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Hong Kong-based OneDegree gets $25.5M Series A to make coverage more accessible, starting with pet insurance

OneDegree, a Hong Kong-based insurance technology startup, announced today that it has closed a Series A totaling HKD $200 million (about $25.5 million). Half of that amount was pledged by investors to OneDegree pending regulatory approval through the Hong Kong Insurance Authority’s new fast-track licensing program for online-only insurers. The company, which participated in Cyberport, the Hong Kong government’s startup incubator, claims this is the largest ever fundraising round for a pre-revenue insurance tech startup in Hong Kong. OneDegree is currently not disclosing its list of investors because its new shareholders are being vetted by the Insurance Authority, founder and CEO Alvin Kwock tells TechCrunch, but it includes institutional investors and family offices. The South China Morn...

Perlego raises $4.8M for its ‘Spotify for textbooks’

Perlego, which has been dubbed the ‘Spotify for textbooks,’ has closed $4.8 million in finding. Leading the round is ADV, with participation from existing angel investors, including Simon Franks (co-founder of Lovefilm), Alex Chesterman (founder of Zoopla), and Peter Hinssen. Founded by Gauthier Van Malderen and Matthew Davis, Perlego provides students and professionals unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of academic and professional eBook titles for £12 a month. To be able to do this, it works with 650 publishers, including big names like Oxford University Press, Princeton University Press, Macmillan Higher Education, and Cengage Learning. Publishers receive 65 percent of each subscription on a consumption basis. “Textbook prices have increased more than fifteen-fo...

Unmortgage scores £10M seed round to offer ‘part-own, part-rental’ housing

“Unmortgage enables everyone to live in the home they want to, that’s our mission,” Unmortgage co-founder and CEO Ray Rafiq-Omar tells me. “We do that by allowing people to buy as little as five percent of a home and rent the rest. So there’s no mortgage involved, hence the name Unmortgage”. The burgeoning London startup, which aims to launch next year having just closed a hefty £10 million seed round, calls its model “part-own, part-rent”. However, unlike traditional shared ownership schemes, Unmortgage doesn’t want you to have to take out a mortgage to buy the first portion of your own, and it isn’t targeting new-builds. Like a number of other fintech/proptech companies, such as Strideup and Proportunity, it is the latest attemp...

Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong: ‘I’d love to run a public company’

Brian Armstrong, the CEO of cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase, wants to take his company public — maybe on the blockchain. Onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, Armstrong dished on his ambitions for the future of Coinbase. “We are self-sustaining,” Armstrong said. “You know, we’ve been profitable for quite a while. We don’t have any plans to raise additional capital at this point, but never say never … Someday I’d love to run a public company.” Armstrong didn’t rule out going public on the blockchain. He said he’s even considered going public on his own platform. “I think it would be very on mission for us to do that because, of course, we are creating an open financial system,” he said. “Companies could list their stock, which ...

And the winner of Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2018 is… Forethought

At the very beginning, there were 21 startups. After three days of incredibly fierce competition, we now have a winner. Startups participating in the Startup Battlefield have all been hand-picked to participate in our highly competitive startup competition. They all presented in front of multiple groups of VCs and tech leaders serving as judges for a chance to win $50,000 and the coveted Disrupt Cup. After hours of deliberations, TechCrunch editors pored over the judges’ notes and narrowed the list down to five finalists: CB Therapeutics, Forethought, Mira, Origami Labs and Unbound. These startups made their way to the finale to demo in front of our final panel of judges, which included: Cyan Banister (Founders Fund), Roelof Botha (Sequoia Capital), Jeff Clavier (Uncork Capital), Kirsten G...

Deep-linking startup Branch is raising more than $100M at a unicorn valuation

Branch, the deep-linking startup backed by Andy Rubin’s Playground Ventures, will enter the unicorn club with an upcoming funding round. The four-year-old company, which helps brands create links between websites and mobile apps, has authorized the sale of $129 million in Series D shares, according to sources and confirmed by PitchBook, which tracks venture capital deals. The infusion of capital values the company at roughly $1 billion. In an e-mail this morning, Branch CEO Alex Austin declined to comment. The Redwood City-based startup closed a $60 million Series C led by Playground in April 2017, bringing its total equity raised to $113 million. It’s also backed by NEA, Pear Ventures, Cowboy Ventures and Madrona Ventures. Rubin, for his part, is a co-founder of Android, as we...

