• October 2, 2019

    Wednesday! (Oops, it’s actually now Thursday, technically.) It’s been a great, if very long, day. Among other highlights, getting to see actor Will Smith up close was embarrassingly fun for us. (He really turned on the charm at TechCrunch Disrupt today.) 

    Top News 

    The Dow dropped more than 800 points in two days — here’s what’s going on, according to CNBC. 

    Uber has a new money-making scheme up its sleeve, reports the Financial Times. It says Uber is launching a new app on Friday in Chicago that will match temporary workers looking for shift work with businesses looking to fill gaps in their rosters. More here.

    Sponsored By …

    Want to learn why top VCs and business leaders leverage Affinity? Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks by unlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finally eliminate manual data entry.

    In a New Filing, the Venture Firm Mithril Capital Says It Has Been Under Assault By Its Former General Counsel 

    It’s been a strange year for Mithril Capital Management, the venture firm cofounded in 2012 by Peter Thiel and his longtime associate Ajay Royan. Though Mithril enjoyed its biggest exit to date in February, when Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $3.4 billion — plus another potential $2.35 billion in payments  — for the surgical robotics company Auris Robotics, the firm has been characterized in news reports by Recode as in a complete state of disarray and, more recently, for reportedly being investigated by the FBI for financial misconduct. 

    Mithril is now drawing a line from those stories to former employee Crystal McKellar, who’d joined Mithril from the outset as its general counsel though she also long held the title of managing director. 

    According to a new legal petition filed in Texas, where Mithril moved its headquarters from San Francisco earlier this year, McKellar has, over many months, staged a multi-pronged campaign to disparage Mithril and Royan specifically, possibly to attract its investors to a new, separate venture firm that she has founded called Anathem Ventures. (That’s implied in the filing, anyway.) 

    Certainly, the petition makes for strange reading. 

    Among its assertions is that McKellar, who has told friends she was fired from the firm earlier this year, signed a separation agreement with Mithril that included “substantial severance,” a “courtesy title” that it says she asked for, and a consulting agreement. But it goes on to say that “almost immediately” after signing these, “Ms. McKellar began to materially breach these agreements.” 

    As one example, it says, she promised not to engage in any business that’s competitive with Mithril, including any business relating to any portfolio investments that Mithril has ever considered, yet she “completed her signature pages, completing her investment” of $50,000 in one of these companies “mere minutes” after emailing Royan to tell him she planned to invest and offering him the right of first refusal. 

    It also accuses her of accepting consulting fees from Mithril while taking on jobs that put her in direct competition with the firm, including becoming a managing partner at a hedge fund, Signum, as well as launching her own new venture, Anathen Ventures, in July. 

    Still, the document — technically an “application for temporary and permanent injunctive relief” — most surprisingly says McKellar stirred “discord” with Mithril’s relationships with its investors, financial partners, and service providers. 

    In one instance, Mithril says,  its auditor was sent a letter from a “nameless investor” that “disparaged Mr. Royan and the firm” by “falsely accusing Mr. Royan of ‘lying’” publicly about whether he had ever waived some of the firm’s management fees. It further accuses her of authoring “false letters” to senior executives at a major Mithril company in New England, saying it determined she had authored the letters through “expert forensic analysis.” 

    Why McKellar was forced out of the firm isn’t clear, though Recode has reported that numerous members of Mithril’s investment staff have been shown the door over the years, and that this downsizing has troubled cofounder, Thiel, who tends to work collaboratively with others and who has engendered loyalty as a result. 

    Indeed, Royan was previously a managing director at Thiel’s earlier hedge fund, Clarium Capital, as were a handful of early Mithril employees. Today, Mithril is largely run by Royan; his sister Anuja Royan, who is the firm’s CFO; and Paul Leggett, a managing director who handles much of the firm’s day-to-day operations while Royan is seemingly more focused on the bigger picture. The firm has also hired several more junior people since moving to Austin. 

    Asked for comment on the filing, Royan suggested he will let the document speak for itself. 

    Meanwhile, reached via email, McKellar writes that she has not “been served with the suit so I haven’t seen the actual allegations, but those sound pretty loony.” More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Brightfield, a 13-year-old, New York- and Washington, D.C.-based analytics company that optimizes contract labor spend and program performance for employers and staffing firms, has raised $53 million in Series A funding. Sapphire Ventures led the round, joined by MissionOGCapitalOne Growth Ventures and Telescope PartnersMore here

    SnapLogic, a 10-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based integration platform that aims to make it fast and easy for users to connect, manage, and analyze enterprise data, has raised $72 million in growth financing led by Arrowroot Capital, with participation from Golub CapitalMore here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    CareStack, a seven-year-old, Mumbai, India- based cloud-based technology platform for the dental industry, has raised $28 million in funding co-led by Steadview Capital and Delta Dental of California, with participation from earlier backers F Prime CapitalEight Roads Ventures and Accel Partners. LiveMint has more here

    Chronometriq, a seven-year-old, Quebec, Canada-based company that sells access-to-care and patient engagement tools, has raised roughly $15 million in Series B funding led by Full In PartnersMore here

    Elicio Therapeutics, a seven-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based immuno-oncology company that’s developing a pipeline of lymph node targeted immuno-therapies, has raised $33 million in Series B funding from undisclosed investors. More here

    Everledger, a four-year-old, London-based blockchain supply chain startup, raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Internet giant Tencent, with participation from Graphene VenturesBloomberg BetaRakutenFidelity, and Vickers Venture Partners. VentureBeat has more here

    Meditrina, a three-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based company that has developed a system for office- or clinic-based hysteroscopies and resections in procedures such as myomectomies, polypectomies, and biopsies, has raised $13 million in funding co-led by ShangBay Capital and Aethan CapitalMore here

    SaaSOptics, a 10-year-old, Peachtree, Ga.-based business-to-business subscription management platform, has raised $12 million in Series B funding (equity and debt) led by Fulcrum Equity PartnersSilicon Valley Bank provided the line of credit. More here.

    Skyroam, an 11-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based provider of personal WiFi hotspots, just raised $20 million in C-2 funding. Mesh Ventures and Phi Ventures co-led the round, joined by Premier Ventures and earlier backers Vickers Venture PartnersJafco Ventures, and GSR Ventures. The company had originally closed its Series C with a separate $20 million last year. More here

    XMOS, a 14-year-old, U.K.-based voice processing technology company, has raised $19 million in funding including from Harbert European Growth Capital. EE Times has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Autify, a young, San Francisco- and Tokyo-based software testing automation startup, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Global BrainSalesForce Ventures, and Archetype VenturesMore here

    BurstIQ, a three-year-old, Denver, Co.-based maker of blockchain software for the healthcare industry, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding from Elsewhere PartnersMore here

    Edify Labs, a 10-month-old, Carmel, In.-based software company focused on customer engagement and cross-team collaboration, has raised $10 million in seed funding led by First Round Capital, with participation from Anorak VenturesPathbreaker VenturesMorado Venture PartnersBling CapitalBonfire VenturesSeaLane Ventures, and Liquid 2 VenturesMore here

    Flockjay, a year-old, San Francisco-based online sales academy, raised $3 million in funding, including from Lightspeed Venture PartnersCoatueY Combinator,F7SV AngelIndex VenturesSerena Williams and Will Smith. Fast Company has more here

    Geneoscopy, a four-year-old, St. Louis, Mo.-based life sciences company focused on the development of diagnostic tests for gastrointestinal  health, has raised $6.9 million in Series A funding led by Cultivation Capital and NT InvestmentsLightchain Capital, the family office of Scottrade founder Rodger Riney, was also a significant investor in the round. More here

    LEX, a New York-based commercial real estate securities marketplace available to retail investors, raised $4 million in seed funding. Greycroft and Thor Equities co-led the round. More here

    NOCD, a five-year-old, Chicago-based digital behavioral health startup focused on OCD, raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Chicago Ventures, with participation from 7Wire VenturesMeridian Street Capital, and Hyde Park AngelsMore here

    IOTAS, a five-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based IOT-as-a-service platform for smart apartments, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. Telus Ventures led the round, joined by Liberty Global and earlier backer Intel CapitalMore here

    Rune, a 16-month-old, New York-based startup that wants to use AI to help people find right people to play multiplayer games with, then connect them via voice chat, has raised $2 million in seed finding. The gaming-focused firm Makers Fund led the round, joined by byFoundersE14 FundVentureSouq, and Gmail creator Paul Buchheit. TechCrunch has more here

    SEngine Precision Medicine, a four-year-old, Seattle-based oncology company that wants to commercialize a platform that can match cancer patients to the right drug and aid in drug discovery, has raised $5.1 million in Series A  funding led by the Bangarang Group along with other unnamed investors. The company spun out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2015. GeekWire has more here.

    Sleep Data, a 24-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based company that provides sleep aphnea care, has raised $6 million in funding from HCAP PartnersMore here

    Streamlit, a year-old, San Francisco-based machine learning app development platform, has raised $6 million in seed funding led by Gradient Ventures, with participation from Bloomberg Beta. TechCrunch has more here

    Strigo​, a nearly three-year-old, Israel-based customer training management company, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Hanaco Ventures, with participation from GreycroftMore here

    Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings  

    nCino, an eight-year-old, Wilmington, N.C.-based cloud banking company, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from earlier investor Salesforce VenturesMore here.

    New Funds 

    Grand Ventures, a two-year-old, Grand Rapids, Mi.-based early-stage venture firm, has raised $28 million for its debut fund. More here

    Super{set}, a new, San Francisco based startup studio and investment firm, has raised $65 million in funding to pour into startups who want to give up an outsize-piece of equity in exchange for an execution playbook and building blocks that ostensibly guide the strategy and eliminate redundant work. One of the outfit’s cofounders is Tom Chavez, who sold his own company, Krux Digital, to Salesforce in 2016 for $700 million. TechCrunch has more here.

    Sponsored By …

    In every industry there’s someone building the future, whether it’s technology, architecture, food, cars or space rockets. In clothing it’s Vollebak. Our Graphene Jacket is built with a Nobel Prize winning material. We’ve designed clothing that can store and re-emit sunlight, built t shirts made entirely from plants and algae grown in forests and bioreactors, and created 100 Year clothing designed to outlive you. See the future at Vollebak.

    Essential Reads 

    A look at the top Y Combinator companies of all time, based on valuation. 

    Everything that Microsoft announced at today’s Surface event. 

    Watch out, Robinhood? Over the last two days, the biggest players in online stock trading have announced they are removing their fees for stock and ETF trading, including Charles Schwab, Ameritrade, and E*Trade. Their stocks have all dropped since their respective announcements. TechCrunch has more here.


    Detours Quentin Tarantino details his new book in conversation with Martin Scorsese.

    Retail Therapy 

    The Taj Ma Garaj Collection.

  • October 1, 2019

    Hi, all, hope you’ve had a terrific Tuesday. 

    Quick mention: we want to manage your expectations waaay down as we’ll be running around TechCrunch’s Disrupt event for the rest of this week and tied up with related evening events. We should have some interesting coverage for you coming out of the whole thing and also lots of typos and missing sections, is our guess. Brace yourselves.:) 

    Also! We’re exceedingly happy to announce a bit more about our upcoming StrictlyVC event, taking place on November 13th in San Francisco. Newly joining the agenda: Jim Collins, the founder and CEO of Kitchen United, the Pasadena-based, GV-backed “cloud kitchen” company that’s either crazily or smartly — depending on your perspective — competing in the same space that one of the world’s toughest entrepreneurs, Travis Kalanick, is hoping to dominate both in the U.S. and abroad

    If you want to better understand this fast-growing (and controversial) new industry, you won’t want to miss this conversation with Collins, who we’re thankful can make it up to San Francisco for the evening. 

    Collins joins Facebook’s former chief security officer Alex Stamos, who we’re also very excited to hear from and who will be sharing his thoughts about the state of big tech, the upcoming presidential election, and much more with New York Times cybersecurity correspondent Sheera Frenkel.  

    Seats are available here. Thanks again to the enterprise-focused venture firm NextWorld Capital for generously playing host to us all, and to the boutique public relations and strategy firm KCPR for raising its hand to partner with us on this one as a sponsor. We’ll have more details about what’s coming together soon …

    Top News 

    U.S. data released today signaled the weakest manufacturing sector in a decade, with the manufacturing sector already slipping into a recession during the first half of the year, says Bloomberg. 

