FB and Apple's earnings, Allbirds preps to go public, and a look at VCs' newest payouts

April 28, 2021
Top News
 
Apple reported another blowout quarter today; Facebook did, too
 
Read the full transcript of U.S. President Joe Biden's first speech to Congress tonight.
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An Oracle Exec's Brass-Knuckled Approach with a Reporter Leads to a Twitter Suspension
 
Companies and the reporters who cover them routinely find themselves at odds, particularly when the stories being chased are unflattering or bring unwanted attention to a business’s dealings, or, in the company’s estimation, simply inaccurate.
 
Many companies fight back, which is why crisis communications is a very big and lucrative business. Still, how a company fights back matters. And according to crisis communications pros who TechCrunch spoke with this afternoon, a new post on Oracle’s corporate blog misses the mark, as did the company’s related follow-up on social media.
 
In fact, the author of the post, an Oracle executive named Ken Glueck, a 25-year-long veteran of the company, has been temporarily suspended by Twitter after encouraging his followers to harass a female reporter.
 
The trouble ties to a series of pieces by the news site The Intercept about how a “network of local resellers helps funnel Oracle technology to the police and military in China,” and Oracle’s response to the pieces.
 
While it isn’t uncommon for companies to post responses to media stories on their own platforms (as well as to take out ads in mainstream media outlets), the crisis execs with whom we spoke — they asked not to be named as they work with companies like Oracle — had some observations that might be helpful to Oracle in the future.
 
Massive Fundings
 
Alchemy, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that describes itself as the backend technology behind the blockchain industry (like Bison Trails, acquired earlier this year by Coinbase, it aims to be the "AWS for blockchain,"), has raised $80 million in Series B funding led by Coatue and Addition. The company has now raised $95.5 million altogether and is valued at $505 million. TechCrunch has more here.
 
ElasticRun, a four-year-old, Pune, India-based company that helps secure inventory for the country's many mom-and-pop stores and merchants operating these stores, and also invites them to hold and deliver inventory for e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon, has raised $75 million in Series D funding. Earlier backers Avataar Ventures and Prosus Ventures co-led the round, joined by Kalaari Capital. The company has now raised $130.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Merama, a six-month-old, Mexico City, Mexico-based e-commerce startup that it purchasing stakes in select e-commerce business in Latin America that it thinks it can help scale faster, has raised $60 million in seed funding and another $100 million in debt funding.  Valor Capital, Monashees Capital and Balderton Capital co-led the equity piece. TechCrunch has more here.
 
OpenSpace, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based platform that helps construction companies track building projects through AI-powered analytics and 360-degree photo documentation, has raised $55 million in a series C round of funding led by Alkeon Capital Management. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Sysdig, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based container, Kubernetes, and cloud security company, has raised $189 million in Series F funding at a $1.19 billion post-money valuation. The new round for the company -- which has now raised $395 million altogether -- was led by Third Point Ventures and Premji Invest, with participation from Accel, Bain Capital Ventures, DFJ Growth, Goldman Sachs, Insight Partners, and Next47. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
Akeyless, a three-year-old, New York- and Tel Aviv, Israel-based software-as-a-service platform for authentication and digital access, has raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Team8. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Ergatta, a three-year-old, Brooklyn, New York-based fitness brand whose first product is a gamified connected rower, has raised $30 million in Series A funding. Advanced Venture Partners led the round, joined by Greycroft, Fifth Wall, Gaingels and Hans Tung of GGV Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Finoa, a three-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based digital asset custody and financial services platform, has raised $22 million in Series A funding led by Balderton Capital. Earlier investors Coparion, Venture Stars and Signature Ventures also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Opsera, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based continuous orchestration platform for DevOps, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Felicis Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Splitwise, a 10-year-old, Providence, Rhode Island-based company whose software helps users split expenses, has closed raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Insight Partners. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Super, a three-year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based group buying platform that empowers users to sell to their own communities, helps them market their goods, and eases their logistics headaches, has raised $28 million in Series B funding led by SoftBank Ventures Asia. Other participants in the round include DST Global and TNB Aura and earlier backers Amasia, Insignia Ventures Partners, Y Combinator Continuity Fund and Bain Capital co-chairman Stephen Pagliuca. The company has now raised $36 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
BoostUp.ai, a three-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based software-as-a-service platform for managing revenue operations, has raised $6 million in additional Series A funding led by Canaan Partners, with participation from Emergent Ventures and BGV Ventures. The round now stands at $14 million. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Lobus, a three-year-old, New York-based startup focused on bringing new tech to the physical art world, from auction analysis and inventory management to the power of non-fungible token (NFT) sales, has raised $6 million. The capital comes from Upside Capital, 8VC, Franklin Templeton, Dream Machine, Weekend Fund, BoostVC, and a long list of individual investors, including Slack cofounder Cal Henderson and Carta founder Henry Ward. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Populix, a three-year-old, Indonesia-based consumer-insights platform, has raised $1.2 million in an oversubscribed pre-Series A round led by earlier investor Intudo Ventures, with participation from Quest Ventures. The company has now raised $2.3 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
SunRoof, an eight-year-old, Sweden-based company that installs smart rooftops that produce solar power, as well as enables its customers to share surplus energy, has raised €4.5 million in extended seed funding led by Inovo Venture Partners, with participation from SMOK Ventures LT Capital, EIT InnoEnergy, FD Growth Capital and KnowledgeHub. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Viso Trust, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based platform that uses AI to perform cyber risk assessments, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Work-Bench, with participation from Sierra Ventures and Lytical Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.
New Funds
 
