The Daily Download - latest tech news for 2019-09-27, fan podcast based on @launchticker

The download for 2019-09-27 →

NY Attorney General Letitia James files a lawsuit against Dunkin’ claiming the coffee and donuts chain did not take appropriate action after two data breaches; Dunkin’ is accused of not notifying customers or authorities after a 2015 hack, and providing inadequate details following a 2018 breach; hackers have reportedly stolen data relating to hundreds of thousands of Dunkin’ customers . link

Google’s upcoming Pixel 4 will feature motion control support for YouTube, Amazon Music, Spotify, and more, reports 9to5Google; code within several app APKs shows support for Motion Sense, which is based on Google’s hands-free Soli tech; the report indicates users will be able to control audio and video playback using gestures; Pixel 4 is expected to launch on Oct 15 . link

Lenovo-owned Motorola plans to launch a new Razr-branded folding smartphone by the end of 2019, according to a CNET source; the firm had intended to announce the device in the summer; it’s unclear when the new Razr will go on sale . link

Bertrand Perez, managing director of the Libra Association, says the cryptocurrency is not intended as a replacement for existing monetary systems; speaking at a blockchain conference hosted by the UN in Geneva, Perez suggests Libra could help achieve global development goals such as eliminating poverty and gender inequality . link

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is in talks to appear in front of the US House Financial Services Committee to discuss the Libra cryptocurrency, reports Bloomberg; Sandberg could appear as early as next month; Facebook exec David Marcus has previously spoken to House and Senate lawmakers about Libra . link

Apple plans to release some of its movies in theaters before adding them to its Apple TV+ service, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; the company has held talks with cinema chains about giving them an exclusive theatrical distribution window; the arrangement will reportedly include Sofia Coppola’s “On the Rocks” and documentary “The Elephant Queen” . link

Healthtech firm Veeva Systems acquires patient data platform Crossix for $430M cash; Crossix provides analytics tools to the pharmaceutical industry; it will continue to run as a standalone unit within Veeva . link

Chris Hill and Michael Gross, chief product officer and vice-chair respectively at The We Company, are set to leave the firm, according to Bloomberg sources; reasons for the departure unclear, but interim co-CEOs Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham have reportedly looked at several roles since they replaced Adam Neumann as CEO; Hill is related to Neumann by marriage, and Gross is said to be close with the former CEO .Update: Minson and Gunningham plan to oust as many as 20 staff with close ties to Neumann, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; the co-CEOs also intend to sell a $60M private jet used by Neumann, as well as divest the firm of several subsidiaries . link

Huawei claims to be manufacturing 5G base stations that don’t feature components from companies based in the US; the company plans to begin mass production on such base stations in October; Huawei expects to produce 1.5M 5G units next year, up from 600k this year . link

China-based Harvest Tech Investment Management (part of the Harvest Group) will not move forward with a $585M investment in LCD firm Japan Display (JDI), reports Nikkei Asian Review; JDI says Harvest cited concerns over its corporate governance; JDI notes it’s still set to raise $430M from Hong Kong-based Oasis Management and others . link

Google will shut down its community news app Bulletin on Nov 22, reports Android Police; launched as a pilot in the US and Canada last year, it was never rolled out to other markets; Google has not said why it’s shuttering the service, but users can download their content before Bulletin goes offline . link

Huawei says it’s willing to license its 5G tech to a US company; CEO Ren Zhengfei says the firm is not afraid of its IP being used to create competing products; the US government has banned its agencies from using Huawei devices, and the Commerce Department is blocking US firms from trading with Huawei . link

Twitch redesigns its logo with a new font and colorway; the company spent a year on the project, eventually settling on a font called Roobert and a new purple; Twitch also has a new logo, “You’re already one of us” . link

YouTube clarifies it would remove a politician’s videos if they broke its platform guidelines, but notes some content could still remain under certain circumstances; follows a Politico report quoting CEO Susan Wojcicki as saying politician’s videos would not be taken down for violations; Facebook exec Nick Clegg recently said such content would remain on the social network, regardless of whether it breaks the firm’s rules . link

Google Play removes at least 46 apps from China-based developer iHandy, reports BuzzFeed News; includes apps for security, selfies, and more; Google has not explained why it took action, noting it’s still carrying out an investigation into the company; iHandy has also been blocked from the Google's ad network; iHandy says it’s working to get its apps restored . link

Facebook starts hiding reaction and video view counts for users in Australia as part of a pilot test; users can still see their own stats, but the numbers will not be shown to others who see their posts; Instagram is running a similar test in several markets . link

Microsoft adds Google Assistant support for Xbox One users; available now as a public beta (English only); lets users turn their Xbox on and off with their voice, launch games, and more; Xbox already supports Cortana and Alexa . link

Logitech ($6.6B market cap) acquires live streaming firm Streamlabs for $89M cash; the company offers an app that lets game streamers set up their broadcasts, follow chat conversations, see donation alerts, and more; raised $16M to date . link

Connected exercise equipment company Peloton debuts on the Nasdaq at $27 per share, 6.9 percent below the company's final pricing of $29; Peloton raised $1.16B with the listing at an $8.1B valuation; the company has operated at a loss since its 2012 founding, posting a net loss of ~$196M for the year ending in June .Update: Peloton closes down 11 percent from offering price at $25.76, giving the company a market cap of $7.2B . link

Los Angeles-based video-centric shopping app NTWRK raises $10M from Foot Locker, Live Nation, others; works with celebrities to promote new product releases from Nike, New Balance, others . link

This Week in Startups: The Next UnicornsMattieu Gamache-Asselin, Co-Founder and CEO of Alto Pharmacy, a retail platform for prescription drugs; Mattieu's conversation with Jason covers trading short-term profits for long-terms success, innovating in a difficult market, combating the opioid crisis, more; episode 4 of a 10-part miniseries .Click here to listen to the full episode link

DoorDash confirms data breach affecting 4.9M customers, delivery workers, and merchants; those who joined after April 5 are unaffected; the breach occurred on May 4; DoorDash attributed the breach to an undisclosed third-party service provider; stolen data includes names, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, more; passwords were hashed and salted; full payment card information not included . link

Med-tech company Mednition raises $10M Series A led by Concord Health Partners' American Hospital Association Innovation Fund; the company's cloud-based KATE software monitors electronic health record data and uses machine learning to analyze ER decision making; KATE only alerts health professionals if its recommended actions differ from that of staff . link

Maëlle Gavet leaves her position as COO at tech-centric real estate broker Compass; over the past 18 months, the company lost its CTO, CFO, and CMO; the New York City-based firm, which also offers a property listing service, raised $370M Series G for a $6.4B post-valuation this summer . link

Tesla's latest software update adds Smart Summon feature for vehicles with the full self-driving option; enables the user to summon the vehicle from a parking space; also adds Theater Mode, which enables infotainment center screening of Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu; v10, rolling out now, also includes native Spotify support . link

Hyderabad-based HR SaaS Darwinbox raises $15M Series B led by Sequoia India; serves 200-plus clients representing 500k employees across 50 countries; customers include Paytm, InMobi, and Bisleri; raised $19.7M to date . link

Mercury, a bank targeting startups, raises $20M Series A led by CRV with participation from A16Z and others; TechCrunch reports a $100M post-valuation; Mercury launched in April and garnered 1.5k signups in the first week; claims 40-percent growth for each month since; integrates with accounting and payments software . link

Connected exercise equipment company Peloton debuts on the Nasdaq at $27 per share, 6.9 percent below the company's final pricing of $29; Peloton raised $1.16B with the listing at an $8.1B valuation; the company has operated at a loss since its 2012 founding, posting a net loss of ~$196M for the year ending in June .Update: Peloton closes down 11 percent from offering price at $25.76, giving the company a market cap of $7.2B . link

Uber announces the Uber Incubator, a program fostering the development of products and services on the Uber platform; open to employees and people outside of the organization; embraces the lean startup methodology; urges rapid model testing and iteration to achieve product-market fit . link

Jerusalem-based Pico Venture Partners closes $80M for Fund II; the four-year-old firm raised $35M for its debut fund; targets early-stage local startups based on values and the ability to modernize and optimize processes, rather than industry; portfolio includes Tastewise . link

Website and web app generator Gatsby raises $15M Series A led by CRV; CEO Kyle Mathews claims 1 percent of the top 10k websites were built with Gatsby; clients include Airbnb, PayPal, and Nike; raised ~$19M to date . link

Uber is testing multiple versions of a new app that unifies various services; the launch screen presents options for a ride or an Uber Eats meal; the transport section of the app includes all locally supported services; for example, users in New York City can order a helicopter ride . link

Beyond Pricing, which automatically optimizes rates for short-term property rental owners, raises $42M Series A led by Bessemer Venture Partners; currently manages 150k listings across 7k cities; analyzes historical and current pricing for hotel rooms and comparable listings; can automatically apply price changes or just make suggestions; raised $45.5M to date . link

SaaS subscription management platform Zylo raises $22.5M Series B led by Menlo Ventures (Matt Murphy joins board); the Indianapolis-based company provides subscription discovery and details spend for each application; also categorizes services to reveal overlap and redundancy; serves WeWork, Atlassian, and Uber; raised ~$35M to date . link

The download for 2019-10-19 →

This Week in Startups: LAUNCH Scale 20129Jason and SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie appear on stage to discuss driving growth by heeding customer and employee feedback, the importance of board diversity, direct listings vs IPOs, lessons learned from WeWork, more; next, Odoo Head of Product Communications Yosiat Gimbernard gives a talk on integration and scalability .Click here to listen to the full episode link

Boise-based Lovevery, which develops educational toys for early childhood, raises $20M Series B led by Maveron (Jason Stoffer joins board) with participation from GV, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and others; works with researchers, academics, and practitioners to create toys for specific learning stages; raised $26M to date . link

Parisian payment processing company Lemon Way raises $32M from Toscafund Asset Management; the company offers a white-label solution for marketplaces, e-commerce sites, etc; also manages wallets, third-party payments, more; works with ~a dozen European banks; raised ~$46M to date . link

Game publisher and marketer Tilting Point acquires Gondola, which uses machine learning to target and price in-game offers and more; terms undisclosed; Tilting Point maintains a user acquisition fund, currently at $132M, and scales games while optimizing LTV; Gondola maximizes revenue in economies around the world . link

Alphabet's Wing begins commercial drone deliveries to homes with the launch of a pilot program in Christiansburg, VA; the FAA issued Wing an expanded Air Carrier Certificate, making it the first company in the US qualified for commercial residential drone deliveries; Wing's service is limited to packages from FedEx Express, Walgreens, and local retailer Sugar Magnolia . link

Santa Monica-based holding company MediaLab acquires the Kik Messenger app shortly after Kik Interactive announced it would shut the app down; terms undisclosed; Kik said it would focus on its Kin cryptocurrency; Carta recently acqui-hired the Kik team; MediaLab previously acquired anonymous social app Whisper . link

Harley-Davidson resumes production of its LiveWire all-electric motorcycle following a manufacturing and delivery suspension due to an undisclosed charging mechanism problem that only affected one bike; existing owners can resume charging their bikes at home; the company had urged them to charge at dealerships only . link

Santa Monica-based TV Time, which provides a consumer tool for tracking TV shows (that provides data to media companies), acquires New York City-based Mediamorph, which provides content distribution and tracking; terms of the cash-and-stock deal are undisclosed; the companies will retain existing offices and operate together as Whip Media Group . link

Cybersecurity company Corelight raises $50M Series C led by Insight Partners and Accel; provides a network visibility platform built on the open-source Zeek framework; logs traffic for ~35 protocols; claims 70 clients including governments and universities; raised $84M to date . link

Apex Trading, which provides software for the wholesale marijuana market, raises $1.7M seed led by 7thirty Capital; serves 1k clients and is on track to process $100M in transactions this year; the funding will facilitate the launch of Bushel44, a platform for hemp businesses . link

Circle to spin out crypto exchange Poloniex, which it acquired in early 2018 for $400M; Poloniex has committed $100M to a new platform, Polo Digital Asset, that will not serve US customers; Poloniex is no longer accepting US signups and will disable US trades on Nov 1; Circle will focus efforts on stablecoin business USDC and equity crowdfunding platform SeedInvest . link

Microsoft's M12 venture fund, Pivotal Ventures, and Mayfield announce the second Female Founders Competition, which targets teams developing B2B SaaS and deeptech; applications are open to women-led startups in the US, Europe, Israel, and India; will award four companies a total of $6M . link

London-based SharpCloud, which provides a business intelligence SaaS that visualizes data for collaborative decision making, raises $5.8M led by YFM Equity Partners; Founders Sarim Khan and Rusty Johnson previously sold risk analysis company Pertmaster to Oracle Primavera . link

UK-based mixed reality company Luminous Group raises $515k led by North East Venture Fund; the company's new traXR platform for food processing plants uses AI to identify areas at high risk for pathogens; displays data via MR headset; the user can add information for various locations . link

The download for 2019-10-18 →

Indonesia-based online catering and cloud kitchen firm Yummy Corp raises $7M from Intudo Ventures; the company provides catering services and food deliveries to SMEs . link

