Hi, happy Wednesday! Hope yours is going well.:)
Alibaba Group said today that it plans to invest more than $15 billion over the next three years into a global, moonshot-idea-building R&D initiative called Alibaba DAMO Academy. TechCrunch has more here.
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Icon Ventures Raises Its Biggest Fund (By a Smidgen)
Funds have been ballooning in size as more money continues to flood into Silicon Valley, looking for higher returns than can be found elsewhere. VCs also like raising progressively bigger funds because doing so gives them bragging rights. In fact, over the last 24 months, the narrative has been much the same: So-and-so team has raised more money than ever before.
Some of these so-and-sos have included Accel Partners, which raised a record $2 billion last year; Canaan Partners, which raised a record $800 million in July; and Institutional Venture Partners, which closed its biggest fund yet last month, with $1.5 billion.
Now Icon Ventures, a 14-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture capital firm, has closed its sixth fund with $265 million in commitments — its largest fund to date, if just by a smidgen, having closed it last fund with $260 million in 2014.
Some profitable bets surely helped. Icon began helping to fund the cybersecurity company FireEye at its Series B round; the company went on to raise three more rounds of funding before going public in 2013. It has performed solidly, if not spectacularly, since. Its shares debuted at $36 apiece; they currently trade at $17 per share, giving the company a market cap of roughly $3.2 billion.
Icon also invested in the Series C round of network security firm Palo Alto Networks, which has soared as a publicly traded company. When it IPO’d in 2012, its shares debuted at $42 apiece. Today, its shares trade at $147 dollars, and the company is valued at $13.7 billion.
Attivo Networks, a six-year-old, Fremont, Ca.-based maker of so-called deception-based detection technology, has raised $21 million in Series C funding led by Trident Capital Cybersecurity, with participation from earlier backers Bain Capital Ventures andOmidyar Technology Ventures. The company has now raised $45.7 million altogether. More here.
Brilliant, a two-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based startup whose tech aims to give consumers voice and touch control over lighting, music, climate, and other smart home products, has raised $21 million in Series A funding led by August Capital, with participation fromMiramar Ventures, The Box Group, and the Stanford-StartX Fund. More here.
Diandian Yangche, a three-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based start up offering a range of painting and cleaning services for cars in more than 20 Chinese cities (it also more recently jumped into the auto nsurance business), has raised “tens of millions of dollars” of Series C+ funding, including from investors GGV Capital, GSR Ventures,Garden Ventures, and Magic Stone Alternative. The company had closed on $60 million in Series C funding in 2015. More here.
eShares, a five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that’s trying to modernize the way private companies manage and interact with their shareholders and optionholders, has raised $42 million in Series C funding led by Menlo Ventures and Social Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
Gaiya Environment, a young, Suzhou, China-based maker of environmental protection sensors and other tech, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Qiming Venture Partners. China Money Network has more here.
Honest Buildings, a five-year-old, New York-based maker of construction management software for landlords and developers — it helps them manage and solicit bids from contractors and oversee budgets — has raised $13 million in a Series B funding. Investors include Brookfield Property Partners, Rudin Management, C-III Capital Partners, Navitas Capital, Greensoil Building Innovation Fund, Bienville Capital Management, and Riverpark Funds. Earlier backers The Westly Group, Rockport Capital,Circle Ventures and Thrive Capital also joined the round. The RealDeal has more here.
Impossible Objects, a six-year-old, Northbrook, Il.-based company that says it has developed a completely new 3D printing technology, has raised $6.4 million in funding led by earlier investor OCA Ventures of Chicago. Other investors in the round include Idea Fund Partners, Mason Avenue Investments, Huizenga Capital Management, and Inflection Equity Partners. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here.
Lalamove, a four-year-old, Hong Kong-based intra-city delivery company that connects hundreds of thousands of customers with tens of thousands of professional vans, motorcycles, and truck drivers, has raised $100 million in new financing at a valuation that’s “just shy of the $1 billion mark,” reports TechCrunch.ShunWei Capital led the round, with participation from earlier backers, including Xiang He Capital and MindWorks Ventures.More here.
