RigUp’s Oil-Well Service Gets $15 Million Despite Oil Price Dip

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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, Continue reading “RigUp’s Oil-Well Service Gets $15 Million Despite Oil Price Dip”

RigUp’s Oil-Well Service Gets $15 Million Despite Oil Price Dip

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

“The industry Continue reading “RigUp’s Oil-Well Service Gets $15 Million Despite Oil Price Dip”

Max Levchin’s Affirm Raises $100 Million

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Max Levchin’s financial technology startup Affirm Inc. has raised a $100 million Series D round, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The funding was led by Founders Fund, according to the person.

The company’s valuation is now close to $800 million, according to the research firm PitchBook Data Inc, citing a Delaware filing on the round.

A spokeswoman for Affirm declined to comment on whether there has been a funding round. “There is no filing, and we have no comment,” she said.

The company’s investors to date have included Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Spark Capital. It raised $275 million in debt and equity last year, with investment bank Jefferies as part of the investor pool.

Affirm, started Continue reading “Max Levchin’s Affirm Raises $100 Million”

Mixpanel CEO’s Unicorn Dreams Take a Back Seat to Cutting Costs

[wsj-responsive-image P=”http://art.wsj.net/api/photos/33889912/smartcrop?height=499&width=749″ J=”http://art.wsj.net/api/photos/33889912/smartcrop?height=639&width=959″ M=”http://art.wsj.net/api/photos/33889912/smartcrop?height=853&width=1280″ caption=”Suhail Doshi, chief executive officer of Mixpanel Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg West Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Mixpanel Inc. provides software products and analytics that improve web and mobile applications. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg  Suhail Doshi” credit=”Bloomberg News” placement=”Inline” suppressEnlarge=”false” ]

Eighteen months ago, Suhail Doshi vowed that Mixpanel Inc., the app analytics startup he co-founded, would be valued at $1 billion, making it what Silicon Valley calls a unicorn.

He nearly made it, securing a $65 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz that valued the company at $865 million.

But Mixpanel’s efforts to fuel rapid growth cost the startup, which is now struggling to regain its stature in a highly competitive industry. Its story reflects those of other startups seduced by a period of highflying Continue reading “Mixpanel CEO’s Unicorn Dreams Take a Back Seat to Cutting Costs”

Crowdfunder Opens Access to VC-Backed Deals

Getting access to investments in hot tech startups has traditionally been reserved for a few people with the right connections–venture capitalists, entrepreneurs or people who are in a position to get to know venture capitalists and entrepreneurs and have enough money to invest.

Crowdfunder Inc. is hoping to change that with a new venture capital fund–the Crowdfunder VC Index Fund–that will offer access to a portfolio of hundreds of venture-capital backed startups.

Investors can put money directly into startups–pending the approval of the founder, who decides whether to share information on his or her company–or into the index fund to spread their bets.

“Traditional VCs invest in 20 to 40 deals per fund, while we target up to 1,000 per fund,” said co-founder and Chief Executive Chance Barnett. “It’s a new way of thinking about how to approach venture–through diversification, and not through divining intelligence and not ‘I can pick Continue reading “Crowdfunder Opens Access to VC-Backed Deals”

AirMap Lands $15 Million for Airspace Management

Airspace management system AirMap wants to keep the skies safe, even as they fill up with more drones.

The company provides an awareness tool, called the Digital Notice and Awareness System, to help pilots of manned and unmanned aircraft avoid collisions. The company partners with drone manufacturers such as DJI and 3DRobotics who use their integration. It also has a pilot program, announced last week, with over 50 U.S. airports to provide information and services designed to allow drones to fly near airports safely. App developers use the company’s software development kit to build apps on top of AirMap’s technology.

“We make it very, very simple for millions of end users to understand that it’s safe to fly in the airspace,” said AirMap co-founder and Chief Executive Ben Marcus. With the new funding, the company plans to build new capabilities, including tools for air-traffic controllers.

AirMap’s freemium access also Continue reading “AirMap Lands $15 Million for Airspace Management”

Airware Takes Off With $30 Million for Commercial Drone Operating System

Airware, which has developed an operating system for commercial drone use, has raised $30 million in Series C funding in a round led by Next World Capital.