Facebook is developing tools to protect children from predators on its platform; full plans unclear, but Facebook’s global head of safety Antigone Davis says the firm is working on ways to prevent inappropriate contact and block grooming practices . link

Intel says it will publish detailed data on employee pay, including info for gender and race; the company will make the data public, though it’s unclear when it will be released; follows a $5M settlement between Intel and the Department of Labor after the company was accused of discriminating against black and Hispanic staff, as well as women . link

Malaysia-based sales conversion startup SalesCandy raises $650k seed from Wavemaker Partners and others; the company provides a software platform that connects sales teams with potential customers; has raised $1.1M to date . link

The Group of Seven (aka G7) nations issue a report saying stablecoins should not be allowed to launch without first addressing international concerns; the G7 says fiat-backed cryptocurrencies have the potential to destabilize the global financial system; comes as Facebook-incubated stablecoin Libra faces regulatory pushback from institutions around the world . link

Motorola sends out press invites for an event in Los Angeles on Nov 13, where it’s rumored to be announcing a new Razr device with a folding display; Motorola has also shared a GIF that seemingly features the shape of a classic Razr phone as well as the new model; previous reports suggest the updated Razr will cost $1.5k . link

Samsung files a patent for a smartphone with a rolling display and an under-screen camera; the paperwork describes a flexible panel that can be moved to reveal a selfie camera beneath the display; follows reports Samsung will launch a phone with a camera under the screen next year, and a patent for sliding display that exposes a selfie lens . link

AT&T is in talks with activist shareholder Elliott Management about cost-cutting measures and management changes, according to Reuters sources; Elliott previously sent a proposal to AT&T, outlining changes it says could boost the company’s share price by as much as 60 percent over the next two years; Elliott is calling on AT&T to divest itself of several units and cut $5B worth of expenditure . link

The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a hearing on Nov 19 to discuss its official findings relating to a self-driving crash in which a woman died; 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was struck by an autonomous Uber-owned car as she crossed a four-lane road in AZ in March 2018; AZ prosecutors decided earlier this year that Uber was not at fault . link

The We Company’s chief marketing officer Robin Daniels is leaving the firm, according to Bloomberg sources; reasons for the move are unclear, but follows the departure of several execs including CEO Adam Neumann and chief communications officer Jimmy Asci . link

Nintendo says it has sold more than 15M Switch consoles in North America since launch in March 2017; the data includes the original Switch and Switch Lite; the firm says 14 Switch titles have sold more than 1M units; includes “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate”; NPD Group also says Switch has continuously been the best-selling console for the last 10 months . link

France-based mobile games developer Madbox raises €15M (~$16.5M) Series A from Alven; the company has launched several titles including “Dash Valley” and “StickMan Hook”; Madbox says its games have been downloaded more than 100M times . link

Mexico-based tasks platform Zubale raises $4.4M led by NFX; the startup lets consumer brands outsource on-the-ground market research and other tasks to smartphone users; individuals who complete tasks receive airtime credits or other redeemable rewards . link

Airbnb’s Q1 losses more than doubled year-on-year to $306M, reports The Information; the company’s revenue grew to $839M, up 31 percent year-on-year; expenses increased by 47 percent, with $367M spent on sales and marketing, up 58 percent on the previous year; Airbnb is expected to go public in 2020 .Update: Airbnb has more than $3B cash-on-hand, according to a CNBC source; it also has a $1B line of credit that it’s yet to utilize . link

Google confirms Pixel 4’s face unlock feature works even if a user has their eyes closed; the BBC reports a setting that requires a user to have their eyes open has been omitted; Google says it will continue to improve its face unlock feature over time . link

Mark Zuckerberg says people should decide if public speech is credible, not tech firms; Zuckerberg discussed his ideas on free speech during an address at Georgetown University; he notes Facebook has considered banning political ads, but says the company’s decision to let users users see what politicians saying is better for all . link

AI-powered call tracking and conversational analytics platform Invoca raises $56M Series E led by Upfront Ventures and HIG Growth Partners; collates online and offline data to route calls and provide agents with relevant information for support and sales; clients include Samsung, Dish Network, and LendingTree; raised $117M to date . link

This Week in Startups: The Next UnicornsJason speaks with Culture Amp Founder and CEO Didier Elzinga about the values of modern employees, the changing role of culture, maintaining company culture while scaling, more; part 7 of a 10-part miniseries .Click here to listen to the entire episode link

Northwestern Mutual commits $20M of the $150M Future Ventures Fund II to women-founded startups; since launching its first fund in 2017, Northwestern has invested $50M across 18 companies; primarily targets Series A and B with checks of $500k to $5M . link

Many Mexico-based startups are shunning publicity due to extortion fears and it's hurting the local tech ecosystem, according to entrepreneurs and investors speaking with Reuters; sources said the environment is stunting recruitment, fundraising, and more . link

Atlassian acquires Sydney-based Code Barrel, maker of Automation for Jira, one of the most popular add-ons in Atlassian's marketplace; terms undisclosed; Founders Nick Menere and Andreas Knecht worked at Atlassian before founding Code Barrel, and developed Atlassian's issue- and product-tracking software, Jira . link

Equity management company Carta hires 51 former employees of messaging company Kik; Kik indicated IP sale talks following reports that the company would shut down; The Record reported aqui-hire talks separate from the app sale talks; Kik faced an SEC lawsuit following a 2017 ICO; previously raised $220M; Carta has raised $448M to date . link

Moonshot engineering collective rLoop, which came together in the SpaceX subreddit after that company announced a hyperloop design competition, acquires the IP of defunct hyperloop company Arrivo; terms undisclosed; rLoop Co-Founder Brent Lessard said his company might hire former Arrivo workers and revive some deals Arrivo was negotiating when it shut down in December . link

Chicago-based Rentgrata (iOS), which connects prospective property renters with current tenants, raises $1M seed from M25, Syndicate Fund, others; enables current residents to earn referral rewards from landlords by answering prospects' questions about buildings and communities . link

Calgary-based Chata, which provides a natural language interface for business data queries and analytics, raises $3.4M from Bluesky Equities, Prairie Merchant Corporation, others; integrates with Stripe, Square, Shopify, more; also offers Chata-as-a-Service for custom integrations . link

London-based Proportunity, a mortgage lender that uses machine learning to forecast house prices and more, raises ~$2.6M seed from Axel Springer Digital Ventures and Anthemis; the funding will enable the company to expand partnerships with mortgage brokers and real estate agencies . link

Medicinal cannabis company Holistic Industries raises $55M from Bengal Capital, Entourage Effect Capital, others; currently operates in MD, MA, PA, DC, MI, and CA; has pending licenses in NJ and MO; raised $100M-plus to date . link

University of Wisconsin Police Department partners with security tech company Liberty Defense to test the AI-powered HEXWAVE weapon detection system on campus; will use 3D radar systems embedded in walls, displays, etc; will notify security if it detects the presence of explosives, guns, knives . link

Juul suspends sales of some flavors of nicotine pods pending FDA review; includes cucumber, mango, creme, and fruit; the company will continue to sell flavors associated with cigarettes: tobacco, menthol, and mint; Juul faces multiple investigations regarding alleged targeting of underage users . link

Fintech backend solutions company Galileo Financial Technologies raises $77M Series A led by Accel; provides APIs for simple integration of AI-powered fraud detection, payment authorizations, money transfers, more; clients include Robinhood, TransferWise, and Chime; manages $26B in annual payments and expects to reach a $100M net run rate by year's end . link

Multitouch sensor company Sentons announces a system that uses ultrasonic sound waves to detects presses, taps, and swipes on a variety of surfaces; Asus and Tencent have already integrated the tech into a gaming-centric smartphone featuring virtual link

China’s industry ministry certifies Tesla to begin manufacturing in the country; the company's $2B Shanghai factory is its first overseas; Reuters previously reported Tesla had planned to begin production there this month; the company expects the Shanghai factory to produce 1k Model 3 units per week by year's end . link

The download for 2019-10-17 →

Google confirms the wireless features of its Stadia game controller will only work with Chromecast Ultra at launch; players wishing to play games via Chrome browser or Pixel device will need to connect the controller via USB-C; Google says it’s initially focusing on ensuring the experience of playing on a TV is as good as it can be; it’s unclear if or when wireless features will roll out for other devices . link

Volvo announces XC40 Recharge, its first fully electric car; based on the company’s XC40 SUV, it promises a range of ~250 miles on a single charge in Europe, and 200 miles in the US; Volvo also says its battery will charge to 80 percent in 40 minutes; expected to launch in the US in Q4 2020; price unknown, but customers can pre-order now for a $1k deposit . link

The Wall Street Journal profiles the development of Facebook-incubated Libra; Facebook exec David Marcus and his team encouraged companies such as Visa and Mastercard to join the Libra Association or risk missing out on the future of social payments; many companies have since departed the project; Marcus is reportedly trying to encourage several major US banks to participate in the Libra Association; it’s unknown if any will join, but JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have previously rejected invitations . link

Activision Blizzard suspended three “Hearthstone” players for six months after they displayed a protest sign during an official competition live-stream; Casey Chambers, Corwin Dark, and a third player known as TJammer showed a sign saying “Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz”; follows the censure of professional player Chung link

Facebook drops out of the top 10 in Interbrand’s annual Best Global Brands ranking; Facebook was ranked ninth last year, it is now placed at 14th; Apple retains first place, while Google, Amazon, and Microsoft take the following three spots . link

Google removes its $250 Clips smart camera from sale; launched in 2017, the device was designed to automatically snap pictures and short video clips; Google’s Daydream View VR headset and the original Pixel Buds have also been removed from the Google Store . link

Samsung will launch a smartphone next year featuring an under-display camera, according to Korean-language The Elec; full details unclear, but the screen will have a transparent section over the camera, rather than embedding the lens within the display as is the case with Samsung’s Galaxy 10 and Galaxy Note 10 devices . link

US Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard says the Libra stablecoin must overcome a “core set of legal and regulatory challenges” before it can launch; speaking at an event in Washington, DC, Brainard says Libra Association partners have yet to address issues relating to illegal activities and consumer protections .Update: Facebook exec and Libra Association board member David Marcus says it will take time for the organization to address regulatory concerns; Marcus made the comments during a discussion at an International Monetary Fund event; he also says he’s confident banks and other financial services firms will join the Libra Association, but suggests “the climate and the pressure” make it difficult to participate at present . link

Mark Zuckerberg says he will deliver a speech on free expression later today; in a Facebook post, Zuckerberg says he will discuss his ideas on how to deal with the challenges of online speech and the threats against it; Zuckerberg notes it will be his “unfiltered take”; his comments will be broadcast live via Facebook at 10 am PST . link

Apple says iOS 13 is running on 50 percent of all active iPhones; iOS 13 took 26 days from launch to reach the figure; Apple notes 41 percent of iPhones are using iOS 12 . link

Australia-based design platform Canva raises $85M Series D on a $3.2B post-money valuation led by Bond with participation from General Catalyst, Bessemer Venture Partners, Blackbird, and Sequoia China; Canva lets users create logos, presentations, and more using drag-and-drop tools; has raised more than $240M to date .Watch Jason speak with Canva CEO Melanie Perkins on This Week in Startups: link

Singapore-based Insignia Ventures Partners closes its second Southeast Asia fund at $200M; targets tech startups across the region; Insignia's portfolio includes vehicle marketplace Carro and logistics firm Logivan; Insignia’s previous fund closed at $120M . link

MyGate, an India-based property security services firm, raises $56M Series B from Tencent, Tiger Global, JS Capital, and Prime Venture Partners; the company offers an app for gated communities, allowing users to access locations, communicate with neighbors, and more; has raised $67.5M to date . link

The UK government ends plans to introduce a controversial age verification scheme for visitors to porn websites; initially announced in 2015, the program would have required people to prove they were at least 18 years old by purchasing ID-backed passes; the scheme was criticized by privacy campaigners and was subject to multiple delays . link

SoftBank plans to invest an additional $5B in The We Company, according to a Bloomberg source; the backing would not give SoftBank a controlling stake; prior reports suggested SoftBank may seek to take control of the firm in return for new funding; SoftBank already has more than $10B invested in The We Company .Update: The We Company’s board has established a two-person committee to consider funding proposals from SoftBank and JP Morgan, according to Reuters sources; JP Morgan is looking to raise $5B from outside sources, though it will not underwrite the debt; The We Company has asked Benchmark’s Bruce Dunlevie and ex-Coach CEO Lew Frankfort to consider all investors they contemplate the funding options . link

Yahoo to shut down its interest-based Groups product; users will be unable to add new content as of Oct 21, and Yahoo will delete all archived content on Dec 14; the group membership lists will remain active, but set to private or restricted; new users will have access to the index and the ability to request group membership for emailing purposes . link

Process analysis company Minit, which helps companies improve ROI, raises ~$8M Series A led by Target Global with participation from Salesforce Ventures and others; the Slovakia-based company plans to use the funding to develop the product and expand to the US, among other markets . link

