Author: Kate Clark

Uber to resume autonomous vehicle testing months after fatal accident

TECHCRUNCH Uber has been granted permission by the state of Pennsylvania to reinstate tests of its autonomous vehicles, as first reported by Reuters. A spokesperson for Uber confirmed to TechCrunch that the ride-hailing giant received a letter of authorization from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and clarified that the company has not yet resumed self-driving operations. Uber halted testing of its self-driving cars following a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona this March that left a pedestrian dead. An autonomous Uber SUV accompanied by a safety driver was driving northbound when it struck a woman, who was taken to the hospital...

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Moonbug nabs $145M to buy up kids’ digital media brands

TECHCRUNCH Moonbug, a kid-focused media business founded by a pair of entertainment executives, has brought in a $145 million Series A investment led by The Raine Group, a merchant bank that supports technology, media and telecom efforts. Venture capital firms Felix Capital and Fertitta Capital also participated in the financing. Moonbug, headquartered in London, acquires and distributes media content made for kids. Recently, the company completed its first IP acquisition of Little Baby Bum, a children’s sing-along show popular on YouTube, Amazon and Netflix. According to a Los Angeles Times report, one of the show’s videos is the 20th most...

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Lightspeed is raising its largest China fund yet

TECHCRUNCH Lightspeed China Partners, the China-focused affiliate of Silicon Valley-based Lightspeed Venture Partners, has set a $360 million target for its fourth flagship venture fund, according to a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today. If the target is reached, the fund will be Lightspeed China’s largest yet, per PitchBook. Lightspeed China’s previous two funds each closed on $260 million. The VC raised $168 million for its debut China-focused fund in 2013. Lightspeed China is led by David Mi (pictured). Mi, an investor in multiple billion-dollar Chinese companies, was previously the director of corporate development at Google, where...

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A former Ofo exec is launching his own scooter startup

TECHCRUNCH The funding extravaganza may be approaching its end for scooter “unicorns” Lime and Bird, but smaller startups in the micro-mobility space have continued to close venture capital rounds at a consistent pace. See Grin, Tier and Yellow for examples. The latest is Dott, a European scooter startup founded by Maxim Romain, Ofo’s former head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Romain joined Ofo, a Chinese bike- and scooter-sharing company that raised more than $1 billion in venture capital funding but has struggled to scale overseas, in 2018 to help it expand. He only lasted seven months before realizing he could do...

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Distinguished VCs back wholesale marketplace Faire with $100M at a $535M valuation

TECHCRUNCH A slew of venture capitalists known for high-profile exits — Kirsten Green of Forerunner Ventures, Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures, Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital and Alex Taussig of Lightspeed Venture Partners — have invested in Faire (formerly known as Indigo Fair), a 2-year-old wholesale marketplace for artisanal products. A quick glance at Faire suggests it’s a combination of Pinterest and Etsy, complete with trendy, pastel stationery, soap, baby products and more, all made by independent artisans and sold to retailers. Faire has today announced a $100 million fundraise across two financing rounds: a $40 million Series B led by Taussig at Lightspeed and a $60 million Series C led by Y Combinator’s Continuity fund. New investors Founders Fund, the venture firm founded by Peter Thiel, and DST Global also participated. The business has previously brought in a total of $16 million. The latest financing values Faire at $535 million, according to a source familiar with the deal. If you’re feeling a little bit of déjà vu, that’s because a similar startup also raised a sizeable round of venture capital funding, announced today. That’s Minted. The 10-year-old company, best known for its wide assortment of wedding invitations and stationery, raised $208 million led by Permira, with participation from T. Rowe Price. Though Minted is first and foremost a consumer-facing marketplace, it plans to double down on its wholesale business with its latest...

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Instacart and Amazon-owned Whole Foods are parting ways

TECHCRUNCH Instacart has announced this morning it will no longer be doing business with Whole Foods, a U.S. organic grocery chain the company launched a partnership with in 2014. This comes roughly one year after Amazon closed its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods; Amazon, of course, has its own grocery delivery service, AmazonFresh. Currently, Instacart has 1,415 in-store shoppers, or paid Instacart couriers, at 76 Whole Foods locations. 243 of those couriers, who exclusively deliver groceries from Whole Foods, will no longer be able to make Instacart deliveries beginning February 10, when the company officially winds down its partnership. Instacart says they have already placed 75 percent of those workers to new roles, though 25 percent, or about 60 workers, have been laid off. Instacart added that 75 percent of the 1,415 total shoppers, or 1,016 people, are also expected to be placed in new stores, meaning layoffs could surpass 350. A person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that significant developments over the last 18 months forced Instacart to wind down its relationship earlier than planned. Whole Foods didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Whole Foods will fully exit the Instacart marketplace, which allows shoppers to order from more than 300 retailers, including Kroger, Costco, Walmart and Sam’s Club, in 2019. In a blog post this morning, Instacart founder and chief executive officer Apoorva Mehta (pictured) said the...

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Minted lands $208M Series E from Permira and T. Rowe Price

TECHCRUNCH Minted, a company we’ve been covering on this site for a decade-plus, plans to double down on its wholesale and licensing business, which helps larger retailers sell stationery, art and home decor designed by its community of independent artists. To fund the growing initiative, the design marketplace is today announcing a $208 million Series E funding led by Permira, with participation from T. Rowe Price. The round brings Minted’s total raised to date to $300 million. The company, founded in 2007, has previously landed backing from Benchmark, Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Technology Crossover Ventures and others. “Minted...

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Farfetch bets on sneakers with $250M Stadium Goods acquisition

TECHCRUNCH The lines between streetwear and luxury fashion have blurred in recent years, especially as excitement around sneaker brands like Yeezy and Off-White has soared. A marriage between a luxury fashion marketplace and a sneaker and streetwear reseller seems like a natural way to wrap up M&A in 2018. With that said, Farfetch has acquired New York-based Stadium Goods, opting to pay $250 million for the sneaker startup in a combination of cash and Farfetch stock. Headquartered in London, Farfetch went public on the New York Stock Exchange in September, pricing its shares at $20 apiece and raising $885...

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