Menu

Timesdelhi.com

June 16, 2019
Category archive

sequoia capital

Where top VCs are investing in media, entertainment & gaming

in Apple/BetaWorks/charles hudson/Delhi/Electronic Arts/Entertainment/epic games/Eric Hippeau/esports/Facebook/fortnite/founders fund/funding/Fundings & Exits/Gaming/Google/GV/HQ Trivia/India/instagram/interactive media/lerer hippeau ventures/lightspeed venture partners/Luminary Media/matt hartman/Media/mg siegler/Netflix/new media/Politics/precursor ventures/Roblox/scooter braun/sequoia capital/Sports/Spotify/starbucks/Startups/sweet capital/TC/Twitch/Venture Capital/Video/Virtual Reality by

Most of the strategy discussions and news coverage in the media & entertainment industry is concerned with the unfolding corporate mega-mergers and the political implications of social media platforms.

These are important conversations, but they’re largely a story of twentieth-century media (and broader society) finally responding to the dominance Web 2.0 companies have achieved.

To entrepreneurs and VCs, the more pressing focus is on what the next generation of companies to transform entertainment will look like. Like other sectors, the underlying force is advances in artificial intelligence and computer power.

In this context, that results in a merging of gaming and linear storytelling into new interactive media. To highlight the opportunities here, I asked nine top VCs to share where they are putting their money.

Here are the media investment theses of: Cyan Banister (Founders Fund), Alex Taussig (Lightspeed), Matt Hartman (betaworks), Stephanie Zhan (Sequoia), Jordan Fudge (Sinai), Christian Dorffer (Sweet Capital), Charles Hudson (Precursor), MG Siegler (GV), and Eric Hippeau (Lerer Hippeau).

Cyan Banister, Partner at Founders Fund

In 2018 I was obsessed with the idea of how you can bring AI and entertainment together. Having made early investments in Brud, A.I. Foundation, Artie and Fable, it became clear that the missing piece behind most AR experiences was a lack of memory.

Vue.ai raises $17M to equip online retailers with AI smarts

in Artificial Intelligence/Asia/Chennai/Delhi/e-commerce/eCommerce/electricity/falcon edge capital/funding/Fundings & Exits/India/instagram/Japan/mad street den/Marketing/MercadoLibre/online shopping/Politics/Redwood City/retail/Seattle/sequoia capital/spain/tata/visual search by

Vue.ai, a U.S/India startup that develops an AI platform to help online retailers work more efficiently and sell more, has announced a $17 million Series B round.

The investment is led by Falcon Edge Capital with participation from Japan’s Global Brain and existing backer Sequoia Capital India. Parent company Mad Street Den was founded in 2014 and it raised $1.5 million a year later, Sequoia then bought into the business via an undisclosed deal in 2016. Vue.ai is described as an “AI brand” from Mad Street Den and, all combined, the two entities have now raised $27 million from investors.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Vue.ai CEO and co-founder Ashwini Asokan — who started Mad Street Den with her husband Anand Chandrasekaran — explained that Vue.ai is a “retail vertical” of Mad Street Den that launched in 2016, she said that the company may add “another vertical in a year or two.”

Vue.ai is solely focused on working with online retailers, predominantly in the fashion space, and it does so in a number of ways. That includes expected areas such as automating product tagging and personalized recommendations (based on that tag library), as well as visual search using photos as input and tailored product discovery.

Areas that Vue.ai also plays in which surprised me, at least, include generating human models who wear clothing items — thus saving considerable time, money and effort on photo shoots — and an AI stylist that doesn’t take human form but does learn a user’s style and help them outfit themselves accordingly.

Tagging and visuals may appear boring, but these are hugely important areas for retailers who have huge amounts of SKUs, items for sale, on their site. Making sure the right person finds the right item is critical to making a sale, and Vue.ai’s goal is to automate as much of that heavy-lifting as possible. Even tagging is essential because it needs to be done consistently if it is to work properly.

