• September 4, 2019

    Wednesday! Hello! Note that we’ll be offline for much of tomorrow (we’ll be at TC’s enterprise event), so StrictlyVC may be short and sweet, but we’ll be back in full form Friday. 🙂

    Top News

    Shares of Slack dropped nearly 14 percent today after posting stronger revenue in its first earnings report since its public market debut but also warning that growth is slowing.  

    The file storage and sharing company Box saw its shares rise 12.3 percent today, one day after activist hedge fund Starboard Value revealed that it has purchased a 7.5 percent stake in its business. Box CEO Aaron Levie is speaking publicly tomorrow at the same event where we’re helping out; we’re eager to hear what he has to say about all this.

    Sponsored By …

    Sallie Krawcheck was CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Smith Barney. She founded Ellevest because investing your money isn’t some game to be won. What matters are your goals — and a modern investing strategy to get you there. Find a team of experienced financial advisors who get it when it comes to women, families, and money at Ellevest Private Wealth.

    Massive Fundings  

    Achilles Therapeutics, a three-year-old, British developer of personalized cancer immunotherapies, has raised £100 million ($122.4 million) in Series B funding. RA Capital Management led the round, with participation ForbionInvus CapitalPerceptive AdvisorsRedmile Group and Syncona Investment Management. FierceBiotech has more here

    Clio, an 11-year-old, Vancouver-based legal tech company that offers sole practitioners and law firms a suite of cloud-based software that includes legal practice management and client intake and customer relationship management, has raised $250 million in Series D funding led by TCV and JMI Equity. Crunchbase News has more here

    M2i Life Sciences, a seven-year-old, Aquitaine, France-based producer of pheromones designed to replace chemical pesticides in farming, has raised $65.6 million in funding led by ADM Capital Europe and Eurazeo Growth. Unquote has more here

    VillageMD, a six-year-old, Chicago, Il.-based primary care company, has raised $100 million in Series B funding led by Kinnevik AB, with participation from Oak HC/FTTown Hall Ventures and Adams Street Partners. The company has now raised roughly $216 million altogether. Built in Chicago has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    75F, a seven-year-old, Burnsville, Mn.-based machine-learning powered control system that controls HVAC systems to make them more efficient, has raised $18 million in Series A funding. Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Climate Initiative co-led the round, joined by Building Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, and Clean Energy Trust. Fast Company has more here

    Bellwether Coffee, a six-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based maker of a commercial coffee roaster that says it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent compared with traditional gas-powered alternatives, just raised $40 million in Series B funding. DBL Partners and Lyndon and Peter Rive co-led the round. Other participants in the round include FusionXCongruent VenturesCoffee BellTandem CapitalSpindrift EquitiesXN VenturesBalius Partners and Hardware Club. VentureBeat has more here

    Even Financial, a four-year-old New York-based provider of APIs for financial services search, acquisition, and monetization, has raised $25 million in funding co-led by Citi Ventures and MassMutual Ventures. Other backers in the round include Lending Club and earlier investors American Express VenturesCanaan PartnersF-Prime CapitalGreatPoint Ventures, and Goldman Sachs. The company has now raised $50 million altogether. VentureBeat has more here

    Ginger, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based behavioral health analytics platform, has raised $35 million in Series C funding led by WP Global Partners, with participation from City Light CapitalNimble Ventures, LinkedIn CEO Jeff WeinerKhosla VenturesKaiser Permanente Ventures, and Kapor Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Neura, a six-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based startup that helps developers see how users interact with their apps, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by returning investors Pitango Venture Capital and Liberty Technology Venture Capital. Other participants include Moneta CapitalAmdocs and AXA Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    PerimeterX, a five-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based maker of application security software, just raised $14 million as an extension of its previous Series C funding round. Investors include Deutsche Telekom Capital PartnersSalesforce VenturesScale Venture PartnersAdam Street Partners, Canaan PartnersVertex Ventures and DCVC. FierceTelecom has more here

    Railsbank, a four-year-old, London-based open banking and compliance platform, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Moneta Capital led the round,  joined by CreditEaseClocktower Technology VenturesSingapore Life, earlier backer Firestartr and others. TechCrunch has more here.  

    Sprout Pharmaceuticals, an eight-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based company behind female libido drug Addyi, has raised $20 million in venture funding from at least 110 individual investors, reports Fortune. More here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Litmus Automation, a six-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based industrial edge computing platform company, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Mitsubishi Corporation. The investment brings Litmus Automation’s total funding since launching to $12.6 million. More here

    Light, a five-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company designing a minimalistic phone, has raised $8.4 million in seed funding, including from FoxconnHinge CapitalBullishWhite Bay GroupAble PartnersProduct Co-Op, and SOSC. TechCrunch has more here

    RocketBody, a  three-year-old, Newark, Del.-based maker of an ECG-based personal trainer app for the Apple Watch, has raised $1 million in funding from Gagarin CapitalMore here.

    New Funds 

    The National Basketball Association is reportedly mulling the creation of an investment vehicle that would enable backers to buy minority shares of individual teams. In a memo sent to owners seen by Bloomberg,  the league says it’s exploring the potential formation of “a new capital vehicle that could purchase passive, minority ownership interests across multiple NBA teams.” 

    Reefknot Investments, a joint venture between Temasek, Singapore’s sovereign fund, and global logistics company Kuehne + Nagel, has announced the launch of a $50 million fund for logistics and supply chain startups. The firm is based in Singapore but will look for startups around the world that are raising their Series A or B rounds. TechCrunch has more here.


    The publicly traded ed tech company Chegg has acquired the nearly seven-year-old, New York-based online coding school Thinkful for $80 million in cash. Thinkful had raised around $15 million from Owl Ventures, Tribeca Venture Partners, Peter Thiel and RRE Ventures. Crunchbase News has more here

    Commvault, a publicly traded maker of software for the management of data across cloud and on-premises environments, say it’s acquiring the seven-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based software-defined storage startup, Hedvig, for $225 million, including the purchase price and ongoing employee retention. According to Crunchbase, Hedvig had raised $52 million over the years, including from True Ventures. More here

    Microsoft has acquired Movere, an 11-year-old Seattle-area cloud migration startup. Microsoft will use the deal to help customers move their existing applications and infrastructure to Azure, says GeekWire. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed; it isn’t immediately clear whether or how much Movere had raised from outside investors. More here

    Palo Alto Networks is adding a new acquisition to its growing collection, announcing today its plans to buy IoT security startup Zingbox for $75 million. The nearly five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based startup had raised $23.5 million, according to Crunchbase data. Its three co-founders — Xu Zou, May Wang and Jianlin Zeng — will be joining Palo Alto after the sale is official. TechCrunch has more here.


    WeWork is bringing aboard Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei as its first female board member as it prepares to go public. Frei was previously hired by Uber to help address its troubled culture, leaving the ride-hail company early last year. Reuters has more here

    Adam Marchick has joined Emory University in Atlanta as an investor tasked with helping put to work its $7 billion endowment. Marchick spent several years with Bain Capital Ventures before founding two startups and, more recently, spending three months as an entrepreneur-in-residence with The Chernin Group. 

    MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte said today he would take Jeffrey Epstein’s money again today, to the horror of those gathered at the internal meeting where Negroponte was speaking. According to Technology Review, one woman in the front row began crying as he spoke. It wasn’t until another woman yelled “Shut up!” twice that Negroponte mumbled “Good grief” and sat down. 

    WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has returned that $5.9 million worth of stock in the company that was originally paid to him to acquire the trademark “We.” In an amended S-1 filing on Wednesday, WeWork’s parent company, the We Company, noted that it was unwinding the agreement “at Adam’s direction.” 

    Sponsored By …

    Crises surround us: Boeing. Theranos. Capital One. Papa Johns. Equifax… is your company next? From the hottest companies in Silicon Valley to the White House voices shaping our nation, learn from the experts how to predict, manage, and recover from a crisis and take a light-hearted look at navigating some of the biggest crises to hit the front page. The 2nd annual CrisisCon is October 10 @ Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater. Register today using promo code “StrictlyVC” for discounted tix to this exclusive event and attendee-only networking happy hour.

    Essential Reads 

    In the latest security lapse involving Facebookhundreds of millions of phone numbers linked to Facebook accounts have been found online on an exposed server whose owner isn’t known, reports TechCrunch. It adds that questions remain as to exactly who scraped the data, when it was scraped from Facebook, and why. 

    Google agreed today to pay a record $170 million fine and make changes to protect children’s privacy on YouTube, after regulators said the site had knowingly harvested personal information from children and used it for ad targeting. The paltry fine has many scratching their heads, though the settlement doesn’t end there. YouTube also agreed to create a system that asks video channel owners to identify the children’s content they post so that targeted ads aren’t placed in such videos. And YouTube agreed to obtain consent from parents before collecting or sharing their kids’ personal details. 

    Twitter says it has (just temporarily!) turned off the ability to tweet via text message days after the feature was misused by hackers to tweet a racial slur and other nasty messages from the account of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.


    No matter how fast or slowly languages are spoken, they tend to transmit information at twice the speed of Morse code

    The new Porsche Taycan versus the Tesla Model S: spec for spec, price for price

    Tribute bands for conspiracy theorists.

    Retail Therapy 

    An Apple Macintosh iPhone.

  • September 3, 2019

    Tuesday! Hope you enjoyed the weekend, everyone.:)

    Top News

    Both Uber and Lyft closed today at record lows, an investors grow increasingly concerned about the companies’ business models. 

    In an open letter to Walmart employees, CEO Doug McMillon said today that the company will stop selling ammunition used for handguns and military-style weapons, completely end the sale of handguns, and discourage anyone from carrying weapons in his stores, even in “open carry” states. It could prove to be a watershed, notes Dealbook

    Sponsored By …

    Sallie Krawcheck was CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Smith Barney. She founded Ellevest because investing your money isn’t some game to be won. What matters are your goals — and a modern investing strategy to get you there. Find a team of experienced financial advisors who get it when it comes to women, families, and money at Ellevest Private Wealth.

    Massive Fundings  

    Culture Amp, an eight-year-old, Melbourne, Australia-based startup that helps employers collect and act on anonymous employee feedback, has raised $82 million in Series E funding led by Sequoia Capital China. Other investors in the round include Sapphire VenturesFelicis VenturesIndex VenturesBlackbird VenturesHostplusSkip CapitalGrok VenturesGlobal Founders Capital and TDM Growth Partners. The company has now raised $158 million to date. TechCrunch has more here

    OpenGov, a seven-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based maker of government performance management software, has raised $51 million in Series D funding co-led by Weatherford Capital and 8VC, with participation from earlier investor Andreessen Horowitz. TechCrunch has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Cazoo, a nine-month-old, London-based online car-buying platform, has raised £25 million from DMG VenturesStride.VC, Octopus Ventures and Entrée Capital, bringing its total (pre-launch) funding to more than €60 million. More here

    Elliptic, a six-year-old, Tokyo-based startup that’s focused on selling anti-money laundering compliance, crypto forensics, and cryptocurrency investigation services to the private sector and sometimes law enforcement agencies, has raised $23 million in Series B funding. The financial services and asset management firm SBI Group led the round, joined by AlbionVC and earlier backers SignalFireOctopus Ventures and Santander Innoventures. TechCrunch has more here

    GNA Biosolutions, a nine-year-old, Munich, Germany-based developer of point-of-care molecular diagnostic devices, has raised $13.5 million in funding led by GreyBird Ventures, with participation from Wachtumsfonds BayernSHS CapitalRobert Bosch VCUVC PartnersMey Capital MatrixKfW, and btov Partners. FierceBiotech has more here.

