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Calm heads to the airport, invests $3 million in XpresSpa

Wellness app Calm has today announced a $3 million equity investment in XpresSpa Group, a fast-spa service you may have noticed in your local airport. Calm sees the investment as a way to expand its offline presence, growing awareness of the app as well as its retail products like Sleep Mist and the Calm Book. Calm subscribers will have access to a variety of in-store benefits and treatments at one of 52 XpresSpa locations in cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. As investor and general interest around mental health and wellness grows, Calm has carved out its slice of the pie. The company has raised $28.5 million from investors Insight Venture Partners and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, with a $250 million valuation. The app is, for all intents and purposes...

Sustainable clothing startup For Days raises $2.8M for its closed-loop manufacturing process

For Days, a clothing startup that wants to reduce the enormous amount of textile waste created annually, announced today that it has raised $2.8 million in  seed funding. The round led by Rosecliff Ventures joined by Collaborative Fund, with participation from Congruent Ventures, Third Prime Capital, Closed Loop Ventures, Bleu Capital, Gramercy Fund, and Ride Ventures. For Days’ makes its clothing with a closed-loop manufacturing and recycling process enabled by a T-shirt membership programs that lets customers mail back worn shirts for recycling in exchange for new ones. While there is a growing roster of brands focused on quality sustainable clothing, including Everlane and Alternative Apparel (and a growing community of DIYers who want to reduce their environmental and social impact by ...

Announcing the agenda for TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa

We’re bringing Startup Battlefield back to Africa on December 11, and we’re excited to announce our jam-packed agenda that highlights the best and brightest startups in the region. For months we’ve been poring through hundreds of applications looking for innovative startups based in Africa. It was tough; the competition was fierce. But we were able to find 15 innovative companies to compete for the top prize. Each company will present a six-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges, vying for US$25,000 in no-equity cash. But that’s not all! Winners will receive a trip for two and the opportunity to compete in Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt SF in 2019. In addition to Startup Battlefield, we have exciting panels covering many facets of startup funding in Africa, as well as the bl...

Anorak raises £5M Series A for its life insurance advice platform

Anorak Technologies, the U.K. startup building a life insurance advice platform, has raised £5 million in Series A funding. Notably, the round is led by previous backer Kamet Ventures, the tech incubator funded by insurance giant AXA. It brings the total raised by Anorak to £9 million. In a call, co-founder and CEO David Vanek told me the startup’s mission is to build the world’s “smartest” automated life insurance advice platform. It wants to offer insurance advice at the most appropriate time and place in a person’s life, such as when buying a house or starting a family, and in turn open up life insurance cover to many more people. As it stands, life insurance, such as accidental death cover, tends to be sold through financial advisors or brokers targeting h...

Fluidly, the ‘intelligent’ cashflow management SaaS for SMEs, picks up £5M Series A

Fluidly, the London-based fintech that offers an “intelligent” cashflow management SaaS for SMEs, has raised £5 million in Series A funding. The round is led by New-York based Nyca Partners, with participation from other investors including Octopus Ventures, Anthemis, and angel investors Simon Murdoch, and Charlie Songhurst. Claiming to define a new software category, namely “Intelligent Cash,” Fluidly want to significantly improve small and medium-sized businesses’ cashflow management. To do this it has built machine learning-based technology to predict and optimise the future cash flows for SMEs, thus helping business owners conduct better financial decision-making. As part of this, you connect Fluidly to your business bank account via Open Banking, and to y...

Okay, one final Form D note

Some more comments from readers on the changing culture around startups filing their Form Ds with the SEC, and then a short update on SoftBank and a bunch more article reviews. We are experimenting with new content forms at TechCrunch. This is a rough draft of something new – provide your feedback directly to the authors: Danny at danny@techcrunch.com or Arman at Arman.Tabatabai@techcrunch.com if you like or hate something here. Lawyers are pretty uniform that disclosure is no longer ideal If you haven’t been following our obsession with Form Ds, be sure to read up on our original piece and follow up. The gist is that startups are increasingly foregoing filing a Form D with the SEC that provides details of their venture rounds like investment size and main investors in order to stay ...

