Well, our team couldn’t pull off a win last night, but we wholeheartedly agree with Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who told an interviewer yesterday that last night’s game was “one of the best games anybody is ever going to watch.” It truly was. And now we return to staring blankly out a window. [Sigh.]
Hope you’re having a happy Thursday, everyone.:)
Top News in the A.M.
In an earnings call yesterday, Facebook showed Wall Street that even with more than 1 billion users, it can still post blockbuster growth. But one of the main drivers of its expansion will taper off next year, an executive said.
Yesterday, the Fed signaled plans to hike interest rates next month for the first time this year.
A court ruled today that any Brexit plan will have to be approved by all U.K. lawmakers, which has potentially changed the outlook for the country’s split with Europe.
In Labdoor, Floodgate Sees an E-Commerce Giant in Disguise
Fish oil. Protein shakes. Vitamin D pills. The packages look alike. Does it matter which you buy? It certainly does, according to Labdoor, a four-year-old, South San Francisco-based startup that tests about 50 supplements and energy drinks each month that it buys off retail shelves, then ranks for consumers.
What it finds might intrigue you. Vitamin C degrades in water, for example, so any water-based Vitamin C tablets are basically worthless. More than a quarter of fish oil products are rancid on the shelves, even when their expiration date may be two years out. Many protein powders don’t live up to their claims, either. Some are largely composed of amino acids rather than the 100 percent whey protein isolate advertised on the label. Others contain so much sodium that consumers confuse bloating for muscle mass.
Why are these things allowed? FDA loopholes, says Labdoor founder and CEO Neil Thanedar, who says that in the case of protein powders, for example, manufacturers need only test the nitrogen content of their product. And to a nitrogen test, amino acids and why protein isolate look the same.
Thanedar, who studied chemistry and molecular biology at the University of Michigan, seems almost destined to be taking on the $36 billion-dollar-per-year supplements industry. He says his father, Shri, ran testing labs his entire life, and he was intrigued from a young age in the science behind the labs. In fact, though his father had retired by the time Thanedar was graduating from college, he pulled him back into the business. “I decided I wanted to start a lab instead of get a job, so I kind of wrangled him in and we ran it together for three years and now he runs that lab independently” in Michigan, says Thanedar.
The reason he left to start Labdoor, he says, centers on the work the lab did for supplement companies, many of which looked to sabotage their competitors by sending competing products for testing. “They’d ship stuff and ask what’s wrong with it. We’d see energy drinks with caffeine levels that featured well over 200 milligrams per each two-once shot, or protein products with lead, or fish oil with half as much omega-3 [fatty acids] as companies were claiming.”
While lucrative, Thanedar saw an opportunity to cater to customers and let them know what, exactly, it is that they’re ingesting.
Investors are gobbling it up, too. Labdoor just closed on $3.4 million in Series A funding led by Floodgate, with participation from Correlation Ventures, Fyrfly, Zeno Ventures, Heroic VC, and Seabed VC. The company has now raised $6.6 million altogether, including from seed investors Mark Cuban, Rock Health, and Y Combinator. (Labdoor passed through Rock Health and Y Combinator’s accelerator programs in 2012 and 2015, respectively.)
Atomized, a three-year-old Atlanta, Ga.-based visual content marketing calendar for brands and creative agencies, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding, including from Paul Ollinger, a former West Coast sales VP at Facebook. More here.
Catchpoint, an eight-year-old, New York-based digital performance analytics platform, has raised $22.5 million in Series C funding led by Sapphire Ventures, with participation from earlier backer Battery Ventures. More here.
Convertr Media, a five-year-old, London-based customer acquisition management company, has raised £3 million ($3.7 million) in Series A funding from Albion Ventures. More here.
DJiT, the 7.5-year-old, Paris-based startup behind a popular DJ app and, more recently, a hardware device called Mixfader, has raised $2.6 million co-led by XLR Capital and Bpifrance, with participation from individuals who include David Guetta’s manager Jean-Charles Carré and DJ Martin Solveig. TechCrunch has more here.
The Future Group, a three-year-old, Oslo, Norway-based social entertainment platform that blends virtual interactivity with TV, has raised $20 million in Series C funding from Ferd and Aker ASA, along with dozens of angel investors. Tech.eu has more here.
German Autolabs, a seven-month-old, Berlin-based startup that’s using AI to develop speech and gesture recognition software to keep drivers safe on the road, has raised €2 million ($2.2 million) in seed funding from Target Partnersand business angels. Tech.eu has more here.
Gousto, a four-year-old, London-based startup that delivers recipe ingredients to allow users to create meals at home, has raised £10 million ($12.5 million) in new funding from BGF Ventures, Unilever Ventures, MMC Ventures, Angel CoFund, and Barclays. More here.
