SoFi gets its sign-off, fresh competition for Uber and Lyft, and Twitter Blue could be coming soon

May 28, 2021
 
Friday! Hope you have a memorable Memorial Day weekend, everyone. In observance of the holiday, we're not publishing Monday, but before we pull the plug for a few days, we leave you with the newest StrictlyVC Download, featuring Jamison Hill, a venture capitalist who sought-after late-stage founders (including at Brex and Nubank) have been doing business with in recent months, and for good reason. If you're interested in learning more about a savvy new way to address racial inequality in the U.S. one year after the death of George Floyd, it's worth checking out.
 
Giant thanks to MasterWorks for sponsoring this week's episode. Masterworks is an exclusive community investing in blue-chip art, but you can skip the waitlist here.
 
More Tuesday.:)
Top News
 
Regulators today sued a group of cryptocurrency promoters who helped raise over $2 billion from investors with the promise of 40% monthly returns, in one of the largest cases ever brought over digital assets. The WSJ has more here.
Sponsored By ...
 
High-growth startups use Dover to build their recruiting engine. Dover helps you source and engage top candidates, while ensuring a top-notch candidate experience. No more juggling countless recruiting tools and workflows. Get started at Dover.com.
Massive Fundings
 
Anthropica, a six-month-old, San Francisco-based AI safety and research company that was founded by Dario Amodei, the former VP of research at OpenAI, has already raised $124 million in funding, including from Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn, Facebook and Asana cofounder Dustin Moskovitz, former Alphabet exec Eric Schmidt and the Center for Emerging Risk Research, among others. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Circle, the eight-year-old, Boston-based crypto payments company, has raised $440 million in fresh capital ahead of a potential special purpose acquisition vehicle (SPAC) deal, according to The Block. Among those investors in the new round are Fidelity, FTX, Digital Currency Group, the London-based hedge fund Marshall Wace, Valor Capital Group, Pillar VC, Intersection Fintech Ventures, Atlas Merchant Capital and Willett Advisors. More here.
 
Homeward, a three-year-old, Austin-based startup that aims to help people and their agents buy homes faster by giving them the money to buy them, then leasing them the homes until they can buy directly from Homeward, has raised $136 million in Series B funding. Norwest Venture Partners led the round at a valuation of just north of $800 million, says the company, which has raised $160 million altogether. Other participants in the round include Blackstone, Breyer Capital and earlier backers Adams Street, Javelin and LiveOak Venture Partners. The company separately raised $235 million in debt. TechCrunch has more here.
 
NiKang Therapeutics, a four-year-old, Wilmington, Del.-based biotech focusing on small molecule oncology medicines, has raised $200 million in Series C funding. Cormorant Asset Management, HBM Healthcare Investments and Octagon Capital Advisors led the round, joined by more than dozen other investors. EndPoints News has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
DataDome, a six-year-old, New York-based AI platform that protects e-commerce businesses from bots and fraud, has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by Elephant, with participation from ISAI, among others. More here.
 
Fold, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based Bitcoin rewards app, has raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Craft Ventures, with participation from M13, Slow Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. More here.

Hello Heart, an eight-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based smartphone app to monitor and track heart problems, has raised $45 million in Series C funding. IVP led the round, joined by Khosla Ventures, BlueRun Ventures, Maven Ventures, and Resolute Ventures. MedCity News has more here.
 
MotoRefi, a five-year-old, Arlington, Va.-based auto refinancing platform that handles the entire loan process, has raised $45 million in a round led by Goldman Sachs. Other participants in the round, which brings the company's total funding to $60 million, include IA Capital, Moderne Ventures, Accomplice, Link Ventures, Motley Fool Ventures and CMFG Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Octave, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based mental health startup that offers specialized therapy, coaching, and workshops (all virtually for now), has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Health Velocity Capital, with participation from Cigna Ventures, Greycroft, Obvious Ventures, Company Ventures and Felicis Ventures. More here.

Poparazzi, a year-old, Marina del Rey, Ca.-based newly launched photo sharing app, is reportedly raising Series A funding of up to $20 million led by Benchmark that could value the company at up to $135 million, according to Forbes. More here.
 
The Pro’s Closet, a 15-year-old, Louisville, Co.-based marketplace for used bikes and e-bikes, has raised $40 million in Series B funding. The Chernin Group led the round, joined by Foundry Group, Edison Partners, and Ridgeline. More here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
Double Loop Games, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile gaming site, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Hiro Capital, with participation from Garena, Riot Games, and LVP. Hollywood Reporter has more here.
 
