India in trouble, a16z's new crypto fund, and discovering bubble tea (and its tapioca pearls)

April 30, 2021
 
Friday!
Before we go, we leave you with this week's StrictlyVC Download, featuring guest Joe Lallouz, the cofounder and CEO of Bison Trails. If you caught our recent podcast with Garry Tan and Katie Haun, you know that Bison Trails (which Tan and Coinbase and others helped fund before Coinbase quietly acquired in it January) is why Tan thinks the best days are ahead for Coinbase. In fact, like Alchemy Capital, also backed by Coinbase and also newly in the headlines -- -- Tan portrayed Bison as a kind of AWS for blockchain. It made us wonder: can Bison and Alchemy -- and other rivals --  peacefully coexist? What are some of the other big shifts that the "normals" outside of the crypto world should be tracking? Lallouz answered these questions and many others, and he answered them in plain English (which, phew). We really enjoyed it -- hope you will, too.
 
Giant thanks to Anduin for being a sponsor. Anduin's granular data allows fund managers to track how investors engage with their subscription forms, and when to follow up with the right people.
 
Have a great weekend, everyone. And happy Easter to our Orthodox readers!
 
More Monday.:)
Top News
 
The Biden administration will restrict travel from India beginning Tuesday, May 4, as the country grapples with a gigantic surge in coronavirus cases, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said today. The New York Times has more here.
 
Australia has taken an even harsher line, announcing a bit ago that it will jail anyone who attempts to return from India. For people like Mandeep Sharma -- who traveled to India this month to attend his father's funeral, and whose wife and daughters are home in Adelaide -- trying to get home is now a criminal act, punishable by five years in jail or an A$66,000 ($51,000) fine. The BBC has more here.
 
Bolstered by Coinbase’s hugely successful direct listing, Andreessen Horowitz is gearing up to launch a third crypto fund, per a report in the Financial Times. The now 11-year-old firm plans to raise between $800 million and $1 billion for related investments. Its last crypto fund closed with $515 million in capital commitments a year ago. 
 
NASA has told Elon Musk’s SpaceX to halt work under a contract it won to develop a lunar spacecraft, pending the outcome of challenges by rival bidders at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the agency said today. Earlier this month, NASA awarded SpaceX the lunar contract over Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics. Blue Origin on Monday filed a protest with the GAO, arguing among other things that NASA gave SpaceX the chance to revise its bid but did not give that chance to Blue Origin. CNBC has more here.
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Pilot, a San Francisco-based startup, just raised $100 million in funding led by Bezos Expeditions, Sequoia Capital, and Whale Rock to help founders get their finances right. Get the financial expertise to grow with Pilot bookkeeping, tax, and CFO services. StrictlyVC readers get 20% off their first 6 months of bookkeeping.
Massive Fundings
 
Adcendo, a four-year-old, Copenhagen-based developer of antibody-drug conjugates, has raised €51 million in Series A funding. Novo Seeds and Ysios Capital co-led the round, joined by RA Capital Management, HealthCap and Gilde Healthcare. FierceBiotech has more here.
 
Capsule, a six-year-old, New York-based digital pharmacy, has raised $300 million at a post-money valuation of more than $1 billion. Durable Capital Partners led, and was joined by Baillie Gifford, T. Rowe Price and Whale Rock. The company has now raised $570 million to date. MedCity News has more here
 
Ceribell, a 6.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based maker of a portable, FDA-cleared EEG system to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients at risk of seizure, has raised $53 million in Series C funding. Earlier investors Longitude Capital and The Rise Fund co-led the round. Other participants include RA Capital Management, Redmile Group, Red Tree Venture Capital and several of Ceribell’s existing shareholders. FierceBiotech has more here.
 
