Industry News

Nauto raises $159M to fuel expansion of its autonomous driving data platform

Nauto raises $159M to fuel expansion of its autonomous driving data platform.
Nauto, a Palo Alto company focused on retrofitting existing vehicle fleets with networked safety camera-equipped devices, has raised $159 million in a Series B round led by SoftBank (which has been quite spendy lately).
The company’s products focus on gathering data about human drivers and their behavior in order to improve safety practices right now, but their platform also has a second, potentially more lucrative purpose: building a huge data set that can prove very valuable in the development of self-driving cars.
That’s where SoftBank’s interest lies, according to CEO Masayoshi Son, who noted in a statement that “Nauto is generating a highly valuable dataset for autonomous driving, at a massive scale,” in addition to establishing itself as a telematics business that can produce revenue right now, while simultaneously amassing a library of data from a huge cumulative pool of real-world driving hours.
The potential value of this data for autonomous driving is a big reason why a number of automakers have also made strategic investments in Nauto, including General Motor Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures and BMW iVentures.
This funding will help really accelerate the pace of that data gathering effort, giving Nauto the ability to “more rapidly… gather the billions more miles of real driving experience and data required to get a precise understanding of how the best drivers behave behind the wheel,” according to Nauto CEO Stefan Heck.
Nauto’s tech uses a dual-camera windshield-mounted device, with one camera facing inward tracking driver behavior and the other facing outward to monitor the road.
The company employs deep learning and computer vision to process the data collected by its units in the cloud, and provide insights and coaching services to counter things like driver distraction and fatigue.
One of the big advantages of Nauto as a stepping stone to autonomy, however, is the cost of deployment — its hardware is relatively inexpensive and can be used immediately with vehicles on the road today, following a simple installation process.
One of self-driving’s biggest challenges remains a simple issue of volume, and Nauto is positioned well to help address that because of its low friction, low cost and immediate returned value to fleet operators.

These are the NYC Venture Capital Firms That Lead Funding Rounds Most Often

These are the NYC Venture Capital Firms That Lead Funding Rounds Most Often.
This signals validation to other potential investors and can introduce a sense of urgency.
Today, I take a look at the rate at which a number of New York-based venture capital firms lead funding rounds using some data from our friends at Crunchbase.
While examining the data, it is important to keep the following in mind as these factors do have an impact on the data:.
Only venture capital firms that are headquartered in NYC were considered.
This data does not include angel nor accelerator investments.
Only venture firms that have made 50+ investments were considered.
The data does not take into account the stage preferences for the venture firms.
Only venture firms that are active were considered; meaning that the venture firm has made at least one investment in 2017.
The data is current of 7/16/17.

Mangrove raises $170M for its new fund to invest in Europe and Israeli startups

Mangrove raises $170M for its new fund to invest in Europe and Israeli startups.
Mangrove has been one of Europe’s most successful VCs, backing hits such as Skype (sold twice and now part of Microsoft) and (which is now publicly traded).
So far the firm has invested in more than 130 companies since 2000.
We prefer to invest in unproven or unusual technologies rather than chase the latest fad.” Compared to much bigger fund raises from other European VCs in the last year or so, including EQT Ventures (over €500 million), Atomico Ventures (latest fund: $765 million) and Index Ventures (latest fund: $1.25 billion), $170 million seems relatively modest.
Mangrove is also famous for being the first investor in Skype, turning a $2 million investment into $200 million.
Mangrove now has more than $1 billion under management and a team of 12, which includes partners in Berlin and Tel Aviv.
Its investments include WalkMe, Lesara, JobToday, FreedomPOP, Wallapop, Kang and Happify.
Partner Michael Jackson, who was previously COO at Skype, is on the board of AXA and Blockchain.
Mangrove also is among the guard that is pushing for more evolution in investing.
Other VCs have launched similar initiatives, including LocalGlobe and Accel Partners in London.

