Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about Zoom and Superhuman’s PR disasters. Before that, I noted the big uptick in VC spending in 2019.
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Now let’s talk about mental health startups. VCs may be confident in the potential of teletherapy, but struggling companies in the space tell another story.
Nine months ago Basis launched a website and app for guided conversations via chat or video with pseudo-therapists or people trained in research-backed approaches but who lack the same certifications as a counseling or clinical psychologist. I wrote a story noting that the company, led by former Uber VP Andrew Chapin, had raised a $3.75..
Customer experience management platform Medallia (NYSE: MDLA) rose more than 70% in its New York Stock Exchange debut Friday.
The nearly two-decades-old business priced its shares at $21 apiece, the top of its proposed range, Thursday evening and traded as high as $39.54 the following morning. Medallia closed up roughly 76% at about $37 per share on Friday.
Medallia sold a total of 15.5 million shares in its IPO, raising $326 million at a $2.5 billion valuation in the process.
San Mateo-headquartered Medallia, led by chief executive officer Leslie Stretch, operates a platform meant to help businesses better provide for their customers. Its core product, the Medallia Experience Cloud, provides employees real-time data on customers collected from online review sites and social media. The service leverages that data to provide insights and tools to improve customer experiences.
The company is backed by four venture capital firms: Sequoia Capital — which owned a roughly 40% pre-IPO sta..
We’ve got great news for all the time-strapped female founders out there. Yeah, we’re looking at you, sister. We’re extending the application deadline to apply for the All Raise “ask me anything” (AMA) sessions at Disrupt SF 2019. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to meet with a leading female VC and, well, ask her anything. Apply for an AMA session by August 15.
Not familiar with All Raise? This startup nonprofit, dedicated to accelerating female founder success, will host a day-long AMA event on October 3 at Disrupt SF 2019 — in a dedicated section of Startup Alley. Each AMA session lasts 30 minutes and consists of three founders and one VC. All Raise expects more than 100 female founders to take part in at least 30 sessions scheduled throughout the day.
Don’t bring your pitches, bring your questions — the kind of questions that keep you up at night. It’s a rare opportunity to ask a leading VC advice on topics like your next raise, key hires, your competition. Imagine receiving busi..
The fast-growing Indian hospitality business Oyo has garnered a valuation of $10 billion after its founder, Ritesh Agarwal, purchased $2 billion in shares from venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners, the company announced Friday.
Agarwal, 25, founded Oyo in 2013 at the age of 19. Following immense growth of the now global hotel chain business, Agarwal opted to increase his 10% stake to 30% via a Cayman Islands company called RA Hospitality Holdings, according to The Wall Street Journal. SoftBank has also increased its percent ownership as part of this round, now owning nearly half of the company.
Oyo has raised a whopping $1.6 billion in equity funding to date, reaching a valuation of $5 billion at its last funding round. Other investors in the company include Airbnb, Grab Holdings and Didi Chuxing.
Oyo is active in 800 cities in 80 countries, with more than 23,000 hotels in its portfolio. Recently, the company announced plans to invest $300 million in..
AutoX, the Hong Kong and San Jose, Calif.-based autonomous vehicle technology company, is pushing past its grocery delivery roots and into the AV supplier and robotaxi business.
And now, it’s taking its business to Europe.
AutoX has partnered with NEVS — the Swedish holding company and electric vehicle manufacturer that bought Saab’s assets out of bankruptcy — to deploy a robotaxi pilot service in Europe by the end of 2020. Under the exclusive partnership, AutoX will integrate its autonomous drive technology into a next-generation electric vehicle inspired by NEVS’s “InMotion” concept that was shown at CES Asia in 2017.
This next-generation vehicle is being developed by NEVS in Trollhättan, Sweden. Testing of the autonomous NEVs vehicles will begin in the third quarter of 2019. The vehicles will hit public roads in Europe next year, the companies said.
