Facebook's Trump ban, another Tiger Global fund, and two YC founders say they were just kicked out

June 4, 2021
 
Friday!
Before we go, we hope this newest StrictlyVC Download we rustled up for you, featuring guest Christopher Ahlberg, a serial founder and the CEO Recorded Future, a privately held security intelligence company that tracks threats to the government and corporations. Ahlberg has been very busy of late on the ransomware beat, and he walked us through how many of these individuals really operate, what his thinks the U.S. response to Russia should be, and how companies both big and small can better protect themselves from bad actors looking to disrupt their operations. (He also pushed back on the term "ransomware gangs" for reasons you will hear.)
 
Giant thanks to TechCrunch for sponsoring this week's episode. Note: its virtual transportation event, TC Sessions: Mobility, is coming up this Wednesday, June 9. Learn about the trends shaping the sector -- and save 10% on your ticket  -- by using the promo code STRICTLYVC at TechCrunch.com/mobility.
Top News
 
The head of the CDC today urged parents to vaccinate their teenagers against Covid-19, citing a rise in the number of adolescents hospitalized with the disease in March and April.
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On SPACs and Conflicts of Interest, Where's the SEC?
 
Today, TechCrunch's Kirsten Korosec reported that the autonomous vehicle startup Aurora is close to finalizing a deal to merge with one of three blank-check companies that have been formed to date by renowned entrepreneurs Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus and a third partner in these deals, Michael Thompson, who long managed special situation funds.
 
The development is intriguing for a lot of reasons, including because Aurora’s founders are big wheels in their industry (no pun intended), and having already acquired the self-driving unit of Uber in a complicated arrangement, Aurora could, as a publicly traded entity, snap up even more rivals, given it would have a more liquid currency than it does right now.
 
Possible merits of the deal aside, the deal is also interesting because of Hoffman's involvement. His venture firm, Greylock, is an investor in Aurora and has been since co-leading its Series A round in 2018, at which point Hoffman joined the board as a director. Now Hoffman’s SPAC is looking to take Aurora public at what we can safely assume is a much, much higher valuation than where it was valued back then. In fact, Korosec reports that one of the sticking points in this new deal is how much the company could conceivably be worth, writing that talk involved a $20 billion valuation at one point and is now closer to $12 billion, with the deal expected to be announced as early as next week.
 
This isn’t the first time a SPAC sponsor has pursued an existing investment as a target. In just one similar case, famed VC Chamath Palihapitiya was an investor in insurance company Clover through his firm Social Capital and as industry watchers will know, one of his blank-check companies merged with Clover last year.
 
A representative for Palihapitiya declined to disclose to Bloomberg whether or not he sold the stake prior to the SPAC deal, but legally, it doesn’t matter anyway.
 
Massive Fundings
 
Alation, a nine-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based collaborative enterprise data platform, raised $110 million in Series D funding at a $1.2 billion valuation. Riverwood Capital led, and was joined by Sanabil Investments, Snowflake Ventures and earlier investors Costanoa Ventures, Dell Technologies Capital, Salesforce Ventures and Sapphire Ventures. The company has raised $217 million to date. Bloomberg has more here.  

Capchase, a year-old, New York-based provider of non-dilutive capital, raised $125 million in Series A equity and debt funding (though it isn't breaking out the mix publicly). QED Investors led the equity piece; additional investors in the round include Bling Capital, SciFi VC, Caffeinated Capital and several angels. Capchase has now raised nearly $190 million in a mix of debt and equity, according to Crunchbase data. Crunchbase News has more here.
 
Delimobil, a six-year-old, Moscow, Russia-based car-sharing company, has raised $75 million in pre-IPO funding from Russia's second-largest lender, VTB, which said the deal gives it a stake of around 15% in Delimobil, which runs a fleet of cars which can be hired by the minute in Russia's largest cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Kazan. Reuters has more here.
 
Flink, a year-old, Berlin, Germany-based on-demand grocery delivery startup, has raised $240 million in Series A funding co-led by Prosus, Bond and Mubadala Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Getir, a six-year-old, Istanbul-based grocery delivery app originally backed in 2019 by VC Mike Moritz's personal investment vehicle, Crankstart, has raised $550 million at a $7.5 billion valuation from Silver Lake, DisruptAD, Mubadala and earlier backers Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital. CNBC has more here.
 
Phil, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based software therapy deployment platform built around the specialty pharmaceuticals market, has raised $56 million in growth funding led by Warburg Pincus just months after closing on $23 million in Series C funding led by Crosslink Capital. More here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
Bobbie, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based organic infant formula startup, has raised $15 million led by VMG. The company has now raised $22 million altogether, including from Bolt. Crunchbase News has more here.
 