Vivid Money, a year-old, Berlin, Germany-based mobile banking app and digital investing platform. has raised a new $73 million Series B funding round (€60 million) led by Greenoaks, with earlier investor Ribbit Capital also participating. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
Connecteam, a five-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based all-in-one app for deskless employees, has raised $37 million in Series B funding from Insight Partners, OG Tech, and Wix’s leadership team. Tech.eu has more here.
 
Manna, a three-year-old, Ireland-based company that makes what it describes as aviation-grade drones that fly at 80 kilometers and hour to deliver goods including groceries, take-out food and medicine, has raised $25 million in Series A funding. Draper Esprit led the round, joined by Team Europe, DST Global and earlier investors Dynamo Ventures, Atlantic Bridge and Elkstone. FreightWaves has more here.
 
Mux, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based API-first video platform designed to make video streaming and analytics possible for every development team, has raised $105 million in Series D funding at a post-money valuation of more than $1 billion. Coatue led the round, joined by Dragoneer and earlier investors Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, and Cobalt. The company has now raised $175 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Pachema, a  2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based marketplace for forest carbon credits, has raised $15 million from Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital, Saltwater, MCJ Collective and OATV. TechCrunch has more here.
 
RapidDeploy, a seven-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based maker of dispatch software for 911 centers, has raised $29 million in Series B funding. Morpheus Ventures led the round, joined by GreatPoint Ventures, Ericsson Ventures, Samsung Next Ventures, Tao Capital Partners, Clearvision Ventures and Tau Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
Heirlume, a two-year-old, Toronto-based startup whose machine-powered trademark registration platform turns the process into a self-serve affair, has raised $1.38 million in seed funding led by Backbone Angels, with additional participation from the Future Capital collective, Angels of Many, MaRS IAF, and numerous other individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.
 
InterviewIA, an 11-month-old, Denver, Co.-based platform that manages all aspects of the job-hiring workflow to ensure objectivity and inclusiveness, has raised $2 million in seed funding. The Colorado Impact Fund led the round, joined by FirstMile Ventures, Rockies Venture Club, Outbound Capital, Dasein Capital, Stout Street Capital, and Service Provider Capital. More here
 
Sorbet, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup that helps employees cash out of unused time off, has raised $6 million in funding led by Viola Ventures, with participation from Global Founders Capital and Meron Capital. Tech.eu has more here.
 
PreShow Interactive, a new, New York-based startup that invites gamers to earn in-game currency in exchange for watching ads (it was launched by MoviePass's founding CEO, Stacy Spikes), has raised $3 million. Harlem Capital led the round, joined by Canaan Partners, Wavemaker Ventures, Front Row Fund, ROC Fund, BK Fulton and Monroe Harris. TechCrunch has more here.
 
ReleaseHub, a two-year-old, L.A.-based startup that provides developers with on-demand environments so they needn't build their own every time they are trying to create new software, has raised $2.7 million in seed funding. Sequoia Capital led the round, joined by Y Combinator, Liquid Capital and Rogue VC. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Strap Technologies, a three-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based developer of lightweight, chest-worn strap that guides the blind and visually impaired by calculating the proximity of physical environments, has raised $1.3 million led by Platform Capital. More here.
 
UCM Digital, a four-year-old, Troy, N.Y.-based digital health company providing 24/7 telehealth treat, triage, and navigation services, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding.  The round was led by Armory Square Ventures and joined by earlier investors Contour Ventures and River Park Ventures. More here.
New Funds
 
Ince Capital, co-founded by Gan Jianping (who previously helped build Qiming Venture Partners), is reportedly close to raising as much as $500 million for a second fund to bankroll Chinese startups. The firm's limited partners include Mayo Clinic, Tencent Holdings and Hillhouse Capital Management. Bloomberg has more here.
 
Pantera Capital, the San Francisco-based outfit and one of the earliest cryptocurrency investment firms, is aiming to raise $600 million for a new blockchain fund that will combine investments in private companies and tradable tokens, it has said. Pantera’s latest venture fund raised $175 million in 2018 and was worth 3.8 times that amount as of January, according to its website. The Financial Times has more here.
 
