The Daily Download - latest tech news for 2021-04-30, fan podcast based on @launchticker

The download for 2021-04-30 →


Roku removes YouTube TV from its app store; the companies have been unable to agree new licensing terms; Roku says the app will still remain available for existing users . link

Intel is reportedly seeking €8B (~$9.7B) in subsidies for a semiconductor plant in Europe; comes as Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger visits the bloc; Gelsinger has met with German officials and business leaders about the possibility of establishing a facility in the country . link

MN-based fintech firm Sezzle announces plans for a secondary listing in the US; Sezzle, which offers a buy-now-pay-later service, currently trades on the Australian stock exchange ASX; the company notes it’s yet to decide the timing or a price for its IPO . link

Compass Group acquires CA-based food services firm EAT Club; terms undisclosed; EAT Club, which offers meal delivery services to enterprise customers, has raised $46.5M to date . link

Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin teases the availability of seat aboard its New Shepard spacecraft; the company has posted a video to Twitter, noting it will reveal more details on May 5 . link

The European Commission (EC) will today announce antitrust charges against Apple, according to a Reuters source; the EC will declare Apple’s refusal to let iOS developers inform users of alternative purchasing options is anti-competitive .Update: The EC accuses Apple of violating Europe’s anti-monopoly laws; the regulatory body says a preliminary probe has found Apple “distorted competition in the streaming market” by not allowing third-party firms to offer non-App Store payment methods; the EC opened its investigation into Apple’s licensing terms after Spotify filed a complaint in 2019 .Update: EC competition head Margrethe Vestager says Apple “deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices”; Apple will be given the chance to defend itself before an EC panel; if the company is found guilty it could be fined up to 10 percent of its annual revenues . link

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek predicts all major platforms will introduce a live audio feature; speaking with investors, Ek compares the trend to the Stories format, which originated at Snapchat but has subsequently been adopted by Instagram, LinkedIn, Spotify, and others; Ek posits musicians could use live audio to engage with fans, host listening parties, and more .Ek reveals sports-centric social audio service Locker Room will eventually relaunch as Spotify Greenroom; speaking on Spotify’s “For the Record” podcast, Ek notes Greenroom will also expand its focus; Spotify acquired Locker Room-owner Betty Labs in March . link

Microsoft says it will reduce its commissions for third-party games purchase via its online PC app store; Microsoft currently takes a 30 percent cut of all sales, but the fee will drop to 12 percent in August . link

VC firm Eclipse Ventures closes its fourth fund at $500M; targets startups focused on solutions for the industrial sector; portfolio includes robotic systems company Bright Machines and data flow business Metrolink . link

The original photo from the “disaster girl” meme sells for ~$500K as an NFT; the image of four-year-old Zoe Roth was captured by her father in 2005 and has been repurposed countless times; the Roth family will continue to receive 10 percent royalties for each subsequent sale of the NFT . link

The New York Police Department says it will stop using the dog-like Spot robot from Boston Dynamics; the department has canceled its $94k contract with the company and will return the unit; the department faced public backlash after deploying Spot in a home invasion response and later in a public housing building . link

This Week in Startups:Scaling Your Startup S2 E3 | SalesJason speaks with GRIN Co-Founder and CEO Brandon Brown and LeadIQ Co-Founder and CEO Mei Siauw about when to build an inside sales team, the sales playbook and testing, investing in and scaling an outbound sales team, the efficacy of remote sales teams, more . link

US consumers spent $14.92B on video gaming in the first quarter, up 30 percent year-over-year, according to NPD; US spending in the category was up 27 percent last year, driven in part by pandemic lockdowns; Sony and Microsoft launched new consoles at the end of 2020, and hardware represented 82 percent of category spending in the first quarter of this year . link

The SEC is investigating Volkswagen over an April Fool's Day press release indicating the company would rebrand its US operations as link

Amazon ($175T market cap) FQ1 beats: $108.52B revenue, up 44 percent year-over-year ($104.47B expected); $16.09 EPS ($9.54 expected); marks the company's second-strongest quarter ever in terms of revenue, behind the $125.6B generated in the fourth quarter of last year; Amazon said it would hold this year's Prime Day sale in June, rather than July .AWS generated $13.5B in revenue, up 32 percent year-over-year . link

Electrify America plans to expand its EV charging network to four more states (HI, SD, WY, and VT) by early next year, bringing the total to 47 states, plus DC; this year, the firm plans to expand its footprint in MN, MT, NH, and WA; Electrify America expects to have 800 stations representing ~3.5k chargers operational or near launch by the end of 2021 . link

New York City-based Rho, a digital banking platform for startups, raises $100M in debt from Community Investment Management; the platform, which now features an accounts payable feature, is structured for distributed teams and high-growth firms . link

Global smartphone shipments rose 27 percent year-over-year in the first quarter to 347M units, according to Canalys; Samsung led with 76.5M devices, followed by Apple (52.4M) and Xiaomi (49M); Canalys noted that LG's exit from the smartphone business would present an opportunity in the Americas for Motorola, ZTE, and other OEMs, particularly for budget phones . link

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh argues many US gig workers should be classified as employees; he said the Department of Labor would reach out to gig economy companies in coming months to ensure workers have access to consistent pay, health care, more; the International Labor Organization previously projected that gig workers would represent 43 percent of the US workforce by 2020 . link

The FAA authorizes SpaceX's next three Starship test flights; the agency previously approved such launches one at a time, but said SpaceX planned few changes between missions and had conformed to the FAA's standards for calculating risks; the FAA is investigating SpaceX's last Starship flight, which resulted in a rocket exploding after launch . link

PortalOne, which is testing an app that lets users play on-demand games and watch live shows featuring gameplay, raises $15M seed from Atari, Founders Fund, others; the company built a tech stack for creating games, recording shows, and integrating the two experiences in VR . link

IBM ($128.4B market cap) acquires Boston-based Turbonomic, which provides AI-powered resource management tools for enterprises; terms undisclosed, but a TechCrunch source confirmed a Reuters report that the deal was worth $1.5B to $2B; previously raised $150M . link

