Startups Venture

Last Week In Venture: Seed-Saving, Data Center Optimization, And A Ghost Ship Future

Hello and welcome back to Last Week In Venture, the weekly roundup of venture deals that may have flown under your radar this week.

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This week, the Crunchbase News team surveyed early-stage VC round size around the country, legal-tech funding, and the Austin startup ecosystem. We tracked the growth of late-stage private companies like WP Engine and Palantir, covered news of new (and quite large) funds raised by Kleiner Perkins and TCV, and reported big rounds raised by personal finance company Acorns, subscription box company FabFitFun, and digital usage analytics company Contentsquare. We also looked at Slack’s numbers as it mulls going public, and covered reports that photo-sharing and content discovery site Pinterest has hired bankers for its IPO.

Of course, this is just part of the story. (We also recently wrote about how hard it is to keep up with all the VC news these days.) There are plenty of companies outside the unicorn spotlight and their stories are definitely worth sharing.

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

Hot Spot: Male Reproductive Health

Male reproductive health appears to be a trend as of late. App-enabled prescription-by-mail upstarts offering erectile dysfunction (think Ro and Hims) and other medications are getting tens of millions in funding. (Crunchbase News covered Hims’s new $100 million round, as well as capital raised by several other personal care companies this week.)

Dadi (pronounced “daddy”) is an startup addressing another very real problem: age-related infertility. On Thursday, Dadi announced “just under” $2 million in seed funding from Third Kind Ventures and Firstminute Capital.

The FDA-licensed company is based in Brooklyn and has developed a custom system for preserving sperm samples in transit, letting men collect samples for fertility tests and plan their reproductive future from home, without going to a clinic.

For $99, the company sends an at-home collection kit, which after being used to collect a sample, is then sent by FedEx for analysis and storage. Dadi sends back a fertility report, which according to TechCrunch includes a video of your own sperm (hopefully) swimming around on a microscope slide. And for $9.99 per month, or $99 per year, the company will store sperm samples in liquid nitrogen at -321ºF, which is only marginally colder than the Midwest was this week.

Follow-Up: U.S. Will-Tech Also Raised Last Week

Last week in Last Week In Venture, we covered a £7.5 million venture round raised by U.K.-based Farewill, a company which lets people draft and store a legally-valid copy of their wills online.

San Diego-based Trust & Will also raised capital last week. The company announced a $1.5 million seed round led by Steve Case’s Rise Of The Rest Fund; Western Technology Investment, Luma Launch, and Halogen Ventures participated in the funding round, which brings the company’s total funding to over $2 million.

As the name of the online estate-planning company might suggest, Trust & Will helps individuals and couples set up a trust-based estate plan, document their wills, and designate guardians for children or dependents. So, when the reaper finally comes for you, your loved ones will know your wishes. (Thanks to Cody Barbo, co-founder of Trust & Will, for reaching out.)

Other Interesting deals

  • Just as autonomous technologies may reduce the need for human involvement in the trucking industry, similar techniques can be applied to other forms of transport. Orca AI is an Israel-based company building collision prevention systems, based on thermal cameras and other sensors, for the global shipping industry. This week, the company announced $2.6 million in seed funding led by MizMaa Ventures. Although “every commercial ship is the target,” according to co-founder Yardon Gross in an interview with VentureBeat, the company will market to transporters of dangerous cargo like oil and gas.
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs) provide a way for software developers to integrate data and functionality from other services into their own products and platforms. Because they’re the window into a company’s public (and sometimes not-so-public) data, APIs present an attractive attack vector for hackers. Salt Security offers an API protection platform that uses AI to monitor and remediate attacks on and abuse of enterprise APIs. The previously YC-backed company raised $10 million in a Series A round led by Israel-based S Capital, a firm consisting of investors formerly at Sequoia Capital Israel.
  • Boston-based data center technology company Carbon Relay picked up $5 million in Series A funding from electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group. Using energy use data streaming off of compute clusters, the company helps data center operators predict and optimize energy consumption using machine learning methods. An April 2018 report from the Yale School of Forestry says that data centers currently consume 2 percent of the world’s electricity supply and emit as much carbon dioxide as the airline industry. “And with global data traffic more than doubling every four years, they are growing fast,” Fred Pearce, the report’s author wrote.

And with that. we’re done for the week! If you’re in the Midwest like me (Chicago in my case) I hope you get a little time outside to enjoy yourself after you thaw out a bit.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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