October 7, 2019

Monday! Hope yours was a fine one. 

Before we dive into things, we are *thrilled* to say that our third and last StrictlyVC event of this yearnow includes Cyan Banister, a partner with Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, as well as one of the most successful angel investors in the U.S., having written early checks to Uber, SpaceX, DeepMind and Niantic, among many other companies. 

As someone who was homeless as a teenager and taught herself how to code, Banister is unlike virtually every other top investor in the world; she really is the epitome of the American success story and we’re excited to sit down with her to talk about her path, as well as what trends and startups she’s tracking most closely right now and where and why. (We’ll also get her thoughts on the hot topics of the moment, from direct listings to perpetual dual-class shares to the possibility that SoftBank may be slowing down instead of speeding up.) 

Banister joins a line-up that already features former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos, who is widely considered one of the smartest people in the security space and who will be sitting down with Sheera Frenkel of the New York Times to talk about the Big Tech Storm that’s coming. 

Banister also joins Jim Collins, the CEO of Pasadena, Ca.-based Kitchen United, one of the fastest-growing “dark” kitchen companies in the U.S. other than CloudKitchens, which is run by Uber cofounder Travis Kalanick. Both rivals look poised for runaway growth; they could also potentially remake neighborhoods around the country in unanticipated ways. Interviewing Collins will be Lora Kolodny, who writes about robotics, transportation and other emerging technology for CNBC.

We aren’t through programming quite yet, but we’re excited; these are going to be interesting conversations. If you’d like to join us — this is happening Wednesday, November 13th —  you can still nab a spot here

More tomorrow. 🙂

Top News 

The Trump administration said today that it has added 28 Chinese organizations to a blacklist over concerns about their role in human rights violations, effectively blocking those entities from buying American products. The organizations have been implicated in China’s campaign targeting Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, according to a Commerce Department filing. The New York Times has more here

California has passed a law meant to prevent doctored videos from influencing elections by making it a crime to distribute audio or video that gives a false, damaging impression of a politician’s words or actions. The law applies to any candidate within 60 days of an election, but includes some exceptions. The Verge has more here.

Sponsored By …

Originally formulated for LeBron, now available to everyone, Ladder is the product of four years of meticulous testing for taste, quality, and performance. Premium supplements designed for more stamina, better focus, and faster recovery. Take your workout to the next level; upgrade your workout with Ladder.

This Startup Just Raised $8 Million to Help Overworked Doctors Assess the Cognitive Health of 50 Million Seniors 

All over the globe, the population of people who are aged 65 and older is growing faster than every other age group. According to United Nations data, by 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65, up from one in 11 right now. Meanwhile, in Europe and North America, by 2050, one in four people could be 65 or over. 

Unsurprisingly, startups increasingly recognize opportunities to cater to this aging population. Some are developing products to sell to individuals and their family members directly; others are coming up with ways to empower those who work directly with older Americans. 

BrainCheck, a 20-person, Houston-based startup whose cognitive healthcare product aims to help physicians assess and track the mental health of their patients, is among the latter. Investors like what it has put together, too. Today, the startup is announcing $8 million in Series A funding round co-led by S3 Ventures and Tensility Venture Partners. 

We talked earlier today with BrainCheck cofounder and CEO Yael Katz to better understand what her company has created and why it might be of interest to doctors who don’t know about it. Our chat has been edited for length and clarity. 

You’re a neuroscientist. You started BrianCheck with David Eagleman, another neuroscientist and the CEO of NeoSensory, a company that develops devices for sensory substitution. Why? What’s the opportunity here? We looked across the landscape, and we realized that most cognitive assessment is [handled by] a subspecialty of clinical psychology called neuropsychology, where patients are given a series a tests and each is designed to probe a different type of brain function — memory, visual attention, reasoning, executive function. They measure speed and accuracy, and based on that, determine whether there’s a deficit in that domain. But the tests were classically done on paper and it was a lengthy process. We digitized them and gamified them and made them accessible to everyone who is upstream of neuropsychology, including neurologists and primary care doctors. We created a tech solution that provides clinical decision support to physicians so they can manage patients’ cognitive health. There are 250,000 primary care physicians in the U.S. and 12,000 neurologists and [they’re confronting] what’s been called a silver tsunami. With so many becoming elderly, it’s not possible for them to address the need of the aging population without tech to help them. 

How does your product work, and how is it administered?

More here.