Godrej Agrovet files IPO papers with Sebi

Godrej Agrovet files IPO papers with Sebi.
Godrej Industries arm Godrej Agrovet on Wednesday filed draft papers with markets regulator Sebi to raise an estimated Rs 1,000-1,200 crore through an initial public offering.
The public issue comprises fresh issue of shares worth Rs 300 crore besides an offer for sale of scrips of up to Rs 300 crore by Godrej Industries and up to 1.23 crore shares by V- Sciences, as per the Draft Red Herring Prospectus (DRHP).
Besides, the company is considering a pre-IPO placement of up to 5.6 lakh equity shares worth up Rs 252 crore.
Godrej Industries owns 60.81 per cent in Agrovet, which is in businesses such as agri-inputs, animal feeds, palm oil manufacturing, dairy and poultry.
Proceeds of the IPO will be utilised towards repayment of loans and for other general corporate purposes.
According to merchant banking sources, the company is expected to garner an estimated Rs 1,000-1,200 crore through the initial public offer (IPO).
Kotak Mahindra Capital Company, Axis Capital and Credit Suisse Securities (India) Pvt Ltd will manage the company’s public issue.
The equity shares of the company are proposed to be listed on BSE and NSE.
Last month, Godrej Industries had announced that its board ‘has decided to participate in the IPO of equity shares by Godrej Agrovet Ltd’.

India’s Rentomojo raises $10M from Bain Capital and Lending Club founder

India’s Rentomojo raises $10M from Bain Capital and Lending Club founder.
It’s nearly one year to the day that Rentomojo raised $5 million, and since then the three-year-old company has expanded its focus from renting out home appliances and furniture into motorbikes, a potentially lucrative segment.
The idea of the company is to cater to India’s migrating workforce.
It is currently active in eight cities in India, including Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi.
All told, Rentomojo CEO and founder Geetansh Bamania told TechCrunch he believes the total market is worth $60 billion per year.
For the expansion into bikes, Bamania the goal is to “offer something that’s less than the cost of Uber or Ola.” He estimates that many in urban areas spend upwards of $100 per month on such apps, whereas a Rentomojo bike typically costs $30-40 per month.
He said the company is evaluating another new transportation product which could launch in the next three to four months, though he declined to provide specific details at this time.
Besides that potential expansion, the goal is really increase awareness of Rentomojo among its services among its target audience.
“Our eight cities cover a good 60-70 percent of online commerce [shoppers in India] right now, we are now looking to go into a lot more depth in the cities we exist in,” he said.
“We are looking for leadership, ideally those in senior leadership roles that we’d love to join with experiences in fintech, finance and consumer lending.” Already, though, Rentomojo is getting a healthy injection of experience as Laplanche, who helped pioneer peer-to-peer lending with Lending Club, and Bain Capital Ventures MD Salil Deshpande have taken seats on the startup’s board.

Fintech beats e-commerce in funding in the first half of 2017

And as data from YS Research shows, in the last six months, startups in the financial technology space have even managed to surpass even the most glamorous of all sectors, e-commerce, in terms of funding raised.
Together fashion companies have raised more than $50 million in H1 2017, but even including that, the gap between fintech and e-commerce remains wide.)
Money involved in Series A, B, and C will depend on the maturity of the startup.” Surprise entrant A distant third in line is cleantech, which raked in almost $700 million, the bulk of which went to wind energy company ReNew Power which raised about $690 million across three rounds.
The sector, however, seems to have great potential, with India and China having beaten the US in attracting investment into the sector, according to a recent EY report.
Fall from 2016 At number seven, the logistics sector got together just $250 million, a major decline from $680 million last year.
Delhivery’s $100 million Series E round accounted for the biggest chunk, followed by Blackbuck with $70 million, Rivigo with $15 million, Let’s Transport with $4 million and Blowhorn for $3.7 million.
Leading the way was Practo with $55 million in a Series D round, and Healthcareathome’s $40 million.
Others that raised funding included IGenetic Diagnostics ($20 million), Pharmeasy ($16 million), Sigtuple ($5.8 million), Sastasundar ($5 million) and Curefit (3 million).
Funding in edtech also slid to $90 million this year from $104 million in H1 2016 – this included Byju’s $30 million in March, Cuemath’s $15 million from Alphabet, Eruditus’ $8.2 million, Unacademy’s $4.5 million, Testbook’s $4 million, Toppr’s $3.2 million, and Inurture’s $1.5 million, among others.
Among the prominent ones were the $80 million in Series E that food delivery service Swiggy raised, the $25 million in ID Fresh, $20 million in Zomato, $10 million each in Milk Mantra and Licious, $6.8 million in Wow!Momo, $6.3 million in Faasos, $5 million in HolaChef and $1 million in debt for Box8.