New York City-based Rho Business, a digital banking company targeting startups and small businesses in the US, emerges with $4.9M seed led by Inspired Capital; the FDIC-insured bank offers cash accounts and more for companies with limited physical presence . link

Boston-based Clean Energy Ventures closes its first fund at $110M; targets early-stage startups in the US and Canada that are addressing climate-relevant spaces; the fund has made 18 investments so far, including material sciences company Boston Materials and energy marketplace Energy Sage . link

M13 raises $175M for its second fund; LPs include Sir Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington; founded in 2016, the Los Angeles-based firm targets seed and Series A investments in consumer technology, personal finance, retail, more; portfolio includes Bird, ClassPass, and SpaceX; exits include Lyft, Snapchat, and Ring . link

US and South Korean officials announce the takedown of the largest known illegal pornography site on the dark web; IRS special agents traced bitcoin transactions to locate a physical server and its administrator in South Korea; authorities seized 8TB of child exploitation content; in the course of arresting ~300 people affiliated with the site, authorities rescued dozens of minors the Department of Justice said were living under active abuse . link

YouTube partners with music merchandising company Merchbar on an integration that enables video creators to offer items for sale via product listings that appear under YouTube video windows; buyers can purchase from the video page (YouTube takes a cut) or click through to the creator's Merchbar site . link

Toronto-based eSight, which develops technology for the visually impaired, partners with the CNIB Foundation (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) to distribute eSight 3, a wearable product that improves eyesight for those with central vision loss; the product incites synaptic activity to fill vision gaps algorithmically . link

Berlin-based lending marketplace CrossLend raises $39M Series B led by Santander InnoVentures; supports SME and consumer loans, mortgages, and more from banks, institutional investors, etc; raised $55M to date . link

The FCC votes to approve T-Mobile's $26B merger with Sprint, according to an FCC official speaking with The Verge; the source said Republicans voted to approve while Democrats dissented; the Department of Justice previously approved the deal; the companies still face a lawsuit from multiple states seeking to block the merger . link

Intel ($231B market cap) acquires the Smart Edge software business from Pivot Technology Solutions ($42M market cap) for $27M; Smart Edge splits data and stores it near users for faster response; the tech, which is designed to work with Intel processors, will facilitate edge computing for Intel 5G solutions . link

Software-defined services platform Pensando Systems emerges and raises $145M Series C led by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lightspeed Venture Partners; provides a holistic solution for cloud, networking, storage, compute, and security; raised $278M to date . link

Dublin-based Evervault, which is developing an API to protect private data in apps, raises $3.2M seed led by Sequoia with participation from Kleiner Perkins, Frontline, SV Angel, and others; creates encrypted data cages for sensitive user information; the data is accessible only to the app . link

Volumetric graphics and simulation company Atomontage raises $2M seed from Makers Fund and others; the company has developed prototypes of a creation platform that uses micro-voxels; plans to launch a commercial product next year . link

AI-powered software testing platform Autify raises $2.5M seed from Salesforce Ventures, Archetype Ventures, others; enables enterprise users to create write tests without knowing code or the underlying frameworks; offers browser extensions for major operating systems; integrates with development platforms; currently in testing with ~100 companies . link

The download for 2019-10-16 →

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launches an official investigation into Amazon’s planned $575M investment in Deliveroo; the CMA says the deal could impact competition within the food delivery market; the organization expects to make an initial decision on the case by Dec 11; the CMA previously ordered the companies to pause any integration efforts . link

Scooter-sharing firm Skip ends service in San Francisco; the company was one of two firms involved in a city-controlled pilot scheme, but it has not been granted a permanent license; several rivals including Jump, Lime, and Spin have received permits; Skip will continue to operate in San Diego, Washington, DC, and Austin . link

Activision Blizzard cancels an “Overwatch” event in New York City; reasons for the move unclear, but comes amid backlash over the company's censure of a Hong Kong-based professional gamer . link

Google announces $50 Nest Mini, a Google Assistant-powered speaker that looks similar to Google Home Mini; promises improved sound and features a mounting gap for fixing to walls; pre-orders open, available Oct 22 . link

Google launches Pixelbook Go, a 13.3-inch Chromebook starting at $650; promises 12 hours use on a single charge; features a touch display and comes in two colors (Just Black, Not Pink); includes ridged, rubberized bottom; available with 8GB or 16GB RAM and 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB storage; pre-orders open, available Oct 28 . link

Google announces $180 wireless Pixel Buds 2, which are set to launch in spring 2020; the earbuds promise five hours continuous use with a charging case that offers 24 hours of additional power; includes Google Assistant support and the ability to auto adjust volume based on a user’s surroundings; exact launch date unknown . link

Google announces Nest Wifi, a mesh router and speaker with Google Assistant support; promises up to 25 percent better coverage than Google Wifi; available as a two-pack (router and access point) for $270, or three-pack (router, two access points) for $350; pre-orders open, ships Nov 4 . link

Google launches 5.7-inch Pixel 4 (starts at $800) and 6.3-inch Pixel 4 XL (starts at $900); includes face unlock and touch-free gestures via Motion Sense (formerly Soli); includes dual back cameras (12MP wide, 16MP telephoto); both devices have OLED screens capable of 90Hz refresh rate; comes with 6GB RAM, and 64GB or 128GB storage; pre-orders open, ships Oct 24 . link

Private equity firm Apollo Global has bid ~$5B for FL-based tech equipment distribution firm Tech Data, according to Reuters sources; it’s unknown if Tech Data will engage with the offer; Apollo unsuccessfully tried to acquire Ingram Micro for $7.4B last year . link

Jimmy Asci, who joined The We Company as chief communications officer in April, has left the firm, according to Bloomberg sources; reasons for the departure unknown; Asci is at least the third communications exec to leave the company in as many months . link

Google announces Recorder, a voice recording app that features real-time transcription; also includes support for offline transcriptions (initially English only); will launch with Pixel 4; unknown if or when it will be available for other devices . link

Smart TV platform Roku launches an Apple TV app; lets Apple customers access iTunes purchases via Roku-powered sets; the app will also support the Apple TV+ streaming service when it launches next month . link

UK-based healthtech firm Healx raises $56M Series B led by Atomico with participation from Intel Capital and others; the company uses AI-powered tools for drug discovery purposes; has raised $67.9M to date . link

Twitter says it will limit how users can interact with tweets from world leaders that violate its terms; users cannot like, reply, or retweet, though they will still be able to use the Retweet with Comment feature . link

Google’s Stadia game streaming service launches Nov 19 for those who signed up for the $130 Founder’s Edition; Stadia will be supported by Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 devices, Chromecast Ultra, and Chrome browser; unknown when it will roll out wider . link

The EU’s competition watchdog orders chipmaker Broadcom to pause its dealings with some modem firms and TV manufacturers citing potential antitrust violations; the order relates to Broadcom’s partnerships with six companies; the European Commission says Broadcom has 30 days to comply, and that the injunction will last for up to three years while it investigates . link

SpaceX plans to launch up to 30k additional Starlink satellites, according to regulatory filings; the company currently has permission for 12k broadband satellites; SpaceX says it wants to launch the extra units to ensure it can meet anticipated demand . link

TikTok says it will bring in outside consultants to advise on its US policies; K&L Gates will work with TikTok management, providing guidance on its moderation rules and compliance practices; former congressmen Bart Gordon and Jeff Denham will be among the advisory team . link

Uber partners with France-based e-moped service Cityscoot; terms unknown; the arrangement will let customers book mopeds in Paris via the Uber app; Cityscoot operates ~4k vehicles across Paris . link

New York City-based robotic process automation company UiPath acquires Dutch process optimization company ProcessGold and Ukrainian tutorial and documentation company StepShot; terms undisclosed; ProcessGold's tech powers UiPath's new Explorer Enterprise product; UiPath's Explorer Expert uses StepShot tech to record processes; UiPath has raised $1B to date . link

Real estate startup ZeroDown (YC W19) confirms a $150M valuation after raising $30M in equity and $110M in debt financing; the company charges customers a $10k fee and buys the homes customers choose; then charges monthly rates that go toward purchase points; currently live in San Francisco, plans expansion to Seattle, Denver, and Austin . link

Craft Ventures closes its second fund at $500M; the first fund closed at $350M; the firm invests in a variety of spaces at the seed to Series B stages; portfolio includes SpaceX, The Boring Company, and Bird . link

This Week in Startups: LAUNCH ScaleJason speaks with Cowboy Ventures Founder Aileen Lee about lessons learned from backing big winners, the current funding landscape, the dangers of prioritizing growth over sustainability, the diversification of tech and VC, more .Click here to listen to the full episode link

AMC Theatres launches On Demand, a VOD streaming service for members of the Stubs loyalty program; users can rent and buy from a library of 2k titles; accessible via web, mobile apps, and smart TV apps . link

Spoke, a London-based direct-to-consumer men's fashion brand, raises $10.7M Series B led by Business Growth Fund; the company hand finishes every pair of pants for a tailored fit; offers highly customizable sizing and 50 styles . link

Belgian fin-tech startup Cashforce raises $5.5M Series A led by Citi Ventures and INKEF Capital; provides an analytics platform for finance and treasury departments; uses machine learning for cash flow forecasting and more; raised ~$9M to date . link

AI-powered customer engagement platform CleverTap raises $35M Series C at a $385M valuation led by Tiger Global Management and Sequoia India; tracks customer behavior to deliver relevant messaging based on real-time data; claims 250 percent growth year-over-year since 2015; raised $77M to date . link

Bitcoin-mining startup Layer1 raises $50M Series A from Peter Thiel and others; the San Francisco-based company plans to operate facilities in West Texas, running a power substation and buying local solar and wind energy; Layer1 will manufacture chips with a proprietary cooling technology; raised $52M to date . link

BC-based Beatdapp, which uses blockchain tech to track songs on streaming services, raises $2.4M seed led by Panache Ventures; the system authenticates, validates, and verifies music streams to resolve tracking discrepancies between service providers and rights holders . link

Parisian headless CMS startup Strapi raises $4M seed led by Accel and; Strapi's open-source solution supports MySQL, SQLite, MongoDB, and Postgres databases; claims 500k downloads; the company plans to develop plugins and could offer premium hosting . link

Spearhead, a firm that finances entrepreneurs' angel investments, is raising $100M for its third fund; founded in 2017 by Naval Ravikant and Jeff Fagnan, Spearhead initially provided founders with $200k to invest; with the third fund, the firm plans to give founders $1M each and 15 percent carry; after two years, those with standout investments will receive an additional $10M to invest . link

Denver-based Flowhub, which develops software for cannabis retailers, raises $23M Series A led by, Evolv Ventures, and Poseidon; provides solutions for point of sale, inventory tracking, compliance, and business intelligence; raised $27M to date . link

Google discontinues the Daydream View headset, and the company's newly announced Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones do not support the Daydream platform; Google cited a lack of adoption and declining usage; the Daydream app and store will remain active for existing users . link

Chicago-based construction equipment marketplace Gearflow raises $1.1M seed from Thomas H Lee Partners, Annabelle LLC, and Chicago Early Growth Ventures; enables merchants to create storefronts; buyers can compare suppliers and products; also supports rentals . link

The download for 2019-10-15 →

Investment firm KKR acquires a majority stake in UK-based gigabit ISP Hyperoptic, reports City AM; terms undisclosed, but the deal is reportedly worth £500M (~$630M); KKR purchased the shares from Newlight Partners and Mubadala; Hyperoptic provides services to more than 400k UK homes and businesses . link

Scooter-sharing startup Wheels raises $50M led by DBL Partners; the company operates a pedal-less e-bike service in several US cities including Chicago and Los Angeles; has raised $87M to date . link

Search-as-a-service firm Algolia raises $110M Series C led by Accel with participation from Salesforce Ventures and others; the company provides tools to website owners, allowing them to add search functions; has raised $184M to date . link

Upscale Pics (web) promises to upscale still images up to eight times their original size; uses AI to enhance photos and graphics; offers free and premium options . link

France-based ad firm Herow raises $8M Series B (second tranche); previously known as Connecthings, the company offers contextual messaging tools to developers and marketers; has raised $19.7M to date . link

Insurtech firm Thimble (formerly Verifly) raises $22M Series A from IAC, Slow Ventures, and others; the company offers short-term insurance to freelancers and SMEs; its products are underwritten by Markel; Thimble has raised $29M to date . link

The German government says it will not issue an upfront ban against 5G provider; officials say they plan to publish specific guidance for 5G firms, outlining specific technical and security specs; follows moves by the US government, Australia, and others to block Huawei from participating in national networks . link

Smart lock firm Level Home raises $71M from Walmart, Hut 8 Ventures, and Lennar; the company has developed a connected device that allows keyless control of door locks; it’s set to ship its first product in Jan 2020 . link

Indian regulators launch an investigation into Amazon and Walmart-controlled Flipkart over discount pricing, citing potential violations of foreign investment rules; India’s commerce ministry has received complaints from smaller retailers claiming Flipkart and Amazon India discount heavily during festive periods; Flipkart reportedly offers discount subsidies to select marketplace sellers . link

