October 8, 2019

Tuesday! No column today (we have a post-event plague). More tomorrow. 🙂

Top News 

Kiss your perishables goodbye, local readers. PG&E, the California utility giant forced into bankruptcy by two years of devastating wildfires, is “orchestrating the biggest planned blackout yet to keep power lines from sparking more blazes,” as notes Bloomberg. The plan is to cut electricity to almost 800,000 customers across Northern California, including parts of Napa Valley, Oakland and Berkeley, beginning just after midnight local time tonight. More here

U.S.-China relations continue to fast deteriorate. The latest? China’s Ministry of Commerce said today that  the country “strongly urges” the U.S. to stay clear of its domestic issues, after the White House blacklisted tens of Chinese companies due to alleged human rights violations against Muslim minorities in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang. “We strongly urge the U.S. to immediately stop making irresponsible remarks on the issue of Xinjiang” and to “stop interfering” in “China’s internal affairs, and remove relevant Chinese entities from the list of entities as soon as possible,” a spokesperson from the ministry said in a statement, translated in CNBC.

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Pilot, a San Francisco-based startup, recently raised a $40 million Series B from Index Ventures and Stripe to take bookkeeping and tax prep off founders’ plates. See why Lattice, OpenAI, YC Research and hundreds more trust Pilot with their books and get 20% off your first six months of Pilot Core.

Massive Fundings  

Cowell Health, a Beijing, China-headquartered chain of drugstore businesses backed by the regional private equity firm Hillhouse Capital Group, is reportedly on the cusp of raising $500 million from Tencent Holdings as the internet giant makes a bigger push beyond its core business of online games and into healthcare. The Information, which has the scoop here, paints the broader picture, writing that the “deal comes amid Chinese government efforts to reform and liberalize its tight controls over prescription drugs, most of which are still sold through hospitals. Sales are expected to shift to retailers as Chinese regulators aim to increase access to prescription drugs, especially for China’s aging population.” 

Cygnal Therapeutics, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma-based oncology drug startup focused on the peripheral nervous system, has raised $65 million, including from Flagship Pioneering, which helped incubate the company. FierceBiotech has more here.  

Genor Biopharma, a 12-year-old, Shanghai, China-based biopharma company that, like Cowell Health, is backed by Hillhouse Capital, is reportedly in talks to raise $100 million at a $1 billion valuation. Bloomberg has more here

SparkCognition, a six-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based start-up that builds artificial intelligence technology for the industrial sectors and counts Boeing among its investors, has raised $100 million in Series C funding led by March Capital Partners. Numerous high-profile angel investors also joined the round, including former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and former Cisco CEO John Chambers. Reuters has more here

Tier Mobility, a 1.5-year-old, Berlin-based startup that operates a fleet of 20,000 scooters across 40 cities in 12 countries, has raised $60 million in Series B funding co-led by Mubadala Capital and Goodwater Capital. Others in the round include insurance giant Axa GermanyEvli Growth PartnersWhite Star CapitalNorthzoneSpeedinvestPoint9IndicoKibo VenturesMarket One Capital and Formula One racing champion Nico Rosberg. TechCrunch has more here

Zomato, the 11-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based food delivery company, is reportedly in talks to raise $600 million in new funding from the Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial. The Financial Times has the story here, explaining the interest this way: “The Zomato deal may help [Ant] build an ecosystem of services for Indian consumers, similar to its Alipay app in China, where users can shop, order food, book taxis or bicycles, pay bills, and invest their money all from a single screen.” 

