Hello and welcome back to Last Week In Venture, Crunchbase News’s weekly roundup of interesting deals that may have flown under your radar.
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Before getting into that though… it’s been a heck of a week. Hell, it’s been a heck of a day! On Friday, video conferencing service Zoom and social site Pinterest filed paperwork to go public. (Lord have mercy on the SEC clerks!) Earlier in the week, our own Savannah Dowling stopped by part deux of YC Demo Day, Natasha Mascarenhas covered recent developments at Backstage Capital, Mary Ann Azevedo published her profile of Obvious Ventures, and Joanna Glasner tracked the rise of corporate biotech. We also covered supergiant rounds raised by Glossier and Doctolib, as well as big buys by Spark Networks and Atlassian. And that’s just a part of it.
There’s a lot to keep up with besides which startups are raising what, and who’s going heading for the exit. But there are plenty of interesting companies outside the spotlight, and their contributions to the broader tech landscape is worth highlighting.
Let’s dive into some deals from the week that was in venture-land.
Sector Spotlight: Augmented Reality
As an escape from actual reality, some voyage into the virtual. Augmenting the real world may be the way to go. With augmented reality, there’s a possible future of never forgetting someone’s name, because that information will be displayed above them through a smart lens. (A person can dream, right?!)
In the present, though, AR layers on a bit of digital magic to make real-world tasks just a bit easier. Some venture investors see dollar signs in AR tech and its applications. Here are some deals from last week:
- Saratoga, CA-based company Mojo Vision raised $58 million in a Series B round. A number of investors—including Google-backed Gradient Ventures, LG, HP Tech Ventures, and Kakao Ventures—participated in the deal. The relatively stealthy company is working in the field of “invisible computing,” according to its website. The company is currently hiring for a number of positions, including regulatory clearance roles in medical devices, the only clear clue as to what Mojo Vision might be working on.
- ScopeAR, a startup building AR-powered expert assistance services to technical and industrial workers, raised $9.7 million in a Series A round led by Romulus Capital; several investors participated in the deal. According to coverage of the round in SiliconAngle, “By using wearable AR headsets, an expert at a desk can see exactly what the [on-site] technician sees and can ‘draw’ directly over the worker’s vision. That means expert and specialized knowledge is even closer than before.”
- Ario raised $1 million in a seed round led by 757 Angels. Participating investors include the Center For Innovative Technology and Plug and Play. The Norfolk, VA-based company is “a productivity platform that increases safety and efficiency. Using augmented reality, teams can create and share real-time spatial information, leveraging real-world data in the real world.” Like ScopeAR, it’s also targeting its solution at large-scale manufacturing and other industrial applications.
And to close out this little spotlight on AR: by design, it’s tough for a Y Combinator-backed startup to “fly under anyone’s radar” but Adventurous Co and Allure Systems both pitched on the YC Demo Day stage this week.
- Adventurous Co builds immersive family-oriented adventure experiences, of which AR is a part. The experiences also include puzzles and live actors. Its adventures are currently available in San Francisco.
- Allure Systems helps fashion ecommerce brands create “on-figure garment images” using digital compositing technology. Basically, retailers capture images of their garments on Allure Systems-supplied mannequins and its software digitally fits the images onto images of human clothing models, who only need to pose a handful of times.
Both companies raised $150,000 from YC.
Other Interesting Rounds
- Behind many wonders of the modern world—from water filtration to tissue regeneration—there’s probably a mat of nanofibers involved somewhere. Rapid City, SD-based Nanopareil is in the business of producing “cutting edge separation media composed of functionalized nanofibers,” according to its Crunchbase profile. A profile of the company in Minnesota Business (republished on Nanopareil’s website) says the firm’s filtration-focused fibers are 1,000 times narrower than a human hair: “[A] 12-inch square piece of the firm’s sticky nanofilter material might contain 5,000 miles of continuous, microscopic fiber.” The company raised $1 million from South Dakota Equity Partners. Its CEO is Craig Arnold, who was director of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation for nearly 6 years. Hao Fong and Todd Menhkaus invented the tech at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.
- Alexandria, VA-based Amify builds tools for ecommerce brands which sell their wares through Amazon. The company’s advertising management solution has helped over 1,000 brands promote themselves on the giant ecommerce platform. Until now, the company has been bootstrapped, but this week it announced it raised $5.8 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Mercury Fund; Dundee Venture Capital, CincyTech, SaaS Venture Capital, and Nigel Morris (co-founder of Capital One) participated in the deal. In separate but tangentially relevant related news, Amazon announced it will roll out video ads in its mobile application.
And with that, we’re done for the week. Go out there and have some fun this weekend! It’s okay to turn off the news every once in awhile, especially these days. See you back here on Monday.
mage Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Photo by Bady Qb, via Unsplash.