Friday! Whoop, whoop!
Top News in the A.M.
General Motors today announced it’s acquiring Cruise Automation, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup at work on sensors that turn regular vehicles into ones that can drive themselves. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but outlets, including Fortune, say GM is shelling out more than $1 billion. According to CrunchBase, Cruise had raised $18.8 million from investors, including Homebrew, Founder Collective, Flight Ventures, Maven Ventures and CrunchFund. The company was incubated at Y Combinator and marks its biggest exit to date. TechCrunch has more here.
Looks like that Slack round nearing a close, and at a $4 billion valuation. Business Insider has more here.
Your Favorite Accelerators, Ranked
For the fifth year in a row, biz school professors Yael Hochberg of Rice University and Susan Cohen of the University of Richmond have ranked the many accelerator programs now up and running in the U.S. as a way of helping making sense of which are worth the time, effort, and, often, equity — and which aren’t.
It’s no small undertaking. According to their findings, there are currently 160 accelerators in operation, representing year-over-year growth of around 50 percent dating back to 2005, when pioneer Y Combinator first came on the scene.
Some have come and gone. In fact, many outfits don’t survive more than a couple of years. Yet there are often upstarts to replace them, a growing number of which are corporate programs. (Research from Hochberg and Cohen show that 26 such corporate accelerator programs sprung up last year, compared with one or two back in 2011.)
If you click through to TechCrunch, you can see which programs rank most highly overall. We talked with the professors yesterday to find out how they ranked everyone, and what the difference between the buckets they’ve established — including platinum, gold, and silver — really means.
8Dol.com, a three-year-old, China-based online-to-offline startup that enables college students to order food and drinks online, then delivers it to campuses, has raised $30 million in an extended Series B round led by the cosmetics company Longrich, with participation from Jiangsu Suda Tiangong Venture Capital. DealStreetAsia has more here.
Aspyrian Therapeutics, a six-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-base biotech company that’s developing precision targeted oncologic drugs to treat solid tumors, has raised $40 million as part of a Series B financing that was mostly provided by Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, through his personal investment companies. More here.
Bustle, a three-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based digital media outlet that targets millennial women, has raised $11.5 million in new funding led by Saban Capital Group, with participation from GGV Capital and earlier investors Time Warner Investments, General Catalyst Partners and Social Capital. Business Insider has more here. Crimson Hexagon, an 8.5-year-old, Boston-based social media analytics company, has raised $20 million in growth equity financing from Sageview Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
Flipkart, the 8.5-year-old, Bangalore, India-based e-commerce company, is looking to raise upwards of $1 billion in new equity funding, likely in a down round, says TechCrunch. The company had reportedly raised money at a $15.5 billion valuation last year.
Inmoji, a two-year-old, Boston-based ad tech company that connects brands with consumers on mobile messaging using interactive emojis, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by healthcare executive John Wigneswaran. Inmoji had previously raised $2.4 million in seed funding from ex-PayPal Media COO David Chang, Paypal Start Tank and Accomplice. More here.
Propel, a year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based maker of product lifecycle management software, has raised $4.2 million in Series A funding led by Cloud Apps Capital Partners, with participation from Salesforce Ventures and SignalFire. More here.
Soothe, a three-year-old, L.A.-based on-demand massage company, has raised $35 million in funding led by earlier backer The Riverside Company. Forbes has more here.
Whistle Sports, a seven-year-old, New York-based digital sports media content company, has raised $20 million in Series C funding from Tegna, NBC Sports Ventures, Sky Media and Emil Capital Partners. Variety has more here.
Depressing statistics from Renaissance Capital: There have been 5 IPOs priced so far this year, a -83 percent change from last year. Meanwhile, the Renaissance IPO Index has returned -12.0 percent so far this year, compared to -2.7 percent for the S&P 500.
Vanity Fair speaks with former Zenefits employees about co founder and former CEO Parker Conrad, “brogrammer” culture, and what really happened in those office stairwells.
Alphabet’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, has been caught taking pictures with a, gulp, iPhone.
A group of former Skype technologists, backed by the co-founder of the messaging platform, has introduced a new version of its own messaging service that promises end-to-end encryption for all conversations, including by video. It’s called Wire. More here.
After commissioning two independent lab tests, the WSJ says The Honest Company is using an ingredient in its laundry detergent that it pledged to avoid.
Inside Instacart’s fraught quest to become the Uber of groceries.
“I ran the numbers on the burn rate and well, [w]e can’t talk about this here. Meet me in the hot air balloon.”
New Order, 1933 style.
Okay, so no need to see that “Taken” trilogy, ever.
Mixing random photos using neural networks.
Vintage trunk sound system.