Facebook commits $5M to local journalists to support its new publishing and newsletter features; the company has begun the program application process and will favor journalists who address minority communities that lack adequate news sources; Facebook will provide access to experts and various resources to help selected journalists build news businesses . link

The download for 2021-06-16 →


Business banking startup Novo, which serves SMBs, entrepreneurs, and freelancers, raises $40.7M Series A led by Valar Ventures; the firm, founded in New York City in 2016 and now operating out of Miami, claims 100k SMB customers and $1B in lifetime transactions; Novo offers integrations with numerous finance and communication tools, and plans to launch lending products . link

Apple has considered operating clinics with Apple-employed doctors, according to internal documents and sources for The Wall Street Journal; the company reportedly tested the concept by building a team of clinicians, engineers, and others, and taking over clinics serving its employees; this and other healthcare efforts reportedly have struggled to gain momentum . link

Oracle ($235B market cap) FQ4 beats: $11.23B revenue, up eight percent year-over-year ($11.04B expected) $1.54 EPS (adjusted, $1.31 expected); $7.39B cloud services and license support revenue, up eight percent; $2.14B cloud license and on-premises license revenue, up nine percent; $882M hardware revenue, down two percent; the company's first-quarter guidance missed analyst expectations, causing shares to fall ~five percent . link

Andreessen Horowitz launches Future: a new media property featuring content by staffers, industry operators, and paid contributors; will initially focus on the spaces the firm targets for investments, but will expand into other areas; a16z plans to transfer the site from a subdomain to a dedicated URL, and might expand into video content . link

Gloat, which provides an internal job board, raises $57M Series C at a reported ~$400M valuation led by Accel; the platform uses AI to match employees to open positions and enables management to assess and optimize skill distribution; customers include MetLife, Nestle, and PepsiCo . link

Volvo-owned EV company Polestar to assemble its first all-electric SUV, the Polestar 3, in SC starting next year; the company currently manufactures the Polestar 1 and Polestar 2 in China; the firm closed its first external round two months ago, raising $550M . link

Mobile advertising company Vungle to acquire influencer marketing platform JetFuel (terms undisclosed); Vungle focuses on video ads for apps, and JetFuel connects brands with its network of 15k verified influencers for sponsored content; JetFuel's network represents 4B Instagram followers and 1.5B TikTok followers . link

Lordstown Motors ($1.82B market cap) halts work on its electric van and other projects to focus exclusively on the Endurance electric pickup truck; the firm's CEO and CFO departed this week following a board investigation into preorder disclosure inaccuracies; the company said earlier this month it lacked the cash to produce Endurance and that the company might not survive .Lordstown executives, including new Executive Chairwoman Angela Strand and President Rich Schmidt, say the firm is on track to begin limited production of the Endurance in September and has enough buyer interest to sustain output through next year; Lordstown acquired a GM facility in OH two years ago and raised $675M through a SPAC deal to convert the facility for EVs . link

Launch services firm Rocket Lab wins NASA contract to design two spacecraft for the agency's 2024 mission to Mars; the mission will send two craft to orbit the planet and gather data regarding its magnetosphere; Rocket Lab is currently working on a NASA mission to send a cube-sat to orbit the moon this year . link

This Week in Startups | Tether, Alternative AssetsJason breaks down potential problems with the Tether stable coin, announces he will track the issue on future episodes; then, he welcomes Masterworks Founder Scott Lynn, Fundrise Co-Founder Benjamin Miller, and Rally Co-Founder Christopher Bruno for an alternative assets roundtable discussion covering asset appreciation, how to build collections in a hot market, macro trends impacting investing, more . link

Berlin-based Uberall raises $115M at a reported ~$500M valuation, acquires fellow location-based marketing startup MomentFeed, based in Los Angeles, for $50M to $60M; Uberall said the combined entity would be the world's largest firm in the space, managing location-based marketing for 1.35M businesses . link

UK-based vertical-takeoff-and-landing firm Vertical Aerospace to list on the NYSE via SPAC merger; the company plans to offer on-demand, personal transport in highly populated areas; claims 1k aircraft preorders along with preorder options collectively worth $4B . link

Virgin Orbit is in advanced talks to go public at a $3B valuation through a reverse merger with SPAC NextGen Acquisition II, CNBC reports; the air-launch satellite delivery company spun out of space tourism firm Virgin Galactic, which went public in 2019 through one of Chamath Palihapitiya's SPACs . link

China's Full Truck Alliance, which matches shippers with truck drivers, sets its IPO price range at $17 to $19 per share, implying a market value of $18.5B to $20.6B; at the top of the range, the company would raise $1.57B; the firm, also known as Manbang Group, has also secured commitments to raise $200M before the NYSE debut . link

The download for 2021-06-15 →


Wine marketplace Underground Cellar raises $12.5M Series A led by Accomplice; the company offers curated bottle collections based on wineries, regions, etc, and randomly upgrades a bottle in each purchase to a more premium wine; the startup also announced its millionth bottle sale . link

G2VP, a CA-based VC firm targeting later-stage startups that bring emerging tech to traditional industries, raises $500M for Fund II; the firm focuses on sustainability, investing in teams addressing transportation, energy, agriculture, and more; as with Fund I, G2VP expects to write checks from $10M to $50M . link

Carro, a marketplace for cars, mostly used, raises $360M Series C at a $1B-plus valuation led by SoftBank's Vision Fund 2; the company offers services for the remaining lifecycle of a given vehicle, from maintenance to recycling; Carro also operates a wholesale business serving dealers . link

Formative, which helps K-12 teachers assess students' understanding and retention, raises $70M led by Summit Partners; teachers can access assignments from other platforms, analyze student knowledge, and customize future lessons to address gaps; the startups claims 92 percent of US school districts have at least one teacher on the platform . link

