Another major NFT sale, Sweetgreen plans an IPO, and a look at the group that crippled Colonial Pipeline

May 11, 2021
Top News
 
Investors around the world retreated from stocks today, with a selloff in tech companies spreading to other sectors as concerns about inflation dragged U.S. indexes down for a second consecutive day.
 
Drivers along parts of the East Coast are reportedly feeling the immediate effects of the Colonial Pipeline shutdown following that ransomware attack.
 
Some of the world’s biggest chip buyers, including Apple, Microsoft and Google, are joining chip-makers such as Intel to create a new lobbying group to press for government chip manufacturing subsidies, reports Reuters. The newly formed Semiconductors in America Coalition is asking U.S. lawmakers to provide funding for the CHIPS for America Act, arguing it will "help America build the additional capacity necessary to have more resilient supply chains to ensure critical technologies will be there when we need them,” the group said in a letter. More here.
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Disease-Related Risk Management is a Thing Now, and This Startup is at the Forefront
 
Charity Dean has been in the national spotlight lately because she was among a group of doctors, scientists and tech entrepreneurs who sounded the pandemic alarm early last year and who are featured in a new book by Michael Lewis about the U.S. response called The Premonition.
 
It's no wonder the press -- and, seemingly moviemakers, too -- are interested in Dean. Surgery is her first love, but she also studied tropical diseases and not only applied what she knows about outbreaks on the front lines last year, but also came to appreciate an opportunity that only someone in her position could see. Indeed, after the pandemic laid bare just how few tools were available to help the U.S. government track how the virus was moving and mutating, she helped develop a model that has since been turned into subscription software to (hopefully) prevent, detect, and contain costly disease outbreaks in the future.
 
It's tech that companies with global operations might want to understand better. It has also attracted $8 million in seed funding Venrock, Alphabet's Verily unit, and Sweat Equity Ventures. We talked late last week with Dean about her now 20-person outfit, called The Public Health Company, and why she thinks disease-focused risk management will be as crucial for companies going forward as cybersecurity software. Our chat has been edited for length; you can also listen to our longer conversation here.
 
You went to medical school, but you also have a master's degree in public health and tropical medicine. Why was the latter an area of interest for you? 
 
Neither of my parents had college degrees. I grew up in a very modest setting in rural Oregon. We were poor and by the grace of a full ride scholarship to college, I got to be premed. When I was a little girl, some missionaries came to our church and talked about disease outbreaks in Africa. I was seven years old, and driving home that evening with my parents, I said, 'I'm going to be a doctor, and I'm going to study disease.'  It was outrageous because I didn't know a single person with a college degree. But . .  my heart was set on that, and it never deviated from it.
 
Massive Fundings
 
Acquco, a year-old, New York-based startup focused on acquiring third-party sellers on Amazon and helping them build their businesses (its founders, Raunak Nirmal and Wiley Zhang, previously worked at Amazon and tell TechCrunch they built multimillion-dollar businesses on its platform), has raised $160 million in Series A funding, including both debt and equity. CoVenture, Singh Capital Partners, Crossbeam and numerous individual investors, including GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani, participated in the round as equity investors. More here.
 
Appia Bio, a year-old, Los Angeles-based allogeneic gene therapy startup, has raised $52 million in Series A funding. 8VC led the round, joined by Two Sigma Ventures, Sherpa Healthcare Partners and Freeflow Ventures. FierceBiotech has more here.
 
CircleCI, a 10-year-old, San Francisco-based continuous integration and delivery platform for developer teams, has raised $100 million at a $1.7 billion valuation. Alongside its funding, CircleCI announced it has acquired Vamp, a cloud-native release orchestration platform that automates facets of the software release and rollback process. Greenspring Associates led the newest round, joined by Eleven Prime, IVP, Sapphire Ventures, Top Tier Capital Partners, Baseline Ventures, Threshold, Scale, Owl Rock and Next Equity Partners. The company has now raised $315 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
CloudWalk, an eight-year-old, Brazil-based open payments networking company, has raised $190 million in Series B funding. Coatue led the round, joined by DST Global and earlier investors FIS, The Hive Brazil and Valor Capital. Crowdfund Insider has more here.
 
Huma, a 10-year-old, London-based company whose software lets clinicians monitor patients remotely through a mobile app and also uses a range of wearables and other devices to gather data on things like heart rate and oxygen saturation, has raised $130 million in Series C funding. The corporate venture arms of Bayer and Hitachi led the round, joined by Samsung, Sony and Unilever’s investment funds. CNBC has more here.
 
