October 24, 2019

Almost. Friday. [Closes computer. Crumples.]  

We’re kidding! We are tired but we’re also more excited than ever about our November 13th event, having just visited the San Francisco gallery owned by our hosts, NextWorld Capital, whose current exhibit centers on the work of the hyper-realistic French sculptor Elisabeth Daynes. (It’s jaw-dropping, trust us. Her work is also on display right now at the California Academy of Sciences.) Lucky for us it will still be there when we collectively head back next month.:) 

More tomorrow.

Top News

Amazon shares fell by nearly 7 percent in after-hours trading today after the company reported its first earnings miss in two years. The company also gave fourth-quarter revenue guidance that’s far below the street’s average estimate, indicating Amazon expects a slower holiday season. TechCrunch has more here

Twitter also shares dropped today after it reported quarterly results that fell short of Wall Street’s estimates. Bloomberg has more here.

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SoftBank Says It Has Now Invested $18.5 Billion Altogether in WeWork; “We’re Basically Betting SoftBank”

Yesterday, in addressing nervous WeWork employees at an all-hands, the company’s new chairman, SoftBank  executive Marcelo Claure, told those gathered that their days of worrying are over, says Recode, which obtained a leaked recording of the meeting. 

In comments that may stun industry observers who haven’t done the math — and upset at least some percentage of SoftBank investors — Claure is quoted as telling employees: “We have guaranteed the future of WeWork, but more importantly is we’re putting the future back into our hands. There’s no more days needed to go fundraising. There’s no more days needed to go prove to the investor community that we’re a viable company. The size of the commitment that SoftBank has made to this company in the past and now is $18.5 billion. To put the things in context, that is bigger than the GDP of my country where I came from. That’s a country where there’s 11 million people.” 

Claure, a native of Bolivia who was named chairman as part of SoftBank’s rescue of the beleaguered co-working company, has been a SoftBank lieutenant for the last five years, and currently holds a variety of titles on its behalf, including COO of SoftBank Group Corp, CEO of SoftBank Group International and CEO of SoftBank Latin America. 

He has said he first met SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son after building up his own business, Brightstar — a  cellphone reseller — then selling 57% of it to SoftBank in 2013 in a deal that valued the company at $2.2 billion. SoftBank later acquired more of the company before deciding to explore a sale of the low-margin business last year for $1 billion

By then, Claure was running Sprint, a SoftBank-backed property that installed Claure as CEO in 2014, where he presided over a massive share slide that began before he joined the company and ended only last year when T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to merge. 

More here.

Massive Fundings

Arcutis Biotherapeutics, a three-year-old, Westlake Village, Ca.-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that wants to commercialize treatments for immune-mediated dermatological diseases and conditions, has raised $94.5 million in Series C funding. HBM Healthcare Investments led the round, joined by Vivo Capital, funds and accounts managed by BlackRockOmega FundsPivotal BioVentures, and Goldman Sachs. The company’s many earlier investors also joined the round. The company has now raised $160 million altogether. The San Fernando Business Journal has more here

Total Expert, a seven-year-old, Eden Prairie, Mn.-based marketing and customer engagement technology platform for banks, lenders and financial services, has raised $52 million in Series C funding. Georgian Partners led the round, joined by Emergence Capital and Rally Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

Viz.ai, a three-year-old, San Francisco- and Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup that’s using artificial intelligence to more rapidly identify stroke victims in order to ensure treatment faster, has raised $50 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Greenoaks, with participation from Threshold Ventures and CRV, along with earlier investors GV and Kleiner PerkinsMore here.

