Startups Venture

Last Week In Venture: The Point Of Sales, AI Vector Makers, And A Different Kind Of “SaaS”

Greetings, and welcome to Last Week In Venture, Crunchbase News’s weekly rundown of venture rounds that may have flown under your radar over the past week.

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Crunchbase News has covered some of the biggest venture news to hit the wires this week. This includes a supergiant VC round from productivity platform Airtable, $200 million for biopharma company Roivant Sciences, and a whopping $3 billion for shared workspace behemoth WeWork. And we’d be remiss to not mention the $10 billion in tech M&A last weekend (stemming from a buyout of Apptio by Vista Equity Partners, and SAP’s $8 billion deal with Qualtrics which recently filed to go public.) And that’s just a tiny fraction of all the stuff that happened last week.

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.

Version And Manage Data Like Code

Pachyderm is a 4 year-old company that’s the “first technology to offer petabyte­-scale version control for data,” according to a statement from the company.1 Just as tools like Github give software engineers the ability to version, fork, and track their codebases, Pachyderm’s Docker container and Kubernetes-based platform gives similar capabilities to data scientists and machine learning engineers working with big, ever-shifting datasets.

This week, the San Francisco-based company announced it raised $10 million in its Series A. Benchmark led the round, which had participation from prior investors Ace & Co, Blumberg Capital, Data Collective, Foundation Capital, Susa Ventures, Tuesday Capital, and Y Combinator.

Why does this matter? Reproducibility is a major issue in data science workflows, in part because the underlying data is almost always shifting. In other words, a query made today is likely to return significantly different results than the same query made a couple of weeks, months, or quarters ago.

Sometimes, that’s a good thing. For example, I’ve set up a little Crunchbase query that returns a list of funding rounds announced today. I want that to return something different every time.

Other times, not so much. “One of the trickiest parts of data science is if you change anything, you change everything. […] Without insight into the complete data lineage for the entire pipeline, getting concrete and repeatable results can be nearly impossible,” Pachyderm cofounders Joe Doliner and Joey Zwicker wrote in the blog post announcing the raise.

The Joy Of Logos

On Thursday, Toronto-based LogoJoy announced that it had raised CAD$6 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Canadian venture firm Real Ventures.

According to a statement provided to Crunchbase News, the company uses generative artificial intelligence to create unique symbols, typography, and color combinations. According to Logojoy, “the company uses machine learning to continually teach the platform what design elements work best together.” Logojoy will use its new capital to expand its engineering team.

The 29-person company says it has sold more than 100,000 logos since launching in 2016. Logojoy expects to close out the year—its second in operation—with $8 million in revenue. Not bad for a vector generator.

Subscribe, Return, Recycle

New York-based clothing company For Days has an interesting model: shirts as a service.

The company offers annual subscription packs (ranging in size from one shirt to ten) of its own organic cotton tee shirts for women and men. When you’re through with a shirt (either because it’s worn out, you’ve ripped it, or you just want a new one), you send it back to For Days and they ship you another shirt of your choosing at an additional $8 per shirt. Returned tees get cut up, pulped, and spun into new yarn (30 percent recycled, 70 percent virgin, according to the company) which is in turn spun into new shirts and other garments by For Days.

For Days announced $2.8 million in seed funding led by Rosecliff Ventures. Retail-focused investor Bleu Capital, collaborative consumption-oriented firm Collaborative Fund, and sustainable tech-focused Congruent Ventures are among the participants in the round.

The company’s cofounder and CEO, Kristy Caylor, served prior leadership roles at hip Los Angeles fashion house Band Of Outsiders and Maiyet, now a collective of luxury fashion brands focused on sustainability and social impact.

Driving The Market

A handful of companies directly or tangentially connected to the automotive services sector raised fresh capital this week. Below, you’ll find a selection of those deals.

  • This week, Chicago-based parking marketplace ParkWhiz extended its Series D round with an additional $5 million from the Amazon Alexa Fund and others. This brings the total size of ParkWhiz’s Series D to $25 million; the first $20 million tranche, announced in September, was led by NewSpring Capital. “The Alexa Fund was created to support companies building compelling products and services that leverage voice technology, and ParkWhiz is a fast-growing company that fits that profile perfectly,” said Alexa Fund managing director Paul Bernard in a statement provided to Crunchbase News. In September, Amazon launched the Echo Auto, a device that enables in-car access to Amazon’s increasingly omnipresent digital assistant.
  • Chances are, when you’re filling up your car, the way you pay is literally a POS. Gas Pos is in the point of sale (POS) business, and it caters its offering to independent gas stations, convenience stores, and truck stops. The North Little Rock, AR-based company announced $1 million in seed funding from Merus Capital to roll out its secure, chip-and-pin payments systems nationwide ahead of a major hardware transition in the space. Why the urgency? Because major credit card companies like Visa and MasterCard are mandating that gas pumps transition from magnetic strip readers to chip (“EMV,” so-called because ) readers to reduce fraud. Instead of requiring up-front capital expense, Gas Pos will install new chip readers for free and charge a monthly fee for its integrated hardware and software offerings.

And for those of you who made it to the end, a lagniappe: here’s a little gif of a pug which seems incredibly enthused with its turkey costume. Thanksgiving is next week, after all. Get ready to chow down y’all. ?

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

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

  1. Disclosure: In 2017, Pachyderm presented at a not-for-profit software engineering conference Jason volunteers for.

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