Amazon hits it out of the park, Twitter does not, and a look at what's happening on Twitch

April 29, 2021
 
Hello! Hope you enjoyed your Thursday.:) 
Top News
 
Shares of Lyft, Uber and DoorDash dipped today after Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh told Reuters in an interview that gig workers should be classified as company employees. More here.
 
Amazon knocked the cover off the ball again in the first quarter.
 
Twitter’s stock fell more than 11% in after-hours trading today after the company released its first-quarter earnings, missing on user growth expectations and providing lower revenue guidance for the second quarter than expected. CNBC has more here.
 
Today, China’s central bank and other regulators ordered 13 firms, including Tencent and many other big names in tech, to adhere to much tighter regulation of their data and lending practices. The WSJ has more here.
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Eclipse Ventures Has $500 Million More to Digitize Old-Line Industries and Bring Them Up to Speed
 
Two years ago, we talked with Lior Susan, the founder of now six-year-old Eclipse Ventures in Palo Alto, Ca. At the time, the outfit believed that the next big thing wasn’t another social network but instead the remaking of old-line industries through full tech stacks — including hardware, software and data — capable of bring them into the 21st century.
 
Fast forward, and nothing has changed, not inside of Eclipse anyway. While the world has gone through a dramatic transformation owing to the coronavirus pandemic — never has the U.S.’s crumbling infrastructure been so apparent to so many – Eclipse is backing exactly the same kinds of companies that it always has and with the same size fund. Indeed, after closing its second and third funds with $500 million, the firm quietly closed its fourth vehicle earlier this month with $500 million in capital commitments from predominantly endowments.
 
This morning, we talked with Susan about Eclipse’s focus on revitalizing old industries that remain largely untouched by tech, and why the pitch of Lior and the rest of Eclipse’s team has never been more powerful. Excerpts from that conversation follow, edited lightly for length and clarity.
 
Because of where Eclipse focuses, you were long aware of the coming supply chain crises that the pandemic brought to the fore. Have your priorities changed at all as an investor? Did you have a to-do list going into 2020 and has that changed?
 
Not really. We’ve been saying from inception that the infrastructure that we are living in is 50 to 60 years old across the board. We’ve been all of this time in those social software and fintech, new ideas and consumer trends. But we don’t live in the internet, we actually live in the physical world. And the physical world is not [receiving investment] at all. But much of that innovation can be applied to the world in which we are living, and what we want to do is bring that $65 trillion backstage economy into the digital age.
 
In this go-go market, not a lot of funds are raising the same amounts as they have previously. Why did you choose to do so?
 
We have a very specific strategy. We only lead early-stage investments in around 22 companies per fund, we [want] 20% to 25% with our initial check, and we double down on companies that we think are breaking out and try to lead two or three rounds in a row. And we know how to run the spreadsheets and we know how to make an assumption [about] what is the enterprise value we need to create in order to deliver alpha returns, and [that math leads us to] $500 million.
 
Massive Fundings
 
Capsida Biotherapeutics, a two-year-old, Thousand Oaks, Ca.-based developer of tissue-targeted gene therapies, has raised $50 million in Series A funding from Versant Ventures and Westlake Village BioPartners. It also secured $90 million in upfront and equity capital from AbbVie, as part of a strategic partnership. Endpoints News has more here
 
Modern Meadow, a 10-year-old, New York-based biotech company that uses biofabrication to create sustainable materials, including alternatives to leather, has raised $130 million in Series C funding. Key Partners Capital led the round, joined by Astanor Ventures, Horizons Ventures and Cape Capital. The company also said that chairperson Anna Bakst, formerly CEO of Kate Spade, is succeeding Andras Forgacs as CEO. The Business of Fashion has more here.

Paxos, a nine-year-old, New York-based cryptocurrency infrastructure and white-label services platform, has raised $300 million in Series D funding at a $2.4 billion post-money valuation led by Oak HC/FT. Other investors in the round include Declaration Partners, PayPal Ventures, Mithril Capital, Senator Investment Group, Liberty City Ventures and WestCap. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Sera Prognostics, a 13-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based company behind a blood-based test that measures the levels of two proteins to predict a pregnant woman's risk of giving preterm birth, raised $100 million in Series E funding. Investors in the round include Vivo Capital, aMoon Fund, Parian Global, Anthem and Blue Ox Healthcare Partners. More here.
 
Solidia Technologies, a 13-year-old, Piscataway, New Jersey-based low-carbon cement and concrete company, has raised $78 million in new funding.  Imperative Ventures and Zero Carbon Partners co-led the round, joined by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, PIVA Capital and earlier backers John Doerr, Bill Joy, BP, and OGCI Climate Investments. More here.

TravelPerk, a six-year-old, Barcelona Spain-based travel management company that sells its services to businesses, has raised $160 million in Series D equity and debt funding. Greyhound Capital led the round, joined by earlier investors DST, Kinnevik, Target Global, Felix Capital, Spark Capital, Heartcore, LocalGlobe and Amplo. TechCrunch has more here.

