Hello and happy Thursday, everyone! Lots of fundings today.
Top News in the A.M.
Amazon just announced three initiatives to support its cloud-based intelligent Alexa voice service and the Amazon Echo, a wireless speaker that can respond to basic voice commands. One of those initiatives involves a software development kit. The other: A $100 million fund to back engineers focused on building experiences around human speech. More here.
LittleBits Raises $44.2 Million to Get Its Little Bits Into More Hands
If you work in tech and have or know young children, you’ve likely heard of LittleBits, a 3.5-year-old, venture-backed maker of electronic components that are sold via kits and snap together to create everything from toy robots to synthesizers and more.
Today, the New York company is getting serious about ensuring its modular pieces make their way into the hands of many more people. Toward that end, it’s announcing $44.2 million in Series B funding led by DFJ Growth, with participation from Morgan Stanley, Alternative Investment Partners, Grishin Robotics and Wamda Capital. (Foundry Group, True Ventures, VegasTechFund, Two Sigma Ventures, and Khosla Ventures — earlier investors that had provided the company with $15.6 million in previous funding — also joined the round.)
Educators, who have been discovering LittleBits, are about to become one big area of focus for the 90-person, New York-based company. Already, LittleBits are being used in 2,100 schools in 70 countries, says LittleBits’s founder and CEO, Ayah Bdeir, who says that while LittleBits has a “good footprint” in California particularly, the company is looking to add to that momentum nationally and internationally by adding employees in sales and distribution.
LittleBits is also going after more corporate customers. Indeed, according to Bdeir, companies like Salesforce, Twilio, and SAP have — in the last year, entirely on their own — begun employing LittleBits in creativity workshops and in the prototyping of their various products, including those centered on the Internet of Things. (Part of the attraction: Last year, LittleBits introduced a “cloudBit” device that allows users to add a variety of things to their connected home via LittleBits hardware and a companion app. It has since introduced many other related modules that make it easier to play around with popular connected devices as well as invent new ones.)
Of course, parents and others interested in providing children with an easy way to understand electronics also remain a big target for the company, which currently sells its products through its own site and Amazon, but plans to slowly grow its number of retailing partners starting with Barnes & Noble, which will begin selling LittleBits kits later this year.
As for sales to date, the company isn’t disclosing numbers but says it has been growing “three to four times revenue” annually and that it has sold “millions of units” (meaning pieces, not kits) in more than 100 countries.
It also says a subscription model may be on the horizon. “People have been asking for it a lot,” says Bdeir. “It’s something we want to develop.”
(For more on LittleBits and its newest funding, you can check out our TechCrunch piece here.)
Automatic, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based connected car platform, has raised $24 million in Series B funding led by the investment arm at USAA, a insurance and financial services provider for military families. CDK Global and Comcast Ventures also participated in the round, alongside earlier backers Y Combinator, RPM Ventures, Anthemis Group, Amicus Capital and numerous angel investors. Automatic has now raised $32 million in total. TechCrunch has more here.
Autonomic Technologies, an eight-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based maker of a microstimulator that treats severe headaches, has added another $5.5 million from HBM Healthcare Investments to its Series D round, which is closing with a total of $43.2 million. The round was led by Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, with participation from Forbion Capital Partners and earlier backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, InterWest Partners, Aberdare Ventures, Novatis Venture Funds, and the Cleveland Clinic. More here.
Bento, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based on-demand food delivery service focused around Asian food, has raised $1.5 million led by LAUNCH Fund, with participation from Slow Ventures, 500 Startups, FundersClub and numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
BitSight Technologies, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based security ratings company that helps enterprises monitor the risk posed by vendors in their supply chain, has raised $23 million in Series B funding from Comcast Ventures, along with earlier backers Globespan Capital Partners, Menlo Ventures, Commonwealth Capital Ventures, Shaun McConnon and Flybridge Capital Partners. The company has now raised $49 million altogether.
Bricoprivé, a 2.5-year-old, Toulouse, France-based online retailer focused on DIY, gardening and home improvement products, has raised €2.5 million ($2.8 million) from the Paris-based investement company Ardian, following the partial exit of Bricoprivé’s previous minority shareholders. More here.
Checkmarx, a nine-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based software application security company that sells application security testing and application layer attack prevention services, has raised $84 million from Insight Venture Partners. Reuters has more here.
Conga, a nine-year-old, Broomfield, Co.-based developer of a set of document generation and reporting applications for Salesforce, has raised $70 million in funding from Insight Venture Partners. Denver Business Journal has more here.
Curbside, a nearly two year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup whose mobile app allows shoppers to buy from local retailers like Target and Best Buy then pick up items at stores without exiting their car, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Sutter Hill Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Index Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and others. The company has now raised $34.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Highland Therapeutics, a seven-year-old Toronto, Canada-based pharmaceutical company that tries optimizing the delivery of previously approved drug products, has raised $50 million in funding, half of which came in the form of equity from Eastern Capital Limited, and half of which it secured through a credit facility provided by Citibank. More here.
