Last Week in Tech Deals

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Nick Stuart

The Tech vs Media Saga Continues

Was your Twitter feed full of journalists and venture capitalists viciously attacking each other this week, or are you normal?

Here’s a Quibi-sized summary of the drama:

Tensions were already boiling between prominent Silicon Valley technologists and the New York Times after a Times journalist threatened to doxx the pseudonymous author of the philosophy blog SlateStarCodex, forcing him to delete it.

Far before that, members of the tech and VC community like Jason Calacanis and Balaji Srinivasan had been voicing concern over what they saw as the unfair vilification of tech by media companies.

Their stance is that the business model of large media firms is inherently flawed because of its click-driven nature, which forces journalists to cover topics unfairly to drive traffic. They specifically think that Silicon Valley has been an incredible net positive for society, but journalists still choose to cover stories that paint the tech world in a bad light.

Because of this feud, if a tech journalist does something wrong, you can expect these guys to make sure everyone knows it. For example, remember when Recode wrote a piece making fun of a16z for banning handshakes out of fear of COVID—19 back in mid-February? Tech twitter was understandably outraged. So when late last week, Times reporter Taylor Lorenz fired shots at Away’s CEO (See Verge “hit piece”), Balaji was quick to bite back:

What ensued next was a 24-hour shit-slinging contest between Taylor and Balaji that everyone got to follow on Twitter. Ex-colleagues from both sides got tugged into the fight and things overall got pretty spicy. The two collectively have close to 400k twitter followers.

It got even more explosive when the conversation moved over to Clubhouse, the $100M audio-first social app that’s still invite-only. When Taylor and Balaji both entered the same chat room, it immediately attracted dozens of listeners. Apparently Taylor left soon after, claiming that she felt unsafe. The next morning, an hour-long recording of that Clubhouse conversation leaked to Vice. Balaji then put out a $1000 crypto bounty for whoever could make the best meme or legal analysis of the situation. Here’s the winner:

If all of this is news to you and sounds completely insane, congrats on having better things to do with your time. Also, after I wrote all this, I noticed someone on Quora did a way better job summarizing it all. Check it out for a more detailed synopsis.

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VC Financing Deals:

InsurTech Spotlight: iink Endorsements 📝

I recently had the pleasure of meeting several members of the iink Endorsements team, a Boston-area startup out of the DCU FinTech Innovation Center helping insurance and restoration professionals get paid faster after insured property losses.

The company was co-founded in 2017 by Ryan Holliday. He’s been working in the insurance restoration industry for years and was sick of spending a third of his week jumping through hoops to chase claim money to complete a restoration job.

Chasing Endorsements Means Losing Money

When a disaster hits, insurance companies issue claim payments using multi-party checks that can’t be deposited until a required mortgage endorsement is made. This is mostly to protect lenders from being left with irreparable assets. They need to verify the property is brought back to its original condition. Overall, this process can take between 3 weeks and six months. The iink team’s solution brings the process down to just 24 hours with their newest platform feature, iink Now. They speed up the process by connecting contractors, public adjusters, homeowners, and banks so claims can get paid out faster.

Getting paid faster means starting builds sooner, maximizing cash flows to scale operations, and getting early payment discounts from suppliers.

How it Works

The iink Endorsements platform:

  • Allows contractors to endorse and deposit multi-party checks for a fee

  • Handles the back and forth between mortgage companies for 1% of the check

  • Expedites funding for contractors for about the same as a credit card processing fee.

So far, they’ve already been able to process over $10M in claims.

Funding & Traction

They’ve recently received private and VC-backed funding to build out their channel sales relationships, engineering team, and expand product offerings. They’ve also become a member of NEACH and have partnered with Avidia Bank. If you’re interested in learning more about iink Endorsements and connecting with the team, you can reach out to rholliday@iinktech.com.


LuminDx 🤳

According to a tweet and a Linkedin post from cofounder Susan Conover, Cambridge-based LuminDx just closed on an oversubscribed $2M seed round led by Argon VC, and with participation from Flare Capital, Good Growth Capital, TBD Angels, and several individual angels. The company helps PCP’s diagnose skin conditions by combining photos with computer vision and AI. It was founded in late 2017 and last raised pre-seed capital from Techstars in 2019.


Hi Marley 📱

Boston’s Hi Marley, a conversational AI service for the insurance industry, just raised an $8M Series A-1 led by True Ventures and Underscore VC. It’s a text-based communication service that helps insurers quickly and efficiently communicate with customers for issues surrounding underwriting, claims, and more. Hi Marley’s capital raised is now over $18M. More from BostInno and VentureBeat.


KGS Buildings 🏢

KGS Buildings, a twelve-year-old software company helping buildings easily manage operations, has raised $6.9M in an $8M round. According to Crunchbase, the Somerville-based company last raised a $2M round in 2016 from Scheider Electric and Aster.


BioDirection 🧠

Medical device company BioDirection just raised an $18M Series C from Shepard Kaplan Krochuck. The company is building a device to better detect Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), a leading cause of death in children and young adults in the US. Right now, the standard test is a neurological exam that evaluates various cognitive and motor functions. The problem is this is time-consuming and often inaccurate. A device that could standardize and speed up testing could save more lives. The parent company, NanoDx Systems, is also working on a COVID—19 rapid test.


Thanks for reading!

That’s all from me until next week — If you’d like to connect with me, you can find me on Linkedin and Twitter or check out my website at nickstu.art.

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