BP is thinking about an IPO for its US pipeline assets

BP is thinking about an IPO for its US pipeline assets.
Thomson Reuters (Reuters) – BP Plc is considering spinning off certain U.S. pipeline assets in the U.S. Gulf and Midwest in an initial public offering, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
The potential IPO would structure the assets as a master-limited partnership (MLP), a frequently used corporate structure for pipeline companies.
Both BP and its underwriters have retained advisors to explore the sale, the person said.
Media reports in 2015 said BP America was trying to sell North American pipelines and gas storage assets.
Last year, BP approached Enbridge Inc in an effort to sell some of BP’s offshore Gulf of Mexico pipeline network, known as the Mardi Gras Transportation System, without success, according to a person familiar with the matter.
If successful, the deal would be one of the largest initial public offerings of the year, the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity as the talks were private.
BP did not comment on the details or valuation of the potential transaction beyond the press release.
(Reporting By Jessica Resnick Ault; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and David Gregorio) Get the latest Oil WTI price here.
Copyright 2017.

Venture capital is key to modern Alaska economy

Venture capital is key to modern Alaska economy.
If completed, the plan will expand Alaska’s economic base, create tens of thousands of high-paying jobs across all regions of the state, and generate new, diversified revenue for state budget needs.
Alaska’s economy (and your paycheck) exists because people in the Lower 48 and foreign countries send money here; mostly for our oil.
To reverse Alaska’s economic decline we need to do three things: We can achieve these objectives by giving Alaskans the resources you need to create and own your own large companies that sell goods and services to customers in the Lower 48 and foreign countries; companies across a diverse set of industries that draw money to Alaska and expand the corporate income tax base in the state.
Most Alaskans can’t afford to launch a startup.
To create startups, Alaskans need the type of funding used by entrepreneurs in the Lower 48.
This type of funding is called equity financing, and it comes in three stages: Angel money helps you get organized, venture capital helps you get going and grow, and private equity is there when your startup gets big.
Alaska has no venture capital.
How many of you would leave your job or other responsibilities to launch a startup if most of the money needed to succeed — venture capital — doesn’t exist in Alaska?
I would like to build a venture capital organization in Alaska that helps other Alaskans launch and grow your own startups, creates additional growth and liquidity opportunities for angel portfolios, and expands the pipeline for private equity investors in the state.

Federal Street Acquisition Corp. Announces Pricing of $400,000,000 Initial Public Offering

Announces Pricing of $400,000,000 Initial Public Offering.
BOSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Federal Street Acquisition Corp. (the “Company”), a newly organized blank check company formed for the purpose of effecting a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses, today announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 40,000,000 units at a price of $10.00 per unit.
Once the securities comprising the units begin separate trading, the Class A common stock and warrants are expected to be listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbols “FSAC” and “FSACW,” respectively.
Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and BofA Merrill Lynch are acting as joint book-running managers of the offering.
The offering is being made only by means of a prospectus.
When available, copies of the prospectus may be obtained from Citigroup Global Markets Inc., c/o Broadridge Financial Solutions, 1155 Long Island Avenue, Edgewood, NY 11717, Telephone: (800) 831-9146, Email: or BofA Merrill Lynch, Attention: Prospectus Department, NC1-004-03-43, 200 North College Street, 3rd floor, Charlotte NC 28255-0001,
A registration statement relating to the securities has been declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on July 18, 2017.
This press release contains statements that constitute “forward-looking statements,” including with respect to the proposed initial public offering and the anticipated use of the net proceeds.
Copies are available on the SEC’s website,
Contacts Sard Verbinnen & Co. Matt Benson, Robin Weinberg or Devin Broda, 212-687-8080