Ashwini Asokan, CEO and Founder of Vue.ai

More than just working correctly, Vue.ai aims to help online retailers, who often run a tight ship in terms of profitability, save money and get new product online and in front of consumer eyeballs quickly.

“These are solutions that optimize the bottom line for retail companies,” said Asokan, who spent over a decade working in the U.S before returning home in India in 2015. “We are digitizing products 10X faster than you did before… you cannot afford to lose productivity and efficiency, online retail is not somewhere you can lose money.”

“We want to be that data brain mapping digital products,” she added.

Vue.ai is now pushing into new areas, which include advertising and development of videos and marketing content.

“The future of retail is entertainment and the experience economy is the small start of that era,” Asokan said, reflecting on the trend of social media buying through platforms like Instagram and the rise of live-streaming e-commerce in China.

“The electricity that powers all of these complicated retail interactions is content; we need to understand content and every customer style profile and merchandise,” she added.

Some of Vue.ai’s public customers include Macy’s and Diesel in the U.S, Latin American e-commerce firm Mercadolibre and Indian conglomerate Tata .

Vue.ai is headquartered in Redwood City with an office in Chennai, India. Asokan said it is planning to expand that presence with new locations in Seattle, for tech hires, and Japan and Spain to help provide closer support for customers. The company doesn’t disclose raw numbers, but it said that annual revenue grew by four hundred percent in 2018, which was its third year since incorporation.

Drone delivery startup Zipline launches UAV medical program in Ghana

in africa/articles/ceo/Co-founder/Delhi/delivery drone/east africa/Emerging-Technologies/Ghana/google ventures/India/Jerry Yang/keller rinaudo/kenya/Microsoft/north carolina/partner/paul allen/Pfizer/Politics/president/Rwanda/San Francisco/sequoia capital/South Africa/Subtraction Capital/Tanzania/TC/Technology/U.S. Department of Transportation/United States/unmanned aerial vehicles/Yahoo/zipline by

Zipline, the San Francisco-based UAV manufacturer and logistics services provider, has launched a program in Ghana today for drone delivery of medical supplies.

Working with the Ghanaian government, Zipline will operate 30 drones out of four distribution centers to distribute vaccines, blood, and life-saving medications to 2000 health facilities across the West African nation daily.

“We’ll do 600 flights day…and serve 12 million people. This is going to be the largest drone delivery network on the planet,” Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo told TechCrunch on a call from Accra.

“No one in Ghana should die because they can’t access the medicine they need in an emergency,” Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a statement. “That’s why Ghana is launching the world’s largest drone delivery service…a major step towards giving everyone in this country universal access to lifesaving medicine.”

The Ghana program adds a second country to Zipline’s live operations. Zipline got off the ground in Rwanda and has leveraged its experience in East Africa to begin testing medical delivery services in the United States.

Zipline has been making moves in Africa since at least 2016 — after it raised capital and solidified its mission to carve out a global revenue-generating business around UAV delivery of critical medical supplies.

To date, the startup has raised $41 million from investors including Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, and Subtraction Capital.

Founded in 2014, Zipline designs and manufactures its own UAVs, launch and landing systems, and logistics software. After a testing period in coordination with the government of Rwanda, Zipline went live in the East African country in 2016, claiming the first national drone-delivery program at scale in the world.

Through its non-profit foundation, the logistics giant UPS came in to partner with Zipline on the Rwanda program, and that support continues.

“They’re providing funding to build a lot of the infrastructure required, they are an adviser to us, and they provide some logistical support in moving equipment,” Rinaudo said of Zipline’s collaboration with the UPS Foundation. Zipline has also received grants and support from from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Pfizer .

Zipline then carried its experience in Africa to the U.S. In May 2018 the startup was accepted into the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP). Out of 149 applicants, the Africa focused startup was one of 10 selected to participate in a drone pilot in the U.S.—and started testing beyond visual line of sight medical delivery services in North Carolina.

