Last Week In Venture: Haute Hijab, Pro Network Mining, Coin Crunching, And Time Storage

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 …

Hello and welcome back to Last Week In Venture, the weekly roundup of startup funding deals which may have flown under your radar.

Subscribe to theCrunchbase Daily

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!

Haute Hijab

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

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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

JibJab catapults to new ownership

The company’s last round was a $7.5 million Series C from Polaris Partners, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Overbrook Entertainment in 2009.
By

Staff Writer, L.A. Biz
Feb 13, 2019, 9:01am PST

JibJab, the social-content producer that enables users to put themselves into videos, e-cards and gifs, has a new owner.

San Francisco private equity firm Catapult Capital has acquired the Los Angeles company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1999 by brothers Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, JibJab has raised nearly $18 million in funding, per Crunchbase. The company’s last round was a $7.5 million Series C from Polaris Partners, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Overbrook Entertainment in 2009.

With the acquisition, JibJab COO Paul Hanges has been promoted to CEO and will lead the company under its new ownership. The companies did not say what the next moves are for CEO Gregg Spiridellis and Evan Spiridellis, who heads art.

“From our political parodies in the early days to our more recent personalized expression content, JibJab’s bread and butter has always been creating high-quality content and products with the goal of making billions of people happy,” Hanges said in a statement. “With Catapult Capital and the investor group’s support, we’ll be able to make additional investments in product, new markets and technology, and help more people create and share our best content.”

“JibJab has created a successful business through a combination of product innovation, premium content and entrepreneurial spirit,” added Gary Hsueh, founding partner of Catapult Capital. “With the addition of our product, operational and distribution resources to support the company’s evolution, we intend to accelerate JibJab’s new growth phase.”

Catapult focuses on investment opportunities in the lower middle market in the United States and Europe, specializing in “special situation” acquisitions in the internet, consumer, advertising, media and software industries. According to its website, the firm has relationships in China that it leverages to grow companies or open new markets to them.

St. Cloud Capital, a Los Angeles-based private investment firm that provides growth capital to the lower middle market, provided part of the financing.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

DoorDash Said To Be Raising $500M At $6B+ Valuation

Delivery unicorn DoorDash is reportedly looking to raise another $500 million in funding at a valuation of over $6 billion, with Singapore’s Temasek …

Delivery unicorn DoorDash is reportedly looking to raise another $500 million in funding at a valuation of over $6 billion, with Singapore’s Temasek Holdings likely to lead the financing, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The expected fundraise comes days after rival Postmates submitted initial paperwork for a planned public offering.

Follow Crunchbase News onTwitter

San Francisco-based on-demand delivery startup DoorDash has raised nearly $972 million since its 2013 inception according to its Crunchbase profile. Most recently, in August 2018, it closed a $250 million Series E led by Hong Kong’s DST Global and Coatue Management. That round nearly tripled its valuation to about $4 billion. Other backers include SoftBank Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital and Khosla Ventures.

According to TechCrunch, DoorDash in January became the first on-demand food-delivery startup to operate in all 50 states.

As our Savannah Dowling reported last August, the food delivery market is tight—DoorDash faces a host of competitors in the space, most notably Postmates and publicly-traded Grubhub. Postmates has raised $678 million, including a $100 million Series F in January at a $1.8 million pre-money valuation. Grubhub, which hit the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, has a market cap of $7.3 billion. Other competitors like Caviar (acquired by Square for $90 million in 2014), and Uber Eats have also made moves in food delivery.

DoorDash isn’t just competing in meal delivery, however. The company announced a partnership with Walmart for its pilot grocery delivery platform in April 2018. In that effort, the company faces competition with Instacart, Good Eggs ,and Amazon.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

Metabase, An Uber Co-founder’s New Big Data Startup, Raises $13M

Early on Monday morning, open source analytics company Metabase filed paperwork with the SEC indicating it raised just over $13 million in a new …

Early on Monday morning, open source analytics company Metabase filed paperwork with the SEC indicating it raised just over $13 million in a new round of equity-only funding. Board member information disclosed in the filing suggests that NEA led the deal. A dozen other undisclosed investors also participated.

Follow Crunchbase News onTwitter

This is the first publicly-disclosed funding for the company, which was founded in November 2014 according to Crunchbase. Metabase appears to be one of Expa’s spinout projects. Expa is a startup studio co-founded by Garrett Camp (co-founder of Uber and StumbleUpon) and Roberto Sanabria (former global search lead at Google, director of analytics at StumbleUpon, and senior manager of business analytics at LinkedIn), among a few other folks listed in the About page on Expa’s website.

Camp and Sanabria are two of three executive directors listed on Metabase’s filing. The other is Sameer Al-Sakran, who serves as Metabase’s CEO. The fourth individual listed on the filing is Julia Schottenstein, a principal at NEA.

Metabase (the software) helps its users ask questions with data. In an example in Metabase’s documentation, a business analyst could connect an order database and build a query for all orders over a certain subtotal all through a visual interface. Metabase runs the underlying computations and offers ways to visualize data and share the answers it finds with a team.

As open-source software, its source code is openly available online for free. Metabase makes money by offering a number of professional services like managed hosting, support, and assistance with implementing Metabase in a custom analytics or business intelligence setup. Its business model is in the same spirit as Databricks, which develops custom analytics tooling and a proprietary runtime on top of Apache Spark, another open-source analytics framework. Crunchbase News covered Databricks’s latest round last week.

Crunchbase News reached out to Metabase as soon as we saw the filing, but we did not receive a reply prior to publication. We will update this piece as we learn more.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

SoftBank’s Vision Fund makes first bet on Europe’s fintech sector

TOKYO — SoftBank’s Vision Fund is moving into Europe’s financial technology sector, leading a $440 million funding round for U.K. digital banking …

TOKYO — SoftBank’s Vision Fund is moving into Europe’s financial technology sector, leading a $440 million funding round for U.K. digital banking startup OakNorth Holdings.

The Vision Fund will invest $390 million while Singapore-based conglomerate Clermont Group will cover the remaining $50 million, in what is believed to be one of the largest European fintech fundraisers so far. The deal gives the startup a valuation of $2.8 billion, making it the most valuable fintech venture in the region, the company told the Nikkei Asian Review on Friday.

The fresh proceeds will be used to expand OakNorth’s operations into the U.S.

OakNorth focuses on small and midsize companies and has lent $3.7 billion to British businesses since its launch in September 2015, according to the company. The company also provides an analytics platform to other lenders.

The deal comes less than six months after the startup raised $100 million from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and other investors. Indiabulls Housing Finance, an Indian financial services company, is also a major shareholder, according to Crunchbase.

The Saudi-backed $100 billion Vision Fund, managed by a subsidiary of SoftBank Group, is focused on investing in leading private tech companies related to artificial intelligence. It holds stakes in fintech companies like India’s Paytm and U.S.-based Kabbage, and the investment in OakNorth represents its first major fintech deal in Europe.

Its other European investments include Germany-based Auto1 Group, a used car trading platform. SoftBank has also transferred a stake in U.K. chip design company Arm Holdings, which it bought for $32 billion in 2016, to the fund.

“OakNorth is delivering a highly differentiated service to a key segment of the market that has historically been underserved by commercial banks,” said Munish Varma, a partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts