September 16, 2019


Top News

WeWork is very likely postponing its IPO, says the WSJ, which suggests the shared-workspace company might instead launch its roadshow in October or . . . not. 

In related news: the two anchor investors in SoftBank’s Vision Fund are reconsidering how much to commit to a second Vision Fund as its $10 billion investment in WeWork “sours,” reports Bloomberg. It says Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which contributed $45 billion to the first Vision fund, is now only planning to reinvest profits from that vehicle into its successor, and that Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co., which invested $15 billion, is thinking about committing less than $10 billion. 

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Aspect Ventures is Splitting Up

Aspect Ventures, an early-stage, five-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm founded five years ago very notably by two veteran VCs who happen to be women, is splitting up. Cofounders Jennifer Fonstad, formerly of DFJ, and Theresia Gouw, formerly of Accel, are launching separate firms, a source confirms.

The WSJ reported the news earlier today. 

Fonstad tells the outlet that the split owes to “different leadership styles and different ways of operating at the portfolio level.”  

Going forward, she plans to operate under the brand Owl Capital and to invest in growth deals, including in enterprise software, which has been a major focus area for Aspect, with occasional exceptions, including the newly public consignment business TheRealReal and a direct-to-consumer jewelry brand called Baublebar. 

Gouw, who we’re interviewing in early October at TechCrunch Disrupt, declined to comment. But some members of Aspect’s team are joining her at new firm, aCrew, including Lauen Kolodny, who joined Aspect five years ago and was promoted from principal to partner in 2017; and Vishal Lugani, who joined Aspect as a principal in 2016 after spending 3.5 years as a senior associate with Greycroft and whose LinkedIn bio now identifies him as a founding partner with aCrew. 

Team members who are meanwhile joining Fonstad include Chad Herrin, a former SuccessFactors VP who has been a venture partner with Aspect since last year; and Rebecca Hu, who spent a year with Earlybird Venture Capital before joining Aspect roughly one year ago as an investor. 

More here.

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

Beekeeper, a seven-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based startup that sells a mobile-first communications platform for employers that need to communicate with deskless and service-oriented workers, has raised $45 million in Series B funding. The round was co-led by Thayer Ventures, a travel-focused venture capital firm, and Swisscanto, an asset manager via its growth equity fund. The company has now raised $71 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Crisp, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that analyzes data from myriad sources to helping food brands forecast their food production requirements, has raised $14.2 million in funding led by FirstMark Capital. VentureBeat has more here

Fieldwire, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of task management software for construction teams on big commercial projects, has raised $33.5 million in Series C funding led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from Brick & Mortar VenturesHilti Group, and Formation 8. We wrote up more on the company here

Trigo, two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based computer vision startup that’s building check-out-free grocery purchasing systems targeted at large supermarkets, has raised $22 million in Series A funding. Red Dot Capital led the round; it was joined by previous backers Vertex Ventures Israel and Hetz Ventures. The company has now raised $29 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Smaller Fundings

FOSSA, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps enterprises manage open-source licenses, just raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. Bain Capital Ventures and Costanoa Ventures co-led the round, joined by Norwest Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here

Kambr, an eight-month-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup that wants to sell airlines revenue management software so they can better compete with online travel giants like Expedia, has raised $4 million in seed funding. Its backers include Founder CollectiveGlobal Founders CapitalStudio VCSilicon BadiaC2 Ventures Capital Partners, and TXV Partners. Business Insider has more here, a three-year-old, London-based maker of data-ops tools, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by 83North, and participation from Marathon VCMore here

Mitto, a two-month-old, Barcelona, Spain-based debit card and app for teens, has raised €2 million in seed funding led by the venture of Banco Sabadell, with participation from Athos Capital and as least two Spanish social media influencers. TechCrunch has more here

Rafay Systems, a two-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca-based SaaS startup for operations and lifecycle management of containerized applications, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Ridge Ventures, with participation from NTT DOCOMOCostanoa Ventures, and Moment Ventures. FierceTelecom has more here

Tiny Organics, a year-old, New York-based baby wellness company, has raised $2.5 million in venture funding led by Elizabeth Street Ventures, with participation from Rocana VenturesHuman VenturesChingona VenturesBonin Ventures, investor-entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and fashion designer Liz LangeMore here

Wallit, a four-year-old, Portland, Me.-based rewards-based savings app for families, has raised $2.6 million in seed round funding, including from BlueIOMendoza VenturesBoxOne Ventures, and the Maine Technology InstituteMore here.

Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings

LINQ, a 20-month-old, Oakland, Ca.-based construction data and document search tool, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from Stanley Black & Decker. The Fortune 500 manufacturer runs an incubator program where LINQ, founded by a former employee (and now LINQ’s CEO) Jake Olsen, first got off the ground. More here.

New Funds 

March Capital Partners, the five-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based venture firm founded by renowned former banker Jamie Montgomery, is looking to raise up to $410 million for a third fund, shows an SEC filing. The outfit announced the closing of its second fund just this year (in January), after it locked down $300 million in capital commitments. More here.


An aide to Elon Musk hired a private investigator to research Vernon Unsworth, a British diver who sued Musk after the Tesla CEO called him a “pedo guy” on Twitter last summer after Unsworth said a miniature submarine that Musk sent to Thailand to help rescue a youth soccer team wouldn’t work. 

Apparently, some people with insight into the venture-backed lingerie company ThirdLove didn’t think much of a recent Fortune story about it being a “rare tech company where women dominate.” Ten current and former employees say the company pays below-industry wages and is largely run by its male co-CEO, David Spector, who they characterize as a bully

Computer scientist and open software advocate Richard Stallman has resigned from his position as a visiting scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) after describing a victim of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein as “entirely willing” in emails sent to a department list. Stallman has also stepped down from his roles as president and board director at the Free Software Foundation, the nonprofit he founded in 1985.

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Essential Reads

Amazon late last year adjusted its product-search system to more prominently feature listings that are more profitable for the company, according to the WSJ, a move that could favor Amazon’s own brands — and that was contested internally, says the outlet. Executives’ fear at the time is that the move doesn’t put Amazon customers first. Their fear now: that the move will be used against the company by anti-trust regulators. Amazon says the report is wrong

A major new deal could help Netflix stem an ongoing loss of subscribers. It announced today that it has acquired the global streaming rights to the popular sitcom “Seinfeld,” which will bring all 180 episodes of the Emmy winner to Netflix subscribers starting in 2021 — roughly 23 years after the show ended its run

Wow. Shopify just overtook eBay as the second-biggest shopping site after Amazon.


Cabbage is having a moment

“Boomerang kids,” but they aren’t young adult humans

No one asked for it, but a developer with an apparent sense of humor says he has nevertheless brought back Clippy—the animated paperclip mascot of Microsoft Office.

Retail Therapy

Rolling ruler, because tape measures are the worst.

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