    Joblift, a four-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based job search and employment platform, has raised €15 million in Series B funding from RedLineTruVenturoDN CapitalCherry VenturesBtov, and PicusMore here

    Kasisto, a six-year-old, New York-based startup behind a conversational AI platform designed for the financial services industry, just raised $15 million in additional Series B funding led by Rho Capital Partners, with participation from earlier investors Oak HC/FTPropel Venture PartnersTwo Sigma VenturesCommerce Ventures, and the Partnership Fund for New York City. The company had initially raised $17 million for its Series B back in December. More here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Lengoo, a five-year-old, Germany-based online translation platform, has raised €6 million in Series A funding led by Redalpine, with participation from seed backers Creathor Ventures and Piton Capital. More here

    Parkable, a four-year-old, Auckland, New Zealand-based parking app, has raised NZ$4.6 million ($2.9 million) in Series A funding led by the regional telco Spark, with numerous individual investors joining the round. Startup Daily has more here

    Robocath, a 10-year-old, Normandy, France-based developer of robotic systems for treating vascular diseases, has raised €5 million from Go CapitalNCINormandie ParticipationsM CapitalSupernova InvestNormandie InnovationCrédit Agricole, and Unexo. EU Startups has more here

    Spotawheel, a four-year-old, Athens, Greece-based online used car dealer, has raised €5 million in equity and debt funding from VentureFriends and Velocity Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

    New Funds 

    Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment arm of non-profit Accion, has raised $23 million for a new startup fund called the Accion Venture Lab Limited Partnership. According to the outfit, it will make will make seed-stage investments in inclusive fintech startups, which it defines as ventures that “that leverage technology to increase the reach, quality, and affordability of financial services for the under-served at scale.” The new fund was raised with capital contributions from Ford Foundation, Visa, and Proparco, which is the development finance institution of the French government, among others. TechCrunch has more here

    DSG Consumer Partners, a seven-year-old, Mauritius-based early-stage, consumer focused investment firm, has closed its third venture capital fund with $65 million in capital commitments. The outfit’s prior two funds closed with $24 million and $50 million, respectively. As LiveMint notes, DSG is best known for making early bets on hotel chain Oyo; the point-of-sale services provider MSwipe; and Raw Pressery, a cold-pressed juice startup. The third fund will invest in seed and Series A rounds of $500,000 to $2 million and will invest a maximum of 15 percent of the fund in a single company. More here

    A Beijing, China-based venture capital firm called Xiang He Capital that’s focused on high‐growth internet and tech‐enabled businesses, has closed its second USD‐denominated fund with $425 million in capital commitments, the firm announced today. DealStreetAsia has more here.


    Kabbage, a fintech startup backed by SoftBank that has built a business around lending up to $250,000 to small and mid-size businesses using AI-based algorithms, has acquired the seven-year-old, San Francisco-based marketing technology company Radius Intelligence. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but Radius had raised $107.6 million over the years, shows Crunchbase. Its backers include Founders Fund, Formation 8, and American Express Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Oyo, the largest hotel chain in India, says it has acquired the three-year-old, Copenhagen-based data science firm Danamica as it works to expand its business in Europe. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here

    Smartbear, a ten-year-old, Boston-based application performance monitoring company that’s backed by Francisco Partners, has acquired Bitbar, a Finland-based maker of cloud-based mobile app testing software. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Bitbar had raised approximately $3 million in venture funding from investors, including Inventure, Qualcomm Ventures, Draper Esprit, Creathor Ventures, Nordic Venture Partners, and Avera Pharmaceutical. More here

    Publicly traded Vertex Pharmaceuticals has agreed to acquire privately held Semma Therapeutics, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of stem cell-derived human islets for the potential cure of Type 1 diabetes, for $950 million in cash. According to Crunchbase, Semma had raised $163 million from investors, including MPM Capital. The Boston Globe has more here.


    WeWork is planning to kick off its IPO as soon as next week, reports Bloomberg. More here

    In the spring, fashion resale marketplace Poshmark was said to be preparing to file for an IPO that could come as soon as this fall, after hiring Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to manage the offering. Now, the plan is to go out in 2020, says Bloomberg. It needs to focus on improving its execution and boosting its sales first, according to the outlet’s sources. 

    10x Genomics, a Pleasanton, Ca.-based developer of single-cell analysis tech platforms, has revealed plans to sell 9 million shares at between $31 and $35 each at its up coming IPO, which would give it an initial market cap of $3 billion in the midrange. The company has raised roughly $320 million over the years, including from a handful of firms that now own most of the company, including Foresite Capital, Venrock, Paladin Capital, Fidelity, Meritech Capital Partners, and SoftBank. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News has more here

    Cloudflare, the nine-year-old, San Francisco-based seller of content delivery network services, has revealed plans to sell 35 million shares in its upcoming IPO at between $10 and $12 each, which would give it an initial market cap of $3.23 billion at the midrange. According to Crunchbase, Cloudflare has raised at least $332 million in private funding, including from Fidelity, Pelion Ventures, NEA, Venrock, Union Square Ventures, and Franklin Templeton. Business Insider has more here.

    SmileDirectClub, a five-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based company that sells at-home teeth straightening systems, has set its IPO terms; it plans to sell 58.54 million shares at $19 and $22 each, which would give it a market cap of $7.9 billion in the midrange. According to Crunchbase, it has raised $380 million from investors, including Clayton, Dubilier & Rice; Spark Capital; and Kleiner Perkins. In an aside, Forbes notes that when the company makes its public debut in New York this month, the company’s 30-year-old founders are set to become two of the youngest entrepreneurs in the nation to crack into the billionaire ranks. More here

    SpringWorks Therapeutics, a two-year-old, Stamford, Cn.-based developer of treatments for rare diseases and cancers, plans to sell 7.35 million shares at between $16 and $18 each in an upcoming IPO that would value the company at $684 million at the midrange. The young company has already raised $228 million in venture funding, including from Perceptive Advisors, Tavistock Group, and HBM Healthcare Investments. Nasdaq has a tiny bit more here.


    Scott Frederick has joined Sands Capital Management as a managing director. He spent the past four years with NEA as a partner in Chevy Chase, Md. and before that (in 2002), Frederick co-founded Valhalla Partners. 

    Just days after denying that he has started a relationship with anyone working at Google or Alphabet other than a former colleague with whom he shares a child, emphasizing that “any suggestion otherwise is simply untrue,” Alphabet’s legal chief, David Drummond, married a Google employee

    Sponsored By …

    Crises surround us: Boeing. Theranos. Capital One. Papa Johns. Equifax… is your company next? From the hottest companies in Silicon Valley to the White House voices shaping our nation, learn from the experts how to predict, manage, and recover from a crisis and take a light-hearted look at navigating some of the biggest crises to hit the front page. The 2nd annual CrisisCon is October 10 @ Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater. Register today using promo code “StrictlyVC” for discounted tix to this exclusive event and attendee-only networking happy hour.

    Essential Reads 

    More than half the nation’s state attorneys general have now reportedly signed on to and are preparing an antitrust investigation into Google

    Now Facebook could soon remove “like” counts, too. 

    Amazon is working on a new technology that would allow customers at its Whole Foods stores to check out by just waving their hands, according to the New York Post. [Note: You should really wave them as if you were a magician.]


    Between Two Ferns: The Movie (trailer). 

    Red carpet looks at the 76th Venice Film Festival. 

    America’s stormy affair with their AirPods

    Thirteen ways to screw your internet provider.

    Retail Therapy 

    The Pingjiang Homey Wild Luxury Hotel. Rivers and mountains and forests, oh my.

  • August 30, 2019

    Friday! We’re about to blow this popsicle stand, but before we go, a quick mention that TechCrunch is hosting a couple of things in which we’re involved and hope to see you. Coming up first, next Thursday, TC’s very first enterprise event at Yerba Buena. (We are emceeing this one; we’re also sitting down with VCs Maha Ibrahim, Rebecca Lynn, and Jason Green to talk about related investing trends.) You can find tickets here. Also, TC’s big annual Disrupt show is coming up October 2nd through October 4th. We’re mentioning this now because pricing goes up after today, so if you’re planning to come anyway, why pay more? It’d be lunacy, pure and simple. 

    We hope you have a terrific, relaxing long weekend, everyone! Note that we’re not publishing Monday in observance of Labor Day but we’ll see you again Tuesday.

    Top News

    Stocks snapped a four-week losing streak today to end August just a few percentage points below their all-time high

    VW Group of America said today it has reached a $96.5 million  settlement agreement with thousands of U.S. customers over alleged inflated fuel economy information on about 98,000 gas-powered vehicles from its four brands, Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Volkswagen. It isn’t admitting wrongdoing, either. 

    Google has agreed to pay between $150 million and $200 million to resolve an FTC investigation into YouTube over alleged violations of a children’s privacy law, according to Politico.  As the outlet notes, the settlement is the latest move from the FTC meant to crack down on Silicon Valley privacy violations. 

    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.

    Bear Robotics is Raising Big Bucks for Robots That Deliver Food to Restaurant Patrons 

    Some days, it feels like there’s almost no end to the number of jobs that might be replaced altogether or in some part by smart machines, from radiologists to truck drivers to, gulp, journalists. You might be tempted to sob about it to your friendly restaurant server, but wait! It’s a robot, too! 

    So it may be if the 25-person, Redwood City, Ca.,-based startup, Bear Robotics, has its way. The two-year-old company makes “robots that help,” and specifically, it makes robots that help deliver food to restaurant customers. 

    It’s a market that’s seemingly poised for disruption. As Bear says in its own literature about the company, it was founded to address the “increased pressure faced by the food service industry around wages, labor supply, and cost efficiencies.” 

    CEO John Ha, a former Intel research scientist turned longtime technical lead at Google who also opened, then closed, his own restaurant, witnessed the struggle firsthand. As the product of two generations of restaurateurs, we can also attest that owning and operating restaurants is a tricky proposition, given the expenses and — even more plaguing oftentimes — the turnover that goes with it. 