Rigetti announces its hybrid quantum computing platform — and a $1M prize

Rigetti, a quantum computing startup that is challenging the likes of IBM, Microsoft and Google in this nascent space, today at our TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 event announced the launch of its new hybrid quantum computing platform. While Rigetti already offered API access to its quantum computing platform, this new service, dubbed Quantum Cloud Services (QCS), offers a combination of a cloud-based classical computer, its Forest development platform and access to Rigetti’s quantum backends. Thanks to this, developers will be able to write and test their algorithms significantly faster than with the company’s previous approach. In addition to the new platform, which is now in private testing, Rigetti also announced a $1 million prize for the first team that manages to show quantu...

Starry wants to put high-speed 5G internet in reach of everyone

Starry, a Boston startup, wants deliver high-speed 5G internet in major cities at a reasonable price. Today, it announced it is expanding service from its initial launch in Boston to New York City. The company also announced a deal with Related Companies, a large national affordable housing owner, to host Starry equipment on its buildings and offer Starry service to its tenants. The Starry solution consists of three parts: The beam sits on a high roof. The point sits on a lower roof and the consumer gets a Starry Station, which acts as a modem of sorts to deliver the internet service to the home. As they put it, internet access becomes an extension of the property. Diagram: Starry While the hardware solution is impressive in itself, it allows Starry to offer high-speed internet to consumer...

Sonatype raises $80 million to build out Nexus platform

Sonatype, a cybersecurity-focused open-source company, has raised $80 million from investment firm TPG. The company said the financing will help extend its Nexus platform, which it touts as an enterprise ready repository manager and library, which among other things tracks code and helps to keep everything in the devops pipeline up-to-date and secure. It’s that kind of technology that Sonatype says can prevent another Equifax -style breach of over 147 million consumers’ data. Earlier this year, the company found over dozens of Fortune Global 100 companies that downloaded outdated and vulnerable versions of Apache Struts, which Equifax failed to patch or update. Sonatype’s chief executive Wayne Jackson his company can help prevent those type of breaches. “We monitor ...

Managing the music business from a mobile phone, Jammber is making the industry sing

The music business is littered with stories about songwriters or studio contributors and session musicians who never get the credit — or money — they’re often due for their work on hit songs. And for every storied session musician in “The Wrecking Crew” there are perhaps hundreds of other contributors who aren’t getting their just desserts. That’s where Jammber comes in. The five-year-old company co-founded by serial entrepreneur Marcus Cobb has developed a suite of tools to manage everything from songwriting credits and rights management to ticketing and touring all from a group of apps on a mobile phone. And has just raised $2.4 million in funding to take those tools to a broader market. Jammber “Muse” gives collaborators a single pla...

Meet the five Startup Battlefield finalists at Disrupt SF 2018

Over the past two days, 21 companies have taken the stage at the Disrupt SF Startup Battlefield. We’ve now taken the feedback from all our expert judges and chosen five teams to compete in the finals. These teams will all take the stage again tomorrow afternoon to present in front of a new set of judges and answer even more in-depth questions. Then one startup will be chosen as the winner of the Battlefield Cup — and they’ll also take home $100,000. Here are the finalists. The competition will be livestreamed on TechCrunch starting at 1:35pm on Friday. CB Therapeutics CB Therapeutics is a new biotech company that aims to change the game with cannabinoids produced cleanly and cheaply in the lab, out of sugar. What it’s done is bioengineer microorganisms — specifically yeas...

Vtrus launches drones to inspect and protect your warehouses and factories

Knowing what’s going on in your warehouses and facilities is of course critical to many industries, but regular inspections take time, money, and personnel. Why not use drones? Vtrus uses computer vision to let a compact drone not just safely navigate indoor environments but create detailed 3D maps of them for inspectors and workers to consult, autonomously and in real time. Vtrus showed off its hardware platform — currently a prototype — and its proprietary SLAM (simultaneous location and mapping) software at TechCrunch Disrupt SF as a Startup Battlefield Wildcard company. There are already some drone-based services for the likes of security and exterior imaging, but Vtrus CTO Jonathan Lenoff told me that those are only practical because they operate with a large margin for error. I...

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