Boom Supersonic Raises $100 Million

 

Boom Supersonic, the Denver-based company attempting to make transoceanic supersonic commercial air travel a reality, has recently closed $100 million in Series B funding.

Boom Supersonic Aims to Make Transoceanic Air Travel Faster

Founded in 2014, Boom Supersonic aims to manufacture supersonic commercial passengers jets capable of seating up to 55 business-class passengers on transoceanic flights. At mach 2.2 (1,688 MPH) the company hopes to greatly reduce air travel times on routes such as NYC to London. Currently such a flights take roughly 7 hours, but on Boom’s new jet, the trip would take a little more than 3 hours.

Big Name Investors Are Interested

According to TechCrunch, the Series B round of funding was led by Emerson Capital and also saw participation from The Y-Combinator Continuity Fund, Caffeinated Capital, and SV Angel, as well as participation from earlier investors of Google, AirBNB, Stripe, and Dropbox. The new investment brings the total amount raised by Boom Supersonic to over $141 million.

Not All Smooth Sailing

The company faces an uphill battle however, as development costs alone for such aerospace initiatives can easily run into the tens of billions of dollars. Add to this the fact that aerospace giant Boeing announced in June of last year its own plans to develop a mach-5 passenger plane, and it’s easy to see why Boom Supersonic now has an uphill battle. Nonetheless, investors and staff remain optimistic.

Some Encouraging Signs

According to Boom Supersonic CEO Blake Scholl, ‘The vision here is to make supersonic travel mainstream. We want to build an aircraft that will change the lives of as many people as possible.’ To date, there have been signs of encouragement from other big players in air travel as well. Recently, Japan Airlines invested $10 million into Boom Supersonic with an option to buy 20 planes, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic picked up an option to buy another 10.

Whether or not Boom Supersonic will be the dominate company in supersonic air travel remains unknown, but what is known is that several large players in both tech and aerospace are betting on them.


5 Highly Anticipated IPO's of 2019

 

2019 is shaping up to a big one for startup IPOs. Below are five of 2019's most highly anticipated IPOs.

Uber/Lyft - The two largest ride-haling companies have made no secret of their competition with one another. Now, as each seems ready to go public, that competition looks to be headed to the trading floor. It was reported last month, Lyft filed to go public sometime in the first half of 2019. Not to be outdone, Uber also reportedly filed confidentially to go public in the first half of 2019 just two days after Lyft. With an estimated $120 billion valuation, Uber is far-and-away the larger player when compared to Lyft’s $12 billion valuation. However, with a 28% market share compared to Uber’s 70%, the competition between the two looks to be going nowhere soon.

Palantir - The secretive data-mining an analytics firm reportedly has been valued at of over $41 billion. According to The Wall Street Journal, Palantir is reportedly in talks with Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley for an IPO that could happen in the second half of 2019. With many confidential government contracts in place, it’s tough to know exactly what value the company could fetch, but according to company CEO Alex Karp, the books sound ripe to make Palantir's IPO one of 2019's largest.

Slack - After having successfully fended off acquisition efforts by both Microsoft and SalesForce, the workplace messaging platform Slack is also reportedly contemplating one of 2019's largest IPOs. With an estimated $7 billion valuation, and a newly appointed CFO, all indications seem to point to the company readying itself for an early 2019 IPO.

Pinterest - As one of the fastest growing competitors in its social media space, Pinterest was one of the only major social media platforms not to be racked by major scandal in 2018. And the company was rewarded handsomely for it. According to reports, in 2018 Pinterest saw revenues jump to more than $700 million. And according to The Wall Street Journal, with over 250 million monthly user, Pinterest is reportedly now looking at a $12 billion valuation.

AirBNB - After promising employees the company would go public in 2019 or 2020, it seems this may actually be the year the promise is realized. If AirBNB does go public it will certainly be one of the largest IPO’s of the year. While the home rental platform has not yet filed, anticipation remains high the company go be looking at one of the largest 2019 IPOs and at last reporting, AirBNB was valued at $31 billion.

Whether or not any or all of these company's choose to go public in 2019 remains to be seen. What does seem certain however is each will assuredly be one of the largest IPO's of 2019.


