February 22, 2021
 
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Top News
 
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen today warned that bitcoin is an “extremely inefficient” way to conduct monetary transactions She spoke as the cryptocurrency’s price tumbled in morning trading, but remained above $53,000. Over the weekend, Bitcoin bull Elon Musk also tweeted that bitcoin prices "seem high" after the cryptocurrency surged to a record high on Friday.
 
Facebook said today it has struck a deal with the Australian government that will allow users and publishers in the country to once again share and view links to news articles on the social network. The company had blocked the sharing or viewing of news links in the country because it was set to pass a law requiring tech companies to negotiate with media publishers and compensate them for the content that appears on their sites, but today, the Australian government added amendments that include a two-month mediation period, giving the two sides more time to negotiate. The New York Times has more here.
 
Shares of Tesla closed down 8.55% today -- Tesla’s biggest drop since September. Other big tech companies saw their share prices fall, too, with Apple, Amazon and Microsoft each closing down more than 2%. CNBC has more here.
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Eat This, Exercise Now: New Personalized Software Predicts and Helps Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes
 
Not everyone has Type 2 diabetes, the disease that causes chronically high blood sugar levels, but many do. Around 9% of Americans are afflicted, and another 30% are at risk of developing it.
 
Enter software by January AI, a four-year-old, subscription-based startup that in November began providing personalized nutritional and activity-related suggestions to its customers based on a combination of food-related data the company has quietly amassed over three years, and each person's unique profile, which is gleaned over that individuals's first four days of using the software.
 
Why the need for personalization? Because believe it or not, people can react very differently to every single food, from rice to salad dressing.
 
The tech may sound mundane but it's eye-opening and potentially live-saving, promises cofounder and CEO Noosheen Hashemi and her cofounder, Michael Snyder, a genetics professor at Stanford who has focused on diabetes and pre-diabetes for years.
 
Investors like the idea, too. Felicis Ventures just led an $8.8 million seed investment in the company, joined by HAND Capital and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff. (Earlier investors include Jerry Yang's Ame Cloud Ventures, SignalFire, YouTube cofounder Steve Chen, and Sunshine cofounder Marissa Mayer, among others.) 
 
To learn more, we talked this afternoon with Hashemi and Snyder, who have now raised $21 million altogether. 
Massive Fundings
 
Ageras Group, a nearly nine-year-old, Copenhagen-based company that has built a dual-purpose platform, providing both accountancy software and a marketplace for small and medium businesses to find accountants, has landed $73 million in growth funding from a single investor, Lugard Road CapitalTechCrunch has more here.
 
Black Lake, a nearly five-year-old, China-based software platform for factory workers to log their daily tasks and managers to oversee the plant floor, recently raised $77 million in funding, including from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, which led the round, as well as China Renaissance and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The outfit has now raised more than $100 million altogether, including from from GGV Capital, Bertelsmann Asia Investments, GSR Ventures, ZhenFund and others. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Creatio, a nearly eight-year-old, Boston-based low-code platform for process management and customer relationship management, has raised $68 million from Volition Capital, which acquired a minority stake in the business. It's the first outside round of funding for the company. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Dapper Labs, the three-year-old, Vancouver, Canada-based company responsible for the increasingly popular digital collectibles platform NBA Top Shot, is raising $250 million at a valuation of about $2 billion, according to The Block, which says the deal is being led by Coatue Management. More here.
 
Earnix, a 20-year-old, Givatayim, Israel-based developer of predictive customer analytics software for financial institutions, has raised $75 million at a $1 billion pre-money valuation. Insight Partners led the round, joined by JVP, Vintage Partners and Israel Growth Partners. Calcalist has more here.
 
Regor Therapeutics, a 2.5-year-old, Shanghai, China-based biotech that's focused on cancer, immune disorders and metabolic diseases, has raised $90 million in Series B funding. Lilly Asia Ventures led the round, joined by Loyal Valley Capital, Lanting Capital, TF Capital and Vertex Ventures China. More here.
 
