Top News in the A.M.
Erp. Facebook said this morning it has uncovered several more flawed measurements related to how consumers interact with content, raising more questions about the metrics marketers lean on to decide whether to buy ads on the social media network. The WSJ has more here.
Zwift Raises $27 Million to Make Indoor Athletics More Social
If you haven’t heard of Zwift, founded two years ago in Long Beach, Ca., you aren’t alone. But investors have been following the company. Its massive, multiplayer video game technology, which caters to indoor cyclists, just attracted $27 million in Series A funding in a round that brings Zwift’s total funding to $45 million.
The round was led by the private equity firm Novator Partners out of London, with participation from Shasta Ventures, entrepreneur Max Levchin, and earlier backers, including the Swiss investment firm Waypoint and Samchully, a maker of bicycle parts that’s headquartered in Korea.
What are they tracking, exactly? Well, a 70-person company that’s been quietly establishing an avid following by merging gaming, indoor cycling and social elements and changing the way that people get fit during colder months and inclement weather.
Indeed, among Zwift’s appealing aspects is users’ ability to connect with friends and strangers around the globe for “virtual” group rides and races, which current users often log using the popular cycling and running app Strava. That integration also enables users to see a map of the virtual path they’ve ridden, along with their incline stats and other performance information, like heart rate and cadence. And, like Strava, Zwift users can earn awards and badges — as when they zip through a sprint section the fastest.
Zwift doesn’t cost a fortune, either. In fact, a large part of its appeal is its affordability. It’s a little like a gamified Peloton, except that users needn’t buy a $2,000 stationary bike to get started. They can use the bikes they already own, along with their own trainers (which turn road bikes into stationary bikes). The cost? Just $10 per month, though it’s worth noting that users need to have “smart” trainers that can wirelessly interact with third-party software like Zwift’s. (These can run from $100 to $1,500.)
(Other) New Fundings
BetterUp, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile career coaching platform, has raised $12.9 million in Series A funding led by DFJ, with participation from SVAngel, Freestyle, and others. More here.
East Meets East, a three-year-old, New York-based dating service for Asians in the U.S., has raised $1 million in funding from 500 Startups, East Ventures, the Japanese games firm DeNA, iSGS Investment Works, and Shintaro Yamada, who founded the Japan-based unicorn Mercari. TechCrunch has more here.
Echo, a 1.5-year-old, London-based company whose app simplifies the process of ordering prescriptions, has raised £1.8 million ($2.2 million) in seed funding led by LocalGlobe, with participation from Global Founders Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
Firefly Learning, a seven-year-old, London-based edtech company behind a SaaS-based teaching and learning support platform for schools, has raised £4.5 million ($5.6 million) in Series A funding led by BGF Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
LeShi, the 12-year-old, Beijing-based parent company of LeEco, has raised $600 million in funding from 10 Chinese companies, and an initial, $300 million tranche will go to LeEco. It needs it, it admitted recently. More here.
Magenta Therapeutics, a months-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech startup that’s developing stem cell and bone marrow-based therapeutics, has raised $48.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Third Rock Ventures and Atlas Venture. More here.
Mavenlink, an eight-year-old Irvine, Ca.-based software platform that helps businesses do work with distributed teams, contractors, and clients, has raised $39 million in Series D funding led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity. The company has now raised $84 million to date. More here.
Mobalytics, a nine-month-old, L.A.-based startup that produces personal performance analytics for competitive League of Legends gamers, has raised $2.6 million in seed funding from Almaz Capital, Founders Fund, General Catalyst Partners and GGV Capital. The young startup had won TechCrunch’s Battlefield Disrupt competition in September. More here.
MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings, an eight-year-old, Seattle-based “fast-casual” pizza store franchise, has raised $42 million in funding led by Fidelity Management & Research Company and PWP Growth Equity. It’s the second round of funding this year for the company, which has now raised $150 million altogether. More here.
Now Interact, a six-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based company that says its machine learning platform bridges the gap for ecommerce companies between online and offline channels, has raised $5 million in Series A funding co-led by SEB Venture Capital and Inventure, with participation from earlier backer Industrifonden. Tech.eu has more here.
