|Thursday! Another busy one around here, though we’re looking forward to joining GV partner MG Siegler on TechCrunch’s “Equity” podcast a little later this afternoon. Sure, we’ll talk about earnings and revenue and blahdy blahdy. As fellow native Clevelanders, you can also expect plenty of talk about King James. (Cavs are still in it!) More tomorrow.:)|
|Get ready to shop on Instagram.|
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|Wedding Startup Zola Just Received a Lavish Gift: $100 Million in New Funding|
|Zola, a fast-growing company that invites newly engaged couples to register their guests, shop from 600 different brands, and create customizable checklists, has itself received something a bit extravagant: $100 million in Series D funding. |
Earlier investor Comcast Ventures led the round, which also included new investors NBCUniversal and Goldman Sachs Investment Partners. The five-year-old, New York-based, 110-person company has now raised $140 million altogether.
We talked last night with founder and CEO Shan-Lyn Ma to learn more. Ma is a former executive with the e-commerce companies Gilt Groupe and Chloe + Isabel who originally started Zola to reinvent the traditional registry process but who now sees an opportunity to eventually address every need a young couple may have, from caterers to Cuisinarts, to eventually, perhaps, even home mortgages. Our chat has been edited lightly for length.
You’re a decent size-company at this point. Is everyone in New York?
The vast majority, though we also have a small number in Charlottesville, Virginia. Earlier this year, we acquired the assets of a small wedding startup that had shut down and brought some of that team into Zola.
Have you made other acquisitions? Will you now with this giant new round?
No, and it’s possible, but the bigger vision is to cater to couples from the day they get engaged, into their first years of marriage. We’ll be using the funding to accelerate the product development of more wedding planning tools for couples, so we can be that go-to destination.
How are people learning about Zola?
The biggest growth driver has been people who’ve gone to a wedding where Zola was the registry that the couple used. One hundred and fifty people on average see the registry, and if those visitors believe it’s a better product, [they come to us, too]. It’s built-in virality. We also picked Comcast Ventures to be our lead investor because Comcast and [fellow investor] NBC are market leaders in media with wide reach. They’ll help us with our marketing and awareness goals, which is a big opportunity and area of focus for us in the coming year.
How many people have used the site to date?
More than 500,000 couples have used our wedding registry or else managed their guest list through Zola.
Zola started as a wedding registry product. Now, it’s a full-fledged marketplace, connecting engaged couples to 600 brands and 60,000 products. Are you making a percentage off each sale?
|Casma Therapeutics, a new Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech company that plans to develop new medicines based on Nobel prize-winning discoveries about how cells detoxify and repair themselves, is launching with $58.5 million in Series A funding from Third Rock Ventures. The Boston Globe has more on the company — and the decades-long friendship of its founders — here. |
Cera, a three-year-old, London-based home-care startup advised by former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nick Clegg, has raised $17 million in Series A funding in equity and debt from Guinness Asset Management, Yabeo, and Kairos. TechCrunch has more here.
Frontier Car Group, a two-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based used car marketplace targeted at countries outside of Western Europe and North America, has raised $58 million in Series B funding, including $41 million in equity funding and another $17 million in debt. The round was co-led by Balderton Capital and TPG Growth, and included participation from Fraser McCombs Capital and Autotech Ventures. More here.
IronNet Cybersecurity, a Fulton, Md.-based cybersecurity company that was founded by Keith Alexander, the retired four-star general and former NSA director, has raised $78 million in Series B funding led by C5 Capital, with participation from ForgePoint Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Reuters has more here.
The Outline, a two-year-old, New York-based digital media company, has raised $5.15 million in fresh funding led by RRE Ventures, with participation from Red Sea Ventures, Tegna, Advancit Capital and NextView Ventures. The company has now raised just more than $21 million altogether. The WSJ has more here.
SoundHound, the 13-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based maker of voice-enabled AI and conversational intelligence technologies, has raised $100 million in new funding to help fuel its international growth, as well as put its Hound voice assistant in everything from home appliances to cars. Investors in the round include Tencent, Hyundai, Orange S.A., and Daimler AG. TechCrunch has more here.
Station, a months-old, France-based SaaS startup that’s setting out to create a browser for businesses that gathers all their cloud-based web applications into a single portal, has raised $3.25 million in seed funding led by Accel. VentureBeat has more here.
|7wire Ventures, a Chicago-based venture firm led by former Allscripts execs Glen Tullman and Lee Shapiro, has raised $100 million for a “connected consumer” fund, reports Crain’s Chicago Business. Backers include insurers Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Cigna, and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, among others. One of its first investments is Livongo, a health-software company led by Tullman that recently raised $105 million. More here. |
Foresite Capital, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based multi-stage healthcare and life sciences investment firm, has closed its fourth and largest fund with $668 million in capital commitments. (We’ll post more on the firm and fund over at TechCrunch a little later today.)
Salesforce Ventures just announced the Trailblazer Fund, a $100 million pool of capital that it intends to invest in startups out of Canada, with a special focus on those working in enterprise cloud computing. TechCrunch has more here.
|Xiaomi, the Chinese gadget maker that has become one of the world’s largest smartphone companies, has picked Hong Kong to list its shares in what is widely expected to be a major IPO.|
|Pocket Casts, widely considered to be one of the best mobile apps for podcast listening, has been acquired by a collective group that includes NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago, and This American Life. The Verge has more here.|
|Cambridge Analytica may be shutting down, but company executives, along with the Mercer family that backed them, have moved to create a new firm, Emerdata, based in Britain. |
Elon Musk turned a Tesla call yesterday into a sparring match, cutting off two analysts and saying to another that “boring, bonehead questions are not cool.” Wall Street did not love the performance.
|Goldman Sachs is moving ahead with plans to set up what appears to be the first Bitcoin trading operation at a Wall Street bank. |
Telegram‘s ICO was going to be historic. Instead, unsurprisingly, it has turned into a mess.
Wired looks at a dying scientist and his rogue vaccine trial.
|The wolves of Instagram. |
Good lord, Charlie Rose.
Watched while walking Brodie. (Not new but so funny.)
|Eight new books that dish the dirt on show business.|