The other shoe drops for Bill Gates, Elon Musk scares off investors, and Jason Kilar gets put in turnaround

May 17, 2021
Hello! Hope your week is off to an auspicious start. (Don't work too hard.)
Top News
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has been in talks to sell itself to Amazon, a deal that would "turbocharge Amazon’s streaming ambitions by bringing James Bond, Rocky, RoboCop and other film and television properties into the e-commerce giant’s fold," notes the New York Times. The Information has the scoop here.
AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, said today it has agreed to spin off the division and merge it with rival media company Discovery. Jason Kilar, the head of WarnerMedia, was reportedly kept in the dark about the deal until recent days and has hired a legal team to negotiate his departure.
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Massive Fundings
Amount, a year-old fintech startup that online lender Avant spun off in February of last year, has raised $99 million in Series D funding at a post-money valuation of just more than $1 billion. WestCap, a growth equity firm founded by former Airbnb and Blackstone CFO Laurence Tosi, led the round. Hanaco Ventures, Goldman Sachs, Invus Opportunities and Barclays Principal Investments also joined the round (which comes just five months after the company closed on $86 million in Series C funding). TechCrunch has more here.
Ankorstore, a two-year-old, Paris-based online marketplace that connects independent brands with local retailers, has raised $102 million in Series B funding co-led by Tiger Global Management and Bain Capital Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Index Ventures, GFC, Alven, and Aglaé. Just a few months ago, the company had closed on €25 million in funding. TechCrunch has more here.
Back Market, a six-year-old, New York- and Paris-based online marketplace dedicated exclusively to refurbished electronic devices, has raised $335 million in funding led by General Atlantic, with participation from Generation Investment Management and earlier backers Goldman Sachs Growth Equity, Aglaé Ventures, Eurazeo and daphni. Reuters has more here.
BukuKas, a two-year-old, Indonesia-based startup focused on digitizing the country's small businesses, has raised $50 million in Series B funding. The round included participation from Gokul Rajaram, the DoorDash executive, and Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder and chief executive officer of TransferWise. TechCrunch has more here.
GoldBelly, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based restaurant e-commerce platform that sells dishes from 850 different restaurants and saw its business surge during the pandemic, has raised $100 million in funding led by Spectrum Equity, with participation from earlier investor Intel Capital. The New York Times has more here.
Moglix, a six-year-old, India-based industrial business-to-business marketplace, has raised $120 million in Series E funding at $1 billion valuation. Falcon Edge Capital and Harvard Management Company co-led the round (which seems notable as you don't see HMC co-lead rounds like this). They we joined by earlier backers Tiger Global Management, Sequoia Capital India and Venture Highway. The company has now raised $220 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Pine Labs, a 23-year-old, Noida, India-based company that provides digital payments and commerce software to merchants in India, as well as several Southeast Asian markets, says it has held a "first close" of a larger, $285 million round. Baron Capital Group, Duro Capital, Marshall Wace, Moore Strategic Ventures and Ward Ferry Management participated in the round, joined by earlier backers Temasek, Lone Pine Capital and Sunley House Capital. The new financing values the company at $3 billion, up from about $2 billion in December and $1 billion in early 2020. TechCrunch has more here.
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
Agile Analog, a nearly four-year-old, Cambridge, England-based company that makes customizable semiconductors, has raised $19 million in funding led by Omers Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Delin Ventures, Firstminute Capital, and MMC Ventures. The company has now raised roughly $24 million altogether. More here.
Code Ocean, a five-year-old, New York-based computational research environment for sharing scientific discoveries, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Battery Ventures, with participation from Digitalis Ventures, EBSCO and Vaal Partners. The company has now raised $21 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Eleanor Health, a two-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based addiction and mental health services startup focused around outpatient services, has raised $20 million in Series B funding from Warburg Pincus and earlier investors Town Hall Ventures, Echo Health Ventures and Mosaic Health Solutions. More here.
Jerry Services, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based "mobile-first" car-insurance comparison app, has raised $28 million in Series B funding led Goodwater Capital. Other participants in the round -- which brings the company's total funding to $57 million -- include numerous individuals, including Greenlight president Johnson Cook and Greenlight CEO Timothy Sheehan; Tekion CEO Jay Vijayan; Jon McNeill, CEO of DVx Ventures; Brandon Krieg, CEO of Stash; and Ed Robinson, co-founder and president of Stash. TechCrunch has more here.
Smaller Fundings
Bosta, a four-year-old, Cairo, Egypt-based overnight delivery provider for local e-commerce companies, has raised $6.7 million in Series A funding. Silicon Badia led the round, joined by 4DX Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures, Wealth Well VC, and Khwarizmi VC, among others. The company has now raised $9.2 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here
Fave, a 15-month-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based social platform focused on enabling fans to create, connect, compete, exchange, and earn rewards around their favorite artists and creators they love, has raised $2.2 million in seed funding. Female Founders Fund, HYBE, Sony Music, Warner Music, Concord Music, Quality Control, Right Hand Management, Techstars Music and Betaworks all participated in the round. TechCrunch has more here.
Forager, a six-year-old, Portland, Me.-based online procurement platform for connecting local farmers with groceries, has raised $4 million from ICM and Coastal Enterprises. Progressive Grocer has more here.
Kaiyo, a seven-year-old, New York-based full-service marketplace for gently used furniture, has raised $5 million in fresh funding led by Moderne Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Lerer Hippeau and Max Ventures. The company has now raised $7.1 million altogether, per Crunchbase data. More here.