Zigg Capital, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based proptech-focused venture fund, has closed its fund with $225 million in capital commitments, a big jump up from its $100 million debut fund. Founding partner Dave Eisenberg previously spent roughly a decade with Red Swan Ventures and was also a VP at the real estate commercial services firm CBRE. The WSJ has more here.
Going Public
 
Sonder, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based lodging company that decks out apartments and hotel rooms as hip short-term rentals, has agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition company Gores Metropoulos II Inc. The deal will give the combined entity an enterprise value of about $2.2 billion, according to a statement Friday that confirmed an earlier Bloomberg News report. It includes a $200 million private placement led by an affiliate of The Gores Group, the investment firm founded by the SPAC’s chief executive officer, Alec Gores. Sonder has raised some $560 million in funding to date and was valued at around $1.3 billion during its last fund raise. Bloomberg has more here.
Exits
 
Facebook is buying Downpour Interactive, the six-year-old, San Francisco-based developer behind the popular VR first-person shooter "Onward."  Terms of the deal aren't being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Madefire, a 10-year-old, Emeryville, Ca.-based digital comics startup, is shutting down after raising roughly $20 million in funding from True Ventures and Plus Capital, among others. TechCrunch has more here.
People
 
Following a controversial ban on political discussions earlier this week, Basecamp employees are heading for the exits. The company employs around 60 people, and roughly one-third of the company appears to have accepted buyouts to leave, many citing new company policies
 
ByteDance’s recently-hired CFO Shouzi Chew will be assuming of TikTok CEO while still holding the CFO role at its parent organization, the company announced this morning. Vanessa Pappas, who was serving as interim CEO, will take the role of COO going forward. More here.
 
A federal jury has convicted Michael Kail, the 49-year-old former VP of IT Operations at Netflix, of fraud for obtaining pay-to-play bribes and kickbacks from tech startups. CBS Bay Area has more here.
 
“Saturday Night Live” cast members won’t be forced to appear alongside Elon Musk when he hosts the show, says Page Six.
 
We weren't expecting this SNL spot to be become quite such a PR disaster for Musk. If he's at all bothered, he has quite a consolation price: per a new securities disclosure, he can add another $32.4 billion worth of Tesla shares to his pile, having vested in stock options valued at that amount after the company hit roughly half of the targets laid out by its board in a 2018 compensation package, notes the WSJ. More here.
 
Olaf Sakkers, a VC who has spent the last six-plus years with mobility-focused firm Maniv Mobility in Tel Aviv, is leaving the firm, he announced today, hinting that he'll reveal his next steps soon.
 
The Winklevoss twins are releasing the first crypto rewards credit card.
 
Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan have doubled down on beachfront property in Hawaii.
Data
 
Companies in the U.S. are expected to spend 15% more on advertising this year than they did in 2020.
Sponsored By ...
 
TopFunnel helps teams hire the right people, faster and more cost effectively than traditional means. TopFunnel unlocks sourcing automation at scale for startups up to teams over 100,000. Empower founders, execs, and recruiters to source and schedule like pros. See the Talent TAM, benchmark vs the competition, track diversity, and execute on your goals. StrictlyVC readers get $10k of credits.
Essential Reads
 
The run of a robotic dog from Boston Dynamics has been cut short after the NYPD faced criticism that the robot  is akin to a dystopian surveillance drone.
 
For five tech giants, there regular big, and then there’s pandemic big.
Detours
 
A Russian man has finally been eliminated from a Chinese reality TV show after begging fans to vote him out for three months.
 
Brazil has already lost 30 Manhattans of Amazon rainforest this year.
 
As a very funny colleague observed earlier, the third act really delivers.
Retail Therapy
 
 
High concept, indeed.
 
A surge protector with a "low-profile design," as if. (We had to put the kibosh on this one at StrictlyVC HQ.)
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