5 of the Largest Rounds of Funding for NYC-based Startups in 2018

 

2018 was a banner year for NYC-based startup funding. Below are five of the largest rounds of funding closed by NYC-based startups throughout 2018.

 

UiPath – $265M
Date: 11/15/18
Round: Series C
Industry: Automation, Enterprise Software, Information Technology, Robotics
Investors: 6 – Sequoia Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group, IVP (Institutional Venture Partners), CapitalG, Accel
Company: Founded in 2005, UiPath is a software and automation robotics company. UiPath aims to streamline tedious tasks such as document management and data extraction and is currently used by thousands of companies. To date, UiPath has raised more than $448 million after four rounds of funding. This round was an additional $40 million to a Series C previously announced.

 

Oscar Health – $375M
Date: 8/14/18
Round: Corporate Round
Industry: Healthcare, Information Technology
Investors: 1 – Alphabet
Company: Founded in 2013, Oscar Health is a medical insurance company aimed at easing the process for its patients. The company offers individual, couple, and family plans, and is currently available in New York, New Jersey, California, and Texas. To date, Oscar Health has raised over $1.3 billion after eight rounds of funding.

 

Compass – $400M
Date: 9/27/18
Round: Series F
Industry: Real Estate
Investors: 4 – Softbank Vision Fund, Qatar Investment Authority, IVP (Institutional Venture Partners), Fidelity Investments
Company: Founded in 2012, Compass is a mobile app that pairs prospective real-estate buyers and sellers. With 30 offices in 19 regions, Compass caters to the luxury high end market.  To date, Compass has raised more than $1.2 billion after fourteen rounds of funding.

 

Letgo – $500M
Date: 8/8/18
Round: Series E
Industry: E-commerce, Online Shopping, Internet Marketplace
Investors: 1 – Naspers
Company: Founded in 2015, letgo is a free app that allows users to buy and sell products online. Using advanced AI technology, letgo allows users to take pictures of their products, then automatically identifies, categorizes, and lists them. According to the website, in their first two years in business, letgo’s app has been downloaded over 75 million times, and over 200 million items have been listed on the site. According to letgo, this makes them, ‘the largest and fastest growing app to buy and sell locally.’ To date, letgo has raised over $975 million after five rounds of funding.

 

Peloton – $550M
Date: 8/2/18
Round: Series F
Industry: Fitness, Cycling, Video Content
Investors: 10 – Winslow Capital, Wellington Management, True Ventures, Tiger Global Management, TCV, NBCUniversal, Kleiner Perkins, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Felix Capital, Balyasny Asset Mgt
Company: Founded in 2012, Peloton is a new high tech fitness concept that allows users live streaming access to elite fitness classes and instructors based in the NYC area. One of the standout stars of fitness from Silicon Alley, Peloton uses a specifically designed cycling hardware that merges with their software and content to revolutionize the at-home fitness space. To date, Peloton has raised over $994.7 million after eight rounds of funding.

 

Here's to hoping 2019 is even better!


NYC Startup Funding, Month-end Wrap-up: December 2018

 

December ended the year on a high-note for NYC startup funding. Several startups closed rounds of more than $100 million, with many more not far behind. Below are some of the largest rounds of NYC startup funding closed in December 2018.

 

The Wing - $75M
Date: 12/19/18
Round: Series C
Industry: Women's Coworking
Lead Investor: Sequoia Capital
Company: Founded in 2016, The Wing is a network of coworking spaces specifically designed for women. The company's mission is the 'professional, civic, social, and economic advancement of women.' To date, the company has raised over $117 million after five rounds of funding.

 

Bowery Farming - $90M
Date: 12/12/18
Round: Series B
Industry: Agriculture, Organic Foods, Robotics
Lead Investor: GV
Company: Founded in 2015, Bowery Farming says it's, 'on a mission to grow food for a better future by revolutionizing agriculture.' In order to do this, Bowery Farming uses robotics and indoor farming to produce optimal conditions to grow organic produce. To date, Bowery Farming has raised over $141 million after five rounds of funding.

 

Dataiku - $101M
Date: 12/18/18
Round: Series C
Industry: Big Data, AI, Enterprise Software, Analytics, Machine Learning
Lead Investor: ICONIQ Capital
Company: Founded in 2013, Dataiku provides the tools necessary to allow data scientists and analysts to perform machine learning on 'dirty' data sets.  With clients such as large as Unilever, GE, and Fox News, Dataiku is seen as a catalysts for these data-driven companies. To date, Dataiku has raised over $146 million after five rounds of funding.

