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Your Next Bite Of Meat Could Be A Hybrid Of Animal Cells, Plants

Cell-based meats are new proteins being developed to meet demand for food as the global population grows.

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Cell-based meats are becoming increasingly popular as our food system is being disrupted by innovation.

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Many of the facets of its future were discussed this week at the virtual Future Food-Tech conference, which gathered food business leaders, venture capital investors and food tech innovators into conversations around innovation and investment in food.

The growing global population is expected to increase the need for food by 70 percent to 100 percent by 2050, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Many of the panelists at the conference discussed how big of a need it is to be able to create proteins and other foods to meet this demand.

Over the last six months or so, I’ve written about companies developing meat from cells and plants. Most recently, Future Fields developing a first-of-its-kind cellular growth medium — the most important component of cellular agriculture — raised $2.2 million in seed funding led by Bee Partners.

The Future Food-Tech conference explored the concepts of hybrid meat and alternative proteins. In fact, one of the first panels was a discussion between two founders creating plant-based products that aim to mimic the texture and taste of chicken.

While hybrid meat seems like a new concept, it is actually not, and many consumers will know this as a “filler,” said Ido Savir, co-founder and CEO of SuperMeat. The Israel-based company has raised $4.2 million in known funding since it was founded in 2015, according to Crunchbase data.

“We’ve seen this for centuries, so that food can have a better structure, be a lower cost and have a better shelf life,” Savir said. “We are doing it for the same reasons. When this will be branded and presented to consumers, it will be as a meat product because that’s what it is.”

San Francisco-based EAT Just, which raised $220 million in known funding since it was founded in 2011, announced in December that the use of its cultured chicken as an ingredient in chicken bites was approved to sell in Singapore, which is the first country in the world to commercialize cell-based meat products, the company said.

Company co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick said on the panel that the concept of hybrid meat is becoming more mainstream, but what isn’t is eating meat where you didn’t have to kill an animal.

“The thing we need to move from ‘bizarre’ to ‘boring’ is where no animals or trees were destroyed to eat meat,” Tetrick said. “Consumers are open to the idea, but when they begin double-clicking, they want to know if this is natural, if it is modified and what does it mean you are using cells? Those are the questions we need to be all over.”

Savir said cultured meat is one of the easier products to make and allows companies to use existing production lines.

“The complexity is not high, it is just a matter of investing the right resources,” he added. “EAT Just did a lot to get their product approved, and they bridged the barrier.”

The agriculture and food technology sector continues to attract more entrants and investor attention. Since 2015, investors have planted just over $27 billion of known funding into companies focused on these spaces, according to Crunchbase data. Although total investments per year was creeping up, investments made in 2020 saw a massive increase to $8.1 billion.

Some of the winners in this space include China-based Meicai, which last raised $800 million in Series F funding in 2018 to sell agricultural products online. More recently, plant-based substitute developer Impossible Foods closed a $200 million Series G round last August.

Meanwhile, Richard Freeman, commercial manager for Roslin Technologies, a U.K.-based agriculture biotechnology company, told me via email that more attention is being paid to cultivated meat, with huge interest from investors and regulatory authorities. This is driven by trying to feed a growing population while also caring about the planet, he said.

However, there is still a gap in cost and the ability to scale up, but companies are working on that, and in time, cultivated meat will be able to supply the world’s protein needs while protecting the environment.

“As food poverty becomes more widespread, the opportunity to boost collective human health by being able to produce affordable and plentiful protein becomes ever more clear,” Freeman said. “Whilst there are still several hurdles to overcome before cultivated meat becomes commercially available on a large scale, the recent leaps forward in both affordability and regulatory approval mean that it’s closer than ever to being served up to diners around the world.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/your-next-bite-of-meat-could-be-a-hybrid-of-animal-cells-plants/

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Macrometa Locks Down $20M To Be The Amazon Prime Of Edge Computing

Palo Alto, California-based edge compute company Macrometa closed a $20 million Series A less than eight months after announcing its $7 million seed funding.

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Palo Alto, California-based edge compute company Macrometa closed a $20 million Series A less than eight months after announcing its $7 million seed funding.

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The round was led by Pelion Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors

DNX Ventures, Benhamou Global Ventures (BGV), Partech Partners, Fusion Fund, Sway Ventures and Shasta Ventures. Founded in 2017, the company has raised $29 million to date.

Macrometa allows developers to build and run data-heavy cloud applications using real-time information and analytics at the edge — speeding up the process by bringing it closer. Co-founder and CEO Chetan Venkatesh compared what Macrometa does for developers in edge computing to what Amazon Prime did for the retail space.

“Amazon Prime created local caches of local goods,” he said. “We are doing the same thing for data and applications.”

In edge compute terms, that means getting developers the data they need faster and in real-time.

“We are big data meets fast data,” he added.

Fast growth

The 62-person company began last year with a few hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in revenue, but by the end of the year saw several millions of dollars in sales, Venkatesh said. It was then he started to think about raising a fresh Series A to help scale up the company.

Chris Cooper, general partner of Pelion, already had expressed interest in leading such a series and jumped at the chance to invest in another infrastructure and cloud-related company — having prior investments in companies like Cloudflare, Red Hat and Riverbed.

“To me, this smelled like and sounded like the thing that helped build our firm,” he said.

Venkatesh said the company will use the money to continue to build its solution and go-to-market strategy. The company expects to grow revenue 3x to 4x this year, and add to its customer base that already includes about a half dozen large enterprises, he said.

