Happy Thursday! We had *so much fun* last night. Thank you, everyone who made it to the party. Huge thanks, too, to our speakers, who were candid, amusing, informative and, much to our enjoyment, not afraid to throw a lil’ shade here and there. Specifically, thanks to Megan Quinn of Spark Capital, Jules Maltz of IVP, Alex Rodrigues of Embark, Marco Santori of Cooley, Stan Miroshnik of Element Group, Beezer Clarkson of Sapphire Ventures, Michael Kim of Cendana Capital, Sarah McBride of Bloomberg, and Lora Kolodny of CNBC.
Thanks again, too, to our highly appreciated sponsors Ballou PR, Bolt, and Rosebud Communications.
We’re still recovering today, but we’ll let you know about our first event of 2018 as soon as we figure it out. In the meantime, pictures and content coming soon!
Top News in the A.M.
Twitter may have been used even more extensively than Facebook as a tool for Russian interference.
TaskRabbit, the on-demand platform for hiring people to tackle all kinds of tasks, including assembling furniture, has been acquired by Ikea, renowned maker of frustrating-to-assemble furniture. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but TaskRabbit had raised nearly $40 million from VCs, including Shasta Ventures, Founders Fund, Floodgate and others. TechCrunch has more here.
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A Quick Look at the Evolving Software Engineering Jobs Market
Hired, a recruiting platform that connects companies with tech talent, published a new report this week on the state of software engineering jobs that suggests contract workers can make more than full-time software engineers.
According to its data, which comes from 175,000 interview requests from 10,000 companies on the platform (they have to state how much they are willing to pay an applicant early on in the process), the average 1099 tech contractor currently commands $71 per hour; that comes out to $147,680 a year, assuming a 40-hour work week.
In comparison, full-time tech workers make on average $122,762 per year.
Of course, freelance work is often uneven, even for software engineers. Having to pay for one’s benefits, including insurance and retirement, is costly, too. And no one covers contractors’ vacation time. Any time off means lost wages.
That could be one reason that companies are increasingly looking for contract workers, acknowledges Hired CEO Mehul Patel, who we spoke with earlier this week. He tells us Hired has seen a “quadrupling” of companies that are open to hiring freelancers.
Still, he doesn’t agree that in all, or even most, cases, hiring companies are trying to keep from paying for costly benefits and vacation packages.
Anchor, a two-year-old, New York-based audio broadcasting platform, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by GV, with participation from Accel Partners, The Chernin Group, Eniac Ventures, Homebrew, Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman and others. The company has now raised $15 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Doing Now, a Beijing-based sports training group, has raised $75 million in Series A funding led by Yao Capital. China Money Network has more here.
Heetch, a four-year-old, Paris, France-based ride-sharing app that’s available to use in a growing number of European cities, has raised $12 million in funding led by Felix Capital, Alven Capital, and Via HD. Tech.eu has more here.
LetGo, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that has built a fast-growing mobile marketplace for people to buy and sell used goods, has quietly raised another $100 million in funding at a valuation of more than $1 billion, reports TechCrunch. The round reportedly involves earlier investors; these include 14W, Accel Partners, Eight Roads Ventures, FJ Labs, Insight Venture Partners, Mangrove, Naspers, New Enterprise Associates, NextView and Northzone. The company has now raised $375 million altogether. More here.
Onfido, a five-year-old, London-based company that makes identity verification software, has raised $30 million in new funding led by Crane Venture Partners, with participation from Microsoft Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. More here.
Qingting FM, a six-year-old, Shanghai, China-based audio content platform that covers news, finance, education and more, has raised $150 million in Series E funding co-led by We Capital and Baidu, with participation from China Minsheng Investment Group, Shenzhen Guozhong Venture Capital and Genimous Technology.
Suishou, an eight-year-old, Shenzhen, China-based Chinese personal finance management platform, has raised $200 million in Series C funding led by KKR‘s Asian Fund III, which it closed with $9.3 billion back in June. China Money Network has more here.
VoxelCloud, a 1.5-year-old, L.A.-based company that’s using cloud computing and AI to help medical practitioners better interpret medical images and clinical data, has raised $15 million in Series A-plus funding led by Tencent Holdings. The company had raised $10 million from Sequoia Capital just four months ago. More here.
Yooji, a five-year-old, France-based organic baby food startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Danone. The deal marks the fourth investment in a year for Danone Manifesto Ventures, the company’s venture arm, founded last year. Reuters has more here.
According to Axios, former Airbnb CFO Andrew Swain, who spent two years in the role and left in 2014, is forming a new venture fund with a former Airbnb director of product, Jonathan Golden, who left the company in July after a six-year run. Their firm is called Designed Partners, and they’re reportedly looking to raise $60 million. Looks like they have a placeholder site here.
Redpoint Ventures, the 18-year-old, Bay Area venture firm, is raising up to $400 million for its third growth fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm closed its first growth fund with $250 million in 2007 and its second, a $400 million vehicle, in late 2011.
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Lyft is close to hiring an IPO advisory firm, in the first concrete step by the second biggest U.S. ride service company to become publicly listed, reports Reuters. More here.
Nightstar Therapeutics, a four-year-old, London-based gene therapy company focused on rare inherited retinal diseases, raised $75 million in its IPO. The company priced 5.4 million shares at $14 per share and began trading on Nasdaq today. (It’s right now trading at around $21.50.) The biggest outside shareholders in the company (as of this morning) were New Enterprise Associates and Wellington Management.
NuCana, a 20-year-old, UK-based developer of cancer therapeutics, has raised $100 million in its IPO. The company priced 6.7 million shares at $15 per share for an initial market cap of around $526 million. The company began trading on Nasdaq this morning and its share price is right now $16ish per share. Its biggest outside shareholders heading into the offering were Sofinnova Ventures, Morningside Ventures and Scottish Enterprise.
Video streaming pioneer Roku is off to the races since going public on the stock market. After pricing its IPO shares at $14, the company’s shares began trading at $15.78 per share this morning and they’re now above $18 apiece, a jump of roughly 30 percent. TechCrunch has more here.
Daimler — the German car giant that owns Mercedes-Benz among other brands — has made one more acquisition to further its reach in ridesharing, acquired Flinc, a startup also out of Germany that has built a platform and app for peer-to-peer-style carpooling. Six-year-old Flinc had raised an undisclosed amount of money, including from General Motors Ventures. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has the story here.
Naspers is paying $7775 million to acquire half of Rocket Internet’s stake in Delivery Hero, the meal delivery company that went public in June. The deal increase Naspers’s stake in the company to 23.6 percent. TechCrunch has more here.
The parent company of the Tokyo-based games giant Nexon has acquired Korea’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange, Korbit, in a deal that values it at just over $120 million. TechCrunch has more here.
Newly public emails show how former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick angered regulators when he visited London in 2014.
Here’s everything that Amazon announced yesterday.
In what’s being seen as a huge endorsement for cryptocurrencies, Fidelity Investments CEO Abigail Johnson said at a blockchain conference that Fidelity will soon allow its clients to see on its site their holdings of bitcoin and other virtual currencies held on digital asset exchange Coinbase.
How Adidas’s American revival turned into a scandal.
Sending all good juju to Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
A GoPro. But this time, it’s black!