A new stance on TikTok, a peek inside YC, and JBS admits that it also paid the ransom

June 9, 2021
Hi! We're missing a section or two (we were off celebrating a beloved intern's birthday); more tomorrow.:)
Top News
JBS paid an $11 million ransom to cybercriminals who last week temporarily knocked out plants that process roughly one-fifth of the nation’s meat supply. The ransom payment, in bitcoin, was made to shield JBS meat plants from further disruption, Andre Nogueira, CEO of the Brazilian meat company's U.S. division, tells the WSJ.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday revoking the Trump-era bans on TikTok and WeChat. In place of the Trump order, Biden will direct the commerce secretary to investigate apps with ties to foreign adversaries that may pose a risk to American data privacy or national security. The Verge has more here.
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Does What Happens at YC Stay at YC?
Bringing people together over shared interests is innate to human nature, and coming out of a lonely, draining pandemic, every startup is looking to cultivate community, conversation and camaraderie.
Last week, though, the outside world got a look at how Y Combinator, one of Silicon Valley’s most famed and feared accelerators, deals with the intricacies of a scaled yet still ultra-exclusive community after the accelerator kicked out two founders from its internal messaging board, Bookface.
The two founders, Dark CEO Paul Biggar and Prolific CEO and co-founder Katia Damer, say they were removed from YC after publicly critiquing YC — for very different reasons. Biggar had noted on social media back in March that another YC founder was tipping off people on how to cut the vaccine lines to get an early jab, while Damer expressed worry and frustration more recently about the alumni community’s support of a now-controversial alum, Antonio García Martínez.

Y Combinator says that the two founders were removed from Bookface because they broke community guidelines, namely the rule to never externally post any internal information from Bookface.
The now-public ousting of Biggar and Damer, who turned to Twitter to first explain their experiences, is a nuanced situation. Y Combinator says that it has only removed a “dozen or so” founders in its 16 year history for violating YC ethics and Bookface forum guidelines.
Still, YC’s decision to remove these founders, especially in light of a broader reckoning around free speech and dissent within startups, has triggered a series of questions — some by YC founders themselves — around how the accelerator moderates its community, handles negative publicity and draws its own line around what can be openly said by its alumni base without consequence.
Massive Fundings
Aura, a four-year-old, Burlington, Mass.-based maker of digital security software for consumers, including antivirus and identity-protection offerings, has raised $150 million led by Warburg Pincus. The company has now raised $450 million altogether and is valued at more than $1 billion, it tells the WSJ
Brinqa, an 11-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based enterprise cybersecurity risk management platform, has raised $110 million from Insight Partners. VentureBeat has more here.
BukuWarung, a two-year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia fintech focused on Indonesia's micro, small and medium enterprises, has raised $60 million in Series A funding led by Valar Ventures (marking the firm's first investment in Indonesia) and Goodwater Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
Contentstack, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based content management platform, just raised $57.5 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners, with participation from Illuminate Ventures, GingerBread Capital, and Georgian. TechCrunch has more here.
Kojin Therapeutics, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biopharmaceutical company focused on cell state and ferroptosis biology, has raised $60 million in Series A funding. Polaris Partners, Newpath Partners, and Cathay Health co-led the round, joined by Leaps by Bayer, Abbvie, Eventide Asset Management, Alexandria, and Binney Street Capital. More here.
Lenus, a five-year-old, Denmark-based maker of a coaching platform for health and fitness professionals, has raised €50 million ($60 million) in Series A funding from EQT Ventures. MobiHealth News has more here
MaintainX, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based workflow management platform for industrial and frontline workers, has raised $39 million in Series B funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Amity Ventures, Vulcan Capital, August Capital, Ridge Ventures and OldSlip Group. Crunchbase News has more here.

Monogram Health, a two-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based benefit management and care delivery company focused on chronic kidney and end-stage renal disease, has raised $160 million in Series B funding. TPG Capital led the round, joined by Frist Cressey Ventures, Humana and Norwest Venture Partners. FierceBiotech has more here.

