Canadian cannabis media company HERB closed a $4.1 million seed round Tuesday in a bid to expand to the US and ramp up production of video content. "This is a monumental moment for HERB and a testament to the shift of public view on the cannabis industry," Herb CEO Matt Gray said in a statement. "As we usher in a new and diverse demographic of cannabis consumers, investors are seeing the value in the cannabis industry and importance of having a reliable technology platform to educate and inform consumers," Gray added. HERB, based in Toronto, Canada, will use the round to expand to Los Angeles and New York City, as well as build out new studios to enhance their offering of video content online. The 27-year-old Gray acquired HERB in 2015 — when it was called The Stoner's Cookbook — and rebranded it as a digital media company specifically for the cannabis industry, mixing original how-to videos with hard news and profiles. The company boasts 5.3 million unique
Cannabis website Herb raises $4.1M
We get a lot of weed-related pitches at TechCrunch, but most of them don’t come with the pedigree of Herb‘s investors. Herb is announcing today that it has raised $4.1 million in seed funding led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures, with participation from Slow Ventures, Buddy Media co-founder Michael Lazerow, Shiva Rajarama, Liquid 2 Ventures (the firm led by football legend Joe Montana), Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein and Adam Zeplain. “During our research into the cannabis industry, it became clear to both myself and our team at Liquid 2 Ventures that HERB was the most professionally run business for relevant, informative, cannabis content,” Montana said in the funding announcement. Herb’s articles and videos cover the latest cannabis-related news, with plenty of how-to and educational content. The site started as something called The Stoner’s Cookbook before it was acquired and rebranded by Gray in 2015. Since then, the company has grown to 200 million video views per month, reaching 5.3 million unique viewers, according to Tubular Labs.
We tried 'the world's most comfortable shoes' to see if they're as great as everyone says they are
Whether you know someone who has and loves them, or you’ve just seen enough colorful, plush-looking sneakers walking around to note the style, you’ve likely already come into contact with the San Francisco brand Allbirds. Allbirds is only about a year old, but you’d never know that by how popular it has become. The founder, Tim Brown, grew up in New Zealand — a place most of us rightfully associate with rolling green hills, Lord of the Rings, and hordes of fluffy sheep grazing on said green hills. It was there that he noticed the properties of merino wool and their implications — A super comfortable, sustainable material that wicks away moisture, regulates temperature, and minimizes odor? Why hadn’t this been used to make shoes before?
‘Airbnb for boats’ startup Boatsetter buys competitor Boatbound
You don’t have to be rich or T-Pain to be “on a boat.” You can rent one plus a captain for the day from Boatsetter. And now it’s got boats in more than 300 locations around the U.S. since it just acquired rival maritime marketplace Boatbound. Boatsetter will be taking select talent from Boatbound plus logistics tech and its inventory of vessels for rental. A source familiar with the transaction said the acquisition was paid for with Boatsetter stock valued in the low-millions range. The deal makes Boatsetter the biggest peer-to-peer boat rental service in the States, and possibly the world. To fund future acquisitions of other competitors, Boatsetter also is announcing it has added $4.75 million in funding to its December 2016 Series A round, bringing the startup to a total of $17.75 million raised.
Minibar Delivery Alcohol Marketplace Picks up $5 Million
Minibar Delivery , a marketplace for wine, beer and spirits, has today announced the close of a $5 million funding round led by Corigin Ventures, with participation from Female Founders Fund, Winklevoss Capital, LaunchCapital and RiverPark Ventures. Minibar Delivery launched back in 2013, trying to give liquor stores an ecommerce outlet and users the ability to buy booze with the click of a button. The company has since expanded to 37 markets across the country and has started to test shipping for new markets. Shipping essentially allows Minibar users outside those 37 markets to place an order on the platform and receive their order via the mail.
Silicon Valley's Fuzzy Fad
Now comes the Allbird, a knit wool loafer. In uncomfortable times, Silicon Valley has turned to a comfortable shoe. If there’s a venture capitalist nearby, there’s probably a pair of Allbirds, too. The Google co-founder Larry Page wears Allbirds, according to the shoemaker, as do the former Twitter chief Dick Costolo and the venture capitalists Ben Horowitz and Mary Meeker. Founded by a New Zealand soccer star and a clean-technology entrepreneur, Allbirds makes the sneakerlike shoes from wool and castor bean oil. Slightly fuzzy to the touch, Allbirds have minimal styling (tiny logos only) and come in two versions: a runner and a lounger. Both styles, for men and women, sell for $95. Next month, Allbirds is opening its first store in Manhattan.
