Robinhood's newest deal, Coinbase's earnings, and TikTok dethrones Facebook

August 10, 2021
 
Hello! Hope you had a fine Tuesday.:)
Top News
 
The Senate gave overwhelming bipartisan approval today to a $1 trillion infrastructure bill to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives. The New York Times has more here.
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Facebook's Vaccine Stance Part of a Familiar Pattern, Says Author and NYTimes Reporter
 
Today, in a new report about “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on its platform, Facebook states that it last month removed hundreds of accounts across its Facebook and Instagram platforms that were tied to anti-vaccination disinformation campaigns operated from Russia. In one campaign, says Facebook, a newly banned network “posted memes and comments claiming that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine would turn people into chimpanzees.” More recently, in May, the same network “questioned the safety of the Pfizer vaccine by posting an allegedly hacked and leaked AstraZeneca document,” the company adds.
 
Facebook routinely publishes such reports as a reminder to the public that it is focused on “finding and removing deceptive campaigns around the world.” Still, a new New York Times investigation into Facebook’s relationship with the Biden administration suggests that the company continues to fall short when it comes to tackling misinformation, including, currently, around vaccine misinformation.
 
We talked about that reported disconnect earlier today with Sheera Frenkel, a cybersecurity correspondent for the New York Times and recent co-author, with New York Times national correspondent Cecelia Kang, of “An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination,” which was published in June. Our conversation has been lightly edited for length.
 
Massive Fundings
 
80 Acres Farms, a six-year-old, Hamilton, Oh.-based vertical farming company focused on pesticide-free produce (leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, and microgreens), has raised $160 million in Series B funding led by General Atlantic. Other investors in the round include Siemens Financial Services, Blue Earth (formerly PG Impact Investments), Barclays and Taurus. More here.
 
Butternut Box, a five-year-old, U.K.-based, "human-grade" dog food delivery startup, has raised £40 million ($55 million) in funding. L Catterton’s European fund led the round; it was joined by White Star Capital, Five Seasons Ventures and Passion Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
 
FalconX, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based digital assets and cryptocurrency financial services company, has raised $210 million in Series C funding at a post-money valuation of  $3.75 billion. Led by Altimeter Capital, Sapphire Ventures and earlier investors B Capital Group and Tiger Global, the round also included participation from Mirae Asset and other earlier backers, including Amex Ventures. The company, which offers trading, credit, and clearing across major cryptocurrencies, has now raised $277 million altogether. Bloomberg has more here.

Fanatics, a 19-year-old, Jacksonville, Fl.-based online sports merchandise retailer, has raised $325 million in funding at a post-money valuation of $18 billion(!), roughly tripling its valuation from a year ago. Investors reportedly include Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Roc Nation, Major League Baseball, SoftBank's Vision Fund and Silver Lake. According to the WSJ, the company -- which has now raised $2.2 billion altogether -- plans to use the new capital to transform itself into a digital platform with multiple related businesses, such as ticketing and media in addition to sports betting and internet gambling. More here.
 
Hologram, a six-year-old, Chicago-based startup that enables non-mobile devices to connect to the internet, has raised $65 million in Series B funding. Tiger Global led the round, joined by Bullpen Capital, NextView Ventures, and Mucker Capital. The company has now raised $80 million altogether. Business Insider has more here.
 
Jerry, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based building a car ownership 'super app' that aims to put comparison shopping, driving, maintenance and parking solutions at users' fingertips, has raised $75 million in Series C funding at a post-money valuation of $450 million. Earlier backers Goodwater Capital led the round, joined by Bow Capital, Kamerra, Highland Capital Partners and Park West Asset Management. The company has now raised $132 million altogether from investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Reify Health, a nine-year-old, Boston-based company whose software aims to optimize clinical trials, has raised $220 million in Series C funding. Coatue Management led the round, joined by ICONIQ Growth, Adams Street Partners, Sierra Ventures and Battery Ventures. The WSJ has more here.

Tulip Interfaces, a seven-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based manufacturing software company that's focused on helping frontline operations and workers improve productivity, just raised $100 million in Series C funding. Insight Partners led the round, joined by Pitango Growth, TIME Ventures, DMG MORI, NEA, and Vertex Ventures US. Natan Linder, cofounder and chairman of 3-D printing unicorn Formlabs, founded the company. Forbes has more here.
 
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings

Deepbrain AI (formerly Moneybrain), a five-year-old, Seoul, South Korea-based conversational AI startup that sells its video and speech synthesis and chatbot software to enterprise customers, has raised $44 million in Series B funding led by Korea Development Bank. VentureBeat has more here.
 
FireHydrant, a three-year-old, New York-based incident response and management platform, has raised $23 million in Series B funding. Harmony Partners led the round, joined by Salesforce Ventures, Menlo Ventures and Work-Bench. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Kroo, a five-year-old, London-based consumer banking startup that's focused on enabling customers to easily participate in shared financial activities, raised £17.7 million ($24.5 million) in Series A funding led by entrepreneur and Karlani Capital founder Rudy Karsan. UKTN has more here.

Pave, a nearly two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps companies benchmark, plan and communicate compensation to their employees, has raised a $46 million Series B. YC Continuity led the round, which also saw participation from Andreessen Horowitz and Bessemer Venture Partners. The young company has now raised $400 million altogether, up from $75 million one year ago. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Product School, a seven-year-old, Bay Area-based product management training platform, has $25 million in growth equity investment from growth fund Leeds Illuminate. TechCrunch has more here.
 
