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Bronze Level Contributor

Illustration Li-Anne Dias

Lately, we’ve seen more money pour into insurance technology–or insurtech–and some high-profile fundraises and exits. Sadly, this doesn’t mean the sector has done particularly well in funding terms so far in 2020, although that’s to be expected as we see funding overall trending downward.

But insurtech is not an industry to be discounted.

Although it isn’t entertainment, software-as-a-service or autonomous vehicles, it’s an industry that touches billions of people and businesses in some capacity.

That, along with the fact that it’s been around for so long, makes it ripe for disruption–regardless of the challenges facing startups across industries so far this year.

A look at the data

Before we dive into the findings of our recent Crunchbase data analysis on the industry, here are a few quick notes regarding our methodology for the data pull.

  • Companies from around the world that fall under industries with “insur” in Crunchbase’s data set (insurtech, auto insurance, commercial insurance, health insurance, insurance, life insurance, property insurance, etc.) 
  • Private-equity rounds are excluded for non venture-backed companies. The data is current as of July 22.

Based on Crunchbase data, 2019 saw the most venture capital dollars invested in insurtech companies over the past five years. About $7.3 billion was invested in insurtech over 548 deals. Although the deal count was down a bit from 2018’s 595 insurtech deals, the dollar volume was up significantly from $5.6 billion in 2018. Translation–although there were fewer deals in 2019, the amounts were larger.



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Originally published by
Sophia Kunthara | August 5, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

Crunchbase News typically covers larger funding rounds, however we think these startups are worth highlighting for their interesting approaches despite their smaller raises


Predicting when a medical event, such as sudden cardiac arrest, might happen to a hospitalized patient can help doctors and nurses provide better treatment. To address that issue, Transformative, a London-based medical device software company, is developing technology that will analyze data from patient monitoring devices.

The company raised a $1.7 million seed round led by Tera Ventures, with participation from Wellcome Trust and InHealth Ventures.

“Our next focus is to take the algorithm that we developed, that is validated, and get it to patients,” Joshua Oppenheimer, M.D., co-founder and CEO, told me in an interview. “We want to accomplish giving that early warning or, at the very least, at the early stage for survival.”

The path to market for the company is through manufacturers for the devices that are already standard in hospitals. Oppenheimer expects to then expand to out-of-hospital monitoring at home.

Epic CleanTec

Most people don’t typically think about where their toilet water goes, but Epic CleanTec does.

The San Francisco-based company secured a $2.6 million round of seed funding this week to advance its approach to onsite wastewater treatment and reuse: Converting a building’s wastewater into natural, carbon-rich soil amendments and water that can be purified and reused onsite for nonpotable applications.

The round was led by a mostly undisclosed group of investors that included Elizabeth Cutler and Kathy Fields. The company tested its method at Stanford University before installation in the NEMA apartment complex in downtown San Francisco.

“This funding will help Epic become the market leader in onsite water reuse in cities throughout the US and eventually the world,” Epic’s co-founder and CEO Aaron Tartakovsky told me via email. “We will hire additional experts to expand our business and technical teams and accelerate our efforts to provide clean water and reliable sanitation to growing urban populations everywhere.”

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Originally published by
Christine Hall | July 31, 2020


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Bronze Level Contributor

Image: Franck V - Unsplash

Technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning have transformed business processes across different industries, changing how companies operate, manage finances, gather and analyze data, and build customer relations.

As the algorithms and data-driven methods continue to develop, venture capitalists are becoming more interested to invest in artificial intelligence startups providing the most beneficial solutions. According to data gathered by, the total amount of funds AI startups raised over time reached $61.6bn in the second quarter of 2020, a 35% increase in a year.

More than $8bn Funds Raised in 2020

In 2010, artificial intelligence startups worldwide raised a total of $277.3 million in funding rounds, revealed the CrunchBase data. In the next three years, this figure jumped to over $1bn for the first time.

With the increasing number of investments in companies providing artificial intelligence solutions, the total funding amount reached $26.6bn in the second quarter of 2018, a tenfold increase in eight years. Statistics show that 2019 has witnessed the most significant rise in the value of investments, with the total figure growing by $19.1bn and reaching $53.6bn at the end of the year.

