Genies is emerging as the top competitor to Snapchat’s wildly popular Bitmoji as Facebook, Apple, and Google have been slow to get serious about personalized avatars. Over one million people have customized dozens of traits to build a realistic digital lookalike of themselves from over a million possible permutations. When Genies launched a year ago after raising $15 million in stealth, it misstepped by trying to show people’s Genies interpreting a few weekly news stories and seasonal moments. Now the startup has figured out users want more control, so it’s shifting its iOS and Android apps to let you chat through your avatar, who acts out keywords and sentiments in reaction to what you type, which you can then share elsewhere. And Genies is launching a software developer kit that charges other apps apps to let you create avatars and use them for chat, stickers, games, animations, and augmented reality.
Plastiq raises $27M at 2X+ value to let you pay for anything on credit
Whether you’re trying to pay your rent or tuition on credit, or you have a business and want to invest in a new opportunity or get a better rate by paying vendors up front, Plastiq can help. For a flat 2.5 percent fee, you pay Plastiq through your credit card, and it issues the proper wire transfer, check, or deposit for up to $500,000 on your behalf to whoever you owe. Now with over 1 million clients, growth stage VCs are taking notice. Kleiner Perkins has just led a $27 million Series C for Plastiq with partner Ilya Fushman joining the board. A source says the raise that also comes from DST Global between doubles and triples Plastiq’s valuation over its 2017 Series B-1 rounds of $11 million and $16 million. Now with $73 million in total funding, it plans to add 100 more people to its current team of 60 while building out its small business product and bank partnerships.
The best travel strollers you can buy
The best travel stroller overall: Colugo. Colugo is a newcomer to the baby gear marketplace, but mark my words: Some day, it'll be considered a legacy brand. I say that for three reasons. First, the Colugo Compact Stroller is genuinely one of the most compact folding strollers I've ever used. How compact is it? It folds down small enough to fit into a backpack that comes included with the stroller. Yet when deployed, it's even larger than the average umbrella stroller, approximating the feel and function of a full-sized option.
Citrix acquires Sapho for $200 million to surface actionable insights in the workplace
Citrix Systems today announced it acquired Sapho in an all-cash $200 million deal, a Citrix spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email. Sapho makes micro-apps for team collaboration apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams that call upon more than 50 popular SaaS products like Salesforce, Workday, Concur, ServiceNow, Outlook, and Google Drive. Sapho’s 90 employees at offices in San Bruno, California and the Czech Republic will also join Citrix as part of the deal.
Citrix pays $200M to acquire Sapho, which connects legacy software with ‘micro apps’
As large organizations grapple with adopting modern work practices without throwing out all of their legacy software, a company that works with them is making an acquisition that it hopes will help with that process. Citrix today is announcing that it has acquired Sapho, a startup that develops “micro apps” for legacy software so that workers could use them as they would more modern applications: in the cloud, on mobile and more. We understand that the acquisition was for around $200 million in an all-cash deal. It’s a good return: Sapho had raised just under $28 million since 2014 from investors that included AME Cloud Ventures, Louie Alsop,
Pot Delivery Startup Eaze Launches CBD Platform in First Expansion Outside California
One of the largest marijuana delivery companies in California is leaning into CBD sales. Digital cannabis marketplace Eaze announced Wednesday that it will launch a separate platform called Eaze Wellness specifically for products containing CBD. Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is a cannabis compound that does not produce a high, but is used for its relaxing effect to treat maladies from anxiety to chronic pain. Eaze has operated in California since 2014, partnering with dispensaries to offer customers legal cannabis products on demand, but the announcement marks the company’s first nationwide expansion.
At 24, Two Entrepreneurs Took On Cancer. At 32, They’re Worth Hundreds Of Millions
Initially, Kopelman told them it was an idea he was in no way ready to fund. But they went into a meeting with Andrew Boszhardt, a fund manager who had just made a big profit by funding StubHub. After just a few minutes, Boszhardt asked how much money they needed. The two had not even discussed it between themselves. “$250,000,” Turner blurted out. “Okay,” Boszhardt said. Turner and Weinberg hugged for the first time in the fund’s fancy elevator.
At 24, Two Entrepreneurs Took On Cancer. At 32, They’re Worth Hundreds Of Millions
In 2008, when he was 23, Nat Turner was on a hike in North Carolina with his 6-year-old cousin, Brennan Simkins. Brennan’s legs got weak, and the weakness kept getting worse. He turned out to have a rare and deadly pediatric leukemia that kept coming back after treatment. When Brennan needed a second bone marrow transplant, several hospitals refused to do it and his family was losing hope—until they found a specialist who would help. Exasperated, Brennan’s father asked Turner: Why doesn’t one hospital know what others will do? Is there anyone collecting statistics?
The Optimized Anti-Style of Allbirds Shoes
The New Yorker - The San Francisco-based brand Allbirds makes shoes so soft and flexible that you can bend them almost a hundred and eighty degrees in your hands. When worn, the lightweight rubber soles flare out at the ball of the foot, creating a slightly geriatric silhouette. The “S-curve tread array” carved into the bottom of the sole is supposed to distribute your weight evenly as you walk; the insoles caress your arches and make walking feel like gliding. The merino-wool fabric, in a variety of neutral and pastel shades, is reminiscent of an expensive Fair Isle sweater, except somehow not at all itchy. It is thin enough that you can see the outline of your toes as you walk. The eight lace holes of the original Allbirds “Runners,” embellished with contrast stitching, have a dad-ish quality to them. The only visible branding is a small tab on the back and a cursive, lowercase “allbirds” carved into the heel. The shoes are, for all my attempts to describe them, excessively nondescript. This is perhaps their biggest innovation. Allbirds are so meticulo
Burgerbot startup Creator hires inventor of Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog
Disney Imagineering animatronics wizard Dr. Martin Buehler is a legend in the robotics world. His work leading development of the galloping Big Dog quadruped at Boston Dynamics both inspired and terrified a new generation of makers. But after playing in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction that consumers can’t buy, Buehler has been poached to work on something much more tangible. In fact, it’s edible. He’s joining burger-making robot startup Creator as VP of engineering. “It was a great experience working on experimental validation [at Boston Dynamics],” Buehler tells me, “But one of the things I really value at Creator is the immediacy of real impact to real people. With burgers being such a big segment of the food market, we have the potential to touch millions of people.”
The Muse, a popular recruitment site for millennial women, has made its second acquisition
The Muse, a New York-based, content-rich recruitment site that matches job seekers and all kinds of information about different career paths, as well as with companies that are hiring, has made it second acquisition, picking up TalentShare, a year-old, HR software-as-a service company. TalentShare has been focused on enabling companies to share high-quality candidates that they didn’t hire but would recommend to other companies that are in the market for talent. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but four of TalentShare’s five-member team are joining The Muse. In fact, those new employees will help The Muse in establishing a second office in San Francisco.
Custom eyewear startup King Children raises $2 million
Eyewear can be a statement-making, attention-grabbing fashion accessory — if done right. King Children, a custom eyewear startup emerging from stealth today, aims to give everyone unique, custom designs made for them, by them. Harnessing the power of 3D scanning and printing technology, in addition to augmented reality, King Children aims to create custom frames that fit your face perfectly. “One of the things we felt strongly about is there are so many consumer brands that don’t treat people of diverse backgrounds equally,” King Children co-founder and CEO Sahir Zaveri told TechCrunch. “They make products designed for these imaginary, average people. They don’t end up fitting diverse people as well. What we started to think about was creating a brand and platform that by definition would treat every single person equally.”