October 9, 2019

Hi, all! Hope you’ve had a stellar Wednesday. 🙂 Ours flew by, though a definite highlight was a visit earlier in the day with renowned investor and hip hop connoisseur Ben Horowitz. More on our chat soon.

Top News 

Ugh. Apple has just removed an app, HKmap.live, that crowdsources the location of police and anti-government protesters in Hong Kong and that was approved by Apple late last week after it reversed an earlier decision to reject the submission. The company succumbed to pressure from Chinese state media, which had accused the company of endorsing and protecting “rioters” in Hong Kong’s increasingly violent protests by listing the app.  

Though CNN has refused to air an advertisement released last week by the Trump campaign that accuses former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden of trying to bribe officials in Ukraine, Facebook has given it the green-light, foreshadowing a continuing fight over misinformation on the service during the 2020 election. The New York Times has more here.

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SmileDirectClub’s Former CEO is Back with a New Dental Startup Called Tend 

A growing number of newer dental brands has been attracting money from venture investors who are still kicking themselves for missing some runaway hits. Most notable among these breakout companies is newly public SmileDirectClub, which sells teeth-straightening products directly to consumers and is beloved by analysts even though its shares have slipped since its September IPO. 

Among the many teeth-related startups to more recently attract private funding is Swift Health Systems, a five-year-old company that makes invisible braces under the brand INBRACE and just raised $45 million from VCs; Henry the Dentist, a two-year-old, mobile dental clinic that raised $10 million earlier this year; and Quip, a five-year-old maker of electric toothbrushes and oral care products that has garnered roughly $62 million from investors. 

Still, a new company called Tend is especially notable, and not because it just raised $36 million in seed and Series A funding — which it did, led by Redpoint Ventures. 

First and foremost, Tend sees an opportunity to reinvent the dentist’s office. How? Through tech-heavy dental “studios” that “prioritize” your comfort by featuring sleek waiting areas that it promises you’ll almost never need to use and by offering “Netflix in your chair” that you will enjoy while wearing the latest and greatest Bose headphones. (Tend says it will get your favorite show queued up before you arrive for your appointment, which you will breezily book online, and whose prices you can learn in advance, so you don’t suffer sticker shock later.) 

A Fast Company reporter who visited the startup’s newly opened flagship space in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood was even offered a selection of only the finest toothpastes, including that of Marvis, an Italian brand that comes in such distinct flavors as Amarelli licorice, cinnamon, ginger and jasmine — not to mention “classic strong,” “whitening,” and “aquatic.” 

It all sounds faintly ridiculous, but also fairly nice, especially contrasted with traditional dentist offices, which tend to be both highly antiseptic and astonishingly vague about pricing. 

There’s also a kind of precedent for what it’s doing. Specifically, improving on the patient experience has worked out well for One Medical, a venture-backed, tech-driven chain of 70 clinics that has become one of the largest independent groups in the U.S. (It’s also reportedly prepping an IPO.) 

Little wonder that one individual participant in Tend’s new funding is Tom Lee, the physician who created One Medical in 2007 and led it as CEO until 2017. 

More here.

Massive Fundings  

Adicet Bio, a five-year-old, New York-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing novel “off the shelf” cell therapies based on gamma delta T cells, just raised $80 million in Series B funding. Investors include aMoon2 FundRegeneron PharmaceuticalsJohnson & Johnson InnovationOCI EnterprisesKB Investment Co., Consensus Business GroupSBI JI Innovation FundSamsung Venture Investment CorporationHandok, and DSC Investment. Reuters has more here

Casavo, a two-year-old, Milan, Italy-based startup that says it makes it possible to sell a house online with only few clicks (à la Opendoor in the U.S.), has raised €50 million in Series B funding led by GreenoaksMore here

Kandou, an eight-year-old, Lausanne, Switzerland-based developer of connectivity IP and a related standalone chip designed for the consumer market, has raised $56 million from Bessemer Venture PartnersColumbia Lake PartnersDigital Transformation FundFayerweather Capital PartnersForestay CapitalKreos CapitalRaging CapitalSwisscom Ventures, and Walden International. Venture Kick has more here

RigUp, a five-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based company that connects independent contractors like heavy equipment operators, maintenance workers and solar panel installers with jobs in different energy sectors (renewables, oil and gas), has raised $300 million in Series D funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, using its recently formed late stage fund. Other investors include Baillie GiffordBrookfield Growth Partners, and earlier backers Founders FundBedrock Capital, and Quantum Energy Partners. According to the WSJ, RigUp is now valued at $1.9 billion. More here

Sonovate, a seven-year-old, London-based company that makes invoicing software for the recruiting and other industries, has raised £110 million of venture capital and debt funding from M&G InvestmentsMXB HoldingsDawn Capital and Rocket InternetMore here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

AnotherBrain, a 2.5-year-old, Paris, France-based startup that’s creating software and microchips for what it calls “organic AI,” meaning its tech will require less computing power (ostensibly) and be less reliant on large training sets, has raised roughly $21 million in venture funding. The round was led by Alpha Intelligence Capital and Paris-based investor Daphni, with participation from SEB Alliance and Robinson Technologies. Sifted.eu has more here

CorneaGen, a three-year-old, Seattle-based cornea care company at work on numerous products, including a treatment that involves culturing human eye endothelial cells and injecting them into the anterior chamber of a corneal blind patient’s eye, has raised $37 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Flying L Partners, in collaboration with Falcon Vision, a platform formed by KKR. Petrichor Healthcare Capital Management also chipped into the round, providing a separate, $25 million credit facility to the company. More here

