Saturday, April 20, 2019
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Beef Jerky Alternative Stryve Biltong Raises $16.5 Million in Series B

Stryve Biltong closed a $16.5 million Series B investment round led by Meaningful Partners, Pendyne Capital, and Murano Group.

According to the company, Stryve Biltong is on a rapid growth trajectory in the meat snacks category and, in just over a year, has become a leader in biltong snacks. Based in Plano, Texas, Stryve Biltong was founded by former NFL first-round draft pick Gabe Carimi and sports nutrition experts Ted Casey (founder of Dymatize) and Joe Oblas (founder of ProSupps). Stryve was created with the purpose of providing a convenient, all-natural snack without sugar or additives. Made with clean ingredients and high levels of protein, Stryve is designed to help curb cravings and achieve fitness goals.

Stryve Biltong plans to use this funding to increase its marketing investment to drive education, awareness, and continued investment in talent and operations.

Klook Completes $425 Million in Series D Funding

Travel activities and services booking platform Klook raised $225 million in Series D+ funding, increasing the company’s total Series D funding round to $425 million. The SoftBank Vision Fund led the round, with participation from existing investors Sequoia China, Matrix Partners, TCV, and OurCrowd. This represents the largest financing in the global travel activities and services industry.

According to the Hong Kong-based company, in just four years, Klook has become the most searched travel activities and services company on Google, expanding its global footprint into Australia, Europe, and the United States. Klook also entered into global partnerships with luxury hotel group Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, and Rail Europe, a distributor of European rail products that represents 50 railroads throughout Europe.

Klook plans to use the funding to scale its operations into new geographies and continue to expand in its existing Asian markets. The company plans to deepen its investments ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and will expand into additional Japanese cities.

IoT Startup PubNub Closes $23 Million in Series D Funding

PubNub, the company behind the real-time Data Stream Network, secured $23 million in Series D funding led by strategic investor Hewlett Packard Enterprise. With full participation from all existing investors, this round brings the company’s total funding amount to $70 million. Jai Das, president and managing director of Sapphire Ventures, also joins the PubNub board of directors.

According to the company, PubNub’s real-time messaging and edge computer platform is used by thousands of companies. It plans to use the new funding to accelerate the company’s growth internationally, especially in emerging markets.  

Clozette Raises $10 Million in Series C Funding

Clozette, an Asian media company featuring beauty, fashion, travel, and wellness content for women, closed $10 million in Series C funding from Cool Japan Fund, a public-private fund under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan that provides risk capital for businesses.

Founded in 2010 with a team of 90 employees operating in Southeast Asia and Japan, Clozette incorporates original work created by a network of 3,500 creators and talents boasting a collective social reach of 600 million. The company has worked with 300 brands and media agencies including Estee Lauder, Shiseido, Amore Pacific, Zalora, Charles & Keith, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Beiersdorf, GroupM, IPG Mediabrands, and Omnicom Media Group.

Labelbox Gains $10 Million in Series A Funding

Labelbox, a collaborative training data platform for machine learning applications, closed a Series A round of $10 million in capital led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, with participation from previous investors Kleiner Perkins, First Round Capital, and angel investor, Sumon Sadhu. Anna Patterson, founder and managing partner at Gradient Ventures, vice president of engineering at Google, and Square board member, will join Labelbox’s board.

According to the company, machine learning workflows do not have standard tooling for labeling data, storing it, debugging models, and then continually improving model accuracy. By building a computer vision data labeling and management solution for industrial machine learning applications, Labelbox’s vision is to become the default software for machine learning teams to create and manage high-quality training data.

Pandora CMO Joins Cardlytics Board of Directors

Cardlytics, a marketing purchase intelligence platform, announced Pandora’s chief marketing officer, Aimée Lapic, has joined its board of directors.

Recognized by Forbes as one of “The World’s Most Influential CMOs” last year, Lapic is a long-time marketing industry veteran. As Pandora’s chief marketing officer, she oversees the consumer brand strategy, market positioning, and public relations and marketing communications for the Pandora brand, which is a subsidiary of Sirius XM Holdings Inc.

