|Well, hello! Happy Wednesday, everyone.:)|
|Facebook is starting to roll out new data privacy settings thanks to a law out of Europe. Here’s what you need to know. And here’s what should concern you.|
|Basis, a Year-Old Startup Developing a Price-Stable Cryptocurrency, Just Raised $133 Million from VCs|
|If you own any Bitcoin, you’re probably in the habit of watching its price fluctuate wildly. What you aren’t doing is using your Bitcoin to buy things. It’s too valuable, not to mention unpredictable. |
Enter Basis, a year-old, 10-person, Hoboken, N.J.-based cryptocurrency startup at work on a “stable coin” whose elastic supply will ostensibly expand and contract to keep its value at about a dollar instead of all over the map. The company’s big idea: to develop a new token that people will actually use, instead of use to speculate.
Investors apparently love what Basis is cooking up. The upstart is announcing today that it has raised a somewhat stunning $133 million in funding from Bain Capital Ventures, GV, longtime hedge fund manager Stan Druckenmiller, one-time Federal Reserve governor Kevin Warsh, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Foundation Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, WingVC, NFX Ventures, Valor Capital, Zhenfund, Ceyuan, Sky Capital, Digital Currency Group and others.
Reuters reported on part of the round last October, though CEO Nader Al-Naji, who cofounded the company with former Princeton classmates Lawrence Diao and Josh Chen, didn’t share specifics at the time on how much the company was in the process of raising.
Al-Naji continues to keep details close to the vest, declining in an interview yesterday to discuss when, exactly, Basis’s tokens will be in circulation. He also declined to share when he believes the token could see widespread adoption or to elaborate on the major apps with which he says Basis plans to integrate.
He did explain his love of Bitcoin, first fostered during his senior year of college in 2012 when he managed to mine 22 Bitcoins. (“There was free electricity on campus,” he told us with a laugh.)
|Whistleblower Susan Fowler is Backing California Legislation to End Forced Arbitration|
|Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer whose blog post about sexual harassment and troubling internal workings led to the departure of CEO Travis Kalanick, is backing new legislation that aims to give victims of sexual harassment and other workplace discrimination the freedom to seek legal action, and to do it publicly. |
Fowler is lending her support to bill AB-3080 — being presented publicly today by California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, the California Labor Federation, and the Economic Policy Institute — which would forbid employers from the practice of forced arbitration in response to discrimination complaints.
The proposed legislation tackles a worrying norm in which companies, including throughout tech, mandate that employees air any grievances before a private, third-party arbitrator who is typically paid for by the company itself.
The hearings happen in secret, with non-disclosure clauses preventing the claimant from talking about the details or filing a class-action lawsuit — and they are on the rise. The percentage of nonunion, private-sector employees covered by mandatory-arbitration clauses has more than doubled since the early 2000s, according to a study last year by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C.
Though the issue has come up periodically in Silicon Valley — venture firm Kleiner Perkins tried forcing former employee Ellen Pao into arbitration when she sued the firm for gender discrimination — it hasn’t received widespread attention “for the same reason that it hasn’t gotten much attention from people who work in other industries,” says Fowler via email. “They don’t realize that it affects them, and they don’t realize how widespread and sinister the problem really is.”
Fowler says that she was “one of those people” for most of her life, knowing nothing about forced arbitration until she experienced what she describes as illegal treatment at Uber, after which she says she discovered that she “had no way to get justice.” Now that she knows about forced arbitration, she says, “I’m hell-bent on bringing attention to it and doing everything I can to prevent what happened to me at Uber from happening to anyone else.”
|100Credit, a four-year-old, Beijing, China-based provider of credit services, has raised $159 million in Series C funding led by China Reform Fund Management, with participation from earlier backer Sequoia Capital China. China Money Network has more here. |
Airway Therapeutics, a seven-year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based developer of interventions for acute and chronic lung disease that originally spun out of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, has raised $11 million in Series B funding. It didn’t disclose the investors. More here.
BookingBug, a 10-year-old, Boston-based appointment and scheduling platform, has raised $13.4 million in Series C funding from PeakSpan Capital and Downing Ventures. More here.
