October 23, 2019

Wednesday! Woot!

Top News

That WeWork deal could fall apart yet, suggests a new Bloomberg report that states SoftBank Group will seek approval of its bailout package with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which has stymied SoftBank before. As the report notes: “SoftBank won approval from the panel to buy Sprint Corp. and U.K. chip designer ARM Holdings. However, the committee put conditions on its ownership of Sprint, and restricted its control of alternative-asset manager Fortress Investment Group. More recently, SoftBank was unable to fill two board seats at one of its portfolio companies, Uber Technologies, because it did not have Cfius approval.” 

Tesla delivered a strong third-quarter earnings report after the bell today, posting a surprise profit and telling shareholders it’s ahead of schedule with a new factory in Shanghai. Shares rose more than 20 percent after hours. CNBC has more here.

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LinkedIn’s Degree Problem

A couple of years ago, the cofounder and CEO of a blood-testing company was publicly taken to task for implying in articles and professional profiles that he has a PhD when in reality, he’d left a prestigious graduate group three years after enrolling, without a degree. 

The CEO is hardly alone in intentionally or otherwise sowing confusion around his credentials, however. Over the years, we’ve mistakenly believed that a number of founders have obtained specific college degrees based on their LinkedIn bio, only to learn offline that they enrolled for some period of time in a particular program that they didn’t complete. 

It happened most recently with the cofounder of a startup who one would might surmise based on his LinkedIn profile has a master’s degree from Harvard but does not. We also misunderstood the CEO of a robotics company to have a PhD based on her LinkedIn. It was our fault; it mentioned under the credit that she’d left to start a company. But anyone scanning the site might have come to the same wrong conclusion. (We pointed this out to her team, and mention of the PhD was deleted.) 

In a higher-profile case, James Damore, the fired Google engineer who authored that infamous memo about the company’s diversity practices and whose LinkedIn page cited under “Education” a “PhD, Systems Biology,” removed mention of those doctoral studies after Wired confirmed with Harvard that he was enrolled in the program but didn’t complete the doctorate. 

Damore tried to defend his own LinkedIn profile, tweeting at the time, “I never told anyone I have a PhD. LinkedIn can’t distinguish between being in the PhD program and having a PhD (I forgot to update it).” 

More here.

Massive Fundings

Fabric, a four-year-old, New York-based startup that wants to make automated logistics available to retailers of all sizes, has raised $110 million in Series B funding. Corner Ventures led the round, joined by AlephCPPIBInnovation EndeavorsLa MaisonPlayground Ventures, and Temasek. TechCrunch has more here.

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

Disperse, a four-year-old, London-based startup whose computer vision-driven construction software aims to identify issues on a site, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Northzone. VentureBeat has more here

Fairmarkit, a two-year-old, Boston-based procurement platform that tries to find the best vendors for its enterprise customers, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Insight Partners. Built in Boston has more here

Lemon Way, a 12-year-old, Paris-based payment processor for marketplaces and crowdfunding platforms, has raised €25 million from Toscafund Asset Management. Tech.eu has more here

Literati, a three-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based subscription book service for kids, has raised $12 million in funding led by Shasta Ventures. Crunchbase News has more here

PeerNova, a six-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that aims to enables financial institutions to perpetually synchronize their data across multiple internal and external systems, has raised $31 million in funding. Mosaik Partners led the round, and was joined by Medici Ventures and Intuitive Venture Partners. Tech Startups has more here

Starling Bank, the five-year-old U.K.-based challenger bank founded by banking veteran Anne Boden, has raised an additional £30 million in funding led by earlier backer Merian Chrysalis, with participation from JTC, another of Starling’s existing investors. Starling has now raised £263 million to date. TechCrunch has more here

Triller, a four-year-old, L.A.-based music video platform that’s trying to compete with TikTok, has raised $28 million in Series B funding led by Proxima Media, founded by veteran film producer Ryan Cavanaugh. More here

Truebill, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose personal finance app helps users track subscriptions, automates their budgeting, and more, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Eldridge Industries, with participation from Evolution VC, and earlier backers Cota CapitalLucas Venture Group, and YouTube cofounder Jawed KarimMore here.

