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Zappos Entrepreneur Tony Hsieh Dies At Age 46, Remembered As ‘Beautifully Weird’ Visionary

Tony Hsieh, the co-founder of shoe retailer Zappos, died Friday at the age of 46. He is remembered as an offbeat entrepreneur who helped to revitalize downtown Las Vegas….

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Tony Hsieh, the co-founder of shoe retailer Zappos, died Friday at the age of 46, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

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Hsieh’s passing was mourned by numerous people in the startup community over the weekend. An unorthodox businessman who founded Zappos after successfully selling another business to Microsoft in his early 20s, Hsieh was known for his idiosyncratic approach to building companies.

He died after being injured in a house fire, the Review-Journal reported.

In 2004, Hsieh moved Zappos’ headquarters from the San Francisco Bay Area to the outskirts of Las Vegas. Nine years later, he moved the company to downtown Las Vegas, where he went on to live in an Airstream trailer community and invested millions of his own dollars to spark an economic revitalization coming out of the Great Recession.

Hsieh “played a pivotal role in helping transform Downtown Las Vegas,” Nevada Gov. Stephen Sisolak said in a tweet mourning Hsieh’s death.

Hsieh had sold Zappos to Amazon in 2009 in a deal valued at $1.2 billion, but continued to lead the unit until August of this year, when he quietly retired after 21 years at the helm. The company employs about 1,500 people in Las Vegas, according to its website.

Hsieh’s 2010 book, “Delivering Happiness,” outlined a management philosophy that emphasized an offbeat company culture focused around employee engagement. One of the company’s 10 core values, according to Hsieh’s book, was “Create Fun and a Little Weirdness.”

“The world has lost a tremendous visionary and an incredible human being,” Zappos said in a statement. “We recognize that not only have we lost our inspiring former leader, but many of you have also lost a mentor and a friend. Tony played such an integral part in helping create the thriving Zappos business we have today, along with his passion for helping to support and drive our company culture.”

It is with very heavy hearts that we are sharing some very sad news, as we have learned that Tony passed away earlier today (11-27-20). The world has lost a tremendous visionary and an incredible human being. We recognize that…https://t.co/RUMNOFrItZ pic.twitter.com/NSAFGW8p4L

— Zappos.com (@Zappos) November 28, 2020

Some of his management ideas were controversial, such as a 2013 decision to roll out a company hierarchy called “Holacracy,” in which titles and bosses were eliminated. Many Zappos employees found the structure “baffling,” the Wall Street Journal reported, and when the company offered severance packages to those who wanted to leave in 2015, 14 percent took the offer.

Hsieh was the son of Taiwan-born parents. He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1995 from Harvard University and in 1998, while in his early 20s, sold an online ad company, Link Exchange, to Microsoft. From that deal, he reaped about $40 million in proceeds, according to the Wall Street Journal, which he used to start a venture firm called Venture Frogs.

Hsieh “was one of the most thoughtful people in the startup world, in both senses of the word,” venture investor Paul Graham tweeted on Saturday.

Tech writer Om Malik remembered Hsieh for being a pioneer who early on thought to build a startup outside of the typical coastal tech hubs: “Zappos’ biggest achievement was that it showed long before everyone else: you can build an Internet company anywhere. Unlike so many pundits of now, it didn’t take a pandemic for Tony to have that insight. Zappos was also an example of how tech companies care.”

Startup investor Chris Sacca wrote that “Tony Hsieh might be the most original thinker I’ve ever been friends with. He questioned every assumption and shared everything he learned along the way. He genuinely delighted in making anyone and everyone happy. The earth has lost a beautifully weird and helpful person. RIP.”

I am stunned. Tony Hsieh touched so many lives and inspired so many entrepreneurs. His impact and legacy will go on and on. I met his family in Las Vegas – and am thinking of them today. RIP Tony. You will be missed. #Deliveringhappiness https://t.co/jkUETTHyDA

— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) November 28, 2020

Tony Hsieh delivered a lot of happiness, and I hope he found it as well. At a 2011 TED event Tony and his entourage rolled up in this. pic.twitter.com/HS817SSDDX

— Chris Fralic (@chrisfralic) November 28, 2020

Photo: Charlie Llewellin from Austin, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

He died after being injured in a house fire, the Review-Journal reported.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/tony-hsieh-zappos-obituary/

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C2i Genomics Secures $100M Note To Detect Tiny Traces of Cancer

C2i’s cancer diagnostics service uses AI pattern recognition and whole-genome analysis to spot trace amounts of cancer much quicker.

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Cancer intelligence company C2i Genomics is developing a platform that can perform a whole-genome sequencing using only 2 milliliters of blood, as well as provide 100x more sensitive cancer detection than competitors, according to company co-founder and CEO Asaf Zviran.

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On Thursday, the New York-based company announced a $100 million convertible note to accelerate the clinical development and commercialization of its platform. Behind the note is a group of investors including Casdin Capital, NFX, Duquesne Family Office, Section 32, iGlobe Partners and Driehaus Capital. Additional participation came from The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research, Silver Lake, Alexandria Real Estate, Gordon Asset Management and LionBird.

How it works

C2i’s cancer diagnostics service uses artificial intelligence pattern recognition and the whole-genome analysis to spot trace amounts of cancer much quicker, in about a week, to inform better treatment decisions and ultimately save lives. The company aims to help patients avoid unnecessary overtreatment with toxic chemotherapy or radiation, as well as to prevent them from going without treatment while cancer quietly grows and metastasizes.

That’s important to Zviran who is a cancer survivor and has supported family members through their cancer diagnoses and treatments. Previously in the defense sector in Israel, he was diagnosed with cancer at 28 years old.

