|Geez, that was fast. Late in the day yesterday, we announced a drinks event for next month, and tickets are already gone. We’ll have to do a much bigger drinks thing next summer(!). In the meantime, we’ll see if there’s any way we can open this up to a few more readers in coming weeks. (We have a fixed cap, per the restaurant, but the flake factor is always higher in summer, so we’ll keep you posted, especially those of you who’ve already written us about this.) |
We’ll also be announcing the date of our fall event soon, so stay tuned.
Giant thanks again to Lightspeed Venture Partners for supporting us as our partner in this gathering and to investor and friend-willing-to-play-guest-editor-on-occasion Semil Shah for co-hosting it with us. We’re excited to see everyone who signed up.:)
|Retailing behemoth Walmart has finally confirmed that it is making a $16 billion investment into India’s biggest online retailer, Flipkart, for a 77 percent share of its business. Tencent, Tiger Global, Microsoft, Accel and Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal will continue to be investors in the company. The deal, expected to close later this year, will value Flipkart, which has 54 million active customers, at $20.8 billion. TechCrunch has more here. |
The White House tomorrow plans to convene executives from Amazon, Facebook,Google, Intel and 34 other major U.S. companies to discuss the development of artificial intelligence.The administration intends to ask academics, government officials and AI developers about ways to adapt regulations to advance AI in such fields as agriculture, health care and transportation, according to a draft schedule of the event reviewed by the Washington Post. More here.
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|This Modcloth Cofounder Just Launched an Invite-Only Cryptocurrency|
|Cryptocurrency is cool, but you know what’d be even cooler? If people used it to buy things. |
That they don’t, because it’s either not secure or simply too hard to use, is a problem that a growing number of founders is trying to tackle. Among them is Merit, a new digital currency and wallet startup that aims to be as simple to use as traditional payment apps like PayPal and Venmo and that officially launches today.
The idea is to make it easy enough for to use to split a bill or shop for clothing online — even for the crypto illiterate — by building a layer atop the blockchain that requires a lot less processing power by the humans who use it.
Naturally, Merit is facing a daunting uphill battle in a world suddenly chock-full of cryptocurrencies competing for mindshare. But that isn’t dissuading its founder and CEO, Adil Wali, who previously cofounded and served as the CTO of indie womenswear brand ModCloth. (To the chagrin of some of its customers, ModCloth sold to Walmart last year after several rounds of layoffs.) Wali has since started two more companies, and he’s clearly not afraid to see where an idea takes him.
This particular idea, which Wali and nine other full time employees are working on from Seattle, involves a few interesting facets that could potentially help the currency gain traction. First and foremost, Merit says it’s removing barriers to entry to blockchain investments and payments by making the Merit cryptocurrency as easy to send as a tweet. Users can also send the Merit cyptocurrency via different communication channels, whether SMS, WhatsApp, or email. (Wali insists this is possible today, not at some theoretical date in time.)
|AI.Reverie, a year-old, New York-based startup that offers a suite of synthetic data and vision APIs to help different types of businesses train their machine learning algorithms, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding. Investors include Vulcan Capital, Compound and Locke Mountain Ventures. More here. |
Akili Interactive Labs, a seven-year-old, Boston-based cognitive therapeutics startup that develops prescription digital treatments that are delivered through video game experiences, has just raised $55 million Series C funding. Temasek led the round, with participation from Baillie Gifford, Amgen Ventures, M Ventures,JAZZ Venture Partners, Canepa Advanced Healthcare Fund, and Brooklands Capital Strategies. Mobihealth News has more here.
Ample Foods, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes ostensibly nutritious “meal in a bottle” products, has raised $2 million in new funding led by Slow Ventures. The Spoon has more here.
At-Bay, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based cyber insurance company, has raised $13 million in Series A funding. Investors include Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Check Point cofounder Shlomo Kramer. More here.
Axiom Energy, a 4.5-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based thermal storage startup, has raised $7.6 million in Series A funding co-led by GXP Investments and Shell Ventures co-led, with participation from WorldQuant Ventures, SV Tech Ventures and Meson Capital. Greentech Media has more here.
CStone Pharmaceuticals, a two-year-old, Shanghai, China-based maker of immune-oncology drugs, has raised $260 million in Series B funding led by GIC, with participation from Sequoia China, Yunfeng Capital, 6 Dimensions Capital, Hillhouse Capital, and more than half a dozen other investors. China Money Network has more here.
Drishti, an eight-month-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that describes its technology as a commercial application of so-called action recognition to digitize human activities on the assembly line, has raised $10 million in Series A funding.Emergence Capital led the round; other participants in the funding include Andreessen Horowitz and Benhamou Global Ventures. More here.
