October 28, 2019


Top News

Google’s parent, Alphabet, today reported third-quarter revenue of $40.5 billion, a rise of 20 percent from the same period last year but a number that trails Google’s pace historically. Ad revenue rose to a record $33.9 billion, contributing to an overall profit of $7.1 billion, but that number, too, disappointed, given profits were 23 percent higher a year ago. The company cited the cost of new employees, but as the WSJ notes, Alphabet’s equity investments also seemingly played a role, with Alphabet reporting paper losses of $1.53 billion from such investments, compared with gains of $1.38 billion a year earlier. (If you missed it, we interviewed GV CEO David Krane a few weeks ago at TechCrunch Disrupt and he said the unit was still deciding whether to sell its stake in Uber when its lockup period ends next Thursday.) 

Beyond Meat fell today late trading despite an increased sales forecast and its first quarterly profit. Investors are bracing for a selloff tomorrow, when early backers of the faux meat maker will finally be allowed to cash out. Bloomberg has more here.

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Steve Case Does It Again, Raising Another $150 Million for Revolution’s Second Rise of The Rest Seed Fund

Revolution, the investment firm cofounded 14 years ago by entrepreneur-investor Steve Case, has closed its second Rise of the Rest seed fund with $150 million in capital commitments, just like the debut fund it announced two years ago. 

Rise of the Rest — which fund startups outside of the biggest U.S. tech hubs in an effort to foster innovation and momentum elsewhere — has rounded up some of the funding from institutional investors, presumably, but also from numerous very wealthy individuals. 

According to Forbes, which is currently hosting a summit where Case announced the new fund, some of the new fund’s backers include Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sara Blakely of Spanx, hedge fund manager Ray Dalio, Under Armour cofounder Kevin Plank, former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, and Apollo Global Management cofounder Joshua Harris. 

Some of these investors backed the first fund, too, including Bezos and Dalio. 

Very notably, Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance, who ran the first fund with Case, has stepped back, and longtime Revolution investor David Hall will manage the second fund instead. 

Certainly, that first fund kept its investors busy, with stakes in 125 companies. Barely a week passes without a startup announcing some funding from the Rise of the Rest team. 

More here.

Massive Fundings

ACV Auctions, a five-year-old, Buffalo, N.Y.-based online platform for franchise and used-car dealerships to buy and sell wholesale inventory through 20-minute auctions, is reportedly looking to raise $150 million in Series E funding at a post-money valuation north of $1 billion. Reuters has more here

Weave, a seven-year-old, Lehi, Ut.-based developer of patient communications software focused on the dental and optometry market, has raised $70 million in Series D funding at a post-money valuation of $970 million. Tiger Global Management led the round, with participation from earlier backers Catalyst InvestorsBessemer Venture PartnersCrosslink CapitalPelion Venture Partners and LeadEdge Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

1906, a two-year-old, Denver-based cannabis brand that makes a wide variety of edibles, has raised $18 million in funding led by Navy CapitalMore here

Aviatrix, a five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-developer of software that allows companies to build hybrid clouds, raised $40 million in Series C funding. Earlier backer CRV led the round, joined by fellow insiders Formation 8Ignition Partners, and Liberty Global Ventures. VentureBeat has more here

Choco, an 18-month-old, mobile ordering platform for restaurants and their suppliers, has raised $33.5 million in Series A funding by Bessemer Venture Partners. The company has now raised $41 million to date. Other investors include Atlantic LabsTarget GlobalVisionaries Club and Greyhound. TechCrunch has more here.

Duffel, a two-year-old, London-based startup that connects travel agencies with airline reservation systems, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Benchmark and Blossom Capital. TechCrunch has more here

Sensely, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based chatbot that helps users navigate insurance benefits, has raised $15 million led by Aflac Corporate Ventures, with participation from NMCNippon Life Insurance CompanySusquehanna International GroupSojitz CorporationZuelling Pharma and Silicon Valley Bank. MobiHealth News has more here

ShiraTronics, a 10-month-old, Brooklyn Park, Mn.-based medical device company working on a migraine treatment, raised $33 million in Series A funding. USVPAmzak Health and Strategic HealthCare Investment Partners led the round, joined by Aperture Ventures and LivaNova. American Inno has more here

Twiga Foods, a six-year-old, Nairobi, Kenya-based B2B food distribution company, has raised $23.75 million in Series B funding led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from IFCTLcom Capital, and Creadev. Goldman also arranged $6.25 million in debt funding. TechCrunch has more here

Welcome to the Jungle, a five-year-old, Paris-based recruitment startup, has raised $22.3 million in fresh funding led by Gaia Capital Partners, with participation from BpifanceXAnge, and Jean-Paul Guisset. TechCrunch has more here.