Morning Consult, a  six-year-old, Washington D.C.-based data analysis and polling company, raised $60 million in Series B funding valuing it at $1 billion. Advance Venture Partners led the round, joined by Susquehanna Growth Equity and Lupa Systems. Axios has more here.
Mythical Games, a three-year-old, L.A.-based NFT games startup, has raised $75 million in Series B funding from new and previous investors. WestCap led the round, joined by 01 Advisors and Gary Vaynerchuk’s VaynerFund. The startup has raised $120 million to date. TechCrunch has more here
Northvolt, a five-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based maker of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, has raised $2.75 billion in new funding. The round was co-led by Goldman Sachs and VW, with participation from the Canadian pension group OMERS; the Swedish pension funds AP1, AP2, AP3 and AP4Baillie Gifford; Baron Capital Group, and Spotify's Daniel Ek, among many others. The company has now raised $6.5 billion altogether. CNBC has more here.
Pattern Brands, an 11-year-old, New York-based portfolio of home-centric brands, has raised $60 million from Victory Park Capital, HOF Capital, RSE Ventures and earlier backers Kleiner Perkins, RRE Ventures and Primary Venture Partners. Retail Dive has more here.
Ringle, a six-year-old, South Korea-based online tutoring outfit that sells courses to adults like business English and interview preparation (it will also launch a program for school-age children later this year), has raised $18 million in Series A funding led by returning investor Must Asset Management at a post-money valuation of $90 million.  Other participants in the round, which brings Ringle’s total raised to $20 million, include returning investors One Asset Management and MoCA Ventures, along with new backer Xoloninvest. TechCrunch has more here.
Solana Labs, the four-year-old, San Francisco-based blockchain startup whose founder and CEO, Anatoly Yakavenko was a recent guest on StrictlyVC Download, says it has raised $314 million through the sale of its tokens to continue to develop its tech, as well as to fuel a venture arm and a trading desk. Andreessen Horowitz led the deal, joined by Polychain Capital, and numerous others. (Asked yesterday at what price Solana sold the coins, the company declined to answer. We also asked whether the investors received any other consideration, such as warrants to purchase additional coins at a discounted price, and the company didn't answer that either. It did offer that the tokens were sold with long-term lockups.) The WSJ has more.
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
Blooma, a three-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based underwriting platform for commercial real estate, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Canapi Ventures led the round, joined by investors including Nyca Partners. The Real Deal has more here.
Dispo, a two-year-old, L.A.-based retro photo-sharing app co-founded by YouTube star David Dobrik (who later parted ways with the company in a major dust-up)
has raised $20 million in Series A funding, including from Annie LeibovitzKevin Durant. and venture firms Seven Seven Six and Unshackled Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Kafene, a two-year-old, New York-based buy-now-pay-later startup focused on consumers with subprime credit scores, raised $14 million in Series A funding. Global Founders Capital and Third Prime Ventures co-led the round, joined by Valar, Company.co, Hermann Capital, Gaingels, Republic Labs, Uncorrelated Ventures and FJ Labs. TechCrunch has more here.

Gideon Brothers, a four-year-old, Zagreb, Croatia-based robotics and AI company, has raised $31 million in Series A funding. Koch Disruptive Technologies led the round, joined byDB Schenker, Prologis Ventures, and Rite-Hite. TechCrunch has more here.
Hawthorne Effect, a si-year-old, San Francisco-based clinical trial decentralization startup, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Northpond Ventures led the round, joined by SignalFire and P5 Health Ventures. MobiHealth News has more here.
MaintainX, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of software for industrial and frontline workers, has raised $39 million in Series B funding. Bessemer Venture Partners led the round, joined by Amity Ventures, Vulcan Capital, August Capital, Ridge Ventures, and OldSlip Group. Crunchbase has more here.

Monogoto, a five-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cloud-based cellular network whose platform is used to connect and control sensors and devices, such as point of sales, ATMs, wearables, smart lights, and fleets of cars and packages, has raised $11 million in funding led by Team8, with participation from Telefonica Tech Ventures, Singtel Innov8, Alter Venture Partners, Triventures and Planven Entrepreneur Ventures. More here.
Rise Science, a seven-year-old, Chicago-based sleep and energy management startup, has raised $15.5 million in seed and Series A funding from Goodwater Capital, Freestyle Ventures, High Alpha and True Ventures cofounder Jon Callaghan. Crunchbase News has more here.

Stoke, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based freelancer management software maker, has raised $15.5 million in Series A funding. Battery Ventures led the round, joined by investors including TLV Partners, Dynamic and Loop. VentureBeat has more here.

