August 27, 2019

Tuesday! (Hope yours has gone well.)

Top News

Anthony Levandowski, the former Google self-driving engineer who prompted a lawsuit against Uber, has been hit with criminal charges. The U.S. attorney’s office indicted Levandowski in federal court today over claims he stole or tried to steal confidential files from Google’s Waymo unit that helped him form Otto, the autonomous truck company he later sold to Uber for about $680 million. The 33 charges against him carry a maximum penalty of 10 years and $250,000, plus restitution. “All of us have the right to change jobs,” said U.S. Attorney David Anderson in a statement earlier. “None of us has the right to fill our pockets on the way out the door. Theft is not innovation.” More here

Peloton, the seven-year-old, New York-based maker of internet-connected stationary bikes and treadmills, has revealed documents for its upcoming IPO, after earlier submitting a confidential draft submission of its S-1 statement to the SEC in June. The company, which plans to raise $500 million and to trade on the Nasdaq, was last valued by private investors at $4.15 billion. TechCrunch has more here.

Sponsored By … 

Want to learn why top VCs and business leaders leverage Affinity? Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks by unlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finally eliminate manual data entry.

This Startup is Hoping to Build a Fractional Ownership Platform for Rare Collectibles 

Mythic Markets, a young, San Francisco-based fractional investing platform for fans, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Slow Ventures, with participation from Third Kind Venture Capital, Global Founders Capital, and others. 

The company is being led by cofounder and CEO Joseph Mahavuthivanij, who previously spent a couple of years as an associate with the seed- and early-stage fund Social Leverage. 

We can see why it piqued the interest of investors. Mythic is capitalizing on the broader trend of fractional ownership that gives numerous investors a piece of the same — hopefully appreciating — asset. The idea dates back fifty years or so to vacation time-shares, but it has picked up momentum of late, with startups asking potential customers to buy parts of new cars, homes, art, sneakers, and even virtual items. 

For its part, Mythic is focusing on pop culture collectibles, starting with an Alpha Black Lotus, a trading card that only fanatics of the game “Magic the Gathering” might recognize but that’s apparently worth $90,000 right now. (Mythic, which opened up the card to investors last week, has broken its ownership into 2,000 shares, 663 of which have been purchased.) 

Mahavuthivanij says Mythic will next offer a collection of five “Magic the Gathering” booster boxes circa 1994 and that it has other assets that it plans to acquire shortly off its balance sheet. “There’s just a huge secondary market for this stuff,” he says enthusiastically. “It trades like stock. You can watch the daily moving average of any moving card.” 

To be on the safe side, Mythic only offers securities that are regulated by the U.S Securities & Exchange Commission, which not only includes rare trading cards but also other things that Mythic plans to start selling next year, including vintage comic books, sci-fi memorabilia and, a little further afield, esports team equity. Investors needn’t be accredited but neither can they invest more than 10 percent of their income or net worth in an offering. 

It’s little wonder that Mahavuthivanij cofounded the company. He’d earlier become tangentially familiar with Rally Road, a Social Leverage portfolio company sells stakes in classic cars to investors, and wondered if he couldn’t apply a similar idea to one of his great personal passions: card collecting. 

In a way, it’s payback to an unfair universe. 

More here.

Massive Fundings  

Ethos, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that makes money by providing an online and mobile sales channel for insurance policies created by the life insurance company Assurity Life, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by earlier backer GV. Other participants in the round include new investor Goldman Sachs and earlier backers Sequoia and Accel. The company has now raised more than $100 million altogether and its valuation is nearly half a billion dollars. More here.  

