Facebook's complaint, Netflix's new venture, and a look inside Teslatown

July 14, 2021
 
game 7! (Woot.)
 
This day has been bonkers, so no column, but more tomorrow. We also had an interesting catch-up with TechCrunch founder-turned-crypto investor Michael Arrington today for this week's podcast. Look for that on Friday.
Top News
Facebook has joined Amazon in asking that FTC Chair Lina Khan be recused from all decisions relating to the company. The argument, more or less identical to Amazon’s, is that before her appointment, Khan was too outspoken about her professional opinion that companies like theirs are in violation of antitrust rules, says TechCrunch. More here.
 
Netflix shares rose in after-hours trading today after the company said it will venture into video gaming. It will be Netflix's first big move beyond TV shows and films. 
 
Alibaba and Tencent are "considering moves to gradually open up their services to one another, as Beijing’s tech crackdown makes it harder for China’s two online giants to maintain the virtual barriers they have built in recent years," says the WSJ. Currently, for example, customers can’t use Tencent’s payment system to buy goods on an Alibaba platform. But while a more open system could help spur greater competition, it would also mean the business rivals would have more insight into each other’s businesses, notes the outlet. More here.
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Massive Fundings
 
DevRev, an eight-month-old, Bay Area-based software company from two former Nutanix executives that aims to bring the coding and revenue processes closer together, has emerged from stealth mode with $50 million in seed funding from Mayfield Fund, Khosla Ventures and several industry luminaries. TechCrunch has more here.
 
M1 Finance, a six-year-old, Chicago-based robo investment advisory firm, has raised $150 million in Series E funding led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. The company has now raised roughly $300 million altogether and is valued at $1.45 billion. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Entos, a two-year-old, San Diego-based developer of small-molecule therapeutics, raised $53 million in Series A funding. Coatue led the round, joined by Catalio Capital Management. FierceBiotech has more here.
 
Meister, a 15-year-old, Vienna, Austria-based workplace collaboration tool company, has raised $52 million in funding led by the private equity firm Verdane. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Pantheon, an 11-year-old, San Francisco-based WebOps (website operations) platform that aims to empower marketing and development teams to take control of their sites, has raised $100 million in Series E funding at a post-money valuation of $1 billion funded solely by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Railsbank, a five-year-old, London-based startup that builds APIs for banking, payment cards and credit products for use by fintechs but also a wide range of other kinds of businesses, has raised $70 million in new funding. Earlier backer Anthos Capital led the round, joined among others by Central Capital, Cohen and Company, Outrun Ventures, and Central Capital, which is the venture arm of the largest privately held bank in Indonesia. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Ribon Therapeutics, a six-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based clinical stage biotech focused on cancer and inflammation, has raised $65 million. Deerfield Management and U.S. Venture Partners led the round, joined by Avego BioScience Capital, GV, Monashee Investment Management, and Peregrine Ventures. FierceBiotech has more here.
 
Unybrands, a year-old, Miami-based platform for e-commerce businesses looking to scale their operations on and off Amazon, just became the newest aggregator to pick up a significant investment, closing $300 million in growth capital from Crayhill Capital Management. It previously raised a $25 million seed round in February. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Virsec, a six-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based cybersecurity company, has raised $100 million in Series C funding. BlueIO led the round, joined by Allen & Company, Arena Holdings, Intuitive Venture Partners, JC2 Ventures, Artiman Ventures, Quantum Valley Investments, and Marker Hill Capital. VentureBeat has more here.

YuLife, a five-year-old, London-based insurance company that doles out e-commerce vouchers and other rewards for healthy behaviors, has raised $70 million in Series B funding. Target Global led the round, joined by Eurazeo and Latitude. Tech.eu has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
 
AttackIQ, an eight-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based cybersecurity startup that provides organizations with breach and attack simulation solutions, has raised $44 million in Series C funding. Atlantic Bridge led the round, joined by Saudi Aramco Energy VenturesGaingels, and earlier investors Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Telstra Ventures. The round brings the company’s total funding raised to date to $79 million. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Cardless, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup looking to give brands and tech companies a way to launch custom co-branded credit cards, has raised $40 million in Series B funding. Activant Capital led the round, joined by owners and management of the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics, as well as earlier backers Accomplice and Pear VC. The company has now raised $50 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Castor, a nine-year-old, Hoboken, N.J.-based clinical trial software, has raised $45 million in Series B funding. Eight Roads Ventures and F-Prime Capital led the round, joined by Two Sigma Ventures and Inkef Capital. The company has now raised $65 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Comet Bio, an 11-year-old, Ontario, Canada-based company that's focused on turning a farm’s entire harvest into high-quality ingredients, including syrups, has raised $22 million in Series C funding led by Open Prairie. More here.
 
Flymachine, a year-old, New York-based virtual venue for live entertainment, has raised $21 million in funding co-led by Greycroft Partners and SignalFire, with additional participation from Primary Venture Partners, Contour Venture Partners, Red Sea Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Great Question, an 11-month-old, Oakland, Ca.-based startup that's looking to make customer research more accessible to product development teams, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Funders Club, January Capital, Nomo VC and Twenty-Two Ventures, in addition to numerous individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.
 
LinkSquares, a six-year-old, Boston-based contract management and analysis tool, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Sorenson Capital, with participation from Catalyst Investors, XeroxBottomline Technologies. Hyperplane Venture Capital, MassMutual Ventures, and First Ascent Ventures, among others. VentureBeat has more here.
 
