Author: Connie Loizos

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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Eclipse Ventures in Palo Alto just added two more big wheels as general partners

TECHCRUNCH Mike McNamara retired from the electronics manufacturing giant and services business Flex last December after 12 years as CEO of the company – – and another 12 working his way up to the  corner office — but he didn’t say at the time where he was headed. As it turns out, McNamara had decided to join Eclipse Ventures, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based firm led by Lior Susan, who’d previously founded LabIX, a hardware investment platform backed by Flex, when it was still called Flextronics. McNamara isn’t the firm’s only new general partner, either. Eclipse is also announcing...

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Talia Goldberg just became the newest partner at Bessemer Venture Partners

TECHCRUNCH Talia Goldberg didn’t know what venture capital was, growing up around professionals in the medical field whose favorite dinner-time game was to describe a symptom, then ask those around the table to guess the diagnosis. Goldberg, who half-kiddingly describes herself today as a hypochondriac, says things changed during her college career at the University of Pennsylvania, where she entered into its liberal arts program but wound up spending increasing amounts of time at the business school. “I kind of recognized that business was happening at a faster pace than ever and started getting excited about the technology” driving...

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Famed investor Roger McNamee once advised Facebook. Now he’s certain it’s destroying our democracy

TECHCRUNCH A year ago, renowned investor Roger McNamee had much of Silicon Valley baffled. McNamee had made his name as a tech investor in the ’80s and ’90s before cofounding the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, then cofounding the venture capital firm Elevation Partners with singer Bono. A musician himself, McNamee had taken to spending more and more time playing with his band, Moonalice, and performing in other gigs across the country. Yet suddenly, he was seemingly on every media outlet after writing a 6,000-word piece in Washington Monthly that outlined his growing concern that that Facebook’s business model was increasingly dangerous to both the U.S. economy and our democracy. Given that McNamee had been an advisor to Mark Zuckerberg early in the company’s life and profited from an early investment in the company, reporters wanted to know exactly what he saw as the problem — and he was happy to tell them. He saw bad actors on the Facebook. He saw data being scraped and sold. He was frustrated, he said, and users needed to get frustrated, too. He’d tried to talk privately to both Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg — who he says he helped connect with Zuckerberg years ago — and they treated his concerns not as a legitimate threat to their users but as a PR crisis. When he wrote them again, he was passed along...

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Backed by Benchmark, Blue Hexagon just raised $31 million for its deep learning cybersecurity software

TECHCRUNCH Nayeem Islam spent nearly 11 years with chipmaker Qualcomm, where he founded its Silicon Valley-based R&D facility, recruited its entire team and oversaw research on all aspects of security, including applying machine learning on mobile devices and in the network to detect threats early. Islam was nothing if not prolific, developing a system for on-device machine learning for malware detection, libraries for optimizing deep learning algorithms on mobile devices, and systems for parallel compute on mobile devices, among other things. In fact, because of his work, he also saw a big opportunity in better protecting enterprises from cyberthreats through deep neural networks that are able to process every single raw byte within a file without ignoring anything, and that can uncover complex relations within datasets. So two years ago, Islam and Saumitra Das, a former Qualcomm engineer with 330 patents to his name and another 450 pending, struck out on their own to create Blue Hexagon, a now 30-person Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company that is today disclosing that it has raised $31 million in funding from Benchmark and Altimeter. The funding comes roughly one year after Benchmark quietly led a $6 million Series A round for the firm. So what has investors so bullish on the company’s prospects, aside from its credentialed founders? In a word, speed, seemingly. According to Islam, Blue Hexagon has created a real-time, cybersecurity platform that he says can...

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The next big bet for former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick may be cloud kitchens — in China

TECHCRUNCH Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick may have been nudged out of one of the world’s most highly valuable private companies by investors frustrated over its troubled culture, but his moves remain of great interest given how far he’d driven the ride-share giant. One such move, according to a new report in the South China Morning Post, looks to be to help foster the growing concept of cloud kitchens to China. We’ve reached out to Kalanick for more information, but per the SCMP’s report, Kalanick is partnering with the former COO of the bike-sharing startup Ofo, Yanqi Zhang ,...

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Kleiner Perkins officially reboots with a $600 million early-stage fund

TECHCRUNCH The venture firm Kleiner Perkins has enjoyed many iterations over its 47-year-old history. Today, in some ways, it kicks off its newest. According to a new SEC filing, the firm has just closed its eighteenth early-stage fund with $600 million in capital commitments. It’s the first fund that Kleiner has announced since June 2016. Investors are betting on a very different team than last time around. Specifically, they look to be placing much of their faith in Mamoon Hamid and Ilya Fushman. Hamid, who today runs Kleiner with longtime general partner Ted Schlein, was recruited into Kleiner in August 2017,...

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Pinterest puts an IPO on its pinboard, hiring Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan to lead an offering this year

TECHCRUNCH Pinterest, the 11-year-old, San Francisco-based site known for the photos its users post about everything from wedding to beauty to art world trends, has hired Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase as lead underwriters for an IPO that it’s planning to stage later this year. Reuters first reported the news. TechCrunch sources have since confirmed the development. A Pinterest spokesperson declined to “comment on rumors and speculation” when asked this afternoon for more information. Pinterest has raised roughly $1.5 billion over the years and was valued at $12 billion by its private investors during its last fundraising round in...

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