Twitter's standoff in India, Adam Neumann's new deal, and 10,800 reasons for Google to worry

May 27, 2021
Top News
 
Twitter today pushed back against India’s increasingly heavy-handed efforts to control online speech, calling on the government to respect freedom of expression and criticizing what it called “intimidation tactics” by the country’s police. The New York Times has more here.
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There’s been a lot of talk about racial equality in the year since George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, but achieving it is far easier said than done given the current state of affairs. Consider: according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, historically Black colleges and universities have $15,000 on average in endowment per student, while comparable non-HBCUs have $410,000 on average in endowment per student.
 
That matters, a lot. While higher learning institutions are almost universally focused on diversifying their student base, HBCUs are largely responsible for the nation’s Black middle class, and the larger the endowment, the stronger the school and its ability to support its educators, researchers, and in the case of public HBCUs, its public service mission. Venture capitalist Jamison Hill says that his own father, who attended North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, has long maintained that “if it weren’t for that experience, there’s no way he could have gone on to get a high-paying job, where he met my mother, who laid the foundation for the success of our family.”
 
Hill, who most recently spent more than six years with Bain Capital Ventures, is now doing something to protect that legacy, along with a kind of dream team that features Laura Weidman Powers, who has cofounded or led numerous impact-focused startups and nonprofits, including Code2040; and Luci Fonseca, who helped establish the Institute for Black Economic Mobility at McKinsey & Co. and has focused on impact investing at Salesforce Ventures, among her other roles.
 
All three have joined the four-year-old venture firm Base10 Partners to invest a new, $250 million growth-stage fund — the firm’s first later-stage vehicle — and fully half the profits from that fund will be directed to HBCUs to create student scholarships and support university endowments.
 
It’s a brilliant play on the part of Base10.
 
Massive Fundings
 
Agicap, a five-year-old, France-based cash management company that helps small and mid-size businesses handle forecasting, track their receipts and disbursements, and map out business scenarios, has raised $100 million in funding led by Greenoaks. Earlier backers BlackFin Capital Partners and Partech, which last year had provided the company with $18 million in Series A funding, also joined the new round. TechCrunch has more here.
 
IVI, Russia's most popular video-streaming service, has raised $250 million. VTB Group led the round in the 11-year-old company, joined by Russia’s second-biggest bank, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, and steel billionaires Alexander Abramov and Alexander Frolov’s Invest AG. Bloomberg has more here.
 
QuintoAndar, an eight-year-old, São Paulo, Brazil-based real estate marketplace focused on rentals and sales, has raised $300 million in  Series E funding at a post-money valuation of $4 billion. Ribbit Capital led the round, joined by SoftBank’s LatAm-focused Innovation Fund, LTS, Maverik, Alta Park, Kaszek Ventures, Dragoneer and longtime investor Kevin Efrusy. The company has now raised $635 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Wayflyer, a six-year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based revenue-based financing company for e-commerce merchants, has raised $76 million in Series A funding. Left Lane Capital led the round, joined by DST Global, QED Investors, Speedinvest and Zinal Growth. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

Beep, a two-year-old, Orlando, Fla.-based developer of multi-passenger, electric, autonomous vehicles, has raised $20 million in Series A funding. Intel Capital and Blue Lagoon Capital invested. More here.
 
Brightside, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based mental health telemedicine platform that offers access to anxiety and depression care, has raised $24 million in Series A funding led by ACME Ventures, with participation from Triventures and earlier investors. Business Insider has more here.
 
Cosuno, a three-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based construction tech company, has raised $15 million in Series A funding. Spark Capital led the round, joined by Cherry Ventures and the founders of AUTO1 Group. More here.
 
Ever/Body, a two-year-old, New York-based cosmetic dermatology provider, has raised $38 million in Series B funding consisting of both venture and debt. Tiger Global Management led the round, joined by Addition, Fifth Wall, MetaProp, Gaingels and earlier backers Declaration Partners, ACME Capital and Redesign Health. The company has now raised $52 million altogether. More here.
 
Matera, a four-year-old, Paris-based maker of residential property management SaaS, has raised €35 million in Series B funding led by Mubadala Capital, with participation from Bpifrance, Burda Principal Investments and earlier backers Index Ventures and Samaipata. TechCrunch has more here.
 
RevenueCat, a 3.5-year-old, Bay Area-based startup offering a series of tools for developers of subscription-based apps, has raised $40 million in Series B funding at a post-money valuation of $300 million. The round was led by Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund and included participation from Index Ventures, SaaStr, Oakhouse, Adjacent and FundersClub, along with individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
Airspace Link, a three-year-old, Detroit, Mi.-based drone traffic management startup, has raised $10 million in Series A funding from Altos Ventures, Thales and others. More here.
 
Axle, a two-year-old, New York-based payments company focused on the freight industry, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Crosslink Capital led the round, joined by FJ Labs, Flexport, Tribeca Early Stage Partners, Anthemis Group, Techstars and Plug and Play Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Breinify, a nearly six-year-old, Bay Area-based startup that tries bringing data science to brand marketers, has raised $11 million in funding led by Gutbrain Ventures and PBJ Capital, with participation from Streamlined Ventures, CXO Fund, Amino Capital, Startup Capital Ventures and Sterling Road. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Greg, a 15-month-old, New York-based startup whose smart app tells you when to water your plants based on their type and location (truly), has raised $5.4 million in seed funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from First Round Capital. The company's founder, Alex Ross, previously spent more than four years as an engineering director at Tinder. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Hyro, a three-year-old, New York-based conversational AI for the healthcare sector, has raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. Spero Ventures led the round, joined by Twilio, Mindset Ventures and earlier investors Hanaco Ventures, Spider Capital and Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator. AIThority has more here.
 
