Last Week in Boston Tech Deals
Eight Companies Raised Over $230M
Some Interesting Stories:
Leadership Exits and Audit Troubles Delay Thrasio’s SPAC Plans
Thrasio, a local pioneer of the eCommerce aggregation craze, is seeing an executive shakeup and some apparent complications with financial audits — which is delaying SPAC plans. Their CFO has left just three months after joining, and co-founder Josh Silberstein recently resigned as co-CEO. Plenty of startups replace early management teams with “professionals” once they reach maturity. Thrasio is an odd case because they’re less than three years old, but they’ve raised a total of $2.3B in capital and currently control over 22,000 products on the Amazon marketplace.
Activist Investors are Short $DNA
Ginkgo Bioworks, the synthetic bio company that went public via SPAC last month, shed 24% of its market value in a single day following a scathing short report from Scorpion Capital. The activist investment group claims the company’s business model is based on a “dubious shell game” and “pure accounting hocus pocus.” Calling everything a fraud in tech is very hot right now — so I’ll wait to form an opinion until I hear more from the company leadership besides this tweet.
Circle Financial is Under SEC Investigation
Circle Financial, creator of the USDC stable coin, just disclosed that they received an an investigative subpoena from the SEC in July. The company hasn’t elaborated on the scope of the investigation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s connected with their high-interest savings “Circle Yield” product released this summer. Late last month, Coinbase dropped plans for their similar Coinbase Yield product after a weirdly executed public beef with the SEC. The SEC even subtweeted them after. Required Reading: Anyone seen Tether’s billions?
More Stuff I’m Reading:
AngelList is now letting you use SPVs to MicroAquire startups
Facebook banned me for life because I helped people use it less
Boston Tech Financing Announcements:
Solo.io, which helps large companies stitch enterprise microservices together, just raised a $135M Series C at a $1B valuation. The deal was led by Altimeter Capital, with participation from Redpoint Ventures and True Ventures. The three-year-old company is building for enterprises that have large, complex legacy applications that would be difficult to completely replace overnight. Instead, they use Solo’s API to deploy microservices on top of their application network as an “edge application.”
Speaking again of Thrasio, they just led an investment into eCommerce analytics company Zeenk — investment terms were not disclosed. Zeenk is a pre-launch startup that plans to offer an analytics solution for direct sellers on the Amazon Third Party Marketplace.
I’m pretty curious about this. I’ve written in the past about how all of these acquirers (Thrasio, HeyDay, Branded, etc.) are similar to VCs in that they can’t just use capital to build a moat. They need a sustainable advantage to help them find and buy the (rather small) number of third-party sellers that might actually be worth something.
It seems like Thrasio realized that they will never be able to out-analyze Amazon itself, or any of the other third party acquirers. Instead, they’re actually taking a page out of Keith Rabois’ playbook from OpenStore. They need a tool that encourages sellers to hand the data right over. OpenStore offers Shopify sellers a business valuation in one business day — which is valuable whether or not they want to sell the storefront. If Thrasio can own the best third-party seller analytics product, they could do the same.
Neural Magic 🧠🪄
Neural Magic, which lets users run deep learning software on commodity CPUs, just raised a $30M Series A. The round was led by NEA, with support from a16z, Pillar VC, Amdocs, Comcast Ventures, and Ridgeline Ventures.
Embr Labs 🥶
Following a strategic investment from Joy Ventures last year, wearable company Embr Labs has raised $5.9M per a recent filing. They’ve created a wrist band called the Wave that can cool down or heat up your body with the click of a button.
One of the use cases touted on the website is using it for more comfortable sleep. Other tech companies like Chili Technology and Eight Sleep have been tackling this problem through temperature-controlled mattress covers that go for over $1K. Embr has also gained recognition as a therapeutics tool for menopause symptoms.
Last year, Sony also came out with a AC-infused dress shirt that might make me consider commuting again.
WePlayed Sports 🏈
Short-form sports clip app WePlayed Sports just raised a $2M Seed Round led by Ryan Moore (Founder of Accomplice) with support from Techstars and Correlation Ventures. They automatically convert full-length game footage into sharable, bite-sized clips called #moments.
Bento, a platform connecting employees with dental care providers, just raised $2.8M from Companyon Ventures. They help employees self-insure for dental plans on behalf of their employers through a mobile app, bringing efficiency and potential cost reductions.
Energetic Insurance 🌞
Energetic Insurance, which offers insurance policies to below investment grade renewable energy projects, just raised a $7M Series A. The round was led by Schneider Electric, with support from MS&AD Ventures, MCJ Collective, and Atlantic Global Risk.
Wise Systems 🚚
AI-driven dispatching technology company Wise Systems just raised a $50M Series C. The round was led by Tiger Global, with support from Section 32, Valo Ventures, Gradient Ventures, and Prologis Ventures. They focus on last-mile delivery solutions for food and beverage providers, couriers, and retail stores.