Microsoft launches its xCloud game streaming service in preview; available to some registered users in the US, UK, and South Korea; the service lets gamers play titles streamed from the cloud to Android devices; currently works with four games including “Gears 5” and “Halo 5: Guardians”; it’s unknown when the service will roll out fully . link

The We Company is expected to cut as many as 2k jobs as soon as this week, reports The Guardian; if correct, the layoffs will equal 13 percent of the firm’s workforce; sources say little work is getting done within the company and that many projects have been canceled; follows reports the firm may hand control to SoftBank . link

South Korea-based Hyundai commits ~$35B to the development of autonomous vehicles, EVs, and other mobility tech; the funding will run through 2025; the South Korean government will partially fund the initiative; President Moon Jae-in has set a goal of 2030 for half of all new vehicles in the country to be self-driving . link

More than 40 US colleges use cookies to help rank prospective students’ likely interest in attending a school, reports The Washington Post; some universities are building applicant profiles, looking at how students navigate their websites to gauge the likelihood of them accepting an offer; the data is often combined with other factors such as location and household income to generate a score from one to 100 . link

Apple says its use of iOS Safari safe browsing partnership with Tencent only applies to devices registered in mainland China; the process does not share URLs with Tencent, though IP addresses are transmitted by default, something that users can turn off . link

Mark Zuckerberg has hosted private dinners at one of his CA homes with conservative figures such as Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Fox News host Tucker Carlson, reports Politico; Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell and media figure Ben Shapiro have also attended; it’s unknown what was discussed at the events because attendees agreed conversations would be kept as off the record . link

True Balance, a South Korea-based fintech company, raises $23M Series C from NH Investment & Securities, IBK Capital, and others; the firm offers a digital wallet app for bill payments, cell phone top-ups, and more; has raised $65M to date . link

The Libra Association officially forms in Geneva, Switzerland; member companies have also signed its governing charter; it also named it’s five-person board, which includes Calibra head David Marcus, Andreessen Horowitz general partner Katie Haun, and Xapo CEO Wences Cesares; it’s unclear when Libra will launch . link

South Korea-based edtech firm Mathpresso raises $14.5M Series B from Legend Capital, InterVest, and others; the company offers Qanda, a math and science tutoring app; has raised $21.2M to date . link

Online travel group Booking exits the Libra Association; represents the eighth company to back out of the organization following the departures of PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, and others; Libra Association, which will oversee the Libra stablecoin, now has 20 members; it has previously said it aims to have at least 100 partners by the time Libra launches . link

David Estrada, chief legal and policy officer at scooter rental firm Bird, is leaving the company; Bird says Estrada wants to be nearer his family in Santa Monica, CA; he is joining unmanned logistics business Nuro . link

Harley-Davidson suspends production and deliveries of its all-electric LiveWire bike due to a charging mechanism flaw; the company said customers who already have the bike can continue to ride but should charge at dealerships; the company is currently analyzing the issue . link

Chicago-based IT transformation company AHEAD merges with Atlanta-based server virtualization company Data Blue; the combined entity is acquiring GA-based Sovereign Systems, which offers competing services; in total, the businesses represent ~600 employees and $1.3B in gross revenues . link

Chicago-based SpaceBot is developing solar-powered sensors to monitor traffic for taxing purposes; the SURGE product would monitor traffic with street pole sensors; during periods of congestion, the system would identify motorists eligible for a congestion tax; would report data to the city for tax collection purposes . link

Indian electronic payments and e-commerce company Paytm is raising $2B from SoftBank, Ant Financial, and others, according to a Bloomberg source; the round reportedly values the company at $16B and consists of equal amounts debt and equity . link

Chinese electronic signature company Tsign raises $100M Series C led by Ant Financial; also provides electronic contract and legal services; targets utilities and internet companies; claims ~3M enterprise users . link

Shanghai-based Xforceplus, which develops enterprise SaaS and industrial software solutions, raises $100M Series C led by Temasek (Wu Yibing joins as a director); serves large corporations in manufacturing, retail, real estate, and other industries . link

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is considering shifting Vision Fund focus to companies with clearer and faster paths to profitability and/or IPO, according to CNBC sources; the first Vision Fund has deployed $80B of $100B in ~three years; Son reportedly plans to take a slower and more cautious approach with the second fund; Uber and Slack's underwhelming performance and WeWork's failed IPO reportedly triggered the reassessment . link

Jackson Square Ventures closes its third fund at $193M; primarily targets US-based early-stage startups in the SaaS and marketplace spaces; usually makes initial investments of $4M to $6M in Series A rounds; portfolio includes Tala, Rented, and Plume; exits include DocuSign, Upwork, and Cornershop, which recently sold to Uber . link

Atlanta-based entertainment studio Areu Bros acquires video-streaming platform THEA from Metro Atlanta Chamber; terms undisclosed; THEA will continue to focus on video content by local artists, and Areu Bros will also expand it into a new media services company . link

Faraday Future Founder and former CEO Jia Yueting files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a DE court; paperwork indicates he owes $3.6B to 100-plus creditors; Yueting moved to the US in 2017 after he appeared on a national debtor blacklist in China; a trust based on his ownership in Faraday Future will payout funds to some creditors should that company go public . link

RI-based mission-critical software and systems company Rite-Solutions wins five-year, $16.8M contract to develop solutions for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport; the company, which develops IT systems, learning solutions, and more, will work on Early Warning and Electronic Support Trainers for submarine fleet applications . link

Uber lays off ~350 in various departments in what the company says is the third and final phase of a streamlining process that began this year; affects workers in Eats, Advanced Technologies Group, more; Uber also asked some employees to relocate; the company has laid off ~1.2k people this year . link

Google announces a USB-C version of its Titan Security Key; the device, developed in partnership with Yubico, is FIDO compliant and supports Chrome OS, Android, macOS, and Windows; available on Oct 15 for $40 from the Google Store . link

Shipping tech company Pitney Bowes discloses ransomware attack that has disrupted client services and internal processes; the malware encrypted data on company systems; Pitney Bowes hasn't found any evidence that customer or employee data was improperly accessed; now working with a third-party consultant to resolve the issue . link

Opendoor appoints COO Gautam Gupta as CFO and CBO; he joined the company in 2017 after ~six years at Goldman Sachs and more than four years at Uber; also hired former Amazon VP of Consumer Electronics Julie Todaro to serve as president of homes and services; former Venrock Partner Tom Willerer has joined as CPO; former TPG Partner Carrie Wheeler and Hulu Founding CEO Jason Kilar have joined the board . link

The download for 2019-10-14 →

Uber is in partnership talks with Brazilian lending firm Banco Inter, according to a Reuters source; full details unclear, but the companies are considering a financial services operation that targets both Uber drivers and riders; Uber previously partnered with BBVA to launch a commission-free debit card service in Mexico . link

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase secures an e-money license from Ireland’s central bank; the permission allows Coinbase to expand its financial offerings across the EU and European Economic Area member states; Coinbase was previously granted an e-money license in the UK, but the country is set to leave the EU, thereby restricting the effectiveness of the permit . link

Singapore-based ecommerce firm Shopmatic acquires SaaS company CombineSell; terms undisclosed; CombineSell offers merchant tools for selling across multiple marketplaces; it supports Amazon, Lazada, Shopee, and more . link

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern announces additional funding to tackle violent extremist content online; the country will spend more than $10M over four years on a team of 17 who will investigate such content; they will also work to prevent its dissemination . link

South Korea-based blockchain startup Iconloop raises $8.3M Series A led by Korea Technology Finance Corporation, TS Investment, and others; the company is developing a decentralized identification verification platform; Iconloop previously raised $42M via an ICO . link

Apple faces scrutiny for using China-based Tencent as a partner for its Safe Browsing feature in Safari on iOS; the tool is intended to warn users about potentially fraudulent websites, but cryptography expert Matthew Green notes it can theoretically collect users’ IP addresses; Green also says the Tencent APIs are enabled by default . link

Private equity company Thoma Bravo acquires UK-based cybersecurity firm Sophos for $3.8B; represents a 37.1 percent premium on Sophos’ last closing price; shares rose as much as 38 percent in early trading; Sophos offers a suite of security tools to enterprise customers . link

Porsche announces another version of its upcoming EV; known as Taycan 4S, the vehicle will start at $104k, which compares with the Taycan Turbo ($151k) and Taycan Turbo S ($185k); the 4S will come with a 79.2 kWh battery, and promises speeds of up to 155 Mph; set to launch in spring 2020 . link

Bill Gates had a closer relationship with disgraced billionaire Jeffrey Epstein than he has previously admitted to, reports The New York Times; Gates has said they did not have a friendship or business relationship, but the report says Gates visited at least one of Epstein’s homes on multiple occasions; it also claims Gates sent a team to meet with Epstein to discuss philanthropic endeavors . link

Presidential candidate Sen Elizabeth Warren (MA-D) runs a Facebook ad that criticizes the company’s policy around politicians making false statements on the platform; the ad starts by claiming Mark Zuckerberg has endorsed President Trump; the ad goes on to reveal itself as a lie, but Warren notes the company will not remove such falsehoods by politicians . link

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the iPhone SE successor will include Apple’s A13 processor (same as iPhone 11 lineup) and 3GB RAM; Kuo also says it will be available in 64GB or 128GB, and come in space gray, silver, and red; Kuo has previously forecast a Q1 2020 launch . link

SoftBank is preparing a bid for control of The We Company, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; full details unclear, but the co-working firm needs at least $3B to remain in business over the next year; SoftBank is reportedly also looking to raise billions in debt via jP Morgan Chase; SoftBank currently owns a third of The We Company .Update: The We Company is considering whether to give control to SoftBank, according to a Bloomberg source; the report also indicates JP Morgan Chase is heading up a $5B debt package as an alternative to handing oversight to SoftBank . link

Messaging platform Kik says it will not be closing down despite a previous announcement to the contrary; full details unclear, but follows a tweet from CEO Ted Livingston saying the company has signed a letter of intent with another firm wanting to purchase the app . link

The download for 2019-10-13 →

Day One Ventures closes its first fund at ~$20M; Founder and GP Masha Drokova previously founded M&A PR Studio, served as VP of Communications at Acronis, and was PR Director at Runa Capital; Day One focuses on spearheading communications for the early-stage companies in its portfolio . link

Riot Games, which is owned by China's Tencent, urges link

Sweden-based Donna, which provides an AI-powered drafting tool for lawyers, raises $2.4M seed led by Point Nine Capital; the company's Microsoft Word add-on for contracts surfaces relevant information, recognizes potential problems, and makes suggestions; claims ~1k lawyer clients across 50 countries . link

Zurich-based Avrios, which provides a cloud-based fleet management platform, raises ~$14M Series B led by Swisscom Ventures and Edenred Capital Partners; provides transportation services tailored to the needs of each employee within a client organization . link

Swedish electric boat company X Shore raises ~$1.6M via crowdfunding platform FundedByMe; will facilitate R&D and production; the company develops modular boat components to simplify customization; the vessels use magnetic gearboxes and run 100-percent electric, promising reduced environmental impact and noise pollution . link

New Delhi-based e-commerce company Vahdam Teas raises $11M Series C led by Sixth Sense Ventures; a TechCrunch source indicates a valuation of $40M; the company ships fresh teas to international markets; the funding will fuel expansion in the US and Europe; raised ~$16M to date . link

Fantasy esports startup Meta Games raises $2M seed from Everblue Management, Crest Capital, others; the company's Rivals Esports Manager enables users to build teams, send them into competition, view simulated highlight reels, more . link

India-based social commerce startup DealShare raises $11M Series A led by Matrix Partners and Falcon Edge Capital; the company shares group-buy discounts on social media; expects to expand to 100 cities over the next year . link

This Week in Startups: The Next UnicornsJason speaks with Renaud Laplanche, CEO and Co-Founder of consumer credit platform Upgrade, and former CEO of Lending Club; the conversation covers how startups have changed since Renaud started his first company in 2000, insights on taking Lending Club public, more . link

Med-tech startup Primaa raises $2.2M seed from Angels Santé, F3A, others; provides an AI- and deep learning-powered diagnostics suite for pathologists; automates sample analysis to provide rapid initial diagnoses . link

Google bans some predatory lender apps from the Play Store; the company now prohibits apps supporting loans with APRs of 36 percent and higher; a spokesperson said the policy went into effect in August . link

Lyft sues New York City in a bid to overturn a rule that limits the amount of time ride-share drivers can spend in busy areas when not serving fares; Uber filed a similar suit last month; Lyft argues the regulation is arbitrary and unfairly draws business away from ride-share companies . link

The CDC says 1.3k people have reported severe lung injuries attributable to vaping, and that 26 have died; CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat said data had not indicated a decline in the rate of reports; younger vapers represent a majority of injuries, but older users are more likely to die . link

Blizzard Entertainment says its suspension of link

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issue a warning that digital asset firms must follow securities laws that require suspicious activities disclosures and practices to prevent money laundering . link