Duda, which offers a website platform for businesses, raises $50M Series D led by Claridge IL; the WordPress-like software claims 17k users representing 1M-plus published sites; CEO Itai Sadan expects an IPO in two or three years . link

Anti-fraud startup nSure AI, which helps businesses prevent fraud related to digital goods such as airline tickets and electronic gift cards, raises $6.8M seed from DisruptiveAI and others; the company analyzes millions of transactions per month and has approved ~$1B in volume since its 2019 launch . link

MicroStrategy ($5.83B market cap), which owns more Bitcoin than any other corporation, raises $500M in bonds to acquire more Bitcoin; the company had targeted a $400M raise; the secured notes are due in 2028 .Watch Jason speak about MicroStrategy's Bitcoin investments on a recent episode of This Week in Startups link

Apple launches Podcasts subscriptions globally; subscribers get early access to some shows and can listen to ad-free programming, exclusive content, more; users can subscribe to individual shows starting at $0.49 per month; Apple also launched free and paid channels, enabling publishers to bundle shows . link

The Pill Club, which prescribes and delivers birth control pills, raises $41.9M Series B (extension) led by Base 10, bringing the round total to $92.9M; the firm closed the first tranche of the round in January 2019 at a reported $250M valuation, and only confirmed that the latest tranche was an up round; The Pill Club plans to expand to support women's health beyond contraception . link

Twitter is exploring @mention controls that would enable users to link

Amazon announces its first full-size grocery store with cashier-free checkout tech; the company will open the 25k-square-foot Fresh store in Bellevue, WA on June 17; Amazon previously launched its Just Walk Out tech in much smaller Go convenience store locations . link

Battery recycling firm Redwood Materials buys 100 acres of land near Tesla's Gigafactory in Sparks, NV; Redwood also said it would expand its 150,000-square-foot factory in Carson City (slated to begin operations by year's end), tripling its size; the company recently disclosed it was working with Panasonic, which cooperates Tesla's facility in Sparks . link

Commsor, which helps businesses understand and grow communities, acquires Meetsy, which uses AI to pair community members for conversations; terms undisclosed; example: when used for fundraising efforts, Meetsy can ensure fintech investors only meet with fintech entrepreneurs . link

Automattic acquires Day One, a personal journaling app for Apple devices; terms undisclosed; to date, the bootstrapped company has focused on private text-and-media journal entries, but Automattic will enable Day One users to publish content to WordPress.com and Tumblr; Day One CEO Paul Mayne and his 12-member team will remain in place . link

Lordstown Motors ($1.64B market cap) CEO Steve Burns and CFO Julio Rodriguez resign after a board committee found that preorder disclosures were inaccurate; Burns also stepped down from the company board; the board formed the committee after short-seller Hindenburg Research accused the company of misleading investors; Lordstown recently notified the SEC it didn't have the cash to produce its first truck and said it might not survive . link

The download for 2021-06-14 →


A bipartisan group of House legislators introduced five bills targeting antitrust reform on Friday; the measures would restrict acquisitions and prevent tech firms from owning businesses representing conflicts of interest; the introduction follows an investigation by the House Judiciary's antitrust subcommittee, which must approve the language before votes by the House and Senate . link

TrillerNet, the parent of short-form video app Triller, plans to file next month for a direct listing, according to multiple reports; the company reportedly plans to raise $500M in exchange for a 10-percent stake before the debut; TrillerNet explored SPAC options last year . link

Apple plans to launch an link

Shopify ($155B market cap) acqui-hires Primer, which lets consumers visualize new paint, wallpaper, and tile within a given space via AR; terms undisclosed; Primer will shut down next month and all eight team members will join Shopify . link

Amazon to allow any Prime member to sign up for the Luna game-streaming service on June 21 and 22, then return to restricted signups; consumers can sign up for a seven-day trial, then pay $6 per month for the base plan; Luna also offers studio-specific, channel-like subscriptions such as Ubisoft Plus, which runs $15 per month . link

Toptal, a professional network connecting companies with remote tech talent, files suit against competitor Andela and former Toptal employees working for Andela, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets; Andela previously operated hubs for training engineers but recently pivoted to Toptal's model; Toptal accused Andela of trying to clone Toptal's business . link

Google makes Workspace available to all Google accounts for free; the bundle, formerly known as G Suite, which adds features and integrations to multiple Google products, was previously limited to enterprise accounts; Google also announced Workspace Individual: a premium offering with additional features like personalized email marketing and intelligent booking services . link

Online learning platform ClassPlus is in talks to raise $30M at a $250M-plus valuation in a round led by Tiger Global, according to TechCrunch sources; the startup enables teachers to conduct classes online and to create apps for selling original content; investors valued the firm at ~$73M in September . link

Bitcoin miners around the world have approved the cryptocurrency's first upgrade in four years; the Taproot update, slated to take effect in November, will add smart contracts, improve efficiency, and increase transaction privacy . link

Mental health startups raised a record $1.5B across 124 deals last year, according to CB Insights; comparatively, startups in the space raised $275M across 69 deals in 2016; in the first quarter of this year, companies in the mental health space raised $795M in funding . link

Immersive Labs, which develops a platform for measuring and improving cybersecurity skills, raises $75M Series C led by Insight Partners; the platform uses up-to-date cyber-threat information for training scenarios, simulated crises, and gamified challenges; based in the UK and Boston . link

Facebook ($939B market cap) acquires Seattle-based BigBox VR, the developer behind battle royale game link

Motorway, an auction platform for used vehicles, raises $67.7M Series B led by Index Ventures; a consumer lists a vehicle, posting details and images using a computer-vision powered app that performs assessments; professional car dealers bid on the vehicle and the winner picks it up . link

The download for 2021-06-13 →


Crypto firm Tether, which powers stable coin transactions, is one of the world's largest US commercial paper investors with ~$30B, according to JPMorgan; Tether recently disclosed its holdings, indicating it had converted ~half of its reserves to commercial paper; Tether is the world's third-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap . link