Mighty Buildings, a four-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based tech company creating homes using 3D printing and robotics. has raised $22 million in extended Series B funding, bringing the round (closed earlier this year) to $62 million and its total funding to $100 million. Investors include ArcTern Ventures, Core Innovation Capital, Decacorn Capital, Gaingels, Khosla Ventures, Klaff Realty, MicroVentures, Modern Venture Partners, Polyvalent Capital, and Vibrato Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Morty, a six-year-old, New York-based maker of a mortgage marketplace, raised $25 million in Series B funding. March Capital led the round, joined by Rethink Impact, Thrive Capital, Lerer Hippeau, Prudence Holdings, FJ Labs, and Metaprop. The company has now raised $38.4 million to date and is valued at $150 million. Forbes has more here.
 
NoTraffic, a four-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based autonomous traffic management platform, has raised $17.5 million in Series A funding led by Nielsen Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Pratilipi, a seven-year-old, Bangalore, India-based self-publishing platform, has raised $48 million in Series D funding led by the South Korean gaming giant Krafton, with participation from Omidyar Network India, among others. The company has now raised $78.8 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Stytch, a 1.5-year-old, Bay Area-based company that's building APIs that companies can use to identify and verify users through passwordless "magic links," has raised $30 million in Series A funding (this round was apparently in the works dating back in February, judging by a report at the time by Business Insider). Thrive Capital led the Series A, which also included participation from Coatue Management and earlier backers Benchmark and Index Index Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
Acelab, a two-year-old, Brooklyn, N..Y-based information marketplace for architects, contractors and clients to find, purchase and procure building materials, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Pillar VC led the round, joined by Alpaca (formerly Corigin), Draper Associates, Transcend Partners, MIT MET Fund, and Erik Jarnryd, an angel investor who long ran a building products company. More here.
 
Accelerate, a 2.5-year-old, L.A.-based startup that's aiming to help restaurants improve their sales and efficiencies by helping them create many online storefronts (with one kitchen on the back end), has raised $14.44 million in Series A financing led by Sequoia Capital. More here.
 
Climate X, a five-year-old, London-based climate analytics startup, has raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding led by Pale Blue Dot, with participation from Blue Wire Capital, A100x, and Possibilian. EU Startups has more here.
 
Nooks, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based virtual workspace space targeting distributed teams, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Tola Capital, with participation from Floodgate and investors Julia and Kevin Hartz and Julia Lipton, the founder of Awesome People Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Phantom, a five-month-old, San Francisco-based a digital wallet that’s on the Solana blockchain network, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz (which is also an investor in Solana, which we'd written about here.) Other participants in the round include Variant Fund, Jump Capital, DeFi Alliance, Solana Foundation and investor Garry Tan. TechCrunch has more here.
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New Funds
 
Untitled Ventures, a 10-year-old, London-based venture firm, has raised €100 million for its second fund, says Tech.eu. The fund will focus on deep tech startups that are founded in Eastern Europe and have the desire to relocate or have already established an HQ in Western Europe or the U.S. Untitled’s investments usually range between €500,000 and €2 million. More here.
Exits
 
Two Southern California biotech startups got swallowed up this week, notes Dot. L.A.: pharma giant Eli Lilly plucked up a Pasadena startup Protomer Technologies for $1 billion. The company is working on "smart insulin" to treat diabetes. Another SoCal startup, El Segundo-based Integrity Bio, was acquired by New York drug development company Curia, formerly known as AMRI. Terms of both deals weren't disclosed. More here.
Going Public
 
Amplitude, a seven-year-old, Bay startup that tracks online user behavior and which raised funding from Sequoia Capital and Benchmark Capital at a $1 billion valuation last year, announced today it has submitted a confidential IPO filing to the SEC. More here.
 
Fabletics, the eight-year-old, El Segundo, Ca.-based workout-apparel brand backed by Kate Hudson, has tapped Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs and other banks to help it prepare for an IPO that it hopes will value it at more than $5 billion, according to the WSJ. More here.
People
 
Bill Gates reportedly spoke about his divorce at the Sun Valley conference on Monday, according to the New York Post. "He basically referred to the fact that [the divorce] was his fault," one attendee told the Post. "He did seem a bit emotional about it," they said. A second person said it was "very moving."
 
Josh Harris, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management who was passed over for the top position, is in the process of building his own private equity fund, says Bloomberg. Harris is worth an estimated $7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His family office manages his personal fortune, which includes stakes in the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers and the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils. So far this year, says Bloomberg, Harris has sold $157 million worth of Apollo stock, leaving him with $2.6 billion in shares. More here.
 
Netflix has hired Mike Verdu from Facebook, where he was vice president of augmented reality and virtual reality content. Verdu is a longtime veteran of the gaming industry; prior to joining Facebook two years ago, he logged time at Electronic Arts, Kabam, Zynga and Atari. CNBC has more here.
Data
 
Lots of heartwarming stats (if you're a VC or an LP) in a new report out from Pitchbook and the NVCA, including that: in the second quarter, there were 334 disclosed venture-backed exits accounting for $241.3 billion of exit value. The second quarter also marks the fourth straight quarter in which exit activity has exceeded $100 billion. With positive net cash flows for VC firms in 2020 and massive $51.3 billion returned to LPs, fundraising has not slowed, and GPs have raised $74.1 billion year to date, not far from the record $81.0 billion raised last year. 
Essential Reads
 
Inside Facebook's data wars.
 
Say goodbye to Fleets, the row of fullscreen tweets at the top of the Twitter timeline that expire after 24 hours. The ephemeral tweet format is shutting down due to low usage after launching widely just eight months ago.
 
Elon Musk is reportedly building an entire solar-powered town from the ground up in Austin.
Detours
 
The failures that made Ian Fleming.
 
"We appreciate that everyone has questions." 
 
What to read now.
Retail Therapy
 
A sinister SUV by BMW.
Sponsored By ...
 
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