Jeeves, a year-old, New York-based "cross-country, cross currency" expense management platform for global startups, has raised $31 million in Series A funding and another $100 million in debt funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the equity piece of the fundraise, joined by YC Continuity Fund, Jaguar Ventures, Urban Innovation Fund, Uncorrelated Ventures, Clocktower Ventures, Stanford University, 9 Yards Capital and BlockFi Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Stellanova Therapeutics, a new, Houston, Tex.-based cancer biotech that's focused, for now, on pancreatic and triple-negative breast cancers, raised $15.5 million in Series A funding led by Sporos Bioventures. FierceBiotech has more here.
 
Z League, an 11-month-old, fully distributed online gaming tournament platform, has raised $13.5 million in new funding, including from Andreessen Horowitz and Goodwater Capital. More here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
The Beans, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based automated financial wellness startup, has raised $2 million in funding led by Precursor Ventures, with participation from Relay Ventures, One Planet VC, Swing Ventures and Oxford Angel Fund. Crunchbase News has more here.
 
Faction, a 17-month-old, South San Francisco-based developer of three-wheeled delivery EVs, has raised $4.3 million in seed funding co-led by Trucks VC and Fifty Years. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Prixa, a two-year-old, Indonesia-based health platform that includes a digital health assistant to answer patients’ questions, telemedicine consultations, pharmacy deliveries and on-demand lab diagnostics, has raised $3 million. MDI Ventures led the round, joined by TPTF and Siloam Hospitals Group. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Teemyco, a two-year-old, Swedish customizable virtual office platform, raised $3.2 million in seed funding led by 42Cap,  with participation from Antler and Luminar Ventures. Tech.eu has more here.
New Funds
 
Future Perfect Ventures, a seven-year-old, New York-based early-stage venture firm that's focused on decentralization, is raising $60 million for its third fund, according to an SEC filing. More here.
 
Foundation Capital, the 26-year-old, Silicon Valley venture firm is back in the market with its tenth fund and aiming to raise $500 million, shows an SEC filing. The outfit had closed its ninth fund with $350 million in September 2019. More here.
 
Hold onto your hats; another Tiger Global fund is already in the works.
Exits
 
Facebook said today that it's buying a a Roblox-like game creation platform called Crayta that builds on top of the Unreal Engine and gives users a more simple creation interface, teamed with discovery and community features. TechCrunch has more here.
 
MediaMath, a 14-year-old, New York-based ad tech firm, has hired Luma Partners and Centerview Partners to explore strategic options, including a possible sale, per WSJ. The company has raised more than $400 million over the years from investors, including from Searchlight Capital Partners and Safeguard Scientifics. More here.
People
 
Jack Dorsey said at Bitcoin conference in Miami earlier today: “If I were not working at Square or Twitter I'd be working on Bitcoin.” 
 
Palantir's Alex Karp received special stock awards worth $1.1 billion last year and DoorDash's Tony Xu received $400 million worth, both among the biggest CEO pay packages since 2007, reports the WSJ.
 
Chamath Palihapitiya is looking to take public some biotech companies now, judging by some filings on Wednesday that we missed. On Wednesday, he registered plans to raise four more blank check companies in partnership with Suvretta Capital Management, an investment firm with an arm that focuses on the health-care industry. Assuming he raises the capital, $800 million altogether across four funds that are respectively targeting different health-care sectors (neurology, oncology, organ and immunology), he'll have raised 10 SPACs altogether. Bloomberg has more here.
 
Brad Twohig is out as a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, which he joined in mid-2018 after logging more than a dozen years with Insight Partners, says Axios. Ashley Brasier, who joined Lightspeed in late 2018 from Thumbtack, has also left, says the outlet, adding that she is expected to return to an operating role. No word yet on the next moves of Twohig, moved his family from the East Coast to lead LSVP's growth-stage practice. (We talked for a podcast soon after.) Brad, if you're out there . . .📞
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Essential Reads
 
What Facebook's Trump ban does and doesn't do.
 
Facebook's Substack clone is coming soon.
 
Two entrepreneurs claimed today that Y Combinator kicked them out of its program for speaking publicly about, in one case, misogyny and in another, other members' efforts to circumvent COVID-19 eligibility requirements. Business Insider has more here.
Detours
 
Greatest of all time?! Really, NYTimes Magazine?
 
A field guide for fledgling birders.
 
Why the pandemic turned Miami into the new Monaco.
Retail Therapy
 
House candles by Drake.
Sponsored By ...
 
Shareworks by Morgan Stanley. Looking for effective cap table management? Join us for our Startup Equity 101 event on 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 05/2021
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