BlaBlaCar to acquire Ouibus and offer bus service

French startup BlaBlaCar is announcing plans to acquire Ouibus, the bus division of France’s national railway company SNCF. For the first time, BlaBlaCar is moving beyond carpooling and plans to offer both long-distance carpooling rides and bus rides. BlaBlaCar already ran a test with Ouibus for the past six months on popular corridors. It looks like both companies are happy with this test as SNCF is willing to let BlaBlaCar run Ouibus from now on. As part of this deal, BlaBlaCar is announcing a new $114 million investment (€101 million) from SNCF and existing BlaBlaCar investors. I’d guess that this isn’t just cash but probably cash and shares as part of the move with SNCF. Yes, you read that correctly, SNCF is now an investor in BlaBlaCar. Ouibus has transported over 12 million passenger...

Audioburst turns the best part of podcasts into personalized news briefs

Tel Aviv-based Audioburst has been developing a search engine for audio news, which allows users to locate audio content within podcast and other talk radio programs. Today, the company is capitalizing on its technology to launch personalized playlists that deliver custom newsbriefs that get better over time the more you use the product. The feature has been built using deep A.I. learning, the company says. The content itself is drawn from top podcasts and the radio stations in Audioburst’s index, and will alert you to new information based on your chosen keywords and topics. To use the feature, you first sign up on the Audioburst website, then select from a set of interests or add your own. When you’re finished with the selection process, you just hit the “I’m done...

Framer, the interactive design platform, scores $24M Series B led by Atomico

Framer, the Amsterdam-based startup behind interactive design platform Framer X, has raised $24 million in Series B investment. The round is led by European VC firm Atomico, with participation from Accel, and AngelList. The startup says it will use the new capital to continue building out its platform for designers and product teams. It brings the total raised to date by Framer to $33 million. Founded by ex-Facebookers Koen Bok and Jorn van Dijk, Framer has set out to ride (and power) a trend that is seeing every company having to become a digital business and often a product-first company, as consumers become accustomed to high quality apps and other desirable digital experiences. This means that better tools are required to prototype news apps or features, and therefore help shorten the ...

London’s transport regulator looks to startups to help fix urban mobility

London’s transport regulator, TfL has announced a partnership with Bosch for its forthcoming co-working space in Shoreditch. The civic tech project is intended to run for 18 months as a pilot — though Bosch’s ‘Connectory’ co-working facility won’t open until the end of January. A company spokeswoman confirmed the partnership is nonetheless up and running now. The aim of the collaborative project is to share data and expertise, including by tapping into London’s startup ecosystem, to land on new ideas for tackling urban mobility issues — from traffic jams to awful air quality. Transport issues are especially pressing for the city as London’s population is forecast to reach a staggering 10.8 million by 2041 — which would mean around...

Clearbanc raises $70M to fund startups with ad money for a rev share

Selling equity to buy Facebook and Google ads is a bad deal for startups. Clearbanc offers a fundraising alternative. For fast-growing businesses reliably earning sales from their marketing spend, Clearbanc offers funding from $5,000 to $10 million in exchange for a steady revenue share of their earnings until its paid back plus a 6 percent fee. Clearbanc picks what merchants qualify by developing tech that scanns their Stripe, Facebook ads, and other accounts to asses financial health and momentum. It’s already doled out $100 million this year. “As a business successfully scales, we continue to provide them ongoing capital” co-founder and CEO Andrew D’Souza tells me. “Our goal is the be the first and last backer of a successful business and save the entrepren...

SAP agrees to buy Qualtrics for $8B in cash, just before the survey software company’s IPO

Ryan Smith of Qualtrics speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 Enterprise software giant SAP announced today that it has agreed to acquire Qualtrics for $8 billion in cash, just before the survey and research software company was set to go public. The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019. Qualtrics last round of venture capital funding in 2016 raised $180 million at a $2.5 billion valuation. This is the second-largest ever acquisition of a SaaS company, after Oracle’s purchase of Netsuite for $9.3 billion in 2016. In a conference call, SAP CEO Bill McDermott said Qualtrics’ IPO was already oversubscribed and that the two companies began discussions a few months ago. SAP claims its software touches 77 percent of the world’s transaction revenue, while Qualtric...

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