Author: Connie Loizos

Steve Jurvetson tells all: about his new $200 million fund, his new partner, his new shopping list, and more

TECHCRUNCH Steve Jurvetson is staging a comeback, disclosing today that his new San Francisco-based, early-stage venture firm Future Ventures, has raised $200 million for its debut fund. “It’s good to be back in the saddle again,” says Jurvetson, whose career was somewhat famously derailed in the fall of 2017 when a former girlfriend wrote a Facebook post, accusing DFJ — the firm Jurvetson cofounded in 1985 — of “predatory behavior.” DFJ said publicly the next day that it was already investigating “indirect and secondhand allegations” about Jurvetson, and within weeks, the firm and Jurvetson seemingly had enough of each...

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Kleiner’s Mamoon Hamid thinks we could be in a 15-year-long bull market (and other insights from the firm)

TECHCRUNCH Late last month, the venture firm Kleiner Perkins began an official reboot, with a new, $600 million fund, as well as some new faces blazing the trail for the outfit going forward, including Mamoon Hamid and Ilya Fushman, investors who joined Kleiner from Social Capital and Index Ventures, respectively. Their roles at the 47-year-old firm are being watched closely. Kleiner was long considered part of a very small circle of top venture funds, but a series of missteps in recent years had yanked it in another direction, with a seemingly endless string of departures further tarnishing its brand....

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Jim Steyer runs the powerful nonprofit Common Sense Media, and he’s increasingly using his influence around tech consumption

TECHCRUNCH California Governor Gavin Newsom earlier today proposed a so-called digital dividend that would let consumers share in the profits generated by California-based tech companies that have been “collecting, curating and monetizing” their users’ personal data. Newsom added that he has asked his administration to develop a proposal for a “new data dividend for Californians, because we recognize that data has value, and it belongs to you.” It’s an idea that tech companies will surely argue against if it begins to take shape beyond a talking point, but it has at least one early proponent: Jim Steyer, the founder and CEO of the hugely popular,15-year-old nonprofit organization Common Sense Media. In fact, says Steyer, the idea is his, and Common Sense, which also has powerful advocacy and educational arms, is working on related legislation right now. Steyer’s involvement in the background might surprise some of the 125 million people who visit the site each year for advice on what movies, shows, apps, and games are age appropriate for their children. But it’s well-known to executives in politics, media, and tech,who Steyer has befriended and sometimes harangued, all in the pursuit of putting children first, he suggests. As renowned GOP strategist Mark McKinnon told Politico in 2014, Steyer knows everyone, and he doesn’t shy from tapping his vast network when he wants to get something done. In fact, McKinnon told the outlet...

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Mode, a collaborative analytics platform focused on empowering data scientists, just landed $23 million in fresh funding

TECHCRUNCH Mode, a five-year-old collaborative analytics platform based in San Francisco, has raised $23 million in Series C funding led by Valor Equity Partners. Foundation Capital and REV Venture Partners, who led Mode’s Series A and B financing rounds, respectively, also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $50 million altogether. In some ways, the investment is a bet on the continuing need for data scientists, despite the many companies that are focused on making data analysis available and understandable to a broader swath of employees, like Snowflake and BigQuery. The way Mode cofounder and CEO Derek Steer sees it, owing to today’s tools, organizations may need fewer data scientists. But they need also to better empower those individuals to quickly and effective answer key questions, like how clients are using their product in unexpected ways, and how companies can take advantage of trends they are seeing in the data, and other business intelligence questions. Mode does this through an integrated SQL editor, Python, R notebooks, and visualization builder that it says give users the flexibility to choose the level of abstraction they want for a given dataset. The investment is also a bet on Steer, says David Obrand, a partner at Valor who is joining the board, and who worked previously with Steer at Yammer, the enterprise-level social networking site that was acquired by Microsoft in 2012....

