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1. SoftBank takes a $300M sip of Lemonade
SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBF,OTCPK:SFTBY) led and GV (GOOG,GOOGL) joined a $300M Series D for digital insurer Lemonade at an over $2B valuation. The round also included Allianz, General Catalyst, Our Crowd, and Thrive Capital and brought total funding up to $480M.
Lemonade’s AI bot helps renters and homeowners find and purchase insurance. The company takes a fixed amount from a user’s monthly payment, uses part for revenue and saves part for claims, and unused claims can be donated to the user’s charity of choice. Lemonade hit $57M in revenue last year and expects to hit $100M this year. The startup says it has sold 500K policies to date. The new funds will help with an international expansion with Europe eyed as the first market.
Competitors: Lemonade is disrupting traditional insurers like State Farm, which awkwardly ran an attack ad last fall that essentially promoted Lemonade’s AI tech.
2. Visa backs, partners with emerging market lender
Visa (NYSE:V) and Foundation Capital added to the $170M round for emerging market lender Branch. Visa’s participation comes with a partnership to offer virtual, pre-paid debit cards in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. Branch currently has over 3M customers, has processed 13M loans, and dispersed over $350M.
Branch lends to customers in emerging and frontier markets with loan amounts starting at $2. The startup uses an algorithmic model to quickly determine creditworthiness, build credit profiles, and make loan offers. The new funds will help deepen its penetration in Africa including the launch of high-yield savings accounts and towards an international expansion that could include Brazil and Indonesia. Branch expects to hit $100M in revenue this year with 70% of that coming from Africa.
Competitors: Mobile payment products are popular in Africa with Safaricom’s M-Pesa among the market leaders with 25M users.
3. Alphabet backs its spun-off public health startup
Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs joined the $65M Series B in its spun-off public health startup Cityblock. Redpoint Ventures led the round for the startup, which provides improved healthcare for low-income areas.
Cityblock launched out of Sidewalk Labs about 18 months ago to offer behavioral health and social services at a number of clinics on the East Coast through partnerships with the likes of EmblemHealth and ConnectiCare. The new funds will help expand the number of clinics and to continue developing the core Commons platform that helps care workers collaborate and stay up to date on a patient’s care.
4. Aptiv sinks $26M into emotional intelligence AI
Aptiv (NYSE:APTV) led a $26M round in emotional intelligence AI startup Affectiva, which wants its tech that recognizes a driver’s emotions (happy, drowsy, frustrated, etc.) integrated into car safety system cameras. If the tech senses a driver is drowsy, for example, the text-to-speech AI could offer to turn on some music or recommend pulling over to rest. Eventually, Aptiv wants the tech to detect how passengers interact with each other.
Affectiva has raised $53M in funding since it was founded in 2009 and counts 45 employees across the Boston and Cairo offices. The company’s early products were emotional intelligence AI for videos. In 2017, Affectiva added voice emotion detection and last year launched the in-vehicle solutions. The startup’s emotion tracking tech appears in home robots and AI assistants. Affectiva will use the new funds to advance training for its AI using a database of 7M faces to help avoid bias and detect subtle moods or behaviors.
Competitors: Seeing Machines ($5.7M in funding) and EyeSight ($46M in funding).
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