“Healthcare logistics is a $70 billion global industry, and it’s still only serving a golden billion on the planet,” says Rinaudo. “The economics of our business is pretty simple. We’re using small, electric, fully autonomous vehicles…these kinds of systems are much more efficient than the analog way of delivering things.”

Zipline is eyeing additional countries for delivery operations beyond Ghana, Rwanda, and its pilot operations in the U.S. “We’ll be launching in several additional countries, not all of which are in Africa,” said Rinaudo, though he declined to disclose specifics.

Zipline is well aware that its drone logistics systems have applications beyond medical supply chain services and Rinaudo confirmed moving cargo other than medical supplies is something Zipline has considered.

If the company moves toward other commercial applications, it could leverage its programs and relationships in Africa. The continent has become testbed for commercial drone delivery and regulatory structures.

Over the last two years South Africa passed commercial drone legislation to train and license pilots and Malawi opened a Drone Test Corridor to African and global partners. Over the same period, Kenya, Ghana, and Tanzania have issued or updated drone regulatory guidelines and announced future UAV initiatives. The government of Tanzania launched a medical drone delivery program in 2019, with DHL as one of the main partners.

In addition to its launch today in Ghana, Zipline plans to move from pilot-phase to live-delivery of medical supplies in the U.S. sometime this summer, a company spokesperson confirmed.

Flipkart co-founder and other top names join AngelList’s first investment syndicate in India

in Angellist/Asia/bain capital ventures/beenext/binny Bansal/blume ventures/Delhi/DST Global/falcon edge capital/FJ Labs/Flipkart/funding/Fundings & Exits/India/Kalaari Capital/matrix partners india/Omidyar Network/pine labs/Politics/sequoia capital/tarun davda/Venture Capital/Walmart by

A little over a year after it introduced Syndicates to the India market, AngelList — the U.S. service that helps connect companies with investors — is rolling out its own fund in the country with the backing of some stellar names.

Dubbed ‘The Collective,’ the syndicate includes money from Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal — Flipkart, of course, sold a majority stake to Walmart for $16 billion last year — and VCs Salil Deshpande of Bain Capital Ventures, Matrix India trio Avnish Bajaj, Tarun Davda and Vikram Vaidyanathan, Navroz Udwadia from Falcon Edge Capital and Rahul Mehta of DST Global. There’s also involvement from funds that include Kalaari Capital, FJ Labs and Beenext.

The Collective will be managed through an investment committee that is Utsav Somani, a partner with AngelList who launched the service in India, former 500 Startups India partner Pankaj Jain and Nipun Mehra, who has worked with Sequoia Capital, Flipkart and payment startup Pine Labs.

The size of the fund is undisclosed, but Somani told TechCrunch it will likely back 60-80 companies over the next 12-18 months. Syndicates interested in engaging The Collective can draw up to $150,000 per deal, according to an AngelList India announcement.

“The fund will exclusively deploy on AngelList India. This is to give more power to the most active GP base we have through our syndicate leads,” Somani explained.

Utsav Somani launched AngelList’s syndicates product in India last year and he will now look after the company’s first managed fund in the country

More generally, he said that the first year of Syndicates in India has seen more than $5 million deployed across more than 50 publicly announced investments, including deals with BharatPe, HalaPlay, Yulu Bikes and Open Bank. Six of those startups have already raised follow-on capital. Somani said AngelList India Syndicates have invested alongside well-known funds that include Sequoia Capital India, Matrix Partners India, Omidyar Network, Blume Ventures and Beenext.

To date, AngelList has helped deploy some $1.09 billion to over 3,100 startups, according to its website. The company claims its portfolio has raised close to $9 billion in follow-on funding. AngelList is primarily focused on the U.S. market, but India is fast becoming a majority priority. Like the U.S., the Indian service is open only to accredited investors so it isn’t a crowdfunding service.

