|Thursday! Almost. There. |
We’re headed off to TechCrunch headquarters, where we’re helping to host its “Equity” podcast. Today’s guest: one Jonathan Abrams of Nuzzel, an app for news consumption that some of you likely use. (Abrams is also a longtime angel investor.) We’ll share a link from that tomorrow in case you’re looking for a podcast while walking the doge (“dohj“) this weekend.
|The U.S. Justice Department just launched a criminal probe into Bitcoin price manipulation. |
Uber intentionally disabled an emergency braking system in the self-driving vehicle that struck and killed a woman in Arizona in March, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report released this morning. Uber engineers reportedly believed doing so would lessen the “potential for erratic vehicle behavior.”
Nuts. And they were getting along so well.
|TruStory, a New Startup, Just Raised $3 Million to Stop ICO Scams from Happening|
|Investing in initial coin offerings, or ICOs, is a minefield. This isn’t just true for people with absolutely no technical background but also for many investors who may be well-versed in tech but still struggle to understand many projects’ white papers. |
Enter TruStory, a platform for users to research and validate claims that people make online, whether in a blog post, white paper, website or social media post. The young company’s aim is to “bring authenticity back into the digital and decentralized world.”
It’s a huge and growing opportunity. Though regulators around the world are cracking down on cryptocurrency fraud, the number of ICOs has skyrocketed and the funds raised through the mechanism are increasing. According to data collected last month by CoinDesk, ICOs raised $6.3 billion in the first three months of 2018; that’s 118 percent more than projects managed to raise by way of ICOs in all of 2017.
It’s not just blockchain-startups that are carrying out ICOs, either. Many other types of companies are trying to use them — and many of them are frauds. Just last week, The Wall Street Journal published an analysis of 1,450 cryptocurrency offerings, in which the outlet found “271 with red flags that include plagiarized investor documents, promises of guaranteed returns and missing or fake executive teams.”
Separating the wheat from the chaff is a tall order, but investors are willing to bet that TruStory can do the sorting. The outfit just raised $3 million in seed funding led by True Ventures with participation from Pantera Capital, Kindred Ventures, Homebrew, Coinbase Ventures, Wonder Ventures, Abstract Ventures and former TechCrunch co-editor Alexia Tsotsis through her new fund Dream Machine.
The round also attracted checks from numerous notable individual investors, including Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam, entrepreneur and investor Scott Belsky and former Twitter M&A executive Jessica Verrilli, who recently joined GV as a general partner.
All are betting on TruStory’s founder, Preethi Kasireddy.
|Abstract, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based platform for modern design teams to work together, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by Scale Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors Amplify Partners and Cowboy Ventures. More here. |
Canopy Biosciences, a two-year-old, St. Louis, Mo.-based research tools company focusing on gene editing and expression analysis, raised $2.4 million in Series A funding co-led by BioGenerator, the investment arm of BioSTL, and Kingdom Capital. The St. Louis Dispatch has more here.
Conga, a 12-year-old, Bloomfield, Co.-based company that aims to help businesses get more value from their Saleforce CRM by automating documents, has raised $47 million in funding, including from Insight Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures. More here.
Crowd Cow, a three-year-old, Seattle-based company that delivers “small-batch craft meats” to customers’ front doors, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Sound Ventures and earlier backers that include Joe Montana of Liquid 2 Ventures. More here.
eLichens, a four-year-old, Grenoble, France-based developer of gas sensors and an air quality analysis and prediction platform, has raised €7 million ($8.2 million) fromBpifrance, BNP Paribas Développement and return backers Aereco, DEMETER,SOFIMAC Innovation and France Angels. More here.
GoGuardian, a four-year-old, L.A.-based SaaS company that powers personalized learning for K-12 students, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding form Sumeru Equity Partners. More here.
Grail, a two-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based blood diagnostics company focused on detecting cancer early, has quietly raised $300 million in Series C funding led by Hong Kong-based Ally Bridge Group. The rest of the participants in the new round, which brings the company’s total funding to a stunning $1.5 billion, are also largely China based, including Hillhouse Capital Group, 6 Dimensions Capital, Blue Pool Capital, China Merchant Securities International, CRF Investment, HuangPu River Capital, ICBC International, Sequoia Capital China, and WuXi NextCODE. In a statement, Grail described the round as oversubscribed but did not mention whether earlier backers participated in the new round. (Some of its earlier backers, in case you are interested, include the gene-sequencing giant Illumina,Johnson & Johnson, and Jeff Bezos.)
Kronos Bio, a young, New York- and Cambridge, Ma.-based startup that’s setting out to screen chemical libraries for compounds that may work against historically difficult cancer targets, has raised $18 million in seed funding. Investors include Omega Funds, Vida Ventures and BellCo Capital. FierceBiotech has more here.
Lending Express, a two-year-old, New York-based AI-powered marketplace for business loans, has raised $2.7 million in funding, including from Entree Capital and iAngels. More here.