Edtech company Byju's raises $350M for a $16.5B post-valuation from UBS Group and others, making the firm India's most valuable startup; the company operates a platform for live remote classes, with 11k active teachers and 170k active students; Byju's plans to use the funding for acquisitions . link

Koch Media announces Prime Matter, a new video game publishing label for Koch-owned studios developing for new and existing IP; slated releases include Starbreeze Studios' link

Blue Origin announces $28M winning bid in a month-long auction for a trip to space with Jeff Bezos; bidding started at $4.8M; the mission, slated for July 20, will see Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket carry Jeff Bezos, his brother, and the as-yet-unnamed winner to an altitude of 62 miles, where the group will experience microgravity for ten minutes . link

Twitter to update profiles with a newsletter subscription button in coming weeks; a user with a Revue account will have the option to display the button, marked link

MA-based Aura, which protects consumers from identity theft and financial fraud, raises $150M Series E led by Warburg Pincus; the company offers subscriptions from $10 to $30 per month, providing security for devices, identity information, and financial data; claims 1.7M clients and $220M-plus in annual revenue . link

SurveyMonkey ($3.1B market cap) rebrands as Momentive, will change its ticker symbol from SVMK to MNTV; Momentive will serve as the parent of enterprise-focused Momentive and the consumer-facing SurveyMonkey; the company has served ~345k organizations and 98 percent of the Fortune 500 . link

Early-stage VC firm SOSV raises $100M for a select fund to maintain the organization's pro rata stakes in its most successful portfolio companies; in the past, SOSV has used special purpose vehicles to maintain its stakes; the new fund will typically write checks for $2M to $5M, and occasionally, up to $10M . link

This Week in StartupsJason details back-of-the-envelope startup math; then he speaks with Zymergen CEO Josh Hoffman about biofacturing and machine learning's role, why his firm went public, the company's roadmap, why maturity in DNA sequencing enables commercialization, bringing new materials to market, predictions for the next decade, more . link

PE firm Blackstone Group ($114B market cap) to take data center company QTS Realty ($5.38B market cap) private in a ~$10B deal, debt included; Blackstone Infrastructure Partners and the firm's private real estate investment trust, BREIT, will pay $78 per share, a 21-percent premium on QTS' closing price on June 4 . link

Honeywell ($156.4B market cap) to spin off its quantum computing business, Honeywell’s Quantum Solutions, and merge it with Cambridge Quantum Computing, which develops software to commercialize quantum computers; Honeywell will invest $270M to $300M and hold a majority stake in the combined entity, while Cambridge shareholders will own 45 percent; the companies expect the deal to close in the third quarter . link

The download for 2021-06-12 →


The download for 2021-06-11 →


Intel ($231.7B market cap) has expressed interest in acquiring semiconductor design firm SiFive for $2B-plus, according to Bloomberg sources; SiFive reportedly has sought advisors to handle takeover interest from Intel and others, and is also exploring investment offers; investors valued SiFive at $500M for a $61M round in August of last year, according to PitchBook . link

Seattle-based Flyhomes, which offers an end-to-end solution for buying real estate, raises $150M Series C led by Norwest Venture Partners and Battery Ventures; the firm specializes in cash offers and purchases homes even when buyers withdraw; Flyhomes has purchased and sold properties collectively worth $2.6B over the past five years . link

Faire, a wholesale marketplace connecting small brands with small retailers, raises $260M Series F for a $7B valuation led by Sequoia; the company aims to help SMBs compete with giant retailers like Walmart and offers a product filter to find items not available on Amazon; the firm expanded to Europe three months ago . link

This Week in Startups: News!Jason speaks about toxic Bitcoin maximalism, the cultish behavior of some Bitcoin supporters, the absurdist enthusiasm of Doge advocates, the craziest moments from the Bitcoin 2021 convention, Michael Saylor's Bitcoin advice, MicroStrategy's Bitcoin investments, Jeff Bezos' planned trip to space, and Facebook's smartwatch initiative . link

Tesla showcases the $130k Model S Plaid, billing it as the quickest production vehicle ever made with a 0-60 time under two seconds and a ~390-mile range; the company also announced the delivery of the first 25 units; Tesla plans to begin deliveries of an $80k version of the redesigned Model S later this year .The refreshed Model S includes Tesla's new AMD-powered infotainment system, which Elon Musk touted as offering PS5-level performance; the company demonstrated link

NC-based iContact, an email marketing firm serving SMBs, acquires Seattle's Moz, which offers SEO tools for site audits, backlink analysis, more; terms undisclosed; iContact, which claimed 68B emails delivered in 2020, will maintain the Moz brand . link

Tesla showcases the $130k Model S Plaid, billing it as the quickest production vehicle ever made with a 0-60 time under two seconds and a ~390-mile range; the company also announced the delivery of the first 25 units; Tesla plans to begin deliveries of an $80k version of the redesigned Model S later this year .The refreshed Model S includes Tesla's new AMD-powered infotainment system, which Elon Musk touted as offering PS5-level performance; the company demonstrated link

Nvidia ($434.2B market cap) acquires DeepMap, which develops high-definition mapping tech for self-driving vehicles; Nvidia will integrate DeepMap's IP into the Drive suite of autonomous vehicle development platforms, and Drive will, in turn, help DeepMap to scale maps across fleets . link

Apple hires automotive executive Ulrich Kranz, who co-founded and led EV startup Canoo; Kranz also worked as CTO at Faraday Future and spent 30 years at BMW, serving in SVP and product development roles; he is now working under Apple VP of Special Projects Group Doug Field, who previously worked in senior positions at Tesla . link

China-based ride-hailing firm Didi files for a US IPO using a placeholder raise target; the company recorded a $1.7B loss on $21.6B in revenue last year, and investors most recently valued Didi at $62B; the company acquired Uber China in 2016, and Uber is Didi's second-largest outside shareholder with 12.8 percent . link

