Hi, everyone, happy Thursday!
Top News in the A.M.
China has cut its holdings of U.S. Treasuries to raise needed capital to support the yuan, reports Bloomberg.
Uber’s China arm has closed its $1 billion fundraising round early, reports Reuters. More here.
VC Brian O’Malley on the Next Wave in “On Demand”
Brian O’Malley is good at his job. He’s good enough, in fact, that two years, ago, Accel Partners plucked him out of his former firm, Battery Ventures, so he could bat for its team instead.
As venture industry watchers know, these moves are rare, and they often pay off. Two famous examples include Sequoia Capital enticing Jim Goetz to leave Accel in 2004; Goetz has since led hugely profitable deals for Sequoia, including WhatsApp. Peter Fenton, also formerly of Accel, has similarly done a bang-up job for Benchmark, which lured him away in 2006.
Earlier this week, we sat down with O’Malley at Accel’s new San Francisco’s office to talk about switching firms, as well as why, despite a sudden cooling toward on-demand companies, he’s as bullish as ever about them.
We’re running one part of that chat today; stay tuned for the rest.
Across both Battery and Accel, you’ve backed numerous startups that meet on-demand needs, like HotelTonight, the sports ticketing app Gametime, and the food delivery app Sprig. Are you still interested in apps that meet last-minute needs?
At Accel, we’ve done three on-demand companies. We put a small piece in Sprig. We’ve backed the [Uber-for-kids startup] Shuddle. And we invested in Din [formerly called Forage], which is kind of like Blue Apron but that leverages the whole on-demand infrastructure, so you aren’t relying on all this packaging and UPS to get food across the country.
You mean Din is piggybacking off other on-demand startups?
If you think about it, Uber, Postmates, Sidecar — they all have APIs.
Able, a 1.5-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based collaborative lender that connects entrepreneurs with capital, has raised $6 million in Series A funding co-led by Blumberg Capital and RPM Ventures, with participation from Peterson Partners and Expansion Ventures AngelList Syndicate. Silicon Hills has more here.
Augury, a four-year-old, New York-based company that diagnoses machines based on the sounds they emit, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Formation 8, with participation from Pritzker Group and earlier backers First Round Capital and Lerer Hippeau Ventures. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.
Benson Hill Biosystems, a three-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based agricultural biotech company that helps customers identify strategies that increase gains in crop plants, has raised $7.3 million in Series A funding led by Middleland Capital, with participation from Mercury Fund, Prelude Ventures, Prolog Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, Cultivation Capital, TechAccel and earlier backers Missouri Technology Corporation and Biogenerator. More here.
Eko Communications, a three-year-old, Bangkok, Thailand-based enterprise messaging company, has raised $5.7 million in Series A funding led by the Shanghai, China-based investment firm Gobi Partners. TechCrunch has more here.
Lugg, a year-old, San Francisco-based on-demand moving company that just graduated from Y Combinator’s summer class, has raised $3.8 million in seed funding led by A Capital, with participation from SV Angel, CrunchFund and numerous angel investors, including Gmail creator Paul Buchheit. TechCrunch has more here.
Modumetal, an eight-year-old, Seattle-based maker of nanolaminated metals and materials, has raised $33.5 million in venture and debt funding. Founders Fund led the venture round, with participation from Sunshine Tech, Catamount Ventures, Second Avenue Partners, Goldenseeds, Alliance of Angels members and Concur Technologies CEO Steve Singh. Hercules Technology Growth Capital provided the debt. TechCrunch has more here.
PreNav, a two-year-old, San Carlos, Ca.-based company that can fly a drone within centimeters of a structure, allowing for its close inspection, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding from investors, including Pejman Mar Ventures, Drone.vc, Oculus VR co-founder Michael Antonov and angel investor Toivo Annus. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.
Pronto, a year-old, London-based food delivery service, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from Playfair Capital and Seedcamp. Other investors in the round include the London Co-Investment Fund, Ballpark Ventures, The Next Web cofounder Patrick de Laive and other unnamed angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Remerge, a 1.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based mobile app marketing platform, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by earlier backer Point Nine Capital, with participation from VC Fonds Technologie Berlin and earlier backers German Startups Group and WestTech Ventures. The company has now raised $4 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
ReShape Medical, a seven-year-old, San Clemente, Calif.-based maker of non-surgical weight loss devices, has raised $38 million in Series D funding led by HealthCor Partners Management, with participation from Endeavour Vision and earlier backers SV Life Sciences, New Leaf Venture Partners, U.S. Venture Partners and Venture Investors. More here.
Resolution Games, a months-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based virtual reality games studio co-founded by Candy Crush developer Tommy Palm, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Google Ventures, with participation fromCreandum, Initial Capital, Bonnier Growth Media and Partech Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.
ServiceMax, an eight-year-old, Pleasanton, Ca.-based company that makes field service management software for technicians, has raised $82 million in Series F funding led by Premji Invest, with participation from GE Ventures,PTC Inc., and Cloud Apps Capital. Earlier backers also joined the round, including Emergence Capital Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Mayfield, Meritech Capital Partners, Adams Street Partners, Crosslink Capital, Questmark Partners, Sozo Ventures, and Trinity Ventures. The company has now raised $204 million altogether, shows Crunchbase. More here.
Spoonflower, a 7.5-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based company offering custom fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap printing, has raised $25 million in funding led byNorth Bridge Growth Equity, with participation from Bull City Venture Partners. More here.
PCH, which designs custom products for startups and Fortune 500 companies, is teaming up with Johnson & Johnson Innovation to identify and financially support consumer health hardware startups. If you’re an entrepreneur with a health hardware startup, you can learn more about the new program — as well as apply to be part of it — here.
Life360, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of smartphone apps that help keep families connected, has acquired Chronos Mobile Technologies, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose mobile apps passively collect data from users’ smartphones in order to highlight trends and connections between various behaviors. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Life360 has raised roughly $76 million from investors, including DCM, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Fontinalis Partners. Chronos had raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Maven Ventures, Draper Associates, Major League Baseball, and Plug & Play Ventures, among others. TechCrunch has the story here.
Amazon is scaling back its efforts to develop consumer devices and laying off dozens of engineers in the process. The WSJ has the story here.
Serial entrepreneur Garrett Camp is stepping in a second time to rescue his first company, StumbleUpon. Business Insider has the story here.
Former Apple CEO John Sculley has just helped launch a line of stylish smartphones for Asia-based consumers via his new company, Obi Worldphone. More here.
Y Combinator appointed a COO yesterday: Qasar Younis, a former YC alum who spent years at Google before joining the accelerator outfit as a full-time partner last year. Fortune has more here.
Watch out, Siri. Facebook has begun testing out a personal digital assistant technology dubbed “M.”
The Apple Watch isn’t a flop at all, says IDC.
Turns out almost none of the women in the Ashley Madison database ever used the site. [Pulls out world’s tiniest violin.]
The 50 best colleges where students earn high starting salaries.
Tesla’s Model S P85D just broke Consumer Reports’ ratings system.
Ten popular grammar myths debunked by a Harvard linguist.
Street photography of Japan by Takashi Yasui.