Uber backs out of Russia, Apple says no to a Slack channel, and even on the ISS, Hawaiian pizza is viewed skeptically

August 31, 2021
Tuesday! Also, quick mention that we are preparing to transition from one email service provider to another in an overdue but nerve-wracking move (these things don't always go smoothly). You should be fine [fingers crossed] but *if* you stop receiving the newsletter, don't hesitate to write to us, asking WTF, and we will ensure that you start receiving it again. (But it will be fine. Probably.)
Top News
Now Google is also delaying its return to the office until January, CEO Sundar Pichai announced in a blog post today.
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Massive Fundings
Checkr, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based tech platform for employment background checks, has raised $250 million in new funding. Durable Capital led the round, with joined by Fidelity Management & Research Co., Franklin Templeton, and all major previous investors, including Bond, Khosla Ventures, IVP, T. Rowe Price, Coatue, Accel and Y Combinator. The financing more than doubles the company's valuation, notes Bloomberg, bringing it from $2.2 billion previously to $4.6 billion. Checkr has now raised at least $500 million altogether, per Crunchbase data. More here.
Databricks, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based data and AI company that counts more than 5,000 organizations worldwide as customers, has raised $1.6 billion in Series H funding at a $38 billion valuation led by Counterpoint Global, a Morgan Stanley fund. Other new investors included Baillie Gifford, UC Investments and ClearBridge also participated, along with numerous earlier investors. The company has now raised $3.5 billion altogether from investors who had assigned the company a $28 billion valuation just seven months ago. TechCrunch has more here.
Doctor Anywhere, a four-year-old, Singapore-based omni-channel health services platform (think online consultations, in-person clinics, home visits), has raised $66 million in Series C funding. Asia Partners led the round, joined by Novo Holdings, Philips, OSK-SBI Partners and earlier investors EDBI, Square Peg, IHH Healthcare, Kamet Capital and Pavilion Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
Gatik, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based autonomous delivery network focused on hauling goods short distances by pairing its tech with box trucks, has raised $85 million in Series B funding. Koch Disruptive Technologies led the round, joined by earlier backers Innovation Endeavours, Wittington Ventures, FM Capital, Dynamo Ventures, Trucks VC and Intact Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Genome Medical, a five-year-old, South San Francisco-based startup looking to make genetic testing available through tele-health visits, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by Casdin Capital. Other backers in the round include GV, Amgen Ventures and a long list of earlier backers. MedCity News has more here.
Lotus Cars, a 73-year-old, Norwich, England-based sports and racing carmaker, has raised funding at a 15 billion yuan ($2.3 billion) valuation, according to Bloomberg, which says that the round partly includes an investment pact with electric-vehicle upstart Nio aimed at transforming Lotus it into an all-electric brand. Lotus is part of the empire of Chinese billionaire Li Shufu, who founded Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and also controls Sweden’s Volvo Cars. More here.
Offchain Labs, a three-year-old, Princeton, N.J.-based startup trying to address Ethereum's shortcomings with a Layer 2 cryptocurrency platform that aims to make smart contracts scalable, fast, and private, has raised $100 million in Series B funding at a $1.2 billion valuation. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round, joined by Polychain Capital, Ribbit Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Pantera Capital, Alameda Research and Mark Cuban. TechCrunch has more here
Olsam, an 11-month-old, London-based roll-up play that is buying up both consumer and B2B merchants selling on Amazon by way of Amazon’s FBA fulfillment program, has raised $165 million in equity and debt, including from Apeiron Investment Group and Elevat3 Capital, with North Wall Capital providing the debt portion of the deal. TechCrunch has more here.
Peak, a 6.5-year-old, Manchester, England-based platform that aims to help non-tech companies build AI applications, has raised $75 million in Series C funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2.  Earlier investors Oxx, MMC Ventures, Praetura Ventures, Arete and Octopus Ventures also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.
Quip, a nearly six-year-old, New York-based oral care company that makes electric toothbrushes and refills, has raised $100 million in Series B funding from Cowen Sustainable Investments. The company has now raised $160 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here
Snap! Mobile, a 7.5-year-old, Seattle-based startup that helps high school teams and clubs with digital fundraising, has secured $90 million from Elysian Park Ventures. Geekwire has more here.
Tissium, an eight-year-old, Paris-based company focused on tissue reconstruction, has raised €50 million ($59 million) in funding led by Cathay Health, with participation from earlier backer Sofinnova Partners. EU Startups has more here.