Critizr, a seven-year-old, Lille, France-based company feedback management system that aims to better allow retailers and brands to connect with their customers, has raised €15 million in funding led by 83North, with participation from Point NineCaphorn, and Runa. Tech.eu has more here

FAZUA, a six-year-old, Munich, Germany-based startup that develops drive systems for e-bikes, has closed on €15 million in funding led by UVC Partners. The European Investment Bank separately loaned the startup €12 million in venture debt. Tech.eu has more here

Iziwork, a year-old, Paris-based temp staffing marketplace, has raised €12 million in Series A funding led by Cathay Innovation, with participation from Global Founders CapitalMore here

Melorra, a four-year-old, Bangalore, India-based online jewelry store that predominantly sells lightweight gold pieces to women, has raised $12 million in funding from LightboxBlackSoil Capital, and several family offices. The company has now raised $24 million altogether. Business Standard has more here

Osaro, a four-year-old, San Francisco startup developing machine-learning algorithms that help industrial robots recognize, sort, pack, and assemble objects, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by King River Capital, with participation from Alpha Intelligence CapitalFounders FundPegasus Tech Ventures, and GiTV Fund, among others. The round brings the startup’s total funding to date to $29.3 million. VentureBeat has more here.  

Remarkable, a six-year-old, Oslo, Norway-based startup behind a digital paper tablet of the same name, has raised $15 million in Series A funding from Spark Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Satelles, an 11-year-old, Reston, Va.-based company that sells its own ostensibly hack-proof location services to high frequency traders and others, has raised $26 million in Series C funding led by C5 Capital, with participation from Iridium CommunicationsMore here.

Wild Type, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based cultured salmon startup (meaning it’s growing fish from cells outside the animal), has raised $12.5 million in Series A funding led by Maven Ventures, with participation from Spark Capital and Root Ventures. The Spoon has more here

Smaller Fundings  

Augmenta, a two-year-old, Paris-based precision agriculture company, raised $2.5 million in seed funding co-led by Hardware Club and Marathon Venture Capital of Athens. More here

Doorstead, a months-old, San Francisco-based rental property management startup, just raised $3.3 million in seed funding co-led by M13 and Silicon Valley Data Capital, with participation from Venture Reality Fund and SOMA Capital. TechCrunch has more here

Middesk, an 11-month-old, San Francisco-based startup that offers business verifications, legal and regulatory checks, and industry classification products for companies selling to businesses, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Accel, with participation from Sequoia Capital and Y Combinator. Forbes has more here

ImmunoMolecular Therapeutics, a four-year-old, Woburn, Ma.-based clinical stage company that’s developing personalized therapies for autoimmune diseases, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. JDRF T1D Fund and Morningside Ventures co-led the round, joined by the Colorado University Healthcare Innovation FundMore here

Papa, a three-year-old, Miami, Fla.-based startup that connects college and nursing students, known as “Papa Pals,” to older adults who need assistance with transportation, house chores, technology and other services, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Canaan. Other investors include Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates, Initialized CapitalY Combinator, and Sound Ventures. Refresh Miami has more here.

New Funds 

Bessemer Venture Partners has raised $525 million for its first-ever later-stage fund, from which partners can write a check of up to $250 million, according to the Financial Times. The idea, says partner Byron Deeter, is to enable Bessemer to fund “every round of a cloud company’s existence”, in case “late-stage investors pull out of the market or IPO windows shut.” 

Voyager Capital, a 22-year-old, Seattle-based early-stage venture firm, has closed its fifth fund with $100 million in capital commitments. It plans to fund companies almost exclusively in the Pacific Northwest. GeekWire has more here.


Fangdd Network Group, a China-based online real estate marketplace, has filed for an IPO in the U.S., and it has turned to Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, UBS, China International Capital Corporation and AMTD for help in the endeavor. DealStreetAsia has more here

Megvii, a China-based tech firm focused on AI said to be seeking an IPO in Hong Kong, was placed on the Trump administration’s blacklist along with handful of other companies with surveillance capabilities. Goldman Sachs said immediately afterward of its involvement in the planned IPO that it’s “evaluating in light of the recent developments.” Reuters has more here

When PayPal reports its newest financial results in a couple of weeks, one dark spot will be a $228-million loss on investments before taxes in the third quarter driven in large part by a bad bet on Uber just before it went public. The investment, for $500 million at Uber’s IPO, has fallen 34 percent. Bloomberg has more here.


U.S. Venture Partners, the Menlo Park, Ca.-based venture capital firm, has promoted Dafina Toncheva to general partner. Toncheva, who invests in emerging tech in the enterprise space, joined the firm in 2012 following a two-year stint with Venrock. She previously worked as a program manager at Microsoft. More here

Julie Yoo has joined the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz as a general partner focused on health-tech investments. Yoo spent the last eight years as a co-founder and chief product officer of Kyruus, a venture-backed healthcare provider matching tool. She joins as the firm’s 17th GP. It had firm hired David George, who focuses on late-stage deals, and Anish Acharya, who specializes in fintech deals, earlier this year. TechCrunch has more here.

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Some NBA fans supporting the Hong Kong protests are getting kicked out of games and seeing their signs confiscated. 

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Retail Therapy 

Wait. Aston Martin residences?

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