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YC is hosting interviews in New York in a couple of weeks; here’s what you need to know ahead of time

TECHCRUNCH For years, the popular accelerator program Y Combinator has interviewed applicants to its program in the Bay Area, reimbursing teams for their travel expenses. It will continue to do so, but the outfit tells us they are also hosting interviews in New York on February 23rd for the first time, and that plans to interview applicants in both Tel Aviv and Bangalore are in the works. We were in touch yesterday Y Combinator Dalton Caldwell, who heads of admissions for YC, to get a few more details that might be good for potential applicants to know. TC: Remind us of what the in-person interview process involves. What are the steps to land time with one of the partners for an interview? DC: Founders fill out an online application. The application is reviewed by YC partners. We invite select founders to meet us in-person for a 10-minute interview. We tell founders that day if they’re funded. TC: And that application involves . . . DC: To be considered, founders need to submit a YC application. The application asks for a one-minute video where founders can introduce themselves and their startups. There is no change from our standard application and interview process. TC: How many people were accepted into the winter class and how many were rejected? DC: We’re not yet announcing the stats from the Winter W19 batch. We’ll...

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Aurora cofounder and CEO Chris Urmson on the company’s new investor, Amazon, and much more

TECHCRUNCH You might not think of self-driving technologies and politics having much in common, but at least in one way, they overlap meaningfully: yesterday’s enemy can be tomorrow’s ally. Such was the message we gleaned Thursday night, at a small industry event in San Francisco, where we had the chance to sit down with Chris Urmson, the cofounder and CEO of Aurora, a company that (among many others) is trying to transform how both people and goods are moved. It was a big day for Urmson. Earlier the same day, his two-year-old company announced a whopping $530 million in Series B funding, a round that was led by top firm Sequoia Capital and that included “significant investment” from T. Rowe Price and Amazon. The round for Aurora — which is building what it calls a “driver” technology that it expects to eventually integrate into cars built by Volkswagen, Hyundai, and China’s Byten, among others —  is highly notable, even in a sea of giant fundings. Not only does it represent Sequoia’s first biggest bet yet on any kind of self-driving technology, it’s also an “incredible endorsement” from T. Rowe Price, said Urmson Thursday night, suggesting it shows the outfit “thinks long term and strategically [that] we’re the independent option to self-driving cars.” Yet perhaps the most interesting facet to the round is that it includes Amazon, one of the world’s most...

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WeWork just made its first acquisition of 2019, snapping up a visitor identity and behavior company

TECHCRUNCH WeWork is diving more aggressively into software sales. Just six months after spending $100 million in cash on Teem, a Salt Lake City-based office management startup, the company has acquired Euclid, a data platform that tracks the identity and behavior of people in the physical world. WeWork isn’t saying what it’s paying for the nine-year-old, Bay Area-based company, which raised $43.6 million over the years and whose brand will be put to rest. But the deal is clearly an effort to move WeWork further away from merely selling memberships to its coworking spaces – –  a risky business...

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Honest Company cofounder Christopher Gavigan has a new, and newly funded, CBD startup called Prima

TECHCRUNCH Christopher Gavigan, sitting in a crisp white shirt inside a small TechCrunch conference room, radiates energy, even in a late-day interview just hours before he’s scheduled to fly home from San Francisco to L.A. We’re meeting to talk about Prima, a new startup that Gavigan began developing seven months ago with two cofounders. One of them is a former beauty and marketing executive, Jessica Assaf, who was until recently running a company called Cannabis Feminist to sell marijuana wellness products at her L.A. home. The other is Laurel Myers, who’d spent six years working alongside Gavigan at his last startup, The Honest Company, the now eight-year-old brand that sells nontoxic personal care and household products at Target, Whole Foods, Nordstrom and many other places. Gavigan is still Honest’s “chief purpose officer,” and its most effective evangelist, one quickly gathers. But he’s gotten excited in recent months about a new opportunity that many others are beginning to chase, too: the market for products made with cannabinoids of CBD, a compound that can be derived from both cannabis and hemp plants and which has taken off since industrial hemp cultivation was made legal in the United States last year. Prima, based in Southern California, is creating a spate of products around hemp cannabinoids that Gavigan manages to make sound magical. He talks of taking the “best organically grown hemp out of Oregon” and...

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