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

Ally, a two-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based maker of performance management software, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Tiger Global. Crunchbase News has more here

Augmedix​, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of health-centric applications for Google Glass, just raised $19 million in Series B funding. Investors include Redmile GroupMcKesson VenturesDCM Ventures, and Wanxiang Healthcare Investments. Crunchbase News has more here

AVIA, a seven-year-old, Chicago-based company that tries helping its healthcare customers navigate the threats and opportunities created by the digitization of healthcare, has raised $22 million in funding. First Trust Capital Partners led the round. More here

Coople, a 10-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based on-demand staffing platform, has raised $32 million in Series C funding, including from Goldman Sachs Private Capital and One Peak Partners. Tech.eu has more here

Grafana Labs, a five-year-old, New York-based company behind open source projects including Grafana and Loki, has raised $24 million in Series A funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round, joined by Lead Edge CapitalMore here

Shipwell, a three-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based maker of supply chain management software for shippers, third-party logistics companies, and carriers, has raised $35 million in Series B funding. Georgian Partners led the round, joined by Fifth WallGlobal Founders CapitalBox Group and Aspect Ventures. The company has now raised $47 million in funding altogether. TechCrunch has more here

Very Good Security, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based data security company, just raised $35 million in Series B funding. Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division led the round, joined by Andreessen Horowitz and Vertex Ventures US. TechCrunch has more here

The Yes, an AI-powered shopping platform cofounded by the former COO of Stitch Fix, Julie Bornstein, has raised $30 million across two previously undisclosed rounds of funding. Its seed round was co-led by Forerunner Ventures and NEA. The Series A was led by True Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Smaller Fundings

Foundries.io, a two-year-old, U.K.-based maker of software platforms for embedded product development, has raised $3.5 million in funding. Crane Venture Partners led the round, joined by Backed VCMore here. ​

Shiru, a months-old, San Francisco-based food tech company that wants to create protein ingredients that could be used in alternatives to cheese, yogurt, milk, and eggs has raised $3.5 million in funding led by Lux Capital. Founder Jasmin Hume was formerly the director of food chemistry at JUST, formerly known as Hampton Creek. Business Insider has more here

Taskade, a two-year-old, New York-based collaboration tool for startup teams, has raised $5 million in seed funding from Grishin Robotics and Y Combinator. TechCrunch has more here

Tines, a year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based startup that lets companies automate aspects of their cybersecurity, has raised $4.1 million in Series A funding led by Blossom Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


Amazon has acquired Health Navigator, a five-year-old startup that develops APIs for online health services. According to CNBC, Health Navigator will become part of Amazon Care, Amazon’s pilot healthcare service program for employees. This is the second health startup acquired by Amazon. The first was online pharmacy PillPack, purchased by the company in 2018 for slightly less than $1 billion. PillPack’s services have also been integrated into Amazon Care, which offers deliveries of prescriptions with remotely communicated treatment plans. TechCrunch has more here

Naspers, the South African tech conglomerate, has tried to “gatecrash a merger of two of Europe’s biggest food delivery groups,” reports the Financial Times. Specifically, it has made a hostile bid for Just Eat in the U.K., which is currently planning to merge with rival Takeaway.com in an all-stock deals. Just East has already rebuffed the offer for now, but Naspers is offering cash and it’s offering a higher price, so stay tuned.


With Amazon getting hammered for its performance, Jeff Bezos may lose his of world’s richest person to Bill Gates. He would still be ranked number one if he and MacKenzie Bezos had not divorced, Bloomberg notes.  

Fair.com, a SoftBank-backed startup building a flexible car ownership business that is valued at $1.2 billion, said today it will be laying off 40 percent of its staff. It’s also removing its CFO, Tyler Painter, the brother of the CEO and co-founder Scott Painter. (Ouch.) He’s being replaced in the interim by a former Hertz VP, Kirk Shryoc. TechCrunch has more here

Saudi Arabia’s giant, upcoming investment conference — dubbed “Davos in the desert” until Davos organizers strenuously asked people to stop calling it this — has a tony guest this year despite the kingdom creating what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. According to Axios, among those slated to attend the event is Blackstone Group CEO Steve Schwarzman, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters, and Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak said at a tech conference that he does not expect fully autonomous cars “in my lifetime.” NBC News has more here.

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Essential Reads

SoftBank has to announce its second-quarter earnings on November 6, and it’s reportedly planning to take a write-down to its Vision Fund of at least $5 billion to reflect a plunge in the value of some of its biggest holdings. Bloomberg has more here

Investors betting against Tesla collectively lost an estimated $1 billion-plus today as its stock headed for its best day on Wall Street since 2013. CNBC has more here



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