August 22, 2019

Thursday! Hope yours has gone well.:)

Top News

Three years after Oracle closed a $9.3 billion deal to acquire NetSuite, several Oracle board members have written an extraordinary letter to the Delaware Court, approving a shareholder lawsuit against company executives Larry Ellison and Safra Catz over the 2016 tie-up.

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This Thiel Fellow Thinks He Can Help Drones, Delivery Robots, and Scooters Charge Themselves with Sunlight 

From the time he was a high school student, Rohit Kalyanpur thought it was peculiar that although it’s possible to create energy from a solar panel, the panels have long been used almost exclusively on rooftops and as part of industrial-scale solar grids. “I hadn’t seen [anything solar-powered] in the things people use every day other than calculators and lawn lights,” he tells us from him home in Chicago — though he’s moving to the Bay Area next month. 

It wasn’t just a passing thought for Kalyanpur. Through research positions in high school, he continued to learn about energy and work on a solar charging prototype — initially to charge his iPhone — while continuing to wonder what other materials might be powered spontaneously just by shining light on it. 

What he quickly discovered, he says, is there were no developer tools to build a self-charging project. Unlike with hardware projects, where developers can turn to the open-source electronic prototyping platform Arduino, and to Raspberry Pi, a tiny computer the size of a credit card and was created in 2012 to help students understand how computers work, there was “nothing you could use to optimize a solar product,” he says. 

Fast-forward, and Kalyanpur says there is now — and he helped build it. 

It’s been several years in the making. After attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for two years and befriending a fellow student, Paul Couston, who helped manage and invest the university’s $10 million green fund, the pair dropped out of school to start their now four-person company, Optivolt Labs. Entry into the accelerator program Techstars Chicago was the impetus they needed, and they’ve been gaining momentum since. In fact, Kalyanpur, now 21, was recently given a Thiel Fellowship, a two-year-long program that includes a $100,000 grant to young people who want to build new things, along with a lot of mentorships and key introductions. 

Now, the company has closed on a separate $1.75 million round of seed funding from a long list of notable individual investors, including Eventbrite co-founders Kevin & Julia Hartz; TJ Parker, who is the founder and CEO of PillPack (now an Amazon subsidiary); Pinterest COO Francoise Brougher: and Jeff Lutz, a former Google SVP. 

More here.

Massive Fundings  

Chinook Therapeutics, a months-old, Vancouver, British Columbia-based developer of precision medicines for kidney diseases, just raised $65 million in Series A funding. Versant Ventures led the round, joined by Apple Tree Partners and Samsara BioCapital. FierceBiotech has more here

Industrious, a six-year-old, New York-based WeWork competitor, has raised $80 million from investors including Brookfield Properties, the fitness chain Equinox and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The round brings the company’s total funding to roughly $220 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

The CareVoice, a five-year-old, Shanghai, China-based health insurance software startup with ambitions to expand throughout Asia, announced today that it has raised about $10 million in Series A funding. The investment was led by LUN Partners Group and an undisclosed global investment manager that specializes in financial services, with participation from DNA Capital and returning investors SOSV and Artesian Capital. TechCrunch has more here

DemystData, a nine-year-old, New York-based company that says its data platform helps customers to explore and integrate new data more rapidly and gain a full view of data usage within their organizations, has closed $12.5 million in growth capital. The investment round was co-led by MissionOG and Notion Capital with participation from Singtel Innov8More here

Drop, a four-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based mobile rewards platform whose shoppers earn points when they make purchases using the app, has raised $44 million in Series B funding. HOF Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Royal Bank of CanadaMore here

MDClone, a three-year-old, Be’er Sheva, Israel-based medical data startup that has developed a method of protecting data privacy while letting researchers use it, just raised $26 million in Series B funding. Healthcare investor aMoon led the round, joined by earlier investors OrbiMed Israel Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Globes has more here

Numbrs, a 20-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based company whose app enables users to manage their existing bank accounts in one place and to buy financial products, has raised $40 million in funding from unnamed investors at a valuation of more than $1 billion. Bloomberg has more here

Remediant, a four-year-old, maker of privileged account management software, raised $15 million in Series A funding co-led by Dell Technologies Capital and ForgePoint Capital. TechCrunch has more here

Tibit Communications, a five-year-old, Petaluma, Ca.-based start-up that’s developing next-generation access devices for Passive Optical Networking (PON), has raised $25 million in Series B funding. Intel Capital led the round, joined by Swisscom Ventures and AJU IB InvestmentMore here.  