Increased investments into artificial intelligence companies continued in 2020 with the total amount of raised funds growing by $8.2bn from January to July, despite the slowdown in venture capital funding caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February 2020, the Chinese autonomous vehicle startup announced it had raised $400 million in a funding round from Toyota Motor Corporation, the most significant investment in 2020. Last year, the two companies allied in testing autonomous vehicles on Chinese public roads using Toyota’s Lexus vehicles piloted by’s self-driving system. The company will use the new funds to deepen the collaboration with Toyota on self-driving technological development, while making a push into mobility services in China.

In March, Chinese big data company MiningLamp raised $300 million in a round led By Tencent and Temasek, the second-largest investment this year.

Statistics show that Berkshire Grey`s $263 million worth funding round led by SoftBank Group represents the third-largest investment in 2020. The Massachusetts-based robotics and AI company delivering retail, eCommerce, and logistics fulfillment automation, raised funds to finance global expansion, acquisitions, and team growth.

North American AI Startups Raised $33.7bn

Analyzed by geography, North America represents the leading region with a total of $33.7bn worth investments in artificial intelligence startups. The US companies raised more than 95% of that amount, with California, San Francisco, and New York as the main hubs.

Statistics show Asian companies raised a total of $20.3bn in funding, ranking as the second-leading region globally. European AI startups follow with $7.3bn worth investments so far.

The CrunchBase data also revealed that the five most active investors in this industry come from the United States. The Colorado-based global platform for investment and innovation, Techstars, ranked first on this list with 258 funding rounds so far. Statistics show that startup accelerator Y Combinator, the second most active investor, took part in 198 funding rounds. Another US innovation platform, Plug and Play, follows with 104 funding rounds. Venture capitals firms SOSV and 500 Startups ranked fourth and fifth on this list, with 99 and 83 funding rounds, respectively.

Originally published by
insideBigData | July 28, 2020

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Bronze Level Contributor

European venture funding for the first half of 2020 is down from 2019–when it was at an all-time high–by 20 percent. However, the first half of 2020 still beat out 2018 by more than a billion dollars.

In the first half of 2020, 904 startups raised funding above $2 million. That count is down by 9 percent when compared to the first half of 2019 when 991 startups raised a round of $2 million and over.

Europe’s venture trends differ from those seen in North America. For the U.S. funding market, 2018 was a peak. For Europe the upward trend in funding continued into 2019.

Quarterly trends

On a quarterly basis, the pullback started in the fourth quarter of 2019 and has continued into 2020. In general, the fourth quarter can be slower due to the end-of-year wind down, but in some years funding matched or outpaced a strong third quarter as venture markets heated up.

The continued downward trend into 2020 for European startups is framed by the pandemic. The second quarter of 2020 tracks at $8.1 billion compared with $11.2 billion for the second quarter of 2019. Year over year, quarterly funding is down 28 percent. Quarter over quarter it’s down 8 percent.

Increased funding to health care, e-commerce

Sectors that garnered increased funding for both quarter over quarter and year over year include biotechnology, e-commerce and shopping, science and engineering, health care, and privacy and security. Leading sectors that picked up fewer investment dollars this quarter were in transportation and lending, both raising large funding amounts in the first quarter of 2020 as well as the second quarter of 2019.

Supergiant round amounts are down

The reset is far more pronounced at funding rounds above $100 million.

  • Year over year we see a 52 percent reduction in amounts above $100 million.
  • Funding below $100 million is down 9 percent year over year.
  • The majority of funding in the second quarter of 2020 in European companies were rounds below $100 million at 72 percent.

This contrasts with North America, where more funding is going to supergiant rounds at 52 percent of funding.

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Originally published by
Gené TeareJuly 20, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

image: Pixabay

It's one of several startups helping food businesses experiment with new revenue streams to stay afloat.

Karma Kitchen, the London-based kitchen space startup, has raised £252m in a Series A funding round to open dozens of new sites across Europe.

“People think it’s a typo,” laughs Eccie Newton, cofounder of Karma Kitchen, who currently operates one kitchen site, has a five-person team and had initially set out to raise £3m. “It’s not a typo.” 

Vengrove Real Estate Management, a real estate investment firm, is leading the deal, which will see Karma Kitchen acquire, equip and manage dozens of kitchen sites across Europe. Unlike a typical venture capital deal, this takes an ‘opco propco’ structure, where Karma Kitchen’s ‘propco’ will buy and fit out freehold sites, while the ‘opco’ will invest in the tech, people and marketing operations necessary to scale quickly.

Within five years, Karma Kitchen hopes to be providing thousands of food businesses — from restaurants to caterers to meal kit companies — with flexible kitchen space.

