Apple's admission, Rumble's round, and Peter Thiel backs a Neuralink rival

May 19, 2021
So close.
Top News
 
The crypto sell-off continued today, with Bitcoin plunging to $30,000 at one point (though it appears to be bouncing back).
 
Zhang Yiming, co-founder of ByteDance, is stepping down from his role as the CEO and passing the torch to Liang Rubo, another co-founder of the TikTok parent. Yiming, 38, told employees in a letter that he's making the transition to spend more time on “long-term strategy, corporate culture, and social responsibility.” TechCrunch has more here.
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Massive Fundings
 
ASAPP, a seven-year-old, New York-based maker of call center software, has raised $120 million in Series C funding at a $1.6 billion valuation. Fidelity and Dragoneer were joined by earlier investors John Doerr, March Capital, Emergence Capital, Euclidean Capital, HOF Capital, Telstra Ventures and 40 North Ventures. Reuters has more here.
 
Cognite, a five-year-old, Viken County, Norway-based industrial SaaS company, has raised $150 million from TCV at a $1.6 billion valuation. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Eat Just, the nearly 10-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of plant-based egg products (formerly known as Hampton Creek), has raised $170 million for its cell-based meat subsidiary, Good Meat. Investors in the round include UBS O’Connor, K3 Ventures and Graphene Ventures. Food Business News has more here.
 
Formlabs, a 10-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based 3D printing company, has raised $150 million in fresh funding led by SoftBank's Vision Fund 2 in a deal that effectively doubles its valuation, bringing it to $2 billion. TechCrunch has more here.
 
PathAI, a nearly five-year-old, Boston-based computational pathology startup that aims to drive discovery and predictive diagnostics in drug-development, has raised $165 million in Series C funding. D1 Capital Partners and Kaiser Permanente co-led the round, joined by General Atlantic, LabCorp, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck. FierceBiotech has more here.
 
Pipe, a two-year-old, Miami, Fl.-based SaaS financing platform that pairs startups with investors who are willing to pay them a discounted rate upfront for the annual value of their contracts, says it has raised $250 million at a $2 billion valuation (after initial announcing it had raised $150 million at a $2 billion valuation back in March). Greenspring Associates led the round; TechCrunch has the update here.
 
Super, a 6.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that sells customers access to repair and maintenance for electrical and mechanical systems, appliances, and plumbing on a subscription basis, has raised $50 million in Series C funding. Wells Fargo Strategic Capital led the round, joined by Asahi Kasei, AAA, Gaingels and REACH, among others. The company has now raised $80 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Wheel, a three-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based healthcare platform that says it connects patients with clinicians across more than a dozen attributes to ensure they're matched with the best clinician, has raised $50 million in Series B funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round, joined by Future Shape and earlier investors CRV, Silverton Partners, Tusk Venture Partners and JPMorgan. More here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
42Crunch, a six-year-old, London-based startup focused on API cybersecurity, has raised $17 million in Series A funding led by Energy Impact Partners, with participation from Adara Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Assignar, a seven-year-old, Denver, Co.-based construction tech startup that says it gives large general contractors, developers and real estate owner-operators a “real-time snapshot of granular field activity," has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Fifth Wall Ventures, with participation from Ironspring Ventures and earlier backer Tola Capital. The company has now raised $31 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
BiVACOR, a 13-year-old, Houston, Tex.- and Brisbane, Australia-based preclinical artificial heart device company for people with end-stage heart failure, has raised $19 million in Series B funding led by Cormorant Asset Management and OneVentures, It says it was also awarded a $3 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). More here.
 
Cider, a nine-month-old, Beijing, China-based fashion brand that says it produces its clothing in controlled amounts to combat waste, has raised $22 million in Series A funding from Andreessen Horowitz and DST Global. More here.
 
Cynerio, a four-year-old, New York-based cybersecurity startup focused on protecting connected medical devices in hospital networks, raised $30 million in Series B funding led by ALIVE Israel HealthTech Fund. More here.
 
Daring Foods, a three-year-old maker of plant-based chicken products founded by Scottish immigrants Ross Mackay and Eliott Kessas, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by D1 Capital Partners, with participation from Palm Tree CrewDrake and earlier backer Maveron. Dot.LA has more here.
 
Educative, a five-year-old, Seattle-based startup that promises to help software engineers at companies like LinkedIn and Ford to “learn in-demand tech skills in half the time” via its web-based interactive learning platform, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Matrix Partners led the round, joined by Trilogy Equity Partners and several individual investors. GeekWire has more here.
 
Liquid Instruments, a seven-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based has just raised $13.7 million in Series B funding from F1 Solutions, Moelis Australia’s Growth Capital Fund and earlier backers Anzu Partners and ANU Connect Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Settle, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of accounts payable software, has raised $15 million in Series A funding. Kleiner Perkins led the round, joined by Founders Fund, SciFi, Caffeinated Capital, WorkLife Ventures, Background Capital and Avlok Kohli, who is the CEO of AngelList Venture. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Twaice, a three-year-old, Munich, Germany-based maker of battery analytics software, has raised $26 million in Series B funding led by Energize Ventures. The company has now raised $45 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Zap Energy, a four-year-old, Seattle-based company that's trying to build a commercial fusion reactor without magnets, has raised $27.5 million in Series B funding led by Addition. Other investors in the round include Energy Impact Partners, GA Capital, Fourth Realm and earlier backers Chevron Technology Ventures and LowerCarbon Capital. GeekWire has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
Blackrock Neurotech, a 13-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based developing in-brain implants (it says it has provided tetraplegic patients the ability to control robotic limbs, for example), has raised $10 million in funding led by re.Mind Capital, with participation from Peter Thiel, German entrepreneur Tim Sievers, and Sorenson Impact’s University Venture Fund II. CNBC calls the company a rival to Elon Musk's Neuralink. More here.
 