Innovusion, a five-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based lidar sensor maker, has raised $64 million in funding to ramp up production to supply Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio's ET7 sedan, which is scheduled to start deliveries early next year. The funding includes new investments from Singapore state investor Temasek and venture capital firm Joy Capital. Some earlier investors also participated, including Nio Capital, Nio's investment arm. Reuters has more here.
 
Lili, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based mobile banking service for freelancers, has raised $55 million in Series B funding led by Group 11, with participation from Target Global and AltaIR. The company has now raised $80 million altogether. Coverager has more here.
 
Nuvalent, a four-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech that's focused on kinase targets in cancer, just raised $135 million in Series B funding. Bain Capital Life Sciences led the round, joined by Fidelity, Wellington Management, Viking Global and more than half a dozen other investors. Endpoints News has more here.
 
ParcelLab, a seven-year-old, London-based last-mile fulfillment startup, has raised $112 million in Series C funding led by Insight Partners, with participation from Endeit Capital and earlier investors including Capnamic Ventures and Coparion. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Sima.ai, a three-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that's developing embedded edge hardware for machine learning applications, just raised $80 million in Series B funding led by Fidelity Management & Research Company. Other participants in the round include Adage Capital Management, Amplify Partners, Dell, Wing Venture Capital, Alter Venture Partners, and +ND Capital. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
Birdie, a four-year-old, U.K.-based company whose software-as-a-service tools support social care providers, has raised $11.5 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from earlier backer Kamet Ventures. The company has now raised $22.9 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Contractbook, a five-year-old, Copenhagen, Denmark-based contract automation platform, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Tiger Global Management, just a few months after announcing $9.3 million in Series A funding. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Engageli, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based online teaching platform whose video tech can deliver lectures, enable conversations, and allow students to “sit” in study groups to work together, has raised $33 million in Series A funding.  Maveron co-led the round with another (unnamed) investor; other participants included Corner Ventures, Good Friends, Educapital and numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Panaseer, a seven-year-old, London-based cybersecurity software company, has raised $26.5 million in Series B funding led by AllegisCyber Capital. National Grid Partners also joined the round, along with earlier investors, including Evolution Equity Partners, Notion Capital, AlbionVC, Cisco Investments and Paladin Capital Group. The company has now raised $43 million altogether.
 
SightCall, a 13-year-old, San Francisco-based startup behind an augmented reality platform that helps field service teams, the companies they work for, and their customers to carry out technical and mechanical maintenance or repairs more effectively, has raised $42 million in funding. InfraVia, a European private equity firm, led the round, joined by Bpifrance. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Spring Labs, a four-year-old, Marina del Rey, Ca.-based startup that's using the blockchain with the aim of creating a richer network effect of data that allows credit bureaus and others to predict people's creditworthiness, is raising  $30 million in Series B fund led by TransUnion, the consumer credit reporting agency. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Zencargo, a four-year-old, U.K.-based digital logistics company, has raised $42 million in Series B funding led by Digital+ Partners, with participation from earlier investor HV Capital. The company has now raised a total of $66.4 million since 2017. FreightWaves has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
Anvilogic, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based cybersecurity detection automation company, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Cervin Ventures, with participation from Foundation Capital, Point 72 Ventures, and former NetApp CEO Dan Warmenhoven. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Elucid, a 12-year-old, Boston-based medtech company developing AI software to enable cardiovascular disease detection, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. MedTex Ventures and Global Health Impact Fund co-led the round, joined by Checkmate Capital, IAG Capital, BlueStone Venture Partners, Wolverine Venture Fund, Willamette Valley Capital and Angel Physicians Fund. www.euclidbio.com
 
Kitch, a year-old, Lisbon, Portugal-based food delivery startup, has raised €3.25 million in seed funding. Atlantic Food Labs led the round, joined by Market One Capital, Seedcamp and Mustard Seed Maze. More here.
 
The Last Gameboard, a two-year-old, Denver. Co.-based digital tabletop platform, has raised $4 million led by TheVentureCity, with participation from SOSV, Riot Games, Conscience VC, Corner3 VC and others. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Memora Health, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based virtual care platform that analyzes health care data so that doctors can better care for patients after their visits and hospital stays, has raised $10.5 million. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, joined by AlleyCorp, Martin Ventures, Thirty Five Ventures, Sachin Jain, Operator Partners, Edward Elmhurst Health and B Capital. Fortune has more here.
 
Plunk, a two-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based startup that helps homeowners figure out what might drive the value of their home up or down by assessing (through AI) the condition of the home and recommending specific remodeling projects, has raised $6.5 million in seed funding led by Unlock Ventures. GeekWire has more here.
 
