Peloton apologizes, Chime agrees to stop calling itself a bank, and the buzz around fermented meat

May 5, 2021
 
This Facebook group has changed our lives.
Top News
 
Speaking of Facebook: a company-appointed panel of journalists, activists and lawyers today upheld the social network’s ban of Donald Trump for now. But it also made clear that it thinks Facebook should figure out some clearer policies, then abide by them.
 
Peloton has agreed to recall its treadmills, and CEO John Foley apologized for the company’s lingering refusal to comply with federal safety regulators who pushed for the action weeks ago. The company said it's also halting sales of its current treadmill, the Tread+. More here.
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Chime Agrees to Stop Using the Word "Bank" After a California Regulator Pushes Back
 
Chime might call itself the “fastest-growing fintech in the U.S.,” but it has agreed to stop referring to itself as a “bank,” per a new report out of American Banker.
 
Evidently, the eight-year-old, San Francisco-based outfit was the target of an investigation by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation after Chime used “chimebank” in its website address, as well as used “bank” and “banking” elsewhere in its advertisements, according to the agency in a settlement agreement.
 
As noted by AB, Chime made the decision to settle ahead of a deadline imposed by the regulatory body.
 
The development won't surprise anyone familiar with U.S. banking laws.
 
Massive Fundings
 
Bitso, a seven-year-old, Mexico-based regulated crypto exchange in Latin America, has raised $250 million in Series C funding at a post-money valuation of $2.2 billion. (The company had closed on $62 million in Series B funding just four months ago.) Tiger Global Management and Coatue co-led the round, which also included participation from Paradigm, Bond, Valor Capital Group and earlier backers QED, Pantera Capital and Kaszek. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Cellares, a two-year-old, South San Francisco-based cell therapy manufacturing platform, has raised $82 million in Series B funding co-led by Decheng Capital and earlier investor Eclipse Ventures. Skyviews Life Science and 8VC also joined the round. Crunchbase News has more here.
 
Esker Therapeutics, a new San Francisco-based precision medicine startup focused on autoimmune disorders beginning with psoriasis, has raised $70 million in Series A funding from Foresite Capital. FierceBiotech has more here.

Firefly Aerospace, a four-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based small satellite launch startup, has raised $75 million in Series A funding led by DADA Holdings. It says it plans to raise $300 million later this year. CNBC has more here.
 
Headway, a New York-based software platform that helps therapists accept insurance and helps patients find those therapists, raised $70 million in Series B funding a $750 million post-money valuation. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, joined by earlier investors Thrive Capital, GV and Accel. The company has now raised around $100 million, per Crunchbase. TechCrunch has more here.

Honeybook, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based client and financial management platform for freelancers and solo entrepreneurs, has raised $155 million in Series D funding at a post-money valuation of more than $1 billion, says the company.  Durable Capital Partners led the round, joined by Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, 01 Advisors and earlier investors Norwest Venture Partners and Citi Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Vida Health, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based virtual chronic condition care platform, has raised $110 million in Series D funding  led by General Atlantic, Centene and AXA Venture Partners; they were joined by eight other firms to bring the company's total funding to date to roughly $188 million, according to Crunchbase. MobiHealth News has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
StarTree, a 1.5-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based startup building a platform-as-service version of the Apache Pinot analytics platform, ha raised $24 million in Series A funding led by Bain Capital Ventures and GGV Capital, with participation from earlier investor CRV. The company has now raised $28 million altogether. VentureBeat has more here.
 
StudySmarter, a four-year-old, Munich, Germany-based personalized learning platform for people of all ages, has raised $15 million in Series A funding. Owl Ventures led the round, joined by Left Lane Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Timescale, the six-year-old, New York-based maker of the open-source TimescaleDB time series database, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Redpoint Ventures. Earlier backers Benchmark, NEA, Icon Ventures and Two Sigma Ventures also joined the round, which brings the company's total funding to $70 million. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Una Brands, a six-month-old, Singapore-based company consolidating small e-commerce brands across the Asia-Pacific region (including those on Amazon but also other platforms), has raised $40 million in equity and debt. Investors include 500 Startups, Kingsway Capital, 468 Capital, Presight Capital, Global Founders Capital and former Lazada CEO Maximilian Bitner. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Vanta, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based automated security and verified compliance platform, has raised $50 million in Series A funding. Sequoia Capital led the round,  joined by earlier backer Y Combinator, whose program Vanta passed through in 2018. Forbes has more here.
 
Teachmint, a year-old, Bangalore, India-based education platform that helps teachers conduct classes online through an app, has raised $16.5 million in Series A funding led by Learn Capital, with participation from Better Capital and Lightspeed India Partners. The company has now raised $20 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Zoe, a four-year-old, London-based personalized nutrition startup, raised $20 million in extended Series B funding that brings the round's total to $53 million. Ahren Innovation Capital led the newest tranche,  joined by Accomplice, THVC, Daphni, and former NFL players Eli Manning and Osi Umenyiora. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
AeroCloud Systems, a nine-year-old, Macclesfield, England-based AI platform for airports to manage planes on the ground, has raised $1.7 million led by Playfair Capital. UKTN has more here.
 
Cased, a year-old, San Francisco-based that promises a developer friendly way to handle production access, has raised $2.25 million in seed funding led by Founders Fund. TechCrunch has more here.
 
