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Greycroft raises $250M for its fifth early-stage fund

Greycroft, the venture capital firm that’s backed companies like the Huffington Post, Plated and Venmo, is announcing that it has raised $250 million for its latest fund. The firm was founded in 2006 by Alan Patricof, Ian Sigalow and Dana Settle, and it now invests from a fund for seed and Series A deals (this is its fifth early-stage fund) and a separate fund focused on growth investments. Recent bets include scooter startup Bird and podcast network Wondery. Sigalow told me that for the most part, the firm’s strategy isn’t changing, though it has adapted to what he called “the rise of the institutional seed round” by making more seed investments of its own. “I think it’s mostly a change in nomenclature,” Sigalow said — where a funding round of a f...

Swim.ai raises $11M to bring real-time analytics to the edge

Once upon a time, it looked like cloud-based serviced would become the central hub for analyzing all IoT data. But it didn’t quite turn out that way because most IoT solutions simply generate too much data to do this effectively and the round-trip to the data center doesn’t work for applications that have to react in real time. Hence the advent of edge computing, which is spawing its own ecosystem of startups. Among those is Swim.ai, which today announced that it has raised an $11 million Series B funding round let by Cambridge Innovation Capital, with participation from Silver Creek Ventures and Harris Barton Asset Management. The round also included a strategic investment from Arm, the chip design firm you may still remember as ARM (but don’t write it like that or their...

BuzzFeed launches a new website for its real journalism

It’s not news at this point that BuzzFeed has a serious news organization — one whose reporting on Russia made it a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize this year. But it’s also a news organization whose stories are published alongside the social media friendly quizzes and lists that BuzzFeed remains known for — which can be confusing, or even provide easy ammunition to those who want to criticize the reporting. Yes, the company already taken steps to give the more serious reporting its own home and identity, with a BuzzFeed News app, a section on the main BuzzFeed site and a “BuzzFeed News” label on every story. Still, Senior Product Manager Kate Zasada said the company’s own research has found that some readers “don’t completely understand” that w...

Self-driving car startup Zoox is raising $500 million at a $3.2 billion valuation

Zoox, a once-secretive self-driving car startup, is closing a $500 million raise at a $3.2 billion post-money valuation, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Prior to the deal, Zoox was valued at $2.7 billion, Zoox confirmed to TechCrunch. The round, led by Mike Cannon-Brookes of Grok Ventures, brings its total amount of funding to $800 million. Zoox’s plan, according to Bloomberg, is to publicly deploy autonomous vehicles by 2020 in the form of its own ride-hailing service. The cars themselves will be all-electric and fully autonomous. Meanwhile, ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft are also working on autonomous vehicles, as well as a number of other large players in the space. Zoox, which turned four years old this month, is a 500-person company founded by Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse ...

Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman moves into Chairman role

Scott Heiferman, Meetup CEO and cofounder, is today moving into the Chairman role at the community-building startup. Meetup launched in 2003 with a simple goal: to give communities an easy way to meet up in real life. Since, the company has grown to 40 million members, with 320,000 Meetup groups and around 12,000 Meetups per day around the world. Late last year, WeWork acquired Meetup for a reported $200 million. According to WeWork, thousands of Meetups were already happening in WeWork locations. Plus, WeWork has been holding its own events focused on community building, so the acquisition seemed like a natural fit. That said, Heiferman has spent 16 years running Meetup on a day to day basis, and is ready to move into a visionary role and appoint someone else to take over leading the team...

Ultimate Software is acquiring PeopleDoc for $300 million

Public company Ultimate Software is acquiring French startup PeopleDoc for $300 million in cash and stock. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018. These two companies both make HR solutions. Ultimate Software has been around for a while. It went public in 1998 and switched to a software-as-a-service solution in 2002 — this solution is called UltiPro. It lets you manage all things HR, from payroll to benefits, time management, onboarding, performance management and more. PeopleDoc is a younger French startup that has raised over $50 million. As the name suggests, PeopleDoc lets you centralized all HR documents related to you in a single location. They can come from multiple sources and systems, they’ll all be there. The startup has also worked on an onboarding sol...