VanMoof, a 13-year-old, Amsterdam-based company that designs and sells electric bikes, has raised $128 million in Series C funding led by Hillhouse Investment. Other investors in the round include Gillian Tans, the former CEO of Booking.com, and earlier backers Norwest Venture Partners, Felix Capital, Balderton Capital and TriplePoint Capital. VanMoof has now raised $182 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Versanis Bio, a new, Oakland, Ca.-based biotech that's centered around a Novartis drug that fell short as a treatment for a rare muscle disorder and Versanis is testing as a potential treatment for obesity, has raised $70 million in Series A funding. Atlas Venture and Medicxi co-led the round, joined by the investment firm that launched Versanis, Aditum Bio. MedCity News has more here.
Vice Media, the 27-year-old, Montreal, Canada-based digital media company, is reportedly putting its SPAC plans on ice for now and raising $85 million from earlier investors like James Murdoch's Lupa Systems, TPG, TCV and Sixth Street Partners. The Information has the story here. Gawker wins, in the meantime, for most scathing headline with: "In Effort to Seem Like Youthful Startup, Vice Raises More Money with No Business Plan."
Big-But-Not-Crazy-Big Fundings
Ellipsis Health, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of a voice app for managing depression and anxiety, has raised $26 million in Series A funding. SJF Ventures led the round, which brings the company's total funding to $31 million. More here.

Harri, a nine-year-old, New York-based employee experience platform built for service industries, has raised $30 million in funding led by Golub Capital. More here.
Kevala, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based company that sells its energy grid infrastructure data analytics, has raised $21 million in Series A funding co-led by C5 Capital and Thin Line Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Nifty Games, a three-year-old, Lafayette, Ca.-based publisher that says it's building a library of mobile sports games, has raised $26 million in Series B funding led by Vulcan Capital and another $12 million in debt financing. The company has now raised more than $50 million since its launch. More here.

Poppi, a 1.5-year-old, Dallas-based "gut friendly"prebiotic soda brand, has raised $13.5 million in Series A2 funding led by CAVU Ventures. The company, which charges $2.49 per can, comes in nine flavors, including watermelon, ginger lime, and root beer, and it says it's already available to purchase at more than 7,500 retail locations (which, wow), including Target, Safeway, Kroger, Publix, Whole Foods, and Amazon. More here.
Syndicate, a months-old, Bay Area-based startup that's creating a decentralized investing protocol that enables anyone to create an investment syndicate on the internet for less than $10 in less than a minute (says the company), has raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Other investors include Bill Ackman's Table Management, Coinbase Ventures, Sound Ventures, Thirty Five Ventures, Alexis Ohanian and Snoop Dogg. Decrypt has more here.
Smaller Fundings
Capitalise, a six-year-old, London-based platform that says it helps accountants find the best financing options for their small and medium-size clients, has raised £10 million in new funding from Experian, QED Investors, Gauss Ventures, Hambro Perks, and Post Finance. The company has now raised £13.5 million altogether. Tech.eu has more here.
Compound Foods, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that's using synthetic biology to create coffee through molecules and no beans (and whose base formula doesn't use a lot water, says the company), has raised $4.5 million in seed funding. Investors include Lowercarbon Capital, SVLC, Humboldt Fund, Collaborative Fund, Maple VC, Petri Bio and angel investors like Nick Green, CEO of Thrive Market. The company has now raised $5.3 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Hum Capital, a two-year-old, New York-based fundraising platform that connects companies with capital sources, has raised $9 million in Series A funding. Future Ventures led the round, joined by Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners and Partech. TechCrunch has more here.
Joshin, a three-year-old, St. Paul, Mn.-based digital care platform that connects care providers and families (and was founded by twin sisters), has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Anthemis Group and The Autism Impact Fund. More here.
Owner.com, a three-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based startup that powers online ordering for restaurants, has raised $10.7 million in seed funding. SaaStr Fund led the round, joined by Redpoint Ventures, Day One Ventures, Naval Ravikant, The Chainsmokers and numerous other notable individual investors. More here.