Britive, a three-year-old, Glendale, Ca.-based startup focused on accelerating and securing cloud app development processes, has raised $10 million in funding led by Crosslink Capital, with participation from previous investors Upfront Ventures and One Way Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Dabbel, a three-year-old, Düsseldorf, Germany-based  company that makes HVAC control automation software for commercial buildings, has raised €3.6 million from Target Global, Commerzbank and SeedX. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Dongnae, a 15-month-old, Seoul, Korea-based startup that wants to create a centralized base for real estate brokers, serving as a multiple listing system (MLS), has raised $4.1 million in extended seed funding, bringing the amount it has raised to date to $8.2 million. NFX led the newest tranche, joined by earlier backers Flybridge and MetaProp, which led Dongnae’s first seed round. TechCrunch has more here.
 
The GIST, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based, women-led sports media startup, has raised $1 million round of seed funding from investors including 3GP Capital, JDS Sports, August Group, Even Odds Investments, and Bettor Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Moxion Power, a year-old, Mill Valley, Ca.-based developer of mobile energy storage systems, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Energy Impact Partners led the round, joined by Tamarack Global and Liquid 2 Ventures. More here.
 
Spokn, a year-old, New York-based podcasting network for work that recently passed through the Y Combinator program, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by NEA. Reach Capital, Funders Club, Liquid2, Share Capital, SOMA Capital, Scribble VC and Hack VC also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings
 
Noom, a 13-year-old, New York-based weight loss app, has raised pre-IPO funding from Silver Lake at around a $4 billion valuation, says Bloomberg, though it didn't learn the amount raised. Noom had previously raised more $120 million from investors; it's aiming to be valued at around $10 billion when it goes public, says Bloomberg. More here.
 
Rumble, an eight-year-old, Toronto-based video platform whose popularity has reportedly surged among right-leaning users, tells the WSJ it has raised funding from investor Peter Thiel and Narya Capital, the venture firm of J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy and a former employee of Thiel who is now considering a Senate run in Ohio (see below in "People"). The size of the transaction isn't being disclosed. More here.
Exits
 
Ro, a telemedicine company that sells men's wellness products, including for erectile dysfunction and hair loss, and that was last valued at $5 billion, has acquired Modern Fertility, a reproductive health company that sells an at-home diagnostic test to gauge hormone levels. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but TechCrunch and Axios are being told the majority stock-deal was valued at around $225 million. Both companies are four years old. More here.
Going Public
 
China Mobile, the world's largest mobile operator by subscribers, said it plans to sell billions of dollars’ worth of shares in Shanghai, days after learning it will definitely be ejected from U.S. markets under a Trump-era investment blacklist. The WSJ has more here.
 
Squarespace's valuation plunged by more than a third in its direct listing today, after shares of the website-hosting service fell 13% below their $50 reference price amid a broader market sell-off. The shares' closing price of $43.7 gives Squarespace a market capitalization of less than $6 billion – far less than the $10 billion valuation its private investors assigned the company in March. Reuters has more here.
People
 
Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount on why he authorized a ransom payment of $4.4 million: "I didn’t make [the decision] lightly. I will admit that I wasn’t comfortable seeing money go out the door to people like this.” More in the WSJ.
 
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior VP of software engineering, said during testimony today in the Epic-Apple trial that there is a "significant large malware problem on the Mac.” He was comparing the company's laptop computers to iPhones, which he said are far more secure (but sheesh). Cnet has more here.
 
Xu Jiayin, the founder of China's biggest real estate developer, hasn’t sold any cars yet and his empire or properties is groaning with debt. But his electric vehicle startup recently notched an $87 billion market cap. More in the WSJ.
 
J.D. Vance (see above in fundings) has formed an exploratory committee as he mulls running for Ohio’s open Senate seat as a Republican candidate. The Ohio Values Project is accepting online donations for Vance’s campaign, Business Insider reports.
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Essential Reads
 
Semiconductor lead times, the gap between ordering a chip and taking delivery, increased to 17 weeks last month, indicating users are getting more desperate to secure supply, according to research by Susquehanna Financial Group. As reported in Bloombergthat's the longest wait since the firm began tracking the data in 2017, in what it describes as the “danger zone.”
 
The world economy is suddenly running low on everything, in fact.
 
It’s the latest twist in the world of blank-check mergers, Roivant, a holding company that acquires overlooked drugs and tries to advance their development --  is going public itself through a SPAC. Interestingly -- smartly, suggests Bloomberg's Matt Levine -- Roivant will then use the proceeds to buy back an affiliate that it took public using another SPAC. Bloomberg has more here.
Detours
 
The best way to eat an Oreo, according to science.
 
Stanford's "Marriage Pact" has spread to 51 colleges. (More here.)
 
We have seen this many times and candidly, it's still not too many times.
Retail Therapy
 
F-150 Lightning, Ford's newly unveiled all-electric pickup truck (available next spring).
 
What people are buying right now.
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