    Perhaps not *entirely* unrelated: Resale prices for Manhattan apartments have tumbled the most in more than eight years, pushed down by buyer demands for discounts in a market swamped with choices, says a new real estate report covered by Bloomberg. Jonathan Miller, owner of the appraisal firm Miller Samual, suggests the slide in prices will probably continue, “because things are confusing. The economy is confusing. Washington is confusing. There’s no way we’re out of the woods yet.”

    Sponsored By … 

    Want to learn why top VCs and business leaders leverage Affinity? Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks by unlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finally eliminate manual data entry.

    Massive Fundings  

    NoBroker, a five-year-old, Bangalore, India-based real estate property operator, has raised $50 million in a new funding led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from earlier backer General Atlantic. The company, which closed its previous financing round in June, has now raised $121 million to date. TechCrunch has more here

    Rapyd, a three-year-old, London-based mobile-first financial network that works with e-commerce retailers, lending firms, bank, and remittance providers, among others that use its API to enable checkout, funds collection, and fund disbursements (among other things), has raised $100 million in funding. Oak HC/FT led the round and was joined by Tiger Global ManagementCoatueGeneral CatalystTarget GlobalStripe, and Entrée Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Relativity, a four-year-old, L.A.-based company that’s 3D printing entire rockets, has closed on $140 million in fresh funding led by Bond Capital, the new fund cofounded by Mary Meeker, and Tribe Capital. Other participants in the round include former Tiger Global Management partner Lee Fixel, CAA founder Michael Ovitz, Zillow co-founder Spencer RascoffRepublic Labs, and actor-musician Jared Leto. The company has now raised $185 million since its founding. TechCrunch has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Aero, an eight-month-old, San Francisco-based air travel startup that aims to match travelers who are going to the same destination and place them on direct (private) flights, has raised $16 million in funding. Expa, the startup studio cofounded by Uber cofounder Garrett Camp, is one investor, along with GGV Capital. TechCrunch notes that Camp had previously invested in another private jet startup, BlackJet, which later shut down. More here

    Bnext, a three-year-old, Madrid, Spain-based mobile-first bank, has raised $25 million in Series A funding co-led by DN CapitalRedalpine and Speedinvest, with participation from earlier backers Founders Future and Cometa among others. TechCrunch has more here

    ePassi, a 12-year-old, Helsinki, Finland-based mobile payment system for employee benefits, has raised €41.5 million co-led by Bregal Milestone and First Fellow PartnersMore here

    Pitch, a nearly two-year-old, Berlin-based company whose presentation software hopes to take on Microsoft’s PowerPoint, has raised $30 million in fresh funding. Thrive Capital led the round, with participation from Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, along with Rahul Vohra, the founder of Superhuman. TechCrunch has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    7shifts, a five-year-old, Saskatchewan, Canada-based labor management platform for restaurants, has raised $6 million in funding led by Napier Park Financial Partners, with participation from Relay Ventures and Conexus Credit UnionMore here

    Atom Finance, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based investment research platform, has raised $10.6 million in Series A funding led by General Catalyst. Other investors in the round include GreenoaksGlobal Founders CapitalUntitled InvestmentsMail.ru, and numerous individual investors, including former Stripe employee Lachy Groom. Business Insider has more here

    Cloosiv, a two-year-old, Charlotte, N.C.-based startup aiming to provide smaller coffee shops a mobile ordering solution that can compete with those of the mega coffee chains, has raised $1 million in seed funding from Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham and numerous other individual investors. TechCrunch has more here

    Jobpal, a three-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based maker of enterprise recruitment chatbots, has raised €2.5 million ($2.7 million) in pre-series A seed funding, including from InReach Ventures and Acadian Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Naborly, a 3.5-year-old, Bay Area-based platform for residential tenant screening to landlords and house owners, has raised $7.5 million in seed funding. First Round Capital led the round, joined by Liquid 2Village Global VCAssurant Insurance and Third Prime. VentureBeat has more here.

    SenSat, a four-year-old, London-based company developing a platform that uses mapping drones to produce engineering grade survey data, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by the Internet giant Tencent Holdings, with participation from Sistema Venture Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Unagi, a nearly two-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based startup that’s selling foldable, lightweight electric scooters for less than $1,000, has raised $3.15 million from Menlo Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Ursa Major, a nine-year-old, Waterbury, Vt.-based natural skin care brand, has raised $5 million in funding led by Fenwick Brands, with participation from Finn Capital PartnersMore here

    Workona, a two-year-old, San Mateo, Ca-based work management platform, has raised $6 million in funding, including from Manu Kumar’s K9 Ventures and from August CapitalMore here.

    Rapyd, a three-year-old, London-based mobile-first financial network that works with e-commerce retailers, lending firms, bank, and remittance providers, among others that use its API to enable checkout, funds collection, and fund disbursements (among other things), has raised $100 million in funding. Oak HC/FT led the round and was joined by Tiger Global ManagementCoatueGeneral CatalystTarget GlobalStripe, and Entrée Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Relativity, a four-year-old, L.A.-based company that’s 3D printing entire rockets, has closed on $140 million in fresh funding led by Bond Capital, the new fund cofounded by Mary Meeker, and Tribe Capital. Other participants in the round include former Tiger Global Management partner Lee Fixel, CAA founder Michael Ovitz, Zillow co-founder Spencer RascoffRepublic Labs, and actor-musician Jared Leto. The company has now raised $185 million since its founding. TechCrunch has more here

    New Funds 

    Valor Ventures, a 4.5-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based, early-stage venture capital firm, just held a first close on roughly $8 million in capital commitments for a second fund that’s targeting $25 million altogether. Valor’s founder, Lisa Calhoun, was reportedly the first woman to raise a venture fund in the state of Georgia, closing her first fund, which she began investing in 2016, with $5 million in capital commitments. More here.


    PayPal has received the green light from China’s central bank to acquire a 70 percent stake in GoPay, a small Chinese payments provider that’s akin to a much smaller PayPal. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. PayPal says this makes it the first foreign firm licensed to provide digital payment services in China. CNN has more here

    Tesla has acquired DeepScale, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based startup that uses low-wattage processors to power more accurate computer vision. The apparent idea is to improve Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system and deliver on CEO Elon Musk’s vision to turn its electric vehicles into robotaxis. DeepScale had raised more than $18 million from investors, including Autotech VC, Bessemer Venture Partners, Greylock and Trucks VC. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.


    Airbnb is still leaning toward a direct listing versus and IPO when it goes public next year. More here

    Youdao, a Chinese online education platform has filed plans to raise $300 million in an IPO on the NYSE. The move comes at a time when U.S. exchanges are taking a closer look at Chinese IPOs, notes Reuters. More here.


    Inside Adam Neumann‘s WeWork was a wild culture, according to 20 current and former employees and business partners who talked with Business Insider. More here

    Adina Tecklu has joined Khosla Ventures as a principal from Canaan Partners, where she worked as an associate for roughly three years. More here

    The hottest ticket in L.A. right now is apparently an invitation to one of the periodic and wide-ranging dinners hosted by Peter Thiel. One recent guest describes Thiel as charming, clever, and contrarian but also likens him to Petyr Baelish, known as Littlefinger, on “Game of Thrones.” More in Vanity Fair.

    Sponsored By …

    In every industry there’s someone building the future, whether it’s technology, architecture, food, cars or space rockets. In clothing it’s Vollebak. Our Graphene Jacket is built with a Nobel Prize winning material. We’ve designed clothing that can store and re-emit sunlight, built t shirts made entirely from plants and algae grown in forests and bioreactors, and created 100 Year clothing designed to outlive you. See the future at Vollebak.

    Essential Reads 

    The Verge today published highlights from two hours of leaked audio from a recent Q&A session that Mark Zuckerberg hosted for Facebook employees who are concerned about the company’s future. Facebook says it didn’t leak this itself, but you have to wonder if maybe indirectly it really did. You can read his comments here. You can read Senator Elizabeth Warren’s subtweets about the leak afterward here

    According to Bloomberg, four payments companies that have joined Facebook as founding members of the Libra Association — Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Stripe — are suddenly unsure about whether to officially sign on to the cryptocurrency project owing to concerns they might damage their relationships with regulators. More here

    UPS wins an important round in the drone delivery wars: According to the WSJ, it just received the first-of-its-kind federal approval to start setting up a fleet of unmanned aircraft to deliver health supplies and eventually consumer packages potentially throughout the U.S. More here.


    What would happen if you jumped into stomach acid (on the off chance that you’ve wondered about this). 

    Enhancing human-dog communication through a talking vest for dogs

    Retail Therapy 

    floating 19-room inn that enables up to 38 guests to traverse Japan’s Seto Inland Sea at one time. 

  • September 30, 2019

    Monday! Hope you had a stellar weekend.:)

    Top News 

    WeWork’s parent organization The We Company officially withdrew the S-1 filing for its IPO today in the least surprising development to come out of the company in weeks. 

    Venture capitalists and executives from hundreds of private companies will reportedly meet tomorrow in Silicon Valley to discuss whether traditional IPOs still work after a year in which many of the biggest deals flopped.

    Sponsored By …

    Want to learn why top VCs and business leaders leverage Affinity? Using patent-pending technology, Affinity helps teams manage and grow their networks by unlocking introductions to decision makers and auto-populating pipelines to increase deal flow. In industries where success is contingent upon maintaining high-touch relationships, Affinity allows you to get deeper insights into your network and finally eliminate manual data entry.

    In the Dual-Class Shares Debate, the Exchanges Should Get Off the Sidelines  

    Adam Neumann’s fall from grace was astonishingly swift once his company, WeWork, filed to go public in August. Even while his spending was fairly well-documented across time (as were his apparent conflicts of interest), he was humiliated for enriching himself, then ultimately kicked out of the corner office before the company, in the least surprising turn of events in recent weeks, today yanked its S-1 registration. 

    Neumann never exactly hid who he is or how he operates, so what suddenly sparked the ire of reporters — and investors — around the world? What, exactly, in an ultimately unsurprising IPO filing, had people coughing up their morning coffee? Boiled down to the worst offense (including selling his own company the trademark “We” for $5.9 million in stock) was very likely the lock on control that Neumann had set up through a multi-class voting structure that aimed to cement his control. And by ‘cement,’ we mean he would enjoy overwhelming control for not just for 5 or 10 years after the company went public but, unless Neumann sold a bunch of of his shares, until his death or “permanent incapacity.” 

    Given that Neumann is just 40 years old and (mostly) abstains from meat, that could have been an awfully long time. Yet this wasn’t some madcap idea of his. There are plenty of founders who have or who plan to go public with dual or multi-class shares designed to keep them in control until they kick the bucket. In some cases, it’s even more extreme than that. 

    Consider at Lyft, for example, Logan Green and John Zimmer hold high-voting shares entitling them to twenty votes per share not until each is dead but both of them. If one of them dies or becomes incapacitated, Lyft’s so-called sunset clause enables the remaining cofounder to control the votes of the deceased cofounder. Even more, after the lone survivor bites the dust, those votes still aren’t up for grabs. Instead, a trustee will retain that person’s full voting powers for a transition period of 9 to 18 months. 

    The same is true over at Snap, where cofounders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy have designated the other as their respective proxies. Accordingly, when one dies, the other could individually control nearly all of the voting power of Snap’s outstanding capital stock. 

    Unbelievably, that’s not the worst of it. Many dual class shares are written in such a way that founders can pass along control to their heirs. As SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson, a longtime legal scholar and law professor, told an audience last year, it’s no academic exercise. 