“It’s going to be crazy,” says Newton. “And it couldn’t have come at a better time.” 

Food delivery to the rescue

The coronavirus pandemic has entirely upended many food businesses. Restaurants, street food markets and canteens had to close across Europe, while online grocery companies and meal kit providers saw record levels of demand

The crisis has boosted the food delivery sector, while throwing up challenges for many of the biggest delivery companies at the same time. Delivery startup Glovo told Sifted in April it saw 70% of restaurants on its platform in Spain and Italy temporarily close their doors, while competitor Deliveroo laid off hundreds of staff.

For customers, though, food delivery has become more important than ever. “Delivery has been accelerated; it might have taken us five to six years to be comfortable with getting meals delivered to our homes… but that mindset is now just normal,” says Newton. “It’s not going to change back.” 

And it’s not only consumers who’ve been changing their minds about delivery. Food businesses of all kinds have too. 

More than one revenue stream

Karma Kitchen has seen a big increase in demand over the last few months, says Newton — including from multinational food businesses. 

Its east London shared kitchen was able to keep operating throughout the UK lockdown — and provided a lifeline to some food businesses. Some of its tenants — like gym food providers and corporate caterers — decided to take the summer off, says Newton, but many were able to continue production.

Some had to adapt — one Indian food business which usually provides corporate catering pivoted to food delivery — while many restaurants closed their primary sites and used kitchen space at Karma Kitchen to prepare food for delivery. Some central London restaurants and cafes reliant on office workers set up shop at Karma Kitchen to be able to serve that same clientele, but closer to their homes. 

“Restaurants are seeing value in having a secondary site to diversify their revenue stream and tap into different parts of the market — whether that’s distribution, or delivery,” says Newton. 

Originally published by
Amy Lewin | July 15, 2020


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Gold Level Contributor

In March, as we all began to fully wrap our heads around the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of startup funding seemed clearly in jeopardy.

Many hypothesized that there would be a slowdown in funding and fewer deals made. The logistics of how firms could invest in a company and teams they’ve never met was a whole new obstacle. Further, how investors commit with confidence amid such uncertainty in the world was (and is) a major challenge.

But investors adapted and deals still happened.

However, with the end-of-quarter data in hand, we see that venture dollars invested in North American startups were down for the first half of the year compared to the first half of last year. The same was true specifically for the second quarter.

In general, funding counts for the most recent quarter will be lower as funding rounds are added after the quarter closes. Typically, the data lag is greater at the seed and early funding stages. Funding amounts are less impacted as larger funding rounds are more likely to be announced in a timely manner.

According to Crunchbase data, $64 billion was invested in North American startups (companies based in Canada and the United States) in the first half of 2020. That’s down 10 percent compared to the same period in 2019, when $70 billion was invested.

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Originally published by
Sophia Kunthara | July 13, 2020



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Gold Level Contributor

Palantir Files Confidentially for IPO

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Big data analytics company Palantir Technologies has confidentially filed to go public, the company said Monday evening.

The company has filed a draft S-1 registration document with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, meaning right now the public can’t get a glimpse at Palantir’s financials or other business information. But it’s a significant step for the notoriously secretive company, which was founded in 2003 and remained private for so long.

Monday’s statement from Palantir confirms a Bloomberg News report last month that the company was aiming to file confidentially to go public in the next few weeks. CEO Alex Karp also said on Axios on HBO in May that the company may go public this year after nearly two decades as a private company.

“The real holdup at Palantir was we were building products and we needed to kind of get enough of them out so that people would see the robustness of our company, both internally and externally,” Karp said, according to Axios.

Just last month it was announced the company raised $500 million in a new round of funding from Japanese insurance holding company Sompo Holdings and $50 million from Fujitsu. Palantir has at least $2.6 billion in funding, according to Crunchbase.

The company, which is based in Palo Alto, California, is backed by firms including Founders FundManhattan Venture Partners and REV, per Crunchbase data. More of its investors can be found here.

Palantir is among a wave of tech companies looking to go public in recent weeks after a COVID-19-induced lull in the IPO market. Companies like ZoomInfoVroom and Lemonade have all gone through IPOs and been well-received by public investors. Other companies including Snowflake and Amwell Health have reportedly filed confidentially to go public. And just last week, Minneapolis-based Jamf filed a public S-1 with the SEC.

Originally published by
Sophia Kunthara | July 7, 2020



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Gold Level Contributor

As the venture capital industry pumped the brakes on dealmaking, a handful of investors are taking a different tack.

