October 28, 2020
 
Hello! Hope you enjoyed your Wednesday.:)
Top News
 
Today’s Senate hearing on important legal protections for online platforms quickly devolved instead into a flogging of the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google over alleged partisan interference with next week’s election. The law being considered for revision was mentioned only a handful of times in the nearly four-hour hearing. Twitter, as ever, focused on what was really important: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's pandemic beard.
 
French President Emmanuel Macron today announced a second national lockdown until at least the end of November amid surging COVID-19 cases. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said German officials have separately agreed to a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and other leisure facilities in a bid to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. 
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Massive Fundings
 
Gracell Biotechnologies, a three-year-old, Shanghai, China-based clinical-stage biopharma company focused on developing cell therapies to treat cancer, just raised $100 million in Series C funding. Wellington Management Company, OrbiMed and Morningside Ventures led the round, joined by new investor Vivo Capital, another fund that wasn't named, and numerous earlier backers. More here.
 
Outrider, a 3.5-year-old, Golden, Co.-based startup that's aiming to bring its autonomous technology to the nerve center of the supply chain, has raised $65 million in Series B funding led by Koch Disruptive Technologies in a round that brings its total funding to $118 million. Other participants in the round include Henry Crown, Evolv Ventures, and earlier backers NEA, 8VC, and Prologis Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Scopely, a nine-year-old, Los Angeles-based mobile games company, raised a massive $340 million Series E round from Wellington Management, NewView Capital, TSG Consumer Partners, CPP Investments, BlackRock, D1, Battery Ventures, Eldridge, Declaration Partners, and Moore Strategic Ventures, among numerous others.TechCrunch has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
Finova, a four-year-old, Jaipur, India-based lender to small and mid-size businesses throughout the country, has raised $35 million in new funding from earlier venture investors Sequoia Capital India and Faering Capital. The company has separately secured $20 million from various lenders, it said in a statement. VC Circle has more here.
 
Forethought, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based AI and machine learning platform for customer support teams, has raised $17 million in Series B funding from NEA, Sound Ventures, Neo, Geodesic Capital, Operator Collective, and K9 Ventures. Forbes has more here.
 
Kandji, a two-year-old, San Diego-based maker of Apple enterprise management software, has raised $21 million in Series A funding led by Greycroft, with added participation from Okta Ventures, B Capital Group, and First Round Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Lunchbox, a year-old, New York-based startup that allows restaurants to build ordering experiences on their own websites and apps, has raised $20 million in Series A funding at a $100 million valuation. Coatue led the round, joined by 645 Ventures and Primary Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Odaseva, an 8.5-year-old, San Francisco-based enterprise cloud trust platform, has raised $25 million in Series B funding. Eight Roads Ventures led the round, joined by F-Prime Capital and earlier investors Partech, Salesforce Ventures, and Serena. More here.
 
Pulumi, a three-year-old Seattle-based ”infrastructure-as-code” startup, has raised $37.5 million in Series B funding round led by NEA. Previous investors Madrona Venture Group and Tola Capital also joined the round, which brings the total investment in the company to $57.5 million. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Robust.AI, a 1.5-year-old, Bay Area-based startup at work on an industrial-grade cognitive platform for robots, has raised a $15 million Series A round led by Jazz Venture Partners. Earlier backers Playground Global, Liquid2, Fontinalis, Jaan Tallinn and Mark Leslie also joined the round, which brings the company's funding to $22.5 million. Famed roboticist and entrepreneur Rodney Brooks is one of the company's founders and its CTO. TechCrunch has more here.
 
StrongDM, a five-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based database access control platform, has raised $17 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital. Forbes has more here.
 
Tomo Networks, a months-old, Seattle and Stamford, Ct.-based mortgage and transaction platform that's targeted at both real estate agents and consumers and which was founded by two former execs from Zillow, has raised a $40 million seed(!) round. Ribbit Capital, Zigg Capital, and NFX co-led the round. GeekWire has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
AppFollow, a five-year-old, Helsinki-based app management startup, has raised a $5 million Series A round led by Barcelona’s Nauta Capital, joined by earlier investors Vendep Capital and RTP Global. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Edlyft, a year-old, San Francisco-based engineering ed-tech platform, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from backers Y Combinator, Kleiner Perkins, Village Global, Kapor Capital, Backstage Capital, and January Ventures. More here.
 