    Said Jackson, “[N]early half of the companies who went public with dual-class over the last 15 years gave corporate insiders outsized voting rights in perpetuity. Those companies are asking shareholders to trust management’s business judgment—not just for five years, or 10 years, or even 50 years. Forever. So perpetual dual-class ownership—forever shares—don’t just ask investors to trust a visionary founder. It asks them to trust that founder’s kids. And their kids’ kids. And their grandkid’s kids — some of whom may or may not be visionaries. It raises the prospect that control over our public companies, and ultimately of Main Street’s retirement savings, will be forever held by a small, elite group of corporate insiders—who will pass that power down to their heirs.” 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Dave, a three-year-old, L.A.-based personal finance management app, has raised $50 million in fresh funding from Norwest Venture Partners, at a post-money valuation of $1 billion. TechCrunch has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Amboss, a four-year-old, Berlin-based knowledge platform for medical professionals, has raised €30 million in Series B funding co-led by Partech and Target Global, with participation from earlier investors Cherry VenturesWellington Partners, and Holtzbrinck Digital. TechCrunch has more here

    Digit, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based popular AI-powered automated financial health tool, has raised $27.5 million in Series C funding led by by earlier investor General Catalyst. Other participants in the round — which brings the company’s total funding to $63.8 million — include Citi VenturesFinancial Venture Studio, and Earnest cofounder Louis BerylMore here

    Kenna Security, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based enterprise company focused on risk-based vulnerability management, has raised $48 million in Series D funding, including from Sorenson Capital and Citi Ventures. SiliconAngle has more here

    Khatabook, a year-old, Bangalore, India -based startup that helps small regional businesses record financial transactions digitally and accept online payments, has raised $25 million in Series A funding led by GGV Capital, with participation from partners of  DST GlobalRTP VenturesSequoia Capital IndiaTencent, and Y Combinator. The company has now raised $29 million. TechCrunch has more here

    Stipe Therapeutics, a 1.5-year-old, Denmark-based immune-oncology startup, has raised €20 million in Series A financing. Novo Seeds and Arix Bioscience co-led the round, joined by Wellington Partners and Sunstone CapitalMore here

    Smaller Fundings  

    PathogenDx, a nearly six-year-old, Scottsdale, Az-based pathogen testing technology for cannabis, hemp, agriculture and food safety industries, has raised $7.5 million in Series B funding led by Cresco Capital. Other participants in the round include Altitude Investment ManagementArcadian Investment PartnersPanther Opportunity FundSalveo Capital, and Flatiron Venture PartnersMore here.


    Food52, 10-year-old, New York-based online store that was launched by two food reporters from the New York Times and today sells upscale home goods, has sold a majority stake to venture firm TCG for $83 million in a deal that values the company at roughly $100 million. Food52 tells the WSJ it generated about $30 million in revenue last year but isn’t profitable. The company had previously raised $13 million from investors, including Lerer Hippeau VenturesBertelsmann Digital Media Investments and Scripps Networks Interactive, which was acquired by Discovery last year. More here

    Forever 21 is the newest victim of the retail apocalypse, filing for bankruptcy late last week so it can continue operating while it tries to figure out how to pay its creditors. Fortune has more here

    Orphan Biovitrum, a publicly traded, Sweden-based drugmaker focused on rare diseases, has agreed to acquire the publicly traded, Durham, N.C.-based company Dova Pharmaceuticals for up to $915 million in cash. Reuters has more here

    Chinese social media and gaming giant Tencent is taking a 29 percent stake in Oslo-based Funcom, an indie games developer that has made numerous titles based on the “Conan the Barbarian” character. Tencent, which becomes Funcom’s biggest outside shareholder, agreed to acquire all the shares belonging to the Norway-based KGJ Capital AS. TechCrunch has more here.


    The former Asia Pacific head of ride-hailing major Uber, Amit Jain, has joined venture capital firm Sequoia Capital India as a managing director based out of the firm’s Singapore office. More here

    Jennifer Lum has joined Harvard University as an entrepreneur-in-residence, per Axios. She previously co-founded and served as chief product officer for Forge.ai.

    Sponsored By …

    In every industry there’s someone building the future, whether it’s technology, architecture, food, cars or space rockets. In clothing it’s Vollebak. Our Graphene Jacket is built with a Nobel Prize winning material. We’ve designed clothing that can store and re-emit sunlight, built t shirts made entirely from plants and algae grown in forests and bioreactors, and created 100 Year clothing designed to outlive you. See the future at Vollebak.

    Essential Reads 

    Block.one, a blockchain company that conducted a year-long ICO beginning in June 2017, raising several billion dollars in the process, today agreed to pay a $24 million civil fine to settle SEC charges that it didn’t properly register its 900 million-token offering or seek an exemption from registration. Tweeted industry observer Mike Dudas afterward: “The fine that  @block_one_ is paying for the illegal EOS offering is less than the interest they’ve earned on the proceeds.” Reuters has more here

    Delivery startup Postmates had planned to file to go public this month. Then WeWork happened, and now its IPO is MIA, says Business Insider. 

    The cross-border venture firm GGV, which has focused almost exclusively on China and the U.S. for two decades, is now looking to India. “We are seeing the same movie played out a little differently in emerging economies,” said managing director Hans Tung to Bloomberg. “India can be very big over the next 10 years.” As much as 20 percent of the $1.9 billion fund raised by the venture firm last year will be allocated to India, as well as Southeast Asia. More here.


    A WeWork book is coming

    Male birth control could be here before you know it. 

    Hundreds of thousands of people read books on Instagram

    Five things to know about that perplexing new red meat controversy.

    Retail Therapy 

    The Langogo translator

  • September 27, 2019

    Friday! We’ve been a little distracted by this, happening next week, where we’re very excited to be sitting down with GV CEO David Krane (in his first public interview since becoming top boss in 2016), as well as with top VCs Ann Miura-Ko and Theresia Gouw (so much to talk about) and with cannabis operators Keith McCarty and Bharat Vasan (who is suddenly no longer the CEO of the vaporizer company Pax, something we will definitely discuss!). Last but not least, we’re sitting down withmedia mavens Cindy Gallop and Brooke Hammerling, who do very different things very well. 

    Let’s also not forget that we have this wonderfulness coming up Wednesday, November 13th for those of you in the Bay Area, thanks to the generous support of both NextWorld Capital, a specialist in enterprise startups, and KCPR public relations, which works with and advises both startups and VCs. It’s sure to be a fun evening, and will feature some of this and some of this, along with some great and timely guest speakers. 

    More on all soon — hope you have a wonderful weekend and, for those of you celebrating the upcoming Jewish holiday, Shanah tovah. (We thought this tweet was very funny.)

    Top News 

    According to Bloomberg, Trump administration officials are discussing ways to limit U.S. investors’ portfolio flows into China, including delisting Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges and limiting Americans’ exposure to the Chinese market through government pension funds. Exact mechanisms for how to do so have not yet been worked out, it adds. 

    Tesla committed a series of violations of the National Labor Relations Act in 2017 and last year, a judge ruled today. Among her findings: that the carmaker illegally threatened and retaliated against employees, including in a tweet that CEO Elon Musk sent in May 2018, which suggested employees who chose to join a union would give up company-paid stock options. TechCrunch has more here.

    Sponsored By … 

    In 1994, the average U.S. tech company went public four years after founding – recently, that number has grown to over 10 years! Fear not startup employees: EquityZen lets you take some chips off the table now by giving you the liquidity you deserve. Discover how much your employee equity is worth by listing your shares today.

    Massive Fundings  

    Traveloka, a seven-year-old, Southeast Asia-based online travel-booking site that counts Expedia Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, and Sequoia Capital among its investors, is looking to raise $500 million in its latest funding round, says the WSJ. The post-money valuation its targeting: $4.5 billion. More here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Booksy, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based booking platform for beauty companies, has raised $28.5 million in Series B-2 funding. Investors include Industry Ventures,  XG VenturesPiton Capital, and Enern, along with numerous individual backers. More here

    ECOR, a 13-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based company that makes a line of green building materials, has raised $40 million in funding, according to Fortune. The investors were not named. More here

    Honeycomb, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose product promises developer teams that they can see production more clearly, so they can resolve issues more quickly, has raised $11.4 million in funding led by Scale Venture Partners, with participation from Storm VentureseVenturesNextWorld Capital and Merian Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

    Meissa Vaccines, a five-year-old, South San Francisco-based developer of vaccines to prevent viral respiratory infections, has raised $30 million in Series A funding from Morningside Ventures. FierceBiotech has more here.

    Moneyfarm, an eight-year-old, London-based digital wealth management startup, has raised £36 million in Series C funding led by Poste Italiane, with participation from Allianz Asset ManagementMore here

    Primary, a five-year-old, New York-based e-commerce children’s apparel brand, has raised $20 million in Series C funding, including from USVPMighty Capital and Homebrew Ventures. Built in NYC has more here

    Zylo, a three-year-old, Indianapolis-based enterprise SaaS management platform, just raised $22.5 million in Series B funding. Menlo Ventures led the round, joined by Bessemer Venture PartnersHigh AlphaRevolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed FundSalesforce Ventures and the Slack Fund. Crunchbase News has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    DeadHappy, a six-year-old, U.K.-based pay-as-you-go life insurance provider, has raised £4 million ($4.9 million) in Series A funding, including from e.ventures and Octopus Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Evernym, a 6.5-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based identity startup, raised $8 million from Barclays Ventures and Medici Ventures (the blockchain arm of Overstock.com). Ledger Insights has more here.  

    Fetch, a three-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based package delivery startup that focuses on apartment communities, has raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. Signal Peak Ventures led the round, joined by Silverton Partners and Capital Factory. Austin American-Statesman has more here

    Kyoku, a year-old, L.A.-based personalized, plant-based active nutrition brand, has raised $1.2 million in funding led by Science Inc, with participation from individual investors. More here

    Modulz, a year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based startup that helps teams code without writing code, has raised $4.2 million seed funding, including from LocalGlobe, Product Hunt cofounder Ryan Hoover, Weekend Fund’s Vedika Jain and Frontline VenturesMore here

    Neuromod Devices, an eight-year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based developer of non-invasive neuromodulation technologies, just raised €8 million in equity and venture debt funding. Fountain Healthcare Partners and Moffett Investment Holdings co-led the equity piece, with Kreos Capital and Silicon Valley Bank providing the debt. More here

    Package Free, a two-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based online marketplace that sells retailers’ products to those looking to live a zero or low-waste lifestyle, has raised $4.5 million in seed funding. Primary Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by TQ VenturesDay One Ventures, and several individual investors. TechCrunch has more here

    Ribometrix, a five-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based biotechnology company developing small molecule therapeutics that directly target RNA to treat human diseases, has raised $7.8 million in funding from earlier investors the Dementia Discovery Fund and Illumina Ventures. More here.

    New Funds 

    Capital Factory, a 10-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based accelerator and investment firm, is looking to raise $20 million for its sixth venture fund, shows an SEC filingMore here.

    Silverton Partners, the Austin, Tex.-based early-stage venture firm founded in 2005 by Bill Wood, a founder of Austin Ventures, is looking to raise up to $120 million for its sixth fund, suggests an SEC filing.  The firm closed its fifth fund with $108 million early last year. More here.


    KidPass, a three-year-old, New York-based online marketplace for booking kids activities, has acquired Mommy Nearest, a six-year-old media company for millennial parents. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. KidPass has raised at least $6.3 million from VCs, shows Crunchbase; Mommy Nearest, also based in New York, had apparently raised $4.4 million from backers. More here.

    Sponsored By …

    Wizeline offers on-demand product delivery and design services in your time zone. We’re helping tech companies scale their engineering capabilities by looking past tequila and tourism to unveil a hotbed of tech talent based in Mexico. Did you know that Mexico graduates over 130k engineers every year, has the 13th largest global GDP, and is experiencing a boom in foreign capital investment? Learn what it’s like to work with our thriving tech hubs in Mexico.

    Essential Reads 

    In the WSJ: “WeWork’s parent went on a buying spree before its planned initial public offering, using its highly valued private shares to finance purchases of other venture-backed startups. Now, these startups and their investors are left holding shares that are likely worth a lot less than they bargained for.” Among them, it says, the marketing software company Conductor. We paid $113.6 million for New York-based company Conductor in March 2018, but just $15.8 million of that was in cash, with the rest in the form of preferred stock. The startup had raised $58 million. 

    Docker, a one-time highflier in business software that reached a $1 billion valuation in 2015, is struggling to raise some much-needed capital, reports CNBC. It says  Rob Bearden, who was named CEO in May, wrote an email to employees this week thanking them for “persevering in spite of the lack of clarity we’ve had these past few weeks.” In the note, he told his staff that more cash is hopefully on the way. 