Among the top 20 most active US VC firms with assets under management of $500 million or more, just five have recorded more deals in the first half of this year than in the same period last year, according to PitchBook data.

Some of the venture world's biggest names⁠—including NEA and Kleiner Perkins⁠—have done half as many deals as they did last year. Industry-wide, the quarterly pace of dealmaking has dropped to its lowest level since 2012, PitchBook data shows.

US VC firms have scaled back pace of investing

But some firms sense there's a small window of opportunity in the coronavirus era, as companies experiencing a tailwind look to capture more market share.

"We've just seen a handful of our sectors really spike, and I think that's all contributed to deploying more capital in this period," said Ian Sigalow, co-founder and partner at Greycroft.

The firm has been tied to 30 deals so far this year, compared with 26 in the first half of 2019, according to PitchBook data.

Investors with narrow industry focuses have either been helped or hurt by the rapid change of fortunes caused by the coronavirus.

Greycroft recently invested in grocery delivery startup Mercato and digital pharmacy Medly, Sigalow said. Both companies have seen business grow during the pandemic. The firm made several similar investments after running an analysis to identify portfolio companies that were outperforming expectations.

Economic downturns have a way of shining a light on businesses that are particularly resilient, said Lonne Jaffe, managing director at Insight Partners.

But taking advantage of the opportunities presented by macroeconomic forces requires swift action.

"Sometimes those demand spikes only last for a short period of time, and if you don't grab them while they're there, they're gone," Jaffe said.

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Originally published by
James Thorne | July 6, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

Image: Vectorstock

Data privacy startup Ethyca had been busy in the lead up to July 1—the day the California Consumer Privacy Act became enforceable.

From April to June, the New York-based company recorded a 150% month-over-month increase in demand, an indication that many businesses were scrambling to prepare for when the CCPA would be enforced, its co-founder and CEO Cillian Kieran said.

Even though the law has been in effect since the beginning of the year, the state's attorney general, Xavier Becerra, can now take direct action against companies that violate the regulations.

Several startups had hoped California would delay the law's enforcement date. But after Becerra decided against it, companies were forced to ensure they would have enough cash runway for privacy solutions to survive the next few months, Kieran said.

"It is certainly not a lack of care for privacy, but an issue of prioritization," he explained. "When businesses are struggling commercially during a pandemic, it is very difficult to address privacy issues that are not exactly revenue generating."

Ethyca develops a privacy cloud that can be integrated with applications such as ShopifyZendesk and Stripe to automate data mapping, track individual consumer requests and build reports according to privacy regulations.

The CCPA applies to businesses that generate annual revenue of more than $25 million, and companies that collect data of 50,000 or more consumers, households or devices. It also applies to businesses that get at least 50% of revenue from selling consumer information.

Nearly 75% of companies in the state of California will reportedly be affected by the law.

The CCPA intends to grant California consumers control over their personal information, such as the right to know, delete and opt out of the sale of personal information that businesses collect. When a consumer files an inquiry with a company wanting to know what personal information is being shared, businesses generally have 45 days to respond.

If companies are unable to respond, the attorney general may prosecute them for general violations. California will give them 30 days to resolve violations. If companies don't, they could face penalties of $2,500 per unintentional violation and $7,500 for an intentional one.

For startups to correctly respond to consumer requests, they first need to understand what consumer information they collect, determine who has access to it and why, Kieran said.

Then, they need to establish methods that allow consumers to submit requests, train employees on how to retrieve information, and deploy appropriate security procedures to mitigate risk of penalties.

Smaller companies typically tend to settle for manual operations if they can get away with it, said Dimitri Sirota, co-founder and CEO of privacy compliance platform BigID.

But the New York-based company also saw a push from some of its bigger customers in January, well before the enforcement date.

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Originally published by
Priyamvada Mathur | July 2, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

Crunchbase News checked in with experts in the consumer product space who said now is a good time to start a brand.

They also discussed what the hot categories are, direct-to-consumer versus traditional distribution channels, and challenges startups face breaking into the consumer/household products business.

Hot categories

Over the past five years, many new brands have entered the consumer electronics space. But on the consumer goods side, beauty and cosmetics, drones, and shoes are the most popular, according to Crunchbase data.

Maveron is a consumer-only venture capital firm. David Wu, general partner, told me that almost every consumer category saw consumer spending go down during COVID-19’s shelter-in-place mandates.

However, he also said there is opportunity for growth as grocery, digital entertainment and cleaning supplies provide promise.