NextNav, which develops 3D geolocation tech, to go public via reverse merger with SPAC Spartacus Acquisition Corporation; the deal, which includes $205M in PIPE funding, will value the combined entity at $1.2B; NextNav's Pinnacle service helps first responders locate people in high-rise buildings, for example, and the company also serves brands and apps needing floor-level location data . link

Monday.com closes up 15 percent in Nasdaq debut; the Israel-based software firm priced shares at $155 apiece to raise $574M at a ~$6.8B valuation; trading closed at $178 per share; Monday's Work OS enables clients to create custom tools and processes for managing their businesses; claims 127k paid customers and had 799 employees at the end of March .CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post indicated Monday had 79 employees at the end of March. link

BuzzFeed is in talks to raise $200M via convertible bonds ahead of a reverse merger with SPAC 890 Fifth Avenue Partners, according to sources for The Information; BuzzFeed reportedly will use the funds to help finance the acquisition of lifestyle publisher Complex Networks; sources said BuzzFeed could announce the previously reported SPAC deal in the next few weeks, and that the previously reported deal with Complex could fall through . link

The download for 2021-06-10 →


OH-based Branch, which bundles home and auto insurance and promises rapid signups and claims, raises $50M Series B led by Anthemis Group; Branch sells directly to consumers but also provides an API enabling partners (including ADT and Quicken Loans) to offer insurance as part of real estate and other sales; raised $82.5M to date . link

PostHog (YC W20), which helps business clients to identify product problems and reduce customer churn, raises $15M Series B from the Y Combinator Continuity Fund and GV; the open-source platform offers user session replays, link

ShelfLife, a marketplace for food and beverage ingredients and packaging, raises $3M seed led by Switch Ventures and Kindred Ventures; the system stores information for automated purchasing and provides overviews of a buyer's suppliers and costs; the firm charges a fee to use the software . link

GameStop ($21.4B market cap) FQ1 beats: $1.28B revenue, up 25 percent year-over-year ($1.16B expected); -$0.45 EPS (adjusted, -$0.84 expected); the company said that as of May 1, it had paid off long-term debt; GameStop also filed to sell 5M shares; the firm named Chewy Founder Ryan Cohen as chairman, former Amazon executive Matt Furlong as CEO, and three former Amazon executives as COO, CTO, and CGO . link

The US Innovation and Competition Act, which the Senate recently passed, includes an amendment that would authorize $10B for NASA's lunar lander program; Blue Origin, which lost out to SpaceX in NASA's Human Landing System competition, advocated the amendment; NASA previously said SpaceX's proposal was the most affordable, and that the agency only had the funds to select a single winner . link

Apple to launch Podcasts subscriptions and channels (grouped shows) on June 15; the premium service will allow podcast creators to charge users for early and exclusive access to episodes; the company had planned to launch the features last month but delayed to make software improvements . link

Los Angeles-based Mythical Games raises $75M Series B led by WestCap; the company has developed a platform for creating games with non-fungible token (NFT) integrations; Mythical's open-world title link

This Week in StartupsScaling Your Startup | Customer SuccessJason welcomes Statusphere Founder and CEO Kristen Wiley to speak about managing customer success teams, measuring success, sales vs operations, more; then, Techmate Co-Founder and COO Nicole Beals talks about increasing customer retention and scaling without sacrificing customer success; lastly, Jason questions Kristen and Nicole about compensation, more . link

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri says Facebook plans to facilitate transactions between brands and creators to eliminate app store fees for people generating revenue from Facebook's family of apps; he said the solution would help brands and creators to find and vet one another before entering sponsored content agreements . link

Facebook plans to launch an LTE-connected smartwatch with detachable face next summer, The Verge reports; the display reportedly will feature two cameras: a front-facing camera for video calls and a higher-resolution camera on the back for shooting photos while the face is detached; Facebook reportedly plans to make a future version of the watch function as in input device for Facebook AR glasses . link

The download for 2021-06-09 →


El Salvador's Congress votes to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, making it the first nation in the world to do so; the Bitcoin Law establishes the cryptocurrency as unrestricted legal tender, meaning citizens can use it to pay taxes, and the government will not charge capital gains tax on holdings . link

ZoomInfo ($17.5B market cap) acquires Insent, which makes AI-powered chatbots for sales and marketing teams (terms undisclosed); Insent combines data from clients' CRM and marketing tools with website visitor behavior to tailor messaging and improve conversion rates; ZoomInfo helps clients including SAP and Siemens to unify and manage business data from various sources . link

Contentstack, a cloud-based content management system, raises $57.5M Series B led by Insight Partners; the startup serves enterprise customers including Chase, McDonald's, and Shell; offers APIs, SDKs, and micro-services for custom integrations . link

Indian payments tech firm Paytm announces plan to file for a US IPO; the company will issue new shares and offer shares from existing shareholders, including employees; TechCrunch sources indicated the firm, India's most valuable startup, planned to raise ~$3B at a ~$30B valuation, up from its most recent valuation of $16B . link

Shanghai-based Dingdong Maicai, an online grocery firm that offers fresh produce for delivery, files for US IPO; the firm expects to list on the NYSE under symbol DDL; the company raised $330M last month, bringing its total raised to $1B . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Aurora Co-Founder and CEO Chris Urmson about DARPA's Grand and Urban Challenges, autonomous driving safety concerns, the limits of driver safety features, lanes dedicated to self-driving vehicles, what the autonomous vehicle market will look like in 10 years, the value of collected data, more . link

Robotic process automation firm UiPath ($39.5B market cap) FQ1 beats: $186.2M revenue, up 61 percent year-over-year ($168.6M expected); $0.02 EPS (adjusted, -$0.05 expected); $652.6M ARR, up 64 percent; the company projects $180M to $185M revenue for FQ2 and $850M to $855M full-year revenue . link

Terraformation, which is working to address climate change through reforestation, raises $30M Series A led by Sam and Max Altman's Apollo Projects; the startup has conducted pilots to identify barriers to large-scale reforestation and ultimately hopes to facilitate the restoration of 3B acres of forest ecosystems around the world; Terraformation has developed an off-grid lab and seed bank for reforestation projects . link