    In the worst-kept secret in Silicon Valley, Wag, a dog-walking service that raised a whopping $300 million from the WeWork investor SoftBank at the start of last year, isn’t faring so well, either. CNBC has a really great, detailed report here.


    The mystery of the outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses is still not solved, but investigators have found some clues

    How Linda Rondstadt ruled the ’70s

    What brain scans can tell us about sex.

    Retail Therapy 

    Hermes takes ugly dad sneakers to new extremes.

  • September 26, 2019

    Thursday! Ba-dum-bum.

    Top News 

    Shares of Peloton moved in the wrong direction today after the connected-fitness company held its IPO amid growing skepticism around buzzy tech names. Peloton opened at $27, $2 below its IPO price of $29, and eventually closed at $25.76, 11.2 percent lower than the IPO price. CNBC has more here

    The performance was sufficiently concerning, says the WSJ, that Endeavor Group — which owns the Miss Universe Pageant, Ultimate Fighting Championship and the largest talent agency in Hollywood — decided this afternoon to pull the plug on its own IPO plans. (It had pulled its IPO off the table once earlier this year, too.) More here

    Also, take note DoorDash customers: the food delivery company said in a blog post today that 4.9 million customers, delivery workers, and merchants had their information stolen by hackers back on May 4, owing to a “third party” flub. It added that customers who joined after April 5, 2018 are not affected by the breach. TechCrunch has more here.

    Sponsored By …

    In 1994, the average U.S. tech company went public four years after founding – recently, that number has grown to over 10 years! Fear not startup employees: EquityZen lets you take some chips off the table now by giving you the liquidity you deserve. Discover how much your employee equity is worth by listing your shares today.

    At Pear’s Sixth Annual Demo Day, Weather Balloons, Branded Credit Cards, and Lots of Top Degrees 

    Pear, a Palo Alto-based seed stage fund that has made its name through early bets on Guardant Health, DoorDash, Memebox, and Gusto, hosted its sixth annual demo day this week in what proved to be a scorchingly hot afternoon in Woodside, California — not that invitees were put off by the heat. 

    Hundreds of investors showed up at a sprawling public estate and surrounding gardens to see the dozen teams that Pear spent the summer working with, each of them less than nine months old, according to Pear, and many incorporated only in recent months. (Each has also only received less than $200,000 so far from Pear and no other institutional investment.) 

    While some are sure to evolve into other ideas or dissolve into other endeavors, the whole of the group gave those gathered food for thought and a first look at some very solid talent. 

    Following are the companies that presented: 

    1) Windborne: Founded by three Stanford grads and another from Harvard, this startup aims to improve the accuracy of weather data where it’s currently limited, like over oceans, by using weather balloons that could allow the team to do things like tell shipping companies which route to take to minimize fuel burn. CEO Paige Brown also says their system can fly 60 times longer than existing solutions and for the same price. The more specific claim: that in a single $350 flight, a Windborne balloon can fly for more than five days and travel a quarter of the way around the world, collecting direct measurements in places no one else can. 

    The team apparently bonded as engineers in the Stanford Student Space Initiative and they’ve all worked at SpaceX. 

    More here.

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    BeyondPricing, a six-year-old, Bay Area-based company that promises owners of short-term and vacation rentals that they’ll make more money from their properties through its suite of tools, has raised $42 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here

    Catasys, an 11-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based company that sells specialized health management services to health plans, employers and unions through a network of managed health care providers, has raised $45 million in funding from Goldman SachsMore here.

    Divvy, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based fractional home ownership company, has raised $43 million in Series B funding co-led by GIC and Lennar, with participation from earlier backers  Andreessen HorowitzCaffeinated Capital, and Max Levchin. Crunchbase News has more here

    Gatsby, a two-year-old, Bay Area-based platform that uses web technologies like React and GraphQL to help developers build better sites faster,  has raised $15 million in Series A funding. CRV led the round, joined by previous investors Trinity VenturesMango CapitalFathom Capital and Dig Ventures, along with some individual investors. TechCrunch has more here

    TeamPay, a three-year-old, New York-based startup whose software requests, approves, and tracks company spending in real-time, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Tribe Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Terminal, a two-year-old, Bay Area-based company that builds and manages remote teams, raised $17 million in Series B funding. 8VC led the round, and was joined by investors including AtomicCathay InnovationCherubic VenturesCraft VenturesKleiner Perkins, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

    Yerdle, a seven-year-old, Brisbane, Ca.-based startup that manages the resale platforms of other traditional brands, has raised $20 million in Series C funding. Investors include Three Cairns GroupCommerce VenturesDGNLPrologis VenturesPrelude VenturesClaremont Creek VenturesLybra, and The Westly Group. Business Insider has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Amava, a three-year-old, San Mateo, Calif.-based platform that connects retirees and empty-nesters with volunteer opportunities, flexible jobs and other experiences, just raised $6.2 million from RPM VenturesMore here

    Axuall, a 1.5-year-old, Cleveland, Oh.-based digital network for verifying identity, credentials, and authenticity in real-time, has raised $3 million in seed financing led by JumpStartMore here

    BEAT81, a two-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based  interactive outdoor group fitness experience, just raised €6.4 million ($7.01 million) in Series A funding led by EQT VenturesMore here

    Fiddler Labs, a 1.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based “AI visibility” startup, has raised $10.2 million in Series A funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners and Lux Capital led the round, joined by Haystack Ventures and Bloomberg Beta. SiliconAngle has more here

    Mednition, a five-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based maker of decision-support software for ER nurses, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Concord Health Partners. Crunchbase News has more here

    NTWRK, a 1.5-year-old, Los Angeles-based youth culture e-commerce and content platform, has raised $3 million from Foot Locker. The WSJ has more here

    Paro.io, a four-year-old, Chicago-based network of finance and accounting professionals that it matches with incoming projects, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Sierra Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Summer, a two-year-old, New York-based advisory platform for student loan borrowers, just raised $10 million in Series A funding led by QED Investors. TechCrunch has more here

    Tacalyx, a three-month-old, Berlin, Germany-based biotech company focused on the discovery and development of novel anti-TACA cancer therapies, has raised $7.6 million in seed funding. Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Kurma Partners co-led the round, joined by investors including Idinvest PartnersHigh-Tech Gründerfondscoparion and Creathor Ventures. EU Startups has more here

    Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings  

    Noom, an 11-year-old, New York-based maker of mobile health coaching software, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Serena VenturesMore here.

    New Funds 

    Maven Ventures, a 10-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based, seed-stage venture firm founded by Jim Scheinman and co-run with his partner, Sara Desphande, has closed on $65 million in capital commitments for its third fund. Forbes has more on the firm, whose early stakes include in Zoom and Cruise, here.  

    PICO Venture Partners, a four-year-old, Israel-based early-stage VC firm, has raised $80 million for its second fund. TechCrunch has more here

    Project A, a Berlin-based venture firm that backs startups in Europe at the seed and Series A stage, has raised a new $200 million fund that brings its total assets under management to $486 million. The fund is the outfit’s third. TechCrunch has more here.


    Oportun Financial, a seven-year-old, San Carlos, Ca.-based provider of installment loans to people with a limited credit history, last night priced its IPO and today it began trading, ending the day pretty much where it started. Forbes has more hereFidelityGreylock, and IVP were the company’s biggest outside shareholders sailing in to the offering.


    App Annie, a go-to source for mobile app market data and analytics, is expanding its platform with the acquisition of a 30-person mobile analytics startup called Libring. The deal will allow App Annie to present its mobile app market data side-by-side with advertising analytics data in order to paint a more complete picture of an app’s performance and revenue. TechCrunch has more here

    Logitech, which already makes widely-used gaming peripherals and streaming gear, has agreed to acquire Streamlabs, which makes the popular live streaming app Streamlabs OBS, for approximately $89 million in cash. Streamlabs OBS helps streamers set up their streams, track donation alerts, set up stream overlays, follow their chats, and more. The Verge has more here

    Veeva Systems, a key life sciences industry cloud player, is acquiring Crossix, makers of a patient data and analytics platform used by pharmaceutical marketers. The $430 million cash deal is meant to bring more expertise in patient data and data science into Veeva. ZDNet has more here.


    Two WeWork executives with close ties to former CEO Adam Neumann are leaving the embattled co-working company, reports Bloomberg: Chris Hill, the company’s chief product officer and CEO of WeWork Japan (and Neumann’s brother-in-law), and Michael Gross, the company’s large-living vice chair. (He spent $28 million on a place in L.A. this past summer, as Variety earlier reported.) More here

    Brett Wilson has joined Trinity Ventures as an executive in residence focused on digital advertising. Wilson previously was co-founder of TubeMogul, a Trinity portfolio company acquired in 2016 by Adobe. More here

    Sponsored By …

    Wizeline is a development and design services company headquartered in San Francisco with nearshore operations in Mexico (and in 6 countries and 10 cities around the globe). Because we started as a product company, we understand that companies of all sizes need to build better products faster. We compiled our knowledge of design, development, and marketing to create The Ultimate Guide to Digital Product DevelopmentDownload your free copy and reach out to us at consulting@wizeline.com to learn more about our solutions.

    Essential Reads 

    The pressure is off: Facebook is officially starting to hide Like counts on posts, beginning tomorrow in Australia. 

    The FTC is just not that into Match Group, announcing today it is suing the owner of just about all the dating apps — Match, Tinder, OkCupid, Hinge, PlentyofFish and others — for fraudulent business practices. Specifically, it says Match didn’t just turn a blind eye to a massive bot and scammer problem; it knowingly profited from it, and it made deceiving users a core part of its business practices. 

    WeWork is selling a Gulfstream G650 it purchased last year for $60 million and that was a corporate-governance red flag in the lead-up to the company’s IPO. Business Insider has more here.


    Note: The “OK” hand gesture, commonly seen as a way of indicating that all is well, has now been classified as something else — a symbol of hate

    The baffling disappearance — and even stranger reappearance — of YouTube beauty star Michelle Phan

    The new wellness aristocracy.

    Retail Therapy 

    Sunrise scene Himalayan salt led lamp with wireless charger. For someone with a *very* specific aesthetic.

  • September 25, 2019


    Top News 

    The connected fitness company Peloton priced its IPO tonight at $29 per share. The seven-year-old outfit, which is headquartered in New York, is offering 40 million shares of Class A common stock to the public and looking to raise $1.16 billion at a valuation of more than $8 billion. TechCrunch has more here

    According to the Financial Times, SoftBank is talking with WeWork about increasing the the amount of capital it had agreed to provide the office leasing company next year. The plan was to fork over $1.5 billion; now, says the FT, SoftBank could potentially throw in an additional $1 billion in order to change the terms of a warrant agreement it struck this year with WeWork. The new deal would also reduce the price per share at which it acquires WeWork stock. Less clear: how SoftBank would value its investment in the company after striking a new arrangement with it. More here.

    Sponsored By …

    In 1994, the average U.S. tech company went public four years after founding – recently, that number has grown to over 10 years! Fear not startup employees: EquityZen lets you take some chips off the table now by giving you the liquidity you deserve. Discover how much your employee equity is worth by listing your shares today.

    Newly Minted Vested Aims to Tell Startup Employees Exactly When to Exercise Their Options 

    Research when to sell shares in a privately held company, and the results may have you laughing — not because they’re funny but they’re because there’s an almost comical amount of information available out there. From blog posts to advertisements to advertorials to calculators, the data is overwhelming to the point of being useless. 

    It’s a problem that Matt Venables and Tom Hennessy — both former execs at the peer-to-peer payments company Circle —  experienced first-hand across numerous startup jobs. The more they looked to understand what their equity was worth and how to sell it without making a massive financial misstep, the more frustrated they felt. 

    Enter Vested, their three-month-old, Boston-based startup, one that is already backed already with $1.2 million from UnderscoreVC and Boston Seed Capital, and which — if they’re exceedingly lucky — will become the first stop for many thousands of startup employees who are in the same boat that the two once were. 

    What these individuals will find, promises Vested: access to secondary outfits that offer employees liquidity and to loan providers, but as crucially, they say, plainly explained information around taxes, along with competitive data about different industries and other recent stock sale information. More specifically, Vested will make available on its platform a lot of data that’s right now tricky to find but that VCs and data analysts tend to use, including public records filings, salary information, and 409a valuations. 