Merge, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps its users build customer-facing integrations with third-party tools, has raised $4.5 million in seed funding led by NEA. Other participants in the round include former MuleSoft CEO Greg Schott, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, Expanse co-founders Tim Junio and Matt Kraning, and Jumpstart CEO Ben Herman. TechCrunch has more here.
Telda, a month-old, Cairo, Egypt-based startup that aims to offer digital banking services to the two out of three individuals who are currently underbanked in the country, has raised $5 million in pre-seed funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Global Founders Capital and Class 5 Global. Telda was founded by Ahmed Sabbah and Youssef Sholqamy; Sabbah earlier cofounded Egypt’s ride-hailing company Swvl; Sholqamy was formerly a senior engineer with Uber’s infrastructure team. TechCrunch has more here.
New Funds
Griffin Gaming Partners, a two-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based venture firm that prefers to invest in gaming platforms and infrastructure, gaming content, and game studios, is raising a $25 million "side fund," per an SEC filing. The firm had closed on $235 million in capital commitments late last year for its flagship fund. More here.
Meritech Capital, the 22-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based growth-stage venture fund, has raised $250 million for a new fund called the Meritech Franchise Fund, shows a new SEC filing
Meritech had closed its seventh flagship fund last June with $800 million in capital commitments. More here.
Plaid CEO Zach Perret and  founder-investor Lauren Farleigh are raising a $30 million venture fund called Mischief, per an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. More here.
Ulu Ventures, an 11-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based seed-stage venture firm that is focused on enterprise IT companies founded by diverse teams, has closed its third fund with $138 million in capital commitments, it announced today. Among it many limited partners: the University of Rochester, Grinnell College, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur and Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundations, the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Fairview Capital, Plexo Capital, and Illumen Capital. More here.
Going Public
Bright Machines, a three-year-old, manufacturing-automation business, is merging with blank-check company SCVX Corp. to go public in a deal that values the combined entity at $1.6 billion, the companies said this morning. Bright Machines -- which the venture firm Eclipse helped to create and to fund early on -- says its “microfactories” can be programmed to complete manufacturing tasks tied to assembly and inspection and continue improving as they repeat them. The WSJ has more here.
The logistics arm of is looking to raise as much as $3.4 billion through an IPO, in the latest Hong Kong listing linked to China’s booming e-commerce market. The IPO could value JD Logistics at up to $34 billion, filings showed today. The development follows share sales in the city by and another of its subsidiaries last year, which in total raised nearly $8.5 billion, according to Dealogic. The WSJ has more here.
Redbox, the DVD-rental kiosk and streaming company that's been owned by Apollo Global Management since 2016, is going to be publicly traded again after striking a deal to merge with the blank-check company Seaport Global Acquisition Corp. in a deal that gives the combined company an enterprise value of $693 million. Variety has more here.
Sequoia Capital is beefing up its London office with new hire Anas Biad, a partner who joins from Silver Lake, where he spent the last two years, after spending two years with Bain & Co. Last year, Sequoia began establishing a local presence by hiring away Luciana Lixandru from Accel. It also brought aboard former Revolut product lead George Robson as a partner.
Famed investor Michael Burry of "The Big Short" disclosed in a regulatory filing today a short position against Tesla worth more than half a billion dollars.
Microsoft board members decided that Bill Gates needed to step down from its board in 2020 as they pursued an investigation into the billionaire’s prior romantic relationship with a female Microsoft employee that was deemed inappropriate, people familiar tell the WSJ in a story that's getting just a little bit worse in dribs and drabs.
Chris Lyons has been promoted to the role of general partner at  Andreessen Horowitz, which he joined eight years ago and where since 2018 he ha focused on the outfit's Cultural Leadership Fund. More here.
Jana Messerschmidt, a former Twitter VP who helped cofounded the angel group #ANGELS in 2015 before joining Lightspeed Venture Partners in 2018, announced on social media over the weekend that she has left the venture firm to focus entirely on #ANGELS right now.
Amir Shevat has joined Innovation Endeavors as a venture partner. Shevat was previously VP of developer products at Twitch, head of developer relations at Twitch, and head of global developer programs at Google. More here.
Crypto scammers impersonating Elon Musk have stolen more than $2 million in the past six months alone, according to the Federal Trade Commission. 
Coinbase shares today fell to their lowest price since the cryptocurrency exchange began trading last month, as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies heavily sold off.
Five electric-vehicle startups that went public through mergers with SPACs -- Nikola, Fisker, Lordstown Motors, Canoo and Arrival -- were worth $60 billion at their highs. But three of the companies plumbed new lows last week as short-seller attacks, management turmoil and execution issues lead investors to reconsider their prospects, observes Bloomberg. Indeed, as of Friday, they'd lost more than $40 billion of market capitalization combined from their respective peaks. News today that Canoo, the four-year-old, L.A.-based electric vehicle startup that went public earlier this year by merging with the blank-check company Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. is now being investigated by the SEC, looks likely to drag down the lot further still.
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Essential Reads
Apple built the world’s most valuable business on top of China. Now it has to answer to the Chinese government.
Elon Musk helped legitimize cryptocurrencies in the eyes of Wall Street investors. Now, his tweets are scaring them off. More here.
Facebook just proposed that other companies use an oversight board -- or even Facebook's Oversight Board -- too.
Ride-hailing giant Gojek and marketplace Tokopedia, Indonesia’s two biggest startups, made it official today, saying they have combined their businesses to form GoTo Group, the largest technology group in the Southeast Asian nation. TechCrunch has more here.
This was definitely not the scene of a grisly murder.
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Origami kayak.


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