Superb, a 3.5-year-old, Copenhagen, Denmark-based management software maker for restaurants, has raised €12 million ($14.6 million) in Series A funding. Kinnevik led the round, joined by investors including Knight Capital and Seed Capital. Silicon Canals has more here.
Smaller Fundings
BuyerAssist, a year-old, San Francisco-based B2B buyer engagement platform, has raised $2 million in seed funding co-led by Stellaris Venture Partners and Emergent Ventures. More here.
Commit, a 2.5-year-old, Vancouver, Canada-based professional network for startup engineers, raised $6 million in seed funding led by Accomplice. TechCrunch has more here.
Compose.ai, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based chatbot development platform, has raised $2.1 million in seed funding led by Craft Ventures. More here.

Duos, a year-old, New York-based startup that pairs a trained personal assistant for aging with an older adult, to provide companionship and help with needs like ordering groceries, arranging for safe transportation and navigating complicated health related matters, has raised $6 million from investors, including Redesign Health and Forerunner Ventures. More here.
Guest House, a 4.5-year-old, Denver, Co.-based home staging company (that sells the staging items), has raised $3 million in seed funding. Range Ventures led the round, joined by Ludlow Ventures, 87 Capital, Rucker Park Capital, V1 Ventures, and Break Trail Ventures. More here.

Hummingbot, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based crypto trading software maker, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Initialized Capital led the round, joined by Slow Ventures, Arrington XRP Capital, Borderless Capital, Ava Labs, and AscendEX. Crunchbase News has more here.
Nomad Data, a months old, New York-based software startup whose goal is to create a marketplace of ideas, then allow allow data providers and experts to match the ideas to their data, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding. Bloomberg Beta led the round, joined by Alumni Ventures, Great Oaks Ventures, Correlation Ventures, DataFrame Ventures and numerous angel investors. More here.
Now, an 11-year-old, Georgia-based startup focused on providing small businesses a quicker method for getting invoices paid (it was cofounded by attorney and political star Stacey Abrams), has raised $9.5 million in funding led by Virgo Investment Group and featuring Cresset Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.
Poised, a  year-old, San Francisco-based digital-coaching product that promises to provide actionable, real-time feedback during online meetings, has raised $4.5 million in seed funding led by Wing Venture Capital, with participation from Next Play Ventures, Slack Fund, Hyphen Capital, and Concrete Rose Capital, among numerous others. More here

Tracer, a  three-year-old, New York-based data analytics company that was incubated by Gary Vaynerchuk’s ad agency VaynerMedia and spun off in 2018, has raised $9.9 million in seed funding, including from Jet.com founder Marc Lore and Kevin Durant's Thirty Five Ventures. Business Insider has more here.
Not-Saying-How-Much Fundings
Virtual conference technology company Hopin, a two-year-old, London-based virtual conference tech company that was valued at $5.65 billion in a $400 million financing round in March, has added LinkedIn to its roster of investors. The company tells CNBC that LinkedIn invested at that same valuation, while one o the outlet's sources say the company spent less than $50 million to buy shares from existing stakeholders. More here.
New Funds
The Chernin Group (TCG), a 10-year-old, L.A.-based investment firm that specializes in consumer brands in media and tech, is raising $1 billion to drive its third round of investments, sources tell Axios. It's adding three new partners as it looks to invest in more brands and new technologies, like blockchain. Axios has more here.
After making investments in 57 startups together, Superhuman CEO Rahul Vohra and Eventjoy founder Todd Goldberg are back at it with a new $24 million fund.The duo is first $7.3 million fund just weeks before the pandemic hit stateside last year; they went on raise $3.5 million in a rolling fund designed around making investments in later stage deals beyond Seed and Series A rounds. TechCrunch has more here.
Going Public
Southeast Asia’s blockbuster IPOs in 2021 could pave the way for more billion-dollar start-ups to emerge, according to venture capital firm 500 Startups. CNBC has more here.
Valo Health, a three-year-old, Boston-based company we talked with in March, says it's going public through a merger with a blank-check firm backed by venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, in a deal valuing the combined company at about $2.8 billion. Valo is a biotech company that uses data analysis and AI to help in drug discovery and development. It was founded by the venture firm Flagship Pioneering. Reuters has more here.
Facebook global ads chief Carolyn Everson is leaving the company. CNBC has more here.
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Essential Reads
The National Music Publishers’ Association filed a lawsuit against Roblox, accusing the massively multiplayer online game company of illegally using songs from numerous artists — and seeking a minimum of $200 million in damages. Variety has more here.
Facebook is taking a novel approach to its first smartwatch, which the company reportedly plans to debut next summer. The device will feature a display with two cameras that can be detached from the wrist for taking pictures and videos that can be shared across Facebook’s suite of apps, including Instagram, The Verge has learned. More here.
Young creators are burning out.
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