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Apple Is Said to Be Talking to Vehicle Technology Companies

Apple, which laid off dozens of employees from its secretive car project this month, is increasingly seeking help from outside companies with expertise in vehicles. Apple has been talking with McLaren, the automaker known for its Formula One racecars, about an investment in the company, according to two people briefed on the talks who asked to remain anonymous because the discussions were confidential. Apple is also in talks with Lit Motors, a San Francisco start-up that has developed an electric self-balancing motorcycle, about a potential acquisition, according to three people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversations were private. Apple has already hired several former Lit Motors engineers. [ NY Times]

Zuckerberg, Chan Start $3 Billion Initiative to Cure Disease

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are pledging to spend more than $3 billion over the next decade to work on curing diseases.“Can we work together to cure, prevent or manage all disease within our children’s lifetime?” Chan said Wednesday onstage at an event in San Francisco for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “Mark and I believe that this is possible.” Chan, a pediatrician, spoke through tears about how she’s had to tell parents their child couldn’t be resuscitated, or give a diagnosis of leukemia. The couple plans to work with scientists, doctors, engineers and universities to achieve their goal, in part by building tools and technology.

The program will be overseen by Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University in New York. “This is a big goal and we thought this was really aggressive when we got started,” Facebook Inc. co-founder Zuckerberg said. “But when you get into it, one of the first things that strikes you is medicine has only been a modern science for about a century.” After speaking with experts, the couple believes it’s possible, he said. [ Bloomberg ]

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan: Can we cure all diseases in our children's lifetime?

When our daughter was born, we wrote a letter about the hope she gave us for the future. It's a hope I know so many of us feel -- that we can make a better future for our children and generations to come. I'm an engineer, and I think this hope is part of the engineering mindset. It's the belief that you can take any system and make it much better -- whether it's code, hardware, biology, a company, an education system, a government -- anything. We look for ways to bring engineering to social change. That's what we've done at Facebook to build a community of more than 1.7 billion people. That's what we've done with to help local entrepreneurs connect more than 30 million people to the internet. That's what we're doing with personalized learning to help teachers bring these tools to more than 100 schools. And that's how we hope to help scientists as well. [ Facebook ]

Shopify’s Michael Perry on bots and automation: ‘We are on the cusp of some massive sh*t’

It was while walking home in late 2014 that Kit’s Michael Perry had his “holy shit” moment. That’s when he became convinced that he should to move his startup deeper into SMS as a way to offer a marketing service to merchants and small business owners who had neither the time nor the interest to pursue other options. Now you can buy Facebook ads with four messages. Perry compares that moment to a band recording an amazing song. “Do you think that they were just sitting back and listening to that song and thinking ‘This is going to be a fucking hit’? You know what I’m saying? Like no one else has heard it, and they’re sitting there going, ‘This is going to go platinum, this is going to be a hit’,” he said. In April, a day after Facebook opened the Messenger API for bots and Shopify became the first commerce platform to integrate with Messenger, Kit was acquired by Shopify. [ Venture Beat ]

A conversation with Aston Motes, Dropbox’s first employee

Employee #1 is a series of interviews focused on sharing the often untold stories of early employees at tech companies. Aston Motes was the first employee at Dropbox. He’s now a startup advisor and investor, and he currently is focused on multiple projects at the intersection of music and technology.
Studying at MIT, Learning About Startups, Interning in Silicon Valley, Meeting The Founders, The Y-Scraper, Building Dropbox, Learning From Success and Failure, Going Through YC After Dropbox, Choosing Companies as an Employee vs. as an Investor. You can 
subscribe to The Macro newsletter to receive future conversations. [ The macro ]

NHTSA releases self-driving car guidelines

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence IoT Briefing subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.In a long-anticipated move, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a set of guidelines for autonomous vehicles, according to The New York Times. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Economic Council Director Jeffrey Zients announced the guidelines, which fall short of official regulations, at an appearance on Monday.
[ Business Insider ]


World’s Best Performing Tech Fund Is Finally Betting on Facebook

For the world’s top tech fund, Facebook Inc. is finally cheap enough to buy. DNB Nordic Technology, the best performing tech fund over the past 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, started buying Facebook shares in July. “For the first time, we think the stock doesn’t look that expensive in relation to the figures they deliver,” Sverre Bergland, a portfolio manager at DNB, said in an interview at the bank’s offices on the Oslo fjord. “We’ve changed our view mainly because valuation has become much more attractive.”

