Fortnite's Epic revenue, Buterin's billions, and second biggest divorce ever?

May 3, 2021
 
Hi, welcome back.:)
Top News
 
Bill and Melinda Gates are splitting up after 27 years of marriage. The news has shaken America to its core, just when the country had finally recovered from the equally shocking divorce of Al and Tipper. (Okay, yes, we also were surprised by the Bezos split, but we weren't *completely* taken aback by that one, not after Jeff Bezos showed up to Sun Valley n 2017 looking like Brad Pitt in "Fight Club.")
 
Verizon Media is being sold to the private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $5 billion as the latter looks to maker a bigger investment in digital media. (Disclosure: as longtime readers know, I, Connie, am the Silicon Valley Editor of TechCrunch, and TechCrunch is part of the media group that's now changing hands. Relatedly: StrictlyVC is independent and not owned by TC/Verizon/Apollo.) The New York Times has more on the sale and its possible implications here
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Massive Fundings
 
Bibit.id, a two-year-old, Indonesia-based robo-advisory startup, has raised $65 million in funding round led by Sequoia Capital India, with participation from Prosus Ventures, Tencent and Harvard Management Company, along with earlier backers AC Ventures and East Ventures. The outlet e27 has more here.
 
Genies, a four-year-old, L.A.-based avatar tech company, has raised $65 million in Series B funding led Bond. NEA, Breyer Capital, Tull Investment Group, NetEase, Dapper Labs and Coinbase Ventures also participated in the deal. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Hive, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose tech can be used to identify images of objects, words and phrases for content moderation platforms, as well as for building algorithms for autonomous systems and back-office data processing, has raised $85 million in Series D funding at a post-money valuation of $2 billion. Glynn Capital led the round, joined by General Catalyst, Tomales Bay Capital, Jericho Capital, Bain & Company and other unnamed investors. The company has now raised $121 million. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Path Robotics, a three-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based company focused on robotic welding, has raised $56 million in Series B funding led by Addition, with participation from backers Drive Capital, Basis Set and Lemnos Labs. The company has now raised $71 million altogether.  TechCrunch has more here.
 
Solid Power, a 10-year-old, Louisville, Co.-based company that produces solid state batteries, meaning they don’t use the liquid electrolyte found in the conventional lithium-ion batteries that currently power most electric vehicles, has raised $130 million in funding led by Ford Motor Co. and BMW, with participation Volta Energy Technologies, the venture firm spun out of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. CNBC has more here.
 
SafetyCulture, a 17-year-old, Sydney, Australia-based workplace safety company, has raised $73 million in fresh funding led by Insight Partners, with participation from earlier backers Tiger Global Management, Index Ventures, and Blackbird Ventures. Australia's Startup Daily has more here.
 
SCI Ecommerce, a seven-year-old, Singapore-based online shopping service, has raised more than $38 million in new funding to expand in Southeast Asia ahead of a potential Nasdaq listing. Asia Partners led the new round at a post-money valuation of $235 million. Bloomberg has more here.
 
Wealthsimple, a nearly seven-year-old, Toronto-based commission-free retail investment platform that's reminiscent of Robinhood, has raised a whopping $610 million in new funding at a post-money valuation of $4 billion. Earlier investors Greylock Partners and Meritech Capital Partners co-led the round, joined by a mix of new and existing backers, including Inovia, Sagard and Redpoint, Two Sigma Ventures, TCV, and individuals investors like Drake, Ryan Reynolds and Michael J. Fox ("basically, all the most famous Canadians," notes TechCrunch). More here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
Anodyne Nanotech, a two-year-old Boston-based biotechnology company developing differentiated, transdermal forms of high-value drugs, has raised $4.2 million in seed funding from Velocity Partners, Relativity Healthcare Fund and Big Pi Ventures, among others. More here.
 
Avenue 8, a year-old, San Francisco-based mobile-first residential brokerage cofounded by realtor Justin Fichelson (he starred in "Million Dollar Listing San Francisco" for two years), has raised $14 million in funding. Craft Ventures and Threshold Ventures co-led the round, joined by earlier backers Zigg Capital and Good Friends. The company has now raised $18 million altogether. The Real Deal has more here.
 
Firstbase, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that enables companies to supply, finance, and manage the physical equipment their remote workers need (from IT installation and maintenance to corporate perks), has raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. B Capital Group and Alpaca VC also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Hangry, a two-year-old, Indonesia-based culinary startup with a cloud kitchen and multi-brand concept, has raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Alpha JWC Ventures, with participation from Atlas Pacific Capital, Salt Ventures, and Heyokha Brothers. The outlet e27 has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
Alfie, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup that's applying AI to IVF cycles to help determine which embryos will have the highest chance of success (it's akin to another startup, Embryonics, that we covered earlier this year), has raised $9.5 million in seed funding. Lux Capital led the round. Other investors include Amplo, IA Ventures, Springbank Collective and numerous individual investors, including 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki. Business Insider has more here.
 