 

InVision - $115M
Date: 12/11/18
Round: Series F
Industry: Digital Product Design, UX, Mobile Apps
Lead Investor: Spark Capital
Company: Founded in 2011, InVision is a digital product design platform boasting over 2 million users. According to their website, InVision is used by over 80% of the Fortune 100 companies to design their mobile apps, websites, and digital platforms. To date, InVision has raised over $350 million after eight rounds of funding.

 

Vroom - $146M
Date: 12/11/18
Round: Series G
Industry: Automotive, E-commerce, FinTech
Lead Investor: AutoNation
Company: Founded in 2013, Vroom is an online platform that allows people to buy, sell, and trade used cars within the United States. Customers can use the company app to search for their perfect car, find financing, and even arrange to have the car delivered directly to their house. To date, Vroom has raised over $440 million after eight rounds of funding.

 

Here's to a great 2019!


Discord Raises $150 Million at $2 Billion Valuation

 

Video game chat platform Discord has reportedly raised $150 million in new funding at a $2 billion valuation. The round was led by Greenoaks Capital and saw participation from Firstmark, Tencent, IVP, Index Ventures, and Technology Opportunity Partners.

Discord: A Platform on the Rise

The new round of funding will reportedly be used to support the company’s new expansion into subscription and storefront markets. Earlier this year it was announced Discord would launch a beta version of it an online store which would allow gamers to purchase and play games directly within its platform. In a move away from simply being a communication platform, the new initiative seems to signal bigger ambitions for the company. 

In Direct Competition with the Market's Biggest Player

The move to open a gaming store will put Discord into more direct competition with the largest digital PC gaming distribution platform, Steam. Earlier this year, Steam was seen as encroaching into Discord’s territory when it announced the launch of its own chat platform within its site. In an effort to lure Steam's audience to its own site, Discord will sweeten the deal for developers who host their games on the Discord site by offering a 90/10 revenue split as opposed to Steam’s 70/30 split. Video gaming viewing site Twitch also remains a competitor in the space. 

Investors Are Interested

This is not the only large round of funding secured by the company recently. This past April, closed a $50 million round of funding at a $1.65 million valuation. Previous to this, the company had also closed a $20 million round of funding in participation with, Tencent. All told, the company has raised more than $280 million after six rounds of funding.

With more than 200 million active users, Discord is one of the largest online gaming communications platforms on the net. Since its launch in 2015, the company has grown to become a true forces within the online gaming industry, and with the launch of its new subscription and store front features, this presence only looks to increase. 


SoftBank to Invest $1 Billion in Grab

 

SoftBank is reportedly set to invest $1 billion from its Vision Fund into southeast Asian ride-hailing startup, Grab.

Grab: The Southeast Asian 'Super-app'

Currently, Grab's $11 billion valuation makes it the most valuable tech startup in southeast Asia. The company has been download over 130 million times and operates in 8 countries including Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Now with its plans to move into deliveries, healthcare, and mobile payments the company looks well-positioned to only grow stronger. Such ubiquitousness of use in the region in such varied fields has caused some to refer to the company as a, ‘super-app’.

The Company Has Investor's Attention

To date, the company has already raised over $6.5 billion after a remarkable 19 rounds of funding. In 2018 alone, the tech startup has already raised over $2.7 billion. This remarkable figure does not even include the pending $1 billion investment by SoftBank which will only increase the company’s $11 billion valuation.

SoftBank Doubles Down on Grab

This is not the first time SoftBank has invested in the company. In 2014, SoftBank was one of the early investors when it became the company's largest investor with a $250 million round. If SoftBank follows the same pattern it has when it invested in three other southeast asian tech unicorns, it will transfer the stake to its Vision Fund, then double down by investing in the company again from its Vision Fund.

How Grab Beat Uber in the Region

Grab garnered worldwide attention earlier this year when it out-maneuvered ride-share giant Uber for control of the region. After a long battle between the two companies, Grab emerged victorious when in March it successfully bought-out Uber’s southeast asian operations. This does not mean the company is without competition in the region however as Indonesian ride-share company Go-Jek raised a reported $1.2 billion earlier this year at a $9 billion valuation.