Mented Cosmetics, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based cosmetics startup that’s targeting women of color, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by CircleUp Growth Partners. Forbes has more here.
Orbit Discovery, a three-year-old, Oxford, England-based biotech company developing a peptide identification and optimization platform, has raised £6.9 million ($9.2 million) in Series A funding led by Oxford Sciences Innovation. Other investors in the round include RT Ventures, Borealis Ventures, Perivoli Innovations, and Oxford University. More here.
PlusOne Robotics, a two-year-old, San Antonio, Tex.-based 3D vision and controls developer for robotic automation in the logistics and e-commerce markets, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding. Schematic Ventures led the round, with participation from Lerer Hippeau, ff Venture Capital, First Star and Dynamo. More here.
Reltio, a seven-year-old, Redwood Shores, Ca.-based company that serves enterprises with data-powered insights and recommendations via a cloud-based platform, has raised $45 million in Series D funding. Investors include New Enterprise Associates, Crosslink Capital, .406 Ventures, and Sapphire Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.
Roadstar.ai, a year-old, Shenzhen, China and California-based autonomous driving startup, has raised $128 million in Series A funding co-led by Wu Capital and Shenzhen Capital Group, with participation from Yunqi Partners. Rover, a seven-year-old, Seattle-based marketplace that matches dog owners with caretakers, has raised a $155 million(!) in fresh funding led by T. Rowe Price, with participation from Winslow Capital, Cross Creek, and earlier backers TCV, Greenspring Associates, and Spark Capital. Rover also closed on a $30 million credit facility from Silicon Valley Bank. The company has now raised $310 million altogether. GeekWire has more here.
SafetyCulture, a 14-year-old, Queensland, Australia-based maker of software for mobile workplace safety and quality management, has raised A$60 million ($45.2 million) in funding led by Tiger Global Management. Startup Daily has more here.
Sonnen, a 10-year-old, L.A.- and Germany-based maker of smart energy storage systems, has raised $70 million in new funding led by Shell Ventures. PV Magazine has more here.
Ultromics, a year-old, Oxford, England-based developer of echocardiography software, has raised $13.4 million in Series A funding led by Oxford Sciences Innovation. Other investors in the round include Neptune, RT Ventures, GT Healthcare, Tanarra and Fushia. More here.
WorkFusion, an eight-year-old, New York-based company whose robotic process automation software manages robots that perform repetitive work, just raised $50 million in strategic funding, roughly one month after closing what appears to be aseparate $50 million in Series E funding. Its newest backers include the large insurance company, Guardian; the healthcare services provider New York-Presbyterian; and the commercial bank, PNC Bank. TechCrunch has more here.
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|Innovation Endeavors, the Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture capital firm that continues to count former Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt as its anchor investor, has raised $333.5 million for its third fund, according to an SEC filing. Crunchbase News has more here. |
Snap wants to find the next big media business, so it’s launching a seed accelerator to invest in startups or creators that want to build media projects for mobile devices. The new accelerator, which Snap has named Yellow, will invest $150,000 into 10 different creators or startups beginning this fall. The company will take a small equity stake in exchange for the money. Recode has the story here.
Team 8, an Israel-based venture capital firm, has set out to raise an $85 million second cybersecurity-focused venture-capital fund, according to an SEC filing.
|Adyen, a company that powers payments for large and smaller e-commerce merchants and others, has said that it plans to publicly list on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange, keeping the company’s financial future close to where Adyen itself is based, rather than taking it to the U.S. markets as some other European unicorns have opted to do. Adyen to date has raised $266 million in outside funding, including from Index Ventures (its largest shareholder), Felicis Ventures,Temasek, General Atlantic, and Iconiq. TechCrunch has more here.|
|CalPERs just lost its CFO eight months after he accepted the role, and the pension giant isn’t saying why he was quietly “separated from his position” last week. The WSJ has more here. |
Media darling Elon Musk in going on the attack against the media this morning. (That Consumer Reports piece we’d mentioned a couple of days ago didn’t help.)
Comic Amy Schumer is taking her raunchy humor to Spotify in a podcast deal that the company hopes will help it attract a wider audience and challenge Apple’s dominance of this growing audio entertainment field.
|Apple is looking to hire a corporate development analyst. The job is in Cupertino, Ca.|
|Just how rich is “rich? enough for private bankers to really, truly care about you? Try $25 million, says Bloomberg. The number, back in 1994, was $3 million.|
Yikes. The share of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 has dropped by 25 percent in 2018.
|Starting today, all election-related and issue ads on Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. must be clearly labeled – including a “paid for by” disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the ad. Uber forgot to tell Pittsburgh that it was reviving its self-driving tests in the city, and its mayor is pissed.|
|Youtoo#, Morgan Freeman?|
|The things you can do with a sugar factory!|