“In a lot of ways, you are seeing online food and groceries take off, accelerated by consumers who are normally creatures of habit, but are now much more open to trying new things,” he said. “For companies, such as Instacart, it is going to be interesting to see what happens when the world opens back up and grocery stores have a chance to delight customers again with value.”

While some luxury items are coming back, the most popular goods are in the value and lower price points, he said. In particular, success in the digital entertainment area will depend on whether consumers have money to spend there, he added.

Now, Maveron is looking at startups focused on senior care, the omnichannel world, and e-commerce in lower price points, Wu said.

“I am seeing a reinvention of entertainment, where there is more use of social networks and their live platforms, as well as demand for gaming and opportunities to experience digitally together,” he added. “Health care is changing as people are taking responsibility into their own hands. We are seeing a huge shift in mental health and prescription drugs.”

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Originally published by
Christine Hall | June 30, 2020


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Silver Level Contributor

Shoppers walk past an H&M fashion store in central Stockholm, Sweden, on April 2, 2020. GETTY IMAGES


It is a common refrain from critics of the lockdown. Don’t let the cure — locking down the economy — be worse than the disease it is preventing.

If that is the case, then, Sweden should be a case study in how to manage the disease.

It famously didn’t lock down. Bars and restaurants remained open, as did hairdressers and gyms. The University of Oxford’s government response tracker puts into numbers the light-touch effort, showing Sweden was one of the least restrictive countries in the world.

On the health front, Sweden has paid a heavy price. According to Johns Hopkins University data, Sweden has suffered 50.7 deaths per 100,000 people. That isn’t the worst in the world — Belgium and the U.K. are higher, for example — but far above the 10.4 deaths per 100,000 in Denmark, the 5.9 deaths in Finland and 4.7 deaths in Norway.


But there is also an economic question. Did Sweden benefit economically from avoiding the lockdown?

The economic data doesn’t suggest that. Dhaval Joshi, chief European investment strategist at BCA Research, pitted Sweden against Denmark, noting they speak near-identical languages and share a broadly similar culture and demographic, yet Denmark imposed one of the most aggressive lockdowns globally.

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Originally posted by:
Steve Goldstein
June 25th, 2020

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Bronze Level Contributor

Hungarian startup has raised over $70m as it looks for affordable and software-driven solutions to making autonomous driving a reality.

Budapest-based automated driving company AImotive has announced its latest round of funding, bring the total raised to over $70m, which it claims makes it the largest VC-backed company developing automated driving technology in Europe.

The five-year-old company is among the many trying to crack the automated driving conundrum, though its focus is more on affordable and software solutions (as we wrote about back in January), and supplying technology to large car manufacturers as they work towards creating their own fully autonomous vehicles.

“This funding round shows that investors think that software development, especially agile software development in the automated driving space, is very important,” László Kishonti, founder and chief executive of AImotive, tells Sifted.

The $20m Series C extension round, led by venture capital firm Lead Ventures, and featuring existing investors like Robert Bosch Venture Capital, B Capital Group, Prime Ventures, Inventure, Samsung Catalyst fund and the Draper Associates, is aimed in part at expanding the company’s global footprint.

AImotive, which now has over 200 employees, is set to open offices in Munich and Detroit, in order to provide enhanced support to its automotive partners in those key hubs. The company already has offices in Yokohama, Japan, Budapest and California, as well as staff in Germany and Detroit.

“I think this is a big achievement for the company to get investment in this environment,” says Kishonti, referring to the global pandemic and economic downturn. “It also means that very soon after the situation balances out in the automotive industry we will be a key independent software player.”

With its technology relying heavily on artificial intelligence-based software solutions, AImotive claims to have one of the largest AI research teams in Europe.

Some see this latest round as a sign of the times.

Originally published by
Kit Gillet| June 22, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.

DoorDash is raising $400 million in a new round of funding, bringing its valuation to nearly $16 billion, the company confirmed Thursday.

Axios first reported news of the funding.

In late February, DoorDash confidentially filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public. Its IPO plans were basically put on hold, however, after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Since then, demand for food delivery has surged as people have been following stay-at-home requirements.

“DoorDash understands that the world has changed. We continue to have a responsibility to the communities we serve—it’s one we take seriously each and every day,” the company said in a statement. “This capital will support new products and services that help our merchants manage the changed operating environment, offer customers convenient and safe ways of ordering and shopping, and enable Dashers to continue making meaningful, flexible income when they need it most.”