CA AG Xavier Becerra publishes draft guidance for enforcing the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which will take effect Jan 1 following public consultations and hearings; enforcement will begin in June; will require businesses to disclose what customer data they collect, how they use it, more . link

Ford and German VR company Holoride to launch an in-car VR experience based on the 1935 film link

CA Gov Gavin Newsom signs AB1215 into law, prohibiting police in the state from using facial recognition tech in conjunction with body cameras; the law goes into effect on Jan 1 and expires in 2023 with an option for renewal; Assemblyman Phil Ting, who carried the measure, was one of the legislators that Amazon's Rekognition misidentified as criminal suspects in an ACLU test . link

Athens-based ag-tech startup Augmenta raises ~$2.5M seed led by Hardware Club and Marathon Venture Capital; produces a tractor-mounted, multi-camera system that scans crops and uses AI to adjust the application of fertilizer and other substances in real time . link

Nike ($117B market cap) acquires Seattle-based Tally; terms unknown; Tally launched as TraceMe, a platform enabling fans to interact with celebrities from sports, film, etc; the company pivoted to Tally, through which fans try to predict competition events and outcomes; a TechCrunch source said Nike had stronger interest in TraceMe than in Tally . link

Tesla plans to open link

The SEC obtains a temporary restraining order against secure messaging company Telegram and subsidiary TON Issuer to block a $1.7B token offering; the commission said the entities failed to register the sale, which sought to issue 2.9B Gram tokens globally, with 1B reserved for US buyers; the SEC considers ICOs as securities offerings, and unregistered sales as unlawful . link

The download for 2019-10-12 →

Andy Rubin has left Playground Global, the investment firm he founded after leaving Google in the wake of sexual misconduct investigations, BuzzFeed News reports; one source said Playground gave Rubin a $9M-plus exit package; Google's $90M exit payout sparked an employee walkout protesting Google's handling of victim claims . link

This Week in Startups:Jason speaks with StockX Co-Founder Josh Luber about transforming a sneaker-data site into a link

Tabletop games company Exploding Kittens raises $30M from TCG Capital; the company began with a namesake card game crowdfunded on Kickstarter; has since launched multiple titles, including link

Convictional (YC W19), a platform connecting merchants and retailers with drop-ship companies, raises ~$2.3M from Tribe Capital, FundersClub, others; Founders Chris Grouchy and Roger Kirkness met while working at Shopify; ultimately plans to support all kinds of B2B trade . link

Stripe and eBay withdraw from the Libra Association, which will oversee Facebook's digital currency, slated to launch in June of next year; PayPal exited the group last week; France and Germany plan to block the project in Europe, favoring a public cryptocurrency .Update: Visa and Mastercard also announced their exits from the association . link

Citrine Informatics, which provides an AI-powered platform for materials development, raises $20M Series B led by Prelude Ventures and Innovation Endeavors; the system features modular AI units clients can combine to predict the behavior of new materials . link

Clinical trials software provider Florence raises $7.1M Series B led by Fulcrum Equity Partners; the Atlanta-based SaaS startup connects trial sites with pharmaceutical sponsors; also offers document and data flow management, more; raised $8.8M to date . link

LifeX, a startup operating co-living spaces for young professionals, raises ~$8.3M led by Founders and Cherry Ventures; primarily targets workers who are relocating; offers furnished spaces, weekly cleaning services, more; the company is live in its home city of Copenhagen, as well as in Berlin, London, Paris, Munich, and Vienna . link

London-based quantum machine learning startup Rahko raises $1.6M seed led by Balderton Capital; the company is developing quantum chemistry solutions for near-term quantum systems; the startup emerged from the University College London . link

Austin-based Trust Ventures raises $70M for its second fund targeting social impact startups that face public policy challenges; for example, innovators in affordable housing and zero-emission energy; portfolio includes plant-based meat substitute startup Emergy Foods, construction tech company Icon, and fission rector tech startup Oklo . link

Chinese e-commerce platform Club Factory raises $100M Series D from Qiming Venture Partners, IDG Capital, others; features fashion and beauty products, electronics, more; claims 70M users; plans to focus on Indian expansion; raised $220M to date . link

Uber ($51B market cap) to acquire on-demand grocery delivery company Cornershop; terms undisclosed; primarily serves Latin America but recently launched in Toronto; Cornershop's leadership will remain in place; Uber expects the deal to close early next year, subject to regulatory approvals; Cornershop previously raised $32M . link

Talent acquisition chatbot Xor raises $8.4M seed led by SignalFire; Xor screens candidates from numerous sources and integrates with applicant tracking and CRM systems; sorts applications, sets appointments, etc; serves ExxonMobil, Ikea, and McDonald's; claims $2M ARR . link

Polte, which uses cellular signals to track an item's location, raises $12.5M Series A (extension) from undisclosed investors; Polte's tech promises reduced power consumption compared to GPS tracking; applications include logistics, fleet monitoring, etc . link

The download for 2019-10-11 →

President Trump now has a verified Twitch account, reports Reuters; the account is seemingly recent, currently showing just a single video from a rally in Minneapolis yesterday . link

Ant Financial's Alipay unit partners with for a Russia-based digital payments joint venture; full details unclear, but Russian Direct Investment Fund, MegaFon, and USM are also backing the joint-venture; is taking a 40 percent stake, making it the largest shareholder . link

Dag Kittlaus, co-founder and former CEO of Samsung-owned voice assistant unit Viv Labs, left the company in May this year, reports The Information; Samsung VP Larry Heck has served as Viv Labs CEO since April; Kittlaus previously co-founded Siri, which was acquired by Apple in 2010; he says he’s now working on a new AI project, the details of which remain undisclosed . link

A Chinese engineer says he was fired from Facebook for discussing a colleague’s suicide; Yi Yin shared a post on WeChat, alleging Facebook managers had told him to stop speaking about the death publicly; he claims he was later let go for “bad judgment”; a follow-up post on Chinese-language platform Zhihu has since been viewed 1.6M times; Facebook has not commented on the claims . link

NASA says it anticipates SpaceX’s Crew Dragon astronaut capsule will be ready for a manned flight in Q1 2020; NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine made the pronouncement during a visit to SpaceX’s HQ in Hawthorne, CA where he was taken on a tour by Elon Musk; NASA and SpaceX initially planned a manned flight for this year, but that was postponed when a Crew Dragon failed in testing . link

Twitter launches a new app for macOS; it's based on Twitter's iPadOS app, which is made possible using Apple’s Catalyst tools; Twitter discontinued its earlier macOS app in 2018; the new app is available via the Mac App Store . link

Toyota showcases a new version of its hydrogen-powered Mirai sedan; the company announced the first Mirai in 2014, with it going on sale the following year; over that time Toyota has sold less than 10k units; the new Mirai is based on the Lexus LS coupe, and promises a driving range of ~560 miles per hydrogen cell, a 30 percent increase over the earlier model; price and launch date unclear . link

Apple signs a multi-year deal with Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón, reports Variety; full terms unknown, but Cuarón will develop TV content exclusively for Apple TV+; Cuarón will still be free to develop film projects with other partners; Apple is yet to announce any shows from Cuarón . link

Google Maps for iOS and Android adds detailed voice guidance for visually impaired users; provides continuous audio notifications including warnings of upcoming busy roads and confirmation that a user is still on the correct route; available now in English and Japanese . link

Forbes revises its estimated wealth for Adam Neuman, former CEO of The We Company, from $4.1B to $600M; follows a fall in The We Company’s valuation from $47B to $2.8B; Forbes has also listed co-founder Miguel McKelvey’s wealth at $400M, down from $2.9B previously . link

Numerous GitHub employees sign an open letter to the company and its parent firm Microsoft, calling on them to end partnerships with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); the staff state their objection to the Trump administration’s child separation policies, which are carried out by ICE; follows a memo from GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, explaining that the company will likely be renewing a contract with ICE .Update: Friedman says he and other GitHub staff find the US separation policy “odious, offensive, abhorrent, cruel, evil,” reports The Verge; the comments came during an all-hands meeting where Friedman also responded to questions about whether it would work with China . link

James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems is acquiring a minority stake in Vice Media, reports the Financial Times; terms unknown; Lupa Systems also led a consortium deal to take control of Tribeca Enterprises, which operates the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City; Murdoch previously served as CEO of 21st Century Fox until it was acquired by Disney . link

9to5Google goes hands on with a purported Pixelbook Go, a new Chromebook that Google is expected to announce next week; features a textured ridge design on the underside, and smooth finish on the top; includes USB-C, 3.5-mm headphone port, and dedicated Assistant key; Pixelbook Go will reportedly be available with Full HD or 4K display, Intel Core m3, i5, or i7, and 8GB or 16GB RAM; Google is set to hold a hardware event on Oct 15 . link

Tim Cook emails Apple employees explaining the company’s decision to remove HKMap Live from the App Store; Cook reiterated the firm’s earlier claims that the app has allowed some users to maliciously attack Hong Kong police; Cook did not provide specifics of the alleged assaults; the team behind HKMap refute Cook’s claims .Update 1: Daring Fireball questions Apple’s claims, noting Tim Cook’s email makes reference to certain kinds of attacks without providing evidence; Maciej Ceglowski, reporting from Hong Kong, says Cook’s claims of individual officers being targeted does not hold up to scrutiny .Update 2: Google pulls “The Revolution of Our Times” from the Play Store, a game that lets users role play as a Hong Kong protestor; Google says the title violates rules relating to sensitive events; HKMap Live is still available in the Play Store . link

Bill McDermott steps down as CEO of SAP with immediate effect; reasons unclear, but SAP says McDermott has chosen not to renew his contract; board members Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein have been named co-CEOs .Update: McDermott speaks with TechCrunch about his decision to leave; he says he’s served as CEO for 10 years, suggesting it’s a good period of time to achieve a lot of things; McDermott also notes he recently informed SAP chairman Hasso Plattner that he wouldn’t be renewing his contract, saying they both agreed on the timing of his departure . link

Los Angeles-based satellite launch services company Rocket Lab secures a five-year Launch Operator License from the FAA; enables the company to repeatedly launch its Electron rocket from a New Zealand launch site without seeking clearance for every mission; the company plans regular, frequent launches for small satellite operators . link

Stockholm-based autonomous transport company Einride raises $25M Series A led by EQT Ventures and NordicNinja VC; the company has developed a vehicle management platform and modular, cab-free shipping pods; helps logistics providers, like DB Schenker, integrate autonomous solutions into existing fleets; also sells pods outright to companies including Lidl; raised $32M to date . link

Grammarly, which provides AI-powered tools for writers, raises $90M at a $1B-plus valuation led by General Catalyst; offers a freemium app with tiered options; checks for spelling, syntax, punctuation, tone, plagiarism, more; raised $200M to date . link

Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) requests the Committee on Foreign Investment review Beijing-based ByteDance's acquisition of CA-based; Rubio argued that the Chinese government censors ByteDance's popular TikTok app - particularly content to which the Communist Party is sensitive . link

Voilà!, which develops software for workforce scheduling and optimization, raises ~$2.3M from Panache Ventures and others; plans to hire 100 new workers in Québec City and Montréal, and to add business intelligence features; founded by the team that sold talent management software company Taleo to Oracle for $1.9B in 2012 . link

Jerusalem-based lab-grown meat startup Future Meat Technologies raises $14M Series A from Tyson Ventures and others; the funding will go toward the company's first pilot manufacturing facilities; Future Meat hopes to bring the cost of its steak down to $10 per pound, and as low as $4 per pound when mixed with plant-based meat substitutes; raised ~$16M to date . link

Cashier-free shopping tech company Standard Cognition acquires autonomous retail kiosk company DeepMagic; terms undisclosed; Standard Cognition focuses on storefronts, whereas DeepMagic addresses pop-ups; the buy could also protect Standard Cognition in patent disputes; Standard Cognition has raised $86M to date; Click here to listen to Standard Cognition CEO Jordan Fisher on This Week in Startups link

BoxGroup raises its first LP funding: a seed fund and an opportunity fund, each representing $82.5M; previously, all funding came directly from Partners David Tisch, Nimi Katragadda, and Adam Rothenberg; the space-agnostic firm primarily plans investments of $250k to $500k; portfolio includes Stripe, ClassPass, and Airtable . link

NY-based telemedicine company Parsley Health raises $26M Series B led by White Star Capital; operates brick-and-mortar clinics in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; charges a monthly subscription that includes telemedicine services; raised $36M to date . link

Employee performance and engagement company Lattice (YC W16) raises $25M Series C at a ~$200M valuation led by Tiger Global Management; enables companies to set goals and employees to track progress; managers can provide feedback; claims 160k paid users; raised $9M to date . link

Workplace access control company Nexkey raises $6M Series A led by Upfront Ventures; provides hardware and software solutions for mobile control over garage doors, building entries, meeting rooms, more; also offers an API; the funding will enable Nexkey to expand its sales focus from CA to the rest of the US; raised $11M to date . link