    Investors are apparently on board with the idea with robot servers. According to a new SEC filing, Bear has so far locked down at least $10.2 million from a dozen investors on its way to closing a $35.8 million round. That’s not a huge sum for many startups today, but it’s notable for a food service robot startup, one whose first model, “Penny,” spins around R2D2-like, gliding between the kitchen and dining tables with customers’ food as it is prepared. 

    More here.

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Baton Systems, a three-year-old Fremont, Ca.-based provider of bank-to-bank payments infrastructure modeled on blockchain technology, just raised $12 million in Series A funding from Trinity Ventures, with participation from Alsop Louie and Commerce Ventures. VentureBeat has more here

    Credit Sesame, a nine-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company that invites consumers to check their credit scores and evaluate options to rebalance their existing debts and loans to improve that score, has raised $43 million in debt and equity. ATW Partners led the round, with participation from the company’s earlier backers. The company has now raised $110 million in funding altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Playful Studios, a six-year-old, McKinney, Tex.-based studio making spectator-enabled games, has raised $23 million in fresh funding from a wide variety of individual investors. VentureBeat has the story here

    Vedantu, a five-year-old, Bangalore, India-based startup that operates an online tutoring service, has raised $42 million in Series C funding co-led by Tiger Global Management and WestBridge Capital, with earlier investors AccelOmidyar IndiaTAL Education and Vedantu co-founders also participating. The startup has raised $58 million to date.​ TechCrunch has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Atoms, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based direct-to-consumer shoe brand that sells shoes in quarter sizes and separate left and right measurements, has raised $8.1 million in funding led by Initialized Capital. Other investors in the round include Kleiner Perkins, Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin, Acumen founder and CEO Jacqueline Novograts, and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, among others. TechCrunch has more here

    Baze, a five-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based direct-to-consumer supplements company that promises customers it can determine a plan for them based on a blood sample taken at home, has raised $6 million in funding from the 51-year-old supplement maker Nature’s Way. TechCrunch has more here

    Interface Fluidics, a four-year-old, Calgary, Alberta-based startup that’s selling reservoir fluid analysis services to the petroleum industry, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding from the multinational energy company Equinor and the accelerator TechstarsMore here

    Ready, a three-year-old, New York-based “hyper-casual” e-sports tournament platform (hyper-casual, we are learning, means players can control gameplay with just one to two tap gestures), has raised $5 million in funding. Bitkraft Esports Ventures led the round, with participation from Comcast Ventures and Eldridge Industries. VentureBeat has the story here

    Urbvan, a three-year-old, Mexico-based startup providing private, high-end transportation shuttles (a la Chariot), has raised $9 million from Kaszek VenturesAngel Ventures, and earlier investor Mountain Nazca. TechCrunch has more here.

    New Funds 

    From Axios’s Dan Primack: “New firm alert: Four co-founders of consumer product ‘unicorns’ are forming a venture capital fund . . . The quartet is Neil Blumenthal (Warby Parker), Dave Gilboa (Warby Parker), Jeff Raider (Harry’s), and Joey Zwillinger (Allbirds).” Primack says that each will keep their day job. No word yet on the brand they’ll be operating under or how much they plan to raise from outside investors. 

    F2 Capital, an Israel-based, early-stage venture firm that’s focused on big data and artificial intelligence primarily, has raised $55 million in commitments for its second fund, which is targeting up to $75 million, shows an SEC filing. The firm had closed its debut fund with $60 million in capital commitments in 2017 and has reportedly invested in 15 companies to date, including indoor GPS startup Oriient New Media and the Tel Aviv-based data warehousing startup Varada. Calcalist has more here

    Half Court Ventures, a three-year-old, Boston-based seed stage venture fund, is looking to raise $10 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filingMore here.


    The publicly traded business performance management company Anaplan has agreed to buy the 10-year-old, Israeli predictive analytics company Mintigo. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. According to Crunchbase, Mintigo had raised roughly $50 million, including from Sequoia Capital Israel and Glilot Capital Partners. Calcalist has more here

    Spiceworks, a 13-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based social network for IT professionals that had raised $111 million over the years, roughly half of which came in 2014 led by Goldman Sachs, is selling to Ziff Davis B2B, a division of J2 Global. Spiceworks CEO Jay Hallberg announced the news in a blog post last week. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. Silicon Hills has more here.


    Blued, a seven-year-old, China-based gay-dating app, is planning a U.S. IPO for next year that could raise around $200 million at a $1 billion valuation, says Bloomberg. The company has so far raised at least $130 million in venture capital, including from CDH Investments and UG Capital PartnersMore here

    Viela Bio, a two-year-old, Gaithersburg, Md.-based inflammation and autoimmune biotech that spun out of publicly traded AztraZeneca, has filed for a $150 million IPO. The young company raised $250 million in Series A funding at its outset early last year, from 6 Dimensions CapitalBoyu CapitalHillhouse CapitalTemasek, and Sirona Capital. FierceBiotech has more here.


    Shriram Bhashyam, co-founder of the secondary marketplace EquityZen, has joined Citi Ventures as an entrepreneur-in-residence, he tells us, adding: “I’ll be focused on fintech strategy, trends, and new business, so will be keeping a pulse on the usual stuff!” 

    Even the Twitter account of Jack (Dorseyis vulnerable to hackers.

    Essential Reads 

    Google can now tell your coworkers you’re on vacation before they email you. (Not that this will stop them.)


    The power dress is gaining ground.

    Retail Therapy 

    Puff-N-Fluff, an inflatable full body dryer for wet dogs. Also doubles as a Halloween costume.

  • August 29, 2019

    Thursday! Also known to some of us in this part of the world as “back to school night.”

    Top News

    Stocks jumped today after China said it wished to resolve its protracted trade dispute with the world’s largest economy with a “calm” attitude.

    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  

    The Long-Term Stock Exchange, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based financial services startup that aims to reimagine what it means to be a publicly traded company, has raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Founders Fund, with new investors joining existing ones like Andreessen HorowitzObvious Ventures, and Initialized Capital, says Axios. (Looks like Founders Fund already owned 14 percent of the company, leading into this new round, too.) More here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Credijusto, a five-year-old, Mexico-based online lender, has raised $42 million in Series B funding co-led by Point72 Ventures and Goldman Sachs’ Principal Strategic Investment Group. Reuters has more here

    HOMEE, a three-year-old, Tampa, Fla.-based home-services-on-demand startup, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. Forte Ventures led the round, joined by Liberty Mutual Strategic VenturesThe HartfordState Farm VenturesFerguson VenturesActivate Capital PartnersFlorida FundersDeepwork Capital, and Engage. VentureBeat has more here

    Inkitt, a five-year-old, Berlin-based crowdsourced publishing platform, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by Kleiner Perkins, with participation from Xploration CapitalRedalpine CapitalSpeedinvest, and Earlybird. TechCrunch has more here

    Mews Systems, a seven-year-old, London-based software startup that’s developing property management software for hotels and hostels, has raised $33 million in funding led by Battery Ventures, bringing its total funding to more than $40 million. TechCrunch has more here

    Swissto12, an eight-year-old, Lausanne, Switzerland-based European telecommunications component company, has raised $18.44 million in Series B funding led by Swisscom Ventures and Swisscanto Invest, a venture capital and growth fund. Constantia New Business, the investment arm of Austrian industrial conglomerate Constantia Industries that led Swissto12’s Series A round, also provided some of the Series B funding. Space News has more here.

    Vedantu, an eight-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based live online tutoring platform, just raised $42 million in Series C funding co-led by Tiger Global and WestBridge Capital, with participation from earlier backers AccelOmidyar India, and TAL Education. TechCrunch has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Alto, a four-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based technology platform that simplifies and streamlines the process for investors to add alternative assets to their IRAs, has raised $3 million in new seed funding from the family office for Blackstone Executive Vice Chairman Tony James and from the early-stage venture firm Moment Ventures. The company had earlier this year closed on $3 million in seed funding, including from Foundation Capital and Sequoia Capital. Business Insider has more here

    Cerberus Interactive, a three-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based game development studio, raised $1.75 million in funding. Investors include MobilityWare and Reddit CEO Steve HuffmanMore here

    Esusu, a three-year-old, New York-based fintech platform that says it can help individuals save money and build credit, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding led by Acumen Fund, with participation from Sinai VenturesKleiner PerkinsKatapult AcceleratorPlug and Play Tech CenterGlobal Good Fund, and Temerity Capital PartnersMore here

    Knock Knock, a year-old, San Francisco-based mobile game developer, has raised $4 million in funding led by March Capital, with participation from earlier backers, including London Venture PartnersRaine Ventures, and Ludlow Ventures. The company has now raised $6 million altogether. More here

    Koru Kids, a two-year-old, London-based after-school service that matches parents with student nannies, raised £10 million in Series A funding led by Atomico, with participation from AlbionVCForward PartnersSamosJamJarGlobal Founders Capital, and 7Percent. TechCrunch has more here

    Residently, a two-year-old, London-based property rental startup, raised £7 million in seed funding from Felix CapitalLocalGlobe, and A/O PropTech. TechCrunch has more here

    TUSHY, a four-year-old, New York-based maker of contemporary bidet attachments, raised $2.1 million in seed funding, including from Unorthodox Ventures and Naples Ventures GroupMore here

    Worximity Technology, an eight-year-old, Montreal-based startup that’s looking to create smart factories through machine learning, artificial intelligence, and IoT, has raised a $6.25 million in Series A funding. Marel, a multinational food processing company based in Europe, led the round, contributing $5 million. Other participants in the round include Fonds de solidarité FTQ and W Investments. BetaKit has more here.

    New Funds 

    Counterpart Ventures, a year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm, is hoping to raise $100 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing. One of the firm’s cofounders, Patrick Eggen, was formerly a managing director with Qualcomm Ventures. The other, Joe Saijo, was a managing director with the corporate venture firm Recruit Strategic Partners. More here

    Kaszek Ventures, an eight-year-old, Latin America-focused investment firm, has closed on $600 million in capital commitments across two new funds that bring the firm’s total assets under management to roughly $1 billion. TechCrunch has much more here

    XYZ Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture outfit focused on early-stage fintech and enterprise startups, is hoping to raise up to $75 million for its second fund, per an SEC filing. Axios relatedly reports that XYZ founder Ross Fubini (he’s also the sole general partner) is stepping back from his role as general partner at a second firm he cofounded, Village Global


    Forever 21, the 35-year-old, L.A.-based apparel retailer for teenagers and people who wish they were still teenagers, is reportedly considering a bankruptcy filing as efforts to restructure its debt flounder. CNBC has more here

    Hudson’s Bay Co., the Canadian retail business group, is selling the operations of its Lord & Taylor department store chain to the seven-year-old, San Francisco-based clothing rental subscription startup Le Tote in an intriguing deal that at least partly underscores the inroads that startups are making that sell or rent lightly used clothing. The game plan, per the New York Times: Hudson’s Bay will continue to own Lord & Taylor’s real estate and cover Le Tote’s rent at those properties for three years. Le Tote will pay $100 million in cash for Lord & Taylor’s brand and inventory and take control of 38 stores and the chain’s digital presence … Lord & Taylor will continue to make regular sales, but the acquisition will add ‘millions of pieces of inventory to our selection,’ Rakesh Tondon, a co-founder and the chief executive of Le Tote, said in an interview.” 