WoodSpoon, a two-year-old, New York-based delivery service for home chefs to connect with customers, raised $14 million in Series A funding. Restaurant Brands International led the round, joined by World Trade Ventures and individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.

WorkMotion, a year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based HR platform enabling companies to hire and onboard their employees internationally, has raised $24 million in Series A funding from investors, including Activant Capital and Xange. Startbase has more here.
 
Smaller Fundings
 
44.01, a year-old, Muscat, Oman-based carbon removal startup, has raised $5 million in funding led by Apollo Projects, the early-stage investment fund from Max and Sam Altman, with participation from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and unnamed families in Oman and environmental organizations in Europe. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Breeze, an two-year-old, Omaha, Ne.-based startup centered around disability insurance, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Link Ventures, with added participation from Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, M25, Fiat Ventures, and Invest Nebraska. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Felt, a six-month-old, Oakland, Ca.-based collaborative software company that wants to make it easier for people to build maps on the internet, has raised $4.5 million led by Bain Capital Ventures. Other backers in the round include the Designer Fund, investor Allison Pickens, Akshay Kothari (COO of Notion), Dylan Field (CEO of Figma) John Lily (former CEO of Firefox), Julia and Kevin Hartz, and longtime VC Keval Desai. Cofounder and CEO Sam Hashemi formerly cofounded and led (and sold) the mapping software company Remix. TechCrunch has more here
 
Neuron7.ai, a year-old, San Jose, Ca.- and Pune, India-based startup that helps enterprise companies diagnose service issues and use data, has raised $4.2 million in seed funding from Nexus Venture Partners and Battery Ventures, among others. Your Story has more here.
 
Surfside, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based customer acquisition platform that's focused on D2C customers and on cannabis companies in particular, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Casa Verde Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
 
Vesttoo, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based alternative reinsurance and risk management platform, just raised $6 million in a Series A funding led by Hanaco Ventures. More here.
New Funds
 
BoxGroup, the 11-year-old, New York-based early-stage venture firm, has raised $255 million in capital commitments across two new funds. The two - its fifth early-stage vehicle and a new opportunity-style fund -- both have $127.5 million to invest in startups, the firm's managing partner, David Tisch, tells TechCrunch. More here.
 
Sands Capital, a 29-year-old, Arlington, Va.-based public and private equity investor with offices in San Francisco, Washington, and Singapore, has raised $560 million for its second life sciences dedicated fund. More here.
Exits
 
Robinhood says it's buying Say Technologies, a tool for shareholder voting and communication, in its first acquisition as a public company. The approximately $140 million all-cash deal will give Robinhood access to Say’s software, which helps company shareholders exercise their right to vote proxies and ask questions of management, according to a blog post today. The announcement comes less than two weeks after Robinhood made its public trading debut, notes Bloomberg. Say had raised
 
Unity, the company behind the popular game engine of the same name, announced today that it will acquire Parsec, a five-year-old remote desktop tool for developers and creatives, for $320 million in cash. As TechCrunch explains it, Parsec "initially focused on helping gamers stream games from their powerful PCs to other (generally less powerful) devices. It turns out the same things that made it good for game players — low latency, high-resolution display support and compatibility with all kinds of different input devices — made it good for game makers as well." Soon after, the company started rolling out plans and features exclusively for creative teams and over the past year or so, usage of Parsec has taken off. Parsec’s had raised $33 million from investors. More here.
Going Public
 
Krafton, creator of hit video game "PUBG: Battlegrounds," plummeted in its debut today after pulling off a $3.8 billion IPO that was South Korea’s biggest in over a decade. Its shares fell as much as 20% before closing 8.8% down, becoming the first stock on the KOSPI mainboard to drop on debut this year. The Tencent Holdings-backed firm had cut its offering by more than 1 trillion won ($870 million) after regulators questioned its valuation, notes Bloomberg. The outlet notes that Krafton is also "grappling with concerns about its dependence on PUBG for almost all revenue and tightening scrutiny over China’s gaming arena." More here.
People
 
SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son said today that he will begin to make personal investments alongside SoftBank’s Vision Fund, a disclosure he made as the company reported earnings. As reported by Bloomberg, Son can invest up to $2.6 billion in Vision Fund 2, and will own 17.25% of the fund's equity. The move is widely seen by analysts as a controversial step that could lead to conflicts of interest, though as many readers will already know, the institutions that write checks to venture and other investment firms typically like to see a fund's principals invest as much of their own money as they can into the vehicles they manage so that everyone's interests are better aligned. More here.
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Essential Reads
 
TikTok has overtaken Facebook as world's most downloaded app, according to data compiled by Nikkei based on data from App Annie. Nikkei has more here.
 
Coinbase shares rose as much as 2.1% in extended trading today after reporting second-quarter revenue that was stronger than analysts had expected. More here and here.
 
Hackers have perpetrated what is likely the biggest theft ever in the world of decentralized finance, stealing about $600 million in cryptocurrency from a protocol known as PolyNetwork that lets users swap tokens across multiple blockchains. Bloomberg has more here, as does The Block.
Detours
 
Kathy Hochul makes history.
 
Why the world's greatest soccer player is moving on.
 
How much junior investment bankers are getting paid at 13 Wall Street firms.
Retail Therapy
The "James Bond" adventure travel package.
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