The Daily Startup: Food and Beverage Investments Hit Record in 2015

Investment in food and beverage startups has hit an all-time high in 2015, Lora Kolodny reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. Investors poured $368.7 million into the industry sector in the third quarter, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. That brought the year’s total to $542.4 million, which is more than has been invested in the sector for any year since VentureSource began tracking the data in 1992.

Within the food and beverage sector, specialty foods have received the most funding so far in 2015 with $191.6 million in funding. Startups making general food products have raised $181.5 million so far this year, and companies making nonalcoholic beverages have raised $151.7 millio

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

MyoKardia Inc., a biotechnology company, went public at $10 a share, below its original estimate of $15 to $17. The company, which sold more than 5.4 million up from a previous plan to sell 4.7 million, closed at $10.53, up 5.3%. The IPO came amid a market slide that has forced several biotechs to cut their IPO prices.

Monclarity LLC, better known as Brainwell, has raised $5 million in seed funding for games that it promises can train the brain. Access Industries led the round.

TrendKite Inc., a public relations analytics company, has raised $10.7 million in Series C funding. Noro-Moseley Partners led the round with participation from existing investors Battery Ventures, Silverton Partners and Mercury Fund.

Porch Inc., a home-improvement startup, said it has acquired home-advice startup Fountain Inc.

(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:

Court Cases Are Being Slowed by Wrangling Over Uber’s Arbitration Policies. A pair of court cases about how ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc. classifies, pays and vets the drivers offering rides through its apps hinge on what many would call a legal technicality, The Wall Street Journal’s Lauren Weber reports. Uber is now fighting a series of court decisions that question the validity of its arbitration policies. The ride-hailing company asks workers to agree to resolve disputes through arbitration rather than the courts, and bars them from joining class-action suits against the company. Drivers are able to opt out, though many don’t.

New York Times Public Editor Cites Conflict in Tech Article. The New York Times’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, Thursday posted a blog that cited what she calls a conflict of interest in a magazine article about tech companies. The article–which appeared in T, the Times’s style magazine–was written by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, the wife of venture capitalist Marc Andreessen. One of the companies profiled in the article is Airbnb Inc., a company in which Marc Andreessen’s firm, Andreesseen Horowitz, invested. The Times later added an editor’s note about the connection. Ms. Sullivan wrote on the blog:

My take: This is a case in which the financial conflict is so clear, and the spousal tie so close, that a disclosure would not have been enough. A different writer altogether would have been a far better idea, and, to my mind, the only right one.

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