The Daily Startup: Renren Leads $15.5M Round in Investing Platform Aspiration

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Aspiration Partners Inc. has raised a $15.5 million investment led by Chinese social network Renren for financial products platform, Lizette Chapman reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. GSV Capital, Capricorn Investment Group and IGSB also contributed to the round. The platform differs from other services in that it allows users to pay “a fair amount” instead of setting a fee for its service. The company also donates $0.10 to charity for every dollar it generates from its revenue.

Several startups are providing services that use automated models to build and manage portfolios for users. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that assets managed by these so-called robo-advisers and traditional firms with online offerings are projected to reach $50 billion to $60 billion this year, up from $29 billion now and $16 billion at the end of 2014, according to Sophie Schmitt, a senior analyst at Boston research Aite Group LLC. Though the amount is increasing, it is still a small piece of the $19 trillion U.S. wealth advisers manage, according to Aite.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Breather Inc., a startup that helps people rent workspace on an hourly basis, has raised $20 million in a round led by Valar Ventures. Additional investors in Breather’s round of funding included RRE, Real Ventures, SOS Ventures and Slow Ventures.

Nurix Inc. has gained more than $150 million up front through a collaboration with Celgene Corp. to develop drugs for cancer, inflammation and immunology. Nurix will work with Celgeneto advance therapies that function through the ubiquitin proteasome system to modulate protein homeostasis, a cellular process controlling protein levels.

Nabsys Inc., one of several startups formed to help scientists make better use of data generated from genetics research, is shutting down after raising multiple rounds of venture capital, according to a former employee.

Regenxbio Inc., a gene therapy company, said it will sell 6.3 million shares at a price of $22 per share in its initial public offering, according to a news release.

(VentureWire is a daily newsletter with comprehensive analysis of all the investments, deals and personnel moves involving startups and their venture backers. For a two-week trial, visit http://on.wsj.com/DJPEVCNews, scroll to the bottom and click “try for free.”)

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE WEB:

BlaBlaCar Joins Ranks of Billion-Dollar Venture-Backed Companies. Ride-sharing firm BlaBlaCar has raised new funding at a valuation of about $1.5 billion, The Wall Street Journal’s Sam Schechner reports. The French firm brokers long-distance carpooling between car owners and passengers. It raised €180 million–or about $200 million when the round closed in July–at a valuation of €1.4 billion. The company said the round was led by New-York-based Insight Venture Partners and Lead Edge Capital, and was joined by Swedish firm Vostok New Ventures.

Uber Rivals Form International Alliance. Ride-hailing companies Lyft Inc. and Chinese startup Didi Kuaidi Joint Co. have formed an alliance to allow users of each app to hail rides from drivers of the other app while they are traveling to the other country, the WSJ’s Douglas MacMillan and Rick Carew report. India’s Ola and Singapore’s GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. also are in talks to join the partnership. The deal is a concerted effort to battle Uber Technologies Inc., which has been aggressively expanding internationally.

How China Boosts Its Tech Startups. Tech startups in China are popular places to work for ambitious young Chinese, and those companies are getting some key backing from the government, the WSJ’s Li Yuan reports. The state television’s prime-time news program has a segment that trumpets innovation and tech entrepreneurship. The government, which traditionally has focused on large infrastructure projects, also announced a $6.5 billion startup fund earlier this year.

Former Cisco Exec Joins Hyperloop Startup as CEO. Former Cisco President Rob Lloyd has joined Hyperloop Technologies Inc. as chief executive, the WSJ’s Don Clark reports. The Los Angeles startup was  formed to release the transportation concept proposed by Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk.

Apple Buys Mapsense. The mapping visualization startup Mapsense Inc. has been acquired by Apple Inc., according to Re/code. Apple reportedly paid between $25 million and $30 million for the startup that builds data-mapping services. The company raised $2.5 million in seed funding in May from investors that included Formation 8, General Catalyst and Redpoint Ventures, according to Dow Jones VentureWire.

Write to Mike Billings at mike.billings@wsj.com. Follow him on Twitter at @mbillings