Using other forecasts as guidelines, Macrometa estimates the market for data services in the cloud to be about $50 billion. However, many solutions, such as those offered by SAP, Oracle, AWS and Google, are cloud-centric, not edge-native, Venkatesh said.

That difference could help the company dominate an edge compute market just coming into focus, he added.

Cooper said there are aspects of Macrometa that remind him of Cloudflare early on.

“We didn’t know what Cloudflare could truly be back then,” he said “But these are companies that change the way we interact with data.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Macrometa allows developers to build and run data-heavy cloud applications using real-time information and analytics at the edge — speeding up the process by bringing it closer. Co-founder and CEO Chetan Venkatesh compared what Macrometa does for developers in edge computing to what Amazon Prime did for the retail space.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/macrometa-locks-down-20m-to-be-the-amazon-prime-of-edge-computing/

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Inside Didi’s Massive IPO Filing

Backed by investors including SoftBank and Toyota, Didi last raised venture financing with a $500 million round led by SoftBank in May 2020, per Crunchbase.

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Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing has filed to go public in the United States.

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Didi is more or less the Uber of China. In fact, the company bought Uber’s operations in China back in 2016. And now it’s looking to go public in a deal that could value it at more than $70 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Backed by investors including SoftBank and Toyota, Didi last raised venture financing with a $500 million round led by SoftBank in May 2020, per Crunchbase. It also raised $1.5 billion in debt financing in April 2021.

SoftBank, Uber and Tencent are among the largest shareholders in the company, which is based in Beijing. Uber became a stakeholder in the company after selling its Chinese operations to Didi.

Didi operates in 15 countries and has 493 million annual active users, along with 15 million annual active drivers, according to its F-1. The company reported having 41 million average daily transactions on its platform.

In terms of numbers, the company reported $21.6 billion in revenue last year. Although that figure is down from the nearly $24.2 billion in revenue the company generated in 2019, it’s nothing to scoff at and can likely be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its losses came out to about $2.1 billion in 2020, up from about $1.25 billion in 2019. The company isn’t profitable, and has had losses every fiscal year since it was founded in 2012.

Didi detailed how the pandemic affected its business, reporting that operations rebounded in the second half of 2020.

“The demand for our mobility offerings, as well as the supply of drivers, decreases drastically under such conditions. Our Core Platform GTV fell by 32.8% in the first quarter of 2020 as compared to the first quarter of 2019, and then by 16.0% in the second quarter of 2020 as compared to the second quarter of 2019,” the company wrote in its filing. “Our businesses resumed growth in the second half of 2020, which moderated the impact on a year-on-year basis.”

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan are among the underwriters for the IPO.

The company applied to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker DIDI.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/ride-hailing-giant-didi-chuxing-files-for-us-ipo/

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Card Issuer Marqeta Valued At More Than $17B in Nasdaq Debut

Chief Marketing Officer Vidya Peters tells Crunchbase News that the IPO “has been a wonderful validation of the modern card issuing industry.”

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Shares of Marqeta, an Oakland-based modern card issuing platform, popped on the first day of trading Wednesday, closing at $30.52 per share, up 13 percent from opening price of $27. Marqeta is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol MQ.

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Marqeta now has a market value of $17.3 billion, according to Yahoo, which is based on 586 million of outstanding shares.

The company filed in May to go public via an initial public offering. Since its inception in 2010 by Jason Gardner, Marqeta has raised a total of $528 million in known venture capital, according to Crunchbase data. Its last disclosed round in May 2020 valued the company at $4.3 billion.

Vidya Peters, chief marketing officer for Marqeta, told Crunchbase News that the IPO “has been a wonderful validation of the modern card issuing industry and what we have done over the last decade.”

She went on to say that there is a “massive $74 trillion market opportunity ahead of us, which provides an endless runway.”

And, as a payments infrastructure company, being publicly traded enables Marqeta to be transparent on its financial health to stakeholders and customers.

“It also provides a massive arsenal to accelerate our product roadmap and fuel our global expansion,” Peters added. “We are already in 36 countries and now we can accelerate even faster.”

To complement prepaid and debit card offerings, in the past year Marqeta added credit, which Peters touted as being the first company to offer all three.

She also believes this is just the start for what Marqeta can enable with innovative offerings, such as open APIs so that developers can build their own card-issuing products.

“Marqeta is just scratching the surface with cards,” Peters added. “Imagine being able to have your check deposited onto your card, buy now, pay later, peer-to-peer payments and even monetize your cryptocurrency. The possibilities are endless, and in our next chapter we are in a position to unlock all of that with our card types.”

Among the S-1 statement disclosures, Marqeta touts customers, such as Affirm, DoorDash, Instacart, Klarna and Square, which it reported was its largest customer, accounting for 70 percent of its net revenue in 2020.

It reported $350 million in fourth-quarter 2020 annualized net revenue, operates in 36 countries, and has issued more than 320 million debit, credit and prepaid cards to date.

The company reported $107.9 million in revenue for the first quarter ended March 30, 2021, more than double from the same three-month period in 2020. It narrowed its net loss to $12.8 million during the quarter from $14.5 million last year.

Prominent backers include 83North II, Coatue, ICONIQ Capital, Granite Ventures and Discover Financial Services, according to its filings. With the exception of Discover, all of the remaining entities led investments into the company, according to Crunchbase data.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

The company filed in May to go public via an initial public offering. Since its inception in 2010 by Jason Gardner, Marqeta has raised a total of $528 million in known venture capital, according to Crunchbase data. Its last disclosed round in May 2020 valued the company at $4.3 billion.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/card-issuer-marqeta-begins-trading/

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