You know how much we love Fridays!
For those of you coming to our event in less than two weeks(!), we’re excited to see you. Much thanks again to our generous sponsors Autodesk, Bolt, Ludlow Ventures, and AiBrain, without which we wouldn’t have such a lovely venue, or food and drinks from wonderful Jessica Lasky catering. There’s still a sprinkling of tickets available; if you haven’t grabbed yours yet, do before the Autodesk Gallery tells us we’re overdoing things.
Hope you have a wonderful long weekend, everyone! See you back here Tuesday.:)
Top News in the A.M.
Whoa. A secret software program inside Zenefits made it seem that brokers were completing a legally required 52-hour online training course and led them to certify under penalty of perjury that they had actually done so. BuzzFeed has the scoop here.
More broadly, Zenefits is being investigated by the California Department of Insurance, and firing execs who may have encouraged employees to skirt the law.
In Race to Build Kid-Activity Subscription Services, a New Entrant
They’re starting to crop up here and there, new startups that have appropriated the monthly class-pass model and are focused on children’s activities. Last month, a New York-based startup called KidPass announced $325,000 in seed funding, including from serial entrepreneur Kevin Ryan. Meanwhile, Brooklyn-based The Kids Passport, which caters to local families and launched in October, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Notation Capital and Collaborative Fund.
Now, there’s a new entrant. A Chicago-based startup that’s similarly focused on helping parents and other caregivers find affordable and varied things to do with young children, is launching this coming Monday.
Called Pearachute, it’s just six weeks old, yet investors love the idea so much that the company has already raised $1.2 million in seed funding, including from former Match.com CEO (and now vice chairman) Sam Yagan, Techstars cofounder David Cohen, Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank, SitterCity cofounder Genevieve Thiers, and various other angel investors.
Yagan has even signed on as chairman.
DataRobot, a nearly four-year-old, Boston-based machine learning company, has raised $33 million in Series B funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Accomplice, Intel Capital, IA Ventures, Recruit Strategic Partners and New York Life. The company has now raised roughly $57 million altogether. More here.
Diffbot, a five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based developer of machine learning and computer vision algorithms and public APIs for web scraping, has raised $10 million in Series A funding co-led by Tencent and Felicis Ventures, with participation from Amplify Partners, Valor Capital, Bill Lee, Georges Harik and Andy Bechtolsheim. Xconomy has more here.
Jisto, a 2.5-year-old, Boston-based company that creates a private elastic compute cloud for the enterprise out of the enterprise’s idle server/cloud resources, has raised $2.45 million in seed funding led by .406 Ventures. More here.
Label Insight, an eight-year-old, Chicago-based cloud-based analytics company that provides insights to retailers and consumer packaged goods brands, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by KPMG Capital, KPMG’s investment fund. Earlier backers Mercury Fund, Cultivation Capital, Serra Ventures and dunnhumby Ventures also joined the round, along with new investor West Capital Advisors. More here.
Uber, the seven-year-old, San Francisco-based ride-hailing service, has raised another $200 million in fresh funding; this time it comes from LetterOne, a fund based out of Luxembourg and headed by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman. TechCrunch has more here.
GGV Capital, a 15-year-old, cross-border venture fund that invests in both U.S. and China-based companies, is raising two giant new funds, shows new SEC filings that list a target of $880 million and $250 million, respectively. Both forms state that the first sale has yet to occur. The figures represent an enormous increase in the amount of money that GGV is managing. A fast close would also represent a remarkably short turnaround for its investment team. GGV closed its fifth fund with $620 million less than two years ago. Much more here.
Proteostasis Therapeutics, a nearly 10-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company whose therapeutics aim to treat diseases caused by defects in protein processing, has raised $50 million in its IPO. The pre-revenue company has raised $107 million in private funding, shows Crunchbase. Its biggest backers include Elan Science One, which owned 21.6 percent of the company heading into its IPO; New Enterprise Associates, which owned 17.1 percent; and Healthcare Ventures, which owned 13.9 percent.
According to Renaissance Capital, there are no IPOs scheduled for next week.
ASICS, the Tokyo-based specialty athletic retailer, has acquired Runkeeper, a 7.5-year-old, Boston-based fitness app maker. No financial terms were dislcosed. Runkeeper had raised at least $11.5 million in funding over the years, including from Spark Capital, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Boston Seed Capital and Revolution Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
The publicly traded streaming music service Pandora has reportedly retained Morgan Stanley to solicit possible takeover offers. The New York Times has more here.
Rakuten, the Japan-headquartered e-commerce firm, has written down $340 million from a range of businesses, including its Kobo e-reader division and France-based e-commerce site PriceMinister. It has also announced plans to close a number of global operations as part of a new strategic focus. TechCrunch has more here.
Yodle, an 11-year-old, New York-based company that specializes in local online marketing, is being acquired by publicly traded Web.com Group for $300 million, plus an additional $42 million in earn-outs over the next two years. Yodle had raised $40 million from investors, including DFJ and Icon Ventures. New York Business Journal has the story here.
Michael Paulus, the former president of Addepar, has left Andreessen Horowitz, where he had been a member of the investment team, reports Fortune. Paulus hasn’t yet shared what his next move will be.
VC Mark Suster swung by Bloomberg’s offices yesterday, and chatted with Emily Chang about whether or not there’s a funding slowdown.
You can reserve Tesla’s low-cost Model 3 starting March 31. Unless you are Stewart Alsop.
Surreal paintings by Jeremy Geddes.
The “Tesla” for the nine-year-old set.