Philadelphia-based esports facilities and events company Nerd Street Gamers raises $12M from Five Below and others; plans to develop new facilities (for training camps, tournaments, more) connected to Five Below retail locations; the companies will launch a pilot next year and potentially expand the program to ~70 Five Below sites; raised $16M to date . link

Mobile marketing tools company Adjust acquires Force Operation X, a tool for measuring campaign effectiveness, from mobile advertising agency CyberZ; terms undisclosed; Adjust has raised $256M to date . link

Austin-based RigUp, a marketplace for energy industry services and contract positions, raises $300M Series D at a $1B-plus valuation led by A16Z (GP David George joins board); mostly addresses gas and oil companies but plans to grow its renewable energy base; employs 300; raised ~$450M to date . link

WI-based grocery rewards company Fetch raises $25M Series B from Greycroft and eVentures; shoppers scan grocery receipts using a mobile app to earn points redeemable as gift cards; currently employs 110, expects to double its workforce by the end of next year; raised $52M to date . link

Dyson cancels EV project, saying its engineers developed a fantastic electric car that was not commercially viable; the company worked on the initiative in stealth for 2.5 years before disclosing it in the fall of 2017; Founder James Dyson said in an email to employees that the company had unsuccessfully tried to sell the unit, which employs 523; Dyson will shut down its EV facilities in the UK and Singapore . link

The download for 2019-10-10 →

Analytics platform Clari raises $60M Series D led by Sapphire Ventures, Madrona Venture Group, Sequoia Capital, and others; the company offers customer insight tools to enterprise users; has raised $135M Link link

Germany-based VTOL firm Lilium is in talks to raise $400M to $500M, according to TechCrunch sources; it’s unclear who Lilium is in discussions with, or what valuation it’s seeking; the company is developing low-capacity passenger aircraft; it has raised more than $100M to date . link

The EU issues an advisory report on 5G tech noting a hostile country could use systems developed by third-parties within its borders to launch cyberattacks against other nations; the memo - drafted with input from all 28 EU members - also says it’s unwise for a single firm to provide all aspects of a 5G network; the report does not name any specific countries or companies, but follows concerns about China’s perceived influence over Huawei . link

New York-based shared electric moped startup Revel raises $27.6M Series A led by Ibex Investors with participation from Toyota AI Ventures, Blue Collective, Launch Capital, and Maniv Mobility; the company offers an app that lets users unlock and ride its proprietary mopeds in parts of New York (Queens and Brooklyn), and Washington DC; has raised ~$45M to date . link

India-based Embassy Group, which oversees WeWork India, is in talks to raise $200M; the company is also planning to divest itself of some assets as it seeks to raise an additional ~$560M, which it intends to then invest in its WeWork operations; Embassy had expected to sell WeWork India to The We Company, but says those plans are now on hold . link

Amazon is using human teams based in India and Romania to review select footage from Cloud Cam devices, according to Bloomberg sources; reviewers are looking at clips from customers’ home security cameras so as to help improve the system’s object-detection algorithms; the footage is supplied by users who submit content via Cloud Cam’s trouble-shooting portal; Bloomberg Cloud Cam does not explicitly disclose its review process in its user terms . link

Samsung says it will invest $11B in its display business; the company will put more than $335M into the development of next-gen screens; the firm will also build a new plant in Asan, South Korea to produce Quantum Dot (QD) displays; it expects the factory will be operational by 2021; Samsung says the investment will generate more than 80k jobs . link

Joe Zadeh, VP of Experiences at Airbnb, will step away from the role, according to sources for The Information; he will now transition to a new position overseeing emerging initiatives; Zadeh has run the Experiences unit since it was established in 2016; Experiences lets travelers book tours and activities across more than 1k cities . link

Liberty Latin America ($3.1B market cap) acquires AT&T’s operations in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands for ~$2B; AT&T notes the deal has helped its 2019 monetization efforts reach $11B, surpassing its initial target of $6B to $8B . link

Nat Friedman, CEO of Microsoft-owned GitHub, emails staff to indicate the company will be renewing a ~$200k contract with US government agency ICE, reports Vice; Friedman says he and numerous other employees oppose ICE’s child separation policy, but notes ICE also deals with issues relating to terrorism and more; Friedman also says GitHub has no way of knowing how its tech will be used by the agency . link

The Trump administration is set to let some US firms resume trade with Huawei, according to sources for The New York Times; President Trump has told the Commerce Department to allow transactions relating to non-sensitive goods; more than 130 companies have sought trade approval since August, but no requests have yet been granted . link

Waymo emails customers of its ride-hailing service in Phoenix, AZ, notifying them that they may soon be riding in an autonomous vehicle without a safety driver; Waymo says riders will be informed that a fully driverless car is on its way when booking; customers can still connect with a support agent during their journey if they have any questions or concerns . link

Decentralised messaging platform New Vector raises $8.5M Series A from Notion Capital, Dawn Capital, Firstminute Capital, and others; the firm offers Matrix, an open network for secure messaging services; has raised $13.5M to date . link

Facebook refuses a request from Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to remove a Trump campaign ad that contains demonstrably false info; Facebook says it believes in “in free expression,” and that “political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech”; Biden’s team says Facebook’s decision is allowing the video to “poison the public discourse” . link

A number of gamers are calling for a boycott of Activision Blizzard titles following the company’s censure of professional player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai for voicing public support for the Hong Kong protest movement; includes former Blizzard developer Mark Kern who has canceled a subscription to “World of Warcraft,” which he helped create; some current Blizzard staff have also reportedly walked out of work in solidarity with Blitzchung, calling on the firm to reverse its actions . link

Apple removes HKMap Live from its iOS App Store for a second time, claiming it was used to arrange ambushes against Hong Kong police; the app uses crowdsourced data to show the location of police and protest activity in Hong Kong; Apple initially reinstated the app following complaints of censorship, only to then face criticism from media outlet People’s Daily, which is backed by the Chinese government .Update: Apple has removed news app Quartz from the App Store in China; reasons for the move unclear, but Quartz’s investigations editor John Keefe suggests it could be related to the publications reporting on the Hong Kong protests; the app is still available in other regions including the US . link

An attacker has used Twitch to live-stream a shooting outside a synagogue in in Halle, Germany in which two people were killed; the individual streamed a ~35 minute video of the violence and his attempts to get into the synagogue; he also made anti-Semitic comments during the broadcast; it’s unclear how many saw the initial stream, but Twitch says it’s working to prevent it from being spread .Update: Twitch says about five people watched the initial live-stream, while 2.2k viewed it before it was removed 30 minutes later; Twitch says some users have shared it to messaging services . link

Benlai, a Beijing-based e-commerce platform for produce, raises $200M Series D1 led by Mingde Holdings; Mingde holds a stake in SF Express, China's second-largest courier services company; SF Express will expand Benlai's logistics; raised $349M to date . link

Pasadena-based Thin Line Capital launches seed fund with an initial close of $5M-plus; targets clean-tech investments: startups addressing solar, wind, EVs, more; Founder and Managing Partner Aaron Fyke worked with Wavemaker Partners to establish Thin Line as part of the Wavemaker family of funds . link

Seattle-based Voyager Capital raises $100M or its fifth fund; targets first-round investments in B2B startups in OR, WA, and Western Canada; the fund has closed five investments to date; Voyager's portfolio includes ChargePoint, Stackery, and Lytics; exits include Amplitude, Blue Box, and Captura . link

Lab-grown salmon company Wild Type raises $12.5M Series A led by CRV (George Zachary joins board); the company grows salmon meat from cells; ultimately targets a retail price of $7-$8 per pound; raised $16M to date . link

Miami-based Papa, which pairs college students with senior citizens for companionship, raises $10M Series A led by Canaan Partners (Byron Ling joins board); plans to expand its presence to 25 states next year, and to expand partnerships with insurance companies and employee benefit plans; raised $10.2M to date . link

Honda's Tokyo-based R&D division acquires Redwood City-based app developer Drivemode; terms undisclosed; Drivemode creates apps for drivers to provide voice-to-text for messaging, music controls that overlay navigation, more; previously raised $9M . link

Virgin Orbit partners with Polish satellite manufacturer SatRevolution and numerous Polish universities to design up to three robotic missions to Mars over the next 10 years; to date, only government-led organizations have made the journey; Virgin Orbit primarily focuses on delivering small satellites into low Earth orbit, but plans to use its LauncherOne rocket to send satellites to Mars . link

Munich-based parcelLab, which enables e-commerce companies to offer shipment tracking and post-checkout communications. raises undisclosed Series B led by Capnamic Ventures; clients include Nespresso and Ikea . link

Microsoft launches its first Canadian Reactor in Toronto's MaRS Discovery District; Reactors serve as community hubs for startups and tech professionals; each provides workshops, networking events, more; Microsoft now operates seven Reactors: Toronto, New York City, San Francisco, Redmond, London, Tel Aviv, and Sydney . link

The App Store delists Social Club, an Instagram-like network for marijuana enthusiasts; Social Club's anti-censorship policies enabled a flood of illegal and harmful content, including drug sales, hate speech, and illegal pornography; Co-Founder Gilbert Milam, a rapper known as Berner, referred to the flood as an attack and said the company was resolving the issue; the app remains available for Android . link

Andreessen Horowitz hires Julie Yoo as a General Partner; she previously served as a young global leader at the World Economic Forum; she co-founded Kyruus, which offers healthcare provider matching solutions for enterprises; she is the firm's fourth female GP . link

This Week in Startups: #AskJason!Jason answers listeners' questions about recognizing great founders, dealing with a lack of updates as an investor, crowdfunding, how angel investing has changed, slow-to-adapt markets, more .Click here to listen to the full episode link

Online learning platform World Mastery raises ~$3.3M Series A led by Nauta Capital; serves non-academic content targeting athletes and artists; provides ~25 hours of content per course; offers progress tracking, etc; instructors include well-known coaches, a celebrity hairstylist, more . link

Berlin-based IoT platform EMnify raises ~$8.8M Series A; offers a pay-as-you-go global private network with visibility and control over connected devices; provides an API for custom management solutions; serves 1k clients across multiple industries; raised ~$22M to date . link

Seattle-area ProbablyMonsters, a company that builds and supports game studios, raises $18.8M Series A led by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones; also unveiled its first two AAA studios, Cauldron Studios and Firewalk Studios, representing 70 total employees; ProbablyMonsters Founder and CEO Harold Ryan worked at Bungie for 16 years, serving as president, CEO, and board chairman . link

Dublin-based Sweepr, which provides tech support solutions for smart homes, raises $9M Series A led by Draper Esprit; uses machine learning to analyze networks, interpret device diagnostic data, and recognize problems; a voice-controlled mobile app surfaces simple instructions with images and videos to help the user resolve issues; raised ~$12M to date . link

The download for 2019-10-09 →

Non-profit Fight For the Future publishes an open letter calling for Amazon-owned Ring to end deals with more than 500 police forces across the US; the letter claims the partnerships allow for a “privately owned, nationwide surveillance dragnet”; it is aimed at local, state, and federal officials, and signed by over 30 civil rights groups including Color of Change and the Center for Human Rights and Privacy; Ring says its products are designed to let users protect their privacy . link

“Call of Duty: Mobile” has been downloaded 100M times in its first week of release, according to Sensor Tower; compares with the first week success of popular titles “PlayerUnknown’s Battleground” which managed 26.3M downloads, and “Fortnite” at 22.5M; “Call of Duty: Mobile” is developed by Tencent and published by Activision Blizzard . link

Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) write to the CEOs of Visa, Mastercard, and Stripe, calling on them to end their support for the Libra cryptocurrency; Schatz and Brown claim Facebook has not provided satisfactory answers to regulatory questions, including how the Libra Association will tackle monetary policy, money laundering issues, and terrorism funding; they also indicate Libra Association members may face closer scrutiny . link

Activision Blizzard suspends professional “Hearthstone” player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai for voicing public support for Hong Kong protestors; Blitzchung made the proclamation during a live-stream of the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters event; Blizzard says Blitzchung broke competition rules; the company is withholding prize money and instituting a 12 month ban .Update: Epic, maker of “Fortnite,” says it will not ban content creators or players for making political statements; speaking with The Verge, Epic says it supports individuals rights speak about politics and human rights . link

Simon Morris has stepped down as head of product for the Libra Association, reports The Telegraph; Morris left the role in August; the reason for his departure is unclear; Morris previously served as an exec at BitTorrent, where he oversaw efforts to create a digital currency; Facebook is currently sponsoring Geneva-based Libra Association and also overseeing its staffing . link

Alibaba says it will end the sale of e-cigarette components in the US; the move follows an earlier company policy that prevents US distribution of complete e-cigarette products; follows a similar move by Amazon, Walmart, Kroger, and others . link

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple will partner with third-party brands to launch AR headsets in Q2 2020; Kuo also says Apple will launch new iPad Pro models and an updated iPhone SE in Q1 . link

PayPal will write down $228M worth of investments in its Q3 earnings; PayPal says a $500M investment in Uber has declined 34 percent since the company went public, and a stake in payments firm MercadoLibre has declined 10 percent; PayPal is set to publish its earnings on Oct 23 . link