Vectra AI, an 11-year-old,  San Jose, Ca.-based network intrusion detection company, has raised $130 million at a $1.2 billion post-money valuation led by Blackstone Growth. Earlier investors Accel, Khosla Ventures and TCV also joined the round. The company has now raised $350 million altogether. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Wasabi, a nearly four-year-old, Boston-based cloud storage platform that competes with Amazon Web Services's Amazon S3 service, has raised $112 million in Series C funding led by  Fidelity Management & Research Co., with participation from earlier backers Forestay Capital and North Atlantic Capital. SiliconAngle has more here
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
Arturo, a three-year-old, Chicago-based company that sells real estate analytics (it originally spun out of American Family Insurance), raised $25 million in Series B funding. Atlantic Bridge Capital led, and was joined by RPS Ventures and earlier backers Crosslink Capital and IAG Firemark Ventures. The outfit has now raised $33 million altogether. Built in Chicago has more here
 
Botpress, a five-year0old, Montreal-based developer platform for building conversational apps, has raised C$15 million in Series A funding led by Decibel, with participation from Inovia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Firstbase, a three-year-old, New York-based provisioning platform for offices, has raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from B Capital Group and Alpaca VC. Crunchbase News has more here.
 
Gr4vy, a year-old, London-based cloud payment orchestration platform, raised $11.1 million. Nyca Partners led the round, joined by Activant Capital, Global Founders Capital and Firestartr. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Keeper Tax, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that makes tax filing software for gig workers and freelancers, has raised $13 million in Series A funding from e.ventures, Matrix Partners, Foundation Capital and individuals. More here.
 
Logixboard, a five-year-old, Seattle-based customer experience platform for freight forwarders, has raised $13 million in funding led by Redpoint Ventures, with added participation from Social Leverage, F-Prime Capital, Founders Co-op and Techstars Ventures. The company has now raised $18.8 million altogether. GeekWire has more here.
 
Oura Health, an eight-year-old, Oulu, Finland-based sleep-tracking startup that uses advanced sensor technology and an app to deliver precise and personalized information to its users, is reportedly in talks to raise new funding at around an $800 million valuation. To date, the company has raised $150 million in backing, including via a $28 million round last year that included Forerunner Ventures, Square and Gradient Ventures. Bloomberg has more here.
 
PortalOne, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based gaming startup whose app invites people to play on-demand games and also watch live shows in which users can play against a special guest, has raised $15 million in seed funding, including from ARRI, Founders Fund, TQ Ventures, Coatue Management, Rogue Capital Partners, Signia Venture Partners, Seedcamp, Talis Capital and SNÖ Ventures out of Europe. TechCrunch has more here.

Taster, a nearly four-year-old, London-based startup spinning up street-food concepts and delivering food from so-called dark kitchens in 40 cities, restaurant chain startup, raised $37 million in Series B funding. Octopus Ventures led the round, joined by Battery Ventures, LocalGlobe, HeartCore, Rakuten, GFC and Founders Future. TechCrunch has more here
 
Smaller Fundings
 
Kickfurther, a seven-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based crowdfunded inventory funding platform that provides working capital to small and medium-size product businesses in the U.S., just raised $5.9 million in seed funding led by Grand Oaks Capital. More here.
Exits
 
IBM today made another acquisition to deepen its reach into providing enterprises with AI-based services to manage their networks and workloads. It's buying Turbonomic, a 13-year-old, Boston-based company that provides tools to manage application performance (specifically resource management), along with Kubernetes and network performance. Financial terms of the deal aren't being disclosed, but according to data in PitchBook, Turbonomic was valued at nearly $1 billion in its last funding round in September 2019. Meanwhile, Reuters's sources say the deal is valued at between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. TechCrunch has more here.
Going Public
 
Business news and information publisher Forbes Media is in talks to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company as it attracts new acquisition interest, Reuters reported earlier today.
People
 
Live audio experiences will be adopted by every major platform just like Stories have been, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told investors yesterday during an earnings call.
 
Palantir CEO Alex Karp earned cash and stock worth $1.1 billion last year.
 
Lambda School, the five-year-old, San Fransisco-based company that provides free coding courses in exchange for a cut of its students’ future incomes, says it has laid off 65 employees as a part of a restructuring. Lamba has been the focus of several articles in the past, including a piece from The Information last year that noted its "big buzz" but also student complaints about its curriculum
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Essential Reads
 
"Global auto makers who had expected the semiconductor supply crisis to subside in the spring are now warning that chips will remain scarce for months while a second-half recovery is fraught with uncertainty.  
 
Twitch, where far-right influencers feel at home.
Detours
 
No, sickos, you can't buy an NFT to destroy a Basquiat (today).
 
With 2021 Burning Man canceled, locals see the bright side.
 
Where does a candle go when it burns?
Retail Therapy
 
Roger Federer’s rackets, sneakers and other Grand Slam memorabilia are heading to auction.
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