Federally funded programs help boost innovation

Federally funded programs help boost innovation.
However, the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) initiatives are not among those.
SBIR/STTRs provide a critical source of funding for research and development and technology commercialization in startup companies.
Federal agencies with specific scientific and technological goals release SBIR/STTR solicitations to tap into the many private sources of innovation that exist across the U.S.
The government views the resulting scientific innovation and the social and economic benefits they bring about as ample “consideration” for its investment.
There is extensive peer review and vetting.
Angels and VCs often wait to invest until there’s at least a prototype or clinical trials given the high risk of the discovery phase.
That’s why we have developed the Oklahoma Small Business Research Assistance program, a partnership between the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and i2E that is focused on helping more Oklahoma innovators identify and compete for federal research funding.
SBIR/STTR funding is not quick money.
Any entrepreneur who is building a company based on developing a new technology should look into the Small Business Research Assistance program.

What data tells us about the future of India’s tech startup ecosystem

VCs weigh in on the Series B and C crunch; healthtech and fintech are the sectors to watch out for Over $5.19bn was raised by India’s tech startup ecosystem during the first half of 2017, according to data provided by startup intelligence firm Tracxn.
However, the deal count is down year-on-year (YoY) by 27%, with only 396 tech startups getting funded, as compared to 547 in H1 2016.
There were 68 Series A rounds in H1 2017, compared to 77 and 79 in H1 2015 and H1 2016 respectively.
There were only 10 Series C deals in H1 2017, the lowest since 2015 in terms of deals and dollars raised.
Only two Series D stage deals were done in H1 2017, again signalling a crunch in mid-stage venture capital.
All kinds of ad-hoc things were getting funded, and so on,” said Somani.
This Coimbatore-based startup tells us how Consumer tech startups, ie startups focused on online retail, home improvement, transport, foodtech, and travel sectors, accounted for close to $2.6bn in funding in 2017.
If the delta between the two years is just Flipkart and Paytm, is that really representative of the broader market?” Somani asked.
A lot of notable exits happened in the secondary market, Dhol said. “A lot of early VC funds around the 2006-07 time frame — the moment of truth for those funds is now.

Bobby Flay’s burger IPO will test whether his star power is enough to lure investors

Bobby Flay’s burger IPO will test whether his star power is enough to lure investors.
Potato chips and signature sauces may not be enough to lure investors to Bobby Flay’s burger IPO.
While the celebrity chef has plans to offer up shares of his fast-casual restaurant, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Morningstar’s R.J. Hottovy said now could be a bad time for an initial public offering, especially for such a small chain. “The smaller chains that don’t have the scale, you know, that might not be the best time to do it because you’re finding ways that Amazon is disrupting the business,” Hottovy said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” “And overall traffic is down in the restaurant space.
I’d be a little wary with an offering like this.”
The restaurant industry as a whole is crowded and competitive and the burger space even more so, leaving Hottovy to question if Flay’s chain will be able to gain a foothold.
While Flay has a few innovative burgers on his menu, including one with a layer of potato chips on top, Hottovy is skeptical.
Still, Flay’s name could be enough to garner investor interest.
The company is expected to launch a Regulation A+ initial public offering and seeks to raise about $15 million.