Chinese newspaper People’s Daily criticizes Apple for allowing an iOS app reportedly used in the organization of Hong Kong protests; Apple initially removed HKMap Live from its App Store, but reinstated it following backlash; People’s Daily, which is backed by the Chinese government, claims Apple is “protecting rioters,” and questions whether the company has fully considered the move . link

Sony confirms the name of its next console will be PlayStation 5, and that it will launch in time for holidays 2020; Sony execs say PlayStation 5 will make use of on-device ray-tracing tech, allowing for more natural lighting effects within games; titles will be available via 100GB optical disks, and the console will also serve as a 4K Blu-ray player . link

MIT says it’s reviewing its relationship with China-based facial recognition firm SenseTime after the company was added to a US trade ban list; the Commerce Department rules mean US-based organizations must apply for a license to work with companies placed on the Restricted Entities list; SenseTime says it hopes to resolve the issue .Update: Goldman Sachs says it’s reviewing its role in helping Chinese tech firm Megvii go public after the company was added to the Restricted Entities list; Megvii had planned to raise as much as $1B via the Hong Kong Stock Exchange; Goldman Sachs is set to underwrite the listing, alongside Citigroup, and JP Morgan . link

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) announces a clinic to treat people aged 13 to 25 whose quality of life is being severely impacted by time spent playing video games; health professionals in England can refer individuals to the service, with treatment being offered in-person or via Skype; the World Health Organization has previously recognized “gaming disorder” as a health condition . link

Facebook’s enterprise platform Workplace now has 3M paid users, up 1M in the past eight months; comes as Workplace adds Portal support for face-to-face calls, automatic video captioning, and more . link

The We Company will soon cut ~500 of its 1.5k software engineers, according to a source for The Information; ~350 will come from the firm’s corporate unit, and ~150 from the divestment of subsidiaries such as Teem and SpaceIQ; The We Company is expected to also cut an additional 1.5k to 2k workers across its business . link

Google launches stream transfer, a feature for moving video and audio playback between compatible devices; using Google Assistant, Home, or Nest apps, users can shift playing content such as YouTube videos or Spotify tracks across Chromecast, Home, and other compatible devices . link

Delivery firm Postmates has told investors it plans to delay its IPO, according to Recode sources; the company is citing market conditions; CEO Bastian Lehmann says Postmates will go public when it finds the right time, noting the market is currently “a little choppy”; Postmates was expected to list this year, but it may now wait until 2020 . link

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ruled the FBI violated the Fourth Amendment and government policy by making tens of thousands of data search requests relating to US citizens; the database is primarily meant for the NSA, and searches are supposed to center on foreign individuals only; between 2017 and 2018, some FBI agents deliberately targeted US citizens by looking up emails, phone numbers, and more . link

Andy Rubin, Essential founder and CEO, tweets video and images of a new smartphone with a thin design; Essential followed up with its own shots, referring to the device as Project Gem; the smartphone comes in several colors and features a card-like UI; Essential says the product is now in testing, but it’s unclear when it will launch . link

Twitter says it unintentionally used phone numbers and email addresses provided for two-factor verification for ad-targeting purposes; the firm notes it's unsure how many users were impacted; it says it's taking steps to prevent the problem from recurring . link

Volusion, which offers customizable e-commerce shops, suffers breach in which attackers placed malicious code within a JavaScript file that serves at least 6.5k stores; the code collects payment information from customers; Sesame Street Live shut down due to the hack; the culprits gained access to Volusion's Google Cloud infrastructure . link

Customer engagement and payments company Everyware raises undisclosed Series A led by TTV Capital with participation from from Kinetic Ventures, Capital Factory, others; the Austin-based startup provides APIs to simplify integration of pay-by-text, appointment setting, more . link

Razberi Technologies raises $5.8M Series B led by LiveOak Venture Partners; offers IoT products, video surveillance, health monitoring software, and automated cybersecurity solutions; raised $9.3M to date . link

Marijuana companies MedMen ($750M market cap) and PharmaCann cancel $682M all-stock merger due to regulatory challenges; to settle a debt, PharmaCann will transfer to MedMen ownership of a grow facility, a retail location, and a license to open another retail shop in IL . link

Zero-fee stock trades company Robinhood announces Cash Management, enabling users to earn 2.05 APY on uninvested funds, accessible with a Mastercard debit; the company previously tried to launch a checking account earning 3-percent annual interest, but the insurer backed out; US users can now join the waitlist for Cash Management . link

Network visibility and management platform Forward Networks raises $35M Series C led by Goldman Sachs with participation from A16Z and others; creates an auto-updating software copy of a client's entire network infrastructure (cloud and on-premises); creates a map with hard and software inventory, more; raised $62M to date . link

Chicago-based fertility services company Nubundle acquires IP from the University of Michigan, including exclusive license for OnTrack, which provides fertility clinics with online tools for patients undergoing in-vitro fertilization; in addition to serving clinics, Nubundle helps employers establish fertility services for employees; raised $1.5M to date . link

Escalate Capital Partners announces first close of its fourth fund at $282M, with a cap of $290M; the Austin-based firm focuses on mezzanine loans to venture and growth capital-backed companies, but the fund will make some equity investments of $1M-$2M in portfolio companies to fuel growth . link

Jennifer Robertson, widow of QuadrigaCX CEO Gerald Cotten, to forfeit $12M in personal assets to Ernst & Young, the agency tasked with recovering customer funds that Cotten allegedly used to purchase personal luxuries including a jet and a yacht; Robertson denied knowledge of Cotten's theft from users of the crypto exchange . link

Medal, a PC platform for recording and sharing video game clips, acquires Megacool, which offers the same functions for mobile users; terms undisclosed; Megacool will continue to develop its SDK under Medal, and will expand partnerships with social networks; Medal has raised $12.5M to date; Megacool previously raised $1.5M . link

Norwegian e-paper tablet company reMarkable raises $15M Series A from Spark Capital; the company's Linux-powered 10.3-inch display supports stylus notations and new document creation; features low latency to simulate writing on paper; raised $25M to date . link

French customer feedback platform Critizr raises ~$16.4M Series B led by 83North Venture Capital; enables businesses to collect feedback through a variety of channels; automatically routes to relevant departments . link

Sales and engagement solutions company Tenfold raises $7.5M Series C led by Next Coast Ventures; platform integrates call center systems with CRM and sales software, data from various sources, more; raised $38M to date . link

Utopos Games, a new studio developing a title that introduces players to machine learning, raises $1M led by ByFounders; the game, link

New York City-based RapidSOS, which enables 911 centers to collect critical data from mobile phones and other sources, raises $25M Series B (extension) led by Energy Impact Partners; brings the round total to $55M; operates a cloud infrastructure that stores data from wearables, building sensors, medical records, more; offers APIs; raised ~$91M to date . link

Austin-based AI company SparkCognition raises $100M Series C led by March Capital Partners; PitchBook indicates a $770M valuation; develops solutions for predictive maintenance, improving manufacturing efficiency, more; serves clients in defense, oil and gas, and other industries; last year spun out SkyGrid in partnership with Boeing to develop a platform for autonomous aircraft; raised $175M to date . link

The download for 2019-10-08 →

CMS platform Contentstack raises $31.5M Series A led by Insight Partners with participation from Illuminate Ventures and GingerBread Capital; the firm offers content management tools to enterprise customers . link

Joe Purzycki has stepped down as chief strategy officer at premium podcasts service Luminary, reports The Verge; reasons for his departure unclear, but Luminary notes Purzycki, who also co-founded the firm, still own shares; Jeff Saunders, a former exec at Jet, has taken over Purzycki’s responsibilities in a CPO role . link

Adobe says it will deactivate all accounts based in Venezuela after Oct 28; the move will bring Adobe into compliance with US sanctions against the country; impacts free and paid users; premium customers are not eligible for refunds . link

Japan-based digital media group Nikkei acquires a 14.8 percent stake in Singaporean AI startup DC Frontiers (DCF); terms undisclosed; DCF provides tools for illustrating links between firms; Nikkei says it will use DCF’s offerings to improve corporate data platform scoutAsia, which it jointly owns with the Financial Times . link

Microsoft announces an expansion of its rural broadband program to parts of Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa; Airband, which initially launched in the US in 2017, utilizes unused spectrum to provide broadband-grade internet access to remote areas; Microsoft says it aims to help get an additional 40M people online by 2022 . link

Instagram is shutting down its Following tab, a section of the app that let users see the activity of others across the platform; Instagram says it’s removing the feature because of low usage . link

EU financial services commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis announces new proposals for regulating Libra and other cryptocurrencies; exact plans currently unclear; follows moves by Dombrovskis’ office to gain more info from Facebook about the Libra Association and the stablecoin it’s set to oversee . link

Rob Wyatt, architect of the upcoming Atari console VCS, says he has left the project because his design consultancy business Tin Giant has not received any pay over the last six months; The Register suggests the future of the console could be in doubt, noting Atari must now rely on partner SurfaceInk to complete the hardware; Atari has not commented on the situation . link

Germany-based cannabis startup Demecan raises €7M (~$7.7M) Series A led by btov Partners; the company manufactures cannabis products for the medical industry; Demecan is the only German firm allowed to cultivate cannabis for health purposes . link

Samsung vice chairman Jay Y Lee intends to give up his board seat at the end of this month, according to a Bloomberg source; Lee will retain his vice chair role and continue to oversee the firm, but the board will maintain a central role in managing the company; Lee was jailed in 2017 on corruption charges; he was released the following year pending a new trial . link

Hulu adds a downloads feature for iOS; available to subscribers of its ad-free plan the service lets users save some of its catalog for offline viewing; customers can save up to 25 titles across five devices for a maximum of 30 days; content expires 48 hours after playback has started; it’s unclear whether offline mode will be made available for other subscription tiers . link

The We Company is in talks with SoftBank for a $1B investment, which it hopes will unlock a $3B credit facility from JP Morgan, according to Reuters sources; it’s uncertain if a deal will be secured as SoftBank wants to renegotiate an earlier $1.5B investment before it commits to any new funding; SoftBank and its Vision Fund already control ~29 percent of the firm having invested $10.6B to date . link

Samsung ($271B market cap) forecasts Q3 revenue of $51.8B, down 5.3 percent year-on-year; anticipates profits of $6.4B, down 56 percent year-on-year (analysts have predicted $5.9B); Samsung is set to announce full earnings later this month . link

Stock-trading app Robinhood names former SEC commissioner Dan Gallagher to its board, reports Bloomberg; Gallagher worked at the SEC between 2011 and 2015; he is now a partner at Washington DC-based law firm WilmerHale . link

Instagram rolls out an update for iOS, adding a dark mode; swaps out white spaces and replaces black text with white; the feature activates when iOS 13 users turn on dark mode within the main system settings . link

Houston-based healthtech firm BrainCheck raises $8M Series A led by S3 Ventures and Tensility Venture Partners; the startup provides cognitive assessment tools to healthcare professionals; has raised $14.7M to date . link

The US Commerce Department adds eight tech firms to a restricted entities list; includes Megvii and SenseTime, both of which provide facial recognition software; the companies are implicated in the systemic repression and detention of minority groups in parts of China including Uighurs and Kazakhs; US firms wishing to trade with those wishing on the entities list must get special permission .Update: Bloomberg suggests Megvii may further delay its planned Hong Kong IPO because of US sanctions; Megvii already postponed its listing because of political unrest in Hong Kong; the report notes the company had intended to raise as much as $1B via the public listing . link

Group Nine acquires fellow digital media firm PopSugar; terms undisclosed, but The Wall Street Journal puts the deal at more than $300M; PopSugar operates a lifestyle website aimed at women; it has raised more than $90M to date . link

Walmart-owned clothing firm Bonobos lays off dozens of staff; it has not disclosed how many jobs have been cut, or from which parts of the business; Bonobos started as an online retailer in 2007 before expanding into brick-and-mortar stores; it was acquired by Walmart in 2017 for $310M; follows the sale of Walmart’s ModCloth division . link

Oracle ($180B market cap) acquires customer loyalty and engagement company CrowdTwist; terms undisclosed; the cloud solution enables clients to operate points and rewards programs, track check-ins, offer discounts, more; the team will join Oracle's Customer Experience Cloud; CrowdTwist previously raised $16M . link

The US blacklists eight Chinese tech companies, citing ties to human rights violations against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang; the status prohibits US companies from doing business with members of the group, which includes two video surveillance companies . link

The UK’s Department for International Trade selects 12 Canadian fintech startups to participate in a trade mission in the UK this month; British Airways, Bank of Montreal, and Scottish Development International are supporting the week-long program, which will introduce founders and teams to investors, financial service leaders, more . link

Blockchain management and monitoring tools company BlocWatch raises $5.5M seed from Mistral Venture Partners, Impact Capital, and others; supports public and private blockchains, offering analytics and insights . link

Group of state attorneys general meets in Washington with officials from the Department of Justice and the FTC to discuss respective investigations into Facebook regarding data practices and potential anticompetitive behavior . link