Splice, an eight-year-old, New York-based, AI-infused, beat-making software service for music producers, has raised $55 million in new funding from Goldman Sachs and MUSIC, a joint venture between music executive Matt Pincus and boutique financial services firm, Liontree. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Zomato, the 12-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based food delivery company, has raised $250 million, two months after closing a $660 million Series J financing round. Kora (which contributed $115 million), Fidelity ($55 million), Tiger Global ($50 million), Bow Wave ($20 million) and Dragoneer ($10 million) pumped the new capital into the company at a post-money valuation of $5.4 billion, up from $3.9 billion in December last year, said Info Edge, which owns 18.4% stake in the Indian startup. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
EquityBee, a 3.5-year-old, Bay Area-based stock option marketplace startup, has raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Group 11. Other backers in the round include Oren Zeev Ventures, Battery Ventures and ICON Continuity Fund. The company has now raised $28 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Foxtrot Market, an eight-year-old, Chicago-based online convenience store and cafe chain focused on 60-minute delivery, raised $42 million in Series B funding co-led by Almanac Insights and Monogram Capital Partners. Supermarket News has more here.
 
Katana, a 3.5-year-old, Estonia-based startup that has built manufacturing-specific enterprise resource planning software for small and mid-size businesses, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Atomico, with participation from angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Nanit, a two-year-old, New York-based startup whose nursery camera pairs computer vision with specially patterned clothing so nervous new parents know their kid is still breathing, has raised $25 million in Series C round led by GV. Other participants in the round -- which brings the startup's funding to $75 million altogether -- includes Jerusalem Venture Partners, RRE Ventures, Upfront Ventures and Rho Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Origin Wireless, an 8.5-year-old, Greenbelt, Md.-based  WiFi "sensing" startup -- it uses WiFi waves in an environment to detect motion and send alerts or notifications to "smart" home devices -- has raised $14 million in funding from Verizon Ventures and Alarm.com. More here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
BlocPower, a nearly seven-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y. -based startup connects online investors to solar and energy efficiency project micro-finance opportunities, then hires local unemployed workers to install all BlocPower retrofits, has raised $8 million funding and $55 million more in debt financing. The capital is from American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, AccelR8, The Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, Kapor Capital, Elemental Excelerator, CityRock Venture Partners, The Schmidt Family Foundation and Salesforce Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Fundtastic, a three-year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based retail investing platform, has raised $7.7 million in Series A funding led by Ascend Capital Group, with participation from Indivara Group. DealStreetAsia has more here.
 
Praxis Labs, a three-year-old, New York-based maker of a virtual reality-based diversity and inclusion learning platform, has raised $3.2 million in seed funding. Investors include SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, Norwest Venture Partners, Emerson Collective, Ulu Ventures, Precursor Ventures, Firework VC, and 20|20 Fund. Essence has more here.
 
Snack, a 16 month-old, Vancouver, Canada-based dating app that asks users to create a video and post it to a feed that others can scroll through and "like" if they want, opening up the ability to comment, has raised $3.5 million in funding. Kindred Ventures and Coelius Capital led the round, joined by Golden Ventures, Garage Capital, Panache Ventures and N49P. TechCrunch has more here.
New Funds
 
Advent Life Sciences, the 30-year-old, London-based venture firm focused on early-stage life science companies, has closed on $215 million in fresh capital commitments. Much of that money will be invested through its third life science fund but some will be allocated to an impact fund it has set up with the not-for-profit U.S. discovery group Harrington Discovery Institute. FierceBiotech has more here.
 
Alta Partners, a 25-year-old, San Francisco and Denver-based early-stage healthcare venture capital firm, has closed Alta Partners NextGen Fund III with $275 million. You can learn more about the vehicle here.
Exits
 
Publicly traded Redfin has agreed  to acquire RentPath, an Atlanta-based owner of apartment rental marketplace websites, for $608 million in cash. RentPath previously filed for bankruptcy and was in talks last year with CoStar Group -- a commercial real estate information, analytics and online marketplace -- about selling for $588 million, a deal that was later scuttled over federal competition concerns. Rentpath runs the websites ApartmentGuide.com, Rent.com, and Rentals.com, among other properties. Law 360 has more here.
 