Fuse Universal, a 10-year-old, London-based corporate learning management platform, has raised $20 million from Eight Roads Ventures. Reuters has more here.
Gamalon, a five-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based AI company that’s focused on understanding customer communications, just raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Intel Capital. Other participants in the round include .406 Ventures, Omidyar Technology Ventures and earlier investors Boston Seed Capital, Felicis Ventures and Rivas Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
KeyedIn, a seven-year-old, Minneapolis-based provider of cloud-based enterprise resource planning and project management software, has raised $15 million in Series C funding led by Arrowroot Capital. More here.
Life House, a year-old, New York-based hospitality management company, has raised $10 million in new funding from Global Founders Capital and Trinity Ventures. It separately raised $30 million in private equity and debt funding led by Henley, a private equity real estate investor. Skift has the skinny here.
Murj, a three-year-old, Santa Cruz, Ca.-based digital health company that helps clinicians streamline care for patients with implantable cardiac devices, has raised $8.5 million in new funding led by Longitude Capital, with participation from True Ventures. More here.
Rootility, a 12-year-old, Ashkelon, Israel-based developer of root-focused plant breeding methods, has raised $10 million in Series C funding co-led by an ADM Capital affiliate, Middleland Capital and GreenSoil Investments. Calcalist has more here.
SHOP, a year-old, Seattle-based startup that’s trying to create a retail operating system for apps and storefronts built on top of Ethereum’s blockchain, has raised $2 million in funding from Reflective Venture Partners. More here.
Tailor Brands, a four-year-old, Tel Aviv- and New York-based company that uses artificial intelligence to create new company brands, has raised $15.5 million in Series B funding led by Pitango Venture Capital and the U.K.’s Armat Group. Other participants in the round include Mangrove Capital Partners and Disruptive Technologies. VentureBeat has more here.
Targetprocess, a 14-year-old, Minsk, Belarus-based company that makes it simpler to manage agile-driven programming projects, has raised its first major round of outside funding — a $5 million Series A round led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Zubr Capital, which is a private equity firm in Minsk. TechCrunch has more here.
ThoughtSpot, a six-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based AI-driven data analytics company, has raised $145 million in Series D funding from Sapphire Ventures, as well as earlier backers Lightspeed Venture Partners, Future Fund, Khosla Ventures, and General Catalyst. The WSJ has more here.
Trussle, a two-year-old, U.K.-based online mortgage broker, has raised £13.6 million ($18.4 million) in Series B funding led by Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments and Propel Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Finch Capital and Seedcamp. TechCrunch has more here.
WeDoctor, an eight-year-old, Shanghai, China-based mobile medical scheduling and information company, has raised $500 million in fresh funding at a whopping $5.5 billion valuation co-led by AIA Company, which is part of Hong Kong-listed insurer AIA Group, and infrastructure and services group NWS Holdings. Reuters has more here.
XNOR, a two-year-old, Seattle-based artificial intelligence startup, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Madrona Venture Group. Other participants include NGP Capital, Autotech Ventures and Catapult Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
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|Roughly five years after the launch of its first fund in 2013, the New York-based seed-stage venture firm, Female Founders Fund (F3), has closed on $27 million for its latest seed fund — backed by some of the startup world’s top women entrepreneurs and investors. TechCrunch has more here.|
|Evelo Biosciences now has $85 million to spend on its pipeline of drugs that target the human microbiome. The Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech priced its IPO of 5.3 million shares at $16, right at the midpoint of the $15 to $17 range that it had previously set. Evelo’s shares began trading on Nasdaq this morning, where they’re trading flat as of this writing. Xconomy has more here.|
|The 11-year-old, Mill Valley, Ca.-based jobs site Glassdoor, which is best known for providing insight into company working cultures, has been acquired for $1.2 billion in cash by Recruit, a $39 billion Japanese corporate that specializes in HR and recruitment services. The all-cash acquisition will see Glassdoor continue to maintain its brand, CEO Robert Hohman explained in a blog post. Glassdoor had raised more than $200 million from investors, including Benchmark and Battery Ventures. TechCrunch has more here. |
The augmented reality startup Blippar is abandoning Silicon Valley after losing two key execs and a board member. Business Insider has more here.
|Chris Cox is becoming Facebook’s most important executive not named Mark Zuckerberg. Here’s a helpful look at its re-organization. |
Super entrepreneur Elon Musk says he’s now getting into the brick-making business, with an eye toward improving low-income housing. He is also reportedly dating musician Grimes. We know, we know, you don’t care (liars).
And for his next act, Twitter and Medium cofounder Ev Williams will fix the internet.
|Essential Reads Apple is cracking down on applications that send location data to third-parties.|
|The best collections from the Pratt Institute’s 2018 graduate fashion show.|
|Now this is how you convert a barn.|