October 18, 2019

Friday! [Thwacks the ball.] 

Hope you have a stellar weekend! If you haven’t signed up for our upcoming event on November 13th, don’t wait too long. Featuring former Facebook CTO Alex Stamos in conversation with NYTimes reporter Sheera Frenkel; Jim Collins of the GV-backed dark kitchen company Kitchen United in conversation with CNBC reporter Lora Kolodny; and renowned angel investor turned VC Cyan Banister, in conversation with this kid. We’ll have one more conversation to announce. In the meantime, we’re very excited to see those of you who are coming.:)  

Thanks so very much to NextWorld Capital for generously hosting us; to the boutique PR and strategy firm KCPR for its early support of the program; and to Carta — the platform for investors, founders, and employees to manage their cap tables, valuations, investments, and equity plans — for joining us as our newest partner in the evening.  

P.S. We’re also headed to Berlin soon, including to interview Klarna’s Sebastian Siemiatkowski, who we last sat down with at a tiny coffee shop in San Francisco (before his company became Europe’s most highly valued private company). Hope to see some of you there, too.

Top News 

Mark Hurd, who until last month was one of two CEOs leading the database software giant Oracle, passed away this morning at age 62, one month after telling employees in a letter that he was taking a leave of absence owing to health reasons. TechCrunch has more here

SoftBank Group is assembling a rescue financing plan for WeWork that may value the office-sharing company below $8 billion, according to Bloomberg. The new figure is a fraction of the $47 billion valuation the startup commanded as recently as January, and yet it *still* seems a little high when compared with its bigger, profitable, publicly traded rival IWG, whose valuation is roughy half that amount.

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Adam Neumann Planned for His Children and Grandchildren to Control WeWork 

WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann didn’t plan for his family’s control of WeWork to end at his death but instead expected to pass that control to future generations of Neumanns, too, says Business Insider

The outlet reports that in a speech Neumann gave to employees in January of this year, footage of which it says it has viewed, Neumann is seen saying that WeWork isn’t “just controlled — we’re generationally controlled.” He reportedly goes on to say that while the five children he shares with wife Rebekah Neumann “don’t have to run the company,” they “do have to stay the moral compass of the company.” 

According to BI, Neumann even invoked his future grandchildren, telling those gathered: “It’s important that one day, maybe in 100 years, maybe in 300 years, a great-great-granddaughter of mine will walk into that room and say, ‘Hey, you don’t know me; I actually control the place. The way you’re acting is not how we built it,’” he said. 

These may sound like more outlandish proclamations from Neumann, who has a flair for the dramatic. (Talking to Fast Company earlier this year, he compared WeWork to a rare jewel, asking, “Do you know how long it takes a diamond to be created?”) 

But before WeWork began coming apart at the seams, Neumann had every reason to believe that he could pass power down to his heirs. 

More here.

Massive Fundings  

ArsenalBio, a year-old, South San Francisco-based biotech outfit that hopes to improve the ability of T cell therapies to better fight a broader range of cancers, has raised $85 million in Series A funding. Investors include Westlake Village BioPartners, the Parker Institute for Cancer ImmunotherapyKleiner Perkins, the University of CaliforniaSan Francisco Foundation Investment CompanyEuclidean Capital and Osage Venture Partners. TechCrunch has much more here

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

Madbox, a 4.5-year-old, France-based mobile games studio, has raised $16.5 million in Series A funding from Alven. TechCrunch has more here.

Smaller Fundings  

Tenfold, a four-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based maker of customer service software, 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. Pulse 2.0 has more here.

New Funds 

Bloomberg Beta, the six-year-old, San Francisco-based outfit that uses Bloomberg LP’s money to make bets on startups, has closed its third fund with $75 million, according to Roy Bahat, who’d previously run the online media company IGN and who operates the fund as an equal partnership with Karin Klein and James Chan. (Klein formerly ran Bloomberg’s new initiatives; Chan was formerly a principal with Trinity Ventures.) We talked with Bahat briefly last night about the new vehicle to ask how its capital will be deployed.


The Kik messaging platform has been bought by MediaLab, a holding company which operates Whisper and a number of other apps, the company announced earlier today. CoinDesk has more here.


Di-Ann Eisnor, a WeWork exec, has left the company, says The Information. Eisnor reported to Adam Neumann and had “hired a group of designers, researchers and engineers focused on urban problems such as housing affordability and constructing buildings with sustainable material,” says the outlet, adding that her team of about 30 employees have left the company or are planning to depart.  

Bill Gates on why he thinks we can predict the future

Ilana Stern has joined Peterson Ventures as general partner. She was previously CEO of the made-to-order dress store Weddington Way. More here.

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Essential Reads 

The Alphabet-owned drone delivery spin-out Wing is starting to service U.S. customers, after becoming the first drone delivery company to get the federal go-ahead to do so earlier this year. 

Lawmakers from both parties in the House and Senate criticized Apple CEO Tim Cook today for “censorship” at the behest of China.


The stunning escape of El Chapo’s son

Conan and Dave. ️ 

One giant leap for womankind. [Buh-bam.]

Retail Therapy 

High-tech spacesuits, by Under Armour.

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