DoorDash last raised $700 million with its Series G last year. It raised $600 million in a round led by Darsana Capital Partners in May 2019, and $100 million in an extension round led by T. Rowe Price in November 2019, according to Crunchbase.

It’s unclear when DoorDash will move forward with its IPO. Although tech IPOs were effectively put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the few companies that have made their public debuts have been well received.

Both ZoomInfo and Vroom recently went public and saw their stock price surge. Other companies like Snowflake and Palantir have reportedly filed confidentially to go public, and Lemonade filed an S-1 publicly last week.

Either way, DoorDash is well-capitalized now with around $2.5 billion in funding, according to Crunchbase.

Originally published by
Sophia Kunthara | June 18, 2020



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Gold Level Contributor

Image: Unsplash - Austin Distel

Once again, pressure on equity markets is building. A broad array of analysts believe the rebound since the March 23 low is now on shaky foundations. Additional risks adding to concerns include the US economy which is in its worst shape in a generation, together with many states currently bracing for a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Investors saw these fears play out on Thursday when the S&P 500 plunged 6% during the day and almost $2 trillion of equity value was erased. Cyclical stock selling was especially intense, including shares of airlines, energy producers and banks—the typical equity bets on a quick economic recovery.

While the slump is still small compared to the advance that lifted the S&P 500 by 45% since late March, it nonetheless highlights the vulnerability of the current rally. In this uncertain environment, a big challenge for investors remains: finding stocks that are less sensitive to daily market gyrations, and which can be bought and held over the long-term.

Building on that theme, here's our short list: three stocks less sensitive to economic cycles that are also strongly defensive in nature.

1. Nike

Sportswear giant Nike (NYSE:NKE) is a great buy-and-hold candidate in the event of a second major market sell-off triggered by COVID-19 fears. The company is in a strong financial position and able to endure a weak period.

It ended the previous quarter with $3.2 billion in cash. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company has just over $6 billion in long-term debt and operating lease obligations on its books and isn't facing significant debt maturities until 2023. Nike can free up additional liquidity if needed by halting share buybacks—it spent $957 million on them in the most recent quarter.

Nike’s brand strength and the resilience of its business model was evident from the company’s successful execution of its e-commerce strategy during the pandemic when most of its stores were closed. Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe told analysts in late March that the company’s e-commerce operations remain “in growth mode,” despite the demand shock presented by the coronavirus outbreak.

“At a time when people were confined to their homes, we moved swiftly to leverage our digital app ecosystem and Nike expert trainer network,” he said, by accelerating app sign-ups and engagement for Nike Training Club workouts.

Trading at $96.43, Nike shares have rebounded strongly from the March low of $60.58 in the post pandemic market rally. If the stock weakens in a broad-based sell-off, investors could find a good entry-point for acquiring shares.

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Originally published by (Haris Anwar) | June 15, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

Car marketplace Vroom made its debut on the Nasdaq on Tuesday. (Photo: Nasdaq)

IPO roadshows, the traveling campaigns for CEOs to pitch investors before taking companies public, are settling down in one place—online.

In recent days the IPO market's pandemic-inspired chill has begun to thaw, resulting in a burst of activity as investment bankers, executives and investors take to digital meetings instead of packing into sessions at far-flung hotel conference rooms.

"We've seen that even in these times we're able to complete an IPO," said Han Teerink, a lawyer with Clifford Chance who works on public offerings. "Being able to do this virtually, and having seen that it works in practice, will definitely be of help and speed up decisions to go public."

One of the first and highest-profile companies to go online was Slack, which was already going public in an unconventional way by doing a direct listing last year rather than a standard IPO. More recent examples of online roadshows include Warner Music, coffee company JDE Peet's and car marketplace Vroom, with several more soon set to follow suit as social distancing remains the norm in financial centers around the globe.

As a legal matter, very little changes for an IPO process when investor meetings are done via video conferencing, Teerink said. Both the documentation and the steps that a company goes through to prepare its listing remain the same.

Fully virtual roadshows won't make sense for all companies. Teerink said companies that are in volatile markets or have a low profile may not be able to get the necessary engagement from backers if they can't meet in person, especially when trying to line up cornerstone investors. Face-to-face interactions are useful in building trust with investors, particularly when they are deciding whether to invest based on a company's limited historical data.

The digital roadshow trend is taking hold as action picks up on the IPO calendar.

Others coming up include biotech companies Lantern Pharma and Avidity Biosciences, which are both expected to have their market debuts this week.