Smaller Fundings  

Aperiomics, a six-year-old, Sterling, Va.-based developer of precision pathogen tests to help identify the causes of infections, has raised $1.8 million in Series A funding led by VentureSouthMore here

Spectroplast, a new, Swiss startup with a technique for printing silicone, has raised 1.5 million Swiss franc (roughly $1.5 million in U.S. dollars) in seed funding from AM Ventures Holding in Germany. TechCrunch has more here

TapClicks, a 10-year-old, San Jose, Ca-based company that makes marketing intelligence, analytics, reporting, and workflow software, has raised raised $10 million in funding from Boathouse Capital. The company has now raised roughly $30 million altogether, VentureBeat has more here

Versatile Natures, a 3.5-year-old, Israel-based startup that’s using machine learning and AI  to improve construction processes, has raised $5.5 million in seed funding. Germany’s Robert Bosch Venture Capital led the round, joined by Conductive Ventures, earlier backer Root Ventures, and numerous construction technology entrepreneurs. Crunchbase News has more here

Windfall Data, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company that determines the net worth of global households, has raised $9 million in venture funding. The round was led by Bullpen Capital, with Bonfire VenturesIndustry VenturesTenOneTen Ventures, and ValueStream Ventures participating. More here.

New Funds ​

East Ventures, a nine-year-old, Southeast Asian venture capital firm, has closed its sixth fund with $75 million in capital commitments, including from Wang Xing (CEO of Meituan-Dianping), Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin, Razer cofounder Kaling Lim and institutional investors that include Pavilion CapitalAdams Street Partners, and TemasekMore here.


Amazon, which has invested over $6 billion in India’s growing internet market, is moving to expand its presence in the country’s offline dealings, too. It’s acquiring a 49 percent stake in Future Coupons, a group entity owned by India’s second largest retail chain Future Retail. TechCrunch. More here

Software company VMware says it’s acquiring the anti-malware and endpoint protection company Carbon Black at an enterprise value of $2.1 billion. It’s also buying Pivotal — whose products help companies build and deploy their software across different server infrastructure — at an enterprise value of $2.7 billion. The deals are expected to close by the end of January 2020. Shares of Pivotal were up as much as 8 percent after the announcement, while VMware shares fell as much as 7 percent. Carbon Black shares rose as much as 6 percent after shares were initially halted following the close of the trading session. CNBC has more here.


After recently publishing a press release that many found concerning, founder and CEO Patrick Byrne has resigned from his role as top dog and as a board member. Another board member, Jonathan Johnson, will be taking over as Overstock’s interim CEO. More here

Stuart Bowers, Tesla’s head of Autopilot software, has led the carmaker for the venture firm Greylock Partners, where for now he’ll be an executive-in-residence. Electrek has more here

MIT Media Lab director and tech investor Joi Ito is the latest person revealed to have financial ties to Jeffrey Epstein. Ito admitted in a letter last week  that he was financially connected to Epstein starting in 2013, but writes that, “In all of my interactions with Epstein, I was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of.” Ito says Epstein helped fund MIT Media Lab “through some of the foundations that he controlled,” and was also involved in Ito’s investment funds. Business Insider has more here

HP announced this afternoon that Dion Weisler is stepping down as president and CEO. The executive cited a “family health matter” in his decision, noting that he will be returning home to Australia. The company has already lined up another HP executive, Enrique Lores, to succeed him. More here.


Asia’s 20 richest families control $450 billion.

Essential Reads 

Restaurant owners by the thousands are logging out of the food delivery giant Zomato after the company “changed the goalposts” in order to benefit its own two-year-old subscription service. 

Apple will reportedly unveil overhauled MacBook Pro and “Pro” iPhones this fall (with updates to AirPods, Apple Watch, and other products on the horizon).  

Big funds and little funds are (again) duking it out over seed round. TechCrunch takes a look here.


How to thwart Alexa. 

Crucial questions for your college-bound child. 


Retail Therapy 

If you’re in the market for a deeply discounted luxury ranch, you’ll find plenty, owing to changing tastes. In Colorado, retired golfer Greg Norman has been trying to sell a 12,000-square foot ranch since 2011. Meanwhile, KKR cofounder Henry Kravis put his Colorado spread on the market for $50 million in January, and it’s still sitting.

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