Coverfox, a five-year-old, Mumbai, India-based startup that’s among a handful of companies trying to digitize insurance in India, has raised $22 million in Series C funding. IFC, a sister organization of World Bank, led the round. Other participants include the insurance firm Transamerica and earlier backers SAIF Partners, Accel and Catamaran Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Funding Societies, a three-year-old, Singapore-based peer-to-peer lending platform, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by SoftBank Ventures Korea, with participation from Qualgro, LINE Ventures and earlier backersSequoia India, Golden Gate Ventures and JWC Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Green Bits, a four-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based maker of point-of-sale software for cannabis retailers, has raised $17 million in Series A funding led by Tiger Global, with participation from Casa Verde Capital. CNBC has more here.
Nano-C, a 17-year-old, Westwood, Ma.-based company that develops nanostructured carbon for energy and electronics applications, has raised $3 million in new funding from Ray Stata, a cofounder of Analog Devices. More here.
Node, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that says its platform uses artificial intelligence to find sales leads, has raised $5 million in fresh funding, including from Recruit Strategic Partners, WndrCo, Aragon Capital,GingerBread Capital, Falmouth Ventures, and Open Field Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
Project44, a four-year-old, Chicago-based company that connects shippers to their carriers, has raised $35 million in new funding led by OpenView, with participation from 8VC and earlier backers Emergence Capital, Omidyar Technology Ventures, Chicago Ventures and Pritzker Group Venture Capital. The WSJ has more here.
RapidSOS, a six-year-old, New York-based startup that provides data for emergency response situations, raised $16 million in new funding led by Highland Capital Partners, with participation from Microsoft Ventures and CSAA Insurance Group. More here.
Redaptive, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based SaaS business focused on energy efficiency, has raised $20 million in funding led by CBRE, which is joined in the round by ENGIE New Ventures; GXP Investments, the venture capital arm of Great Plains Energy; and Linse Capital. More here.
ReviveMed, a year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech startup whose tech is trying to overcome the difficulties of identifying a large set of metabolites for each patient, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Rivas Capital, with participation from TechU, Team Builder Ventures, and WorldQuant. TechCrunch has more on the MIT spinout here.
Squarefoot, a 7.5-year-old, New York-based workspace-seeking platform, has raised $7 million in funding led by Rosecliff Ventures, with participation from RRE Ventures, Triangle Peak Partners, and Armory Square Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Tala, a six-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based company that’s providing credit to millions of customers in emerging markets using non-traditional data, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Revolution Growth. Earlier backers IVP, Data Collective, Lowercase Capital, Ribbit Capital and Female Founders Fund. TechCrunch has more here.
Vicarious Surgical, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of VR-based surgical robotics, has raised $16.75 million in Series A funding co-led by Khosla Ventures and Innovation Endeavors, with participation from Gates Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures and Marc Benioff. MassDevice has more here.
Wonolo, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based staffing platform that helps businesses to fill their immediate labor needs, just raised $13 million in a Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
|Pioneer Square Labs, a Seattle-based startup studio, is expanding beyond its original company-building model and promising a new infusion of capital into the region’s startup ecosystem, thanks to a new $80 million fund. GeekWire has more here.|
|There’s an IPO frenzy in Vietnam, but the market has a richer valuation than Shenzhen tech stocks, warns Bloomberg. More here.|
| Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen is bringing his passion for tech startups to Asia, along with his checkbook. Point72 Ventures, which invests mostly the billionaire’s money in early-stage companies, is starting to evaluate prospects on the continent after putting millions of dollars into startups in the Americas and Europe, says Bloomberg. |
Activist investor Carl Icahn has amassed a stake in VMware, the cloud computing and virtualization software company majority-owned by Dell Technologies, says CNBC. It isn’t clear yet whether he has a particular agenda.
Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is renting Google’s original office and planning her next act. She talks with the New York Times about it.
Elon Musk told employees yesterday in an email that he wants to personally approve any Tesla expenditure of more than $1 million if an effort to pull the company into profitable territory. Recode has more here.
A conversation with legendary programmer Richard Stallman on the real meaning of “privacy rights” and why he only ever uses cash. In NYMag.
|Home Depot is launching its biggest tech hiring spree ever to protect its lead over Amazon, with more than 1,000 tech hires planned. |
Best Buy will sell Amazon-powered TVs in its stores and on its website as Amazon makes another foray into our homes.
|A Florida man has been accused of making 97 million robocalls. (Of course.)|
|Moto Rockers, for pint-size rebels.|