Odds and Ends 

PrimaryBid closes $8.6M round for its platform aimed to help retail investors

PrimaryBid, a UK-regulated platform connecting publicly listed companies with everyday investors for discounted share issuances has previously raised $3M. It’s now upped those stakes with an $8.6M funding round, led by UK VCs Pentech and Outward VC with participation from new and existing investors. Craig Anderson, a partner at Pentech, will join the PrimaryBidBoard of Directors with Outward VC having a Board Observer seat. This investment is representative of the trend towards unpacking complex financial investment products for the average person, especially in the UK. The FCA-regulated platform recently made…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Startups Weekly: SoftBanks second act

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I noted some challenges plaguing mental health tech startups. Before that, I wrote about Zoom and Superhuman’s PR disasters. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here. accelerating its IPO plans and targeting a September listing. We don’t…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has reportedly cashed out of over $700 million ahead of its IPO

Adam Neumann, the co-founder and chief executive of the international real estate co-working startup WeWork has reportedly cashed out of more than $700 million from his company ahead of its initial public offering. The size and timing of the payouts, made through a mix of stock sales and loans secured by his equity in the company, is unusual, considering that founders typically wait until after a company holds its public offering to liquidate their holdings. Despite the loans and sales of stock, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Neumann remains…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Agritech startup TaniGroup raises $10M to help Indonesias farmers grow

In 2016, former World Bank analyst Eka Pamitra teamed up with five friends to start a business that would help farmers in their native Indonesia. Today their company — TaniGroup — closed a $10 million Series A round that’s aimed at expanding its service nationwide with the support of the government. TaniGroup works for more than 25,000 farmers in Indonesia to help them get fairer rates for their crops, and grow their businesses. It does that in two ways. It operates a B2B platform that helps farmers sell their produce…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Africa Roundup: Kenyas BRCK acquires EveryLayer, Nigerias TeamApt eyes global expansion

Kenyan communications hardware company BRCK acquired the assets of Nairobi-based internet provider Surf and its U.S. parent EveryLayer in a purchase deal of an undisclosed amount in February. Based in Nairobi, Surf is a hotspot service provider aimed at offering affordable internet to lower-income segments. BRCK is a five-year-old venture that pairs its rugged Wi-Fi routers to internet service packages designed to bring people online in frontier and emerging markets. With the acquisition, BRCK gains the assets of San Francisco-based EveryLayer and its Surf subsidiary, including 1,200 hotspots and 200,000 active customers…

Read More
Headlines 

China posts slowest economic growth since 1990

Hong Kong (CNN Business)China’s economy grew at its slowest pace in almost three decades last year. Economic growth in China slowed to 6.4% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Monday’s data, in line with economist’s predictions. Stocks listed in Shanghai and Hong Kong rose modestly after the figures were published. Ken Cheung, a strategist at investment bank Mizuho, said investors were relieved that nothing in the data suggested China’s slowdown was worse than previously thought. Economic growth is expected to drop closer to 6% this year. But…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Lazada, Alibabas Southeast Asia e-commerce business, gets a new CEO

Alibaba has reshuffled the leadership at Lazada, its e-commerce firm in Southeast Asia, after CEO Lucy Peng — an original Alibaba co-founder — stepped down to be replaced by Lazada executive president Pierre Poignant after just nine months in the role. Alibaba owns more than 90 percent of Lazada but it has been involved in the business since April 2016 when it bought 51 percent of Lazada for $1 billion from Rocket Internet. It invested a further $1 billion last year to increase its equity to around 83 percent and earlier this year…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Payment service Toss becomes Koreas newest unicorn after raising $80M

South Korea has got its third unicorn startup after Viva Republica, the company beyond popular payment app Toss, announced it has raised an $80 million round at a valuation of $1.2 billion. This new round is led by U.S. firms Kleiner Perkins and Ribbit Capital, both of which cut their first checks for Korea with this deal. Others participating include existing investors Altos Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Goodwater Capital, KTB Network, Novel, PayPal and Qualcomm Ventures. The deal comes just six months after Viva Republica raised $40 million to accelerate growth, and it takes…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Today in brighter crypto news: SEC says tokens are securities