It’s a new era for fertility tech

in 23andMe/Afton Vechery/birth control/boxgroup/Carrot/Clue/Deborah Anderson-Bialis/Delhi/eqt ventures/femtech/fertilityIQ/First Round Capital/Glow/Health/Ida Tin/India/instagram/Kleiner Perkins/LinkedIn/Lowercase Capital/maveron/Max Levchin/Mike Huang/Modern Fertility/Mosaic Ventures/Natural Cycles/nea/Nurx/partner/Politics/Rebecca Kaden/San Francisco/sequoia capital/SoftBank/sound ventures/Startups/stockholm/telemedicine/Venture Capital/Vision Fund/women's health/Y Combinator by

Women’s health has long been devoid of technological innovation, but when it comes to fertility options, that’s starting to change. Startups in the space are securing hundreds of millions in venture capital investment, a significant increase to the dearth of funding collected in previous years.

Fertility entrepreneurs are focused on a growing market: couples are choosing to reproduce later in life, an increasing number of female breadwinners are able to make their own decisions about when and how to reproduce, and overall, around 10% of women in the US today have trouble conceiving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Startups, as a result, are working to improve various pain points in a women’s fertility journey, whether that be with new-age brick-and-mortar clinics, information platforms, mobile applications, wearables, direct-to-consumer medical tests or otherwise.

Although the investment numbers are still relatively small (compared to, say, scooters), the trend is up — here’s the latest from founders and investors in the space.

VCs want to help you get pregnant

Clue, a period and ovulation-tracking app, co-founder and CEO Ida Tin talks at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2017 (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

This fall, TechCrunch received a tip that SoftBank, a prolific venture capital firm known for its nearly $100 billion Vision Fund, was investing in Glow, a period-tracking app meant to help women get pregnant. Max Levchin, Glow’s co-founder and a well-known member of the PayPal mafia, succinctly responded to a TechCrunch inquiry regarding the deal via e-mail: “Fairly sure you got this particular story wrong,” he wrote. Glow co-founder and chief executive officer Mike Huang did not respond to multiple requests for comment at the time.

Needless to say, some semblance of a SoftBank fertility deal got this reporter interested in a space that seldom populates tech blogs.

Femtech, a term coined by Ida Tin, the founder of another period and ovulation-tracking app Clue, is defined as any software, diagnostics, products and services that leverage technology to improve women’s health. Femtech, and more specifically the businesses in the fertility and contraception lanes, hasn’t made headlines as often as AI or blockchain technology has, for example. Probably because companies in the sector haven’t closed as many notable venture deals. That’s changing.

The global fertility services market is expected to exceed $21 billion by 2020, according to Technavio. Meanwhile, private investment in the femtech space surpassed $400 million in 2018 after reaching a high of $354 million the previous year, per data collected from PitchBook and Crunchbase. This year already several companies have inked venture deals, including men’s fertility business Dadi and Extend Fertility, which helps women freeze their eggs.

“In the last three to six months, it feels like investor interest has gone through the roof,” Jake Anderson-Bialis, co-founder of FertilityIQ and a former investor at Sequoia Capital, told TechCrunch. “It’s three to four emails a day; people are coming out of the woodwork. It feels like somebody shook the snow globe here and it just hasn’t stopped for months now.”

Dadi, Extend Fertility and FertilityIQ are among a growing list of startups in the fertility space to crop up in recent years. FertilityIQ, for its part, provides a digital platform for fertility patients to research and review doctors and clinics. The company also collects data and issues reports, like this one, which ranked businesses by fertility benefits. Anderson-Bialis launched the platform with his wife, co-founder Deborah Anderson-Bialis, in 2016 after the pair overcame their own set of infertility issues.

Anderson-Bialis said he has recently fielded requests from seed, Series A and growth-stage investors interested in exploring the growing fertility market. His company, however, has yet to raise any outside capital. Why? He doesn’t see FertilityIQ as a venture-scale business, but rather a passion project, and he’s skeptical of the true market opportunity for other businesses in the space.

1 2 3 7
Go to Top