Top startup news for today, Friday, February 1, 2019
Good morning! Here are some of the top technology startup news stories for today, Friday, February 1.
Fintech app startup Acorns raises $105 million at $860m valuation. Acorns, the fintech startup and the maker of the investment and savings app, has raised $105 million in funding at a valuation of $860 million. The Series E round was led by NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures, with participation from BlackRock, Bain Capital Ventures, TPG’s Rise Fund, DST and Michael Dell’s MSD Capital. California-based Acorns claims to have more than 4.5 million users across its portfolio of saving and investing services products. Founded in 2012 by Jeff Cruttenden, Mark Dru, and Walter Cruttenden, Acorns allows customers to automatically invest in a low-cost, diversified portfolio of exchange-traded funds offered by some of the world’s top asset managers (including Vanguard and BlackRock). Just like the UK’s Moneybox, the app allows users to automatically invest the spare change from debit or credit card purchases by rounding up each transaction to the nearest dollar.
Getty Images receives $100 million investment. Getty Images, the largest image and photo marketplace in the world and the world leader in visual communications and, today announces additional $100 million investment by the Getty Family and Koch Equity Development. The equity investment will facilitate accelerated growth and reduce leverage. The investment will be split evenly between the Getty family investment vehicles and KED and is intended to further accelerate the achievement of Getty Images’ financial goals and boost growth.
HR tech startup Shortlist raises $2 million in mission to fuel better hiring in Africa. HR tech startup Shortlist has closed a $2 million Series A funding to expand its reach and relationships with top job seekers and improve how we match those job seekers with amazing career opportunities, as well as continue our geographic expansion across Africa. The latest round makes the total funding to date at $3 million. The round was led by Blue Haven Ventures, and joined by Zephyr Acorn, Compass Venture Capital and Rafiki. Shortlist’s Managing Director and 30 Under 30 honoree Ariane Fisher explains what’s next for the HR tech business. Since inception in 2016, Shortlist has screened over 400,000 candidates for more than 300 clients like Uber Eats, Shell and Twiga Foods. With offices based in Nairobi, Mumbai and Hyderabad — and services throughout Kenya and India — the growing team of 65 plans to continue to expand within Eastern Africa in 2019.
Zingle secures $11 million to bring AI to the hotel guest experience; acquires Presto AI. As we reported yesterday, Zingle, the Carlsbad, California-based tech startup that provides a messaging platform to enable on-demand mobile customer communication, has raised an additional $11 million in funding to bring AI to the hotel guest experience and build out the its solutions and team as it pushes further into hospitality. The round was led by PeakSpan Capital, which brings its total funding raised to date to $15 million. Founded in 2009 by Ford Blakely, Zingle is aiming to revolutionize the $500 billion hotel industry with a potent combination of AI and text messaging.
Scooter startup Lime is raising another $400 million at $2 billion valuation. We covered Lime back in December of 2017 as one of the startups to watch. Now the scooter startup Lime is raising $400 million at a $2 billion valuation in the latest funding round, according to a regulatory filing. Existing investor GV, formerly known as Google Ventures, is expected to lead the round, according to a report from WSJ citing a person familiar with matter. Founded in 2017 by Adam Zhang, Brad Bao, Charlie Gao, and Toby Sun, LimeBike is the leading dockless bikeshare company in the US. LimeBike aims to revolutionize mobility in cities and campuses by empowering residents with cleaner, more efficient, and affordable transportation options that improve urban sustainability.
Partech closes Africa Fund, at €125 million. The Partech Africa Fund, the Africa-focused fund of global investment firm Partech, closed, at €125M. Backed by more than 40 different investors including financial institutions, major corporate partners and entrepreneurs, from all over the globe, Partech Africa is now the largest VC fund dedicated to technology startups in Africa. Led by General Partners Cyril Collon and Tidjane Dème, based in Dakar, Senegal, The Partech Africa Fund makes investments in series A and B financing rounds in startups which are changing the way technology is used in education, mobility, finance, delivery, energy, etc.
Biometrics technology tartup TypingDNA gets $1.5 million seed investment to accelerate international expansion and technology improvement. TypingDNA, a Techstars-backed startup and the creator of award-winning typing biometrics technology, has raised $1.5M in seed round funding to improve their technology and expand their presence in the financial and enterprise sectors. TypingDNA will also build new partnerships and increase awareness of their passive online fraud prevention capabilities. The funding was led by European venture firm GapMinder Venture Partners, as well as several international investors from U.S., U.K., and European Union. The financing round also includes previous investor Gecad Ventures, Techstars NYC alumni and mentors fund, angel investors with network and domain expertise in banking, financial services, enterprise, AI and cybersecurity, as well as founders of hypergrowth startups DataDog, WayUp and UiPath.
Remote camera startup Brizi partners with Canon to revolutionize digital imaging. Brizi, a remote camera startup that lets anyone tap into nearby cameras to capture group memories at iconic places, has partnered with Canon to let the two companies “collaborate with Canon to further immerse ourselves into new markets and continue to really innovate in the emerging space.” The alliance will further immerse the two companies into new markets and continue to innovate in the imaging space. Elements of the strategic alliance will include sales, joint marketing and a research and development (R&D) collaboration. Founded in 2016 by Anna Hu and Sami Dalati, Brizi began with an idea to build the world’s first social drone—with the aim to have users able to commandeer a nearby drone to snap a picture of themselves. Its mission is to build the world’s largest network of group memories. Brizi lets anyone tap into nearby cameras to capture group memories at iconic places. Licensed across sports and landmarks including NBA basketball, European soccer, Grand Slam tennis, and at the Washington Monument, to engage guests, offer a new type of sponsorship asset, and collect valuable user, population, and imaging data.
Staking-as-a-Service startup Staked raises $4.5 million seed round from Pantera and Coinbase. Staked, a startup that provides institutional investors with the technical infrastructure for non-custodial staking services, has raised $4.5 million seed round from blockchain investment firm Pantera Capital, with participation from other notable investors including Coinbase Ventures, Global Brain, Digital Currency Group, Winklevoss Capital, Fabric Ventures and Blocktree Capital. The idea behind Staked is that investors can compound their crypto by participating in the validation process of proof-of-stake blockchains. Staked helps institutional investors reliably and securely compound their crypto by 5% – 100% annually through staking and lending. According to the company, “Proof of Stake” is on track to replace “Proof of Work.” Approximately 25% of the total cryptocurrency market (~$25 billion today) will use proof-of-stake (PoS) as a security model by the end of 2019. Investors of PoS currencies can participate in governance and collect staking rewards of $2.5 BN+ annually.