Prior to joining Pandora, Lapic served as the senior vice president/global chief marketing officer for Banana Republic, as well as the general manager of She also held numerous positions across Gap, Inc., including senior vice president and general manager of Gap Outlet International, where she drove 20 consecutive quarters of growth. Lapic currently serves as a marketing advisory board member of Ridge Ventures.

Lapic holds a BA in English Literature from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Restaurant Management Platform Toast Gains $250 Million Funding

Toast raised $250 million in Series E funding at a $2.7 billion valuation. The round was led by TCV and Tiger Global Management, along with participation from existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Lead Edge Capital, and funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.

According to the company, revenue increased 148 percent in 2018 as the number of restaurants that selected Toast doubled. José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, and Tartine Bakery chose Toast, in addition to high-growth concepts Joe Coffee Company, Eggs Up Grill, JACKS Urban Eats, and The County Line.

FinTech Company Affirm Secures $300 Million Series F Round

Affirm, the financial technology company founded by entrepreneur Max Levchin, raised a $300 million Series F funding round led by Thrive Capital, with participation from new investors Fidelity Management and Research Company, Baillie Gifford, Wellington Management Company LLP, and Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures. Returning investors Founders Fund, GIC, Spark Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Moore Asset Backed Fund, LP and Ribbit Capital also participated in the round. To date, Affirm has raised over $800 million in equity funding.

According to the company, Affirm saw a loan volume of $2 billion in 2018 to help consumers make purchases at the point of sale. Affirm also recently opened a flagship office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Affirm plans to use the funding to continue to hire top talent and further scale the company.

Nutraceutical Brand Nutrafol Announces $35 Million Series B

Nutrafol closed a $35 million Series B financing round led by the Growth Fund of L Catterton, the largest and most global consumer-focused private equity firm, with participation from existing investor, Unilever Ventures.

Launched in 2016, Nutrafol’s natural formulations are designed to address various hormonal, environmental, and hereditary causes that compromise hair health. According to the company, it is supported by a clinical study shown to improve hair growth and quality, and is used by 1,300 physicians, clinics and stylists across the US, has grown three times its revenue year-over-year, and received Allure’s “Best of Beauty Breakthrough” award in 2018

Credit: Namely PRNewsWire

Namely, an HR platform for mid-sized companies, announced the appointment of Andre McGregor as chief security officer.

A cyber security veteran with tenures in both the public and private sector, McGregor previously managed national FBI cyber security investigations and incident response in New York City, and served as the FBI cyber liaison to the United Nations. During his time as head of IT security at Tanium, a San Francisco-based cyber security software company, McGregor also served as technical consultant for the USA Network television series Mr. Robot. He most recently served as co-founder and chief security officer at ShiftState Security.

Cora Raises $7.5 Million in Funding

Women’s wellness brand Cora, whose product portfolio includes natural and organic tampons, pads, and other personal care, closed $7.5 million in Series A1 funding and expanded its board of directors, which is now 80 percent female. The round was led by Harbinger Ventures, a leading growth-equity investment firm focused on scaling early-stage, female-led companies.

Cora’s goal is to disrupt the feminine care space with pure and proprietary products that eliminate harmful ingredients without sacrificing product efficacy.  The company says its direct-to-consumer online subscription offering has seen growth in the past three years, and it has built a strong offline presence.

Cora will use the new the funds to fuel product innovation as well as to support brick-and-mortar expansion at all Target locations, including broader in-store product offerings.

Squelch Secures $12 Million in Funding

Customer experience optimization solution Squelch, Inc., announced an additional $12 million in funding from current backers Shasta Ventures and Correlation Ventures, alongside new investor Tenaya Capital.

Today’s CX professionals are surrounded by more data than ever before. Unfortunately, much of this data is separated into silos, making it challenging and time-consuming to find and utilize. Squelch’s software is designed to cut through the “noise,” quickly delivering actionable intelligence to address customer questions or challenges. According to the company, Squelch seamlessly connects with SaaS-based applications including Salesforce, Zendesk, Slack, Box, Confluence, Jira, OneDrive, and Google Drive.

The company plans to use the additional capital to accelerate the growth of Squelch’s sales and marketing programs.