Hello and welcome back to Last Week In Venture, the weekly roundup of startup funding deals which may have flown under your radar.
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Before getting into that, though, here’s a bit of what the Crunchbase News team did this week. VC investor confidence is down, and we followed up with an investor to hear their thoughts on the market. We covered Amazon’s acquisition of home WiFi company Eero and supergiant funding rounds raised by Rivian, DriveNets, Flow Kana, and Nuro. We covered reports that Doordash is inking a big new funding deal. And, in other news, Lyft’s founders move to concentrate power, Peloton is prepping for an IPO, and dating apps aren’t getting a lot of love from VCs.
Of course, this is just a small piece of a bigger picture. There are plenty of companies outside the unicorn spotlight, and their contributions to the broader startup ecosystem are definitely worth sharing.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the week that was in venture-land!
Aiming to deliver “the world’s best hijabs for the world’s most powerful women,” NYC-based Haute Hijab designs and sells a selection of hijabs and underscarves in an array of luxury and performance fabrics. On Monday, the company announced it raised $2.3 million in seed funding led by Cue Ball. Sinai Ventures, Muse Capital, Maveron, Ludlow Ventures, Helm, and AngelList participated in the deal.
The ecommerce company was launched back in 2010 by Melanie Elturk (CEO) with her husband Ahmed Zedan (COO). Last year, when Haute Hijab launched a luxury collection of crystal-laced hijabs, Elturk told Glamour magazine that, growing up in Detroit in the 90s, she owned two hijabs that she would rotate every other day. “They were dark and drab and didn’t fit into my American style… the idea of hijab and fashion couldn’t even be said together. It was the ultimate oxymoron,” she told the fashion magazine.
Today, the company is a leading brand in the hijab market and says it plans to use its new capital to scale up domestically and “extend its competitive lead worldwide.” In a statement about the funding round, the company says that “[t]he average Muslim woman wears up to four hijabs per day and owns over 100 hijabs in total,” and it’s a rapidly-growing market. Citing figures reported by The Guardian, the company said that the Muslim middle class is expected to triple to 900 million people by 2030. According to the 2017 Global Islamic Economy report, $254 billion was spent on Muslim attire in 2016. The report indicates the market could grow to $373 billion by 2022.
Professional Network Data Mining
The likes of Facebook and Google are busy mining your social data for ethically dubious (but phenomenally profitable) advertising businesses. Well, teams can now collectively mine their own professional network for more useful stuff, like introductions to new customers and business partners.
Affinity is a San Francisco-based maker of a relationship intelligence platform, which “structures the world’s communication data to harness the power of professional relationships.”1 The company raised $26.5 million in a Series B round co-led by Sway Ventures and Advance Venture Partners. Pear Ventures, MassMutual Ventures, and Lars Dalgaard (investing individually) participated in the round.
How does it work? Affinity’s patented technology siphons metadata out of your calendars and email, reconciles it with available social information and communications from other people on your team, and helps visualize a professional network and identify folks who are best-positioned to make warm introductions. It’s like the contemporary digital surveillance state, but for corporations!
The security page on the company’s website says that a person using the software is “able to view email subjects, email recipients, calendar event titles, and calendar participants across [their] entire firm.” The company advises to use the default-open privacy settings, but it says it offers more granular privacy controls, including ways to hide messages between certain people from the platform. In a business setting, it makes sense to keep some executive communication off the record, as it were, but it highlights another divide between haves and have-nots. If data is the new oil, the workers themselves can be wells, too. Sounds like a greasy business to me.
Storing Time Makes Money
Stop for a moment and think about the countless sensors and chips, logging and computing away, recording moment-to-moment happenings all day, every day. Where does all that data go?
Well, to be most useful, time-dependent data should be stored in a time-series database, which are purpose-built to slice and dice data by datetime tags. Time-series databases are among the fastest-growing category of databases infrastructure. According to industry monitoring authority DB-Engines, the most popular time-series database system is InfluxDB.
This week, InfluxDB announced it raised $60 million in a Series D round led by Norwest Venture Partners. Several prior investors, including Sapphire Ventures and Battery Ventures, participated in the round.2 In conjunction with the financing, MongoDB CEO Max Schireson joined InfluxData’s board of directors.
More Interesting Deals From The Week
- Rivian isn’t the only Midwestern upstart automaker to close funding this week. Ann Arbor, MI-based May Mobility raised $22 million in a Series A round co-led by Cyrus Capital Partners and Millennium Technology Value Partners. The company is developing self-driving vehicles that will be available through an on-demand shuttle service in urban centers. BMW i Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures backed the company’s seed round in February 2018. May Mobility went through Y Combinator’s Summer 2017 batch.
- Massless, developers of an “incredibly intuitive, precise and flexible 3D pen for sketching, modelling, review and animation inside and outside of XR” raised $2 million in a seed round led by Founders Fund. Alongside a number of individual angel investors, seed fund Shrug Capital and London-based deep tech investor Entrepreneur First participated in the round.
- And finally: one of bitcoin’s technological selling points is its open, publicly auditable ledger of transactions. It turns out there’s money to make by mining this data for secrets and statistics. Blockchain analytics and research firm Chainalysis raised $30 million in a Series B round led by Accel. Benchmark, which led the company’s $16 million Series A round in April 2018, participated in the deal announced this week.
And with that, we’re done! Here’s to hoping that some of our U.S. readers can enjoy a three-day weekend. Everyone else should rest easy, too. The POTUS probably isn’t going to do anything else while he’s golfing.
Image Credits: Last Week In Venture graphic created by JD Battles. Photo by Ferdinand Stohr, via Unsplash.
Disclosure: 8VC led Affinity’s Series A round. 8VC is an investor in Crunchbase, the corporate parent of Crunchbase News. For more information about Crunchbase News’s policies about disclosure, please consult the about page on the Crunchbase News website.↩
Mayfield Fund participated in the round as well. Mayfield Fund is an investor in Crunchbase, the corporate parent of Crunchbase News. For more information about Crunchbase News’s policies about disclosure, please consult the about page on the Crunchbase News website. ↩