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Originally published by
Leah Hodgson | June 10, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

Cue has worked with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority since 2018, following a $30 million contract to develop a similar test for influenza A and B designed for use at the point-of-care or at home through an online service. (Getty Images)

Portable testing company Cue Health has raised $100 million in new venture capital funding shortly after acquiring a U.S. government contract to develop a rapid, point-of-care coronavirus diagnostic.

The proceeds will be put toward plans to double the company’s footprint in San Diego, home to its manufacturing and business operations, scaling up to over 110,000 square feet. This will support the development and commercialization of a cartridge-based COVID-19 test, currently under emergency authorization review by the FDA.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a rapid, easy-to-use platform for diagnostics in decentralized settings to respond to existing and emerging threats,” Cue’s co-founder and CEO, Ayub Khattak, said in a statement.

“Healthcare settings such as nursing homes, emergency departments, and community health clinics need tools to allow them to access molecular test information immediately rather than waiting hours or days for lab results,” Khattak said.

The series C round was backed by Decheng Capital, Foresite Capital, Madrone Capital Partners, ACME Capital, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and others. 

In mid-March, Cue was awarded a $13 million contract from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, to develop a portable COVID-19 test that could provide a result in under 25 minutes from a nasal swab.

Cue has worked with BARDA since 2018, following a $30 million contract to develop a similar test for influenza A and B designed for use at the point-of-care or at home through an online service. That test is currently undergoing clinical testing.

“We are excited to welcome strong healthcare and life-science focused investors that align with our vision for how diagnostics should evolve,” Khattak said. “Ultimately, broad distribution of the connected Cue platform to both healthcare professionals and consumers will enable a new model of rapid, on-demand diagnostic testing and enhanced telemedicine capabilities, changing the way important health information is accessed and acted on.”

Originally published by
Conor Hale | Jun 10, 2020
Fierce Biotech

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Gold Level Contributor

Today German automation startup Bryter, who has built a no-coding platform for enterprises, has raised €14.1 million. The funds will be used to accelerate its international expansion, particularly in the US, and help enable international adoption across their growing global customer base.

Bryter, founded in 2018, is a leading no-code platform enabling experts to automate decision-making. Basically, it supports a range of organizations, like consulting firms, banks, corporates, and public administration across the globe, to digitalise and scale their services, without needing programming skills. So far the startup has offices in Berlin, Frankfurt, and London, and supports professionals at over 30 major companies like ING, PwC, Deloitte, Baker McKenzie, and Taylor Wessing. 

This new round was led by venture capital firms Dawn Capital and Accel, who also led the startup’s seed round. Also participating in the round were existing investors Notion Capital and the fund of SaaS veteran Mike Chalfen of Chalfen Ventures. 

CEO and co-founder, Michael Grupp said: “Building on our early momentum in the compliance and legal markets, this funding round will allow us to bring our enterprise no-code platform to more customers both in additional geographies and industries, and power our momentum for continued international growth. And we are thrilled to receive such high-skilled experience and support helping us achieve this.”

Evgenia Plotnikova, Partner at Dawn Capital, said: “BRYTER was founded just two years ago and has already made rapid progress. We at Dawn are hugely excited to witness the growth ahead as the business continues to scale globally.”

Luca Bocchio, Partner at Accel said: “We’ve been impressed with the impact BRYTER has already had, in such a short space in time, in unleashing the potential for business experts to participate in digital transformation without the need for specific programming skills. We’re excited to see the company continue its rapid growth and increased adoption amongst blue-chip global enterprise customers.” 

Originally published by
Charlotte Tucker - 

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Gold Level Contributor

Who will the Covid unicorns be?

A portrait of Pascal Cagni, the co-founder of C4 Ventures.

With five unicorns under his belt, investor Pascal Cagni is back out hunting for startups. This time around, he’s looking for the winners of the post-Covid world.

“Although Covid-19 is going to bring about an economic slowdown, it is also going to be a breeding ground for innovation and change through disruptive tech,” Cagni told Sifted. “Habits and behaviours have changed drastically overnight, and there’s no going back.”

Cagni is known for having been Steve Jobs’ right arm in Europe, expanding Apple in the region between 2000 and 2012. 

He started venture firm C4 Ventures after that, in 2014, with money from friends, family and his Apple stock options, as well as help from his former colleague Raphael Crouan.