    Former Google Cloud executive Baris Aksoy has named a general partner with AV8 Ventures, an early-stage venture firm backed by the insurance giant Allianz. More here

    Alphabet’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, today responded to an unflattering characterization of him made public yesterday by a former Google colleague with whom he shares a child. More here

    Ravi Gupta, a former KKR director who joined Instacart in 2015 as its CFO and COO, is leaving to join Instacart investor Sequoia Capital as a partner on its growth equity team. TechCrunch has more here

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma sparred against each other tonight in Shanghai on subjects ranging from the need to explore Mars, to future of education and the dangers of artificial intelligence (Musk again voiced fears that doomsday is coming, while Ma is betting that humans will maintain the upper hand over machines).

    Essential Reads 

    A bill in California’s Legislature could soon companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to treat their drivers as employees instead of independent contractors. Now the three companies say they’ll spend $90 million on a ballot initiative that would essentially exempt them from the proposed law. 

    Apple is expected to unveil the next iPhone on September 10

    Speaking of which: malicious websites were used to secretly hack into iPhones for years, says Google.


    Cooler, farther, and less crowded; the rise of undertourism

    A glimpse inside San Francisco’s glitzy new $1.4 billion Chase Center arena, new home to the Golden State Warriors. 

    On Martha’s Vineyard, real estate agents hope for another “Obama bounce,” as the former first family reportedly plans to buy a home from Boston Celtics owner (and venture capitalist) Wyc Grousbeck.

    Retail Therapy 

    Stand-out dress watches for men priced under $10,000

    Bag trends that you will shearling see this fall

  • August 28, 2019

    Happy Wednesday! 

    Top News

    Facebook said today that it will tighten some of its rules around political advertising ahead of the 2020 presidential election, requiring those who purchase ads touting candidates or promoting hot-button issues to provide more information about who actually paid for them. The Washington Post has more here

    Speaking of advertising on Facebook: the cost of reaching Democratic-leaning voters and donors is skyrocketing as presidential candidates try to qualify for spots in coming presidential debates, reports the WSJ. It says candidates have been trying to boost their number of donors to 130,000 by today — a threshold they must meet to appear in Democratic presidential debates in September and October. 

    An 8,000-mile undersea cable connecting Los Angeles to Hong Kong is at risk of being abandoned over national-security threats, says the WSJ. U.S. officials are seeking to block the cable backed by Google, Facebook and a Chinese partner, in a national security review that could rewrite the rules of internet connectivity between the U.S. and China, its sources say.

    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.

    Alphabet’s Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, Comes Under the Spotlight Following New Allegations About His Personal Conduct 

    Alphabet Chief Legal Officer David Drummond is at the center of a media firestorm today, following a new Medium post authored by a former Google employee who was engaged in a years-long relationship with Drummond more than 10 years ago. 

    Though the extramarital affair was originally reported on last fall by the New York Times in the broader context of Google’s permissive workplace culture, the former employee, Jennifer Blakely, says in a new and far more detailed account of their relationship that Drummond was a serial philanderer, leaving his wife for Blakely, then leaving Blakely and the son that he fathered with her for another now-former Google employee. 

    She adds that Drummond also had “an affair with his ‘personal assistant’ who he moved into one of his new homes.” 

    We reached out to Google, asking for comment either from the company or Drummond, and have yet to hear back. 

    It’s an enormously unflattering portrait and it comes at a delicate time for Google, which found itself at the center of the #metoo movement last year, after the Times revealed that another former executive, Andy Rubin, had been awarded a handsome exit package following a sexual misconduct claim that the company reportedly found credible. 

    In addition to accusing Drummond of neglecting her, Blakely also accuses him of being an absentee parent to a son who she says was very much planned by the couple, writing that “[m]onths or years would go by where he wouldn’t see [their son] or respond to my calls or texts with updates and pictures of him or even ask how he was doing, let alone how he might help out, knowing full well I was alone and in desperate need.” 

    Elsewhere in her post, Blakely says that following a custody battle over the boy that she won when he was four-and-a-half-years old, “David began providing ample child support.” 

    According to several sources familiar with the situation, it’s more nuanced than Blakely describes and was not a particularly happy union, though these same individuals acknowledge that much of her account is true. 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Bboxx, a nine-year-old, London-based energy firm that’s lighting up homes in Africa with pay-as-you-go solar power, has raised $50 million in Series D funding from Japan’s Mitsubishi, with participation from Bamboo Capital Partners, a Luxembourg-based impact investor; DOEN Participaties, a Dutch impact investment fund; and the Canadian growth equity firm MacKinnon, Bennett & Company. The Guardian has more here

    Fair, a 3.5-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based vehicle subscription app, has secured a $100 million credit facility led by Ally Financial to help finance its existing business and acquire cars for its users. You might recall that back in December, Fair closed a $385 million Series B round led by Softbank Group. The L.A. Business Journal has more here

    Groups360, a four-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based platform that helps business plan out real-world meetings and events, has raised $50 million from Accor,HiltonInterContinental Hotels Group, and Marriott InternationalMore here.

    HiFiBio Therapeutics, a six-year-old, Paris, France-based developer of a single-cell analytics platform for immune profiling, has raised $67 million in Series C funding led by IDG Capital. Other investors in the round include Delian CapitalHanne CapitalKite and earlier backers Sequoia Capital ChinaVI VenturesLegend Star Capital, and LYFE CapitalMore here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Bestmile, a 5.5-year-old, Lausanne, Switzerland-based fleet orchestration platform, just raised $16.5 million in Series B funding co-led by Blue Lagoon Capital and TransLink Capital. Other participants in the round include Road VenturesPartechGroupe ADPAirbus Ventures, and Serena Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Chargebee, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based subscription management platform, has raised $14 million in Series D funding led by Steadview Capital. VentureBeat has more here.

    CodeCombat, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based multiplayer programming game for learning how to code, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Hone Capital. Other investors in the round include Andreessen HorowitzExtol Capital, and OceanOne Capital. EdSurge has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    AgroSpheres, a year-old, Charlottesville, Va.-based startup that says it’s developing a delivery mechanism for biological and synthetic crop protectants, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Ospraie Ag Science, with participation from Cavallo Ventures among others. More here

    EBR Systems, a 16-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based developer of a wireless cardiac pacing system for heart failure, has raised $30 million in funding co-led by Brandon Capital Partners and M.H. Carnegie & Co. Mass Device has more here.

    Orbion Space Technology, a three-year-old, Houghton, Mi.-based maker of small-sat propulsion systems, has raised $9.2 million in Series A funding led by Material Impact, with participation from Invest MichiganInvest DetroitWakestream VenturesAnn Arbor SPARK, and Boomerang CatapultMore here

    Salaryo, a two-year-old, New York-based digital lending service for entrepreneurs and freelancers (who it plans to reach through coworking spaces), has raised $5.5 million in new funding from Ruby Ventures and Michael Ullmann‘s investment group. The company has now raised $6.3 million altogether. More here

    SmartWitness, an 11-year-old, Schaumburg, Il.-based designer, manufacturer, and supplier of in-vehicle cameras, recorders, and software, has raised $4 million in funding from First AnalysisMore here.

    ReadMe, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps companies customize their API documentation, has raised a $9 million Series A round led by Accel, with participation from Y Combinator. TechCrunch has more here.

    New Funds 

    Rainfall Ventures, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based “founder-focused” venture firm founded by Ron Rofe, who’d spent the previous eight-plus years as a managing partner with Vaizra Investments, and Yitzhak Mirilashvili, a co-founder of Vk.ru, Russia’s biggest social network, is raising a $10 million fund. So shows an SEC filingMore here.


    Whole Foods cofounder CEO John Mackey on the plant-based meat boom, which Whole Foods helped launch: “If you look at the ingredients, they are super, highly processed foods . . .” and “I don’t think eating highly processed foods is healthy.”

    Essential Reads 

    Ahead of the official announcement of an FTC settlement, which could force YouTube to direct under-13-year-old users to a separate experience for YouTube’s kid-friendly content, the company has quietly announced plans to launch its YouTube Kids service on the web. Previously, parents would have to download the YouTube Kids app to a mobile device in order to access the filtered version of YouTube. TechCrunch explains here

    Also, Apple is really sorry it’s been eavesdropping on you and it promises that, by default, it will no longer retain audio recordings of Siri interactions. P.S., the contractors who were listening to and grading Siri recordings have been canned.


    Sad news: Jessi Combs, the ‘fastest woman on four wheels,’ was killed in a land-speed record crash yesterday; she was attempting to break her own record while piloting her jet-powered land-speed car. 

    The fear in Dave Chappelle’s new special.

    Retail Therapy 

    A (pretty expensive) biodegradable T-shirt. Buy it for the environment!

  • August 27, 2019

    Tuesday! (Hope yours has gone well.)

    Top News

    Anthony Levandowski, the former Google self-driving engineer who prompted a lawsuit against Uber, has been hit with criminal charges. The U.S. attorney’s office indicted Levandowski in federal court today over claims he stole or tried to steal confidential files from Google’s Waymo unit that helped him form Otto, the autonomous truck company he later sold to Uber for about $680 million. The 33 charges against him carry a maximum penalty of 10 years and $250,000, plus restitution. “All of us have the right to change jobs,” said U.S. Attorney David Anderson in a statement earlier. “None of us has the right to fill our pockets on the way out the door. Theft is not innovation.” More here

    Peloton, the seven-year-old, New York-based maker of internet-connected stationary bikes and treadmills, has revealed documents for its upcoming IPO, after earlier submitting a confidential draft submission of its S-1 statement to the SEC in June. The company, which plans to raise $500 million and to trade on the Nasdaq, was last valued by private investors at $4.15 billion. TechCrunch has 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.

    This Startup is Hoping to Build a Fractional Ownership Platform for Rare Collectibles 

    Mythic Markets, a young, San Francisco-based fractional investing platform for fans, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Slow Ventures, with participation from Third Kind Venture Capital, Global Founders Capital, and others. 

    The company is being led by cofounder and CEO Joseph Mahavuthivanij, who previously spent a couple of years as an associate with the seed- and early-stage fund Social Leverage. 

    We can see why it piqued the interest of investors. Mythic is capitalizing on the broader trend of fractional ownership that gives numerous investors a piece of the same — hopefully appreciating — asset. The idea dates back fifty years or so to vacation time-shares, but it has picked up momentum of late, with startups asking potential customers to buy parts of new cars, homes, art, sneakers, and even virtual items. 

