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Month: February 2019

Cherry lets startup employees choose their own office perks

Forget the office ping pong table, Cherry, a startup in Y Combinator’s latest batch, wants to let employees take company perks into their own hands. Cherry co-founders (and sisters) Gillian and Emily O’Brien say their Slackbot marketplace will let employees completely personalize the lifestyle benefits they get from their company, allowing them to set up a Spotify Premium account or buy a subscription to Classpass instead of just taking what perks their company dishes out at face value. Companies will pay huge amounts of money to deliver sweeping employee memberships or build a company gym even if there are only a few people interested in using them. Cherry could potentially eliminate a lot of wasted efforts while still managing to  potential recruits. The available subscriptio...

It’s a new era for fertility tech

Women’s health has long been devoid of technological innovation, but when it comes to fertility options, that’s starting to change. Startups in the space are securing hundreds of millions in venture capital investment, a significant increase to the dearth of funding collected in previous years. Fertility entrepreneurs are focused on a growing market: couples are choosing to reproduce later in life, an increasing number of female breadwinners are able to make their own decisions about when and how to reproduce, and overall, around 10% of women in the US today have trouble conceiving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Startups, as a result, are working to improve various pain points in a women’s fertility journey, whether that be with new-age brick-and-mortar...

Sequoia-backed Medallia files to raise $70M at a $1.7B valuation, documents show

Customer experience management platform Medallia has filed to raise up to $70 million in Series F funding, according to regulatory documents obtained by the Prime Unicorn Index. The new shares were priced at $15 apiece, valuing the nearly two-decades-old business at $1.7 billion. We’ve reached out to Medallia for comment. Medallia is expected to finally transition to the public markets in 2019, a year chock-full of high-profile unicorn IPOs. The downsized round, which if raised at full is less than half of its Series E funding, will likely be Medallia’s final infusion of private investment. San Mateo-headquartered Medallia, led by newly-appointed chief executive officer Leslie Stretch, operates a platform meant to help businesses better provide for their customers. Its core pro...

Applications are open for Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019

Founders. This is your shot. TechCrunch is officially in the hunt for the most disruptive startups for this year’s Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019. Startups can apply here to compete on our world-famous stage for a $100,000 equity-free prize and the coveted Disrupt Cup. With more than 10,000 attendees, hundreds of press outlets and top investors from around the world, your company will launch to the most influential players in tech. The application. Simple. Fill out your app here. There is no cost to apply or participate. TechCrunch does not take any fees or equity. Early-stage startups from any country and any vertical are eligible. TechCrunch’s editors will review the applications and select the most promising startups to pitch the world’s t...

Two Chairs nabs $7M for its client-therapist matching app and brick-and-mortar clinics

The future of healthcare isn’t entirely digital. For encounters as intimate as the client-therapist dynamic, a face-to-face relationship is still key. For those able to afford tech-enabled therapy services, Two Chairs, a San Francisco-headquartered mental healthcare business, may be of interest. The startup believes in the power of in-person therapy, as opposed to the new variety of affordable digital tools meant to replace or coexist with therapy services. Today, the company is announcing a $7 million Maveron-led Series A financing to open additional brick-and-mortar clinics and build out its client-therapist matching app, which leverages technology to pair its customers with a therapist best-tailored to their needs. The company currently operates four clinics in the Bay Area, where...

Ceros raises $14M for its interactive content platform

Ceros allows marketers to create animated, interactive content — but don’t call it a content marketing company. “We think content is just a dry, bland, over-leveraged, oversaturated space,” said founder and CEO Simon Berg. “The goal is not to hack the system, the goal is to make a great experience for your customers.” That’s why he describes Ceros as a platform for creating experiences. The company is focused on powering beautiful, well-designed graphics and web pages, instead of blog posts or white papers that mostly exist to snare search traffic. Ceros is announcing today that it’s raised $14 million in Series C funding. Ceros previously raised $19.5 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. The new round was led by Greenspring Associates, wit...

