September 9, 2019

Monday! Hope you had a great start to the week.:)

Top News …

SoftBank, which has invested more than $10 billion in WeWork, is reportedly urging the company to shelve its imminent IPO out of concern that SoftBank could itself face challenges raising its second fund if WeWork lists at a steep discount to its last funding round. The Financial Times has the story here.  

China’s richest person, Jack Ma, has officially stepped down as executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding, the nearly half-trillion-dollar online-shopping giant that he co-founded in an apartment two decades ago. The former English teacher had left Alibaba’s CEO position in 2013. More here and here

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Foundation Capital Fights On, Raising $350 Million for Its Ninth Fund 

Not all venture firms are long for this world. Though they tend to shut down exceedingly quietly, it sometimes happens when the returns just aren’t compelling or a firm grows too fast or there’s infighting or there’s not a solid succession plan. 

Foundation Capital,  founded in 1995, had its own kind of reckoning in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis owing to a little bit of all of these things. 

Like a lot of firms that had begun to raise ever-bigger funds with ever-bigger teams, the once-small firm closed its sixth fund with $750 million in capital commitments in 2008 before it was forced to scale back dramatically, closing its seventh fund with $282 million in 2013 with a whopping eight general partners (then parting ways with half of those individuals), closing its eighth fund with $325 million in late 2015 and doing what it could to right the ship. 

It plainly pulled it off. Today, the firm is announcing that it has closed its ninth fund with $350 million in capital commitments and the smallest pool of active general partners it has had in years: Ashu Garg, who joined Foundation in 2008 after spending the previous four years at Microsoft; Charles Moldow, who joined the firm in 2005, after spending the previous five years as a senior vice president at TellMe Networks (later acquired by Microsoft); and Steve Vassallo, who joined the outfit in 2007 after spending a couple of years as a VP of product and engineering at a social network co-founded by Marc Andreessen, called Ning. 

A fourth general partner with Foundation’s previous funds, Paul Holland, who joined Foundation in 2001, continues to manage out his investments. 

Some notable exits were surely helpful for the trio, including the IPOs of Sunrun (2015), LendingClub (2014), TubeMogul (2014) and Chegg (2013). But we’re guessing Foundation’s newer bets intrigued limited partners even more. 

Among some of the firm’s most interesting deals: the biomaterials company Bolt Threads,  which is growing artificial spider silk and closed its Series D round last year; Fair, the fast-growing car subscription app that has already locked down at least $1.6 billion in equity and debt funding; and Cerebras, a next-generation silicon chip company that launched publicly last month after almost three years of quiet development, surprising many with its very large and very fast processor, which houses 1.2 trillion transistors, 18 gigabytes of on-chip memory and 400,000 processing cores across its 46,225 square millimeters. 

The last was incubated at Foundation’s office, and it isn’t the only company to get its start with the help of the firm. Another example of a de novo investment is States Title, an insure-tech platform that was founded in 2016 and has gone on to raise $106.6 million, according to Crunchbase. 

Starting from scratch is a “more repeatable and sustainable way of building ownership in a company,” says Moldow. 

More here.

Massive Fundings  

AppZen, a seven-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based maker of AI tools for corporate expensing and finance teams, has raised $50 million in Series C funding. Coatue Management led the round, joined by earlier investors Redpoint Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here

Delhivery, an eight-year-old, Gurugram, India-based third-party logistics company, has a new investor; according to LiveMint, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board bought up $115 million worth of secondary shares from an earlier (unnamed) backer and at the $1.5 billion valuation the Delhivery was assigned in March when the SoftBank Vision Fund led its Series F round. More here

Group Nine Media, a three-year-old, New York-based digital media holding company that oversees Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and other brands, has raised $50 million in new funding from Discovery Inc. and Axel Springer. According to the WSJ, the deal values the company, led by Ben Lerer, at more than $600 million. The company has raised $190 million to date. More here