    Hennessey explains the pitch this way: “Matt and I have both some sold shares on the secondary market, and the process was non-transparent and not a fair process. But we realized the problem is much bigger than that — that the bigger issue is really around private equity compensation. The misunderstanding starts from day one. We’d love to capture employees before they ever sign an offer letter, then keep them along the way, so they understand at what points it makes sense to exercise their options and why.” 

    Ultimately, the goal is guide more employees to exercise responsibly and to convert option holders into shareholders, because the popular alternative, apparently, is for employees to do nothing at all. 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings 

    AllinMD, a six-year-old, Beijing, China-based orthopaedic hospital platform that automatically matches doctors with registered patients based on their particular case, has raised $100 million in funding co-led by Tencent and Sheares Healthcare Group, with participation from Trustbridge Partners and WeDo Capital. South China Morning Post has more here

    Amphivena Therapeutics, a six-year-old, South San Francisco-based developer of T-cell engager therapeutics for cancer, has raised $62 million in Series C funding. NanoDimension and Qiming Venture Partners co-led the round, joined by Clough CapitalAju IBKorys MerieuxKaitai CapitalIndustrial InvestorsNawton Ltd.MPM CapitalTekla Capital Management, and Franklin Berger. FierceBiotech has more here

    Klar, a 1.5-year-old, Mexico City, Mexico-based online-only bank, has raised $57.5 million in equity and debt funding (though mostly debt funding; the equity portion represents just $7.5 million). Quona Capital led the equity round, with participation from Santander InnoventuresaCrewFJ LabsArc Labs, and Western Technology InvestmentMore here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Arceo.ai, a 1.5-year-old, cybersecurity startup, has raised  $37 million in funding co-led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Founders Fund, with participation from CRV and UL Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Darwinbox, a four-year-old, Hyderabad-based startup that operates a cloud-based human resource management platform, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia India, with participation from earlier backers Lightspeed India PartnersEndiya Partners, and 3one4 Capital. The company has now raised $19.7 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Deliverr, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based fulfillment company that caters to retailers wanting to offer fast and cost-effective deliveries (to compete with Amazon), just raised $23 million in Series B funding led by GLP, with participation from 8VC. The WSJ has more hereDuda, a nearly 10-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based website-building platform for developers, has raised $25 million from Susquehanna Growth Equity. TechCrunch has more here

    Eko, a six-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based developer of an electronic stethoscope, just raised $20 million in Series B funding. Artis Ventures led the round, joined by DigiTx PartnersNTT VC3M VenturesMayo ClinicSeraph Group, and XTX Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Fidel, a six-year-old, London-based platform for building functionality on top of card payment networks, has raised $18 million in Series A funding. Nyca Partners and QED Investors co-led the round, joined by Citi VenturesCommerce VCElefundHorizons VenturesRBC, and 500 Startups. TechCrunch has more here

    Kapwing, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based online image and video editing platform, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by CRVMore here.

    Kreditech, a seven-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based online lender to near-prime borrowers, has raised €20 million in funding. Runa Capital led the round, joined by earlier backers HPE Growth and Amadeus Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here

    TigerGraph, an eight-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based software developer that makes a suite of enterprise graph database tools, has raised $32 million in Series B funding led by the private equity firm SIG in a round that brings the startup’s total funding to $60 million. VentureBeat has more here

    Smaller Fundings

     Elma, a two-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based startup that’s building a digital-first insurance business, has raised $3.2 million in Series A funding led by Mangrove Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Okapi, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that uses machine learning to help property managers understand their data, just raised $5.5 million in Series A funding led by Marius Nacht, the co-founder and chairman of Check Point Software Technologies. The company has now raised $8.4 million altogether. The Commercial Observer has more here

    PayMongo, a months-old, Manilla-based startup that helps small merchants set up online payments, has raised $2.7 million in seed funding from Founders FundStripeYCGlobal Founders Capital, and Soma Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

    Shopmonkey, a two-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based maker of auto repair shop management software, just raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from e.ventures and 12BFMore here

    Tastewise, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based AI-powered food trends prediction and intelligence startup that works with CPG companies, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by PeakBridge, an investment firm specializing in food tech. The Spoon has more here

    Videahealth, a 1.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based startup whose software automatically detects pathologies in dental imaging, helping dentists avoid missing disease, has raised $5.4 million in seed funding. Backers include Zetta Venture Partners,  Pillar and MIT’s delta v accelerator. TechCrunch has more here

    Zen Educate, a two-year-old, London-based digital staffing platform for schools and teachers, has raised £5.6 million in funding led by Brighteye Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Adjuvo and Nick Hungerford, the founder of online investment platform Nutmeg. More here

    ZenBusiness, a four-year-old,  Austin, Tex.-based software platform for launching new businesses (it recommends services like banking, lending, tax preparation, website building, and more) has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by earlier backer Greycroft. Other investors include Lerer HippeauRise of the RestRosecliff Venture PartnersInterlock Partners, and Recruit Strategic Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

    New Funds 

    Blue Delta Capital Partners, a McLean, Va.-based venture capital firm, has raised $150 million in capital commitments for its new fund. It says it plans to use the money to fund roughly 10 companies in the Washington, D.C. area. More here.


    Amazon has acquired INTL, a young L.A.-based startup that makes software for sellers to manage the costs and customs clearance of cross-border shipments. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but INTL should help merchants on Amazon’s marketplace more easily import goods, speculates Reuters. INTL had raised at least $1 million in seed funding, according to Crunchbase. More here

    The shedding begins. According to The Information, WeWork has already put three companies on the block that it had acquired in recent years: Managed by Q, which WeWork bought in May; Meetup, which WeWork bought in late 2017; and Conductor, which WeWork bought in the spring. (The last deal came together after Neumann ran into Conductor founder Seth Besmertnik, a former classmate, at a bank, a former employee tells us.) 


    Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns will step down as the e-cig giant faces a growing public backlash. K.C. Crosthwaite, formerly chief growth officer at Marlboro maker Altria Group, which took a $13 billion stake in Juul last year, will take his place. More here

    Today eBay announced that Devin Wenig has stepped down from the role of CEO. Wenig, a former Reuters executive, joined the company eight years ago as president of its global marketplace division and made CEO in July 2015. eBay’s chairman Thomas Tierney said in a release tied to the news that “eBay is stronger today than it was four years ago. Notwithstanding this progress, given a number of considerations, both Devin and the board believe that a new CEO is best for the company at this time.” But Wenig didn’t sound so sanguine on Twitter afterward, writing, “In the past few weeks it became clear that I was not on the same page as my new Board. Whenever that happens, it’s best for everyone to turn that page over.”  More here.

    Sponsored By …

    Hi, we’re Wizeline. We’re a development and design services company with nearshore operations in Mexico (and in 6 countries and 10 cities around the globe). We work with sophisticated tech companies to build rapid prototypes, accelerate their roadmap, and scale engineering operations. We’d like to share a story. It’s about a non-technical team that needed to build an app with several integrations and features. However, the team didn’t have the bandwidth or budget to get it done in-house. Sound familiar? Read on to see how we enabled Fitz Frames to revolutionize the kids’ eyewear market.

    Essential Reads 

    Here’s everything Amazon announced at its Alexa event today

    TikTok, the popular Chinese-owned social network, instructs its moderators to censor videos that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or the banned religious group Falun Gong, according to leaked documents reported on today by The Guardian. The revelations come amid growing belief that talk of the Hong Kong protests on TikTok is being censored. Facebook today announced Horizon, a giant virtual reality playground where users can build their own worlds, create and play games, or socialize with friends who are represented by avatars. More here


    Why Mattel is releasing the first gender-neutral doll. 

    Millennials continue to leave big cities

    Your cat might care that you exist after all.

    Retail Therapy 

    Shooting Star, in Jackson, Wyoming.

  • September 24, 2019

    Hello! Getting a late start here (school fundraiser). More tomorrow.:)

    Sponsored By . . . 

    In 1994, the average U.S. tech company went public four years after founding – recently, that number has grown to over 10 years! Fear not startup employees: EquityZen lets you take some chips off the table now by giving you the liquidity you deserve. Discover how much your employee equity is worth by listing your shares today.

    CEO Ouster and Looming Layoffs Turn WeWork into a Cautionary Tale

    Major layoffs are all but inevitable at high-flying real estate startup WeWork after Adam Neumann succumbed to pressure today to step down as CEO and take the role instead of non-executive chairman of the company he cofounded nine years ago. 

    Two well-placed sources tell us that the scope is likely to be massive, and includes some of of its newest business divisions, which these same sources anticipate will be jettisoned to get the company’s focus back on its core business. One of these sources speculates that over time, up to half of WeWork’s 15,000 employees — 9,000 of whom have been brought on in the last two years — could be laid off to shore up the unprofitable company’s expenses. The sentiment echoes a new piece in The Information that reports a “group of executives from WeWork’s parent company and bankers” have discussed laying off as many as 5,000 employees—a third of its workforce. 

    Neumann won’t have as much say in the matter, either. As part of his departure from the role, he has agreed to further reduce the power of his supervoting shares from an original 20 votes for every one vote that a regular investor in WeWork would receive to just three, reports Bloomberg. His wife, Rebekah, a cofounder who is thought by insiders to have played a heavy role in the company’s original — and highly atypical — IPO prospectus, is also leaving the business. 

    It’s rather breathtaking, the speed with which the couple was just elbowed aside. Still, some others involved in the company look poised to get a far worse deal. The Japanese conglomerate SoftBank currently stands to lose billions of dollars on its investment in the company — if it doesn’t wind up writing down nearly the entire investment.  Even an aggressive ratchet clause won’t do much to protect SoftBank if WeWork’s shares eventually sink on the public market. 

    It would seem an extreme correction to a culture that had become, well, anything but restrained. It’s also far from clear that it would have the intended effect of attracting public shareholders to the company, whose wheels began to come off when SoftBank first plugged $4.4 billion into WeWork roughly two years ago, according to our sources. (Roughly $6 billion more would follow.) As says one of these individuals, who has known Neumann for many years, “Adam already had a healthy ego. What the f_ck do you think is going to happen when he’s given billions of dollars?” 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Fundbox, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based B2B payments and credit network, has raised $176 million in Series C funding from Allianz XHealthcare of Ontario Pension PlanHarbourVest9Yards CapitalHamilton LaneSEB Private Equity, and about nine other firms. Earlier backers Khosla VenturesGeneral Catalyst, and Spark Capital also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to roughly $300 million, says TechCrunch. More on what’s attracting the attention of so many investors here

    Tipalti, a nine-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based accounting startup, has raised $76 million in Series D funding led by Zeev Ventures, with participation from Group 1101 AdvisorsGreenspring Associates, and TrueBridge Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Everledger, a four-year-old, U.K.-based blockchain company, has raised $20 million in Series A funding from Tencent HoldingsGraphene Ventures, Bloomberg BetaRakutenFidelity and Vickers Venture Partners. CoinDesk has more here

    Fivetran, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps companies move data from disparate repositories to data warehouses, has raised $44 million in Series B funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from earlier backers Matrix Partners and CEAS Investments. The company had closed on $15 million in Series A funding less than a year ago. More here.  

    Manticore Games, a nearly three-year-old, Bay Area-based stealth gaming startup, has raised $30 million in Series B funding from BenchmarkCorrelation VenturesBITKRAFT Esports VenturesM VenturesArriveSapphire SportTuesday Capital, and SV Angel. The company has now raised $45 million altogether — and all before it has shipped a product. TechCrunch has more here

    Sentry, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that provides bug-monitoring software for app developers, has raised $40 million in Series C funding led by Accel, with New Enterprise Associates also participating. More here

    Tulip, a five-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based manufacturing app platform that requires no coding and that was created in part by Natan Linder, cofounder and chairman of the billion-dollar 3D printing company Formlabs, has raised $39.5 million in Series B funding, including from Vertex Ventures and earlier backers NEA and Pitango Venture Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Cowbell Cyber, a nine-month-old, Pleasanton, Ca.-based cybersecurity startup, has raised $3.3 million in seed funding from ManchesterStory GroupHolmes Murphy & AssociatesTri-Valley Ventures and the Global Insurance AcceleratorMore here

    Cycode, a months-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based security company that aims to protect enterprises’ source code, has raised a $4.6 million seed led by YL Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    iVexSol, a newly formed, Boston-based viral vector manufacturing company, has raised $2 million in convertible debt funding led by Casdin Capital and BioLife Solutions. Viral vectors, are molecular tools used to package and deliver genetic material into patients. More here

    Passbase, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based digital identity startup, has raised $3.6 million in seed funding led by Cowboy Ventures and Eniac Ventures, with participation from Seedcamp and other European investors. The startup had raised $600,000 in pre-seed funding earlier this year. TechCrunch has more here.


