year-old, Thorlákshöfn, Iceland-based “premium” imported bottled water brand, has raised $66 million in new funding, including a $35 million investment from BlackRock’s U.S. private credit team, as well as $31 million in new equity issued to new and existing investors. More here

Knotel, a three-year-old, New York startup that designs and operates bespoke spaces for brands, says it has raised $400 million in funding at a valuation of $1 billion led by Wafra, an investment arm of Kuwait’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, with participation from Mori TrustItochu, and Mercuria. The capital brings its total funding to date to more than $500 million. VentureBeat has more here

Oncorus, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of oncolytic viruses (therapies that uses viruses to infect tumor cells and break them down), has raised $79.5 million in Series B funding co-led by Cowen Healthcare Investments and Perceptive Advisors. Xconomy has more here

PlusAI, a three-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based self-driving truck startup, is reportedly in advanced talks to raise $200 million at a valuation of more than $1 billion. The startup has already raised an undisclosed amount of Series A and seed funding from Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Bloomberg has the story here

Tala, a seven-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based lender in emerging markets, has raised $110 million in Series D funding led by RPS Ventures, with participation from GGV Capital and earlier backers IVPRevolution GrowthLowercase CapitalDCVCThomVest Ventures, and PayPal Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Fund That Flip, a five-year-old, New York- and Cleveland, Oh,-based marketplace lender of residential real estate loans, has raised $11 million in funding from Edison Partners. VentureBeat has more here

Smaller Fundings  

Blooma, a year-old, San Diego-based AI-powered loan origination platform, has raised $2.75 million in funding led by FloodgateMore here

Cosi, a new Berlin-based startup operating in the hospitality space with an alternative to boutique hotels and managed short-stay apartments, has raised €5 million in seed funding. Cherry Ventures and co-led the round, with participation from numerous real estate and hospitality entrepreneurs. TechCrunch has more here

CropX, a four-year-old, Israel-based startup that sells soil sensors and cloud-based analytics software to optimize crops, has raised $10 million in funding from Innovation EndeavorsSumitomo Corp.Armada CapitalFinistere VenturesGermin8 VenturesTaL CapitalGreenSoil Investments, and the equity crowdfunding company OurCrowd. Calcalist has more here

Kobitron, a three-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based mobile testing platform, has raised $5.2 million in Series A funding. BIP Capital led the round, joined by earlier investors KMS Technology and Kinetic Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

JRNI, a 10-year-old, London-based booking and customer engagement platform that wants you to know its brand is pronounced “journey,” has added $6 million to a previously closed Series C round. PeakSpan Capital led the newest infusion, joined by Downing Ventures and Somerston Group. The company has now raised $23.2 million altogether. More here

Mavely, a year-old, Chicago-based startup that aims to help direct-to-consumer brands address rising customer-acquisition costs while helping them expand their communities, has raised $1 million in funding from PivotNorth Capital. Business Insider has more here.

New Funds 

Intrinsic Health Partners, a 1.5-year-old, Conshohocken, Pa.-based venture outfit, has raised nearly $47 million for its new fund, according to an SEC filing that shows a $125 million target. We can’t find a website for this one (yet!). 

March Capital Partners, a Santa Monica, Ca.-based venture firm, is raising up to $50 million for a gaming-focused fund, per an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. More here.


Splunk, a publicly traded data processing and analytics company, says it has acquired SignalFx for roughly $1.05 billion, roughly 60 percent of which will be in cash and 40 percent in Splunk common stock. SignalFx is a six-year-old cloud monitoring platform for infrastructure, microservices, and applications. It had raised roughly $178 million from investors, says Crunchbase.TechCrunch looks at the deal here

NurseFly, a two-year-old startup that had created a job marketplace for short-term nursing positions, is announcing its acquisition by holding company IAC. While the companies aren’t disclosing the deal terms, TechCrunch reporting the price was $15 million. More here.


China’s biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group Holding, has delayed its up to $15 billion listing in Hong Kong amid growing political unrest in the Asian financial hub, reports Reuters. More here.


From the WSJ: Robert Cohen will become a partner at the white shoe law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell in October. Why is this interesting? He’s coming from the SEC, where he has been leading the SEC’s Cyber Unit, which is dedicated to the threat of crypto fraud.

Essential Reads 

Ruh roh. Eminem’s music publisher Eight Mile Style has filed a lawsuit against Spotify, accusing the service of blatant copyright infringement in streaming “Lose Yourself” and other Eminem songs. The case has implications for “all songwriters,” says his attorney. 

“First of all, keep it out of the light. It hates bright light, especially sunlight, it’ll kill it. Second, don’t give it any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much it cries, no matter how much it begs, never feed it after midnight.”  

Fitbit has struck a deal to provide devices for potentially hundreds of thousands of people in Singapore who commit to a monthly subscription. The company is working with a government agency there to design a program that aims to help its citizens get healthier. 


(Un)holy crap

Sports analogies for academics

What’s recyclable plastic, what’s trash, and why.

Retail Therapy 

Look, you win some, you lose some.

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