    For its part, Mythic is focusing on pop culture collectibles, starting with an Alpha Black Lotus, a trading card that only fanatics of the game “Magic the Gathering” might recognize but that’s apparently worth $90,000 right now. (Mythic, which opened up the card to investors last week, has broken its ownership into 2,000 shares, 663 of which have been purchased.) 

    Mahavuthivanij says Mythic will next offer a collection of five “Magic the Gathering” booster boxes circa 1994 and that it has other assets that it plans to acquire shortly off its balance sheet. “There’s just a huge secondary market for this stuff,” he says enthusiastically. “It trades like stock. You can watch the daily moving average of any moving card.” 

    To be on the safe side, Mythic only offers securities that are regulated by the U.S Securities & Exchange Commission, which not only includes rare trading cards but also other things that Mythic plans to start selling next year, including vintage comic books, sci-fi memorabilia and, a little further afield, esports team equity. Investors needn’t be accredited but neither can they invest more than 10 percent of their income or net worth in an offering. 

    It’s little wonder that Mahavuthivanij cofounded the company. He’d earlier become tangentially familiar with Rally Road, a Social Leverage portfolio company sells stakes in classic cars to investors, and wondered if he couldn’t apply a similar idea to one of his great personal passions: card collecting. 

    In a way, it’s payback to an unfair universe. 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Ethos, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that makes money by providing an online and mobile sales channel for insurance policies created by the life insurance company Assurity Life, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by earlier backer GV. Other participants in the round include new investor Goldman Sachs and earlier backers Sequoia and Accel. The company has now raised more than $100 million altogether and its valuation is nearly half a billion dollars. More here.  

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Atonarp, a nine-year-old, Tokyo, Japan-based molecular diagnostics company (it makes what it calls the world’s smallest quantitative spectrometer), has raised $33 million in Series C funding, including from Japan Post Investment CorporationSBI Investment Co.Northwestern Mutual Future VenturesINCJ and Innovative Venture Fund Investment Limited PartnershipMore here

    Axonius, a 2.5-year-old, New York and Israel-based cybersecurity asset management startup, has raised $20 million in Series B funding roughly six months after closing its Series A. OpenView led the round, joined the earlier backers Bessemer Venture PartnersYL VenturesVertexWTI, and Emerge. TechCrunch has more here

    Boston Microfluidics,  a 14-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of blood collection devices, has raised $17.5 million in Series A funding led by Anzu Partners, with participation from LabCorp HoldingsMore here

    Hound Labs, a five-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-base startup that makes a marijuana and alcohol breathalyzer, has raised $30 million in Series D led by Intrinsic Capital Partners, a fund focused on the cannabis industry. Other participants in the round include NFP Ventures (the venture arm of a large U.S. insurance broker), Main Street Advisors, and earlier backers Icon Ventures and Benchmark. Business Insider has more here

    Kin, a three-year-old, Chicago-based insurtech startup, has raised $47 million in new funding, including Avanta, Hudson Structured Capital Management, UChicago Startup Investment Program, and others. More here

    Luma Health, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based patient engagement platform, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by PeakSpan Capital, with participation from Cisco InvestmentsTexas Medical Center, and U.S. Venture Partners. VentureBeat has more here

    Platform9, a six-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based maker of cloud infrastructure software, has raised $25 million in Series D funding led by NGP Capital, with Mubadala VenturesRedpoint VenturesMenlo VenturesCanvas Ventures, and HPE Pathfinder also participating. More here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Advanced Farm Technologies, a year-old, Davis, Ca.-based maker of robotic farming equipment (including a robotic strawberry harvester), has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley, the investment arm of Yamaha Motor Co. VentureBeat has more here

    Ario Technologies, a three-year-old, Norfolk, Va.-based startup behind an industrial augmented reality software-as-a-service platform, has raised $2 million in funding led by NRV. SiliconAngle has more here

    Bond, a San Francisco-based maker of software tools to connect banks and companies, has raised $10 million in seed funding led by Canaan Partners, with participation from Coatue and numerous notable angel investors, including Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, and Flexport CEO Ryan PetersenMore here

    CardX, a six-year-old, Chicago-based payment technology company focused around credit card surcharging, just raised $2 million in fresh funding rom Pace Financial Group. The company has now raised $8.62 million altogether. More here

    Consider, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based email service for startups that balances some premium individual features with collaboration tools, has raised $5 million in funding, it tells TechCrunch. Kleiner Perkins wrote the company an early check; it has more recently raised more funding from Bedrock CapitalMore here

    FIGUR8, a 2.5-year-old Boston-based diagnostics platform that captures three-dimensional skeletal movement in conjunction with muscle output to help clinicians objectively measure musculoskeletal performance and recovery, has emerged from stealth mode with $7.5 million in seed funding led by P5 Health Ventures, with participation from E14 Fund. More here

    Hedvig, a nearly three-year-old, Sweden-based insurance startup, has raised $10.4 million in new funding led by Obvious Ventures, with participation from D-Ax and Cherry Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Inzpire.me, a three-year-old, Oslo, Norway-based platform that matches brands with social media influencers, has raised $1.3 million in funding. Schibsted Media Group led the round joined by SNÖ Ventures, and individual investors. More here

    PeerWell, a nearly five-year-old, San Francisco-based company that delivers physical therapy lessons via smartphones to improve patients’ musculoskeletal health, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding led by OMERS Ventures, with participation from XSeed CapitalMore here

    Tesorio, a six-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based startup that helps businesses aggregate and analyze their cash flow data, has raised a $10 million Series A round led by Madrona Venture Group. Earlier investors also joined the round, including First Round CapitalFloodgateY CombinatorFathom Capital and Fuel Capital. The company has now raised $17 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    VoiceOps, a three-year-old, Bay Area-based AI coaching and training platform for call centers, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Bain Capital VenturesMore here.


    McAfee, the cybersecurity company, has hired Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp. to prepare for an IPO this fall that could value the cybersecurity company at $8 billion, reports Bloomberg. TPG had bought 51 percent of the company from Intel in 2016 in a $4.2 billion deal (after Intel paid $7.7 billion for the whole enchilada in 2010); Thoma Bravo later entered into a partnership to acquire a minority stake in the business. More here

    Megvii Technology, a nine-year-old, Beijing, China-based artificial intelligence startup whose facial recognition software, Face ++, was earlier — and wrongly — this year tied by Human Rights Watch to a mobile app used by Chinese police and officials for mass surveillance of Uighurs in Xinjiang, has raised a total of $1.35 billion from investors and was most recently valued at around $4 billion. More here.

    Exit Madness 

    The venture-backed mobile marketing startup Airship is acquiring Apptimize, a Menlo Park, Ca.-based developer of a mobile A/B testing platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. According to Crunchbase, Apptimize had raised $18.6 million from investors including USVPCostanoa VenturesGoldcrest InvestmentsGlynn Capital Management, and Nuzzel founder Jonathan Abrams. Airship, based in Portland, has raised roughly $100 million from investors since it was founded 10 years ago. GeekWire has more here

    Blue Ocean Robotics, a Denmark-based developer and incubator that describes itself as a “robot venture factory,” has acquired Beam, a Palo Alto, Ca.-based maker of “telepresence” robots. for undisclosed terms. Beam was created by Suitable Technologies, a company founded by robot enthusiast and early Google investor Scott Hassan. TechCrunch has more here

    Cisco has acquired CloudCherry, a five-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based startup whose software helps brands find ways of improving the customer experience they provide for buyers. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. CloudCherry had raised $16 million from investors. SiliconAngle has more here

    Entelo, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based recruiting automation company, has acquired ConveyIQ, a seven-year-old, New York-based provider of candidate engagement software-as-a-service. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. According to Crunchbase, Entelo has raised around $40 million over the years; ConveyIQ raised $19.6 million. More here

    More consolidation in the event ticketing arena: Festicket, a six-year-old, U.K.-headquartered festival booking platform that has raised $30 millionish from investors, has acquired U.K.-based ticketing and cashless point-of-sale platform Event Genius. Event Genius founder Reshad Hossenally will join Festicket as its chief supply chain officer. Further terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here

    Israeli social casino gaming giant Playtika has acquired Seriously, a Finnish mobile game publisher. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Seriously had raised approximately $28 million in funding from investors; we’re not sure how much Playtika has raised at this moment (sorry). VentureBeat has more here

    WeWork is also continuing its buying spree, today announcing it is buying Spacious, a three-year-old, venture-backed company that partners with restaurants and bars and turns their real estate into coworking spaces during the day. According to The Information, WeWork paid roughly $42 million in cash and stock. According to Crunchbase, Spacious had raised at least $9.1 million, including from August Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and Baseline Ventures. More here.


    Apparel companies are starting to sign deals with gaming stars and Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is newly among them, having just announced a partnership with Adidas

    Kirsten Horning has joined the New York-based consumer-focused accelerator XRC Labs as a principal. Horning was previously an operations coordinator with Nexxus Holdings. 

    Owing to the criminal charges Anthony Levandowski will now be battling (see “top news”), Robbie Miller, the chief safety officer at Levandowski’s newest startup, Pronto (it’s also focused on the self-driving tech industry), will become CEO. The company said in a statement today that the “criminal charges filed against Anthony relate exclusively to Lidar and do not in any way involve Pronto’s ground-breaking technology. Of course, we are fully supportive of Anthony and his family during this period.” 

    Jessica Straus has joined Dundee Venture Capital in the Bay Area as a venture partner. She was previously an entrepreneur-in-residence at GE Ventures.

    Essential Reads 

    Travelers are increasingly being denied entry to the United States as border officials hold them accountable for messages, images and video on their devices sent by other people

    The digital ledger behind the supposed better version of Bitcoin is running out of capacity, according to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.  

    While Facebook’s big cryptocurrency plans have hit a wall with regulators, another big social network, Telegram, is charging ahead with its own digital currency


    Why you might want to feed Fido insects

    Hackers can steal a Tesla S by cloning its key fob (again). 

    The 2019 Tahiti Pro surfing event, from the surface and beneath the waves.

    Retail Therapy 

    Pantone, the game. 

    Risk your life with Atomik Vodka, made in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

  • August 26, 2019

    Monday! Hello there!:) 

    Also: Save the date. We’re starting to organize our last INSIDER event of 2019 on Wednesday evening, November 13, at NextWorld Capital‘s beautiful Jackson Square space and gallery in San Francisco, with the generous support of our first sponsor KCPR, the boutique public relations firm for both startups and venture firms. 

    More on this coming, but we hope to see you there.:)

    Top News

    France and the United States have reached a deal to end a standoff over a French tax on big internet companies, French President Emmanuel Macron said today. Donald Trump had threatened to hit back with tariff action after France passed a law earlier this year that would impose a 3 percent tax on revenues earned on digital services in France. Reuters has more here

    Some Wall Street strategists are warning clients about elevated recession risks and market dangers after the U.S. and China escalated their trade war last week. More in CNBC.

