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Top News in the A.M.
Venture capital funds should face less red tape across the 28-nation European Union so there can be more of them and in more regions, EU Financial Services Commissioner Jonathan Hill said at a conference earlier today in Brussels. Here’s what he has in mind.
Crisis Experts Debate Amazon’s Latest Lob
When a New York Times piece came out in August that described Amazon’s workplace culture as “bruising,” Amazon cofounder and CEO Jeff Bezos acted quickly to dampen the story’s blow. He wrote a memo to employees saying the account “doesn’t describe the Amazon I know” and pointed out a separate piece by an Amazon engineer who described the Times article as “utter reader bait.”
It was a smart approach, suggests Marina Ein, whose Washington, D.C.-based crisis communications firm has represented Michael Milken and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, among others. “I thought the company was acting on very good advice,” she says.
More confounding to Ein is a new post authored by former journalist and current Amazon spokesman Jay Carney, in which Carney not only systematically attacks the now two-month-old Times piece for being imbalanced but works to undermine several former employees quoted in the story.
One is former site merchandiser Bo Olson, who spent roughly 20 months at Amazon and had told the Times for its story, “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face . . . Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”
Wrote Carney of Olson today: “His brief tenure at Amazon ended after an investigation revealed he had attempted to defraud vendors and conceal it by falsifying business records. When confronted with the evidence, he admitted it and resigned immediately.”
“I think it’s crazy,” says Ein of Carney’s unexpected missive.
AgentDesks, a year-old, San Francisco-based mobile-first CRM for real estate agents that helps realtors track tasks, find property leads, import contacts, and store notes, has raised $2.95 million in seed funding from Sierra Ventures, Cota Capital and Vegas Tech Fund, among others. The company was incubated at the accelerator program, AngelPad, late last year. The Economic Times has more here.
Amino, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based digital healthcare startup that’s been quietly amassing a database of U.S. consumer healthcare data since late 2013 to make it easier for consumers to locate a doctor or specialist with experience treating their condition, has raised $19.4 million in pre-launch funding from Accel Partners, CRV, Rock Health and more than a dozen individual investors. TechCrunch has much more here.
Attune Technologies, a six-year-old, Singapore-based startup that makes cloud-based software for hospitals and labs, has raised $10 million in Series B funding from Qualcomm Ventures and returning investor Norwest Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.
Illusive Networks, a 1.5-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cybersecurity company focused around so-called deception technology, has raised $22 million in Series B funding led by new investor New Enterprise Associates, with participation from new and earlier backers, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Marker LLC, Citi Ventures, and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.
Mobvoi, a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based company specializing in mobile voice search technology, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series C, including from Google, which has become a minority shareholder. Altogether, the company has raised $75 million to date. TechCrunch has more here.
Redox, a 1.5-year-old, Madison, Wi.-based health care software development tool-maker, has raised $3.5 million in funding round led by .406 Ventures, with participation from Flybridge Capital Partners, and HealthX Ventures, a venture capital fund that formed in Madison to invest in digital health companies. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more here.
Stitch Labs, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of online inventory control software, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Triangle Peak Partners. The company has now raised $23 million altogether. More here.
Sweeten, a four-year-old, New York-based home renovation matchmaker that connects contractors with customers, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding led by Navitas Capital, with participation from Overnight Capital and Gotham Gal Ventures. More here.
Yidao Yongche, a five-year-old, Beijing, China-based ride-hailing app, says that a unit of Beijing-based technology company LeTV has agreed to invest $700 million in the firm in return for a 70 percent stake. The funding brings the total capital raised by the company to at least $790 million, shows CrunchBase. Reuters has more here.
ZeroStack, a 1.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based developer of self-service and scale-out private clouds, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by Formation 8, with participation from from earlier investor Foundation Capital and company board member Mark Leslie. More here.
Zignal Labs, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based real-time media analytics company, has raised $15 million in new funding led by earlier investors Andy Ballard of Figtree Partners; Mitch Cohen of Ross Investment Associates; and the company’s own cofounder and chairman, Jim Hornthal.
S2G Ventures in Chicago has closed on $125 million for a debut venture fund to invest exclusively in agriculture and food ventures. The firm has already backed eight companies, and deployed 18 percent of its fund to these deals. Venture Capital Dispatch has the story here.
Gone, a year-old app that helps users sell items they no longer want in their home, has acquired FOBO, a young Y Combinator alum that had pivoted into an auction-based service that lets users sell their things via a mobile app. According to CrunchBase, FOBO Had raised just $1.6 million in seed funding; Gone has meanwhile raised just more than $1 million, according to CrunchBase. More here.
According to Bloomberg, SanDisk is in advanced talks to sell itself to Western Digital Corp., and the two storage makers could reach a deal as soon as this week. More here.
One week after announcing major layoffs, Twitter is hiring New York Times editor at large Marcus Mabry to help develop editorial direction for its new Moments section.
Jeff Seibert, senior director of product at Twitter, tells Stanford students what went well and what didn’t during the acquisition of his earlier startups by big-name technology companies — and why an acquisition isn’t always the best exit strategy for a promising startup.
Inside Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel‘s entertainment empire.
Remember that altercation at Tesla’s battery gigafactory site between two Reno Gazette-Journal photographers and Tesla security guards? RGJ’s attorney is saying the guards were violent and that Tesla’s portrayal of the incident is “scandalous.”
A 23-year-old Google employee is living in a truck in the company’s parking lot. (The upside, he says: He’s saving 90 percent of his income.)
Bessemer Venture Partners is looking to hire an associate or senior associate for its cloud team in Silicon Valley. (That means spending time at both its San Francisco and Menlo Park, Ca., offices.) To apply, write to kristina at bvp.com.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said yesterday that Apple Music has 6.5 million paid subscribers, plus another 8.5 million users who are still in their three-month free trial period.
Google’s growing problem: Half of people do zero searches per day on mobile.
Sky-high valuations are starting to backfire on some Silicon Valley companies that are trying to raise more money or go public, reports the WSJ, and it holds up Dropbox as a prime example. To wit, BlackRock, which led a $350 million deal that more than doubled Dropbox’s valuation from $4 billion to $10 billion early last year, has since cut its estimate of the company’s per-share value by 24 percent.
A U.S. judge has dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit filed by an Uber driver against the ride service over a data breach disclosed by the company.
Why you should carve a pumpkin from the bottom.
The new “Star Wars” trailer, scene-by-scene as GIFs for you to study.