October 4, 2019

Friday! Thank God. 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone! 

Quick mentions: If you’re looking for weekend reading, we sat down today at TC Disrupt with Ann Miura-Ko of Floodgate and Theresia Gouw of aCrew Capital to talk about SoftBank, dual-class shares and how to break into VC (among other things). 

We also talked cannabis with former Pax CEO Bharat Vasan and Keith McCarty (founder of WAYV and Eaze) if you’re keen to better understand what’s happening in that industry. We covered banking regulation, the crisis around vaping-related illnesses, and what VCs are looking for when funding founders in the space. 

Our favorite quote of the day meanwhile came from Bastian Lehmann of Postmates, who, when asked why rival DoorDash has raised roughly four times more money from investors, joked of DoorDash’s CEO Tony Xu: “You’d have to ask Tony. Maybe he needs a jet.” 

See you in a few days.:)

Top News 

Google has held discussions about acquiring the video-sharing startup Firework to help it counter fast-growing TikTok, according to the WSJ. Firework, based in Redwood City, Calif., was valued at more than $100 million in a fundraising round earlier this year. More here

FBI Director Christopher Wray said today that Facebook‘s proposal to encrypt its popular messaging program would turn the platform into a “dream come true for predators and child pornographers.” More here

As you might already imagine, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is struggling to raise money for a second massive technology investment fund in the wake of the scrapped IPO of WeWork and sliding valuations of other major investments, says Reuters.

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Report: WeWork’s Adam Neumann May Have to Unload Property to Pay for Giant Loan 

Adam Neumann may be out of the daily flow of WeWork, but he seemingly remains top of mind to some of the company’s bankers. 

According to a new Business Insider piece, Neumann is working with JPMorgan, UBS, and Credit Suisse to consider new terms for a $500 million loan that he took out before WeWork filed to go public, and from which Neumann has already drawn down $380 million. Since he can no longer pay the loan with proceeds from selling WeWork shares publicly (it yanked its S-1 filing earlier this week), he may have to put up some of his properties or other assets as collateral for the loan, according to one of BI’s sources. 

“No terms have been set,” a spokeswoman for Neumann tells the outlet. 

Per earlier reports, Neumann has plenty to offload if it comes to it, having acquired numerous residential and commercial properties over the years. 

Among his reported investments is a $10.5 million Greenwich Village townhouse; a farm in Westchester, New York; a home in the Hamptons where he reportedly weathered the storm with his family ahead of resigning as CEO last week; and a $21 million, 13,000-square-foot house in the Bay Area with a guitar-shaped room. 

According to an earlier WSJ report, Neumann has also bought several commercial properties through investor groups that he had leased back, in some cases, to WeWork. 

More here.

Massive Fundings  

Icosavax, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based developer of a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus, has raised $51 million in Series A funding led by Qiming Venture Partners, with participation from Adams Street PartnersSanofi Ventures, and NanoDimension. FierceBiotech has more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Dunzo, a four-year-old, Bangalore, India-based hyper-local delivery service, just raised $45 million in Series D funding from GoogleLightbox VenturesSTIC, and 3L Capital.  The company has now raised $81 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Osaro, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of machine learning software for warehouse robots, has raised $16 million in Series B funding from King River CapitalAlpha Intelligence CapitalFounders FundPegasus Tech Ventures, and GiTV Fund. VentureBeat has more here

Smaller Fundings  

AmacaThera, a three-year-old, Ontario, Canada-based developer of injectable hydrogel technology for medical applications, has raised $3.6 million in seed funding. Investors include Sprout BioVenturesViva BiotechGrey Sky Venture Partners and Lumira VenturesMore here

DayTwo, a four-year-old, Israel- and Walnut Creek, Ca.-based microbiome human discovery platform, has raised $5 million in funding, including from Longliv VenturesCathay Innovation, and Samsung NEXTMore here

Gradient AI, a year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based software startup for commercial insurers, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Forte Ventures and Sandbox Insurtech Ventures co-led the round, joined by earlier backer MassMutual VenturesMore here

Oneiro, a two-year-old, Boston-based cryptocurrency platform, has raised $5 million from Cosimo Ventures. CoinTelegraph has more here.


Bullhorn, a 20-year-old, Boston-based maker of cloud-based customer relationship management software that’s controlled by Insight Partners, has acquired Erecruit, a Boston-based maker of applicant tracking and pay and bill software for the staffing and recruitment industry. According to Crunchbase, Erecruit had raised $35 million in funding, primarily from North Bridge Venture Partners. Financial terms aren’t disclosed. American Inno has more here.


Former Tinder CEO Greg Blatt has filed a defamation lawsuit against Tinder cofounder Sean Rad and Tinder’s former VP of marketing, Rosette Pambakian. He’s seeking at least $50 million in damages and accusing the two of having “conspired to make false allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault” against Blatt with the “specific intent to damage Blatt’s good name, personal and professional reputation, and credibility.” Rad and Pambakian’s attorney Orin Snyder describes the suit as part of a campaign “to retaliate against and smear a victim of sexual assault and the person who reported it.” More here

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel isn’t sure whether antitrust activity from the government is going to change the company’s near-term prospects of competing with Instagram. “I mean the history of antitrust would basically say that these investigations last like seven to 10 years or something like that, and that basically nothing happens,” Spiegel said onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. “I think a lot can change in the seven to 10 years that this process will take.” More here.

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Essential Reads 

PayPay is backing out of Facebook’s cryptocurrency project.


The cheating scandal rocking the poker world.

Retail Therapy 

What $3,900 rents you in L.A. right now.

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