Hi! Happy Monday, everyone. Hope you had a terrific weekend. (Hey, it had to be better than PWC’s, right?)
Top News in the A.M.
The mobile industry’s biggest annual gathering—Mobile World Congress—is well under way in Barcelona. Apple never attends and Samsung has introduced new tablets instead of phones this year; that’s left Huawei and LG vying for attention for their new smartphones. You can find lots more coverage here at TechCrunch.
Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox web browser, just acquired Read It Later, developer of the read-it-later service Pocket. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but founder Nate Weiner will continue to run the company, including to manage his team of 25 people. Recode has more here.
Tesla stock is slipping in price today after Goldman Sachs turned negative on the stock and downgraded its shares to sell from neutral. More here at Bloomberg.
Softbank is in Talks to Invest Up to $4 Billion in WeWork
SoftBank is being linked with an investment that could value WeWork at more than $20 billion.
CNBC reported that the Japanese telco giant is gearing up to make an initial investment of $2 billion into WeWork, with a view to putting nearly $1 billion more into the firm. The publication said the secondary investment could reach $2 billion, which would put SoftBank’s total input at $4 billion overall.
WeWork declined to comment on the report.
So far, the seven-year-old company has raised $1.4 billion from investors.
A source familiar with the situation confirmed that WeWork is in talks with SoftBank over an investment per the report. However, the person added that the Japanese had also held discussions with a view to participating in its $150 million Series C (2013) and $355 million Series D (2014) rounds, deals that SoftBank ultimately did not join.
One gating factor this time around centers on SoftBank’s Vision fund, which is still seeking commitments from investors, and in particular prospective LPs in the Middle East, our source added.
Arrakis, a new Cambridge, Ma.-based company that’s developing two platforms to identify new RNA targets and their small molecule drug counterparts, has raised $38 million in Series A funding led by Canaan Partners, with support from Advent Life Sciences, Pfizer, Celgene Corporation, Osage University Partners and biotech entrepreneur Henri Termeer. MedCity News has more here.
Cherwell Software, a 12-year-old, Colorado Springs, Co.-based IT service management software company, has raised $50 million in fresh funding from KKR‘s $771 million Next Generation Technology Fund. KKR joins earlier investor Insight Venture Partners, which began investing in Cherwell in 2012. TechCrunch has more here.
Congenica, a nearly three-year-old, Cambridge, U.K.-based provider of clinical genome analysis technology, just raised $10 million in Series B funding from Parkwalk Advisors, along with earlier backers Cambridge Innovation Capital and Amadeus Capital Partners. More here.
Cordial, a 2.5-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based company whose software tracks user behavior across apps and sites, then generates marketing emails crafted for those users, has raised $6 million in new funding led by Upfront Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Dealflo, a nearly five-year-old, London-based startup that provides financial agreement automation services, has raised £10 million ($12.4 million) in funding led by Holtzbrinck Ventures, with participation from Notion Capital and Frog Capital. The company says it has now raised raised £13.5 million altogether. More here.
Dubset Media, a nine-year-old, San Francisco, Ca.-based music rights management database, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Cue Ball Capital, with participation from MediaNet, Neoteny 3, Resolute Venture Partners, and Redwood Venture Partners. More here.
Exonics Therapeutics, a newly launched, Boston, Ma.-based biotechnology company that plans to use gene editing technologies like CRISPR to advance the development of a treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, has raised $5 million in seed financing. The capital comes from CureDuchenne Ventures, a subsidiary of the nonprofit CureDuchenne. FierceBiotech has more here.
LeoLabs, a year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based startup that aims to detect, map and help avoid collisions with debris and objects floating in orbit, has raised $4 million in funding from SRI International (from which the company spun out), Horizons Ventures, and Airbus Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Oyo Rooms, a nearly five-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based online marketplace for affordable hotel rooms in the country, is reportedly in talks to raise between $300 million and $500 million from the Softbank Vision Fund. It would be the largest round in India’s startup sector since November 2015. The Economic Times has more here.
POD Point, an eight-year-old, London-based electric vehicle charge point supplier, is raising £9 million ($11.2 million) in funding from Draper Esprit, along with Barclays Capital, which is is providing £2 million of venture debt. In addition, £550,000 in additional equity investment has been raised from angel investors and the company is making £2 million worth of shares available to the public through the equity funding platform Crowdcube. Tech.eu has more here.
Polarity, a 2.5-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based human memory augmentation and collaboration platform (we’re not sure what that means, either), has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Strategic Cyber Ventures, with participation from Ron Gula, founder of Gula Tech Ventures. More here.