    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.

    Ford Says Its Autonomous Cars Will Last Just Four Years 

    The automotive industry has been promoting self-driving cars as a kind of panacea that will solve numerous problems that modern society is grappling with right now, from congestion to safety to productivity (you can work while riding!). 

    Unfortunately, a very big question that has been almost entirely overlooked is: how long will these cars last? 

    The answer might surprise you. In an interview with The Telegraph in London, John Rich, who is the operations chief of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, reveals that the “thing that worries me least in this world is decreasing demand for cars,” because “we will exhaust and crush a car every four years in this business.” 

    Four years! That’s not a very long lifespan, even compared with cars that undergo a lot of wear and tear, like New York City cabs, which were an average of 3.8 years old in 2017, meaning some were brand new and others had been in service for more than seven years. 

    It’s more surprising compared with the nearly 12 years that the average U.S. car owner hangs on to a vehicle. In fact, Americans are maintaining their cars longer in part because the technology used to make and operate them has advanced meaningfully. In 2002, according to the London-based research firm IHS Markit, the average age of a car in operation was 9.6 years. 

    So what’s the story with autonomous cars, into which many billions of investment capital is being poured? We first turned to Argo AI, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based startup that raised $1 billion investment in funding from Ford three years ago and refueled this summer with $2.6 billion in capital and assets from Volkswagen as part of a broader alliance between VW Group and Ford. Argo is developing cars for Ford that it’s testing right now in five cities. 

    We’d hoped Argo could help us put that four-year number into context, including how Ford arrived at it and whether it could be lengthened. But because Ford will be operating the cars, and Argo isn’t involved in the parts of the business that build, maintain or operate its vehicles, Argo pointed us right back to Ford’s Rich, who answered some our questions via email while on the run. 

    Asked, for example, how many miles Ford anticipates that the cars will travel each year — we wondered if this number would be more or less than a taxi or full-time Uber driver might traverse — he declined to say, telling us instead that while Ford isn’t sharing miles targets, the “vehicles are being designed for maximum utilization.” 

    Explained Rich, “Today’s vehicles spend most of the day parked. To develop a profitable, viable business model for [autonomous vehicles], they need to be running almost the entire day.” 

    Indeed, Ford isn’t selling these cars to individuals any time soon. Instead, it plans to use the cars in autonomous fleets that will be used as a service by other companies, including as delivery vehicles. Ford sees the “initial commercialization of AVs to be fleet-centric,” said Rich. 

    We also wondered if Rich’s prediction for the lifespan of full self-driving cars ties to his expectation that Ford’s autonomous vehicles will be powered by internal combustion engines. Most carmakers appear to be investing in new combustible engine architectures that promise greater fuel efficiency and fewer emissions but that still require more parts than electric cars. And the more parts that are being stressed, the higher the likelihood that something will break. 

    Rich says the idea is to transition to battery-electric vehicles (BEV) eventually, but that Ford also needs to “find the right balance that will help develop a profitable, viable business model. This means launching with hybrids first.” 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    BharatPe, a year-old, New Delhi, India-based startup that says it’s enabling hundreds of thousands of merchants to start accepting digital payments and is also giving them access to working capital, has raised $50 million in new funding. Ribbit Capital and Steadview Capital co-led the Series B round and were joined by earlier backers Sequoia CapitalBeenext Capital, and Insight Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

    Boll & Branch, a 6.5-year-old, Summit, N.J.-based bedding designer and retailer that sells sustainably sourced sheets, pillows, towels and even mattresses, just raised $100 million from L Catterton. TechCrunch has more here

    CRED, a nine-month-old, Bangalore-based startup behind a credit card bill payment app, has raised $120 million in Series B funding at a post-money valuation of between $430 million to $450 million, TechCrunch is told. According to a regulatory filing, earlier investors Sequoia CapitalRibbit Capital and DST Global’s Gemini Investments led the round, with participation from Tiger Global ManagementHillhouse CapitalGeneral CatalystGreenoaks Capital and DragoneerMore here

    Groups360, a five-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based booking engine for meeting space founded by a few former Gaylord Entertainment executives, will receive a $50 million investment from Marriott InternationalInterContinental Hotels GroupAccor, and Hilton. Skift has more here

    Procore, a 16-year-old, Carpinteria, Ca.-based developer of cloud-based construction management software, is looking to raise up to $112.5 million in Series H1 funding, according to PitchBook, which says the company’s post-money valuation would be roughly $3.3 billion. Read more

    ThoughtSpot, a seven-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based business intelligence analytics software company, has filed a stock authorization to sell upwards of $248 million shares at a $1 billion valuation, according to Prime Unicorn Index. Its earlier backers include General CatalystKhosla VenturesLightspeed Venture Partners, and Sapphire VenturesMore here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    FreshToHome, a four-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based e-commerce platform for fresh produce and meats, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Iron Pillar. The company had announced $11 million in Series A funding just three months ago. TechCrunch has more here.  

    Mux, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based API-first video platform that aims to make really good video streaming and analytics possible for every development team, raised $20 million in Series B funding. Evolution Media led the round, and was joined by Accel and Y Combinator. VentureBeat has more here

    Stylitics, a seven-year-old, New York-based startup powering outfit-based shopping recommendations for online retailers, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by PeakSpan Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Enable My Child, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that’s providing tele-therapy for children, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by CMI Ventures. Vator has more here.

    New Funds 

    JP Gan, who ranked No. 5 on the 2019 Forbes Midas List, left Shanghai-based Qiming Ventures last month after 13 years in order to start his own business, and his newly formed company, INCE Capital, has already raised $165 million in capital commitments, reports Forbes. More on the fund, which will invest in early-stage consumer-related technology companies in China, here

    The cloud-security company CrowdStrike and the venture firm Accel today announced Falcon Fund, a $20 million early-stage investment fund for security startups. CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz tells Business Insider that the fund will look at startups that could benefit from CrowdStrike’s cloud architecture and massive data set for machine-learning and artificial-intelligence applications. More here

    Presight Capital, the international venture arm of Apeiron Investment Group, says it has closed its first fund with $80 million in capital commitments. Apeiron is the family office of German entrepreneur Christian Angermayer, who previously co-founded the pharmaceutical company Ribopharma, now publicly traded as Alnylam. TechCrunch has more here.


    Datadog, a nine-year-old, New York-based cloud monitoring company is going public, having filed a prospectus with the SEC on Friday that shows the company doubled its revenue last year. The nine-year-old company has raised nearly $150 million in funding from investors that include Index VenturesOpenView Venture Partners and Iconiq. Forbes has more here


    Sorry [spits out coffee], did you say that Hasbro has acquired Death Row Records?


    Online education startup Udacity has hired former LendingTree exec Gabriel Dalporto as its new CEO, an appointment that follows months of layoffs and a restructuring directed by the company’s co-founder and executive chairman Sebastian Thrun. TechCrunch has more here

    Mark Dixon, CEO of International Workplace Group — better known as the parent company of the office space provider Regus (and five other businesses) — is reportedly considering spinning off the company’s U.S. arm as a public company, just as richly priced rival WeWork gets its IPO ducks in a row. The company’s valuation would be a small fraction of what WeWork is trying to fetch despite that it has many more offices in far more cities; that could prompt some potential investors who don’t want two co-working companies in their portfolio to wait for it. (More upside.) In another interesting aside, the company reportedly won’t hire bankers connected to the WeWork IPO.  

    AT&T executive John Donovan will retire Oct. 1, leaving a sudden opening atop the company’s core business — its communication division.


    F-Prime Capital is seeking an associate for its tech fund. The job is in the firm’s Boston office. You can find out more and apply​ right here.


    Everyone is buying smart speakers, with Amazon moving the most units, followed by Baidu (even though it only serves the China market), and Google trailing in third. TechCrunch has more here.

    Essential Reads 

    Instagram is working on another Snapchat clone.


    The serious work of keeping Tesla Roadsters alive

    Golf balls that always find the hole (shhh). 

    “I’m Tom Cruise, and I’m running for president of the United States.”

    Retail Therapy 

    Make that pitch a meeting they’ll never forget.

  • August 23, 2019

    Friday! [Pumps up the jam.] Hope you’re enjoying these last weeks of summer wherever you are. More Monday.:)

    Top News

    Today, twelve hours after China said it would retaliate against Donald Trump’s next round of tariffs by raising taxes on American goods, Trump said he would increase taxes on all Chinese goods and he ordered that American companies stop doing business with China

    As bananas as that last demand sounds, some trade experts say Trump has powerful tools at his disposal to encourage companies to follow his orders, including by cutting them out of federal procurement deals. 

    The Dow promptly plummeted 600 points on the news.

    Sponsored By … 

    Forge is a premier trading, settlement and custody partner for a wide range of investors in the private markets. Established in 2014 as Equidate, the company empowers investors and shareholders by enabling liquidity in the private markets and has completed nearly $2 billion in transaction volume since inception. Forge was founded by Y Combinator alumni and backed by top investors including Tim Draper, FT Partners, Munich Re, and BNP Paribas. Forge’s platform allows employees and investors in privately held innovation firms to liquidate a portion of their shares, and provides private and institutional investors access to top companies like Spotify and Lyft before their IPOs. Learn more.

    Massive Fundings  

    Finch Therapeutics, a two-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based microbiome therapeutics startup, has raised $53 million in Series C funding. Investors include OCV PartnersSIGSymbiosis LLC, and the Trans-Pacific Technology Fund along with earlier backers Avenir Growth CapitalMorgan NobleShumway Capital, and Willett Advisors. FierceBiotech has more here

    SpotHero, an eight-year-old, Chicago-based parking reservation service, has raised $50 million in Series D funding led by Macquarie Capital, with participation from Union Grove Venture Partners and earlier backers Global Founders CapitalAutoTech Ventures, and Insight Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Capacity, a two-year-old, St. Louis-based workplace digital assistant startup, just raised $13.2 million in Series B funding from undisclosed individual investors in the Midwest. TechCrunch has more here

    Form Energy, a two-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based maker of low-cost, renewable batteries, just raised $40 million in a Series B round led by Eni Next, the corporate venture capital vehicle of Eni Group, the Italian oil and gas giant. American Inno has more here.

    Zenoti, a nine-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based maker of cloud software for the spa and salon market, has raised $20 million from Steadview CapitalMore here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Array Analytics, a three-year-old, Washington D.C.-based analytics platform focused on healthcare business planning, has raised $2 million in funding from unnamed investors. More here

    Crimson Education, a five-year-old, Auckland, New Zealand-based platform for improving admission chances to top schools, has raised $5 million from Solborn Investment, the venture arm of Korean holding company of the same name, and it’s specifically aimed at helping Crimson build out its business in that country. The company had previously raised $30 million from Tiger Global Management. TechCrunch has more here

    Media Partners, a 26-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based maker of compliance training software, raised $5.6 million in Series A-1 funding led by Byron GroupMore here.

