Happy Wednesday, everyone!
Fun seeing some of you last night at the NVCA/CrunchBase/SBA event in SF.:)
On a completely separate note, if you own a Tesla Model X that’s been acting a little bananas over the last day or so, please let us know.
Top News in the A.M.
Apple has just agreed to settle a long-running patent lawsuit for almost $25 million.
The sale of Yahoo‘s internet assets enters phase two.
Wow. Audi created so-called defeat devices which cut emissions in 1999, years before parent company Volkswagen used them to cheat diesel emissions tests, the German newspaper Handelsblatt is reporting. More here.
SkySafe Lands $3 Million to Disable Badly Behaving Drones
SkySafe, a six-month-old, San Diego, Ca.-based company whose technology can disable drones that are flying where they shouldn’t, has raised $3 million in seed funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, with participation from Founder Collective, SV Angel, and BoxGroup.
No doubt the company is serving a fast-growing need, particularly given the number of drones poised to wreak havoc on public spaces from sports arenas to airports. Consider the British Airways flight that was hit by a commercial drone as it approached Heathrow Airport on Sunday, or the World Cup skier nearly done in by a falling drone in December. The FAA estimates there will be 2.5 million drones sold in the U.S. alone just this year.
“We’re very excited about a future where drones are used by consumers and businesses for all sorts of purposes, but to get there, drones need to be made extremely reliable and safe,” says venture capitalist Chris Dixon, who led the deal for Andreessen Horowitz.
Dixon suggests SkySafe can ensure that drones don’t go rogue, largely via radio waves, which it uses to override a drone’s remote and take control of the aircraft. Perhaps so. What SkySafe is building certainly sounds less menacing than some of the other options to emerge recently, including an anti-drone laser and an anti-drone rifle. Unfortunately, for competitive reasons, the six-person company isn’t willing to dive much more deeply into how its tech works, as we learned when we talked yesterday with cofounder and CEO Grant Jordan. Our chat has been edited for length.
SkySafe has four founders. What’s your background, and how did you come together?
I graduated from MIT, then spent four years as an officer in the Air Force Research Lab testing anti-drone tech, where I got a lot of exposure to various ways that different groups have come up with for taking down small drones. After I finished my time there, I went to grad school at USCD for computer security, and I [connected with my cofounders] for a security company consulting firm that we founded called Somerset Recon. Between that security work and [my] drone work, we saw a growing threat in the drone space.
What types of customers will you be trying to persuade to use SkySafe?
Pretty much the entire space of public safety. Airports, prisons, stadiums, other event venues, border protection, critical infrastructure. The number of places that have seen incidents in the past year has grown tremendously.
Would you characterize most of those incidents as accidents or otherwise?
In the aviation industry, at airports, those look like accidents. But in prisons, there are no accidents. Those are drones that are trying to smuggle in weapons, drugs and other contraband. I wouldn’t classify what we’ve seen in stadiums as accidents, either. [Drone operators] might not mean any harm, but they’re going out of their way to fly into an area they aren’t supposed to be, and right now, there’s nothing an event venue can do about it.
1mg, a four-year-old, India-based online pharmacy and platform for finding medical labs, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by Maverick Capital Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Sequoia India and Omidyar Network. TechCrunch has more here.
Armada Interactive, an 11-month-old, Helsinki, Finland-based mobile gaming startup that hasn’t yet launched its first title, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Initial Capital, with participation from Index Ventures, PROfounders Capital, Backed VC, Reaktor Ventures, Sisu Game Ventures, and individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Brighter, a 4.5-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based online marketplace that allows members to compare dentists by price and reputation, has raised $21 million in Series D financing led by General Catalyst Partners, with participation from DAG Ventures and earlier backers Mayfield, Benchmark and Tenaya. More here.
Bugcrowd, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based company focused on crowdsourced security for the enterprise, has raised $15 million in Series B funding round led by Blackbird Ventures. Other participants in the round include Industry Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and earlier backers Rally Ventures, Costanoa Venture Capital and Paladin Capital Group.
Cabify, a 4.5-year-old, Madrid, Spain-based ride-sharing app that’s active in Spain and Latin America, has raised $120 million in Series C funding at a post-money valuation of $320 million. Rakuten led the round, with participation from other, unnamed investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Lodgify, a four-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based startup that makes site builder software that enables vacation rental owners to create their own branded sites and accept online bookings, has raised €1.4 million in funding. The round was led by Nauta Capital, with participation from earlier investors Chris Hitchen, HOWZAT Partners and Roland Zeller. TechCrunch has more here.
PicsArt, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company behind a photo-editing app of the same name, has raised $20 million in new funding from Siguler Guff & Company and DCM Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
PrecisionHawk, a 5.5-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based startup that helps companies use drones for different commercial purposes without getting into airspace where they can’t fly safely or legally, has raised $18 million in Series C funding from Verizon Ventures, insurance giant USAA, NTT Docomo Ventures, Yamaha Motor Ventures and earlier backers Intel Capital, Millennium Technology Value Partners, and the Innovate Indiana Fund. TechCrunch has more here.
Yummy Express, a four-year-old Beijing, China-based logistic services company for online-to-offline food ordering platforms, has raised $20 million in Series C funding led by ClearVue Partners. Asian Venture Capital Journal hasmore here.
Zengaming, a year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based professional network for e-sports gamers, has raised $2.8 million in seed funding led by Crown Resorts, one of Australia’s largest online gaming and entertainment groups. Other investors in the round include NFX Guild, 500 Startups, iAngels, Foundation Capital and angel investors Barak Rabinowitz and Shmueli Ahdut. More here.
Investor Chamath Palihapitiya, the founder of the venture firm Social Capital, is reportedly launching a hedge fund. According to Dan Primack of Fortune, Palihapitiya is launching an umbrella organization called Social Capital PEP Management that will house both Social Capital’s two venture funds and a new long-short public equities effort.
It’s very interesting stuff. During a sit-down with Marc Andreessen in 2013, he’d told us that Andreessen Horowitz had similarly kicked around the idea of doing a hedge fund but decided against it for two reasons. One was the risk that the firm might be called out by the SEC for insider trading. It also held back because of a corporate briefing program it runs that involves more than 150 CIOs and CMOs. As Andreessen said at the time, “It’s an amazing program and they’re really open with us about what their challenges are and what they’re working on and trying to do, and so, if we started to short their stocks…[laughs]…right? We’d basically blow that program up. So we decided we can’t do a hedge fund.”
Some 12,000 Intel workers will lose their jobs by mid-2017, half by the end of this year.
Visa‘s Innovation & Strategic Partnerships (I&SP) organization is looking for a director. The job is in San Francisco.
How being centered around expertise and not products hampers Apple as a services company.
Facebook is reportedly exploring new ways for individual users to profit from their posts on the network.
No one tells the truth when they are negotiating a deal. That’s not necessarily illegal, either.
The secret shame of middle-class Americans.
The highest-paying companies in the U.S.
Bicycles rendered from people’s memories.
The company funding Faraday Future just unveiled its own electric car.