Elon's SNL appearance, the crack in the Tip Jar, and death by firing squad could become a thing (again) in the U.S.

May 7, 2021
Friday! Before we check out, we leave you with the newest episode of StrictlyVC Download hot off the coals, which, after battling with one of our beloved interns *all day* (he's 11 going on 22), we feel like jumping into right now.:)
 
This week, we talked with two seed-stage startups with excellent ideas that investors -- and rivals -- might want to track. The first is rooted around communicable-disease-focused risk management, which isn't something people were thinking about a year ago, yet that private industry clearly needs going forward. As interestingly, it was founded by Charity Dean, a trained surgeon who helped lead California's public response to COVID-19 and who also stars in the newest book by Michael Lewis, called "The Premonition."
 
Our other guest, Javier Avalos, is a former investment banker who recently left the secondary outfit Forge to help hedge funds, family offices and many others buy and sell short-positions in privately held startups -- including in outfits where neither side of the trade owns a share. 
 
We hope you enjoy hearing from both. In the meantime, giant thanks to this week's sponsor, TechCrunch, whose TechCrunch Sessions Mobility show -- featuring the founders re-imagining the transportation industry, including from Aurora, Zoox and Motional -- is happening June 9. Check out the latest event updates and save 10% on tickets, using the code strictly@techcrunch.com/mobility.
 
More Monday. Between Elon Musk hosting SNL tomorrow and the prospect of one of us on this list being drilled into the ground by space junk over the weekend, there should be lots to talk about.
 
In the meantime, happy Mother's Day, all you killers. Hope you enjoy the day. ❤️
Top News
 
Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency branded after a viral dog meme from years ago, hit a new all-time high Friday afternoon. It now has a market capitalization of about $92 billion following a six-month climb of more than 26,000%.
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Massive Fundings
 
Ada Support, a five-year-old, Toronto, Ontario-based startup whose chatbot helps companies interact more efficiently with users, answer customers’ sales and service questions, and even helps them return packages or change flights, has raised $130 million at a $1.2 billion valuation. Spark Capital led the round, joined by Tiger Global and earlier investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Accel and FirstMark Capital. Bloomberg has more here.
 
Einride, a five-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based autonomous vehicle startup known for its futuristic pods designed to haul freight, has raised $110 million in Series B round, the company announced yesterday. Temasek, Soros Fund Management, Northzone, Build Capital and Maersk Growth all participated in the round, along with earlier backers EQT Ventures, Plum Alley, Norrsken VC, Ericsson, and NordicNinja VC. The company has now raised $150 million altogether. Crunchbase News has more here.

TwinStrand Biosciences, a six-year-old, Seattle-based DNA sequencing company has raised $50 million in Series B funding. Section 32 led the round, joined by Soleus Capital, Janus Henderson Investors and earlier investors Madrona Venture Group, Ridgeback Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments. FierceBiotech has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
Nearby, a year-old, California-based platform of hyperlocal marketplaces where users can buy from multiple local businesses online and checkout through one cart (Slack's former chief product officer, April Underwood, is its founder), has raised $21 million in Series A funding. Redpoint Ventures led the round, joined by earlier investors GV, Obvious Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Sound Ventures, Moxxie Ventures and founder-operator Tina Sharkey. Forbes has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
Blair, a two-year-old, Bay Area-based company creating income-share-agreements programs for schools, has raised $6.3 million in seed funding led by Tiger Global Management. Other investors include Rainfall and 468 Capital, along with numerous angel investors. The company, which passed through Y Combinator in 2019, previously raised $1.1 million in pre-seed funding. TechCrunch has more here.
 
iFeel, a four-year-old, Madrid, Spain-based online therapy startup that's available to individuals via a monthly subscription as well as to employees through their insurance, has raised €5.5 million in Series A funding led by Nauta Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Spinwheel, a two-year-old, Bay Area-based student loan debt payment-as-a-service, has raised $11 million in funding led by QED Investors, with participation from Core Innovation Capital, Fika Ventures and Firebolt Ventures. Crunchbase News has more here.
 
ViaBot, a six-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company that makes outdoor maintenance robots for commercial properties (for sweeping and security service purposes), has raised $6.1 million in funding from Baseline Ventures, Morado Ventures, and Grit Ventures and SOSV. Crunchbase News has more here.
New Funds
 
OneVC, a four-year-old, Sao Paulo, Brazil-based venture firm, is raising $50 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing. More here.
 
Starlight Ventures, a four-year-old, Miami, Fla.-based venture firm, is lookin to raise up to $50 million for a second fund, per an SEC filing that shows it's nearly halfway there. More here.
People
 
Cryptocurrencies “have no intrinsic value” and people who invest in them should be prepared to lose all their money, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said yesterday
 
Elon Musk: Memelord or meme lifter?
Data
 
Analytics data suggests that U.S. users are choosing to opt out of tracking 96% of the time in the wake of iOS 14.5, released by Apple late last month.
 
Cryptocurrencies now equal the value of U.S. dollars in circulation.
Sponsored By . . . 
 
Treble is a PR agency that accelerates exits. With 17 exits across our portfolio since 2013, we know how to win with both venture capital firms and venture-backed startups. We have opened up Cohort 3 of our VC Portfolio Funding Launch Accelerator Program, a 5-week PR program to launch seed-stage, Series A and B venture funding rounds globally. To elevate your funding launch, click here.
Essential Reads
 
The crack in Twitter's Tip Jar.
 
SpaceX is buying up a Texas village, and homeowners are crying foul.
 
With Donald Trump’s return to Facebook in limbo, YouTube has emerged as his best chance to return to social media in the near future. But while company, which suspended Trump in January, has said it will revisit its decision, its leaders have given few details on when, or who will make the call.
Detours
 
Werner Herzog: "'Scared' isn't in my vocabulary."
 
It's actually "not quite like riding a bike," say returning airline pilots.
 
What a crossword AI reveals about humans' way with words.
 
This country has lost its mind, but . . . what a dramatic way to go!
Retail Therapy
 
Inside Bill and Melinda Gates’s bonkers portfolio of American real estate.
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