Pfizer Invests In Mini Brains, Kleiner Perkins Splits

by: VCDeals

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Online used car marketplace: Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) Investment Partners and BMW (OTCPK:BMWYY) i Ventures participated in a $140M Series D round for Shift, an online marketplace for used cars. The round included equity and debt. Lithia Motors led and CEO Bryan DeBoer will join Shift’s board. Previous investors Alliance Ventures, DCM, DFJ, G2VP, and Highland Capital also participated. Shift’s total funding is now over $265M.

Shift’s software platform lets customers shop for cars, receive financing, and schedule test drives. Car owners can sell vehicles that pass “rigorous” inspections. Shift will invest in its tech platform and grow its engineering staff from the current 35 to over 80 by the end of next year. The company says revenue has grown 70% in the past six months and future plans involve expanding beyond Shift’s California base market.

Competitor: Hertz (NYSE:HTZ), which had a partnership with Shift that ended when the car rental company launched its competing product.

Hybrid cloud data: Samsung (OTC:SSNNF, OTC:SSNLF) Catalyst Fund led a $60M Series D round in hybrid cloud data specialist Datrium at a $282M valuation. Icon Ventures, NEA, and Lightspeed Venture Partners also participated. Icon Ventures’ Michael Mullany will join the Datrium board.

Datrium provides backup and other services for enterprises that store and use data in hybrid environments last year. The company’s DVX platform claims to deliver 10x the speed and scale of legacy hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI).

Competitors: Rubrik raised $180M at a $1.3B valuation. Big names pursuing hybrid include Google, VMware (NYSE:VMW), HPE (NYSE:HPE), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO).

Online sneaker marketplace: GV (GOOG, GOOGL) and Battery Ventures participated in a $44M Series B round in StockX, which has evolved from an online sneaker reselling marketplace to becoming a broader marketplace that includes streetwear and handbags. StockX was co-founded by Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans.

StockX focuses on providing a marketplace that has fair pricing and verified authentic merchandise to form what amounts to day-trading n consumer goods. Sneakers and other demand products have pricing set by the market rates instead of the seller. The Detroit-based startup has expanded from 130 to 415 people since March. The new funding will help drive employment, including to the C-suite that’s missing a CTO, CMO, and CFO. StockX also wants to fuel an international expansion.

Competitor: StockX stands out from eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) because of the narrower focus and verified goods.

“Mini brain” treatments: Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) Ventures and CRV led a $25M Series A round in “mini brain” startup System1 Biosciences. Pfizer Ventures partner Margi McLoughlin and CRV’s George Zachary will join the board.

System1 Biosciences works with three-dimensional, stem cell grown structures that function as simplified versions of the brain’s cortex. The “mini brains” could help the company identify new drug targets from neurological diseases including schizophrenia and epilepsy. The startup built a novel system around the mini brains including production scaling, growth monitoring, and data collection and analysis.

Competitor: Organome, which mass produces the mini brains for research.

Indonesian POS company: SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBF, OTCPK:SFTBY) Ventures participated in a $24M Series B round for Indonesian fintech startup Moka. Sequoia India and Southeast Asia led the round with EDBI, EV Growth, Mandiri Capital Convergence, and Fenox joining in. The deal took Moka to $27.9M in total funding.

Moka began as a POS terminal business but now offers 12,500 retailers services that include sales reports, inventory management, loyalty programs, and more. Moka primarily focuses on the apparel and service industries and charges at least $17/month for its basic services. The startup says it’s close to $1B in annual transaction volume. The company wants to build out its mobile POS app to become a digital ecosystem by opening up the platform to third-party developers.

Competitors: StoreHub, which has Temasek backing, and SoftSpace ($5M in total funding).

Kleiner Perkins splits: Silicon Valley VC firm Kleiner Perkins will spin-off its growth-stage side to form a new firm that will raise funds separately. The growth-stage team includes noted internet analyst Mary Meeker, Mood Rowghani, Noah Knauf, and Juliet de Baubigny. The remaining firm will focus on early-stage deals. Recent growth team investments have included Spotify (NYSE:SPOT), DocuSign (NASDAQ:DOCU), and Uber (UBER).

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