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Atonarp, a nine-year-old, Tokyo, Japan-based molecular diagnostics company (it makes what it calls the world’s smallest quantitative spectrometer), has raised $33 million in Series C funding, including from Japan Post Investment CorporationSBI Investment Co.Northwestern Mutual Future VenturesINCJ and Innovative Venture Fund Investment Limited PartnershipMore here

Axonius, a 2.5-year-old, New York and Israel-based cybersecurity asset management startup, has raised $20 million in Series B funding roughly six months after closing its Series A. OpenView led the round, joined the earlier backers Bessemer Venture PartnersYL VenturesVertexWTI, and Emerge. TechCrunch has more here

Boston Microfluidics,  a 14-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of blood collection devices, has raised $17.5 million in Series A funding led by Anzu Partners, with participation from LabCorp HoldingsMore here

Hound Labs, a five-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-base startup that makes a marijuana and alcohol breathalyzer, has raised $30 million in Series D led by Intrinsic Capital Partners, a fund focused on the cannabis industry. Other participants in the round include NFP Ventures (the venture arm of a large U.S. insurance broker), Main Street Advisors, and earlier backers Icon Ventures and Benchmark. Business Insider has more here

Kin, a three-year-old, Chicago-based insurtech startup, has raised $47 million in new funding, including Avanta, Hudson Structured Capital Management, UChicago Startup Investment Program, and others. More here

Luma Health, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based patient engagement platform, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by PeakSpan Capital, with participation from Cisco InvestmentsTexas Medical Center, and U.S. Venture Partners. VentureBeat has more here

Platform9, a six-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based maker of cloud infrastructure software, has raised $25 million in Series D funding led by NGP Capital, with Mubadala VenturesRedpoint VenturesMenlo VenturesCanvas Ventures, and HPE Pathfinder also participating. More here

Smaller Fundings  

Advanced Farm Technologies, a year-old, Davis, Ca.-based maker of robotic farming equipment (including a robotic strawberry harvester), has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley, the investment arm of Yamaha Motor Co. VentureBeat has more here

Ario Technologies, a three-year-old, Norfolk, Va.-based startup behind an industrial augmented reality software-as-a-service platform, has raised $2 million in funding led by NRV. SiliconAngle has more here

Bond, a San Francisco-based maker of software tools to connect banks and companies, has raised $10 million in seed funding led by Canaan Partners, with participation from Coatue and numerous notable angel investors, including Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, and Flexport CEO Ryan PetersenMore here

CardX, a six-year-old, Chicago-based payment technology company focused around credit card surcharging, just raised $2 million in fresh funding rom Pace Financial Group. The company has now raised $8.62 million altogether. More here

Consider, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based email service for startups that balances some premium individual features with collaboration tools, has raised $5 million in funding, it tells TechCrunch. Kleiner Perkins wrote the company an early check; it has more recently raised more funding from Bedrock CapitalMore here

FIGUR8, a 2.5-year-old Boston-based diagnostics platform that captures three-dimensional skeletal movement in conjunction with muscle output to help clinicians objectively measure musculoskeletal performance and recovery, has emerged from stealth mode with $7.5 million in seed funding led by P5 Health Ventures, with participation from E14 Fund. More here

Hedvig, a nearly three-year-old, Sweden-based insurance startup, has raised $10.4 million in new funding led by Obvious Ventures, with participation from D-Ax and Cherry Ventures. TechCrunch has more here, a three-year-old, Oslo, Norway-based platform that matches brands with social media influencers, has raised $1.3 million in funding. Schibsted Media Group led the round joined by SNÖ Ventures, and individual investors. More here

PeerWell, a nearly five-year-old, San Francisco-based company that delivers physical therapy lessons via smartphones to improve patients’ musculoskeletal health, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding led by OMERS Ventures, with participation from XSeed CapitalMore here

Tesorio, a six-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based startup that helps businesses aggregate and analyze their cash flow data, has raised a $10 million Series A round led by Madrona Venture Group. Earlier investors also joined the round, including First Round CapitalFloodgateY CombinatorFathom Capital and Fuel Capital. The company has now raised $17 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

VoiceOps, a three-year-old, Bay Area-based AI coaching and training platform for call centers, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Bain Capital VenturesMore here.