Leap Motion nabs $50M for its VR/AR hand-tracking tech

Leap Motion nabs $50M for its VR/AR hand-tracking tech.
Headset-based VR and AR may be a bit slower out of the gates than many had hoped, but investors are still pouring money into startups looking to change how consumers interact with the digital world.
Leap Motion, a hand-tracking company based in San Francisco, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by clients advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, the WSJ reports.
The startup has raised nearly $95 million to date.
The startup, backed by some of Silicon Valley’s top venture firms, including Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund, has long billed its hand-tracking technologies as a replacement for the venerated mouse and keyboard, but the seven-year-old company has struggled to find interface problems for its technology to solve.
Three-dimensional hand-tracking always seemed to be an ill fit for interacting with objects projected on 2D desktop displays, but now with virtual and augmented reality, Leap Motion is aiming to master human-computer interaction on a platform that no one has really mastered to date.
Gathering human input for VR/AR headsets has been a tough challenge for hardware manufacturers already steeped in tough challenges, but Leap Motion has been slow to attract manufacturer support despite the sophistication of their hand-tracking platform, which reproduces a virtual skeletal model of the hand using computer vision that updates depending on a user’s hand positions.
Gaming-oriented VR companies like HTC, Sony and Facebook’s Oculus have opted for traditional handheld controllers on current generation hardware, but Oculus has already shown that it is experimenting with glove-like controllers.
So far, the company’s most prominent partnership success has been one with Qualcomm on a headset reference design for OEMs.
The company’s focus has largely been centered on consumers, but in a blog post announcing today’s funding the company detailed that it will be looking to “broaden its reach into new commercial and enterprise applications including education, healthcare, and industrial training simulation.” The company also announced it will be opening a new office in Shanghai.

Tech-powered residential real estate firm Redfin sets IPO terms at $12 to $14 per share

Tech-powered residential real estate firm Redfin sets IPO terms at $12 to $14 per share.
In a filing with the SEC released today, Seattle-based Redfin said it plans to sell 9.23 million shares in the $12 to $14 per share range.
Redfin, which grew market share in 81 of 84 of its markets, estimates that it will raise $107.8 million from the public offering of stock based on a $13 per share offering price.
It said it plans to use money from the stock sale for technology development, marketing and other corporate purposes, and noted that it could use the additional capital to acquire or invest in other companies.
As GeekWire reported last week, Redfin is very much looking to position itself as a tech-oriented company, part of a plan to command a higher valuation at the time of its IPO.
“If Redfin is a brokerage, making $256 million in revenues and losing tens of millions every year … it’s worth zip.
Redfin helped people buy 75,000 homes last year, with the company generating $267 million in revenue last year.
It continues to lose money, posting a loss of $22 million last year.
However, it also has been buoyed by a strong housing market in the U.S. as this graphic by Seattle Bubble author Tim Ellis shows.

WaveOptics, maker of waveguide-based optics for AR, nabs $16M

WaveOptics, a UK startup that builds waveguide-based optics — technology based on hologram physics and photonic crystals — for augmented reality hardware, has raised $16 million (£12 million) to help build the next phase of its business.
The Series B round of funding — which comes from previous investors Octopus Ventures, Touchstone Innovations plc and Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH; along with new investor Gobi Ventures (the prolific VC firm out of China that also manages one of Alibaba’s entrepreneur funds) — is one of biggest of the year for AR startups out of Europe, and comes on the heels of significant business wins for WaveOptics.
(For the record, he laughed but also declined to comment when I straight-out asked if those companies included Apple and Google.)
Indeed, we’ve seen a number of AR firms come to market building vertically integrated solutions covering both the software and hardware stacks, as well as software and apps that create experiences based on the basics of AR as currently works in existing hardware (such as Blippar, which also happens also be an investor in WaveOptics).
The company is building optics technology that can be used across different hardware, which it believes could change the rulebooks for where AR can be used, and how it can be used.
“AR optics with great user experience and affordable cost in the mass production is the key for market adoption of AR products,” said Hongquan Jiang, Partner at Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, in a statement.
We are very excited about the company and expect much synergy between WaveOptics and Bosch in a variety of AR applications.” A demo video on the company’s website — whose URL is “” — gives you an idea of what WaveOptics is working on.
This new funding will allow the company to complete its product development and position itself as a leader and key technology enabler of highly compelling AR experiences,” said Robert Bahns, director at Touchstone Innovations, in a statement Many companies like WaveOptics, developing elements of AR and VR services rather than the end-to-end product, have become hot acquisition targets for tech giants that are working on their own AR strategies, Apple’s acquisition of Metaio in 2015 being one example (Apple has yet to release any AR or VR hardware of its own).
WaveOptics for now looks to be focusing on building its product and client base rather than exiting.
Talukdar declined to comment on any acquisition offers.