Inspirock, a three-year-old, East Palo Alto, Ca.-based company whose site creates customized travel itineraries for users, has raised $3 million in funding from earier investor MakeMyTrip, one of India’s largest travel booking sites; angel investors; and its founders, Anoop Goyal and Prakash Sikchi.
Lost My Name, a two-year-old, London-based publishing startup focused on kids’ personalized publishing and entertainment, has raised $9 million in Series A funding from Google Ventures, Greycroft Partners, The Chernin Group, Allen & Co., and former SunGard president and CEO Cris Conde. More here.
Matterport, a 4.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company that makes a $4,500 camera capable of capturing an environment in 360 degrees, has raised $30 million in growth funding from Qualcomm Ventures and Singapore’s GIC. VentureBeat has more here.
Qwilt, a five-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based maker of networking equipment that helps service providers manage the demand for internet video, has raised $25 million in Series D funding led by Disrupt-ive, with participation from Innovation Endeavors and Cisco Investments. The company has now raised $65 million to date. Recode has more here.
Radiant Entertainment, a new PC games studio, has raised $4.5 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst Partners and London Venture Partners. Venture Capital Dispatch has much more here.
TextMaster, the four-year-old, Belgium-based startup that offers a platform for content translation, copywriting and proofreading, has raised $5 million in funding from Serena Capital, with participation from earlier backer Alven Capital. The company has now raised $8 million altogether. TechCrunch hasmore here.
Topia Technology, a 16-year-old, Tacoma, Wa.-based data security platform, has raised $5.5 million in Series B funding from private angel investors in the Pacific Northwest.
Treebo Hotels, a months-old, Bangalore, India-based company that partners with small, standalone hotels and helps them improve their service quality standards and also market themselves more effectively, has raised $6 million in its first institutional round of funding rom Matrix Partners India and SAIF Partners. More here.
Vogogo, a seven-year-old, Alberta, Canada-based compliance, risk management and payment processing specialist, has raised $12.5 million in Series B funding co-led by Salman Partners, Clarus Securities, and Beacon Securities. TechVibes has more here.
Yieldify, a two-year-old, London-based predictive marketing technology startup that helps online retailers convince people to buy products online, has just $11.5 million from Google Ventures and Softbank. Business Insider hasmore here.
Zumper, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based real estate tech startup, has raised $6.4 million in funding led by Goodwater Capital, with participation from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Both had invested previously in the company, which has now raised $14.6 million altogether. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.
NantCell, a six-month-old Culver City. L.A. based company that’s part of the growing empire of billionaire entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong and which focuses on the discovery and development of disease treatments through cell-based therapies at the molecular level, has acquired VivaBioCell SpA, a Udine, Italy-based biotechnology company. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. (Fierce Biotech wrote more on Soon-Shiong and NantCell earlier this month.)
Spotify, the nine-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based streaming music company, has acquired the analytics firm Seed Scientific to create a new unit tasked with understanding and improving how artists, listeners, and brands interact with its technology. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.
IAC/InterActiveCorp is planning an IPO for The Match Group, the dating conglomerate behind popular sites such as Match.com, OkCupid, and Tinder. Fortune has the story here.
Vice Media head honcho Shane Smith has been talking with bankers about the possibility of taking his media company public. “We have met with all the big banks. We’ve had talks,” he told The Post earlier today at the Cannes Lions festival.
Alex Stamos, a world-renowned cybersecurity expert and vocal NSA critic who spent roughly 15 months commanding Yahoo’s team of “Paranoids” to protect the company from all manner of threats, is joining Facebook as its Chief Security Officer on Monday, he announced in a Facebook post yesterday. “Careers are long, and I hope our paths will cross often in the future,” he wrote to his now-former Yahoo colleagues.
Teespring, the custom apparel startup backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures and others, just laid off 70 employees, as it closes up shop in Providence, R.I., where it first got off the ground. TechCrunch has more here.
Lewis & Clark Ventures, a new, St. Louis-based venture firm that’s focused on startups in the Midwest, is looking to hire a venture capital associate.
Dropbox is struggling, and competitors are catching up.
The story of what really happened with that Sony Pictures hack —and why Sony should have seen it coming.
Why Docker has Microsoft and Google on alert. (This is a good overview if you still don’t understand all the buzz around Docker.)
“Fight Club” for kids, read by author Chuck Palahniuk.
An instructional video on “how to use the internet,” by a young Ev Williams.
Silent and deadly: Fatal farts.
You can now rent the “smallest house in the world” on Airbnb (though we would not recommend it).