Zūm, a ridesharing service for kids, raises $40 million

Ride-sharing isn’t just for transporting teenagers and adults anymore. Zūm, a ridesharing startup for kids, just raised a $40 million Series C round led by BMW i Ventures with participation from Spark Capital and Sequoia Capital. This brings the company’s total funding to $70 million. Zūm is a mobile app that enables parents to schedule rides for their kids from fully-vetted drivers. It also partners with school districts to support their transportation needs. To date, the company has partnered with 150 school districts across the country and transported more than 500,000 students. “Zūm has proven itself as a force to be reckoned with in a market that has a lot of untapped opportunity,” BMW i Ventures Managing Partner Ulrich Quay said in a statement. “Its leadership...

SoftBank’s Vision Fund invests $1.5B in Chinese second-hand car startup Chehaoduo

SoftBank’s Vision Fund is taking a bet on China’s auto market after it agreed to pour $1.5 billion into online car trading group Chehaoduo, which literally means “many cars” in Chinese. The Beijing-based company operates two main sites — peer-to-peer online marketplace Guazi for used vehicles, and Maodou, which retails new sedans through direct sales and financial leasing. (These sub-brands are more subtly named; they translate to “sunflower seeds” and “edamame,” respectively.) Chehaoduo said it will deploy the proceeds on technology investments as well as the development of new products and services. It also plans to ramp up its marketing efforts and continue to open brick-and-mortar stores, an omnichannel move it believes can enhance ...

Mirakl raises $70 million to manage the marketplace of your e-commerce website

French startup Mirakl raised a $70 million funding round. Bain Capital is leading the round with existing investors 83North, Felix Capital and Elaia Partners also participating. If you’ve bought a few products from a third-party seller on an e-commerce website that isn’t Amazon or Alibaba, chances are you’ve used Mirakl in the past. The company has built a solution to manage the marketplace of your e-commerce platform. While Mirakl doesn’t have a ton of customers, each customer is very valuable. The company has worked with some of the biggest names in e-commerce so that they could add a new revenue stream with a marketplace. Examples include Best Buy in Canada, Walmart in Mexico, Office Deport and Darty. The startup also lets you create B2B marketplaces for bulk selling and other complicat...

SoFi founder Mike Cagney’s new company, Figure, just raised another $65 million

Figure, a 13-month-old, San Francisco-based company that says it uses blockchain technology to provide home equity loans online in as little as five days, has raised a whole lot of money in not a lot of time: $120 million to date, including $65 million in fresh funding from RPM Ventures and partners at DST Global, with participation from DCG, Nimble Ventures, Morgan Creek and earlier investors Ribbit Capital and DCM. The money isn’t entirely surprising, given who founded the company — Mike Cagney, who founded SoFi and built it into a major player in student loan refinancing in the U.S. before leaving amid allegations of sexual harassment and an anything-goes corporate culture that saw at least two former employees sue the company. Today, SoFi has moved on under the leadership o...

Presto raises $30M to bring its AI platform and tabletop ordering hardware to restaurant chains

The “restaurant of the future” may elicit thoughts of a chrome diner with robot servers and an otherwise hefty amount of Tokyo futurist kitsch, but the fact is that the forthcoming sit-down dining experience may just end up looking a lot like ordering from a takeout app. Presto is working with restaurants to update the 21st century dine-in experience, letting customers order and pay from their table with a tablet device while also providing hardware like wearables for servers so they can be alerted when they are needed by customers. The company announced today that they’ve raised $30 million in growth funding from Recruit Holdings and Romulus Capital. I2BF Global Ventures, EG Capital and Brainchild Holdings also participated in the raise.  Considering how much online shop...

Coterie, a young New York startup, promises to deliver charming party kits to your doorstep

Party planning can be fun if you have the time for it and happen to know what you’re doing. For the rest of us, it can be a daunting, time-consuming endeavor, one that requires visits to numerous websites, in-store visits when those products invariably don’t arrive in time, then return visits to pick up those last items that you could have sworn you’d thrown in your shopping cart but did not. Enter Coterie, a nine-month-old, New York-based startup that was incubated with the help of the investment firm Female Founders Fund and that is assembling party kits that it’s delivering to customers’ doorsteps, for everything from birthday parties to baby showers to friendversary get-togethers. Just tell the site how many people you expect, whether it’s 10 or 50, ...

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