Thrilling, a three-year-old, L.A.-based e-commerce platform for vintage and second-hand stores, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. Prelude Ventures led the round, joined by Defy, Congruent Ventures, Urban Us, Closed Loop, Phoenix Rising and DLA Piper Venture. AfroTech has more here.
Exits
 
BuzzFeed is in talks to acquire an 18-year-old, New York-based digital lifestyle publisher Complex Networks as part of its plan to go public by merging with the blank-check company 890 Fifth Avenue Partners, according to The Information. The deal would reportedly increase BuzzFeed’s revenue by about 30%, giving it more scale and making it more appealing to public market investors at a time when the SPAC market is facing a broader slowdown. More here.
 
Cisco says it is acquiring Sedona Systems, a seven-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.- and Israel-based network control startup that had raised nearly $20 million from investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Intel Capital and NexStar Partners. Terms of the deal aren't being disclosed. FierceTelecom has more here.
 
Jamf, the 18-year-old, publicly traded Apple device management company, said today that it is acquiring Wandera, a nine-year-old, London-based zero trust security startup, for $400 million. It's the largest acquisition in the company’s history. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Radish, a five-year-old, L.A.-based serialized fiction app, has been acquired by Kakao Entertainment of Korea in a deal worth $440 million. Radish is a platform for rapidly serialized stories and uses a micropayment system that lets users test out a story by reading several free episodes, then requiring them to pay 20 to 30 cents to access each additional episode. The move aims to strengthen Kakao’s global webtoons and web novel business and extend its reach in North America and other English-speaking territories. Radish had raised roughly $66 million from investors, including SoftBank Venture Asia, per Crunchbase. Deadline has the story here.
Going Public
 
Better.com, a five-year-old, New York-based digital mortgage lender, said today it is merging with Aurora Acquisition Corp., to go public in a deal that values the company at $7.7 billion, up from the $6 billion where it was valued in April of last year when it took on funding from SoftBank. Better has raised $950 million altogether from investors to date. CNBC has more here.
 
Ginkgo Bioworks , the 13-year-old, Boston-based cell programming platform, will make its market debut by merging with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp., the blank-check company led by former MGM CEO Harry Sloan. The SPAC has attracted institutional investors including Cathie Wood of Ark Invest and values the biotech company at $15 billion, triple its last private valuation. The deal would be one of the largest SPAC mergers to date, reports CNBC, and Sloan’s SPAC is led by executives of the same blank-check company that brought DraftKings and Skillz to the stock market last year. More here.
 
LTV Capital Partners, a tech-focused blank check company formed by two big names in Silicon Valley -  Jeffrey Housenbold and Sukhinder Singh Cassidy -- has registered plans to raise $215 million in an IPO. Renaissance Capital has more here.
 
Oatly, a Malmo, Sweden-based company that sells various types of oat-based dairy alternative products in countries worldwide, has filed to raise $1.35 billion from the sale of ADSs representing its common stock in an IPO, according to an amended registration statement. Seeking Alpha says the IPO looks pricey. More here.
 
Procore Technologies, an 18-year-old, Carpinteria, Ca.-based cloud-based construction software company, is seeking to raise as much as $616 million in an IPO through which it plans to sell 9.47 million shares for $60 to $65 each. The company is restarting its IPO plans after they were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, notes Bloomberg. At the top of its listed range, based on the outstanding shares listed in its filings with the SEC, it would boast a market value of $8.3 billion, adds the outlet. More here.
 
Sweetgreen, the 14-year-old, L.A.-based, venture-backed salad restaurant chain popular among office workers, is planning an IPO in the U.S. that could happen as soon as this year, according to Bloomberg, which reports the company is already working with Goldman Sachs Group. More here.
People
 
Niki Pezeshki has been promoted to general partner at Felicis Ventures, which he joined in 2016 as a senior associate, after first working on the investment team at Summit Partners. We talked with Pezeshki when he was last promoted in 2019, and he talked then about how he wins deals.
Data
 
Yesterday, Coinbase's app topped the U.S. Apple App Store, a position the crypto exchange hadn’t been in since late 2017. The Block has more here.
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Essential Reads
 
A closer look at the DarkSide ransomware gang.
 
Coinbase is instituting equity grants for new hires that fully vest each year, the latest technology company to move away from a traditional four-year vesting schedule, notes The Information. The outlet reported last month that Stripe and Lyft were both shortening the vesting period for equity compensation, explaining the shorter time horizon can help companies save money because one-year awards tie up fewer shares than four-year packages.
 
YouTube is joining Snap and TikTok in launching a creator fund to court influencers.
Detours
 
Trendy in Miami: Manhattan dining spots.
 
Christie's strikes gold again with NFTs.
 
Why Hawaiian pizza, which is obviously terrible, is so polarizing.
Retail Therapy
 
A Japanese manga-inspired electric scooter.
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