Sinch, which provides communication tools for customer engagement, acquires mobile messaging company MessageMedia for $1.3B ($1.1B in cash, the remainder in shares); Sinch provides API-accessible SMS, voice, and video; MessageMedia enables clients to build and operate communication services . link

The Senate passes the US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), authorizing $52B for domestic semiconductor manufacturing, $29B for a new science directorate, $10B to transform cities into tech hubs, more; the bill could change before the House votes . link

Overhaul, which provides supply chain visibility and risk management, raises $35M Series B led by Macquarie Capital; enables clients, including Microsoft and Gordon Food Service, to monitor packages, temperatures, etc; currently claims 130 employees and plans to hire 50 more in Ireland and Austin . link

Grabango, which provides cashier-free checkout tech for existing stores, raises $39M Series B led by Commerce Ventures; the company uses ceiling-mounted cameras to track shoppers and their selections, so changes to a shop's layout or product placement don't impact the installation; the shopper scans a single code from the Grabango app on the way out . link

Lordstown Motors ($1.98B market cap) warns in an SEC filing it doesn't have the cash to produce and launch its all-electric Endurance pickup truck at scale and that the company might not survive; the OH-based EV firm said it was evaluating funding options; Lordstown, which went public via SPAC merger in October, warned on Friday that the Nasdaq could delist its shares due to a late quarterly report to the SEC . link

The download for 2021-06-08 →


Whatfix, which helps enterprises to update their apps with contextual support tools, raises $90M Series D led by Vision Fund 2; the company plans to use the funding to develop industry-specific solutions and to integrate AI and machine learning for behavioral analytics; Whatfix will use the data to suggest next steps for end-users and friction reduction options for clients . link

Spend management platform Airbase raises $60M Series B at a $600M valuation led by Menlo Ventures; automates bill payments with automated amortization, more; customers include Docker, Gusto, and Segment . link

NY-based meat alternatives startup Simulate raises $50M Series B led by 776; the company launched as Nuggs in 2019 and began online D2C sales of its chicken nugget alternative, also called Nuggs; Simulate now offers Nuggs through 5k retail locations, including Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks about employee blowback over Apple's policy for returning to offices, limiting internal communications leaks, more; then, he welcomes Sugar Founder and CEO Fatima Dicko to discuss how her company sets prices, what's next for the firm, how B2B2C works, more; lastly, Jason shares his thoughts on the surge in early-stage startup valuations . link

Bain Capital and Crosspoint Capital to acquire Seattle-based ExtraHop, a cloud-native cybersecurity company offering network detection and response; ExtraHop uses machine learning to detect threats in realtime; the deal is valued at $900M . link

Apple announces on-device processing for Siri requests, limited to Apple silicon products; in addition to improved security, the switch prmises faster processing times; the company also announced Siri support for third-party devices . link

Apple announces iPadOS 15 with App Library, home screen widgets, improved multitasking controls, shared notes, a Swift Playgrounds app update that lets users create iPad apps, more; also includes the redesigned Safari . link

Apple showcases macOS Monterey with Universal Control, which allows the user to move a cursor and files across Apple devices; for example, a Mac user can move the Mac cursor to an iPad display, then drag a file from the iPad into an app on the Mac; also features a redesigned Safari, the Shortcuts automation app (with support for Automator workflows), the ability to use a Mac as an AirPlay target, more . link

Apple launches lossless audio and Dolby Atmos spatial audio for Music; the latest versions of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS now support hi-res lossless audio, and Apple expects to offer lossless streaming for every album in its 75M-record catalog; lossless audio requires a wired connection (no support for AirPods Max) . link

Apple unveils iOS 15, with modes (work mode hides personal apps, etc), batched notifications, an updated Wallet that can store drivers licenses and virtual door keys, an improved version of Maps with bike lanes (and more), a hearing aid feature for AirPods Pro, multiple privacy and security updates, more; the company plans to release the update in open beta in July and to launch this fall . link

CDN Fastly suffers outage causing numerous popular websites and services to go down, including Reddit, Pinterest, and Spotify; Fastly also serves large media sites, such as FT, The Guardian, and The Verge; impacted properties returned a 503 error .Update: the issue is resolved link

Apple in early talks with China's CATL and BYD to supply batteries for Apple's planned electric vehicle, according to Reuters sources; Apple reportedly demands US-based manufacturing as a condition of any potential deal; earlier reports indicated the vehicle would feature Apple-designed battery tech . link

Former Uber Chief Scientist Raquel Urtasun, who also led R&D at Uber ATG, launches autonomous driving tech firm Waabi; the startup has raised $83.5M Series A led by Khosla, with participation from Uber, Aurora, others; Urtasun said the company would accelerate commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles with an AI-first approach . link

Montréal-based Lightspeed, which provides a cloud-based point-of-sale system, acquires CA-based B2B e-commerce platform NuOrder and online sales tools firm Ecwid for $425M and $500M, respectively; each of the cash-and-stock sales are slated to close in September; Upserve acquires restaurant management tools company Upserve for $430M in December . link

Autonomous driving tech company Aurora is close to finalizing a deal with Reinvent Technology Partners Y, according to TechCrunch sources; the SPAC, established by Reid Hoffman, Mark Pincus, Michael Thompson, reportedly has negotiated Aurora’s valuation down from the company’s $20B target to $12B; Aurora agreed in December to take over Uber’s autonomous driving division . link

The download for 2021-06-07 →


Identity verification firm Trulioo raises $394M Series D at a $1.75B valuation led by TCV; the company serves enterprises, comparing user data against information from credit bureaus, mobile carriers, and government databases; also offers document verification . link

YouTube is rolling out its TikTok-like Shorts product to the UK, Canada, and Latin America and expects to complete the process by the end of the month; the company previously launched Shorts in India and the US; Shorts creators can now use licensed music from 250 labels and publishers . link