Crypto news got a little boost last week after a dark month of crashes, stablecoins and birthdays. The SEC ruled that two ICO issuers, CarrierEQ Inc. and Paragon Coin Inc., were in fact selling securities instead of so-called utility tokens. “Both companies have agreed to return funds to harmed investors, register the tokens as securities, file periodic reports with the Commission, and pay penalties,” wrote Pamela Sawhney of the SEC. “These are the Commission’s first cases imposing civil penalties solely for ICO securities offering registration violations.” From the release: Airfox,…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

In venture capital, its still the age of the unicorn

Howie Xu At the time, the piece defined a new breed of startup — the $1 billion privately held company. When Lee did her first count, there were 39 “unicorns”; an improbable, but not impossible number.. Today, the once-scarce unicorn has become a global herd with 376 companies on the roster and counting. But the proliferation of unicorns begs raises certain questions. Is this new breed of unicorn artificially created? Could these magical companies see their valuations slip and fall out of the herd? Does this indicate an irrational exuberance…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Toys R Us Is Going Out Of Business Because America Wasnt Ready To Accept A Celibate Giraffe Mascot

When I became CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us, I was excited for a chance to lead one of America’s most well-known toy stores into a new era of prosperity. Unfortunately, it pains me to announce that after 70 years of bringing joy to children across the world, Toys ‘R’ Us will soon be shutting its doors forever. Many people will say that our company couldn’t compete with online retailers like Amazon, or that the billions of dollars in debt we were saddled with proved to be an insurmountable obstacle to…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Security robots are being used to ward off San Franciscos homeless population

Is it worse if a robot instead of a human is used to deter the homeless from setting up camp outside places of business? One such bot cop recently took over the outside of the San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption clinic in the city’s Mission district, to deter homeless people from hanging out there — causing some people to get very upset. Silicon Valley game developer and Congressional candidate Brianna Wu tweeted yesterday her dismay at the move, saying, “I’m sorry for being so frank but…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Canadian grocery chain orders 25 Tesla electric Semi trucks

Tesla’s Semi is off to a promising start, despite there being no official pricing information available yet: In addition to a Walmart pilot, Canadian grocery giant Loblaw is purchasing 25 of the heavy duty all-electric transport trucks (via Canadian Press), with a $5,000 deposit for each upfront even though pricing is TBD for the vehicle, which is supposed to start shipping in 2019. Loblaw has a target of running a fully electric vehicle fleet to support its stores, as part of a goal of reducing its emissions impact by 2030.…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Heres our first look at Elon Musks Boring Co. LA tunnel

Elon Musk is digging a tunnel under Hawthorne near SpaceX headquarters in California, after receiving approval from city council to do so. Musk’s Boring Co. has already made considerable progress on the dig and tunnel build, apparently, as Musk shared an image of the tunnel from the inside showing a reinforced tube that stretches off into the distance out of sight. The tunnel features paneled walls, cables and a large upper conduit, as well as lighting and what appear to be tracks. The tunnel just outside of LA is the…

Read More
Odds and Ends 

Iflix raises $133M for its Netflix-style service for emerging markets

Iflix, an Asia-based startup providing Netflix-like streaming services in emerging markets, has landed $133 million in fresh funding to accelerate its business. The investment was led by U.S. media conglomerate Hearst, which counts BuzzFeed, Vice and Roku among its investment portfolio. The group was joined by anothernew backerEDBI the corporate investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board alongside undisclosed clients of Singapore-based DBS bank. Existing investors joining includedEvolution Media, UK broadcaster Sky, Malaysias Catcha Group, Liberty Global, Jungle Ventures and PLDT. Iflix was started in May 2015, initially in…

Read More