Welcome to Last Week In Venture, a weekly roundup of venture deals inked with interesting companies that you may have missed.
There’s a lot going on. The U.S. Southeast braced for Hurricane Florence as Joyce and Helene brew in the deep Atlantic. Larry Page, one of the Google guys, ghosted the government, which wanted to grill him and other executives on election interference and national security. And a months-long series of FTC hearings just started. The FCC thinks states like Minnesota have no right to enact their own net neutrality rules. And a company invited folks to its weird spaceship-looking Cupertino headquarters to show off its new phones. It’s been a week!
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In spite of all that, though, investors continued to funnel staggering amounts of capital into companies like SenseTime, Sisense, Atrium LTS, and others which raised this week. It’s easy to overlook what companies outside the spotlight are contributing to startup ecosystems around the world. But that doesn’t mean their stories aren’t worth sharing.
Here we go!
Funding Hotspot: Aftermarket Marketplaces
Most of us who can afford it prefer to buy new stuff. But for big-ticket purchases especially, like a car, it can pay to buy used. And for some rare or collectible items, buying something right out of someone’s closet might be the only way to cop a grail.
This week saw a couple of used-good marketplace platforms raise cash from investors. Here’s the run-down:
- Shift is one of several upstarts competing to own part of the very lucrative used car industry. On Thursday, it announced a $70 million in a Series D round led by automotive dealership network Lithia Motors. A fleet of prior investors including DCM Ventures, DFJ, G2VP, and Goldman Sachs, among others, invested in the round.. In addition to that equity financing, the company secured a $70 million debt facility as part of the transaction.
- Detroit-based StockX, a platform for buying and selling sneakers and select streetwear, picked up a cool $44 million from Battery Ventures and GV, among others, including unlikely syndicate partners DJ Steve Aoki and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff. It plans to use this capital to expand its anonymous mobile-first marketplace infrastructure to other product verticals, and into international markets.
Other Rounds From Interesting Companies
- Strikingly, which makes a website-building platform, raised $10 million in what the company is framing as an extension of its Series A round. (The company’s CEO, David Chen, told TechCrunch that the round was “technically a Series B level round.”) This brings the Shanghai-based company’s total known funding to $17 million since it was founded in 2012, when Chen and his co-founders were students at the University of Chicago. Today, the company employs over 300 people. (Note: Crunchbase News’s Jason D. Rowley and Alex Wilhelm were both classmates of David Chen.)
- Chicago-based Seed CX formally announced it raised $15 million in a Series B round led by Bain Capital Ventures. The company operates the “first licensed cryptocurrency exchange to offer institutional trading and settlement for both the spot market and CFTC-regulated derivatives,” according to a statement. Its two founders initially launched the company to build futures trading markets for avocados and industrial hemp, but pivoted with the crypto craze. In December 2017, Seed CX announced that Bittrex, the cryptocurrency exchange, acquired a controlling strategic stake in the company, citing its swap exchange facility (Seed SEF) as a core motivator for the deal. Seed CX started raising this Series B round back in June, according to an SEC filing Crunchbase News approached the company about at the time.
- Drone manufacturer Impossible Aerospace raised $9.4 million in a Series A round led by Bessemer Venture Partners and had participation from Airbus Ventures and Eclipse (which followed on its $2 million seed investment from April 2017.). Impossible Aerospace’s 7.1 kilogram (15.7 pound) flagship Impossible US-1 drone features a 75 kilometer (46.6 mile) range, an optional thermal-imaging camera from FLIR, and a two-hour flight time, over twice that of major competitors. The base model drone costs $7,500 and the one with the FLIR camera will set buyers back by $10,000. CEO Spencer Gore told The Verge that “The US-1 is more than just a product. It’s also a proof of concept of a new way of designing aircraft.” With its battery-first structural design and custom drivetrain, Gore eyes a future of developing bigger, human-laden aircraft.
- Finally, we direct you to an article Crunchbase News published on Friday about System1 Biosciences, which just raised $25 million in a Series A round. What does the company do? Among other things, it grows brains in jars for science.
And for those intrepid folks who made it to the end, a lagniappe: something to count as you doze off tonight. We’re off to enjoy a relaxing weekend! 🐑