QuintoAndar, a six-year-old, Brazil-based marketplace that lets users search, book, rent and advertise rental properties in Brazil, has raised a massive $250 million in Series D funding led by SoftBank, as the conglomerate continues to deploy its $5 billion commitment to the Latin American region. The startup has now raised $345 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Volocopter, a seven-year-old, Bruchsal, Germany-based developer of autonomous flying vehicles, just raised €50 million in Series C funding led by Volvo’s parent company, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. TechCrunch has more here

Root Insurance, a 4.5-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based car insurance startup that uses smartphone technology to understand individual driver behavior, has officially raised $350 million in funding at a valuation of $3.65 billion following a report last month in Axios that this deal was afoot. DST Global and Coatue Management co-led the round, joined by Drive CapitalRedpoint VenturesRibbit Capital, Scale Venture Partners, and Tiger Global ManagementMore here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

CasaOne, a two-year-old, Emeryville, Ca.-based furniture rental startup, has raised $16 million in funding led by Accel, with participation from WeWorkJones Lang LaSalleFreestyle Capital and Array Ventures. According to the WSJ, the company’s post-money valuation is between $100 million and $150 million, per one of its sources. More here

CasperLabs, 1.5-year-old, Cheyenne, Wy.-based open-source blockchain project whose ultimate goal is to make a blockchain that scales without sacrificing its decentralization, has raised $14.5 million in Series A funding led by financier Terren Piezer, with participation from Arrington XRP CapitalHyundai Digital Asset Co.Consensus CapitalAxiom Holdings GroupBell LPOneBoat CapitalMW PartnersBlockchange VenturesHashkey Capital, and Distributed GlobalMore here

Freeda Media, a three-year-old, Milan, Italy-based media brand for women, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by Alven, with participation from earlier backers Endeavor Catalyst and UniCredit. TechCrunch has more here

HackerOne, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that runs bug bounty programs for more than 1,500 client companies, has raised $36.4 million in Series B funding. Valor Equity Partners led the round, joined by earlier backers BenchmarkNEADragoneer Investment Group and EQT Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

Insilico Medicine, a four-year-old, Hong Kong-based company that collaborates with biopharmaceutical companies possessing disease-relevant assays to validate to generate machine-learnable data, has raised $37 million in Series B funding. Qiming Venture Partners led the round, joined by Eight RoadsF-Prime CapitalLilly Asia VenturesSinovation VenturesBaidu VenturesPavilion Capital, and BOLD Capital PartnersMore here

Kite Hill, a nine-year-old, Hayward, Ca.-based food company that has developed numerous milk and cheese products that it says are healthier than their dairy counterparts, is raising a $15 million round of funding, according to an SEC filing that shows the company has already rounded up $10 million. Kite Hill was cofounded by Patrick Brown, the founder of Impossible Foods (and a longtime biochemistry professor at Stanford before that). Brown spoke at a StrictlyVC event in 2017. More here

Loadsmart, a five-year-old, New York-based on-demand full truckload shipping platform, has raised $19 million from Ports AmericaMaersk GrowthChromo Invest, and Connor Capital SB. The company has now raised $53.4 million altogether. More herePlatelet BioGenesis, a five-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of stem cell-derived human platelets, has raised $26 million in Series A-1 funding co-led by Ziff Capital Partners and Qiming Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Nest.Bio Ventures and eCoast Angels. Endpoints News has more here

Spendesk, a three-year-old, Paris, France-based spend management platform for small to mid-sized businesses, has raised €35 million in Series B funding led by Index Ventures. The round brings the total the company has raised to €45 million. The outlet UKTN has more here

Syte, a four-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup that sells to retailers a visual AI technology that powers features like visual search, automated textual tags, and product recommendation, has raised $21.5 million in funding in Series B funding. Viola Ventures led the round, with participation from Storm VenturesCommerce Ventures and Axess Ventures. Syte has now raised $32 million. TechCrunch has more here