Apple launches macOS Catalina; replaces iTunes with dedicated apps for Music, Podcasts, and TV; Finder now handles iOS device management; the update enables Watch authentication for security prompts; includes new Find My and Screen Time apps, more . link

Mobile gaming company Tenacious Entertainment raises $3.3M; CEO Roy Cronacher previously worked as a link

NuCypher (YC S16), which provides privacy-focused infrastructure for the decentralized web, raises $10.7M led by Polychain Capital, with participation from Continuity Fund, DHVC, others; offers proxy re-encryption with file access control; applications include secrets management and secure computation . link

Waymo to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in Los Angeles; plans to use three Chrysler Pacifica minivans, with safety drivers present, to map parts of downtown and Miracle Mile; currently has no plans to launch a passenger service in the city . link

London-based fintech company and bank Tide raises $44M Series B led by SoftBank spinoff Strategic Business Innovator Group; the challenger bank targets SMBs; offers team credit cards with automated expense categorization, more; integrates with Xero and other accounting products . link

KidPass, a marketplace for children's activities, acquires Mommy Nearest, a digital publisher targeting young parents; terms undisclosed; the entire Mommy Nearest team has joined KidPass, and CEO Joshua Milstein has joined the KidPass board; KidPass has raised $6.3M to date; Mommy Nearest previously raised $4.4M . link

BMO Financial Group donates $5M to the University of Toronto to establish the BMO Lab for Creative Research in the Arts, Performance, Emerging Technologies, and AI under the university's Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies; the lab will connect students and researchers from various disciplines for collaborative exploration of AI's potential role in creative expression . link

UK-based IoT company ProxiSmart raises $400k from North East Venture Fund; operates ParkingPerx, a beacon-powered business that rewards shoppers with discounted and free parking; ParkingPerx has partnerships with 150 shop brands and cashless parking solutions company RingGo . link

App and service integration platform Celigo raises $20M Series B led by NewSpring Capital; operates a marketplace featuring templates and apps for common integration workflows; 1k-plus companies use the Salesforce-NetSuite integration app; clients include Twilio, Docker, and Foursquare; raised $32M to date . link

Apple is in early talks with record labels about bundling Apple Music and the coming Apple TV+ under a single monthly subscription, Financial Times reports; some labels reportedly expressed concern about potentially reduced licensing revenue; record companies have complained that Apple pushed them into offering $0.99 single-song downloads in the early 2000s . link

Toronto-based impact investment firm MaRS Catalyst rebrands as Amplify Capital, launches second seed-stage fund with a close target of ~$23M; the original fund, which closed at ~$4.4M in 2016, formed within the MaRS Discovery District innovation hub; Amplify is spinning out as a separate operation; will focus on health, clean-tech, and education . link

The download for 2019-10-07 →

Amazon announces a refreshed Fire HD 10, starting at $150; features USB-C, 2GB RAM, expandable storage (up to 512GB), promises 12 hours battery; Fire HD 10 Kids Edition ($200) includes case, a year of FreeTime Unlimited, and two-year warranty; available now for pre-order, ships Oct 30 . link

Amazon launches $110 Kindle Kids Edition; comes with a case, one year of FreeTime Unlimited, and two-year breakages and faults warranty; available Oct 30 . link

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son says he is “embarrassed and flustered” by the track record of some of the company’s investments; speaking with Nikkei Business magazine, Son says the growth rate for SoftBank’s US and Chinese portfolio is “not good enough” . link

Insurtech firm Next Insurance raises $250M Series C on a $1B post-money valuation from Munich Re; the company operates an online Insurance brokerage for SMEs; has raised $381M to date . link

Video streaming service Tubi is in talks to raise $150M, according to sources for The Information; the free-to-watch service offers ad-supported shows and movies; Tubi has previously raised $35M from MGM, Lions Gate Entertainment, and others; it has also secured a $25M credit line from Silicon Valley Bank . link

The We Company omitted key info from its S-1 filing (since retracted), reports The Wall Street Journal; the firm misstated the amount of working desks it had set up in the first half of 2019, and just how much that process cost; it also omitted details relating to governance, including a disclosure that former CEO Adam Neumann was also on its compensation committee; The We Company pulled its IPO last month . link

Dialog Semiconductor ($3.1B market cap) acquires fellow chipmaker Creative Chip (CC); terms undisclosed; Germany-based CC produces tech for commercial IoT devices; Dialog says CC is expected to generate ~$20M revenue this year . link

Satya Nadella says Microsoft ending R&D in China would cause more problems than it solves; the comments come in a BBC interview where Nadella says the firm is aware “any technology can be a tool or a weapon”; he also says Microsoft has turned down requests in China and elsewhere to work on projects it deemed inappropriate . link

Austria-based sensor firm AMS fails in its bid to acquire German lighting firm Osram; AMS had offered ~$4.4B for the company but it did not secure the backing of enough Osram stakeholders; AMS tendered 51.6 percent of shares, below the 62.5 percent necessary; AMS now owns ~20 percent of Osram and notes it plans to still pursue a majority stake . link

Sonos is testing a subscription service that lets customers rent its devices on a monthly basis; currently available to some users in the Netherlands, Sonos Flex starts at €15 (~$16.50) a month for two Sonos One speakers, and tops out at €50 (~$55) for two Sonos Ones, a Playbar, and Subwoofer; units will be automatically replaced if and when a newer product becomes available; unknown if or when Sonos Flex will roll out wider . link

Homeland Security cybersecurity expert Jeanette Manfra says the US may not be able to prevent another WannaCry-style global attack; Manfra, an assistant director at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) notes the original WannaCry perpetrators likely didn’t expect the ransomware to spread as it did . link

Instagram is set to launch a group Stories tool, reports app researcher Jane Manchun Wong; will let users share newly created Stories directly to those in a messaging group; Facebook recently shut down its own Stories in Groups feature . link

Germany-based dockless scooter firm Tier Mobility raises $60M Series B led by Mubadala Capital and Goodwater Capital; the startup operates across 40 cities in 12 countries including Germany, Sweden, and France; has raised $95M to date . link

LCD manufacturer Japan Display hopes to secure a revised funding deal of ~$470M by the end of October; the firm was previously negotiating a ~$740M package from a consortium of backers, but majority investor Harvest Group pulled out; Japan Display CEO Minoru Kikuoka says demand for LCD screens has increased due to the popularity of more affordable smartphones . link

London-based VC firm 83North closes its fifth fund at $300M; targets startups across Europe and Israel with a focus on consumer and enterprise businesses; the company says the fund was oversubscribed; previous investments include food delivery company Just Eat and payments service iZettle . link

The Iranian government plans to take legal action against the US following a series of alleged cyber attacks, according to local media; it's unclear exactly what instances Iran is referring to, or what form its legal response will take . link

Ritesh Agarwal, CEO of India-based hotel platform Oyo, says he will personally invest $700M in the company’s planned $1.5B Series F; previous investors SoftBank, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Sequoia India will also participate; Oyo is seeking a $10B post-money valuation; Oyo has previously raised $1.7B . link

Walmart is seeking investors for its Jetblack personal shopping service, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; Walmart has been looking to spin off the unit since the summer and has held talks with several firms including Microsoft and UPS; negotiations are reportedly ongoing . link

Microsoft files a patent for a VR mat; the filing describes a floor covering that features vibrating elements and distributed pressure sensors for a more immersive experience; it’s unknown whether the tech will be included in a future product . link

Google may add a raise-to-launch feature for Google Assistant on Pixel 4, reports 9to5Google; the function means users will not have to say the “Hey Google” launch phrase to activate Assistant; It's unclear whether it will be available at launch . link

Investment firm Go Global Retail acquires online fashion brand ModCloth from Walmart; terms undisclosed; ModCloth will continue to operate as a standalone brand; Walmart-owned Jet purchased ModCloth in 2017 . link

The download for 2019-10-06 →

ONEVC, a seed firm targeting US and Latin American startups, closes its first fund at $38M; the firm capped the fund at $30M but raised an additional $8M for later-stage opportunities, including Rappi and Loggi; ONEVC has backed 15 companies to date . link

Portland-based Planetary, a pre-launch decentralized social network focused on privacy and safety, raises $1.1M pre-seed led by Bloomberg Beta; the company hasn't revealed details about its service, but indicates a reward system for those who publish content; plans to raise seed funding this fall . link

Cybersecurity company RiskIQ has detected ~2M active instances of payment info-scraping JavaScript binaries attributable to a hacking and theft strategy known as Magecart; the tactic has breached ~18 web hosts, injecting malicious code into checkout systems . link

Eaigle, a Toronto company offering software for swimming pool management, secures ~$53k from the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program; provides real-time video monitoring, analytics regarding water temperature and quality, more . link

Cloud service management company Martello Technologies raises ~$3.4M via overnight offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange; the company's solutions detect and resolve network issues to prevent performance problems; initially went public in April 2018 via a reverse takeover, then completed a private placement in June of that year . link

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP) partners with BCG Digital Ventures to launch the Koru incubator, which will help tech teams create businesses and help existing OTPP portfolio companies develop and commercialize new ideas; Koru is hiring six people to establish a Toronto office and build out departmental teams . link

Belgium-based workspace management platform ZapfloorHQ raises ~$1M seed from LeanSquare; the software supports flexible and co-working spaces, offering white-label solutions for meeting room management, tenant communications, maintenance requests, more . link

London's Notion VC launches its fourth flagship fund following initial close, expects total to reach $150M; targets European enterprise tech companies, specifically in the SaaS and B2B cloud spaces; portfolio includes Workable, Unbabel, and Tradeshift; exits include Adbrain, Trustev, and Shutl . link

BC-based ag-tech company Terramera and Alberta-based waste management company Livestock Water Recycling win a combined $1.25M at the Nutrien-Radicle Challenge; Terramera won the growth-stage category, taking home $1M; Livestock Water Recycling won the early-stage category, earning $250k . link

Berlin-based Auticon hires people on the autism spectrum, specifically those with unusual strengths in pattern recognition, error detection, systematic workflows, logical analysis, etc; Auticon offers other companies services in Q&A, analytics, software development and migration, more; Dirk Müller-Remus, whose son is on the spectrum, founded the company in 2011 . link

Iain Klugman, CEO of Ontario-based innovation center Communitech, announces he will step down on Jan 31, 2021; he joined in 2004; his sixth term as CEO will be his last; Communitech has provided facilities, programming, advocacy, and more to ~1.4k companies since its 1997 founding . link

London-based Xcademy, a pre-launch learning platform for online influencers, raises ~$540k seed for a ~$5.5M post-valuation from Smaller Company Capital; slated to launch by November, the platform aims to give students confidence and practice in creating online content; will offer additional mentorship opportunities to top students . link

Simon Fraser University secures ~$13M from the BC government to establish the Quantum Algorithms Institute at the school's Surrey campus; the government will disburse the funds over five years; the institute will collaborate with other academic research teams in BC to develop quantum software and algorithms . link

This Week in StartupsVice Ventures Founding Partner Catharine Dockery speaks with Jason about hacking her way into VC with cold emails and a strong investment thesis, targeting startups dedicated to link

Toronto-based AudienceView, which provides ticketing and e-commerce solutions for live events, acquires NY-based UniversityTickets, a ticketing and events platform targeting school events; terms undisclosed; the deal expands AudienceView's business to include 900 educational institutions and 20M more tickets processed per year . link

Blockchain infrastructure and crypto-mining company Hut 8 announces Oct 8 debut on the Toronto Stock Exchange; will be the first crypto company on the exchange; the listing is facilitated by the TSX Sandbox, a program for companies that have high growth potential but don't meet traditional listing criteria . link

University of Chicago spinout BiomeSense raises $2M seed led by BioX Clan; produces sensors for detecting fecal bacteria to improve clinical trial efficacy; a toilet accessory enables patients to passively collect samples at home and automatically send data to researchers . link

BC-based HeyBryan, a marketplace for home repair and maintenance services, debuts on the Canadian Securities Exchange; founded in 2017, launched in Toronto and Vancouver last year; the company vets providers, processes payments, etc . link

Peer-to-peer product rentals marketplace Omni is conducting layoffs, according to TechCrunch sources; Coinbase reportedly is in talks to acqui-hire Omni's engineering team to work on Coinbase Earn; Omni launched as an on-demand storage solution before pivoting to product rentals; it had planned a white-label rental platform for brick-and-mortar merchants . link

The FDA warns consumers against using THC vaping products, and any kind of black market vaping product; of the ~1k lung injuries identified by the CDC as vape related, ~78 percent involved THC vaping devices; health officials believe an oil-based vape juice additive could be responsible for injuries resulting in 18 deaths . link

The FBI is investigating an apparent attempt to breach Voatz, a mobile voting app used for the 2018 midterm elections; WV Secretary of State Mac Warner reported the perceived intrusion attempt to a US attorney in the state last year; CNN sources say the subject(s) of the investigation probed the app as part of an election security course at the University of Michigan, and did not attempt to manipulate votes . link