As to which ride-share company will ultimately control the booming southeast asian market remains unclear, but with the latest round of funding in place, Grab will remain positioned to do just that.


Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos Betting on Malta Inc.

 

Several of the world’s wealthiest people, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, have invested in a new energy storage company, Malta Inc.

Malta Inc.’s New Way of Storing Electricity

The company was created when secretive Google lab X moonshot, decided to spin-off the electricity storage project into its own company, Malta Inc. Malta Inc. uses molten salt to store electricity instead of traditional lithium ions. The new process promises to allow electricity to be stored more efficiently than the current methods. In a world increasingly reliant on batteries, many of the world’s top investors believe this new technology has potential for the future of energy storage.

An Impressive List of Investors

Recently Malta Inc. raised a $26 million round of Series-A round funding led by Bill Gates’, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, LLC. The Bill Gates led fund includes an impressive list of investors including Jeff Bezos, Ray Dalio, Michael Bloomberg, John Doerr, and SoftBank CEO, Masayoshi Son just to name a few. This is the first major round of funding closed by Malta Inc.

The Need for Variable Energy Storage in the 21st Century

The system uses large vats of molten salt to store energy from variable energy sources such as solar or wind, and facilities can be constructed almost anywhere. Such methods of storing energy produced by variable energy sources will be a crucial in the future as the world moves further away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. The state of California has said it intends to produced all its energy from carbon-free sources by the year 2045. Currently, as much as 30% of energy produced by variable sources in California is lost to inefficiencies in the system. Malta looks to reduce the figure. 

Malta Inc. has yet to construct a working prototype of the new facility, but all indications point they are on the path to doing so. According to company CEO Ramya Swaminathan, the company is considering China as the location for this pilot project.


SoftBank Leads $400 Million Investment in Zymergen

 

Yesterday it was announced SoftBank has invested $400 million from its Vision Fund to lead the latest round of Series-C funding for biomaterial startup Zymergen.

How Zymergen May Revolutionize Product Materials

Zymergen is a five-year old California-based company that uses AI to manufacture certain molecules which have a wide-range of uses across a variety of industries. The molecules are derived from yeast and bacteria and can be used in pharmaceuticals, foods, agriculture, chemical processes, and even electronics. Perhaps the greatest application for these products however are as product materials. The full utilization of Zymergen materials could potentially one day replace much of the petroleum-based products so ubiquitous in today’s society.

The Potential to Replace Petroleum-Based Materials

Today's manufacturing materials are largely petroleum-based. This includes everything from plastics to more traditionally thought of petroleum-based products such as gasoline. Zymergen is looking to offer an alternative. In regard to Zymergen products in the OLED screen technology found in iPhones, company CEO Joshua Hoffman asserts, “current petrochemical-derived films don’t work as well as they should. They’re too blue, or they scratch, or they de-laminate and the screen comes apart. The problems are rooted in their core chemistry. But biology gives you the whole palette with which to create films, adhesives and coatings.” The possibilities of the new materials are endless.

A Very Secretive Company

In the five years since its founding Zymergen has remained extremely tight-lipped about its clients. The company will also not disclose exactly what products it has helped develop for these clients. Regardless, in a recent interview Hoffman stated, “Partners have sold half a billion dollars worth of products made with our bugs in the last couple of years.” When asked who the clients were, Hoffman would only offer that they ranged from Fortune 50 companies to Fortune 500 companies. Zymergen will also not disclose how many customers if currently serves.

Investors Are Excited

In regard to the latest round of funding, board member and early investor Rohit Sharma states, “This is easily one of the most promising companies I’ve worked with. This isn’t engineering eyeballs or daily active users or manipulating business models. This is innovation on the scale of the way the chemical industry came into existence and grew to a $3 trillion-plus industry. Zymergen will still be very relevant in 20 years.” To date, the company has raised over $575 million after four rounds of funding.

Whether or not AI bioengineering materials will become as large as the chemical industry remains to be seen, but what is certain is that big money is being poured into finding out.


SoftBank Looking to Invest $1 Billion in ParkJockey

 

It was reported recently by Axios that SoftBank will invest up to $1 billion in Miami-based parking startup, ParkJockey.