Afield but interesting: LVMH has acquired a 50 percent stake in Jay-Z's Armand de Brignac champagne brand. The partnership will see the "Ace of Spades" French bubbly join Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon, Ruinart, Krug, and Veuve Clicquot among the company's prestigious portfolio of spirits. Highsnobiety has more here.
Going Public
 
It's official: The 13-year-old, electric vehicle company Lucid Motors plans to go public at an $11.75 billion combined equity valuation and $24 billion pro-forma equity value through a reverse merger with a blank-check company started by veteran investment banker Michael Klein. The deal is the largest in a series of such tie-ups involving EV companies and blank-check firms and includes a total investment of about $4.6 billion. It is being funded by $2.1 billion in cash from Klein's SPAC, and a $2.5 billion fully committed PIPE at $15 per share by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, along with funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Fidelity and others. More here.
 
Oscar, the New York-based health insurer, set IPO terms to 31 million shares at $32 to $34 apiece. It would have an initial market cap of $6.5 billion were it to price in the middle. The eight-year-old company has raised $1.4 billion to date from investors, including Alphabet, Thrive Capital, Founders Fund, Formation8, Fidelity, General Catalyst and Khosla Ventures. Reuters has more here.
 
Roblox, the San Mateo, Ca.-base platform for user-generated games, says it will go public through a direct listing of its shares on March 10. The company also reported that it lost $253.3 million on revenues of $923.9 million for the year ended December 31. The company original planned for an IPO  last fall, but it postponed that plan and raised $520 million in funding from private sources instead at a valuation of $29.5 billion. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Toast, a 10-year-old, Boston-based maker of payment-processing hardware and cloud-based software for restaurants, is preparing for an IPO that could value it at $20 billion, says the WSJ. According to Crunchbase, the company has raised a whopping $900 million from investors over the years, including Bessemer Venture Partners, TPG, and Tiger Global Management. More here.
 
TransferWise just rebranded as Wise ahead of its expected IPO. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Investors fueling an IPO bonanza are "snubbing many U.S. mortgage providers’ stock market debuts over concerns that the sector might have reached its peak," reports Reuters. It notes that five mortgage vendors have scaled back or canceled plans to go public in the last four months, as investors "flinched at their frothy valuations. This may bode poorly for IPOs by other home loan providers such as Better.com and NewRez," it says. More here.
People
 
Kavin Bharti Mittal, a scion of the family behind India’s second-biggest wireless operator, is planning to revive Hike, his struggling technology startup, more than four years after it was valued at $1.4 billion by backers including Softbank Group. The plan, he tells Bloomberg, is a Facebook-like new social networking platform that promises to weed out “creeps” and “fake profiles” as well as a gaming app that aims to tap rising demand in the world’s second-most populous country. More here.
 
WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann is in advanced talks to settle his lawsuit against the co-working company’s biggest backer SoftBank Group, according to Bloomberg. Under the terms of the potential settlement, SoftBank would purchase half of the WeWork shares it originally agreed to buy in 2019, meaning Neumann would be able to sell close to $500 million in stock, and that SoftBank would pay about $1.5 billion overall. The shares are being sold at the same price agreed upon in 2019, says Bloomberg's source.
Data
 
The 20th annual Rich List, Institutional Investor's "definitive ranking of what hedge fund managers earned in 2020," with appearances, unsurprisingly, from Coatue, Tiger Global, and Point72 Asset Management managers. ("A bad year for humanity was a wonderful year for the hedge fund elite," writes the outlet.)
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Essential Reads
 
China’s banking regulator formalized rules that will force Ant Group and other online lenders to have more skin in the game when they make loans with banks, dealing a blow to a burgeoning business that helped drive Chinese consumer spending in recent years, says the WSJ. Starting in 2022, internet-lending platforms in the country will have to fund at least 30% of every loan they make jointly with commercial lenders, which include banks, trust companies, and finance companies. More here.
 
Spotify today announced its plans to roll out a new high-end subscription service, called Spotify HiFi, along with other new features and updates, including new content deals, and features for creators. The company said Spotify HiFi will launch later this year to Spotify Premium subscribers in select global markets, allowing them to listen to music in “CD-quality, lossless audio format.” TechCrunch has more here.
 
How a dad from Wisconsin -- Beeple -- became the face of a crypto market you didn’t know existed.
Detours
 
"Test Pattern," reviewed.
 
Power plant skiing.
 
The Met considers selling its art to stave off a financial shortfall.
 
The best games to play with your children after nearly a year in quarantine.
Retail Therapy
 
A home office calendar that tells everyone when you're busy. (Haha. Hope springs eternal.)
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