EngineEars, a four-year-old, L.A.-based marketplace where independent audio mixers can connect with artists and labels, get credit for the tracks they’ve worked on, and get paid, has raised $1 million in funding from Kendrick Lamar, DJ Mustard, Roddy Rich and Slauson and Co. The company was founded by Derek Ali, a mixing engineer who has won three Grammy Awards for his work. TechCrunch has more here.

Flextock, a year-old, Cairo, Egypt-based e-commerce and fulfillment management startup, has raised $3.25 million in seed funding from Y Combinator, Foundation Ventures, MSA Capital, CRE Ventures, Alter Global, JIMCO, B&Y Ventures Partners and Access Bridge Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Kneron, a six-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based startup that develops semiconductors to give devices artificial intelligence capabilities by using edge computing, has raised $7 million in funding from Delta Electronics, a Taiwanese supplier of power components for Apple and Tesla. The outfit has now raised more than $100 million to date. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Rainforest, a five-year-old, Singapore-based startup that's among a wave of startups that roll up small e-commerce brands (see Una Brands above), has raised $6.5 million in funding led by Nordstar, with participation from Insignia Venture Partners. The outfit also secured a $30 million debt facility from an undisclosed American debt fund. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Relay Platform, a two-year-old, Toronto, Ontario-based SaaS platform for property and casualty insurance and reinsurance placements, has raised $5.2 million in seed funding led by Drive Capital. More here.
 
Recurate, a year-old, Washington, D.C.-based "circular economy" startup that works with brands to make it easier for their customers to sell products previously bought from their online storefronts, has raised $3.25 million seed round led by Gradient Ventures. More here.
 
Sprout.ai, a three-year-old, London-based insurtech startup that uses AI to help insurance companies settle claims within 24 hours, has raised £8 million in Series A funding. Octopus Ventures led the round, joined by Amadeus Capital Partners, Playfair Capital and Techstars. TechCrunch has more here
 
Swimply, a two-year-old, L.A.-based online marketplace for pool sharing (in 125 markets and counting), has raised $10 million in funding led by Norwest Venture Partners. Other participants in the round include Trust Ventures and angel investors, including Poshmark founder and CEO Manish Chandra. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Text Blaze, a four-month-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based startup whose Chrome extension allows users to save text snippets and insert them anywhere on the web using keyboard shortcuts has raised $3.3 million in seed funding led by Two Sigma Ventures and Susa Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
New Funds
 
Emergence, the 18-year-old, San Mateo, California-based venture firm focused on enterprise tech startups, has rounded up nearly a billion dollars in capital commitments across two funds. It closed its sixth early-stage fund with $575 million; the outfit also raised a so-called opportunity fund for the first time, closing it with $375 million in capital commitments. We have a bit more here.
 
Information Venture Partners, a seven-year-old, Toronto-based venture capital firm that primarily invests in early-stage B2B fintech and enterprise software startups, has closed its third fund with $101 million in capital commitments. More here.
Exits
 
Bill.com, which went public in late 2019, is reportedly in talks to buy Divvy, a three-year-old, Draper, Ut.-based expense reporting startup for small businesses. Divvy most recently raised funding at a $1.6 billion valuation from Hanaco, Schonfeld, PayPal Ventures and Whale Rock; it has raised roughly $420 million altogether. Forbes, which has the scoop, says Bill.com has approached Divvy in the past with an offer of $2 billion, suggesting this new deal would match or supersede that offer. More here.
 
Galaxy Digital, the crypto-focused firm, has agreed to buy BitGo, an eight-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based cryptocurrency custodian, for $1.2 billion in cash and stock. BitGo had raised around $70 million from investors, per Crunchbase, including Valor Equity Partners, Craft Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Inventures and Radar Partners. The WSJ has more here.
 
Mobile game publisher Zynga has agreed to acquire the 10-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile programmatic advertising and monetization platform Chartboost for $250 million in cash. Chartboost had raised $21 million in funding from investors, according to Crunchbase. VentureBeat has more here.
Going Public
 
Equinox is in talks to go public via a merger with a blank-check company backed by Chamath Palihapitiya, according to CNBC. The fitness group, which also owns SoulCycle and Blink Fitness, has been hit hard by the pandemic. Equinox is seeking a valuation above $7 billion, says the outlet. More here.
 
Manscaped, the five-year-old, San Diego-based maker of men’s personal hygiene and "below-the-waist" grooming products, is advanced talks to go public via a SPAC, says Axios. The four-year-old company has been trying to figure out an exit strategy since last fall, seemingly.

Valor Latitude Acquisition, a Latin American tech-focused SPAC formed by Valor Capital Group, raised $200 million in its IPO. Renaissance Capital has more here.
People
 
Jeff Bezos this week sold nearly $2 billion worth of shares in Amazon, according to filings with the SEC compiled by OpenInsider. The transactions were made as part of a prearranged 10b5-1 trading plan, according to the filings. CNBC has more here.
 
Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister who leads the company’s public affairs, has been highly influential within Facebook, including relating to its creation of an oversight board, an idea that had been kicked around internally but gained momentum after he joined. The Times takes a look.
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Essential Reads
 
Coinbase is closing its headquarters in San Francisco next year and going fully remote to show its "decentralized workforce that no one location is important than the another." 
 
Facebook is launching a new service called Neighborhoods, a Nextdoor clone.
 
One of Tesla's biggest emissions credit buyers doesn't need them any more, threatening a key profit source for the company.
Detours
 
Why the furniture resale industry is poised to explode.
 
How the Pentagon started taking U.F.O.s seriously.
 
"High meat." It's basically our worst nightmare.
Retail Therapy
 
Bid for a seat on Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight.
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