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Contentstack, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based enterprise content management system platform, has raised $31.5 million in Series A funding led by Insight Partners, with participation from earlier backers Illuminate Ventures and GingerBread Capital. TechCrunch has more here

Forward Networks, a six-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that helps enterprises map, track and predict their networks’ behavior, just raised $35 million in Series C funding led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from Andreessen HorowitzThreshold Ventures and A. Capital. TechCrunch has more here

Lyte, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based event ticketing platform has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Jackson Square Ventures, with participation from Industry VenturesAccomplice Ventures, and Correlation VenturesMore here

RapidSOS, a seven-year-old, New York-based startup whose software platform automatically transmits data from 911 callers to emergency responders, has raised $25 million in new funding led by Energy Impact Partners. GovTech has more here

Swift Health Systems, a five-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based company that makes invisible braces under the brand INBRACE, has raised $45 million in Series C funding co-led by Vivo CapitalNovo Holdings and venBio Partners. The company has now raised $70 million altogether. More here

Viola, a seven-year-old, L.A.-based cannabis products company founded by former NBA player Al Harrington, has raised $16 million in funding led by Gotham Green PartnersMore here

Smaller Fundings  

Razberi Technologies, an eight-year-old, Farmers Branch, Tex.-based intelligent video surveillance startup, has raised $5.8 million in funding led by LiveOak Venture Partners of Austin, with participation from Chartline Capital Partners and at least two family offices. More here

Shujinko, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle-based startup that makes cloud compliance software that helps companies automate IT audits to ensure their organization is compliant with security best practices and regulations, has raised $7.5 million in funding. Unusual Ventures led the round with participation from Defy. GeekWire has more here

Tenfold, an Austin, Tex.-based CRM and voice platform integration startup, has raised $7.5 million in Series C funding led by Next Coast Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Andreessen HorowitzGeekdom Fund and Salesforce Ventures. Built in Austin has more here

Umbo Computer Vision, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s building autonomous video security systems for businesses and organizations, has raised $8 million in funding.  Translink Capital and Susquehanna International Group co-led the round, joined by Shin-Kong Capital and Shin-Kong Security, among other existing investors. VentureBeat has more here.

New Funds 

Brooklyn Bridge Ventures is raising $20 million for its third fund, according to an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. The Brooklyn-based seed-stage venture firm currently manages $23 million across its first two funds. More here.


Neighborly, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that once sought to upend the way securities are sold in the $3.8 trillion municipal-bond market, has “idled its employees after an unsuccessful effort to raise money to stay afloat,” says Bloomberg. The company’s CEO, Jase Wilson, told employees on Sunday that its funding did not close last week and to stop working. Neighborly has raised $30.7 million over the years, including from 8VC, Emerson Collective, and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures. (We wrote about the company last year. We thought, and still think, the opportunity it was chasing is an interesting one.)


One Medical, a chain of now 70 primary care clinics that was founded 12 years ago by internal medicine physician Tom Lee, has hired JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley to lead an IPO, says CNBC. The company has raised more than $500 million in venture funding over the years, including from Benchmark and GV. More here

Postmates, the food-delivery startup valued at over $2 billion that was expected to go public in 2019, recently told its IPO advisers that it is delaying its initial public offering due to market conditions, say Vox. Founder and CEO Bastian Lehmann suggested as much publicly last week, calling the markets “choppy.”


WeWork expects to shed about 500 of the roughly 1,500 software engineers, product managers and data scientists employed in the company’s technology division as a result of layoffs and selling businesses, says The Information. The job cuts could further dilute WeWork’s identity as a tech company, it notes. 

Joe Zadeh, Airbnb’s ninth employee and its VP of Experiences since late 2016, will shift to a position overseeing new initiatives related to the company’s plans to go public next year, reports The Information. He will remain in his current role until his successor is found, says the report

Essential and Android co-founder Andy Rubin just tweeted pics of a crazy tall mystery phone.

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Essential Reads 

Oof, not a good lookBlizzard

Twitter disclosed today that it “unintentionally” used some mail address and phone numbers for advertising even though the information was provided for account security.


Why I’m waiting until marriage to replace the Brita filter. 

What happens to your body on no sleep (a concerned reader sent this one to us!). 

How to tell a recruiter about yourself

Billionaires can’t stop buying superyachts. (We would buy one, too, candidly.)

Retail Therapy 

One-on-one personal training, in your Mirror.

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