Ocean Solutions Accelerator names its first wave of conservation startups

Early this year the Sustainable Oceans Alliance announced it would be starting its own accelerator with a focus on conservation. The nonprofit has just announced the Ocean Solutions Accelerator’s first wave of startups: a particularly varied and international lineup that’s easy to root for. You may also remember that the SOA was one of the beneficiaries of the mysterious Pineapple Fund, administered by a mysterious cryptocurrency multimillionaire. No doubt that has helped get the accelerator on its feet in good time. The startups — which I’m getting to, be patient — will receive an initial investment to cover the cost of relocating to the Bay Area for eight weeks this summer. There they will receive the loving care of the collection of academics, founders, officials and o...

Standard Cognition raises another $5.5M to create a cashier-less checkout experience

As Amazon looks to increasingly expand its cashier-less grocery stories — called Amazon Go – across different regions, there’s at least one startup hoping to end up everywhere else beyond Amazon’s empire. Standard Cognition aims to help businesses create that kind of checkout experience based on machine vision, using image recognition to figure out that a specific person is picking up and walking out the door with a bag of Cheetos. The company said it’s raised an additional $5.5 million in a round in what the company is calling a seed round extension from CRV. The play here is, like many startups, to create something that a massive company is going after — like image recognition for cashier-less checkouts — for the long tail businesses rather than locking them into a sing...

Certify acquires real-time expense management startup and YC alum Abacus

Expense management software provider Certify is beefing up its artillery against rival Concur with the acquisition of Abacus, which enables companies to deal with expenses in real time. The deal’s financial terms were not disclosed. The addition of Abacus will help Certify, which includes other expense management solutions like Nexonia and ExpenseWatch under one umbrella, become a stronger rival to SAP-owned Concur by reaching new customer segments. Founded by Omar Qari, Josh Halickman and Ted Power, Abacus says it was the first real-time expense reporting solution on the market when it launched in 2013. The Y Combinator alum, whose investors included General Catalyst, Bessemer Venture Partners, Google Ventures and Salesforce Ventures, currently counts 1,000 customers. Its team will join C...

Dialpad dials up $50M Series D led by Iconiq

Dialpad announced a $50 million Series D investment today, giving the company plenty of capital to keep expanding its business communications platform. The round was led by Iconiq Capital with help from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Amasia, Scale Ventures, Section 32 and Work-Bench. With today’s round, the company has now raised $120 million. As technology like artificial intelligence and internet of things advances, it’s giving the company an opportunity to expand its platform. Dialpad products include UberConference conferencing software and VoiceAI for voice transcription applications. The company is competing in a crowded market that includes giants like Google and Cisco and a host of smaller companies like GoToMeeting (owned by LogMeIn), Zoom and BlueJeans. All o...

Mention Me, the referral marketing platform, raises $7M led by Eight Roads Ventures

Mention Me, the London-headquartered referral marketing platform, has raised $7 million in further funding. The round is led by Eight Roads Ventures and is the first time the five and a half year old company has raised venture capital, having only ever done a small angel round in 2015. That’s noteworthy given the company’s two founders: Andy Cockburn and Tim Boughton, who met at Homeaway where they were U.K. MD and European CTO respectively before its $3 million IPO on the Nasdaq. Counting over 300 customers — including FarFetch, Ovo Energy, Ted Baker and ZipCar — Mention Me offers a marketing platform to make it easy and effective for companies to conduct referral marketing. The platform supports referral programs in 16 languages, but its biggest draw is the a...

Online learning platform Unacademy gets $21M Series C from Sequoia India, SAIF and Nexus

Unacademy founders Roman Saini, Gaurav Munjal and Hemesh Singh Bangalore-based Unacademy will add more educators to its online learning platform, which claims to be India’s largest, after closing a $21 million Series C. The funding comes from Sequoia India, SAIF Partners and Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from Blume Ventures (all four firms are returning from Unacademy’s Series B last year). Originally a YouTube channel created in 2010 by Gaurav Munjal, Unacademy was officially launched as a startup in 2015 by founders Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh. It has now raised $38.6 million in total. While Unacademy offers a wide range of courses, its most popular offerings include preparation for important exams in India. Its platform includes two apps: one that lets educators cr...

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