Smaller Fundings

Bizly, a four-year-old, New York-based enterprise software company that empowers individual employees to build their own meetings and events from start-to-finish, has raised $1.5 million in funding from JetBlue Technology Ventures, Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan, and Hone CapitalMore here

Demodesk, a three-year-old, Munich, Germany-based early-stage startup whose meeting software features advanced screen sharing options and that doesn’t need to downloaded, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Backers include GFCFundersClubY Combinator,  Kleiner Perkins and numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here

Firedome, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based endpoint cybersecurity startup, just raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Two Sigma Ventures, with participation from World Trade Ventures and Silvertech VenturesMore here

Flip Fit, a six-month-old, L.A.-based social shopping platform, has raised $3.75 million in seed funding led by TLV Partners, with participation from Lool VenturesMore here

Koan, a three-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based performance management platform that’s looking to help teams achieve their objectives and stay engaged, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Uncork Capital and Crosslink. TechCrunch has more here

Logixboard, a two-year-old, Seattle-based freight logistics startup, raised $4.2 million in seed funding led by Social Leverage. GeekWire has more here

Raydiant, a 3.5-year-old, Bay Area-based startup promising to turn TVs into interactive digital signs (its customer include hotels like Westin and a restaurant chain owned by the Wahlberg brothers), has raised $7 million in new funding. 8VC led the round, joined by AtomicBloomberg BetaLerer HippeauSV Angel and Transmedia Capital. TechCrunch has more here

U-Nest, a 1.5-year-old, Burbank, Ca.-based mobile app that helps parents save for their kids’​ education via tax-advantaged college savings plans, has raised $2 million in seed funding. Backers include The Artemis FundDraper DragonUnlock VenturesVested Ventures, and Band of AngelsMore here

Vendr, a 16-month-old, Boston-based startup that’s selling subscription-based software that helps businesses buy and manage enterprise SaaS, has raised a $2 million seed round. F-Prime Capital led the funding, joined by Sound Ventures, Joe Montana’s Liquid2 VenturesGarage VC and angel investors, including Canva co-founder Cliff Obrecht. TechCrunch has more here

Voca.ai, a two-year-old. Herzliya, Israel-based company behind an AI-driven call center agent technology, has raised strategic funding from American Express Ventures that brings its total funding to $3.5 million. The company had earlier raised $2.6 million from Lool Ventures and Flint Capital. Calcalist has more here.

Winnie, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based childcare and preschool marketplace, has raised $9 million in Series A funding. Rethink Impact led the round,  joined by Impact America FundUnusual VenturesLudlow VenturesAfore CapitalDay One VenturesKairos, and Slack’s former chief product officer, April Underwood. EdSurge has more here.


Pando, a venture-backed tech site, has been acquired by a company called BuySellAds for undisclosed terms, says its founder, Sarah Lacy. Lacy says the sale marks the end of her journalism career and that she’s now focused entirely on her new startup, Chairman Mom. More here.


Mike Adams, whose startup, MissionU, was acquired in May of last year by WeWork, described the payoff to its former CEO, Adam Neumann, as an “injustice” before later deleting the tweet. Other employees of WeWork, up to one-third of whom are facing layoffs, are fuming, too

Eric Tse, the 24-year-old son of one of China’s richest families, was just given a $3.8 billon gift — one fifth of their corporation, Sino Biopharmaceutical — making him one of the world’s richest people overnight

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Essential Reads

Google says it has built a computer that is capable of solving problems that classical computers practically cannot. According to a report published in the scientific journal Nature, Google’s processor, Sycamore, performed a truly random-number generation in 200 seconds. That same task would take about 10,000 years for a state-of-the-art supercomputer to execute. NPR has more here

Tesla continues to produce the Model S and Model X more for “sentimental reasons than anything else,” CEO Elon Musk said today during that same call with investors, calling the electric vehicles “niche” products. “They are really of minor importance to future,” Musk added. (Sales of the Tesla 3 are far outpacing sales of its predecessors.) TechCrunch has more here

Mark Zuckerberg performed a high dive over an empty pool today. Despite six hours of questioning by members of the House Financial Services Committee over Facebook’s cryptocurrency plans, he seemed incapable of accomplishing much more than invoking the threat that China could overtake U.S. technology if Congress blocks Facebook’s digital currency plans. “Frankly, I’m not sure that we’ve learned anything new here,” said ranking member Patrick McHenry afterward.


The motivating power of staying pissed off

Booze-filled advent calendars

TV reporter fired after climbing on cars at auto show says it was totally worth it.


The New York townhouse of renowned architect I.M. Pei is now on sale. The asking price: $8 million

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