Smaller Fundings

EnsureDR, a five-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that makes disaster recovery readiness software, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding led by Awz VenturesMore here

Own Up, a 3.5-year-old, Boston-based startup that invites promises users a high-touch service if they connect with its team of online mortgage brokers, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. Link Ventures led the round. More here.

Young Alfred, a three-year-old, Philadelphia-based home insurance marketplace, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Gradient Ventures, with participation from Pear VenturesERA, and Newfund Capital. Insurance Business has more hereZamna, a three-year-old, London-based company that has built a GDPR-compliant identity platform for the aviation industry (it helps airlines verify passengers’ identities before they arrive at an airport), has raised $5 million in seed funding co-led by LocalGlobe and Oxford Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

(Other) New Funds

Qualcomm‘s venture-capital division is setting aside $200 million to invest in 5G wireless startups. The firm will aim to write checks of up to $10 million, targeting startups in sectors including health care, robotics and autonomous vehicles, according to head honcho Quinn Li. The WSJ has more here.


ByteDance, the seven-year-old,  $75 billion Chinese start-up that owns the short-form video app TikTok, is eyeing an IPO in Hong Kong as soon as the first quarter of next year, according to the Financial Times. As it notes, ByteDance’s valuation hit $75 billion a year ago, when it closed a $3 billion round led by SoftBank that doubled its valuation from a year earlier. An IPO would help the Japanese conglomerate at a time when many of its other investments are cratering in value. More here


Alphabet has made an offer to acquire U.S. wearable device maker Fitbit, as it eyes a slice of the crowded market for fitness trackers and smartwatches, according to Reuters. More here

The Players’ Tribune, a two-year-old, New York-based website started by former baseball player Derek Jeter, is exploring a potential sale, according to Bloomberg, which says the the media company could be sold in the coming weeks. Though it isn’t clear what it’s worth, the company —  which would become part of a wave of digital media mergers — has raised $58 million in venture funding, including from NEA, IVP, GV, and GenTrust. More here

The dog-walking and pet-sitting startup Wag has been exploring a sale to potential buyers, including Petco, says Recode. The two companies already struck a partnership deal just a few months ago, but Wag, last valued at $650 million by the SoftBank Vision Fund Fund in a $300 million round that SoftBank led single-handedly in January of last year, has reportedly stumbled with scaling its business since. More here.


Lightspeed Venture Partners has hired four new partners to help with this and that: Mercedes Bent (consumer), James Ephrati (growth), Anoushka Vaswani (growth) and Rytis Vitkauskas (Europe). The firm has more here

Barry McCarthy, the CFO of Spotify, is retiring from the role in January and rejoining the streaming media company’s board of directors. McCarthy is credited with pioneering the direct listing. He also spent a decade as the CFO of Neftlix. Recode has more here

Elon Musk will have to go to trial in December after a federal judge rebuffed his latest request to throw out a defamation lawsuit filed by a caver who Musk referred to as a “pedo guy.” Bloomberg has the more here

Sridhar Ramaswamy has joined GV as an entrepreneur in residence. His focus is on next-generation oncology companies. Most recently, Ramaswamy was senior VP and the head of research and early development at Tesaro. Endpoints News has more here.

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Essential Reads

Hundreds of employees recently signed an open letter, pleading with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and company leadership to address misinformation in political ads

The reviews for Apple TV Plus’ first four (very expensive) original series — “The Morning Show,” “See,” “Dickinson” and “For All Mankind” — dropped this morning and . . . they’re not great.


A haunted house with a 40-page waiver

Tom Hanks on vacation, and other Halloween costume ideas.  

Thinking to dress like Elizabeth Holmes instead? You’re too late.

Retail Therapy

Apple just rolled out its most expensive AirPods product yet. We’re pained already at the prospect of buying, then promptly losing, them. 

$15 million fixer-upper in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood.

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