Tableau acquires ClearGraph, a startup that lets you analyze your data using natural language
Business intelligence and analytics firm Tableau today announced that it has acquired ClearGraph, a service that lets you query and visualize large amounts of business date through natural language queries (think “this week’s transactions over $500”). Tableau expects to integrate this technology with its own products as it looks to make it easier for its users to use similar queries to visualize their data. Tableau acquires ClearGraph, a startup that lets you analyze your data using natural language Typically, you’d have to know SQL or a similar database query language to pull information out of most enterprise databases. Recent advances in natural language processing and machine learning now allow services like ClearGraph to understand more about the underlying database and then take these sentences and essentially translate them into database queries. Given that Microsoft’s Power BI and other competitors already offer this capability, it’s no surprise that Tableau is also looking into this (though Tableau argues that — unlike the likes of Microsoft — it can be a neutral party
Meet Wim, a Gadget That'll Make Fast Frozen Yogurt on Your Kitchen Counter
Invented by a Google alum, this Keurig-for-Froyo makes individual servings of fresh frozen yogurt with no mess—all you need is milk. The kitchen counter has become a crowded place. Alongside coffee machines, mixers, and toasters are now juicers, dehydrators, soda makers, and the darling of the home cooking set, the all-purpose Instapot. A new machine that wants to take its place in the gleaming, stainless-steel lineup: the Wim frozen yogurt maker. The unassuming, 15-pound gadget, similar in size to a Nespresso machine, plans to use convenient flash-freezing technology to become a major player in the frozen dessert category, which is estimated at $28 billion nationally and $60 billion worldwide. (Market research company Research & Markets projects that frozen desserts will be nearly a $30 billion industry in the U.S. by 2020.)
MojiLaLa, the sticker marketplace, lands $1.5M seed round from Great Oaks, betaworks
The launch of iOS 10 and its iMessage Store has launched emojis and stickers into mainstream communication. In fact, 6 billion emoticons are sent every day. And a new startup called MojiLaLa is looking to capitalize, both figuratively and literally. MojiLaLa is a marketplace that lets artists submit their sticker packs to the iOS store with zero hassle, for free. The company has just raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Great Oaks Ventures and betaworks ventures, and IVP partner Dennis Phelps. Founder and CEO Dana Loberg, a former artist, says that the process of submitting art to the App Store requires learning XCode, owning a Mac and iPhone, and $99. MojiLaLa does all the heavy lifting for artists for free, letting them focus on their artwork instead of their business development.
Millennial Dad Site Fatherly Raises $4 Million to Expand Into Video and Events
Fatherly, a New York City-based media startup, has raised $4 million in venture funding from BDMI, the investment arm of media company Bertelsman, and talent agency UTA. The company plans to use the money to expand the scope of its content, launch a podcast, develop original video series, and expand internationally in the next 18 months. The company has created franchises like 940 Weekends, a reference to the number of weekends dads have to spend with their kids between birth and age 18; My Father The…, a series of interviews with children of famous men, and the Father of the Year awards, which it hopes will lead to more events. Michael Rothman, the company’s CEO, says the strategic expertise from UTA and BDMI will be key to accomplishing Fatherly’s goals.
Indeed is buying Interviewed to make task simulations part of job applications
Indeed, the job platform with over 200 million people searching for jobs each month, is acquiring Interviewed, the online job assessment tool. The terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but all 12 of Interviewed’s employees, including the three co-founders, will be going to work at Indeed. Based in San Francisco, Interviewed was part of Y Combinator’s Summer 2015 class and provides job assessment tools to customers like IBM, Zillow and Thumbtack. It went on to raise a seed round of $2M. Indeed was also a client of Interviewed, and its Japan-based parent company Recruit was an early investor in the startup. The job platform used Interviewed’s API to let employers attach an automated screening interview or assessment to applications. These assessments include an automated phone screening, customer support and administrative assistant simulations, and an excel test. We tried out some of these assessments when Interviewed first launched, and found them to be pretty realistic and potentially a good way to predict future job performance.
Sugarfina Raises $35 Million to Expand Its Instagramable Candy Empire
Green juice. Rosé. Bourbon. If a drink trend is getting a lot of hype, it’s likely Sugarfina has repurposed it as a candy. The Los Angeles-based luxury confectionary business has thrived even as overall candy sales in the U.S. have fallen. Last year, it took in $25 million. This year, it's on pace to hit $50 million, proof that while Americans are increasingly wary of sugar, they still like posting pictures of it on Instagram — provided the packaging is pretty enough. On the back of this growth, Sugarfina announced it has raised $35 million from the private equity firm Great Hill Partners (which brings total funding to $50 million). The latest round will be used to bolster the company's retail presence in North America, where it currently has 24 locations, as well as expand into Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.