August 23, 2019

Friday! [Pumps up the jam.] Hope you’re enjoying these last weeks of summer wherever you are. More Monday.:)

Top News

Today, twelve hours after China said it would retaliate against Donald Trump’s next round of tariffs by raising taxes on American goods, Trump said he would increase taxes on all Chinese goods and he ordered that American companies stop doing business with China

As bananas as that last demand sounds, some trade experts say Trump has powerful tools at his disposal to encourage companies to follow his orders, including by cutting them out of federal procurement deals. 

The Dow promptly plummeted 600 points on the news.

Sponsored By … 

Forge is a premier trading, settlement and custody partner for a wide range of investors in the private markets. Established in 2014 as Equidate, the company empowers investors and shareholders by enabling liquidity in the private markets and has completed nearly $2 billion in transaction volume since inception. Forge was founded by Y Combinator alumni and backed by top investors including Tim Draper, FT Partners, Munich Re, and BNP Paribas. Forge’s platform allows employees and investors in privately held innovation firms to liquidate a portion of their shares, and provides private and institutional investors access to top companies like Spotify and Lyft before their IPOs. Learn more.

Massive Fundings  

Finch Therapeutics, a two-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based microbiome therapeutics startup, has raised $53 million in Series C funding. Investors include OCV PartnersSIGSymbiosis LLC, and the Trans-Pacific Technology Fund along with earlier backers Avenir Growth CapitalMorgan NobleShumway Capital, and Willett Advisors. FierceBiotech has more here

SpotHero, an eight-year-old, Chicago-based parking reservation service, has raised $50 million in Series D funding led by Macquarie Capital, with participation from Union Grove Venture Partners and earlier backers Global Founders CapitalAutoTech Ventures, and Insight Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Capacity, a two-year-old, St. Louis-based workplace digital assistant startup, just raised $13.2 million in Series B funding from undisclosed individual investors in the Midwest. TechCrunch has more here

Form Energy, a two-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based maker of low-cost, renewable batteries, just raised $40 million in a Series B round led by Eni Next, the corporate venture capital vehicle of Eni Group, the Italian oil and gas giant. American Inno has more here.

Zenoti, a nine-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based maker of cloud software for the spa and salon market, has raised $20 million from Steadview CapitalMore here

Smaller Fundings  

Array Analytics, a three-year-old, Washington D.C.-based analytics platform focused on healthcare business planning, has raised $2 million in funding from unnamed investors. More here

Crimson Education, a five-year-old, Auckland, New Zealand-based platform for improving admission chances to top schools, has raised $5 million from Solborn Investment, the venture arm of Korean holding company of the same name, and it’s specifically aimed at helping Crimson build out its business in that country. The company had previously raised $30 million from Tiger Global Management. TechCrunch has more here

Media Partners, a 26-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based maker of compliance training software, raised $5.6 million in Series A-1 funding led by Byron GroupMore here.

Molecula, a two-old Austin, Tex.-based data virtualization startup, has raised $6 million in seed funding from Seraph GroupLontra VenturesVelar Capital, and Capital FactoryMore here.  

Tastemakers, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based startup that connects global consumers with Africa adventures, has raised $1 million in seed funding led by Precursor Ventures. TechCrunch has more here. Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings  IguanaFix, a six-year-old, Buenos Aires, Argentina-based online platform connecting homeowners with service providers for home repairs, painting and other tasks, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the publicly traded company Stanley Black & Decker. Reuters has more here

TriEye, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based maker of a HD shortwave infrared camera that promises to help cars navigate through adverse weather, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Porsche. The Jerusalem Post has more here.

New Funds 

From the WSJ: “TPG has scaled back its ambitions for its impact investment fund after the abrupt departure of former managing partner William McGlashan Jr. earlier this year. The firm’s impact arm, known as TPG Rise, lowered the target for its latest fund to $2.5 billion from $3 billion after restarting fundraising in June, a spokesman for the firm said. The decision to reduce the fund’s goal stemmed from a $500 million boost in its firepower from the June takeover of a portfolio of assets previously managed by collapsed rival Abraaj Group …”


Ping Identity, a 17-year-old, Denver-based firm focused on digital authentication and security, has filed the necessary paperwork to go public, though it’s still unclear how much it plans to raise. The firm — acquired for $600 million by Vista Equity Partners in 2016 —  posted revenue of $201.6 million in 2018 and losses of $12.4 million. TechCrunch has more here.


Kid-friendly robotics company Sphero has acquired DIY programming-kit company littleBits. The two toy-based teaching companies expect to build on each other’s strengths to become a stronger player in the education space. Neither company has revealed the financial terms of the deal. Nine-year-old Sphero has raised roughly $120 million from investors, shows Crunchbase; it shows that littleBits, founded in 2011, had raised roughly $62 million. Fast Company has more here.


Three years ago, Twitter formed a Trust and Safety Council, tasked with combatting abuse and harassment plaguing the platform. But Wired says Twitter leadership isn’t listening to the council’s recommendations, and that Twitter has gone months without sending members updates.


Cue Ball Capital is looking to hire an investment associate. The job is in Boston.

Essential Reads 

Snapchat’s disappearing act leaves Venice Beach searching for its future

Vape lung has claimed its first victim, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating. There are reportedly now 200 cases of severe lung illnesses possibly related to vaping. 

The folks at Qualcomm must be breathing a sigh of relief tonight. The mobile chip giant today won a partial stay against the enforcement of a sweeping antitrust ruling in a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission. In the ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put on hold the provisions of the earlier ruling that required Qualcomm to grant patent licenses to rival chip suppliers and end its practice of forcing customers to sign patent licenses before purchasing chips. Now, Qualcomm can keep on keeping on as the appeals process plays out, which can take up to a year or more, notes Reuters

Amazon has proven unable or unwilling to effectively police third-party sellers on its site, resulting in thousands of banned, unsafe, or mislabeled products, reports the WSJ. One of these items, a motorcycle that was not DOT compliant, had apparently fatal consequences. 


How a bitter divorce battle led to claims of a crime in space.  

Critically acclaimed 2010 horror film or PhD program

Ad Astra” (trailer).

Retail Therapy 

Wireless over-the-ear headphones. They look weird but we hear (get it?) that they work.

Filed Under:

Don’t Miss Out!

Sign up today to receive a free daily email with everything you need to start your day. Plus, keep track of the companies and personalities that will shape the industry in the months and years to come. Let StrictlyVC be your very own venture capital concierge.

StrictlyVC on Twitter