McAfee, the cybersecurity company, has hired Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp. to prepare for an IPO this fall that could value the cybersecurity company at $8 billion, reports Bloomberg. TPG had bought 51 percent of the company from Intel in 2016 in a $4.2 billion deal (after Intel paid $7.7 billion for the whole enchilada in 2010); Thoma Bravo later entered into a partnership to acquire a minority stake in the business. More here

Megvii Technology, a nine-year-old, Beijing, China-based artificial intelligence startup whose facial recognition software, Face ++, was earlier — and wrongly — this year tied by Human Rights Watch to a mobile app used by Chinese police and officials for mass surveillance of Uighurs in Xinjiang, has raised a total of $1.35 billion from investors and was most recently valued at around $4 billion. More here.

Exit Madness 

The venture-backed mobile marketing startup Airship is acquiring Apptimize, a Menlo Park, Ca.-based developer of a mobile A/B testing platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. According to Crunchbase, Apptimize had raised $18.6 million from investors including USVPCostanoa VenturesGoldcrest InvestmentsGlynn Capital Management, and Nuzzel founder Jonathan Abrams. Airship, based in Portland, has raised roughly $100 million from investors since it was founded 10 years ago. GeekWire has more here

Blue Ocean Robotics, a Denmark-based developer and incubator that describes itself as a “robot venture factory,” has acquired Beam, a Palo Alto, Ca.-based maker of “telepresence” robots. for undisclosed terms. Beam was created by Suitable Technologies, a company founded by robot enthusiast and early Google investor Scott Hassan. TechCrunch has more here

Cisco has acquired CloudCherry, a five-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based startup whose software helps brands find ways of improving the customer experience they provide for buyers. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. CloudCherry had raised $16 million from investors. SiliconAngle has more here

Entelo, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based recruiting automation company, has acquired ConveyIQ, a seven-year-old, New York-based provider of candidate engagement software-as-a-service. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. According to Crunchbase, Entelo has raised around $40 million over the years; ConveyIQ raised $19.6 million. More here

More consolidation in the event ticketing arena: Festicket, a six-year-old, U.K.-headquartered festival booking platform that has raised $30 millionish from investors, has acquired U.K.-based ticketing and cashless point-of-sale platform Event Genius. Event Genius founder Reshad Hossenally will join Festicket as its chief supply chain officer. Further terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here

Israeli social casino gaming giant Playtika has acquired Seriously, a Finnish mobile game publisher. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Seriously had raised approximately $28 million in funding from investors; we’re not sure how much Playtika has raised at this moment (sorry). VentureBeat has more here

WeWork is also continuing its buying spree, today announcing it is buying Spacious, a three-year-old, venture-backed company that partners with restaurants and bars and turns their real estate into coworking spaces during the day. According to The Information, WeWork paid roughly $42 million in cash and stock. According to Crunchbase, Spacious had raised at least $9.1 million, including from August Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and Baseline Ventures. More here.


Apparel companies are starting to sign deals with gaming stars and Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is newly among them, having just announced a partnership with Adidas

Kirsten Horning has joined the New York-based consumer-focused accelerator XRC Labs as a principal. Horning was previously an operations coordinator with Nexxus Holdings. 

Owing to the criminal charges Anthony Levandowski will now be battling (see “top news”), Robbie Miller, the chief safety officer at Levandowski’s newest startup, Pronto (it’s also focused on the self-driving tech industry), will become CEO. The company said in a statement today that the “criminal charges filed against Anthony relate exclusively to Lidar and do not in any way involve Pronto’s ground-breaking technology. Of course, we are fully supportive of Anthony and his family during this period.” 

Jessica Straus has joined Dundee Venture Capital in the Bay Area as a venture partner. She was previously an entrepreneur-in-residence at GE Ventures.

Essential Reads 

Travelers are increasingly being denied entry to the United States as border officials hold them accountable for messages, images and video on their devices sent by other people

The digital ledger behind the supposed better version of Bitcoin is running out of capacity, according to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.  

While Facebook’s big cryptocurrency plans have hit a wall with regulators, another big social network, Telegram, is charging ahead with its own digital currency


Why you might want to feed Fido insects

Hackers can steal a Tesla S by cloning its key fob (again). 

The 2019 Tahiti Pro surfing event, from the surface and beneath the waves.

Retail Therapy 

Pantone, the game. 

Risk your life with Atomik Vodka, made in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

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