PageCloud, a two-year-old, Ottawa, Ontario-based browser-based website-creation service, has raised $4 million in a Series A round from Accomplice, the trade-finance agency Export Development Canada, and angel investors that include Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, former Salesforce VP Avanish Sahai, and former LinkedIn VP Ellen Levy. The company has now raised $8.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Phononic, an eight-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based company whose patented solid-state cooling and refrigeration technology aims to replace older refrigeration systems, has added $40 million to a Series E round that originally closed in September. Investors in the extension round included UBS’s wealth management businesses, GGV Capital, Lookout Capital, Eastwood Capital, Venrock, Oak Investment Partners, Tsing Capital, Huaneng Invesco WL Ross, Wellcome Trust and Rex Healthcare Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Royole, a three-year-old, Freemont, Ca.-based maker of flexible displays, sensors, and smart devices, raised $80 million in pre-Series D funding from Warmsun Holding Group. The investment values the company at around $3 billion. FinSMEs has more here.
SeaLights, a year-old Israel-based continuous testing platform for quality assurance cycles, has raised $11 million in funding led by TLV Partners, with participation from Blumberg Capital and Oren Zeev. Tech.eu has more here.
Scroll, a six-month-old, New York-based digital subscription service that allows users to read ad-free content from multiple publishers, raised $3 million in funding from SoftTech VC, OATV, Axel Springer, News Corp and the New York Times. Recode has more here.
Skedulo, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile workforce scheduling app, raised $9.2 million in new funding led by Costanoa Venture Capital, with participation from earlier backer Blackbird Ventures. More here.
Spoiler Alert, a 1.5-year-old, Boston-based maker of enterprise software that helps manufacturers and farms put excess food inventory to good use, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Acre Venture Partners, with participation from Valley Oak Investments, LaunchCapital, Fresh Source Capital, and FTW Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
WeFarm, a year-old, U.K.-based peer-to-peer network that enables small-scale farmers to access and share agricultural information, even when their internet access is limited, has raised $1.6 million (£1.3 million) in seed funding led byLocalGlobe. TechCrunch has more here.
Womply, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that makes front office software for small and mid-size businesses, has raised $30 million in new funding led by Sageview Capital, with participation from (unnamed) earlier backers. More here.
Intel Capital will be investing $250 million in autonomous driving over the next two years, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced yesterday at the L.A. Auto Show. More here.
Qufenqi, a two-year-old, China-based platform that invites university students to borrow money to buy goods and pay back the loans in monthly installments, is reportedly planning to raise between $500 million and $800 million in a U.S. IPO in the first half of next year. The company is backed by Ant Financial, BlueRun Ventures and Source Code Capital, among others. China Money Network has more here.
Virtual Instruments, an eight-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based privately held infrastructure performance management company, has acquired Xangati, a San Jose-based hybrid cloud and virtualization performance management company. Terms aren’t being disclosed. According to CrunchBase, Xangati had raised $21.7 million in funding from investors including Alloy Ventures, Citrix Systems, HighBar Partners and Walden International. SD Times has more here.
Google just hired some artificial intelligence hotshots into its cloud computing business. Fortune has more here.
Andy Page, who joined the personal genomics company 23andMe in 2013 as president, is leaving the company, reports Recode. The outlet says it’s unclear where Page is going. More here.
John Weinberg, formerly a top corporate adviser at Goldman Sachs, is moving to a newer Wall Street firm — Evercore Partners — and he’s taking one of its most senior posts. Dealbook has more here.
Perhaps you’ve heard: Snap confidentially filed paperwork for an IPO that may value the popular messaging platform at as much as $25 billion and is expected to take place as early as March. The WSJ has more here.
Airbnb could slow down the growth in hotel revenues by almost double what Morgan Stanley analysts previously thought, say these same analysts. Business Insider has more here.
Twitter has suspended a number of accounts associated with the alt-right movement, saying it will shut down any account that features targeted abuse and harassment. USA Today has more here.
The two Americas of 2016.
Yikes. Apps just drove the biggest spike in traffic deaths in 50 years.
These professors make more than $1,000 an hour pedding mega mergers. Their predictions are often wrong, too.
Black slate wallpaper (for that contrast wall, maybe?).