Hi, everyone! Happy Monday. No time for a column today, alas, but you can check out our Disrupt chat with famed entrepreneur-investor Niklas Zennstrom to learn about whether Europe really needs more capital, as well as about the flying car company that his venture firm, Atomico, just funded. (Yes, Virginia, they are coming.) In another hour or so, we’re headed back on stage to talk with some American investors about how the shifting political landscapes both in the U.S. and in Europe are impacting their work. More on that tomorrow!
Top News in the A.M.
Uber has acquired an AI startup, Geometric Intelligence, and it’s appointing the startup’s founders as co-directors of a new in-house research arm on artificial intelligence that aims to make self-driving cars more efficient. Terms of the deal aren’t being closed. The New York Times has more here.
Datrium, a four-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based server-powered storage system, has raised $55 million in Series C funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners, as well as a third, unnamed outside investor. The company has now raised $110 million altogether. More here.
Lemonade, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based insurance carrier that offers homeowners and renters insurance powered by AI and behavioral economics, has raised $33 million in funding, according to an SEC filing. Business Insider has more here.
Lilium Aviation, a nearly two-year-old, Munich, Germany-based startup that’s developing a short-haul private plane that takes off vertically and aims to travel roughly 185 miles on a single charge, has raised $10.7 million in Series A funding led by Atomico. The company had earlier raised a seed round of funding led by e42. TechCrunch has more here.
Mariana, a three-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.- and Bengaluru, India-based marketing automation startup, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Exfinity Venture Partners. More here.
MedNet Solutions, a 15-year-old, Minnetonka, Mn.-based company whose software supports clinical studies and more, has raised $16.5 million in its second round of funding led by Arrowroot Capital. Cohesive Capital Partners also joined the round, along with earlier backers. More here.
Zero Latency, a three-year-old, Melbourne, Australia-based virtual reality startup, has raised roughly $5.2 million in U.S. dollars from Thorney Investment Group, Contango Asset Management and Regal Funds Management. The Australian has more here.
New York-based ff Venture Capital is raising $150 million for a new fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm had raised $53.8 million for its fourth seed-stage venture fund earlier this year.
The University of Chicago is designating $25 million from its endowment to invest alongside established venture funds in startups led by faculty, students, staff and alumni. More here.
There are rumors swirling that British cybersecurity firm Darktrace is weighing up an IPO, but its European CEO, Poppy Gustafsson insists there are no “immediate plans.” While speaking at Disrupt earlier today, Gustafsson said flatly “no” when asked whether the company planned to hold an IPO in 2017. Business Insider has more here.
The 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based meal-kit maker Din quietly closed in October after being unable to land follow-on funding. According to CrunchBase, the company had raised $3 million in seed funding, including from Accel Partners, Slow Ventures, and Harrison Metal. The WSJ has more here.
Madison Logic, a seven-year-old, New York-based maker of marketing software, has been acquired by the private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners for undisclosed terms. Madison Logic appears to have been bootstrapped. More here.
Blackbird Ventures co-founder Bill Bartee is leaving the firm to head a new $200 million innovation fund sponsored by the Australian government in Canberra. Business Insider has more here.
The fifth annual Breakthrough Prize ceremony was held last night, and it delivered awards to 14 superstar scientists. Here’s who won what.
David Sacks is stepping down as the CEO of Zenefits, a role he took back in February when the company forced its founder and original CEO, Parker Conrad to resign over numerous improprieties. Sacks told employees on Friday that he’s taking over as chairman; in the meantime, the WSJ is reporting that he’s expected to assist an old pal from their PayPal days together — Peter Thiel — with the transition team of incoming U.S. president Donald Trump. (A Zenefits spokeswoman denied this in speaking with the WSJ, but we wouldn’t be completely be shocked. Though Sacks wrote a check to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, campaign records show that his wife donated to Trump’s campaign.)
Speaking of Peter Thiel: At a lavish costume party on Long Island on Saturday night that was hosted by hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer, Thiel reportedly sported one of the evening’s most talked-about costumes; he arrived dressed as professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media was secretly (then later famously) financed by Thiel. Bloomberg has more here.
We told you last month that Brian Wallace, the former chief marketing officer for Magic Leap, had quietly left the secretive VR company in November. Now Recode is reporting that he’s heading over to a new project led by Android cofounder Andy Rubin. More here.
Obvious Ventures is looking to hire a senior associate who will work closely with firm cofounder Andrew Beebe. The job is in San Francisco. To apply, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new letter submitted by Apple to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the clearest indication yet of Apple’s ongoing interest in and knowledge of autonomous vehicles. VentureBeat has more here.
Volkswagen Group is making a significant bet on future mobility services with Moia, a new separate company that will exist under the VW umbrella of brands focused specifically on providing mobility solutions, including fleet-based commuter shuttles and, eventually, autonomous on-demand transportation. TechCrunch has the story here.
Gett, the New York-based on-demand transportation company, just rolled out a carpooling service. More here.
Zenefits lost $200 million last year. More here.
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