Bergland, 49, and two other partners at the 8 billion-krone ($1 billion) fund have delivered average annual returns of 16 percent over the past decade by seeking out contrarian investments. That’s why they avoided Facebook until now.The social media giant said in July its revenue growth will be slower in the coming quarters. Investors are starting to question how fast the company can make money on its mobile applications such as Messenger and WhatsApp. Its estimated adjusted price-to-earnings ratio is 32.6 this year and is seen falling to 20.1 in 2018, according to data on Bloomberg.  [ Bloomberg ]


D.light raises $22.5 million to push its solar-powered products into more off-grid communi

D.light, a for-profit social enterprise that sells solar-powered products, has raised $22.5 million in funding to push its wares into more off-grid communities around the world. Founded in 2006, D.light manufactures and distributes a range of solar lighting products, including the D30 bundle, which includes a solar panel, battery-charging pack, solar lights, switches, FM radio, and a torch and is underpinned by D.light’s pay-as-you-go platform. Prior to today, D.light had raised north of $25 million dollars, and its latest cash influx consists of a number of components. The round includes $15 million Series D funding from Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar; KawiSafi Ventures Fund, a new VC firm specializing in off-grid energy; Energy Access Ventures; and NewQuest Capital Partners. [ Venture Beat ]

Insurtech startup FinanceFox raises $28M in Series A

FinanceFox, Europe’s leading independent service platform for insurances, brokers, and consumers, announced today that it has raised $28M – the largest InsurTech round in Europe to date – led by Target Global and Horizons Ventures. This funding will be used to further expand its product, marketing, and sales activities in Switzerland and Germany, as well as enter new markets - for example Austria in Q4/2016. The existing investors Idinvest, Salesforce Ventures, Speedinvest, Seedcamp, AngelList, Victory Park Capital and lead-angel Samuel Skoblo remain on board. FinanceFox is based in Zurich, Vienna, Berlin and Barcelona with over 80 employees. [ Finextra ] 


Gametime raises $20 million to sell last-minute, textable tickets to sporting events and concerts

Gametime has raised $20 million in venture funding for an app that allows people to find and buy tickets to a nearby concert or sporting event at the last minute, and even up to a half-hour after a game begins.Evolution Media Partners led Gametime’s Series B round, joined by GV, Stanford’s StartX Fund, Accel Partners, Casey Wasserman and Jeff Mallett.The funding brings Gametime’s total capital raised to $33 million to-date. Founded by Brad Griffith in 2013, Gametime has steadily added tickets from more professional sports teams and to a wider variety of events over the years. It sells tickets from both primary sources and resellers. The startup has also rolled out features and video advertising to attract millennial sports and music fans. [ Tech Crunch ]

Israel’s OurCrowd Raises $72 Million to Boost Crowdfunding Deals

OurCrowd Ltd., a website that connects investors to a pool of mostly Israeli and U.S. startups, said it raised $72 million to expand its operations and invest in other businesses.Jon Medved, the chief executive officer and co-founder of OurCrowd, said the new funds will be split evenly between the venture arm and the company itself, which plans to use the money to open more offices around the world. The Jerusalem-based equity crowdfunding platform has a global network of 15,000 investors and has helped facilitate $300 million in investments to 100 startups since it was founded in 2013.With $36 million earmarked for OurCrowd’s operations, it’s the largest pure equity investment in a crowdfunding company, according to Crowdnetic, a New York-based research firm. Israeli VC funds have raised $540 million this year, according to researcher PitchBook Data Inc. [ Bloomberg ]


Pay-per-mile insurance startup Metromile raises $191.5M, acquires Mosaic Insurance

The automotive industry is in flux with the rise of self-driving and electric cars, and the concept of car ownership altogether being thrown into question. With this, the car insurance industry is changing, too, and now, an on-demand car insurance startup has raised a large round of funding as it aims to be leader of that change.Metromile, the provider that lets you pay-per-mile for insurance, said that it has raised a whopping $191.5 million in funding — “primarily equity”, according to CEO Dan Preston. Metromile will use the money to acquire an insurance carrier called Mosaic Insurance to handle the underwriting of its policies itself; as well as to expand new states in the U.S. and continue building its platform. [ Tech Crunch ]


