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Second Genome Inc. has attracted the venture arms of two drug companies to a $42.6 million financing that will enable it to develop disease treatments based on research into the population of microbes that live in and on the body. The more than 100 trillion microorganisms living in and on the body, the microbiome, influence disease and health, research indicates. For Second Genome, the interest that the venture arms of Pfizer and Roche showed in its financing validates two premises on which the company is based. One is that the microbiome is involved in multiple diseases. The other is that Second Genome’s particular approach to microbiome-based therapy is one that should appeal to drug manufacturers, according to Chief Executive Peter DiLaura. Instead of using microbes as drugs, Second Genome develops conventional large- or small-molecule therapies, the types of products that pharmaceutical companies already produce.
ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription Continue reading "The Daily Startup: Second Genome Raises $42.6 Million to Pursue Microbiome-Based Therapies"
As venture capital investment slowed in the first quarter, investors slammed the brakes on funding for consumer services. But some investors still bet consumers will pay to have drivers pick up their laundry so they don’t have to haul it to dry cleaners themselves: San Francisco-based Rinse Inc. grabbed $6 million in Series A funding, Cat Zakrzewski reports for VentureWire. In the on-demand economy, few services besides food delivery have become as crowded as laundry. Washio Inc., Laundry Locker Inc., Cleanly Inc., FlyCleaners Inc. and other competitors all focus on dry cleaning and laundry delivery. Rinse co-founder and Chief Executive Ajay Prakash pushes back against the comparison of his company to others in the on-demand laundry space. He said though the company can offer laundry service in 24 hours, he has focused on providing a quality dry cleaning experience rather than a fast one.
ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE Continue reading "The Daily Startup: Rinse Puts New Spin on Dry Cleaning"
TapInfluence, a platform that connects brands with influencer marketers to promote their content online, has raised $14 million in Series B1 funding.
The company, incorporated as TapInfluence Inc., has a network of about 45,000 vetted influencers. TapInfluence uses Watson, IBM’s natural-language-processing computer, to create demographic profiles of each influencer’s audience, to help marketers target their campaigns. TapInfluence also works with the Nielsen Catalina Solutions to provide its clients with attribution data on the conversions driven by each campaign and influencer. This includes return-on-investment data for both online and in-store transactions.
Last year it transitioned from a fee-for-service model to a software-as-a-service one.
TapInfluence is harnessing advertising dollars from brands that are beginning to embrace influencer marketing at scale, running hundreds of campaigns instead of reaching out to individual influencers, said Chief Executive Promise Phelon. The company’s clients include WhiteWave Foods, the maker of Silk soy milk.
Genomics company Illumina, which has used venture investments and acquisitions to help fuel its growth, is ramping up its venture activity by committing to invest $100 million over 10 years through a new venture fund. Illumina has grown rapidly as demand for its DNA-sequencing systems and other life sciences-research tools has soared. The company posted $2.2 billion in 2015 revenue, a 19% jump from 2014, and over the last five years its share price has climbed to $173 from the high $60s. For several years Illumina has made venture investments through an internal fund, backing startups such as consumer-genetics company 23andMe Inc., software provider Desktop Genetics Ltd., and biotech concern Kallyope Inc. With the genomics market growing, Illumina concluded that it could extend its reach through an independent venture fund that has access to additional capital, according to spokesman Eric Endicott.
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RefleXion Medical Inc. has collected $46 million in Series B financing to bring to market a technology that could make radiation therapy for cancer safer and extend its benefits to more patients, Brian Gormley reports for VentureWire. New investor KCK Group, a family investment fund, led the round, which also included return backers Pfizer Venture Investments, Sofinnova Partners and Venrock. RefleXion formed in 2009 and raised seed financing from individuals before closing an $11 million Series A round in 2014. Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It can be used with chemotherapy and surgery in an attempt to treat or cure cancer. Today, physicians use X-rays, computed tomography scanning and magnetic resonance imaging to guide treatment. These types of imaging provide anatomical or structural information. RefleXion intends to add another way to guide treatment.
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During the short existence of startup RigUp Inc., the oil and gas industry it serves turned on its head.
When the startup started testing its online marketplace for oil-rig projects in 2014 the price for a barrel of crude hovered around $100, oil rigs were multiplying around the country and exploration companies were making profits. Since then, the price per barrel sank to around $40 and the number of oil rigs dropped some 75%, to the lowest level since at least 1949, according to data from WTRG Economics.
And yet Austin, Texas-based RigUp managed to raise a $15 million Series A round, building on top of the $3 million seed round it closed in the summer of 2014. The new round came mostly from existing investors, Founders Fund, Box Group, and Great Oaks. New backers include FreeS VC, Moore Capital and GE Ventures, part of General Electric
Quartet Health Inc., which uses its technology to improve access to behavioral health care and to integrate it with physical health care, has raised $40 million to expand its offering to markets across the U.S., Brian Gormley reports for VentureWire. New investor GV (formerly Google Ventures) is leading the Series B round, which also includes previous backers F-Prime Capital Partners, Oak HC/FT Partners and Polaris Partners. Quartet formed in 2014 and raised a $7 million Series A round last year. About one in five U.S. adults experiences a mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Common behavioral-health conditions include depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol abuse. Patients can have difficulty gaining access to mental-health care because of a shortage of care providers and because physical and behavioral health care have typically been siloed instead of integrated, according to Quartet Continue reading "The Daily Startup: GV Leads $40 Million Round for Quartet Health"
When Yale University’s endowment reported this month that its venture capital portfolio earned returns of 92.7% per annum over the last two decades, skeptical readers declared that headline-grabbing number too good to be true.
The $25.57 billion Ivy League endowment has cleared the air on its track record: The 92.7% return over the 20 years ended June 30 is the venture portfolio’s internal rate of return, which was lifted by outsized performance during the years of the dot-com boom, according to a statement from David Swensen, Yale’s chief investment officer.
What that number isn’t, he stressed, is the portfolio’s time-weighted return over 20 years. Calculations of annualized time-weighted returns give equal weight to the performance of each year and assume distributions get reinvested so the returns compound over time.
If Yale had been able to compound a 92.7% return over two decades, the venture portfolio would be much Continue reading "Yale Clears Air on Venture Returns (and Cautions on the Limits of IRR)"
Uber Technologies Inc. this week brought its motorcycle-taxi hailing service to Indonesia, where it will face strong competition from similar apps as startups battle for users in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
Users now can open Uber’s app and choose an option called uberMotor to summon a motorcycle driver, who will then pick them up and ferry them to their destinations.
Motorcycle taxis are common in the country because they can maneuver in the traffic-clogged streets of the capital, Jakarta, more easily than cars. At 1,000 rupiah (7 cents) per kilometer, fares for uberMotor are lower than those from rivals Go-Jek and Grab’s motorbike service, whose minimum fares are 12,000 rupiah (91 cents) and 10,000 rupiah (76 cents), respectively.
Indonesia is now the third country globally where Uber’s service is available, after Thailand and India. Users can pay for their rides with cash, the preferred method of payment in a country, though credits cards are also accepted.
Uber did not disclose how many motorbike drivers it has tapped in Jakarta, or where the service might be launched Continue reading "Uber Brings Motorcycle Hailing Service to Indonesia"