Massive Fundings  

DeepRoute, a months-old, Fremont, Ca.-based self-driving vehicle startup with offices in China and California, just raised $50 million in pre-Series A(!) funding led by Fosun RZ Capital, with participation from GoldenSand CapitalYunqi PartnersVentech China and Green Pine Capital Partners. TechNode has more here

Next Insurance, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based firm that sells insurance products to small businesses, has raised $250 million in a new funding — all of it from Germany-based Munich Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurers. The company has raised $381 million altogether. The new round values the company at more than $1 billion, it says. TechCrunch has more here

OYO, a six-year-old, India-based budget lodging company, says it’s raising $1.5 billion in Series F funding at a $10 billion valuation and that, per a July Economic Times article, will see its swashbuckling 26-year-old founder and CEO, Ritesh Agarwal increase his own stake in the company from 10 percent to 30 percent. To fully cover his part of the round — $700 million — Agarwal is reportedly taking out loans from the Japanese banks Mizuho Financial Group and Nomura. Bloomberg has more here.   

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

AI Medical Service, a two-year-old, Tokyo-based company developing software to help detect gastric cancer, has raised $42.9 million in Series B funding from Globis Capital PartnersWorld Innovation Lab and Sony Innovation Fund. The company has now raised $57 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Celigo, a 14-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based platform that says it can be used to easily and quickly create customized integrations, just raised $20 million in Series B funding led by NewSpring Capital, which was joined by Blossom Street Ventures and earlier investor TVC CapitalMore here.

CityLift, a 4.5-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based startup that’s trying to change parking by designing and installing automated parking lifts inside commercial garages across the U.S., has raised $22.5 million in Series C funding from Dundon Capital PartnersMore here

Smaller Fundings  

Demecan, a two-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based company producing medical cannabis, has raised $7.7 million in Series A funding from btov Partners, a private investor network, and a single, unnamed German family office. TechCrunch has more here

PayMongo, a month-old, Manila, Philippines-based fintech startup that helps regional businesses accept online payments from multiple channels, has raised $2.7 million from Founders FundPeter Thiel, and Stripe. Other participants in the round include Y CombinatorGlobal Founders CapitalSoma Capital, and Tinder Co-founder Justin Mateen. e27 has more here.

New Funds 

83North, a venture firm that invests in European and Israeli startups,  has closed its fifth fund with $300 million in capital commitments. The outfit had closed its fourth fund with $250 million in 2017. TechCrunch has more here

Accelmed, a U.S.-Israel group of funds investing in medical device and digital health companies, says it plans to raise a new $100 million fund to plug into Israeli and global pre-revenue health tech startups and that Vincent Tchenguiz, a British businessman born in Iran, has committed to invest $15 million in the fund. According to Reuters, this is the fourth fund established by the Accelmed group, which already manages more than $300 million through Accelmed Ventures and private equity fund Accelmed Partners. More here.


New media firm Group Nine Media is acquiring the women-focused publisher PopSugar in an all-stock deal that values PopSugar at more than $300 million and will give its shareholders more than 30 percent ownership of the combined company, says the WSJ. (Group Nine’s shareholders will own the rest.) More here.


Dan Gallagher, an SEC commissioner from 2011 to 2015, has joined the board of the online trading platform Robinhood. Gallagher is currently a partner and deputy chair of the securities department at the law firm WilmerHale. Bloomberg has more here

That British cave rescuer torches Elon Musk in court documents released earlier tonight.

Sponsored By …

Tired of all those big, splashy IPOs (*cough* WeWork *cough*) that fall short of expectations? Art has outperformed the S&P by 250% since 2000. Masterworks.io is an all new exclusive investing platform that lets you buy shares of blue-chip art by Warhol, Banksy, and more. Sound like your kind of investment? StrictlyVC readers can skip the 5,000+ waitlist by clicking HERE.

Essential Reads 

Instagram is killing its creepy stalking feature, the “Following” tab. 

For drivers, roads are safer than ever, but for pedestrians, they are getting deadlier by the year.  

Apple’s hopes of creating a super-bundle of media content for one flat monthly fee have run into early opposition, says the Financial times, with some record labels nervous about the prospect of offering their music for a lower price. Executives particularly fear that margins may be hurt if Apple undercuts the $10 monthly price that Spotify, Apple Music and others charge, says the report.


The disruptive world of Edward Norton

Talk about a great return

Watch all of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s hilarious “Saturday Night Live” sketches from this past weekend.

Retail Therapy 

Sony has a new high-resolution A7R IV full-frame mirrorless camera that has rivals searching through their camera bags for answers.

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