Infinite Objects, a nearly three-year-old, New York-based startup that sees a big opportunity in making physical copies of digital assets like NFTs (it makes screens  that show a single video from a single artist), has raised $6 million in seed funding. Dapper Labs, the blockchain company working with the NBA to produce "Top Shot," led the round; other participants include Serena Ventures, Betaworks, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, GFR Fund, business partners Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman, Genies, and Sound Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Noice, a nearly two-year-old, Helsinki, Finland-based still-stealth social platform for gamers that says it's combining user-generated content, deep game systems, and engaging social design, has raised $5 million from a long list of prominent types in the gaming industry, including Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen. VentureBeat has more here.

Obie, a four-year-old, Chicago-based tech-enabled insurance and risk management platform for real estate investors, raised $10.7 million in Series A funding. Battery Ventures led the round, joined by Funders Club, MetaProp and Second Century Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Orbiit, a three-year-old, New York-based virtual networking platform, has raised $2.7 million in seed funding led by Bread and Butter Ventures, joined by High Alpha Capital, LAUNCHub Ventures and Company Ventures. Earlier backers Founders Fund (which led Orbiit’s $1 million pre-seed round), Acceleprise, and several  angel investors also invested. More here.
 
Pintu, a year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based crypto exchange, has raised $6 million in funding led by Pantera Capital, Intudo Ventures and Coinbase Ventures. Other participants in the round included Blockchain.com Ventures, Castle Island Ventures and Alameda Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
QuickNode, a four-year-old, Miami-based Web3 developer platform for building and operating blockchain-powered applications, has raised $5.3 million in seed funding led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six, with participation from SB Opportunity Fund, Arrington XRP Capital, Crossbeam.vc, and investor Anthony Pompliano, among others. More here.
 
Skiff, a year-old, New York-based document editor with a similar look and feel to Google Docs, allowing users to write, edit, and collaborate, with privacy baked in, has raised $3.7 million in seed funding. Sequoia Capital led the round, joined by Alphabet's chairman, John Hennessy, Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang and Eventbrite co-founders Julia and Kevin Hartz. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Not-Known-Yet-How-Much Fundings
 
Klarna, the Stockholm, Sweden-based buy-now-pay-later company, is close to securing a new funding round at a valuation of more than $40 billion backed by SoftBank, according to CNBC. The exact size of the investment round is unknown. However, it is expected to be less than the $1 billion that Klarna raised in March, when it was valued at $31 billion, according to Business Insider. More here.
New Funds
 
Collab Capital, a firm designed to invest explicitly in Black founders that debuted last year with $2 million in capital capital commitments, has closed on $50 million in capital commitments now, it tells TechCrunch. Limited partners include Apple, Goldman Sachs, Google, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mailchimp and PayPal. The plan is to invest the funds in 50 companies over a three-to-five-year period, with check sizes between $500,000 and $750,000. More here.
 
First Move Capital, a nine-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based venture firm that has invested in used car marketplaces Frontier Auto Group and Vroom as well as mobility-as-a-service startup Via, has closed a new $150 million fund that will focus on the automotive and transportation sectors. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Flagship Pioneering, the 21-year-old, Boston-based investment firm that has incubated Moderna, Valo Health and Axcella Health, among many other companies, plans to consolidate its funds into one mega fund that is targeting $3 billion in capital commitments, according to documents from the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board and viewed by Buyouts magazine. The fund had originally closed on $1.1 billion in April of last year to fund seed- and early-stage venture vehicles; now, Flagship, which also has two growth-stage "opportunities" type funds, is smooshing those efforts together. More here.
Going Public
 
Paytm, India’s leading digital payments provider, is aiming to raise about 218 billion rupees ($3 billion) in an IPO late this year, according to Bloomberg. The 11-year-old, Noida-based outfit could enjoy the country's largest debut ever, given its target valuation of between $25 billion to $30 billion, reports the outlet. More here
People
 
Bill and Melinda Gates are discussing changes to the structure of their foundation to add more governance and independence as their planned divorce calls into question the direction of one of the world’s largest charities. More here.
 
WeWork in February gave its ousted cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann an enhanced stock award worth roughly $245 million, a benefit that wasn’t extended to other early shareholders in a bailout of the company by SoftBank two years ago. The deal was reportedly part of an effort to clear the way for a public listing. The WSJ has the scoop here.
 
Alphabet's former executive chairman Eric Schmidt just bought Barron Hilton's historic 1930s L.A. estate.
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Essential Reads
 
Snowflake, the cloud data analytics vendor that held the biggest U.S. software IPO ever last year, has become the latest tech company to jettison California.Snowflake said in its earnings release today that it no longer has a corporate headquarters, as its workforce is “globally distributed.” CNBC has more here.
 
Four women who used to work for Google have won class-action status for their gender equity lawsuit against the search engine company, allowing them to represent some 10,800 women, Bloomberg reports. The lawsuit alleges that Google pays men more than women for the same work, in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act, and that Google paid its female employees nearly $17,000 less per year than male counterparts in the same roles. More here.
 
A local crime app gone mad.
Detours
 
Four ways to become a better swimmer.
 
Spectacular wedding column corrections.
 
Where the f*ck are cicadas coming from?"
 
And you thought you had a bad day.
Retail Therapy
 
Colorful shoes from vintage kilim carpets.
 
The Hampton's home of Shutterstock founder Jonathan Oringer can now be yours (for $52 million).
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