Walmart-controlled Flipkart in talks to raise $3B at a ~$40B valuation from SoftBank and multiple foreign wealth funds, according to Bloomberg sources; SoftBank previously sold its stake to Walmart, and reportedly is considering a $300M-$500M investment through Vision Fund II; Flipkart had planned to go public this year but reportedly now plans to debut in the US next year . link

Facebook ($937B market cap) acquires UK-based game developer Unit 2 Games, creator of the Roblox-like platform Crayta; financial terms undisclosed; the entire Unit 2 team will join Facebook Gaming; Facebook said it planned to integrate Crayta into the Facebook Gaming cloud platform . link

Beijing-based Kanzhun, which operates job recruitment platform Boss Zhipin, files to raise up to $912M with US IPO; the company will float 48M American depositary shares (each representing two ordinary shares) priced at $17 to $19 apiece; Boss Zhipin claimed 24.9M monthly active users in the first quarter, up from 14.5M in the year-earlier period . link

Jack Dorsey announces that Square is considering a hardware Bitcoin wallet; speaking on Twitter, Dorsey said the company sought a solution that would allow users to rapidly access some funds via mobile while leaving the bulk of holdings less accessible and more secure; he also indicated that existing recovery solutions were inadequate, requiring users to maintain backups of passphrases, etc . link

Jeff Bezos and his brother will be on board for Blue Origin's first passenger flight, slated for July 20; the company is conducting an auction for another seat on the flight, and bidding stood at $2.8M before Jeff Bezos announced he would participate; Blue Origin has successfully completed more than a dozen uncrewed test flights with its New Shepard rocket . link

IBM partners with the UK government on a five-year AI and quantum computing research project; the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council and IBM Research will hire 60 scientists to explore the use of cutting-edge technology to advance materials development and environmental sustainability . link

Square commits $5M to build a solar-powered bitcoin mining facility in partnership with blockchain tech firm Blockstream; the project will serve as a proof-of-concept for mining with 100-percent renewable energy at scale; the companies will establish a facility at one of Blockstream's US sites . link

Twitter to limit its coming Super Follows feature to creators over 18 with at least 10k followers, according to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong; the Patreon-like program will allow creators to charge users monthly fees and provide access to exclusive content . link

Elon Musk says Tesla has cancelled the $150k Plaid+ version of Model S, which was slated to launch in mid-2022; the $113k Plaid-upgraded Model S (not plus) launches this week, promising a 0-to-60 time under two seconds and a top speed of 200 miles per hour . link

The download for 2021-06-06 →


Medium CEO Ev Williams' link

Electric scooter company Spin promotes CBO Ben Bear to CEO, announces expansion in the US and Europe, and deploys e-bikes for the first time; the Ford-owned business currently operates in 100 US markets, mostly mid-tier cities and college campuses; Spin plans to launch in 25 more US markets by year's end . link

CA's Public Utility Commission (CPUC) authorizes Cruise to offer the public free rides in its autonomous robo-taxis without safety drivers present; Cruise is the first company in the CPUC's driverless pilot program; Cruise and Waymo applied last month for permits to charge for autonomous rides and deliveries in the state . link

G7 nations agree to a plan for a 15-percent minimum corporate tax on global companies; the initiative would require firms with a 10-percent-plus profit margin to pay taxes on 20 percent of profits over the 10-percent threshold - in the countries where they generated the revenue; the group plans to take up the issue at the July G20 meeting in Venice . link

Twitter rolls out a dedicated tab for audio feature Spaces in the navigation bar; initially limited to select iOS users, the Spaces discovery tab showcases chats hosted by followed users, details about chats, more; the tab also enables users to manage reminders for coming chats . link

The download for 2021-06-05 →


Tesla ($577B market cap) saw net orders in China fall from 21k in March to 18k in April to 9.8k in May, according to a source for The Information; China is Tesla's second-largest market following the US, and the company's Shanghai factory is capable of producing 500k units per year (for domestic sales and exports); Tesla reported $3B in Chinese revenue for the first quarter, representing 29 percent of the company's total quarterly revenue . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks about Katerra's reported shutdown, Universal Music's reported SPAC deal, more; then, he welcomes Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to discuss the freedom and flexibility of gig work, the liquidity of the gig labor market, opportunities in local commerce, the resilience of Uber Eats, Uber Freight's growth, the path to rideshare profitability, more . link

Xometry, a marketplace for on-demand manufacturing services, files for IPO with a likely placeholder raise target of $100M; the firm posted a $29M operating loss on $141M in revenue last year; investors last valued Xometry at $558M for a $75M Series E in September . link

Cybersecurity company SentinelOne files for IPO, plans to trade on the NYSE under symbol link

E-commerce shipping platform Shippo raises $50M at a $1B valuation led by Bessemer; investors valued the firm at $495M for a $45M round in February; the company enables merchants to offer shipping estimates and services from multiple carriers, and allows consumers to print shipping labels and more . link

Capchase, which offers business financing based on recurring revenue, raises $125M in debt and equity funding led by QED Investors; since launching eight months ago, the New York City-based firm has lent $390M across ~400 companies; Capchase said the funding would fuel expansion in the UK and Spain . link

This Week in StartupsJason speaks with Twitter Head of Consumer Product Kayvon Beykpour about Twitter's slow evolution, classifying customers (creators, consumers), creating tools for creators, connecting users to interests, enabling healthy conversation, Twitter Blue, the potential and challenges of an enterprise service, more . link

Dlocal ($10.1B market cap) closed up 54 percent in its Nasdaq debut on Thursday; the Uruguay-based cross-border payments firm, which connects global merchants with emerging markets, raised ~$618M for a ~$10B valuation; clients include Amazon, Microsoft, and Spotify . link

The download for 2021-06-04 →


Universal Music Group (UMG) is in talks for a SPAC deal that could value the business at $40B, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; UMG and William Ackman's Pershing Square Tontine Holdings have confirmed negotiations but no details; sources said the deal would not require additional due diligence and could close in the next few weeks . link