Airware, incorporated as Unmanned Innovation Inc ., offers enterprise customers a software platform to manage their use of commercial drones. Airware helps enterprise customers ensure regulatory compliance and then dispatches the flight jobs themselves to the company’s own employees or to a third-party operator.

Current regulations say that only pilots licensed to fly manned aircraft may operate commercial drones. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release new regulations by June that would replace that requirement with a license specific to drone operation. That change will substantially lower the cost of operating drones for Airware and its commercial clients, Airware Chief Executive Jonathan Downey said, and allow more companies to let their employees pilot the drones (find out more at Drone Pedia).

“Our goal is to get the technology Continue reading “Airware Takes Off With $30 Million for Commercial Drone Operating System”

On-Demand Massage Startup Zeel Grabs $10M

Zeel Networks Inc. Chief Executive Samer Hamadeh wants to make in-home massages safe for therapists and customers. His company is expanding to several U.S. cities next week.
Zeel Networks Inc.

Zeel Networks Inc., an on-demand massage provider, has closed $10 million of a $12 million Series A round.

The funding comes as the service, which is available in 20 cities, is slated to expand into three more areas. Zeel plans to launch in Phoenix, Austin and Seattle on Monday.

Emil Capital Partners led the round, which has participation from Slow Ventures, Partech Ventures, New Atlantic Ventures and Spafinder. The company didn’t disclose its valuation but has raised $11.5 million to date.

Zeel took a circuitous path to its on-demand massages business. When the company first launched in 2010, its founders envisioned it would be a service like ZocDoc but for alternative medicine. Instead the team quickly noticed half Continue reading “On-Demand Massage Startup Zeel Grabs $10M”

Domo Raises $131 Million, Holds Its $2 Billion Valuation

Domo founder and Chief Executive Josh James
Derek Smith

A year ago, business software vendor Domo Inc. was expecting to go public by the end of 2015, Chief Executive Josh James told VentureWire.

Domo has now raised $131 million as it waits for the markets to become more receptive to information technology companies. The company extended its last funding round, a $200 million Series D round raised in April 2015, at the same valuation and same terms, adding money from insider BlackRock Inc., Credit Suisse and unnamed family offices, some in Asia and Russia, and taking total funding to $590 million, according to Mr. James.

At a time when valuations for privately held business software companies are down more than 40% in some cases, Domo held on to its $2 billion valuation. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Startup Stock Tracker, Domo’s shares declined less than 10% in Continue reading “Domo Raises $131 Million, Holds Its $2 Billion Valuation”

SpoonRocket Shuts Down Meal Delivery Service

SpoonRocket on Tuesday said its meal delivery business would be shut down immediately, the latest casualty in on-demand services startups.

The Berkeley, Calif.-based company made the announcement on its blog, saying it has joined with food delivery business Sprig Inc. to help customers transition to another service.

Founders Steven Hsiao and Anson Tsui

SpoonRocket, in business for the past three years, had attracted $13.5 million in funding. Investors betting on its prospects in the crowded food-delivery arena included Foundation Capital, Base Ventures, FundersClub, General Catalyst Partnersand Y Combinator.

“Good idea, but food is hard,” said David Fialkow, a managing director at General Catalyst. He added that his firm was a very small investor in the startup. The problem was “raw economics,” Mr. Fialkow said. The business was liked by customers, but it was hard to make money, he said.

Venture investors put $603 million into food and Continue reading “SpoonRocket Shuts Down Meal Delivery Service”

Couchbase Raises $30 Million for Promise of NoSQL Databases Growth

Couchbase CEO Bob Wiederhold

A new category of databases developed to handle problems first seen at early Internet companies like Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. have attracted well over $500 million in funding and continue to report growth, despite the current pressure on public tech stocks.

Couchbase Inc., one of the three largest of these database companies, called NoSQL companies, has raised  $30 million in what the company says is its last private funding round before a potential IPO, according to Chief Executive Bob Wiederhold.

Mr. Wiederhold said the new round, a Series F, will take Couchbase to cash-flow positive, now considered a requirement by many investors, and should enable an IPO “in the not too distant future,” although he declined to be more specific on timing.

