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The Week’s 10 Biggest Funding Rounds: Ascend Elements Cashes In; OpenWeb Raises Big For Healthier Conversations

Illustration of gardener holding a rake. Venture

This is a weekly feature that runs down the week’s top 10 funding rounds in the U.S. Check out last week’s biggest funding rounds here.

What has been interesting in the last few months as rounds have been a little lighter is where investors are putting their cash. Once upon a time not that long ago, fintech, cybersecurity and crypto would dominate this list. This week, the top three rounds were raised by a battery recycler, a social platform and a loyalty rewards program. It seems like in a down market, investors are turning over every rock to find the best investment, not just following group-think to invest in the next SaaS platform.

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1. Ascend Elements, $200M, batteries: It’s been quite the October for Westborough, Massachusetts-based Ascend Elements. Earlier this month, the lithium-ion battery recycler received $480 million via two Department of Energy grants. This week, the startup closed a $200 million Series C led by Fifth Wall Climate, which also included a $100 million debt facility. That’s a lot of cash in a month. The company plans to put it to good use, as it will look to commercialize its recycling process that could cut down on the raw material shortage the EV market currently faces, and is building a $1 billion sustainable lithium-ion battery materials facility in Kentucky. Founded in 2015, Ascend Elements has now raised more than $920 million, according to Crunchbase data.

2. OpenWeb, $170M, social: New York-based OpenWeb says it is trying to build a “healthy, social layer of the internet.” God knows that would be helpful right now. Apparently so do investors, as the community engagement platform startup raised a $170 million Series F led by Georgian and valuing the company at $1.5 billion. Originally founded in Israel, OpenWeb helps large publishers and brands build direct relationships with their audiences. The startup’s beginnings were as a platform for readers to give comments, but now offers other features including polling and data-management tools. Not sure that’ll really help social interactions be more civil on the internet, but at this point pretty much anything would be better. Founded in 2015, OpenWeb says it has raised $393 million to date.

3. Bilt Rewards, $150M, loyalty programs: For many, the dream of homeownership is beyond their reach. However, New York-based Bilt Rewards is trying to help. The startup closed a $150 million growth round this week led by Left Lane Capital at a $1.5 billion valuation. Bilt’s platform allows renters to earn points while also increasing their credit scores by simply paying their rent. Those points can even be used for downpayment and closing costs when buying a home. Bilt also can show renters what they could own for an equal monthly mortgage payment compared to their rent. The new valuation is a significant jump forward for the startup. Last September, Bilt raised a $60 million seed round at a $350 million valuation — just after launching in June 2021.

4. Versa Networks, $120M, cybersecurity: Even though cybersecurity funding is not having the year it did last (which industry is?), some companies can still raise cash. Santa Clara, California-based networking and cybersecurity firm Versa Networks closed what the company is calling a “pre-IPO round” of $120 million. The round was predominantly equity, with some debt. The equity portion was led by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock. Silicon Valley Bank also participated in the round. Versa positions itself as an SASE (secure access service edge) platform — a growing subsector in cyber. As companies move more to the cloud and toward edge computing, such security is seen as more vital. Large companies like Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks offer such platforms, as does startup Cato Networks (last valued at $2.5 billion). Founded in 2012, Versa has raised $316 million to date, according to Crunchbase data.

5. ConnexPay, $110M, fintech: Atlanta-based fintech platform ConnexPay locked up a $110 million growth investment led by FTV Capital to move past just its current U.S. market and into Europe. The startup integrates incoming user payments with supplier payments in one platform — allowing lower merchant processing fees and users to immediately access fund payments. The company started out in the travel sector, working with travel agencies and operators before expanding to online retailers and delivery services. The startup has doubled its client base in the past year and also is profitable, according to the company. Founded in 2017, ConnexPay says it has raised $145 million in total.

6. Jetti Resources, $100M, mining: Boulder, Colorado-based Jetti Resources, a copper-mining extraction company, closed a $100 million Series D led by funds advised by T. Rowe Price Associates at a valuation of $2.5 billion. Founded in 2014, the company has raised nearly $170 million, according to Crunchbase data.

7. RapidSOS, $75M, public safety: New York-based company RapidSOS raised $57 million led by NightDragon Security. Founded in 2012, the company has developed an emergency response data platform to help first responders. RapidSOS has raised $250 million, according to the company.

8. Normunity, $65M, biotech: Boston- and West Haven, Connecticut-based company Normunity, a biotechnology company creating anti-cancer immunotherapies, announced its launch and the fact it raised a $65 million Series A led by Canaan Ventures.

9. (tied) CharterUP, $60M, transportation: Atlanta-based CharterUP closed a $60 million Series A led by Tritium Partners. Founded in 2018, the startup has created a charter bus marketplace for reservations.

9. (tied) HealthJoy, $60M, healthcare: Chicago-based HealthJoy, a health care navigation platform, locked up a $60 million Series D led by Valspring Capital. Founded in 2014, HealthJoy has raised a total of $108 million, per the company.

Big global deals

Even though U.S.-based startups saw some big rounds, so did some outside the country. The two largest rounds announced this week were:

  • China-based Farizon Auto, a maker of clean energy commercial vehicles, closed a $300 million seed round.
  • China-based China Electronics Corp., an electronic information technology products developer, raised a $275 million corporate round.


We tracked the largest rounds in the Crunchbase database that were raised by U.S.-based companies for the seven-day period of Oct. 22-28. Although most announced rounds are represented in the database, there could be a small time lag as some rounds are reported late in the week.

Illustration: Dom Guzman


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