    AirMap, a nearly five-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based airspace intelligence platform for drones, has acquired Hangar Technology, a three-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based drone workflow automation platform for enterprises. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. AirMap has raised roughly $44 million from VCs, according to Crunchbase; Hangar had raised $6.5 million, it says. More here

    BlaBlaCar, a French company that sell a ride-sharing service for long-distance trips across Europe and other places like Russia and Brazil, has offered to buy Eastern European bus-booking platform Busfor for an undisclosed amount, the company said today, calling the deal its “biggest” acquisition to date. Nicolas Brusson tells CNBC it will give BlaBlaCar the opportunity to provide “multimodal” transportation offerings in new regions. More here

    After more than 50 years of chronicling local characters, the biweekly print magazine with five popular online offshoots, New York Magazine, has a new owner in Vox Media. Neither company is disclosing the value of the deal. The New York Times has more here

    Vista Equity Partners, which likes buying undervalued tech companies and turning them around for a profit, has acquired the web content management and digital experience company Acquia in a deal valued at $1 billion. Acquia, which is the commercial arm for the open source Drupal project, had raised $173.5 million from investors, according to Crunchbase. TechCrunch has more here.


    Tony Wang has joined the accelerator program and investment firm 500 Startups as a managing partner, says TechCrunch. Wang worked previously at Color Genomics, a venture-backed developer of genetic testing kits where he served as chief operating officer. Before Color, Wang was the vice president of global partnerships and development at Twitter. 

    Stack Overflow, an 11-year-old, New York-based, venture-backed question-and-answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers, has a new CEO in Prashanth ChandrasekarMore here.


    Gradient Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Google that’s focused on all things AI, is looking to hire a senior associate. The job is in San Francisco.

    Sponsored By … 

    Wizeline is a global product development company helping clients solve their biggest challenges with design and technology. You’re invited to our next Off the Record event, an invite-only dinner series where tech leaders can have honest conversations in an intimate setting. We’ve hosted this event in San Francisco, Mexico City, Sydney, and New York City with topics such as “Build vs. Buy.” Request a seat at our upcoming event in San Francisco on Tuesday, Oct. 8th where we’ll discuss The Future of Data. Speakers include Ash Fontana, Managing Director of Zetta Venture Partners, Bindu Reddy, CEO and co-founder of RealityEngines.AI, and Bismarck Lepe, CEO and founder at Wizeline.

    Essential Reads 

    The SEC has charged media measurement firm Comscore and its former CEO Serge Matta for engaging in a fraudulent scheme to overstate revenue by $50 million and by making false and misleading statements about its performance. The company and Matta entered a settlement with the SEC without admitting wrongdoing. The whole thing is especially ridiculous given that the company’s metrics are widely touted in the media world

    Facebook will not fact-check politicians’ speech or block their content if it’s newsworthy, even if it violates the platform’s hate-speech rules or other policies. This cementing of its policy comes from Facebook’s head of global policy and communication, Nick Clegg, who gave a speech today about Facebook’s plans to prevent interference in the 2020 presidential election. 

    Four years in startups.


    Emerging research may explain why more teenage boys than girls say they spend too much time playing video games. 

    A bike crash left this 62-year-old unconscious, so his Apple Watch called 911

    Diary of a prehistoric insect.

    Retail Therapy 

    Barrel-smoked maple syrup for a classic American cocktail.

  • September 23, 2019

    Monday! Hello!

    Top News . . . 

    According to Reuters’ sources, WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann has started talks with board directors and investors to discuss his future role at the U.S. office-sharing start-up, including the possibility of giving up his title as chief executive but becoming board chairman, as well as remaining as CEO with an independent chairman brought in to join the board. 

    Meanwhile, the hits keep coming relating to Neumann’s ostensible egomania, with Vanity Fair reporting today that “in conversations with people inside and outside the company,” Neumann’s pronouncements are said to include telling one investor that he’d convinced Rahm Emanuel to run for president in 2020 on the “WeWork agenda” and telling another “finance executive that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was his ‘personal banker’ and that Dimon might leave JPMorgan to run the Neumanns’ family investment fund.” (A source close to Neumann denied this to Vanity Fair, and a source close to Dimon told VF that Dimon has no plans to leave JPMorgan.)  

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, things don’t seem to be going so well at SoftBank, which has poured more than $10 billion into WeWork and *really* doesn’t want it go public at a fraction of the valuation the co-working company was last assigned (by SoftBank). According to the Financial Times, the Japanese group has been encouraging executives to take on large personal loans to buy into its portfolio of technology companies, an “investment scheme described internally as a test of loyalty to founder Masayoshi Son.” Indeed, SoftBank is reportedly encouraging these employees to take a huge personal bet on SoftBank’s original $97 billion Vision Fund by borrowing up to 10 times their base salary. Says the FT, “Participation is not obligatory, according to people close to the company, but some employees worry that opting out of it may hurt their career.” 

    Sponsored By …

    In 1994, the average U.S. tech company went public four years after founding – recently, that number has grown to over 10 years! Fear not startup employees: EquityZen lets you take some chips off the table now by giving you the liquidity you deserve. Discover how much your employee equity is worth by listing your shares today.

    As Adam Neumann Faces Pressure to Step Down, It’s Looking Like a Fight for Life Between WeWork and SoftBank 

    According to report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, certain members of WeWork’s board, which includes co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann, are planning to pressure Neumann to step down and instead become We’s non-executive chairman. The move, says the outlet, “would allow him to stay at the company he built into one of the country’s most valuable startups, but inject fresh leadership to pursue an IPO that would bring We the cash it needs to keep up its torrid growth.” 

    The WSJ and Bloomberg are reporting that it is SoftBank specifically that wants Neumann to step down. Neither WeWork nor SoftBank is commenting publicly. 

    It’s a fascinating development, the kind we saw when Uber’s board successfully forced co-founder and longtime CEO Travis Kalanick  to abandon his role as CEO. Still, we’d caution against drawing too close a comparison. While the venture firm Benchmark, which spearheaded Kalanick’s ouster, stood to lose billions of dollars if Kalanick dragged down Uber and continued to push off an IPO, Benchmark  was not in a do-or-die situation because of its Uber investment. 

    SoftBank appears to be in more dire straights, making this standoff a particularly meaningful one. 

    Let’s back up a minute first, though, and consider who is involved and which way this could potentially go. A few days ago, Business Insider put together a useful cheat sheet about WeWork’s board members that may hint at their allegiance. 

    1) Ronald Fisher — who is vice chairman at SoftBank Group after founding SoftBank Capital, a U.S. venture arm of SoftBank — joined SoftBank’s board last year. He oversees 114 Class A shares, each of which carries one vote. Obviously, he’s going to side with SoftBank. 

    2) Lewis Frankfort — the chairman of a fitness studio chain called Flywheel Sports — has been a board member of WeWork for roughly five years, and BI says WeWork once loaned him $6.3 million, which he repaid with interest earlier this year. We have to think he’d stick with Neumann out of loyalty. At the same time, he doesn’t wield much power unless he has the right to block significant actions at the company (some shareholders get these blocking rights; some don’t). What we know: He controls 2 million shares, and 750,000 of them are Class B shares that carry 10 votes each. 

    3) Benchmark, which first backed WeWork in 2012, is represented on the board by Bruce Dunlevie, the founding partner of the venture firm. Benchmark owns 32.6 million Class A shares, and could go either way, seemingly. On the one hand, Benchmark doesn’t want to establish a reputation for pushing out founders after the Kalanick debacle, and if it supports SoftBank over Neumann, it risks this exact thing happening. On the other hand, Benchmark might not want to battle with SoftBank if it thinks it has staying power or it’s concerned (suddenly) that it allowed Neumann to amass too much control. 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Sweetgreen, a 12-year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based salad-focused restaurant chain, has raised $150 million in funding at a $1.6 billion led by Lone Pine Capital and D1 Capital Partners, says the WSJ. Earlier backer True Ventures also joined the round. More here

    Unbabel, a six-year-old, Lisbon, Portugal-based startup that says its AI-powered, human-refined translation platform can help translate customer emails, live chat exchanges, FAQ pages, and more, across dozens of languages, has raised $60 million in Series C funding. Point72 Ventures led the round, joined by Microsoft’s M12Samsung NextGreycroftScale Venture PartnersNotion CapitalCaixa CapitalFaber VenturesFundersClubStructure CapitalIndico Capital Partners, and e.ventures. VentureBeat has more here.  

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Bold Penguin, a three-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based startup that matches commercial insurance carriers with prospects, has raised $32 million in Series B funding, including from Hudson Structured Capital ManagementLightstoneGuggenheim InsuranceLockton, and individuals from Stone Point Capital. The company has now raised more than $50 million altogether. VentureBeat has more here

    DustPhotonics, a two-year-old, Israel-based startup that provides optical modules to data centers, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Intel Capital, with participation from WRVI Capital. Calcalist has more here

    Future State Brands, a five-year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based holding company for cannabis-related consumer brands, has raised $25 million led by Cresco CapitalMore here

    Hydrostor, a nine-year-old, Toronto- and Australia-based developer of advanced compressed air energy storage projects, has raised $37 million in funding. Investors include Elemental EnergyCanoe FinancialArcTern VenturesMaRS Catalyst Fund and Lorem Partners. Quartz has more here

    Immutable, a year-old, Sydney, Australia-based company that builds video games with player-owned assets, has raised $15 million Series A round led by Naspers Ventures, with participation from the Galaxy Digital EOS VC Fund and Apex Capital PartnersMore here

    Kheiron, a three-year-old, London-based machine learning startup that’s setting out to help radiologists detect early signs of cancer, has raised $22 million in Series A funding led by Atomico, with participation from GreycroftConnect VenturesHoxton Ventures, and Exor Seeds. VentureBeat has more here

    Ometria, a six-year-old, London-based “AI-powered” customer marketing platform, has raised $21 million in Series B funding led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Sonae IMSummit Action, Samos and Adjuvo, along with numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here

    Smarter Sorting, a four-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based startup that produces granular, chemical-level data about consumer products, just raised $17 million in Series A funding. US Ecology led the round, joined by RTP Ventures and others. Built in Austin has more here

    Vedanta Biosciences, a nine-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based clinical-stage company that says it’s developing a class of drugs that work by modulating the human microbiome, has raised $16.6 million in Series C-2 funding. Investors include QUAD Investment ManagementSV Investment Corp.Shinhan Investment-Private EquityShinhan Capital-Yeollim PartnersPartners Investment Co., FC Capital, and SymBiosisMore here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Curamir Therapeutics, a new, Woburn, Ma.-based developer of micro RNA-based cancer drugs, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by a Hong Kong-based private equity firm called Delos CapitalMore here

    InsightRx, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based precision dosing platform, raised $10 million in Series A funding. HealthX Ventures led the round, joined by Rock HealthOSF HealthcareLeawood VCPremier Inc., and GreatPoint Ventures. MobiHealthNews has more here

    Julo, a three-year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based peer-to-peer lender, just raised $10 million in new Series A funding led by Quona Capital, with participation from Skystar CapitalEast VenturesProvident, Gobi Partners, and ConvergenceMore here

    Landline, 1.5-year-old, L.A.-based low-fare shuttle service, has raised $3.85 million in seed funding led by Upfront Ventures, with participation from Mucker CapitalMatchstick Ventures and WndrCoMore here.

    New Funds 

    HarbourVest, the Boston-based private equity investment manager, has made a big new bet on Avataar Venture Partners. The India-based venture firm was cofounded by Mohan Kumar, a former partner with Norwest Venture Partners, and Nishant Rao, the former chief operating officer at the Chennai-based SaaS firm Freshworks, and HarbourVest is the sole limited partner in their $300 million debut fund. The deal reportedly represents the fund-of funds’ first-ever direct exposure to venture fund operating in India and Southeast Asia. The Economic Times has more here.