    Molecula, a two-old Austin, Tex.-based data virtualization startup, has raised $6 million in seed funding from Seraph GroupLontra VenturesVelar Capital, and Capital FactoryMore here.  

    Tastemakers, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based startup that connects global consumers with Africa adventures, has raised $1 million in seed funding led by Precursor Ventures. TechCrunch has more here. Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings  IguanaFix, a six-year-old, Buenos Aires, Argentina-based online platform connecting homeowners with service providers for home repairs, painting and other tasks, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the publicly traded company Stanley Black & Decker. Reuters has more here

    TriEye, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based maker of a HD shortwave infrared camera that promises to help cars navigate through adverse weather, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Porsche. The Jerusalem Post has more here.

    New Funds 

    From the WSJ: “TPG has scaled back its ambitions for its impact investment fund after the abrupt departure of former managing partner William McGlashan Jr. earlier this year. The firm’s impact arm, known as TPG Rise, lowered the target for its latest fund to $2.5 billion from $3 billion after restarting fundraising in June, a spokesman for the firm said. The decision to reduce the fund’s goal stemmed from a $500 million boost in its firepower from the June takeover of a portfolio of assets previously managed by collapsed rival Abraaj Group …”


    Ping Identity, a 17-year-old, Denver-based firm focused on digital authentication and security, has filed the necessary paperwork to go public, though it’s still unclear how much it plans to raise. The firm — acquired for $600 million by Vista Equity Partners in 2016 —  posted revenue of $201.6 million in 2018 and losses of $12.4 million. TechCrunch has more here.


    Kid-friendly robotics company Sphero has acquired DIY programming-kit company littleBits. The two toy-based teaching companies expect to build on each other’s strengths to become a stronger player in the education space. Neither company has revealed the financial terms of the deal. Nine-year-old Sphero has raised roughly $120 million from investors, shows Crunchbase; it shows that littleBits, founded in 2011, had raised roughly $62 million. Fast Company has more here.


    Three years ago, Twitter formed a Trust and Safety Council, tasked with combatting abuse and harassment plaguing the platform. But Wired says Twitter leadership isn’t listening to the council’s recommendations, and that Twitter has gone months without sending members updates.


    Cue Ball Capital is looking to hire an investment associate. The job is in Boston.

    Essential Reads 

    Snapchat’s disappearing act leaves Venice Beach searching for its future

    Vape lung has claimed its first victim, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating. There are reportedly now 200 cases of severe lung illnesses possibly related to vaping. 

    The folks at Qualcomm must be breathing a sigh of relief tonight. The mobile chip giant today won a partial stay against the enforcement of a sweeping antitrust ruling in a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission. In the ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put on hold the provisions of the earlier ruling that required Qualcomm to grant patent licenses to rival chip suppliers and end its practice of forcing customers to sign patent licenses before purchasing chips. Now, Qualcomm can keep on keeping on as the appeals process plays out, which can take up to a year or more, notes Reuters

    Amazon has proven unable or unwilling to effectively police third-party sellers on its site, resulting in thousands of banned, unsafe, or mislabeled products, reports the WSJ. One of these items, a motorcycle that was not DOT compliant, had apparently fatal consequences. 


    How a bitter divorce battle led to claims of a crime in space.  

    Critically acclaimed 2010 horror film or PhD program

    Ad Astra” (trailer).

    Retail Therapy 

    Wireless over-the-ear headphones. They look weird but we hear (get it?) that they work.

  • August 22, 2019

    Thursday! Hope yours has gone well.:)

    Top News

    Three years after Oracle closed a $9.3 billion deal to acquire NetSuite, several Oracle board members have written an extraordinary letter to the Delaware Court, approving a shareholder lawsuit against company executives Larry Ellison and Safra Catz over the 2016 tie-up.

    Sponsored By …

    Forge is a premier trading, settlement and custody partner for a wide range of investors in the private markets. Established in 2014 as Equidate, the company empowers investors and shareholders by enabling liquidity in the private markets and has completed nearly $2 billion in transaction volume since inception. Forge was founded by Y Combinator alumni and backed by top investors including Tim Draper, FT Partners, Munich Re, and BNP Paribas. Forge’s platform allows employees and investors in privately held innovation firms to liquidate a portion of their shares, and provides private and institutional investors access to top companies like Spotify and Lyft before their IPOs. Learn more.

    This Thiel Fellow Thinks He Can Help Drones, Delivery Robots, and Scooters Charge Themselves with Sunlight 

    From the time he was a high school student, Rohit Kalyanpur thought it was peculiar that although it’s possible to create energy from a solar panel, the panels have long been used almost exclusively on rooftops and as part of industrial-scale solar grids. “I hadn’t seen [anything solar-powered] in the things people use every day other than calculators and lawn lights,” he tells us from him home in Chicago — though he’s moving to the Bay Area next month. 

    It wasn’t just a passing thought for Kalyanpur. Through research positions in high school, he continued to learn about energy and work on a solar charging prototype — initially to charge his iPhone — while continuing to wonder what other materials might be powered spontaneously just by shining light on it. 

    What he quickly discovered, he says, is there were no developer tools to build a self-charging project. Unlike with hardware projects, where developers can turn to the open-source electronic prototyping platform Arduino, and to Raspberry Pi, a tiny computer the size of a credit card and was created in 2012 to help students understand how computers work, there was “nothing you could use to optimize a solar product,” he says. 

    Fast-forward, and Kalyanpur says there is now — and he helped build it. 

    It’s been several years in the making. After attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for two years and befriending a fellow student, Paul Couston, who helped manage and invest the university’s $10 million green fund, the pair dropped out of school to start their now four-person company, Optivolt Labs. Entry into the accelerator program Techstars Chicago was the impetus they needed, and they’ve been gaining momentum since. In fact, Kalyanpur, now 21, was recently given a Thiel Fellowship, a two-year-long program that includes a $100,000 grant to young people who want to build new things, along with a lot of mentorships and key introductions. 

    Now, the company has closed on a separate $1.75 million round of seed funding from a long list of notable individual investors, including Eventbrite co-founders Kevin & Julia Hartz; TJ Parker, who is the founder and CEO of PillPack (now an Amazon subsidiary); Pinterest COO Francoise Brougher: and Jeff Lutz, a former Google SVP. 

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Chinook Therapeutics, a months-old, Vancouver, British Columbia-based developer of precision medicines for kidney diseases, just raised $65 million in Series A funding. Versant Ventures led the round, joined by Apple Tree Partners and Samsara BioCapital. FierceBiotech has more here

    Industrious, a six-year-old, New York-based WeWork competitor, has raised $80 million from investors including Brookfield Properties, the fitness chain Equinox and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The round brings the company’s total funding to roughly $220 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    The CareVoice, a five-year-old, Shanghai, China-based health insurance software startup with ambitions to expand throughout Asia, announced today that it has raised about $10 million in Series A funding. The investment was led by LUN Partners Group and an undisclosed global investment manager that specializes in financial services, with participation from DNA Capital and returning investors SOSV and Artesian Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    DemystData, a nine-year-old, New York-based company that says its data platform helps customers to explore and integrate new data more rapidly and gain a full view of data usage within their organizations, has closed $12.5 million in growth capital. The investment round was co-led by MissionOG and Notion Capital with participation from Singtel Innov8More here

    Drop, a four-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based mobile rewards platform whose shoppers earn points when they make purchases using the app, has raised $44 million in Series B funding. HOF Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Royal Bank of CanadaMore here

    MDClone, a three-year-old, Be’er Sheva, Israel-based medical data startup that has developed a method of protecting data privacy while letting researchers use it, just raised $26 million in Series B funding. Healthcare investor aMoon led the round, joined by earlier investors OrbiMed Israel Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Globes has more here

    Numbrs, a 20-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based company whose app enables users to manage their existing bank accounts in one place and to buy financial products, has raised $40 million in funding from unnamed investors at a valuation of more than $1 billion. Bloomberg has more here

    Remediant, a four-year-old, maker of privileged account management software, raised $15 million in Series A funding co-led by Dell Technologies Capital and ForgePoint Capital. TechCrunch has more here

    Tibit Communications, a five-year-old, Petaluma, Ca.-based start-up that’s developing next-generation access devices for Passive Optical Networking (PON), has raised $25 million in Series B funding. Intel Capital led the round, joined by Swisscom Ventures and AJU IB InvestmentMore here.  

    Smaller Fundings  

    Aperiomics, a six-year-old, Sterling, Va.-based developer of precision pathogen tests to help identify the causes of infections, has raised $1.8 million in Series A funding led by VentureSouthMore here

    Spectroplast, a new, Swiss startup with a technique for printing silicone, has raised 1.5 million Swiss franc (roughly $1.5 million in U.S. dollars) in seed funding from AM Ventures Holding in Germany. TechCrunch has more here

    TapClicks, a 10-year-old, San Jose, Ca-based company that makes marketing intelligence, analytics, reporting, and workflow software, has raised raised $10 million in funding from Boathouse Capital. The company has now raised roughly $30 million altogether, VentureBeat has more here

    Versatile Natures, a 3.5-year-old, Israel-based startup that’s using machine learning and AI  to improve construction processes, has raised $5.5 million in seed funding. Germany’s Robert Bosch Venture Capital led the round, joined by Conductive Ventures, earlier backer Root Ventures, and numerous construction technology entrepreneurs. Crunchbase News has more here

    Windfall Data, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company that determines the net worth of global households, has raised $9 million in venture funding. The round was led by Bullpen Capital, with Bonfire VenturesIndustry VenturesTenOneTen Ventures, and ValueStream Ventures participating. More here.

    New Funds ​

    East Ventures, a nine-year-old, Southeast Asian venture capital firm, has closed its sixth fund with $75 million in capital commitments, including from Wang Xing (CEO of Meituan-Dianping), Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin, Razer cofounder Kaling Lim and institutional investors that include Pavilion CapitalAdams Street Partners, and TemasekMore here.


    Amazon, which has invested over $6 billion in India’s growing internet market, is moving to expand its presence in the country’s offline dealings, too. It’s acquiring a 49 percent stake in Future Coupons, a group entity owned by India’s second largest retail chain Future Retail. TechCrunch. More here

    Software company VMware says it’s acquiring the anti-malware and endpoint protection company Carbon Black at an enterprise value of $2.1 billion. It’s also buying Pivotal — whose products help companies build and deploy their software across different server infrastructure — at an enterprise value of $2.7 billion. The deals are expected to close by the end of January 2020. Shares of Pivotal were up as much as 8 percent after the announcement, while VMware shares fell as much as 7 percent. Carbon Black shares rose as much as 6 percent after shares were initially halted following the close of the trading session. CNBC has more here.