Gig Wage, a six-year-old, Dallas, Tex.-based startup focused on helping contractors get paid faster and more efficiently, has raised $7.5 million in a Series A round led by publicly traded Green Dot. Other participants in the round include Continental Investors, Techstars, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, and others. FinLedger has more here.
 
Nice Healthcare, a 3.5-year-old, Minneapolis, Mn.-based provider of in-home and virtual primary care services, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Indie.vc, with participation from Conductive Ventures and Waterline Ventures. MobiHealth News has more here.
 
Priori Legal, a nine-year-old, New York-based legal marketplace that aims to quickly connect  teams with the right attorney for any project globally, has raised $6.3 million in Series A funding. Investors in the round include Hearst Corporation (also a Priori customer), Great Oaks Venture Capital, Jambhala, Tim Steinert (who is the former general counsel of Alibaba Group), Mindset Ventures, Bridge Venture Fund and Orrick’s Legal Technology Fund. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Shotcall, a year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based platform and marketplace for e-sports fans to play games alongside their favorite content creator, has raised $2.2 million in seed funding led by Initial Capital, New Stack and Lerer Hippeau. TechCrunch has much more here.
 
Stairwell, a 1.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based cybersecurity startup, has raised $4.5 million in seed funding. Accel led the round, joined by Sequoia Capital, Gradient Ventures, and Allen & Co. The company was founded by Mike Wiacek, who was most recently chief security officer at Chronicle, Google’s moonshot cybersecurity company. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Streetbees, a five-year-old, London-based intelligence platform that works with consumer brands, has raised £30 million in Series B funding. Lakestar led the round, joined by Latitude, Atomico, GMG Ventures and Octopus Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
New Funds
 
Builders VC, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm founded by Jim Kim (who previously founded Formation 8), is raising $250 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing. More here.
 
Earlier this year, PayPal committed more than $500 million toward advancing social change and closing the racial wealth gap within the U.S. Now, as part of that commitment, it says it's committing $50 million in capital to eight Black and Latinx-led early-stage venture firms, including Chingona Ventures, Harlem Capital, Precursor Ventures, Zeal Capital Partners, Slauson & Co., and the Fearless Fund. Black Enterprise has more here.
Going Public
 
Ant Group's dual IPO and the risks to watch.
 
Home-rental startup Airbnb plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq, though it has yet to give a timeline for its IPO.
 
Root, a Columbus, Oh-based auto insurer founded just less than six years ago, raised $724 million in its IPO after pricing 24.2 million shares at $27 for an initial market cap of $6.7 billion. Shares of the company, which had raised $520 million in venture funding, ended their first day of trading where they began.
People
 
Anthony Albanese, a practicing lawyer for 13 years who spent the last four years as chief regulatory officer at the New York Stock Exchange, has joined Andreessen Horowitz as an operating partner on its cryptocurrency team.
 
The staying power of Airbnb's head of global policy, Chris Lehane, has confounded some current and former colleagues, says The Information in a story about the former political operative, whom it calls the "most influential executive next to CEO Brian Chesky."
 
Ryan Smith is stealing a page from Mark Cuban and acquiring an NBA team. According to ESPN, the Qualtrics cofounder is picking up the Utah Jazz and Vivint Smart Home Arena for a cool $1.66 billion. More here.
Lawsuit!
 
TikTok and its parent ByteDance have sued smaller rival Triller, asking a U.S. judge to clear up a “cloud” over the TikTok after Triller accused it of stealing technology, reports Bloomberg. ByteDance is (still) in talks to sell parts of its TikTok unit in a deal that could be worth tens of billions of dollars after Donald Trump moved to ban its U.S. operations, citing national security concerns.The suit follows a patent-infringement suit that Triller filed against ByteDance in late July in Waco, Texas, a hub for complaints by patent owners looking for a friendly judge and quick litigation, notes Bloomberg.
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Essential Reads
 
The idea of modifying Earth’s atmosphere to cool the planet, once seen as too risky to seriously consider, is attracting new money and attention.
 
Lower air quality in some Chinese cities points to an iPhone 12 production surge. (But enjoy your new phone, obviously!)
 
Spotify has a Joe Rogan problem that it seemingly thinks might just disappear.
Detours
 
Chaos as Cupid's arrow.
 
How hyperrealistic murals come to life.
 
A podcast answers a fast-food question that no one is asking.
Retail Therapy
 
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