AutoX founder and CEO Jianxiong Xiao, commonly referred to as Professor X, noted that this particular vehicle is ideal for an aut..
Deborah Eisenberg Contributor Share on Twitter Deborah Eisenberg is the founder of TechStarts PR, where she helps technology companies both big and small hone their message and reach their audience. There comes a time for many startup companies where they either realize they need to do a nationwide roll-out, or they need to actively target buyers in the middle of the country. If you are a startup on either the east or the west coasts, it’s worth thinking about how this market might present its own set of unique challenges, and how you plan to overcome them.
There are a lot of misconceptions about what some people call “flyover country”, and as a San Francisco native who spent two decades in NY, DC, and Boston before moving to Pittsburgh, I can assure you they are almost all wrong. Without getting into specifics, the reality of “middle America” is that it’s the same as anywhere else.
Income, education, world view, and waistlines are ..
Gaurav Maken, the chief executive officer of the online vegan grocery store Mylk Guys, doesn’t think of his company as a place to just buy food. For him, it’s a testing ground and platform for all of the new food products he expects to be developed as startup entrepreneurs and established food companies start tackling the plant-based and alternative-meat market in earnest.
The company has raised $2.5 million in support of that vision from investors, including Khosla Ventures, Pear Ventures and Fifty Years.
“Today we’re an online grocery store,” says Maken. “We are also a place for cultured meats and any genetically engineered food that allows us to scale our food production and allows us to keep feeding people.”
Maken isn’t wedded to plant-based products and envisions a virtual store stocked with products that create more sustainable consumption options for its customers. In fact, 40% of the company’s customers are not vegan, according to Maken.
“We don’t only think about vegans...
Contract management isn’t exactly an exciting subject, but it’s a real pain point for many companies. It also lends itself to automation, thanks to recent advances in machine learning and natural language processing. It’s no surprise then, that we see renewed interest in this space and that investors are putting more money into it. Earlier this week, Icertis raised a $115 million Series E round, for example, at a valuation of more than $1 billion. Icertis has been in this business for ten years, though. On the other end of the spectrum, contract management startup Lexion today announced that it has raised a $4.2 million seed round led by Madrona Venture Group and law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which was also one of the first users of the product.
Lexion was incubated at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), one of the late Microsoft co-founders’ four scientific research institutes. The company’s co-founder and CEO, Gaurav Oberoi, is a bit of a serial entre..
A future where drones can easily and cheaply do many useful things such as deliver packages, undertake search and rescue missions and deliver urgent medical supplies, not to mention unclogging our roads with flying taxis, seems like a future worth shooting for. But before all this can happen, we need to make sure the thousands of drones in the sky are operating safely. A drone needs to be able to automatically detect when entering into the flight path of another drone, manned aircraft or restricted area and to alter its course accordingly to safely continue its journey. The alternative is the chaos and danger of the recent incidences of drones buzzing major airports, for instance.
There is a race on to produce just such a system. Wing LLC, an offshoot of the Alphabet / Google-owned X company, has announced a platform it calls OpenSky that it hopes will become the basis for a full-fledged air-traffic control system for drones. So far, it’s only been approved to manage drone flights in ..
VertoFX, an Africa and emerging markets-focused currency trading and payment startup, has raised a $2.1 million seed round, led by Accelerated Digital Ventures.
The London-based company, with a subsidiary in Lagos, Nigeria, has created a platform that allows businesses and banks to exchange and make payments in exotic foreign currencies that don’t often convert or trade conveniently across businesses or banks.
For example, South Africa’s Rand is Africa’s most convertible and traded currency — with lower spreads and transaction costs — while currencies of countries such as Ethiopia or Egypt may be difficult or expensive to trade or transact B2B payments.
“That’s the reason we are utilizing technology to create a marketplace model and price discovery to create liquidity for these currencies,” VertoFX founder Ola Oyetayo told TechCrunch.
There are around 40 global currencies that are considered exotic or illiquid, most of them in frontier markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle-East, a..