Hollar, a year-old, Santa Monica Ca.-based startup offering dollar store-like finds in the form of a mobile app, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with participation by Comcast Ventures, Greycroft Partners, and earlier backers Lightspeed Venture Partners, Index Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, and Pritzker Group. The company has now raised $47.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Indio, a five-month-old, San Francisco-based commercial insurance platform for brokers, has raised $2 million in seed funding from New Enterprise Associates, Compound, Merus Capital, 500 Startups, and insurance carrier Hiscox. Insurance Journal has more here.
ObEN, a 2.5-year-old, Pasadena, Ca.-based developer of artificial intelligence technology to combine a person’s image and voice to create virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, has raised $7.7 million in Series A funding led by CrestValue Capital, with participation from Cybernaut Westlake Partners, Leaguer Venture Investment, Third Wave Digital, Dream Maker Entertainment, CEO Gordon Cheng, Cameron Pace Group China and Idealab. More here.
Owlet Baby Care, a 3.5-year-old, Lehi, Ut.-based maker of a baby monitor that includes heart rate and oxygen level measurements, has raised $15 million from the National Institutes of Health, Trilogy Equity Partners, the Amazon Alexa Fund, RTP-HC, Capital Integral, Broadway Angels, and earlier backers Eclipse and Eniac. The company has now raised $25 million altogether. More here.
pi-top, a two-year-old, London-based learn-to-code startup, has raised £3.5 million ($4.3 million) in Series A funding led by Hambro Perks, with participation from Committed Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
PlushCare, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based telehealth company that invites patients to be diagnosed, treated, and prescribed medication by U.S. doctors via phone, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by GGV Capital, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Exponent. Vator has more here.
Recondo, a 10-year-old, Greenwood Village, Co.-based company that makes revenue cycle management software, has raised $16 million in debt and equity. The round was led by Lemhi Ventures, with Bridge Capital serving as the debt partner. More here.
SatixFy, a four-year-old, Israel-based satellite communications startup that’s designing its own silicon chips, has raised $25 million led by Catalyst CEL Fund. Reuters has more here.
Silvair, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based smart lighting platform, has raised $12 million in Series A funding from Trigon TFI, Digital Garage, CyberAgent Ventures, and New Europe Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Zarget, a 1.5-year-old, Walnut, Ca.-based marketing automation platform, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia India, with participation from earlier backers Accel Partners and Matrix Partners. VentureBeat has more here.
Zipongo, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based personalized digital nutrition platform, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Mayfield, with participation from Excel Venture Management.The company has now raised $28 million altogether. More here.
Jubilee Capital Management, a year-old, Singapore-based cross-border venture firm that looks for deals in the U.S., China, and Asia Pacific, has held a first close of $30 million on a fund that is targeting $100 million. DealStreetAsia has more here.
Relay Ventures, a 10-year-old, Toronto- and Menlo Park, Ca.-based early-stage venture firm, has closed its third fund with $150 million in commitments. It had closed its previous fund with the same amount in 2012. We have more here for you over at TechCrunch.
Rocket Internet-backed food delivery business Foodpanda is divesting yet more of its international holdings. Today the company announced that it would sell Russian Delivery Club, its operations in Russia, to Mail.Ru Group for $100 million. TechCrunch has more here.
Intel has made another acquisition to build out its virtual reality strategy and business: the chip giant has acquired a startup called VOKE, which specializes in immersive sports video experiences and counts both Intel and the Sacramento Kings among its investors. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.
Marvell Technology Group, a Santa Clara-based fabless chip company, plans to cut 900 jobs, from 5,300, and sell off non-core assets in an effort to bring its costs down. The Silicon Valley Business Journal has more here.
Alphabet chair Eric Schmidt helped early development of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, according to newly released emails from WikiLeaks, suggesting the company could retain close ties to a Clinton White House. The WSJ has more here.
SeedInvest, a three-year-old equity crowdfunding platform, is looking to hire a director to lead its venture capital sourcing team in New York. More here.
Amazon’s investment in its own private label products has been paying off, according to new data out today.
Wing VC digs into the state of the IoT industry, taking a look at the 2335 deals that took place between early 2103 and August to suss out where we are and what’s coming.
Google‘s “Home” is here, and it wants to kick Amazon’s Echo to the street.
Stealing a page from Apple, Slack took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to welcome its new competitor, Microsoft.
Why light bulbs may be the next hacker target.
Honest diversity in tech report.
Oh, baby pandas are such little rascals.
Top designers’ favorite notebooks.
Quadsaw. (Can someone explain to us how this thing works?)