Vim, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based healthcare startup that tries to align incentives between health plans and care providers, has raised $24 million in Series B funding led by Optum Ventures, with participation from Premera Blue Cross and earlier backers Great Point Ventures and Sequoia CapitalMore here

Smaller Fundings  

Emi Labs, a two-year-old, Buenos Aires, Argentina-based platform that automates the hiring process for low-skilled jobs, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Khosla VenturesMore here, a four-year-old, Netherlands-based clipping and messaging service for gamers, has raised $9 million led by Horizons Ventures, the venture capital fund established by Hong Kong multi-billionaire Li Ka-shing. TechCrunch has more here

Uizard, a Copenhagen-based platform for prototyping development tools (it says it is using machine intelligence to quickly turn app sketches into prototypes), has raised $2.8 million in seed funding. ByFounders led the round, joined by LDV Capital, av8 Ventures, and New York Venture Partners, along with numerous individual investors. TechCrunch has more here

Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings  

Engage Mobilize, a three-year-old, Denver, Co.-based cloud-based digital field management, procurement, and electronic ticketing platform built for the oil and gas industry, has an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Cottonwood Venture PartnersMore here.

New Funds 

Permira is nearing a close for its seventh buyout fund, which has surpassed its 10 billion-euro ($11 billion) target, according to Bloomberg. The private equity firm is reportedly still gathering cash from investors and expects to receive additional commitments from its own general partners. More here

Brothers and angel investors Rohan Malhotra and Arjun Malhotra have formed a seed-stage fund that’s focused on India-based startups called Good Capital, and toward that end, they’ve locked down $12 million in capital commitments to invest between $100,00 and $2 million in half a dozen startups per year. They hope to close their debut fund with $25 million in capital commitments altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Shopify, the shopping technology developer, has taken another step up the sales supply chain with a $450 million acquisition of the four-year-old, warehouse automation and management technology developer 6 River Systems. The deal consists of cash and stock. Investors in 6 Rivers, including Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, and Eclipse Partners, had provided the company with $46 million, according to Crunchbase. TechCrunch has more here.


The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has opened a permanent office in San Francisco (its second U.S. location after New York) and appointed as its head of venture capital funds Monica Adractas. Adractas, a Harvard MBA, has formerly worked at Facebook, Box, Starbucks and McKinsey. More here

On Saturday, Joi Ito, a prominent figure at MIT, stepped down after the disclosure of his efforts to conceal his financial connections to Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted pedophile who killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell last month while facing federal sex trafficking charges. Ito acknowledged last week that he had received $1.7 million from Epstein, including $1.2 million for his own outside investment funds. The New York Times has more here

Yelena Shkolnik has been promoted to principal at the Chicago-based venture firm Jump Capital. Shkolnik joined Jump in 2015 after working at MK Capital and Dreamworks. More here

Laura Thompson, a longtime product manager at Google who most recently spent a year as an investor with Alphabet’s venture arm, GV, has joined Brown University as an entrepreneur-in-residence. 

Sandhya Venkatachalam, is beginning to take the wraps off her nine-month-old, seed-stage, AI-focused venture firm, Deep Ventures. Venkatachalam most recently spent a year as a general partner with Social Capital focused on later-stage investments. She previously cofounded Centerview Capital. 

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Essential Reads 

Fifty(!) attorneys general are pushing forward with an antitrust investigation against Google, led by the Texas state attorney general, Ken Paxton. In an announcement on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building, Paxton and a gathering of attorneys general said that the focus of the investigation would be on Google’s  advertising practices but that other points of inquiry could be included in the investigation. TechCrunch has more here

How Apple’s apps topped their rivals in the App Store that it controls. 

A shockingly simple work-around allows your Instagram followers to share your private photos and videos posted to both Facebook and Instagram.


Why positive relationships in childhood may have lasting effects on people’s mental health into adulthood. 

“We may have to shoot down this aircraft.” 

2D Cafe.

Retail Therapy 

Extreme glamping in Thailand.

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