He also declined to comment on Couchbase’s revenue or valuation. Competitor MongoDB Inc. was valued privately in December 2014 at $1. Continue reading “Couchbase Raises $30 Million for Promise of NoSQL Databases Growth”

StreetShares Nabs Series A for Small-Business Loans

Mark Rockefeller, CEO and co-founder of StreetShares

When Mark Rockefeller, co-founder and chief executive of online lender StreetShares Inc., was in the military, he said he noticed that payday lenders would often set up operations in strip malls right outside the gates of military bases in the U.S.

“They were there to prey on young troops who didn’t know any better,” said Mr. Rockefeller.

A few years after returning from serving in Iraq, Mr. Rockefeller created StreetShares along with Michael Konson, previously an executive with Capital One , to offer loans to small businesses, most of which are run by veterans. It offers loans and lines of credit of $2,000 to $100,000 for up to three years.

The startup was one of the few online lenders that managed to raise venture capital funding this year, at a time when venture investor sentiment toward the sector cooled sharply.

Reston, Continue reading “StreetShares Nabs Series A for Small-Business Loans”

Wunder Capital Soaks Up $3.6M to Crack Solar Finance for Businesses

Wunder Capital CEO Bryan Birsic
Wunder Capital

Homeowners now have plenty of options for getting solar power for no upfront cost. They can get solar loans, lease solar systems, or get solar on their roofs in exchange for agreeing to buy power over many years.

Yet several attempts to introduce similar financing methods for businesses haven’t gotten far. Another startup Solar Mosaic Inc., decided to switch to residential after working on commercial financing. SolarCity Corp., and Sunrun Inc., focus largely on residential solar finance.

That means businesses have to buy solar systems out right, an expensive proposition. As a result, solar adoption has grown rapidly among residential customers, as well as in utility-scale projects. But commercial is advancing slowly.

“It’s a weird dark space in the middle of this rapidly growing industry,” said Bryan Birsic, chief executive and co-founder of Wunder Capital, a Boulder, Colo.-based Continue reading “Wunder Capital Soaks Up $3.6M to Crack Solar Finance for Businesses”

LightSail Raises $11 Million for Literacy Learning App

LightSail founder and CEO Gideon Stein
LightSail Inc.

Intuit founder Scott Cook and Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos are among the investors in an $11 million Series B round of venture funding for education-technology startup LightSail Inc.

LightSail’s app is a kind of digital library that lets teachers give personalized reading assignments to their pupils. Students check out books and then the app measures their mastery of reading along the way.

The app features fiction, nonfiction and news content. LightSail quizzes users as they progress through reading materials, and determines a reader’s areas for improvement, strengths and interests. The app also recommends new reading material to students, and measures the amount of time they spend reading each day.

Schools or districts pay about $10 per student a year to use LightSail. The basic package gives them access to 1,000 different titles through the app, but they can pay to put more Continue reading “LightSail Raises $11 Million for Literacy Learning App”

San Francisco Startup Brings Moneyball to Soccer

Tag.bio co-founders Tom Covington and Jesse Paquette

The Italian soccer club AS Roma has won six out of its last seven games, a result that has thrilled fans.

One reason for the winning streak, according to Chris Pallotta, an investment officer at Raptor Capital Management, is the club’s relationship with a San Francisco-based analytics startup called Tag.bio.

Spun out of the University of California San Francisco, which is the UC system’s health sciences school, and founded by two amateur soccer players, Tag.bio has created software that helps AS Roma scout players, group players and analyze before a game how the opposing team is expected to perform.

“It’s like Moneyball,” said Mr. Pallotta, referring to the data-driven approach that former Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane brought to the sport of baseball.

Mr. Pallotta’s father is Jim Pallotta, whose family office, Raptor Group, owns the soccer Continue reading “San Francisco Startup Brings Moneyball to Soccer”

Crowdfunding Site iAngels Raises $14M for Israeli Startups 

iAngels founding partners Mor Assia and Shelly Hod Moyal (pictured left to right).

Israel is a hotbed for tech startups, but it is also a tightknit community where a small number of local investors have access to the best deals.

Enter  iAngels Crowd Ltd., an investing network founded by Mor Assia and Shelly Hod Moyal, two women who have taken their knowledge of Israel and their international business experience and combined it with a crowdfunding model that matches international investors with Israeli startups backed by top Israeli investors.