    After recently publishing a press release that many found concerning, Overstock.com founder and CEO Patrick Byrne has resigned from his role as top dog and as a board member. Another board member, Jonathan Johnson, will be taking over as Overstock’s interim CEO. More here

    Stuart Bowers, Tesla’s head of Autopilot software, has led the carmaker for the venture firm Greylock Partners, where for now he’ll be an executive-in-residence. Electrek has more here

    MIT Media Lab director and tech investor Joi Ito is the latest person revealed to have financial ties to Jeffrey Epstein. Ito admitted in a letter last week  that he was financially connected to Epstein starting in 2013, but writes that, “In all of my interactions with Epstein, I was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of.” Ito says Epstein helped fund MIT Media Lab “through some of the foundations that he controlled,” and was also involved in Ito’s investment funds. Business Insider has more here

    HP announced this afternoon that Dion Weisler is stepping down as president and CEO. The executive cited a “family health matter” in his decision, noting that he will be returning home to Australia. The company has already lined up another HP executive, Enrique Lores, to succeed him. More here.


    Asia’s 20 richest families control $450 billion.

    Essential Reads 

    Restaurant owners by the thousands are logging out of the food delivery giant Zomato after the company “changed the goalposts” in order to benefit its own two-year-old subscription service. 

    Apple will reportedly unveil overhauled MacBook Pro and “Pro” iPhones this fall (with updates to AirPods, Apple Watch, and other products on the horizon).  

    Big funds and little funds are (again) duking it out over seed round. TechCrunch takes a look here.


    How to thwart Alexa. 

    Crucial questions for your college-bound child. 


    Retail Therapy 

    If you’re in the market for a deeply discounted luxury ranch, you’ll find plenty, owing to changing tastes. In Colorado, retired golfer Greg Norman has been trying to sell a 12,000-square foot ranch since 2011. Meanwhile, KKR cofounder Henry Kravis put his Colorado spread on the market for $50 million in January, and it’s still sitting.

  • August 21, 2019

    Wednesday! This one zoomed past, though we did make it to CNBC for a quick chat with our former colleague and CNBC host Jon Fortt. You can check that out here if you’re interested in IPO talk and whether or not direct listings will become more prevalent.  

    More tomorrow. 🙂

    Top News

    Amazon said today that it’s launching its biggest campus in the world in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.  

    Turns out hiring wasn’t nearly as strong in 2018 and early 2019 as the government initially reported — by about a half-million jobs. The economy had about 501,000 fewer jobs as of March 2019 than the Bureau of Labor Statistics initially calculated in its survey of business establishments. That’s the largest revision since the waning stages of the recession of 2009, notes MarketWatch. 

    Sponsored By …

    Forge is a premier trading, settlement and custody partner for a wide range of investors in the private markets. Established in 2014 as Equidate, the company empowers investors and shareholders by enabling liquidity in the private markets and has completed nearly $2 billion in transaction volume since inception. Forge was founded by Y Combinator alumni and backed by top investors including Tim Draper, FT Partners, Munich Re, and BNP Paribas. Forge’s platform allows employees and investors in privately held innovation firms to liquidate a portion of their shares, and provides private and institutional investors access to top companies like Spotify and Lyft before their IPOs. Learn more.

    ThredUp, Whose Second-Hand Goods Will Start Appearing at Macy’s and JCPenney Stores, Just Raised a Bundle 

    ThredUp, the 10-year-old fashion resale marketplace, has a lot of big news to boast about lately. For starters, the company just closed on $100 million in fresh funding from an investor syndicate that includes Park West Asset Management, Irving Investors and earlier backers Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Upfront Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and Redpoint Ventures. 

    The round brings ThredUP’s total capital raised to more than $300 million, including a previously undisclosed $75 million investment that it sewed up last year. 

    A potentially even bigger deal for the company is a new resale platform that both Macy’s and JCPenney are beginning to test out, wherein ThedUp will be sending the stores clothing that they will process through their own point-of-sale systems, while trying to up-sell customers on jewelry, shoes, and other accessories. 

    It says a lot that traditional retailers are coming to see gently used items as a potential revenue stream for themselves, and little wonder given the size of the resale market, estimated to be a $24 billion market currently and projected to become a $51 billion market by 2023. 

    We talked yesterday with ThredUp founder and CEO James Reinhart to learn more about its tie-up with the two brands and to find out what else the startup is stitching together. 

    You’ve partnered with Macy’s and JCPenney. Did they approach you or is ThredUp out there pitching traditional retailers? I think [the two companies] have been thinking about resale for some time. They’re trying to figure out how to best serve their customers. Meanwhile, we’ve been thinking about how we power resale for a broader set of partners, and there was a meeting of the minds six months ago. We’re positioned now where we can do this really effectively in-store, so we’re starting with a pilot program in 30 to 40 stores, but we could scale to 300 or 400 stores if we wanted. 

    How is this going to work exactly with these partners? We have the [software and logistics] architecture and the selection to put together carefully curated selections of clothing for particular stores, including the right assortment of brands and sizes, depending on where a Macy’s is located, for example. Macy’s then wraps a high-quality experience around [those goods]. Maybe it’s a dress, but they wrap a handbag and scarves and jewelry around the dress purchase. We feel [certain] that future consumers will buy new and used at the same time. 

    Who is your demographic, and please don’t say everyone. It is everyone. It’s not a satisfying answer, but we sell 30,000 brands. We serve lots of luxury customers with brands like Louis Vuitton, but we also sell Old Navy. What unites customers across all brands is they want to find brands that they couldn’t have afforded new; they’re trading up to brands that, full price, would have been too much, so Old Navy shoppers are [buying] Gap [whose shopper are buying] J. Crew and Theory and all the way up. Consistently, what we hear is [our marketplace] allows customers to swap out their wardrobes at higher rates than would be possible otherwise, and it feels to them like they’re doing in a more [environmentally] responsible way. 

    What percentage of your shoppers are also consigning goods?

    More here.

    Massive Fundings  

    Icelandic Glacial, a 15-year-old, Thorlákshöfn, Iceland-based “premium” imported bottled water brand, has raised $66 million in new funding, including a $35 million investment from BlackRock’s U.S. private credit team, as well as $31 million in new equity issued to new and existing investors. More here

    Knotel, a three-year-old, New York startup that designs and operates bespoke spaces for brands, says it has raised $400 million in funding at a valuation of $1 billion led by Wafra, an investment arm of Kuwait’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, with participation from Mori TrustItochu, and Mercuria. The capital brings its total funding to date to more than $500 million. VentureBeat has more here

    Oncorus, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of oncolytic viruses (therapies that uses viruses to infect tumor cells and break them down), has raised $79.5 million in Series B funding co-led by Cowen Healthcare Investments and Perceptive Advisors. Xconomy has more here

    PlusAI, a three-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based self-driving truck startup, is reportedly in advanced talks to raise $200 million at a valuation of more than $1 billion. The startup has already raised an undisclosed amount of Series A and seed funding from Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Bloomberg has the story here

    Tala, a seven-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based lender in emerging markets, has raised $110 million in Series D funding led by RPS Ventures, with participation from GGV Capital and earlier backers IVPRevolution GrowthLowercase CapitalDCVCThomVest Ventures, and PayPal Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings  

    Fund That Flip, a five-year-old, New York- and Cleveland, Oh,-based marketplace lender of residential real estate loans, has raised $11 million in funding from Edison Partners. VentureBeat has more here

    Smaller Fundings  

    Blooma, a year-old, San Diego-based AI-powered loan origination platform, has raised $2.75 million in funding led by FloodgateMore here

    Cosi, a new Berlin-based startup operating in the hospitality space with an alternative to boutique hotels and managed short-stay apartments, has raised €5 million in seed funding. Cherry Ventures and e.ventures co-led the round, with participation from numerous real estate and hospitality entrepreneurs. TechCrunch has more here

    CropX, a four-year-old, Israel-based startup that sells soil sensors and cloud-based analytics software to optimize crops, has raised $10 million in funding from Innovation EndeavorsSumitomo Corp.Armada CapitalFinistere VenturesGermin8 VenturesTaL CapitalGreenSoil Investments, and the equity crowdfunding company OurCrowd. Calcalist has more here

    Kobitron, a three-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based mobile testing platform, has raised $5.2 million in Series A funding. BIP Capital led the round, joined by earlier investors KMS Technology and Kinetic Ventures. TechCrunch has more here

    JRNI, a 10-year-old, London-based booking and customer engagement platform that wants you to know its brand is pronounced “journey,” has added $6 million to a previously closed Series C round. PeakSpan Capital led the newest infusion, joined by Downing Ventures and Somerston Group. The company has now raised $23.2 million altogether. More here

    Mavely, a year-old, Chicago-based startup that aims to help direct-to-consumer brands address rising customer-acquisition costs while helping them expand their communities, has raised $1 million in funding from PivotNorth Capital. Business Insider has more here.

    New Funds 

    Intrinsic Health Partners, a 1.5-year-old, Conshohocken, Pa.-based venture outfit, has raised nearly $47 million for its new fund, according to an SEC filing that shows a $125 million target. We can’t find a website for this one (yet!). 

    March Capital Partners, a Santa Monica, Ca.-based venture firm, is raising up to $50 million for a gaming-focused fund, per an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. More here.


    Splunk, a publicly traded data processing and analytics company, says it has acquired SignalFx for roughly $1.05 billion, roughly 60 percent of which will be in cash and 40 percent in Splunk common stock. SignalFx is a six-year-old cloud monitoring platform for infrastructure, microservices, and applications. It had raised roughly $178 million from investors, says Crunchbase.TechCrunch looks at the deal here

    NurseFly, a two-year-old startup that had created a job marketplace for short-term nursing positions, is announcing its acquisition by holding company IAC. While the companies aren’t disclosing the deal terms, TechCrunch reporting the price was $15 million. More here.


    China’s biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group Holding, has delayed its up to $15 billion listing in Hong Kong amid growing political unrest in the Asian financial hub, reports Reuters. More here.


    From the WSJ: Robert Cohen will become a partner at the white shoe law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell in October. Why is this interesting? He’s coming from the SEC, where he has been leading the SEC’s Cyber Unit, which is dedicated to the threat of crypto fraud.

    Essential Reads 

    Ruh roh. Eminem’s music publisher Eight Mile Style has filed a lawsuit against Spotify, accusing the service of blatant copyright infringement in streaming “Lose Yourself” and other Eminem songs. The case has implications for “all songwriters,” says his attorney. 

    “First of all, keep it out of the light. It hates bright light, especially sunlight, it’ll kill it. Second, don’t give it any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much it cries, no matter how much it begs, never feed it after midnight.”  

    Fitbit has struck a deal to provide devices for potentially hundreds of thousands of people in Singapore who commit to a monthly subscription. The company is working with a government agency there to design a program that aims to help its citizens get healthier. 


    (Un)holy crap

    Sports analogies for academics

    What’s recyclable plastic, what’s trash, and why.

    Retail Therapy 

    Look, you win some, you lose some.

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