SBI Life files for Initial Public Offering, bankers say it may raise over Rs 6,400 crore

SBI Life files for Initial Public Offering, bankers say it may raise over Rs 6,400 crore.
SBI Life Insurance Co Ltd, a unit of the State Bank of India, on Monday filed for an Initial Public Offering of shares, reported Reuters.
An IPO is the first time a private company offers its shares to the public.
Bankers have said that the IPO could raise more than $1 billion (Rs 6,443 crore).
SBI Life will not receive any proceeds from the IPO.
Apart from BNP Paribas, the issue of shares is being managed by Axis Capital, Citi, Deutsche Bank, ICICI Securities, JM Financial, Kotak Investment Banking and SBI Capital Markets.
SBI Life will be the second public insurance company to offer its shares to the public.
ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co Ltd was listed on the stock exchange in 2016, after an IPO valued at over $900 million (Rs 5,794 crore).
ICICI Prudential Life Insurace Co Ltd had raised Rs 6,000 crore in its initial share sale, Mint reported.
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An Ashton Kutcher-backed media company is going public

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters An Ashton Kutcher-backed company has launched an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Chicken Soup for the Soul, the publishing company known for its inspirational book series by the same name, plans to raise $30 million in an initial public offering for the firm’s entertainment unit, according to a news release.
The unit is going public via a Regulation A+ IPO.
According to a media representative for the firm, the offering “will close at the discretion of the company.”
Regulation A+ has made it easier for early-stage ventures like Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment to essentially crowdsource investment in a “mini-IPO.”
It’s like Kickstarter, except investors become real shareholders.
To be sure, this worries some regulators who think nonsophisticated investors may not fully understand what they are getting into.
Rouhana thinks Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment could be the Netflix for inspirational content.
In 2016, Chicken Soup for the Soul purchased A Plus, a Kutcher-backed media company.
Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment produces a wide range of video content including reality-TV shows such as Project Dad, which follows the lives of three celebrity dads, and The Sip, a series of inspirational short videos.

NetLink’s S$2.3b offering a shot in the arm for Singapore IPO market

NetLink’s S$2.3b offering a shot in the arm for Singapore IPO market.
SINGAPORE: Analysts are upbeat about Singapore’s initial public offering (IPO) market in the second half of the year, with the upcoming NetLink NBN Trust IPO expected to bring total capital raised to S$2.8 billion this year.
This will exceed 2016’s S$2.3 billion and the S$500 million posted in 2015.
NetLink Trust is the biggest IPO in Singapore in six years and is expected to raise about S$2.3 billion in fresh capital.
Kimly and UnUsUaL are the two best performing stocks among new issues this year, with Kimly up 52 per cent from its initial offer price of S$0.25, and UnUsUaL at more than 150 per cent higher than its offer price of S$0.20 at the close of markets on Jul 14.
“I think what we’re seeing is that the rally in equity markets, people are feeling more bullish, and this is on the back of global recovery in economic growth.
But the move could simply be business strategy, KGI’s Mr Ng pointed out, adding that doing so could mean better access to the greater China market.
“The Hong Kong market has an advantage because they are closer to China, and have a much bigger market in terms of the number of companies they have there,” he said.
“The niche of the market depends on the stocks you attract.
If I were to pick business trusts and REITs, Singapore is very strong; actually there are 40 REITs and business trusts listed on the SGX compared to about 15 in Hong Kong,” said Dr Kan.