How ParkJockey May Fit With SoftBank's Larger Vision

While not much has been officially announced about the deal yet, low-end estimates peg the investment at around $800 million while higher-end estimates state the round could be worth as much as $1 billion. The deal may fit nicely into a larger vision for SoftBank in light of the company's huge investments in Uber and Doordash, as well as substantial investments in real-estate, and self-driving car technology.

How ParkJockey Works

ParkJockey partners with parking lot operators to reserve spots for ParkJockey customers. Customers then login to the app and reserve parking when and where they need it. Currently, the company operates in four cities, and has already secured partnerships with Hertz, The Miami Heat, The Rose Bowl, US Airways Arena, US Bank Stadium, and Ticketmaster. The latest round of funding is expected to help take the company wide, including initiatives at many airports as well as plans to acquire parking lot operators, Impark and Lanier.

ParkJockey is a Company on the Rise

ParkJockey was founded in 2013 by Umet Tekin and Ari Ojalvo after the pair identified several key inefficiencies in the paid parking system. The pair then raised a reported $1.8 million from an angel investment to develop the app and technology. While the app allows bookings and payment, the company also seems to have a larger vision in order to revolution the entire paid parking system as well. Currently, the company has also developed a Terminal Pro system, an Auto Attendant feature, and a Virtual Attendant feature which allows cars to scan decals to enter garages in the absence of an attendant.

It's unclear at present as to when exactly the round will be officially announced.


NYC Startup Funding, Month-end Wrap-up: November 2018

 

While November did not see the monstrous rounds of funding so common over the summer, it nevertheless remained strong for NYC startup funding. Below are five of the larger rounds of NYC startup funding over the course of November 2018.

 

Force Therapeutics - $21M
Date: 11/7/18
Round: Venture Round (Series unknown)
Industry: Health Care, Mobile App
Investors: 1 - Insight Venture Partners
Company: Founded in 2010, Force Therapeutics is a company which provides mobile and web-based physical therapy videos and tutorials to its patients. The company allows physicians to work with their patients remotely in the comfort of their own home. To date, Force Therapeutics has raised over $25.7 million in NYC startup funding.

 

RapidSOS - $30M
Date: 11/6/18
Round: Series B
Industry: Public Safety, Mobile App, IoT
Investors: 8 - Two Sigma Ventures, The Westly Group, Ralph de la Vega, Playground Global, M12, Highland Capital Partners
Company: Founded in 2013, RapidSOS uses proprietary technology to integrate with 911 in order to analyze information as to when and where emergencies are occurring. RapidSOS then uses this data to alert people of situations in real-time so that users can safely avoid these areas. To date, RapidSOS has raised over $65.6 million in NYC startup funding.

 

Dynamic Yield - $38M
Date: 11/2/18
Round: Series D
Industry: Enterprise Software, Publishing, E-commerce
Investors: 4 - Viola Growth, Union Tech Ventures, Naver Corporation, Bessemer Venture Partners
Company: Founded in 2011, Dynamic Yield helps marketers increase revenue by automatically personalizing each customer interaction across web, mobile apps and email. Dynamic Yield's AI allows marketers to take instant action to target optimized messages for individual clients. To date, Dynamic Yield has raised over $83.3 million in NYC startup funding.

 

Dia&Co - $40M
Date: 11/15/18
Round: Series C
Industry: Fashion, Retail, E-commerce
Investors: 2 - Union Square Ventures, Sequoia Capital
Company: Founded in 2014, Dia&Co allows plus sized customers the ability to try on clothes in the comfort of their own home. Customers take a survey of their tastes and are then sent five-item boxes of clothing and accessories. They buy the pieces they like and send the rest back. To date, Dia&Co has raised over $90 million in NYC startup funding.

 

UiPath - $265M
Date: 11/15/18
Round: Series C
Industry: Automation, Enterprise Software, Information Technology, Robotics
Investors: 6 - Sequoia Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group, IVP (Institutional Venture Partners), CapitalG, Accel
Company: Founded in 2005, UiPath is a software and automation robotics company. UiPath aims to streamline tedious tasks such as document management and data extraction and is currently used by thousands of companies. To date, UiPath has raised more than $448 million after four rounds of funding. This round was an additional $40 million to a Series C previously announced.

We look forward to reporting on the 2018 year-end next month!