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Biz Stone on the future of search

Greylock’s Josh Elman sits down with serial entrepreneur Biz Stone to discuss the future of search and key lessons learned for entrepreneurs looking to build the next big thing. The future of search lies with human conversations, not a list of links. Traditional web search excels at providing ranked search results, but results can be dated or only tangentially relevant, and search engines can’t answer subjective questions. [ Tech Crunch ]

Fallen VC Ifty Ahmed, under investigation by the SEC, claims former employer Oak Investment Partners owes him tens of millions of dollars

In May of last year, Ifty Ahmed was accused by federal regulators of conning his former employer — the venture capital firm, Oak Investment Partners — out of $65 million. Now, Ahmed suggests, Oak is doing the conning, and he says the stakes are even higher.You might remember Ahmed’s sensational story. According to his former colleagues, Ahmed — who’d joined Oak in 2004 following short stints as a junior investor with both Goldman Sachs and Fidelity Ventures — began bilking the firm almost immediately. They say he doctored deal documents and faked invoices, among other ways he directed the Norwalk, Conn. firm’s monies into his own personal account. [ Tech Crunch ]

This company raised $4 million in funding and just sold for $1.4 billion

 AppLovin, a five-year-old startup that helps app developers find new customers: It just sold itself to China’s Orient Hontai Capital in a deal that values the company at $1.4 billion. The deal is an astonishing win for AppLovin CEO Adam Foroughi, who raised less than $5 million in outside backing for his company. And it’s a great win for the handful of investors who did back him, including Yahoo chairman  Maynard Webb. [ Recode ]

Canvas Ventures has closed its second fund with $300 million

Canvas Ventures, a Portola Valley, Ca.-based early-stage venture firm, is this morning announcing that it has closed a second fund with $300 million. That’s a meaningful step up from the $175 million debut effort of the firm, which was cofounded in 2013 by former Morgenthaler Ventures partners Gary Little, Rebecca Lynn and Gary Morgenthaler. [ Tech Crunch ]

Y Combinator chief’s nonprofit VotePlz launches $1 million voter registration sweepstakes

We’re hours away from the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, an event that could influence a third of voters. During this polarizing election season, there’s been an uptick in drives to get people registered to vote. For Sam Altman’s nonprofit VotePlz, registration has become the primary focus of the campaign season. With that in mind, Y Combinator’s president and cohorts Erika Reinhardt, Fouad Matin, and Ari Weinstein have launched a sweepstakes aimed at encouraging everyone to participate in the democratic process. [ Venture Beat ]

Meet the man behind Spectacles, Snapchat’s new smart sunglasses

Snapchat finally pulled back the curtain on its new camera sunglasses last Friday night, its first hardware project, in the works since at least early 2015. Now we also know who built them: Steve Horowitz, the former engineering SVP at Motorola and mobile product veteran who joined Snapchat back in early 2015 in a similar engineering VP role. [ Recode ]


You Too Can Become a Machine Learning Rock Star! No PhD Necessary.

A company called Bonsai joins a movement to democratize machine learning. Get ready to build your own neural net. [ Backchannel ]


Giving auto shops a new tool to estimate repair costs reaps $6.3M for Estify

Estify, a company that’s developed a new tool for auto repair businesses to better gauge the cost of its services for insurance claims, has raised $6.3 million in new financing. It’s a way for car repair businesses to get payouts from insurers faster and better service customers.And, at least until autonomous vehicles are a reality, it’s a service that’s becoming increasingly important. Mainly because U.S. drivers are really awful. There have been 10,710 accidents in the U.S. already this year, according to a website called Accidents in That means we might be on track to beat last year’s record of 12,293 accidents, according to data collected by the site. Los Angeles-based Estify, basically raised the money to gin up its executive suite. And now boasts a deck stacked with some pretty hardcore LA-based executive talent. [ Tech Crunch ]

Philly's InstaMed gets $50M investment

InstaMed, a payments processor for health-care providers heaquartered in Philadelphia, said it received a $50 million investment from Carrick Capital Partners, which it will use for expansion, InstaMed said. The Carrick investment doubled the amount of venture capital InstaMed has raised since its founding in 2004 to $100 million. The company employs more than 200 in Philadelphia and in an office in Newport Beach, Calif., a spokeswoman said. [ Philly ]


Skyhigh Networks Secures $40 Million in Series D Funding to Further Extend Its Leadership in the Rapidly Growing Cloud Security Market

Skyhigh Networks, the leading Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), today announced a $40 million Series D financing round, bringing the company’s total capital raised to $105.5 million. Thomvest Ventures led the round, with participation from Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners. In conjunction with the financing, Umesh Padval, Venture Partner at Thomvest, has joined the Skyhigh Networks Board of Directors.This latest round of funding, which comes with an increase in valuation of the company from the last round, will lead the company through to profitability. Skyhigh plans to use the funding to accelerate its go-to-market investments and extend its leadership in the rapidly growing cloud security market with its Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) solution. [ Venture Beat ]

Unsexy Flexport scores $65 million as software eats shipping

Freight forwarding is a multi-trillion industry, but most people don’t even know what those words mean. It’s the business of moving boats, trucks and planes full of stuff across the world that’s recently been neglected by technology. Historically, freight forwarding has been handled by a mess of paper manifests, emails and spreadsheets, with little transparency, insights or flexibility to change routes on-the-fly. But sometimes the dullest types of work hold the biggest opportunities for startups.Enter Flexport, which just raised a $65 million Series B at a valuation well over $300 million to make freight forwarding programmable. CEO Ryan Petersen calls it “the SeamlessWeb of commerce.” Flexport is both a traditional freight forwarding service that arranges your goods to be transported, and a data provider. You can learn more about its back story, business and kerfuffle with Steve Jobs in our profile of the company, “The unsexiest trillion-dollar startup.”  [ Tech Crunch ]


FreshDirect Secures New Backing Despite Growing Competition in Online Groceries

Even as technology companies old and new seek to enter the online grocery delivery business, one of the sector’s original ventures continues to find new backing. FreshDirect announced on Monday that it had raised $189 million, the biggest round of fund-raising in the company’s 17-year history. The infusion of cash comes as rivals continue to press deeper into the sector. Instacart, the on-demand shopping start-up, has garnered cash from one of its partners, Whole Foods, that values it around $2 billion,Bloomberg News reported on Friday. And Amazon has continued to expand its AmazonFresh food delivery service to more cities, most recently including Boston and parts of London. [ NY Times ]



CBOE Will Acquire BATS Global Markets for $3.2 Billion

CBOE said it would buy BATS Global Markets for about $3.2 billion, just over five months after BATS made its market debut, as the largest U.S. options exchange operator looks to diversify its business. CBOE’s cash-and-stock offer values BATS—the No. 2 stock exchange operator in the United States by volumes—at about $32.50 per share, a premium of 2.2% to its closing price on Friday. CBOE owns the Chicago Board Options Exchange and has an exclusive licensing deal on the S&P 500 index options contract through 2032. The exchange also has rights to the popular VIX volatility index.
[ Fortune ]



FTV Capital raises $850 million fund for investments in fintech and enterprise

FTV Capital announced today that it has closed its fifth fund — totaling $850 million — a number that brings its total raised over the past 20 years to $2.7 billion. “We are grateful for the strong support from our existing investors, and we are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with some terrific new limited partners,” said Richard Garman, FTV Capital managing partner and head of the firm’s San Francisco office, in a statement. “We have worked long and hard to build an outstanding team at FTV and an institutionalized model that enables us to deliver consistent returns for our limited partners.”
[ Venture Beat ]


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