Kitt, a three-year-old, London-based startup that outfits commercial office space for landlords using a VR design process, raised £3.6 million in seed funding led by Barclay Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Kodo, a 2.5-year-old, Mumbai, India-based corporate credit card startup, has raised $8.8 million in seed funding, including from Brex, Goat Capital, and Pioneer Fund. The company was part of the newest winter batch out of Y Combinator. Your Story has more here.
 
Linq, a two-year-old, Birmingham, Ala.-based personalized networking app, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Mucker Capital, with participation from Alabama Futures Fund and Shipt founder Bill Smith. More here.
 
Pyn, a five-year-old, Australia-based workplace communication software platform that makes it easier to send personalized messages internally, has raised $8 million in seed funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, joined by Accel, Skip Capital, Atlassian co-CEO Scott Farquhar, and Ryan Sanders, a cofounder of BambooHR co-founder. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Vev, a four-year-old, Oslo, Norway-based platform for developers and content creators to design interactive websites, raised €5 million ($6.1 million) in seed funding. EQT Ventures led the round, joined by Sagene Tech Ventures and Skyfall Ventures. Tech.eu has more here.
New Funds
 
Ysios Capital, a 13-year-old, Spain-based venture capital firm focused on the biotech sector, says it has raised €216 million ($260 million) in capital commitments for its third fund. More here.
Exits
 
Back in March, Apple lost a bid to acquire a live-streaming music platform to the video-sharing social network Triller, reports Bloomberg. The company, Verzuzwhich was created by rappers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, lets users livestream rap battles and other musical showdowns and was offered a price by Apple that ended up being lower than what was offered by Triller, which has reportedly been shelling out cash in order to boost its relevance. More here.
Going Public
 
Lending company SoFi moved closer to an IPO via its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as shareholders voted to approve the deal by a wide margin, it was announced today. The SoFi SPAC IPO begins trading on Tuesday. The vote, by shareholders of Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings V, took place yesterday. Investors Business Daily has more here.
 
Sprinklr, an 11-year-old, New York-based company that makes  customer experience management software for companies, including Microsoft and McDonald's, filed today with the SEC to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering. Reuters has more here.
 
Warby Parker, the 11-year-old, New York-based prescription eyewear company, is considering an IPO as soon as this year, according to Bloomberg. When the company raised its most recent round of funding -- $120 million last year -- it was assigned a post-money valuation of $3 billion, according to PitchBook data. More here.
 
Wejo, a seven-year-old, Manchester, England-based connected vehicle data startup backed by GM and Palantir, plans to go public through a merger with special purpose acquisition company Virtuoso Acquisition Corp. The agreement, announced in a regulator filing today, will give the combined company an enterprise valuation of $800 million, which includes debt. The deal raises $330 million in proceeds for Wejo, including a $230 million cash contribution from Virtuoso and a $100 million in private investment in public equity, or PIPE. Previous strategic investors Palantir and GM anchored the transaction. TechCrunch has more here.
People
 
Antonio García Martínez, post Apple.
 
The venture firm Lerer Hippeau has promoted Andrea Hippeau, Caitlin Strandberg, Isabelle Phelps, and Stephanie Manning Cohen to partners. More here.
Sponsored By ...
 
Built for VCs, Kushim is an all-in-one investment tracking solution. From deal-screening to exit, Kushim helps you streamline your workflow, collaborate with stakeholders, and manage your funds. Key features include reporting, custom metric tracking, LP management, and integrations with Crunchbase, Pitchbook, Gmail, Outlook and more. Arrange a demo today!
Essential Reads
 
Twitter Blue, a $3 monthly subscription service, could be coming soon.
 
About 2,500 drivers in New York are organizing to create what they say is a better deal for drivers than what the ride-hailing giants offer.
Detours
 
What robots can - and can't -- do for the elderly.
 
 
Inside the "AmaZen" box (nobody can hear you scream).
 
Bike stunts.
Retail Therapy
 
Cup Noodles Yahtzee.
Sponsored By ...
 
Shareworks by Morgan Stanley. Looking for effective cap table management? Join us for our Startup Equity 101 event on Thursday, June 10, at 1:00 p.m. EST to hear from industry leaders on their experiences with fundraising, managing the cap table and building a culture of ownership in your company. Visit the ‘Events’ page in the ‘Resources’ section of Shareworks by Morgan Stanley website to learn more and register.  
 
Shareworks by Morgan Stanley services are provided by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, member SIPC, and its affiliates, all wholly owned subsidiaries of Morgan Stanley. CRC 3591771
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