The VC’s track record since then shows that out of C4 Ventures’ about 30 investments, five startups went on to be valued at more than $1bn. Those include Nest, founded by iPod inventor Tony Fadell, semiconductor-maker Graphcore and fraud detection software company Riskified.

€80m moneypot

With offices in London and Paris, and Cagni now based in the French capital after more than a decade in the UK, C4 Ventures is looking to back entrepreneurs who can turn the changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic into gold. 

The fund had raised €50m by May 11. It announced on Wednesday it aims to bring that to about €80m in total in the coming weeks, with money from family offices and entrepreneurs, adding to the cofounders’ own.

So what’s C4’s investment recipe for spotting the winners and losers of coronavirus?

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Originally published by
Marie Mawad - June 3, 2020


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Bronze Level Contributor

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Life sciences research and development platform Benchling closed $50 million in Series D funding led by Alkeon, the company announced Monday.

New investors Spark CapitalLux Capital and ICONIQ Partners participated in the San Francisco-based company’s funding round, as well as existing investors Thrive CapitalBenchmark and Menlo Ventures, the company said in a written statement.

The cloud-based software platform has been used by more than 230,000 scientists and 1,000 R&D organizations to centralize large and complex experimental datasets, as well as optimize R&D processes so they can make breakthrough discoveries faster, the company said.

“Benchling has engineered an end-to-end, purpose-built software platform indispensable to life sciences companies leading the charge on global R&D,” Mark McLaughlin, general partner at Alkeon, said in a written statement. “Scientists on the front lines of groundbreaking research leverage Benchling as go-to infrastructure that empowers them to innovate and collaborate at scale, while doing so with unprecedented speed and accuracy.”

Saji Wickramasekara, Benchling founder and CEO, told Forbes that the capital infusion brought the company’s total funding to $114 million at a valuation of $850 million. Prior to this round, the company raised a $34 million Series C round in July 2019, led by Menlo Ventures, according to Crunchbase data.

Benchling plans to use the investment to expand product capabilities and add to its international presence, the company said. Since COVID-19 began last year, Wickramasekara said in a written statement, users were tapping into the platform to develop treatments and vaccines.

“Rapidly solving COVID-19 is just the start of what will solidify this as the century of biotech,” he said.

Originally posted by
Christine Hall | June 1, 2020

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Gold Level Contributor

Blogroll Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Wasabi Technologies, which describes itself as a “hot” cloud storage company, announced today the close of a $30 million extension to its Series B round.

Switzerland-based Forestay Capital led the financing, which also includes participation from existing investors Ron Skates, former CEO of Data GeneralGreylock founding partner Howard Cox; and Desh Deshpande.

The extension brings the Boston-based startup’s total raised since its 2017 inception to nearly $110 million. Wasabi had raised $68 million in the first tranche of the Series B in September 2018, also led by Forestay Capital.

There’s a few things that caught my eye about this company. For one, co-founder and CEO David Friend is not shy in saying Wasabi is out to take on giants such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft when it comes to cloud storage.

Secondly, the background of Wasabi’s co-founders is pretty cool. Friend and Jeff Flowers have started five companies together over the years. Their venture prior to Wasabi, Carbonitesold last year to Canada’s OpenText for an impressive $1.4 billion.

So, I guess you could say they have some chemistry.

In fact, Friend told me in a Zoom interview earlier this week that meeting Flowers in the 1980s was “one of the best things that had ever happened” to him.

“I wouldn’t consider starting a company without Jeff,” he said. “We know a lot about cloud storage and thought we could do it better and cheaper than legacy providers.”

But back to the funding.

Friend declined to disclose the exact post-money valuation, noting only that it was in the “several hundred million dollars” range and “a significant uptick” from its previous raise.


Wasabi says its hot – able to instantaneously store data – cloud storage offerings are superior to Amazon S3 and other first-generation cloud providers in a few ways.

“It’s faster and cheaper,” Friend told me. “And it’s not Amazon, which means a lot to some people. Plus, we’re devoting all our resources to cloud storage whereas these other companies are doing hundreds of other things.”

Specifically, Wasabi claims that its pricing model amounts to about one-fifth the cost of legacy cloud storage offerings, with no fees for egress or API requests.

“Our goal is to become to cloud storage what Iron Mountain is to cardboard boxes,” Friend said. “Cloud storage is becoming a commodity like electricity or bandwidth. There’s no question there’s demand out there. The market is over $40 billion a year already.”

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Originally published by
Mary Ann Azevedo
May 28, 2020 | Crunchbase

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