The firm has now raised a $14 million Series B round led by Australia-based Thorney Investment Group to expand.

“The biggest advantage of investing with these [local] angels and VCs is the fact that they have the best access,” Ms. Assia said. “When an entrepreneur in Israel wants to do a startup, these are the first people he calls, Continue reading “Crowdfunding Site iAngels Raises $14M for Israeli Startups “

Landit Seeded to Help Women Advance Their Careers

Lisa Skeete Tatum, Landit co-founder and CEO

A startup founded by one-time venture capitalist Lisa Skeete Tatum, Landit Inc., has raised $2 million to help women advance professionally, especially through moments in career transition.

Investors in Landit’s seed round included New Enterprise Associates, Cue Ball, XFund and Female Founders Fund (also known as F Cubed).

Ms. Skeete-Tatum said the Landit platform will enable women to input information about their goals, work experience, preferences and skills then attain “personalized” job listings, a career “playbook,” and access to premium professional coaching services from Mobius Executive Leadership or resume and CV revision services.

New York-based Landit faces competition from career-focused sites such as TheMuse.com and professional social network LinkedIn, among others.

A chemical engineer by training, Ms. Skeete Tatum previously held the role of partner at Cardinal Partners, an early stage, health-focused venture firm in Princeton, New Jersey.

Continue reading “Landit Seeded to Help Women Advance Their Careers”

Alphabet Spinout Scores Funding for Augmented Reality Pokémon Game

Pokemon Go Plus, a Bluetooth-enabled device to be used in the game and that vibrates and lights up when the player approaches a Pokemon
Pokemon Company

Niantic Inc., the Alphabet Inc. spinout working on an augmented-reality Pokémon game, has added Silicon Valley’s traditional brand of investors to its roster of backers with an addition to its Series A round.

Venture firm Alsop Louie Partners, “brand technology” firm You & Mr. Jones, and individual investors Cyan and Scott Banister and Lucas Nealan participated in the company’s new raise of $5 million.

The game under development, dubbed Pokémon Go, will be free to download on iOS and Android devices starting in 2016. Pokémon Go will aim to capture microtransactions, or sales of in-game virtual goods.

The new funding follows $20 million that the company raised from strategic investors Google Inc., Pokémon Co. and Nintendo Co. last year. Niantic Chief Executive Continue reading “Alphabet Spinout Scores Funding for Augmented Reality Pokémon Game”

REVL Seeded to Make Waterproof, Stabilized Video Cameras

The REVL camera is waterproof and records stabilized video.
revl inc.

San Francisco startup REVL Inc. has raised $2 million in seed funding to make waterproof digital cameras that create stabilized videos, even if they’re mounted atop a skiers’ helmet or on the strut of a kiteboard.

REVL founder and Chief Executive Eric Sanchez, formerly an engineer with Sikorsky Aircraft, said his passion for kitesurfing led him to create the stabilized camera, which is laden with sensors and chips that allow it to do more than offer a stable picture.

The company’s smart video editor app uses data captured by the REVL camera to determine when a highlight reel-worthy moment has been recorded. If people record themselves skiing off jumps, for example, the app can automatically extract a clip that starts just as they descend the ramp and ends after their landing.

“The rest of the action camera industry is moving towards higher-resolution pictures, and Continue reading “REVL Seeded to Make Waterproof, Stabilized Video Cameras”

1955 Capital Launches to Bring Tech to Developing World

1955 Capital founder Andrew Chung
1955 Capital

Andrew Chung has left Khosla Ventures to launch a new firm, 1955 Capital, where he said he plans to invest in U.S. and European tech companies that can help solve challenges in the developing world.

So far, he said, he has raised $200 million from unnamed limited partners. He declined to discuss how much money he ultimately plans to raise.

Mr. Chung said that 1955 Capital should free him from what he called the constraints of traditional venture firms, which he said shy away from technologies that he likes to pursue and are sometimes reluctant to invest in companies that don’t focus on the U.S. market first.

The firm’s success will rely most heavily on a willingness to be contrarian “and look at things that few people care about or are willing to undertake,” Mr. Chung said.

Around 2012, for Continue reading “1955 Capital Launches to Bring Tech to Developing World”