Thatch, a three San Francisco-based startup that's building software tools to enable creators to curate, share, and eventually sell their travel-focused content and services, has raised $3 million in seed funding. Wave Capital led the round, joined by Freestyle VC’s Jenny Lefcourt and Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph. The company has now raised $5.2 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
New Funds
Lightspeed China Partners is planning to raise $850 million across two new funds, show new SEC filings. More here and in DealStreetAsia.
Quan Capital, a China-based, healthcare-focused venture fund, is looking to raise up to $350 million in capital commitments for a third fund, shows a new SEC filing. DealStreetAsia has more here.
FTX.US, the American arm of crypto exchange FTX, said today it has agreed to acquire derivatives dealer LedgerX. The CFTC had granted LedgerX a so-called derivatives clearing organization license last year, letting it host complex contracts on the platform. The acquisition is well in line with FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried's frequent advocacy of regulatory engagement, notes Business Insider. Terms of the deal aren't being disclosed. LedgerX had raised around $35 million from firms like Lightspeed, GV, Miami International and Digital Finance Group. More here.
Intuit, the maker of TurboTax and QuickBooks software, is in talks to buy email marketing firm Mailchimp for more than $10 billion, according to Bloomberg. Though the talks could fall through, the deal would unite two providers of services for small businesses. More here.
Patreon, a "unicorn" company known for helping content creators sell memberships to fans, has acquired tech recruiting firm Clear Talent as it readies a hiring push to accelerate the launch of new features and double the total revenue its creators are earning each month, Patreon executives told Reuters. More here.
Publicly traded games maker Playtikabest known for its free-to-play casino titles, is spending at least $400 million to acquire the maker of a home-decorating game. More specifically, it's buying 80% of Finland’s Reworks Oy for $400 million in cash and can acquire the the balance for as much as $200 million more in 2023 if earnings meet an agreed-upon target. If not, Playtika can buy the remaining ownership interest for $1. Bloomberg has more here
Prosus — the Dutch tech giant that bundles together Naspers’ fintech, e-commerce and other international investments and businesses outside of South Africa (including a big stake in Tencent) — today announced that it would pay $4.7 billion to acquire BillDesk, a payments provider based in India that had raised $92 million from investors. Prosus plans to combine BillDesk with PayU, its existing global fintech and payments business, which already has a strong presence in India; it would make PayU one of the bigger online payment providers globally with some $147 billion in payment volume annually. TechCrunch has more here.
Uber just sold its stakes in several Russian business for $1 billion. CNBC has more here.
Going Public
Allbirds, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based footwear brand focused on sustainability, has filed for an IPO. In its related filings, it said it has lost money since its inception and expects it will continue to be unprofitable for the foreseeable future, which could worry investors. CNBC has more here.
Amplitude, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based data analytics company that is backed by Benchmark and quadrupled its valuation between May of last year and June, when it was valued at $4 billion in a funding round, revealed more plans today about a direct listing for which it filed confidentially last month. Among the data in its paperwork: the company says it lost $17 million on $72 million in revenue for the first half of this year. Reuters has more here.
Ten-year-old, Seattle-based money remittance company Remitly disclosed key financial results this afternoon in its Form S-1 registration statement, a key milestone toward becoming a publicly traded company. Remitly generated $257 million in revenue and a $32.5 million net loss in 2020, doubling its annual revenue and cutting its loss nearly in half. The company went on to post $202 million in revenue and a $9.2 million net loss in the first six months of this year. Remitly first signaled its IPO plans in June and is going public the old-fashioned way, offering an initial public offering of its shares. Geekwire has more here.
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It's not just Jeffrey Toobin; nearly 1 in 4 executives have fired a staffer for slipping up during a video or audio conference, a survey of 200 managers at large companies found. Bloomberg has more here.
Here are all the companies from Y Combinator's summer 2021 Demo Day (day one).
Essential Reads
The $150 million machine keeping Moore's Law alive.
The silent partner cleaning up Facebook for $500 million a year (psst, it's Accenture).
Apple has barred employees from creating a Slack channel to discuss pay equity. The Verge has more here.
Coinbase today acknowledged that it erroneously told about 125,000 customers on Friday that their security settings had changed and specifically that: “Your 2-step verification settings have been changed.” Coinbase tells CNBC the issue was the result of an internal error, but given the company's famously lacking customer service, that kind of error is. . . not great.
Astronauts agree: pizza is no place for pineapple.
"Vacation's over, ugly," says European Union to Americans.
Retail Therapy
Al Capone's "sweetheart."
Status fridges.
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