MioTech, a young, Hong Kong- and Shanghai, China-based financial tech startup that’s developing artificial intelligence-based software for investment managers, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Horizons Ventures, with participation from returning investor Zhenfund. TechCrunch has more here.
NumberAI, a year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based company whose technology enables small businesses to digitize their landline numbers and thus make interacting with customers easier, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from DFJ. TechCrunch has more here.
Ola, a six-year-old, Bangalore-based ride-hailing company, has closed $1.1 billion in fresh financing. That’s the largest funding round in its history and its first major raise since November 2015, when it closed $500 million from investors. China’s Tencent is a new backer and the lead investor of the round. SoftBank, an existing Ola investor, also chipped into the round. TechCrunch has more here.
Ometria, a four-year-old, London-based AI-powered customer marketing platform, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led bySummit Action. TechCrunch has more here.
Ross Intelligence, a two-year-old, Toronto-based platform that helps legal teams sort through case law to find details relevant to new cases, has raised $8.7 million in Series A funding led iNovia Capital, with participation from Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund,Y Combinator Continuity Fund, Real Ventures, NextLaw Labsand angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Withlocals, a four-year-old, Netherlands-based startup that operates a marketplace for personalized travel experiences, has raised $4.2 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Inkef Capital, an Amsterdam-headquartered venture firm. TechCrunch has more here.
(Other) New Funds
Arab Angel Fund, a two-year-old, seed and Series A stage investment fund, says it has closed its debut fund with $25 million in capital commitments from 65 private family offices and individual investors from a wide swath of Middle Eastern countries. The outfit invests in tech startups that launch in North America but are interested in expanding into the Middle East. Entrepreneur has more here.
HelloFresh, the Berlin-based cooking kit delivery company, says it plans to raise up to $353 million in an IPO on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The move would value HelloFresh at up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in the public markets — below the its private market valuation of 2 billion euros. More here.
Symantec CEO Greg Clark tells Reuters that company is no longer allowing governments to review the source code of its software out of fear they might compromise the security of its products.
Lightspeed Venture Partners has brought aboard a marketing and spiritual guru named Tara-Nicholle Nelson as an entrepreneur in residence to work on her next big project. VentureBeat has more here.
eBay founder Pierre Omidyar argues that social media has become a threat to democracy in six key ways.
Mobile shopping is on the rise, with U.S. consumers now spending nearly 50 minutes in shopping apps per month, or 10 hours per year, according to a new report out this morning from App Annie. Digital-first shopping apps, like those from Amazon, Etsy, Wish and others, are also growing more quickly in terms of total sessions and monthly usage, compared to shopping apps from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, the report also found. TechCrunch has much more here.
The venture investments of Yale University seem to be faring pretty well. The endowment said yesterday that it returned 11.3 percent for the fiscal year ended June 30, bringing its value to $27.2 billion. That’s up from 7.1 percent from the year before. By asset class, reports Pensions & Investments, Yale’s 20-year annualized returns were venture capital, 106.3 percent; natural resources, 15.2 percent; foreign equities, 14.1 percent; leveraged buyouts, 12.6 percent; domestic equities, 12.2 percent; real estate, 10.3 percent; and absolute return, 8.9 percent. More here.
File-sharing giant Dropbox has signed the biggest lease in San Francisco history, an agreement for 736,000 square feet, the entirety of a new office complex under construction in the southwest corner of Mission Bay. (Expensive gamble. Good luck, Dropbox!)
A device that Google gave to reporters at a launch event almost constantly recorded them, owing to a “glitch.”
The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits academics.
What makes someone “most beautiful” is changing, suggests a new report.
Elliot and E Corp are coming back. (Yesss.)
A $199 Oculus headset. It ships next year.