    Facebook has agreed to acquire CTRL-Labs, a four-year-old, New York-based startup that has been building software to let people control a digital avatar using only their thoughts. Facebook is paying between $500 million and $1 billion, says Bloomberg. CTRL-Labs had raised $67 million, says Crunchbase. Its investors include Breyer CapitalMatrix PartnersSpark CapitalGV, and Lux CapitalMore here

    Facebook acquired Servicefriend, an Israel-based startup that builds bots, or chat clients for messaging apps based on artificial intelligence. Although Facebook isn’t specifying what the company’s founders will be working on, TechCrunch suggests that the highest likelihood is that they’ll help build a customer service layer for the Calibra digital wallet that Facebook is developing. Servicefriend doesn’t appear to have raised venture funding. More here

    HP has acquired Bromium, a nine-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based security startup that had raised roughly $115 million in funding from investors, including Silver Lake WatermanAndreessen HorowitzIgnition PartnersHighland Capital PartnersIntel CapitalLightspeed Venture Partners and Meritech Capital Partners. Terms aren’t being disclosed. ZDNet has more here

    The messaging app Kik, which boasted having more than 300 million registered users a little more than three years ago, is shutting down. BetaKit has more here.


    Kristin Bannon has joined SoftBank Vision Fund as a vice president. Bannon, a field hockey star at Harvard, has spent the last nine years with Morgan Stanley.  

    Disney CEO Bob Iger tells Maureen Dowd of the New York Times why he pulled the plug on acquiring Twitter at the eleventh hour in 2016: “The troubles were greater than I wanted to take on, greater than I thought it was responsible for us to take on,” he says. “There were Disney brand issues, the whole impact of technology on society. The nastiness is extraordinary. I like looking at my Twitter newsfeed because I want to follow 15, 20 different subjects. Then you turn and look at your notifications and you’re immediately saying, why am I doing this? Why do I endure this pain? Like a lot of these platforms, they have the ability to do a lot of good in our world. They also have an ability to do a lot of bad. I didn’t want to take that on.”

    The most powerful women in business, according to Fortune.


    About 42 percent of family offices say they’re raising cash reserves out of growing fears of a recession, according to a new UBS Global Family Office Report. “There’s more caution and fear of the public equity markets among ultra-high-net-worth investors,” Timothy O’Hara, president of Rockefeller Global Family Office, tells Bloomberg. “That has more people thinking about private investments, alternative investments or cash.”

    Sponsored By …

    Wizeline is a development and design services company headquartered in San Francisco with nearshore operations in your time zone. We work with sophisticated tech companies to build rapid prototypes, accelerate their roadmap, and scale engineering operations. Use our tool to scope your next digital project. Wizeline’s experienced engineers, designers, tech writers, and data scientists joined our team for the opportunity to work on compelling technical challenges. Tell us about yours.

    Essential Reads 

    The great smoke-out continues. Now Federal prosecutors in California are conducting a criminal probe into e-cigarette maker Juul, reports the WSJ. The company is also being investigated by the The Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and several state attorneys general. The WSJ looks at how doctors uncovered the vaping crisis. In related news, the amount of advice on how to quit Juuling has ramped up significantly on the aggregation and discussion site Reddit, says Vice.


    How to talk to people in crisis

    A $33,000 car for kids is already sold out (and 500 were made). 

    Colorful leather is coming this spring.

    Retail Therapy 

    Earbuds by Amazon.

  • September 20, 2019

    Friday! [Opens front door; falls, exhausted, into hot dog sofa.] 

    Wishing you a terrific weekend, everyone. See you in a couple of days.:)

    Top News

    Facebook announced today that it has suspended tens of thousands of apps for improperly hoarding users’ personal information, which is way up from the 400 apps flagged a year ago by the company’s investigation in the wake of Cambridge Analytica. TechCrunch has more here

    Palantir Technologies is reportedly raising money at what it hope will be a $26 billion post-money valuation, or $6 billion more than it was assigned during its last funding round four years ago. As CNBC notes, if successful, the now 16-year-old, Silicon Valley contractor to U.S. spy agencies and the Pentagon would show that private investors are “continuing to drive the valuations of Silicon Valley unicorns higher, even as stock market investors are pushing back.” More here.

    Sponsored By …

    Attention startup employees: did you know you can sell your employee equity while your company is still private? EquityZen helps you sell your stock without any lawyers or mountains of paperwork. List your shares and get liquid today.

    Want to Crush Competitors? Forget SoftBank; Blackstone Wants You to Know It Writes $500 Million Checks, Too

    Back in January, Blackstone — the investment firm whose assets under management surpassed a jaw-dropping half a trillion dollars earlier this year — quietly began piecing together a new, growth equity platform called Blackstone Growth, or BXG. Step one was hiring away Jon Korngold from General Atlantic, where he’d spent the previous 18 years, including as a managing director and a member of its management committee.

    Step two has been for Korngold, who is responsible for running the new program, to build a team, which he has been doing throughout the year, bringing in “people who speak the language of Blackstone,” he says, including from TCV, Andreessen Horowitz, Carlyle, Vista Private Equity, NEA, and SoftBank .

    Apparently, the group is now ready for business. It has already closed on two deals from existing pools of capital with Blackstone, including acquiring outright the mobile ad company Vungle. According to Korngold, two more term sheets “are being signed imminently.”

    We talked with him last week for more information about what the group is shopping for, what size checks it is willing to write, and which firms it views as its biggest rivals for deals (and more). Our chat has been edited for length and clarity.

    You’ve been hiring throughout the year people who have large-scale growth equity backgrounds. Are many of them women? Blackstone is one of the most diverse organizations [in terms of] gender or ethnicity. In general, it’s a huge priority for the firm and within our group of 20 people, 40 percent are female, a number we hope to get to 50 percent. Hiring is still in process, but it’s a really healthy culture. 

    How many people does Blackstone employ altogether? There are 2,600 altogether across 24 offices. 

    Is your group investing a discreet pool of capital? At some point, we’ll have a dedicated pool of capital, but as a firm, we’ve been investing in growth equity for some time [so have relied on other funds within Blackstone to date]. 

    There’s no shortage of growth equity in the world right now. What is Blackstone building that’s so different? The sheer scale of the operation is different. We have nearly 100 operating professionals — employees of Blackstone — who were hired because they are functional experts — from pricing experts to process engineering experts to human capital and procurement and digital marketing experts — and who can advise our companies. Also, Blackstone can holistically assist a company through [our] growth equity and real estate and procurement and debt [groups] and other related infrastructure support, enabling companies to fight way above their weight class.  We have 600,000 people across our portfolio, and that provides an interesting opportunity for our companies to cross pollinate [and to cross-sell to] one another. Unlike most growth equity firms, we also have a significant number of data scientists who do three things: identify proprietary signals across asset classes to help instruct where we should be hunting; help our companies monetize their data; and help us in our diligence. They’ll access raw data feeds and almost see the matrix, if you will. 

    How many data scientists are we talking about? A couple dozen [across Blackstone]. 

    Blackstone must be competing against fast-growing tech companies for data scientists. How do you convince them that work for an investing giant is the better gig? If you’re an intellectually curious individual, there are so many signals [coming through Blackstone] that it’s almost a proxy for the world. It’s like manna from heaven. It’s not like they’re doing a single-threaded approach. The nature of the challenges across our companies is so vast and so varying that whether you’re looking at a fast-growing retailer or a cell phone tower in another country,  the nature of the tasks is always changing. 

    SoftBank seems to have shaken things up a bit when it came on to the scene, given the size checks it is writing. Your boss, Steven Schwarzman, who recently talked with us about this bigger new push into growth equity, made sure to note that there are few organizations that can write $500 million checks. Everyone in Silicon Valley wants to talk about SoftBank. More here.

    Massive Fundings

    Vianai, a months-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based early-stage, machine learning startup that was launched by former Infosys managing director and SAP executive Vishal Sikka, has raised $50 million in seed(!) funding. The funding comes from friends, family offices and institutions that Sikka is declining to name for now. TechCrunch has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

    AvantStay, a two-year-old, West Hollywood, Ca.-based hospitality startup focused on short-term rental properties tailored for group getaways, has raised $20 million in Series A funding. 3L Capital led the round, joined by Bullpen CapitalConvivialite VenturesF-Prime CapitalZeno Ventures and Olympic snowboarder Shaun White. Built in LA has more here.

    Built Robotics, a three-year-old, Bay Area-based maker of self-driving heavy equipment to make construction safer and, it says, faster, has raised $33 million in Series B funding from Next47Founders Fund, and NEA. ZDNet has more here.

    Kitchen United, a nearly two-year-old, Pasadena, Ca.-based cloud kitchen company, has raised $40 million in Series B funding co-led by RXR Reality and earlier backer GV with participation from Fidelity Investments CanadaDivcoWest, and G Squared. The Spoon has more here

    Lookiero, a three-year-old, Bilbao, Spain-based online personal shopping service for clothes and accessories, has closed a $19 million funding round led by MMC Ventures, with participation from earlier backer All Iron Ventures and new investors Bonsai Partners10x and Santander Smart. TechCrunch has more here.

    Smaller Fundings

    Daisy Intelligence, a 16-year-old, Vaughan, Ontario-based retail and insurance analytics startup, has raised C$10 million ($7.5 million) in Series A funding led by Framework Venture Partners, with participation from Sonae IMMore here

    Digi-Prex, a seven-month-old, Hyderabad, India-based startup that runs an online subscription pharmacy that deliver patients with chronic diseases their prescriptions, has $5.5 million from Khosla VenturesVedanta CapitalY CombinatorQuiet Capital, and SV Angel. Justin Mateen,  a founder of Tinder, also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

    Plutoshift, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based data intelligence startup focused on industrial processes, just raised $8 million in Series A funding from Fall Line Capital and Unshackled VenturesMore here

    Red Sift, a four-year-old, London-based email security startup, has raised $8.8 million in funding led by MMC Ventures, with participation from In-Q-Tel and earlier investors White Star Capital and Oxford CapitalMore here

    VentriFlo, a months-old, Pelham, N.H.-based blood pumping system used during surgery or in the intensive care unit, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by  philanthropists Jim and Pat Poitras and other investors. More here.

    New Funds

    Matchstick Ventures, a six-year-old, seed-stage firm that says it invests in “rapidly growing, yet underserved startup ecosystems,” has raised $30 million for its second fund — which is 10 times what they raised for their first fund. The firm’s two general partners — one is in Minneapolis and the other is in Boulder, Co.–  say they will write initial checks of around $500,000, and in some cases make follow-on investments of $1 million or $2 million. Among its LPs is Foundry Group in Boulder. More here

    Two former executives from smart door lock company August Technology have created Union Labs, a venture capital firm that has filed to raise $50 million for its first fund. The founders are Nate Williams, the former chief revenue officer at August, and Chris Kim, its former CTO, and their LinkedIn profiles indicates that Union Labs will be focused on helping to build and back seed-stage startups focused around the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and autonomy. Journalist Stacey Higginbotham has more here.


    Clutter, a four-year-old, L.A.-based on-demand storage company, has shelled out $152 million for a portfolio of four properties in New York that will bolster its presence in the city.  TechCrunch has so far raised $310 million from its venture investors. TechCrunch has more here.


    Accomplice promoted Ash Egan from principal to partner. Egan joined Accomplice a year ago, after spending roughly a year with the blockchain studio ConsenSys, where he first crossed paths with Accomplice team. 

    Battery Ventures has promoted three staffers to vice president: Dillon Joyce, Max-Julian Kaye and Aaron Rinberg. More here

    Ouch. Oracle’s billionaire founder Larry Ellison reportedly told a small cohort of founders at his San Francisco home that Uber, despite its $57.5 billion public market capitalization, is “almost worthless.”  

    Sam Smith-Eppsteiner has joined Eric Schmidt’s venture firm Innovation Endeavors as an investment partner. It’s a homecoming for Smith-Eppsteiner, who’d previously spent two years with the Palo Alto outfit, leaving in late 2017 to intern at both the self-driving technology company Nuro and at an AI and machine-earning startup focused on medical and biology research called Owkin.