Iconiq Capital, an investment firm that manages money for some of the most prominent people in Silicon Valley, is raising a new fund, reports the WSJ. The vehicle, the firm's sixth, is apparently targeting $3.75 billion, which would be a significant step up from the firm’s fifth fund, which closed with $2.6 billion. More here.
Exits
 
Dutch communications software start-up MessageBird said today that it has raised fresh funding and agreed to acquire commercial email platform SparkPost in a $600 million all-cash deal to help it expand its presence in the United States. MessageBird, which competes with the cloud communications platform Twilio, says it raised a total of $1 billion in a Series C funding round, $200 million of which was raised last year. CNBC has more here.
 
Verizon is reportedly exploring a sale of its digital media assets while the unit is logging double-digit growth, unlike during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., when it experienced a sharp ad pullback. The WSJ has more here.
Going Public
 
The shoe brand Allbirds is interviewing banks in preparation for an IPO, according to DealBook. The direct-to-consumer company was last valued at $1.6 billion. We talked with cofounder and CEO Joey Zwillinger about that round in October.
 
Freshworks, a San Mateo, Calif.-based maker of business and customer engagement software that competes against Salesforce, has hired bankers to prep for a U.S. IPO, says Reuters. The company closed its most recent round of funding --  $400 million at a $3.5 billion valuation -- way, way back in 2019. More here.
 
Zomato, the 12-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based food delivery company that was most recently valued by its investors at $5.4 billion, has registered plans to go public in India and to raise more than $1 billion in the process. TechCrunch has more here.
People
 
Amazon is raising wages for its hourly employees after a majority of workers at one of the e-commerce giant’s warehouses voted not to unionize. The company said Wednesday that more than 500,000 of its employees would see pay increases of between 50 cents and $3 an hour. Amazon, which offers a starting wage of $15 an hour and employs roughly 950,000 people in the U.S., said the raises represented an investment of more than $1 billion. In the WSJ.
 
The Samsung family announced on Wednesday that it would pay $10.8 billion in inheritance taxes after the death of Lee Kun-hee, Samsung’s chairman, last year. South Korea has one of the highest inheritance taxes in the world. 
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Essential Reads
 
Venture firms are basking in a surge of blockbuster profits.
 
The SEC is reportedly considering new guidance to rein in growth projections made by listed blank-check companies and clarify when they qualify for certain legal protections. Reuters has more here.
 
Miami Tech Week. (So more Fyre Festival than Dreamforce.)
Detours
 
Soul Cycle's wild ride.
 
The old-school jeweler taking over the watch world.
 
Retail Therapy
 
A $17 million mansion in San Francisco that's straight out of Paris’s 6th arrondissement.
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