Microsoft ($1.85T market cap) acquires ReFirm Labs, which vets IoT and edge devices to prevent network and other compromises; terms undisclosed; the firm's Binwalk Enterprise product analyzes device firmware, reveals device vulnerabilities, and notifies clients of relevant risks and threats . link

Blackstone Group acquires media and data firm International Data Group (IDG) for $1.3B; IDG owns market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) and media properties including ComputerWorld, Tech Advisor, and TechHive; IDG CEO Mohamad Ali said the deal would enable his firm to grow its data and service offerings . link

The European Commission and UK regulators launch antitrust investigations regarding Facebook's Marketplace, and are collaborating to determine if the company used its advertising data to gain unfair advantage in the classified ads market; the European Commission is specifically examining whether Facebook has used data from competitors in the classified ads space who have advertised on Facebook's platform . link

Boston-based Realtime Robotics, which has developed a processor enabling industrial robots to quickly plan motion paths, raises $31.4M Series A from Heroic Ventures, SAIC, and Soundproof Ventures; the startup allows clients to automate motion planning and prevents robots from colliding with one another, warehouse equipment like forklifts, and people . link

San Francisco-based Architect Capital launches with $100M, targeting $10M to $15M investments in high-growth, early-stage tech startups; will focus on e-commerce, fintech, and SaaS firms, primarily in Latin America but also in the US . link

Life sciences-focused VC firm VenBio raises $550M for its fourth fund, which targets investments of $30M to $70M each in 12 to 15 drugmakers; exits include Aragon Pharmaceuticals, Labrys Biologics, and Turning Point Therapeutics . link

Satellite monitoring company LeoLabs raises $65M Series B led by Insight Partners and Velvet Sea Ventures; the startup uses ground-based radar to track low-Earth orbit satellites and alerts clients about potential collisions; raised $82M to date . link

Asana ($6B market cap) FQ1 beats: $76.7M revenue, up 60 percent year-over-year ($70.1M expected); -$0.21 EPS (adjusted, -$0.27 expected); the company projects $81M to $83M in revenue for FQ2 and $336M to $340M for the fiscal year; Asana debuted on the NYSE via direct listing in September, closing at ~$30 per share after the exchange set a $21 reference price . link

Slack ($25.4B market cap) FQ1 beats: $273M revenue, up 35 percent year-over-year ($265M expected); $0.08 EPS (adjusted, -$0.01 expected); 169k total paid accounts, up 39 percent (155.8k expected); ~1M active platform developers; Salesforce is expected to close its $27.7B acquisition of Slack in coming months . link

Enterprise Electronics Corporation, which manufactures weather radar systems and offers ground station services, spins out Climavision, offering weather services and an intelligence platform; the new company plans to deploy a radar network that fills gaps in the National Weather Service's coverage; Climavision has raised $100M from The Rise Fund . link

Toyota AI Ventures rebrands as Toyota Ventures, announces the $150M Frontier Fund and the $150M Climate Fund; the first seeks to bring emerging tech to market, and to Toyota through acquisitions and partnerships; the company will use the Climate Fund to support startups that can help Toyota to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 . link

The download for 2021-06-03 →


Prosus Ventures acquires developer Q&A platform Stack Overflow for $1.8B; Stack Overflow, which claims 100M monthly visitors, also offers a SaaS-based collaboration and knowledge-sharing platform for companies; Prosus owns stakes in Udemy and Codecademy, but Stack Overflow represents the firm's first acquisition in the ed-tech space . link

TSMC has begun construction for its $12B chip plant project in AZ; CEO CC Wei said the firm was on track to begin volume 5nm production at the site in 2024; Reuters previously reported TSMC would build up to six factories at the site over 15 years . link

Professional learning platform Guild Education raises $150M Series E at a $3.75B valuation from Bessemer, Cowboy Ventures, General Catalyst, and others; enables employers to offer their workers opportunities for up-skilling, certificate courses, etc; some employers, like Chipotle, offer free access, while others, including Walmart, charge employees nominal fees . link

Immersive entertainment company Illuminarium Experiences raises $100M from Eldridge; the funding will support the July launch of the firm's first Illuminarium in Atlanta, as well as future launches in Las Vegas and Miami; the company combines traditional filmmaking with CG and VR to offer venue-based experiences . link

NortonLifeLock announces a crypto-mining feature for Norton 360; initially limited to a small group of select users, but the company plans to expand the offering to all 13M 360 customers in coming months; supports Ethereum mining at launch, and Norton is considering other established currencies . link

Activist hedge fund Elliott Management becomes second-largest shareholder in Dropbox ($11.2B market cap) with a ~10-percent stake worth $800M-plus, according to sources for The Wall Street Journal; only Dropbox CEO Drew Houston holds a larger stake; The Journal notes that Dropbox's stock performance and valuation have resulted in speculation about a possible sale . link

Crypto exchange Kraken launches its primary mobile app in the US, enabling US users to trade 50-plus tokens; as Coinbase offers primary and Pro apps, Kraken offers a primary app for establishing accounts, funding accounts from debit/credit cards, etc, and a Pro app for advanced trading . link

D2C healthcare and wellness firm Thirty Madison raises $140M at a $1B-plus valuation led by HealthQuest Capital; operates multiple brands targeting affordable and personalized care solutions; Picnic, for example, offers a variety of antihistamines . link

CDK Global ($6.32B market cap), which provides software solutions for the auto sales industry, acquires automotive e-commerce solutions firm Roadster for $360M; Roadster is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of CDK Global; founded in 2013, Roadster previously raised $27M . link

Symphony Technology-led consortium to acquire FireEye's ($5.37B market cap) brand and products business for $1.2B, separating FireEye's cloud, email, and network security solutions from its cyber forensics arm, Mandiant; Mandiant, which FireEye acquired in 2014, will remain as a standalone business; FireEye also announced a $500M share buyback program . link