Snow, a year-old, South Korea-based Snapchat clone that’s owned by parent company Naver, has sold a meaningful chunk of its business to Line, a now-public messaging service that also counts Naver as its parent company. Line had previously purchased 25 percent of Snow last fall for $45 million; its newest arrangement with the company, for an undisclosed amount of money, brings its stake in Snow to 48.6 percent. TechCrunch has the story here.
Tealium, a nine-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based customer engagement and marketing platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series E funding from Citi Ventures. More here.
Workfit, a months-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company whose virtual assistant technology makes meetings searchable, takes note of decisions, and encourages follow-up on action items, has raised $5.5 million in seed funding from Battery Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Salesforce Ventures and a number of angels. TechCrunch has more here.
Alta Partners, a 19-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm, is looking to raise $200 million for its ninth life sciences-focused fund, shows an SEC filing. The firmclosed its eighth fund with $500 million back in 2006.
Formation Group, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based investment firm, has closed on $121.3 million for its debut fund, shows an SEC filing. Formation was cofounded by Gideon Yu, a former CFO for both Facebook and YouTube. Yu was also a founding member of the venture firm Formation 8, whose members have since gone on to raise separate funds.
Sequoia Capital China and IDG Capital have teamed up with the Chinese travel agency China CYTS Tours Holding to establish a joint fund, reports China Money Network. Though the outlet doesn’t report a target, it says the fund aims to capitalize on China’s fast-growing tourism industry, which is seeing both record numbers of Chinese citizens traveling abroad and foreigners visiting China. More here.
And, not so much a new fund as a notable change at the top: Foxconn is taking over SoftBank’s Asia-based tech investment fund. The manufacturing giant has agreed to buy a majority 54.5 percent stake in SoftBank Asia Capital in exchange for $600 million, according to a filing spied by TechCrunch. The deal is scheduled to go through March 1, after which time SoftBank Asia Capital will no longer be a SoftBank affiliate. More here.
Apple has acquired Realface, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based machine learning startup whose facial recognition technology can be used to authenticate users, for “a couple of millions of dollars,” according to the Times of Israel. More here.
Bloq, a 1.5-year-old, Chicago-based company whose software aims to allow companies to build, manage and scale blockchain-enabled ecosystems, has acquired a blockchain analytics company called Skry — formerly Coinalytics — for undisclosed terms. It’s the first acquisition for Bloq, which hasn’t disclosed outside funding. More here.
HomeHero, a three-year-old, Santa Monica., Ca.-based platform connecting in-home caregivers with clients, has shut down. The company had raised $23 million from investors, including Graham Holdings Company, Social Capital, Tencent Holdings, the Launch Fund, and Science Inc. Cofounder and CEO Kyle Hill says that being forced to switch from a contractor model to paying staffers as W-2 employees killed the company. More here.
It pays to be an Apple board member. According to Apple Insider, an SEC filing on Friday revealed that Al Gore, the former U.S. vice president and climate activist, sold about $30 million in Apple stock last week. Gore, who was appointed to the company’s board in 2003, still owns Apple shares worth $31.5 million, according to the outlet.
Perhaps an on-stage interviewer at the Mobile World Congress was off the grid last week, or perhaps Anthony Levandowski, who sold his company Otto to Uber last year, refused to appear if asked about a new lawsuit from Alphabet that accuses Otto of IP theft. Either way, the allegations were very notably not addressed in a fireside chat earlier today, says TechCrunch. More here.
According to four sources who spoke to the New York Times last week, the reason that Snap’s founders are denying shareholders any say in the running of their company can be traced to dissatisfaction with Jeremy Liew, a venture capitalist with Lightspeed Venture Partners who wrote Spiegel the company’s first check, for $485,000. Here’s why we don’t buy that argument.
According to Fortune’s Erin Griffith, Brian Pham, a principal at Sherpa Capital since 2013, has left the firm to build his own startup in what he calls “consumable” AR. He tells Fortune he hasn’t raised any money yet.
Billionaire Peter Thiel‘s “fingerprints are all over the administration,” reports Politico in a breakdown of where Thiel’s influence is most apparent.
Bolt, the early-stage, hardware-focused venture firm, is looking to bring aboard a VP of finance. The job can be in either San Francisco or Boston.
A quick look at how some of the biggest tech companies stack up when it comes to gender.
China is developing its own digital currency. Bloomberg has the story here.
How Ikea’s Billy bookcase took over the world.
Vanity Fair’s Oscar party pics (including of Elon Musk and his glamorous mother, Apple’s Jony Ive, sisters Anne and Susan Wojcicki, actress-founder Jessica Alba, Recode’s Kara Swisher and many others).
For busy, frazzled home cooks, this is a magical pot, says Bloomberg.