Heliatek Raises €80 Million

Heliatek, a world leader in organic photovoltaic and a manufacturer of solar films, has put together an €80 million ($88 million) round to finance the expansion of its HeliaFilm® manufacturing capacity by one million m² p.a.. This round comprises €42 million in equity, €20 million in debt and about €18 million in subsidies. "We are very excited to have successfully completed this financing round. This allows us to strengthen our world leadership in organic solar film and to accelerate our expansion. We will continue to lead the way in enabling distributed energy generation on industrial and commercial buildings," stated Thibaud Le Séguillon, Heliatek CEO. "We will follow our strategy by expanding the BIOPV - Building Integrated Organic Photovoltaic - market through supplying large quantities of our HeliaFilms® to our customers in the building and construction material field." [ PR News ]


Chinese credit card app grabs $310m at $1bn valuation

Credit card management app is the latest Chinese fintech startups to land a $1bn-plus valuation joining the ranks of Alibaba’s Ant Financial, and Rong360. The valuation comes as the company announces its $310m Series C round led by Tiantu Capital and Xinhu Zhongbao. Kuaidi Dache founder Cheng Weixing, HG Capital and Shenzhen Qianhe Capital also participated in the round. The company’s app helps users to manage their credit card bills, as well as access wealth management products and financial services and apply for loans. claims more than 70 million users accounting for 30% of active credit card users in China. [ Fintech Roundup ]

BrightFarms opens $10M greenhouse west of Chicago that will supply Mariano's

Soon, Chicagoans will have another option when it comes to buying locally grown tomatoes in the dead of winter. BrightFarms, a New York-based company with a new 160,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse in Rochelle, about 80 miles west of Chicago, made its first shipment of greens to Mariano's stores over the weekend. Next come tomatoes in the fall. BrightFarms represents the latest massive greenhouse operation to seize upon growing demand for year-round locally grown produce in the Chicago area. The competition's growing fiercer. MightyVine, also in Rochelle, is building a second greenhouse that will double its operation after booming sales and rave reviews of its tomatoes from some of Chicago's top chefs this past winter. Gotham Greens, a New York-based hydroponic grower of leafy greens with a greenhouse in the Pullman neighborhood, recently expanded into Jewel-Osco stores, adding to its rapidly growing presence in Chicago-area markets. [ Chicago Tribune ]


Software company BlackLine prepares for IPO: sources

Accounting software maker BlackLine Inc is preparing for an initial public offering that could value it at more than $1 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. An IPO of Los Angeles-based BlackLine, which the sources said could come as early as October, would make BlackLine one of the first venture-backed technology firms to go public since market jitters all but shut the window for such companies at the end of last year. BlackLine has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead its IPO, which has already been registered confidentially with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the sources said. The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is not yet public. Representatives for BlackLine and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.Venture-backed technology company Nutanix, which was valued at roughly $2 billion in the private market in 2014, is set to price its IPO next week. [ Reuters ]

China’s Postal Bank Said Poised to Raise $7.4 Billion in IPO

Postal Savings Bank of China Co. is poised to raise $7.4 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering that will be the world’s biggest first-time share sale this year, according to people familiar with the matter. The Beijing-based lender plans to sell 12.1 billion shares at HK$4.76 apiece, below the midpoint of a marketed range, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The bank offered the shares at HK$4.68 to HK$5.18 each. The first-time share sale would be the largest globally since Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. priced a $25 billion New York offering in September 2014. Postal Savings Bank would have a market value of $49.5 billion, more than Deutsche Bank AG but less than U.S. banks like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The largest IPO so far this year was Danish utility Dong Energy A/S’s $3 billion offering in June, data compiled by Bloomberg show. [ Bloomberg ]


Elephant Partners closes initial fund at over $156 mln

Elephant Partners has raised over $156 million for its inaugural fund, according to an SEC filing. The Boston-based venture firm focuses on consumer internet, mobile and software. [ PE Hub ]


Five Arrows Secondary Opportunities closes latest fund at $503 mln

Five Arrows Secondary Opportunities said Sept. 21 that it latest secondary opportunities fund has closed at 451 million euros ($503 million). FASO IV will continue to focus on European small and mid-cap secondary transactions. The fund has already completed its first two first European Secondary Directs transactions. Five Arrows Secondary Opportunities is the European small and mid-cap secondary business of Rothschild Merchant Banking.
Five Arrows Secondary Opportunities (“FASO”), the European small and mid-cap secondary business of Rothschild Merchant Banking, is pleased to announce that it has completed the fundraising of Five Arrows Secondary Opportunities IV (“FASO IV” or “the Fund”) at €451 million after only a few months of fundraising and above its target size. A significant majority of limited partner commitments originated from existing investors in Five Arrows Secondary Opportunities III (“FASO III”). In addition, the Fund attracted strong interest from new investors comprising top tier institutions and family offices around the globe. [ PE Hub ]

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