    IBM filed a lawsuit agains the real estate giant Zillow this week, accusing it of using its patented technology to build key parts of its home value estimation and search features. The dispute is the latest in a series of high-profile patent suits filed by IBM against other well-known tech companies, notes GeekWire. More here.

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    Essential Reads 

    Inside Airbnb, employees eager for big payouts pushed it to go public, reports the New York Times. 

    More bad news for Juul. Walmart will stop selling e-cigarettes at its namesake stores and at its Sam’s Club locations, it announced today. It cited uncertainty around vaping, which has been tied to more than 500 lung injuries across the country, according to U.S. health officials. 

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has just apologized to the creator community over the company’s decision to revoke verification statuses, leaving many creators without the important badge. The Verge explains what happened here

    Google offshoot Wing will begin testing drone delivery with FedEx and Walgreens next month. This past spring, Wing was certified by the FAA to become what it says is the first company in the country to be able to offer autonomous drones deliveries.


    New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has ended his 2020 presidential bid, in the process reminding people that he was campaigning. 

    What really brought down the Boeing 737 Max. 

    Can you go home again? Yes, if that home is a castle called Downton Abbey.

    Retail Therapy

    Like a home dry cleaner right in your closet.
  • September 19, 2019

    Thursday! We’ve been buried up to our *eyeballs* in news today. So much happened; let’s zip through it.

    Top News

    Donald Trump met Mark Zuckerberg in the White House today, in an apparent effort to address lawmakers’ concerns over everything from privacy to Facebook’s plans to launch a cryptocurrency, and the meeting was, er,  “constructive,” according to a Facebook spokesperson. More here.

    Sponsored By …

    Attention startup employees: did you know you can sell your employee equity while your company is still private? EquityZen helps you sell your stock without any lawyers or mountains of paperwork. List your shares and get liquid today.

    An Explosive Breach-of-Contract Lawsuit Against Former Sequoia Partner Michael Goguen Has Been Dropped

    Three-and-a-half years ago, a lawsuit hit the San Mateo, Ca. county courthouse that briefly attracted the attention of the worldwide venture capital community given its salacious nature. The defendant: longtime VC Michael Goguen, who’d spent 20 years with Sequoia Capital in Menlo Park, Ca. The plaintiff: a former intimate who described him through the filing as a “worse predator than the human traffickers.” She said in the filing that she would know, having become a “victim of human trafficking” at age 15 when she was “brought to America in 2001,” then “sold as a dancer to a strip club” in Texas, which is where she says first encountered Goguen.

    What she wanted from the lawsuit was money that she said was owed to her by Goguen: $40 million over four installments that the lawsuit stated were for “compensation for the sexual abuse and [a sexual] infection she contracted from him.” According to her suit, Goguen agreed to these terms, paying Baptiste a first installment of $10 million before refusing to make further payments.

    At the time, Goguen called the allegations “horrific” and suggested Baptiste was a spurned lover, saying they’d had a “10+ year romantic relationship that ended badly.” He also filed a cross complaint alleging extortion.

    Today, that cross complaint lives on, but Baptiste’s case against Goguen was just dismissed by arbitrator Read Ambler, a retired judge who served 20 years with the Santa Clara County Superior Court and who wrote in a ruling filed yesterday in San Mateo that Baptiste’s failures to undergo medical examinations doomed her case, as did her failure to produce documents necessary in the discovery process.

    “The record presented further establishes that Baptiste’s’ failures were willful,” Ambler writes. “Baptiste appears to believe that the information responsive to the discovery at issue is either not relevant, or with respect to the medical examinations, not permitted by law. While Baptiste is free to believe what she wants to believe, the orders are binding on Baptiste, and her failure to comply with the orders is unacceptable.”

    More here.

    Massive Fundings

    Automattic, the 14-year-old, San Francisco-headquartered company behind WordPress and now Tumblr, has raised $300 million at a $3 billion post-money valuation, and all of it is from Salesforce Ventures. TechCrunch has much more here

    Checkr, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based background check platform that sells its services to companies of all sizes, has raised $160 million in fresh funding led by T. Rowe Price, with participation from BondCoatue and earlier backers AccelIVP and Y Combinator. The company, which has raised roughly $325 million altogether, per Crunchbase, is now valued at $2.2 billion. Forbes has more here

    CircleUp, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based venture-backed investment platform, has secured more than $200 million in additional financing to back startups, with the money coming from investors including Michigan’s state pension fund and Pacific Life. CircleUp’s loans business has so far originated more than $300 million in loans since its 2017 launch, says Forbes. More on the company here

    Ginkgo Bioworks, an 11-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based organism company that’s designing custom microbes for customers across multiple markets, has raised $290 million in Series E funding. The money came from T. Rowe Price Associates and earlier backers Cascade InvestmentViking Global InvestorsGeneral Atlantic and Y Combinator. Forbes has more here

    Petal, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that offers a Visa rewards card to people with little to no credit history, has closed on $300 million in debt funding from Jefferies. CNBC has the story here

    Postmates, the eight-year-old, San Francisco-based popular food delivery service, has raised another $225 million at a valuation of $2.4 billion led by the private equity firm GPI Capital. Postmates has now raised nearly $1 billion altogether. The company, which is expected to go public soon, still plans to test the public waters, sources tell TechCrunch. More here

    Stripe, the nine-year-old, San Francisco-based payment processing company, is raising another giant round of funding — $250 million —  and at a pre-money valuation of $35 billion(!). Stripe says General CatalystAndreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital are all part of the syndicate. TechCrunch has more here.

    Wunder Mobility, a five-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based carpooling platform, has raised $60 million in Series B funding from earlier investors Blumberg Capital and KCKMore here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

    128 Technology, a five-year-old, Burlington, Ma.-based company that says its software teaches routers the language of applications and services, letting them understand the requirements of individual services and segments, has raised $30 million in Series D funding. The capital comes from executive management and current employees of 128 TechnologyG20 VenturesThe Perkins Fund and other unnamed individual investors. More here

    AppLearn, an eight-year-old, London-based software adoption platform, just raised $25 million in new funding led by K1 Investment ManagementMore here.

    Boundless Bio, a new, San Diego-based oncology drug startup focused on extrachromosomal DNA, has raised $46 million in Series A funding co-led by Arch Venture Partners and City Hill Ventures, with participation from Vertex VenturesGT Healthcare Capital PartnersBoxer Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments. FierceBiotech has more here

    Darkstore, a two-year-old, San Francisco startup that turns excess capacity in storage facilities, malls, and bodegas into mini-fulfillment centers for e-commerce companies wanting to offer same-day delivery, just raised $21 million in Series B funding led by EQT Ventures. The company has now raised $30 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Groww, a two-year-old, Bangalore-based startup behind an investment app for millennials in India, has raised $21.4 million in Series B funding led by Ribbit Capital. Earlier investors Sequoia India and Y Combinator also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to roughly $29 million. TechCrunch has more here

    HappyOrNot, a 10-year-old, Finland-based company that makes software, as well as hardware to record whether customers are satisfied with an experience on their way out of a location, usually by tapping a face on a screen, has raised $25 million in funding led by Verdane, with participation from earlier backer Northzone. The company has now raised $40 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Neuvoo, an eight-year-old, Montreal-based jobs site, has sold a minority stake in its business for C$53 million ($40 million) to Canada’s second-largest pension fund, Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec. Bloomberg has more here.

    Revelo, a four-year-old, São Paulo, Brazil-based recruiting startup, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by IFCMore here

    Robin Healthcare, a two-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based digital assistant for physicians aimed at freeing them from paperwork, has raised $11.5 million in Series A funding led by Norwest Venture PartnersMore here

    Scintil Photonics, a year-old, Grenoble, France-based developer of silicon photonic fully integrated circuits, has raised $4.4 million in funding from Supernova InvestInnovacomBpifranceCredit Agricole Alpes Développement and Fund ForeisMore here

    Skout Cybersecurity, a six-year-old, New York-based cybersecurity startup focused on small and mid-sized businesses, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by ClearSky, with participation from RSE VenturesMore here

    Tethr, a seven-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based company that turns unstructured voice data into insights that can be shared with an entire organization, has raised $15 million led by IAG Capital with participation from earlier backers GroTech VenturesMissionOG and Falmouth Ventures. CityBizList has more here

    Versantis, a four-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based biotech company focused on rare liver and pediatric diseases, has raised around $16 million in Series B funding led by Swisscanto Invest. FierceBiotech has more here.

    Smaller Fundings

    Shipper, a year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based logistics startup for e-commerce companies, has raised $5 million in seed funding from Lightspeed Venture PartnersFloodgateInsignia Ventures Partners, and Y Combinator. TechCrunch has more here

    Voro, a three-year-old, New York-based healthcare social network that invites users to share doctor recommendations with their friends and neighbors, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Floodgate, with participation from numerous individual investors, including Flatiron Health cofounders Zach Weinberg and Nat Turner. Business Insider has more here.

    New Funds 

    AgFunder, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm focused on funding agriculture and food-tech companies, says it’s aiming to raise $20 million to create what it’s calling an alternative protein fund that will invest more narrowly in animal protein alternatives, including plant-based alternatives, cellular agriculture, and the technology required to enable this industry. More here

    Precursor Ventures, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based seed-stage venture fund that last year closed its second fund in March with $31 million in capital commitments, is now raising a $10 million opportunity fund, shows an SEC filing. Crunchbase News first flagged it here

    Splunk, a 15-year-old, San Francisco-based, publicly-traded maker of operational intelligence software that monitors, reports, and analyzes real-time machine data, says it’s establishing a venture fund called Splunk Ventures that will invest $150 million in startups. The arm will oversee two discreet pools of capital: a $100 million fund for early-stage tech companies that could benefit from ties to Splunk, and a $50 million social impact fund dedicated to funding startups that use data in favor of public-good initiatives. Business Insider has more here.


    Airbnb says it’s going public next year

    Datadog, a nine-year-old, New York monitoring service for cloud-scale applications saw its shares soar more than 39 percent today. The IPO priced late yesterday above the expected range of $24 to $26, which was recently raised from a range of $19 to $22. According to Bloomberg, Cisco Systems had approached the company in recent weeks with a takeover offer significantly higher than the $7 billion valuation it was aiming for in its IPO, but Datadog reportedly thinks it could eventually be worth more as a public company. 

    Ping, a 17-year-old, Denver, Co.-based identity-focused software company backed by the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, rose in its debut today after raising $188 million in itsIPO. The software company’s shares — it sold 12.5 million —  rose 34 percent to $20.11, giving the company a market value of $1.56 billion. Bloomberg has more here

    Uber’s lockup period expires on November 6. Here’s what could happen.


    Neil Daswani has joined Trinity Ventures as an executive-in-residence focused on cyber security. Daswani previously sold a company to Twitter, served as chief information security officer at Symantec and at LifeLock, and has held engineering leadership roles at Twitter, Google and Yodlee.  

    Jesse Morris, who previously cofounded a services business called Very, has joined Human Ventures as a managing partner. 

    Arch Rao, the former head of product at Tesla who was behind the company’s Powerwall home energy storage is system, is back with his own, all-in-one power management system for homes.

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    Essential Reads 

    Amazon say it’s buying 100,000 electric trucks from the Detroit-based electric-vehicle startup Rivian as part of its effort to eliminate the carbon footprint of the company by 2040. CEO Jeff Bezos announced the news today while helping to unveil the Climate Pledge, which will ask participating business to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement 10 years ahead of schedule. Amazon will be its first signatory, pledging to regularly measure and report greenhouse gas emissions while implementing decarbonization strategies through efficiency improvements, renewable energy, and materials reduction. More here and here

    Startups still love Slack, but big companies are bailing

    Tragic news coming out of Facebook today, where an employee leapt to his death from the fourth floor of one of the company’s buildings in Menlo Park. Facebook said it hopes to provide an update when it has additional information.


    The mysterious death of the hacker who turned in Chelsea Manning

    Inside famed gossip columnist Cindy Adams’s Park Avenue penthouse

    Coming soon: “Alexa, donate [blankety blank] to [favorite presidential candidate].” 

    Retail Therapy

    Living Vehicle, when you want to get away, then stay away.

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