Startups Venture

Last Week In Venture: Brandcast Bags B, Drone Defenses, And Raising With Hat In Hand

Hello and welcome to Last Week In Venture, Crunchbase News’s weekly roundup of venture deals that may have flown under your radar.

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We on the Crunchbase News crew have been busy making our lists and checking them twice, and this week brought a bevy of nice big deals to dive into. Ride-hailing giant Grab invested $100 million in Indian hotel upstart OYO. Freeletics, Agricool, Contentful, Camunda, and Pindrop each announced tens of millions in new funding. SoftBank’s Vision Fund is almost at $100 billion. And because it has more money than it knows what to do with, China-based media decacorn ByteDance is mulling a $1.45 billion venture fund of its own. As always, this is just a small fraction of all the happenings.

It’s easy to miss what companies outside the spotlight are contributing to the global startup ecosystem. But that doesn’t mean their stories aren’t worth sharing.

Let’s dive into the week that was in venture-land.

SEC Scoop: Brandcast Bags $18M In Likely Series B

On Friday afternoon, code-free website-builder Brandcast filed paperwork with the SEC indicating it has raised just one dollar shy of $18 million in a new round of funding that’s likely a Series B.

Its last round was a Crunchbase data indicates that Brandcast has raised $17.7 million in prior funding, bringing the company’s total funding up to $35.7 million to date.

The company started raising the round in late September and the paperwork was dated December 5. The funding round hasn’t been announced publicly yet.

Back To The Drawing Board

As much as we focus on early-stage rounds from up-and-coming companies here on Last Week In Venture, we’ve got a little anecdote from the other end of both spectra.

In June M17 Entertainment, a Taiwanese streaming entertainment company botched its IPO, resulting in cofounder Jeffrey Huang dropping the F-bomb in his social media vituperation of the deal’s underwriters, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank. (Bloomberg got into all the juicy details.) Crunchbase News covered the company’s F-1 filing (the functional equivalent of a form S-1, but for foreign companies) shortly after it dropped back in May.

A botched IPO doesn’t stop the capital burn though. Failing to raise from public markets and likely running low on cash, M17 announced this week that it raised $25 million in venture funding from gaming executive Terry Tsang, with participation from Pavilion Capital and Stonebridge Ventures.

We’ll see how this all turns out. 2019 may end up being the year of the decacorn IPO, as well as a second chance for bad deals to go better the next time around.

Other Interesting Deals

  • First West Capital led Vancouver, BC-based Fresh Prep‘s first-ever round of outside funding, according to a representative for the company. Founded in 2015, the company has grown to over 150 staff and serves 20,000 customers across Lower Mainland in Victoria, BC. It’s unclear whether Ryan Lang, First West Capital’s managing director, was making a pun here, but he credits the packaged meal kit company’s growth with “out of the box thinking.”
  • Based in Indianapolis, MetaCX is building what it somewhat cryptically describes as “a digital success layer that brings suppliers and buyers of enterprise software together” to promote collaboration and to give “real-time visibility into customer success.” The software is in closed beta. MetaCX announced a $14 million seed round—large anywhere, but huge by Midwest standards—which was led by Upfront Ventures and had participation from High Alpha.
  • For most of us, the biggest building we might ever have to “manage” is a house. The thing is, the amount of resources a house consumes is small potatoes compared to even a modestly-sized commercial office building. Facilio builds software that helps facilities managers track and predict resource consumption, and anticipate and automate work orders through statistical methods and rule-based workflows. The company, which has offices in Atlanta, GA and Chennai, India raised $6.4 million in Series A funding led by Tiger Global Management; Accel participated in the deal.
  • Drones present a high-tech game of cat and mouse. On the one hand, it’s cheaper than ever to buy and fly drones with high-quality cameras or the ability to carry small objects. On the other hand, there are plenty of places (like airports, correctional facilities, government research labs, corporate headquarters, and others) that need to protect themselves from snooping eyes in the sky. To build a business around its non-jamming signal substitution technology, WhiteFox Defense raised $12 million in an extended seed round from Illinois-based investors including Serra Ventures and OCA Ventures, as well as California firms including Okapi Venture Partners and others.

And for those of you made it to the end, a lagniappe: several serene snow scenes to relax you before the end-of-year madness commences. Also, if you or your family are celebrating, Happy Hanukkah! 🕎

Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

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