|Friday! [Pushes over side table.] Hope you have an amazing weekend, everyone. More soon.:)|
|Sequoia Capital is well on its way to closing an $8 billion growth-stage fund, according to a report in the WSJ. The Menlo Park, Ca., firm has already raised $6 billion for new investors, in increments of $250 million. (At least, that’s reportedly the smallest amount that an investor can contribute to the fund.) It now plans to tap it existing investor base for the rest. More here.|
|Sponsored By . . .|
|Treble is the PR firm working at the speed of business. We’re looking to collaborate and win with VC firms. Our new website captures our collective value proposition and results from Bloomberg TV to Forbes to The Wall Street Journal. Treble has partnered with VC firms including Mercury Fund, OpenView, Signal Peak Ventures and Dundee Venture Capital to-date. Our model allows us to maximize your portfolio funding launches across your investment portfolio. We love blockchain, IoT, DevOps, cybersec, cloud, fintech and consumer tech – contact us here.|
|Why the Tech Industry Should Care About the Farm Bill Being Drafted Right Now|
|For some food stamp recipients, 2018 could shape up to be a particularly aggravating year, including for one of the only startups trying to find ways to innovate on the ways that food stamps are delivered and managed. |
It’s not something that’s talked about much in tech circles, but perhaps it should be, given that 42 million Americans rely on the more than 50-year-old, anti-hunger program behind the stamps — called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — for basic food assistance.
What’s the problem? It’s twofold essentially. First, let’s take a look at the farm bill, which subsidizes SNAP.
The farm bill, which got its start in 1933 as part of FDR’s New Deal legislation, expires and is updated and passed anew by Congress every five years, after which the sitting U.S. president signs it into law. The last bill was signed in February of 2014, so Congress is working on the next version now. But things aren’t looking very promising for SNAP recipients. Already, the first draft of the House Republicans’ farm bill, which passed through one committee, looks to cut $20 billion from the program over the next 10 years, potentially cutting off two million people in the process.
The cuts will be debated on the House floor beginning early next month, meaning it’s far from clear what happens from here. While Republicans argue they want to promote self-sufficiency (the cuts are expected to come via tightened work requirements), poverty experts see the proposal as chipping away at the already shrinking safety net for America’s most vulnerable. As an article about the bill in Vox notes, half of the 42 million people who are living below the poverty line and relying on SNAP for food assistance are children.
But what do startups have to do with any of this, you may wonder.
|EcoFlow, a two-year-old, Shenzhen, China-based hardware firm that sells portable power stations, has raised $4 million in Series A funding. Investors include battery makers Guangzhou Penghui Energy and SCUD Group, industrial design tooling factory ESID, and supply chain-focused firms Delian Capital and Chunjia Assets. TechCrunch has more here. |
Innovent Biologics, a nearly seven-year-old, Suzhou, China-based biotech company, has raised $90 million in Series E funding, including from Capital Group Private Markets, Cormorant Asset Management, Rock Springs Capital, Ally Bridge Group, Temasek, Hillhouse, Legend Capital, Lilly Asia Venture andTaikang Insurance. More here.
Knowbox, a four-year-old, China-based K-12 online education platform, just raised $100 million in Series C funding led by Yunfeng Capital, the latest in a string of investments in China’s online education market. China Money Network has more here.
Traackr, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based SaaS platform that powers so-called influencer programs for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies, has raised $9 million in Series B funding. Workhorse Capital led the round, and was joined by You & Mr Jones, among other investors. More here.
TradeDepot, a three-year-old, Lagos, Nigeria-based SaaS platform that connects retailers in emerging markets with consumer-goods platforms, has raised an undisclosed amount of money led by Partech Ventures. More here.
VIPKid, a five-year-old, Beijing, China-based company that connects Chinese children with North American tutors, is nearing a deal to raise $500 million in funding at a valuation of more than $3 billion, according to Bloomberg. (We’d reported on Wednesday that VIPKId is looking to hire thousands of teachers and tutors in the U.S., as is one of its competitors; they flooded job boards earlier this week with their postings.)
Wellness Lifestyles, an eight-year-old, Vancouver, Canada-based owner and operator of healthcare and wellness centers, has raised $7 million in funding led byHorizons Ventures. More here.
|Sonos, the 15-year-old, Santa Barbara, Ca.-based speaker maker, filed confidentially for an IPO slated for June or July, according to the WSJ. Its sources say the company is seeking a valuation of rough $3 billion. More here|
Enterprise tech IPOs continue to roar in 2018. Today, not one but two enterprise tech companies, DocuSign and Smartsheet, saw their share prices pop as they made their debuts on to the public markets. TechCrunch has more here.
|BlaBlaCar, the French carpooling platform, is acquiring Less, an 18-month-old carpooling platform based in Paris that focuses only on urban rides. Terms aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.|
|Michael Zeisser, Alibaba’s top dealmaker in Silicon Valley, has quietly left the Chinese giant over an apparent disagreement over investment strategy. Recode hasmore here.|
|Now Apple is working on a VR headset, too.|
|Know who’s not using instant pots? Chefs. |
Our early ancestors stalked terrifying eight-foot-tall sloths.
|A kitchen utensil set for the great outdoors, because it’s spring and you should get out there.|