Gatheround, a 2.5-year-old, L.A.-based community engagement platform that aims to bring people together online through chats, videos and one-on-one and group conversations, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Homebrew and Bloomberg Beta, with participation from numerous individual investors, including Stripe COO Claire Hughes Johnson, Meetup co-founder Scott Heiferman, and investor Li Jin. TechCrunch has more here.
 
OnLume Surgical, a six-year-old, Madison, Wi.-based medical device company developing imaging systems for use during surgery, has raised $7 million in Series A funding by Cambridge Investment Group, with participation from WARF Ventures and Wisconsin Investment Partners. The round comes on the heels of a $2 million grant that the company received last year from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. More here.
New Funds
 
LDV Capital, a nine-year-old, New York-based venture firm, has raised a $21 million third fund to continue investing in early-stage businesses powered by visual technologies. The firm’s third fund is double the size of its last fund and continues its mandate to fund founders whose startups leverage AI, machine learning and computer vision to analyze visual data across all business verticals. Forbes has more here.
 
Stride.VC, a three-year-old, London-based, seed-stage venture firm, has raised $141 million in capital commitments for a second fund from 50 investors, shows a new SEC filing. More here
Exits
 
One the same day as "Fortnite" maker Epic Games goes to trial with one of the biggest legal challenges to the App Store’s business model to date, it has simultaneously announced the acquisition of the artist portfolio community ArtStation. ArtStation offers a place for creators across gaming, media and entertainment to showcase their work and find new jobs. Terms of the deal aren't being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Dell has agreed to selling its Boomi cloud business to Francisco Partners and TPG in a cash deal valued at $4 billion, as part of efforts by CEO Michael Dell to trim down the personal computer maker. The company announced plans last month to spin off its stake in the infrastructure software business VMware; last year, it sold the cybersecurity unit RSA for $2.08 billion to a private equity firm. Bloomberg has more here.
 
Cybersecurity company Imperva, owned by Thoma Bravo, today announced it plans to acquire the three-year-old, Los Altos, Ca.-based API security company CloudVector for an undisclosed sum. Imperva says the deal will differentiate it in the web app and API protection market. VentureBeat has more here.
Going Public
 
Expensify, a 13-year-old, San Francisco-based expense management software company, has announced in a press release that it submitted a draft registration statement to the SEC for an IPO. The size and price range of the offering haven’t been determined. According to Crunchbase, the company has raised $38 million over the years, including from Redpoint and Openview Venture Partners. More here.
 
Two former top European executives of Tesla  are launching a $350 million IPO for Ascendant Mobility Acquisition Corp. I, a SPAC that will focus on electric vehicles or other transportation-related technologies. Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen and Jochen Rudat will serve as co-CEOs of the blank-check company. Seeking Alpha has more here.
People
 
Apple as hired former distinguished Google scientist Samy Bengio, who left the search giant amid turmoil in its artificial intelligence research department. Bengio is expected to lead a new AI research unit at Apple under John Giannandrea, senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy. More here.
 
Vitalik Buterin, who spearheaded the launch of the Ethereum blockchain in 2015, has become the world’s youngest crypto billionaire at age 27. Ethereum’s cryptocurrency, ether, surged past $3,000 for the first time earlier today, marking a 325% rise since the beginning of this year. More here.
 
Jeremy Fox joined the proptech-focused venture firm Fifth Wall as a partner focused on strategic partnerships and on capital markets. Previously, Fox spent more than 20 years on Wall Street with Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank. More here.
Data
 
The game "Fortnite" made more than $9 billion in revenue in its first two years. (If you or your kid plays, this might not surprise you.)
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Essential Reads
 
Twitter Spaces, the company’s new live audio rooms feature, is now available to any account with 600 followers or more.
 
Electric vehicle company Arrival is building a car with Uber. The idea is to sell drivers on an electric, affordable vehicle that can rack up a lot of miles without falling apart.
 
Sony is planning to integrate the talking and texting app Discord into the Playstation Network in early 2022.
 
Facebook’s Oversight Board, an independent and international panel that was created and funded by the social network, plans to announce on Wednesday whether Donald Trump will be able to return to the platform. The decision, notes the New York Times, will be closely watched as a template for how private companies that run social networks handle political speech, including misinformation.
Detours
 
The computers are getting better at writing.
 
Meet the teenage gamers who are raking in millions in the high-stakes world of esports.
Retail Therapy
 
A one-trick toaster.
 
Fine, but you're going to need a bigger backpack.
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