Good morning! Here are some of the top technology startup news stories for today, Friday, December 14.
Travel startup Noken raises $2.5 million for trip planning.Noken, a trip inspiration app, has secured $2.5 million led by Bessemer Venture Partners, the oldest U.S. venture firm. The startup had previously raised a half-million-dollar seed round. Noken, which relaunched in November after a pivot, gives travelers, especially millennials, advice on visiting Iceland, Portugal, and Japan — with more nations to come. Founded in 2017 by Emily Brockway and Marc Escapa, Noken build curated trips to new countries that adapt to your budget and dates and introduce people to a new country. Travelers can adapt a Noken Travel Blueprint based on their budgets and timelines and book their accommodations, experiences and transportation. These Travel Blueprints balance helpful guidance with the ability to create your own adventure, introducing travelers to the country’s iconic landmarks as well as local gems. Noken gives travelers the best of both worlds: the liberation from countless hours of planning and the guidance on the ground to meet a new country.
Security platform TokenSoft acquires interest in Broker-Dealer to expand client service offerings to meet growing market demand. TokenSoft, the blockchain startup that build tools to help companies join the tokenized economy,announced its investment in a broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), now renamed as TokenSoft Global Markets, LLC. In addition to its investment, TokenSoft has the ability to acquire 100% of TokenSoft Global Markets, subject to regulatory approval. TokenSoft Global Markets will expand the range of services available to TokenSoft clients, including referrals to exchanges or brokers, custody solutions, or private placements services. Founded this year, TokenSoft offers a suite of technology and security products that enables companies to use digital assets as a growth strategy.
Design Marketplace Minted raises $208 million Series E funding to fuel expansion. As we reported yesterday, Minted, a venture-backed design marketplace that crowdsources graphic designs and content from a global design community, has closed $208 in million Series E financing to expand into new channels and reach more consumers. The investments were led by Permira’s Brian Ruder, Co-Head of Technology and Partner, and T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.’s Henry Ellenbogen, portfolio manager of T. Rowe Price New Horizons Fund. Prior to its Series E, Minted had raised $91 million from Ridge Ventures, Benchmark Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Technology Crossover Ventures, and Menlo Ventures. To date, Minted has raised over $297.1 million in funding over 6 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Dec 14, 2018 from a Series E round, according to publicly available funding data.
Chinese startup VIPKid partners with City of Chicago to enhance Mandarin Language Programming at Chicago Public Schools. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and VIPKid announced a partnership to expand Mandarin Chinese learning opportunities through VIPKid’s Mandarin platform, Lingo Bus. VIPKid will offer Chicago Public Schools students free, real-time, online immersive courses, as well as a virtual pen pal program with students in China. Founded in 2013 and formally launched in 2014, VIPKid has become China’s market-leading online education startup, attracting investment from Tencent, Coatue Management, Sequoia Capital, Sinovation Ventures, Yunfeng Capital, Matrix Partners, Learn Capital, Northern Light VC and Bryant Stibel, among others.
Harvard Business School’s online initiative HBX, launches Scaling Ventures, a course to help startup founders and senior leaders navigate rapid scaling and change. As we reported yesterday, Harvard Business School’s online initiative, HBX, has launched “Scaling Ventures,” a new eight-week live, interactive online course program to help startup founders and senior leaders successfully scale. Scaling Ventures will be taught by Harvard Business School (HBS) entrepreneurial management professors and seasoned entrepreneurs Shikhar Ghosh and Jeffrey Rayport. The eight-week course will take place via a live, interactive online classroom that brings HBS’s famed case method to life. The cost for the eight-week course is $4,500.
Hybrid blockchain platform Orbs raises $15 million in cryptocurrency led by South Korea’s Kakao. Hybrid blockchain platform Orbs has raised over $15 million in cryptocurrency with help from South Korean app provider Kakao. Orbs raised 139,000 ether ($12,371,000) and 892 bitcoin ($3,017,026), which amounts to about $15.4 million as of press time. Orbs will use the new capital for research, as well as continuing to develop its core technology. Founded in 2017 by Daniel Peled, Tal Kol, and Uriel Peled, the Tel Aviv, Israel-based Orbs is a blockchain Infrastructure as a Service for established consumer brands. Orbs provides the blockchain infrastructure that makes it possible for established consumer brands to transition their millions of existing users to the new decentralized economy. The Orbs platform is a blockchain Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for large scale consumer applications. Orbs provides the infrastructure for decentralized applications in a similar manner to existing cloud computing platforms which provide the infrastructure for centralized applications.