“After I went through surgery, I spent most of my time talking to oncologists to understand how treatment optimization works and how they had a lack of tools to do that in an effective manner,” Zvrian said. “I went back to school and got my Ph.D. in genomics and focused on how to use blood samples to monitor cancer.”

He developed the technology for the origins of C2i Genomics for three years before getting to the point where he felt he could create the company in late 2019.

Investment

With the note, the company has raised a total of $113.2 million in venture-backed capital, including a $12 million Series A round in 2020, according to Crunchbase data.

“It was a quick fundraising that started in January,” Zvrian said. “We initially looked at equity, but decided with the rapid growth of the company, the market, and the commercialization potential, we thought it would be better to do a note to give us flexibility going into the next fundraising event. We received strong interest, but it was important to choose the right partners.”

James Currier, general partner at NFX, feels the same way. He became acquainted with C2i Genomics through his colleague, NFX’s Head of Bio Omri Amirav-Drory. The seed investor came in for C2i’s seed in August 2019 and stayed for its Series A and the note.

What C2i has been able to do is establish clinical trials with six institutions around the world and prove its technology with data, Currier said.

“The technology, AI and software they built is more sensitive and accurate than others on the market,” he added. “It is time to ramp up the testing and approvals. They have six trials right now, but there are other institutions wanting to be seven, eight and nine. To staff up those CLIA labs, they’ll need cash.”

Growth

Meanwhile, with the note closed, Zvrian intends to move quickly from technology development and validation to scale-up commercialization. The funds will be used on R&D, adding staff and getting technology into the clinic. The company also aims to launch its diagnostic indication in the U.S. and Europe.

C2i has a CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) lab in Massachusetts and an R&D center in Israel. The CLIA lab was the result of C2i’s acquisition of QNA Dx in March, Zvrian said.

“We are working at better detection,” he added. “We have almost 40 employees and plan to double that number by the end of the year. Our solution is still very new on the market, and with improvement in performance we can do clinical applications not done before. With a cloud environment, every clinical lab will be able to use this to do detection and monitoring.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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

C2i’s cancer diagnostics service uses artificial intelligence pattern recognition and the whole-genome analysis to spot trace amounts of cancer much quicker, in about a week, to inform better treatment decisions and ultimately save lives. The company aims to help patients avoid unnecessary overtreatment with toxic chemotherapy or radiation, as well as to prevent them from going without treatment while cancer quietly grows and metastasizes.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/c2i-genomics-secures-100m-note-to-detect-tiny-traces-of-cancer/

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The Briefing: Traveloka Eyes $5B SPAC Deal, SnackMagic Lands Series A, And More

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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Indonesia’s Traveloka said to eye $5B SPAC deal

Indonesia-based online travel booking platform Traveloka is in advanced talks to go public through a merger with a blank-check acquirer, according to a Bloomberg report citing unnamed sources.

The company is reportedly seeking to merge with Bridgetown Holdings Ltd., a SPAC backed by billionaires Richard Li and Peter Thiel. The deal could value the travel company at around $5 billion.

Founded in 2012, Traveloka has raised at least $1.2 billion in known funding, per Crunchbase data.

— Joanna Glasner

Funding round

SnackMagic picks up $15M: SnackMagic, a service for building your own snack box, has reportedly raised $15 million in a Series A round led by Craft Ventures. The company markets its offering as a potential work-from-home employee perk, a sales prospecting tool, or a gift.

Abzu lands $6M for AI: Abzu, a Danish startup developing AI-based software for use cases including predictions and modeling, raised $6 million in a seed funding round led by Denmark’s Seed Capital and PreSeed Ventures, and Finland’s Inventure.

— Joanna Glasner

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-4-9-21/

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Here’s Who’s Gone Public in 2021 (So Far)

Another year, another list.

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Another year, another list.

In past years, we’ve mostly covered venture-backed tech and tech-ish IPOs in this perennial list of startups going public. Occasionally, a direct listing here and there would make the list, but the vast majority of companies going public were doing so through a traditional IPO. This year looks like it will be a bit different, with the increasing popularity of SPACs and new rule changes making direct listings more favorable, now that companies can raise capital through that route.

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So, we’ve adapted our ever-updated Here’s Who’s Gone Public list to fit more with the times, and are including both traditional IPOs and other methods of going public. So far this year, that means IPOs and SPACs.

While SPACs are going public at a more frequent pace than traditional IPO companies, we’ve included only the ones that have completed a merger with a target company and begun trading as a combined company.

This list will be updated regularly to keep up with the robust IPO and SPAC pipeline coming up this year, so be sure to check back.

Most recently updated: April 8, 2021

IPOsAffirm

  • IPO date: Jan. 13, 2021
  • IPO price: $49
  • IPO valuation: $11.9 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Positive

In the first venture-backed tech-ish IPO of the year, Affirm saw its stock price jump 100 percent on its first day of trading before closing out at $97.24. Affirm is a big player in the increasingly-popular “buy now, pay later space,” which includes companies like AfterPay and Klarna. Since it went public in mid-January, the company’s stock has moved up and down, but overall its trajectory has been positive. Affirm’s stock closed at $105.55 on Feb. 18.

Poshmark

  • IPO date: Jan. 14, 2021
  • IPO price: $42
  • IPO valuation: $3 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Negative

Poshmark’s stock price doubled pretty much right out of the gate, and ended up closing out its first day of trading up 140 percent. The company, which operates a marketplace for new and second-hand clothing and accessories, reached a valuation of $3 billion with its IPO, one of the first of this year. But since Poshmark’s public market debut, its stock has fallen quite a bit. The company’s stock closed at $68.39 on Feb. 18.

Playtika

  • IPO date: Jan. 15, 2021
  • IPO price: $27
  • IPO valuation: $11 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Positive

Gaming is all the rage as people look to stay entertained at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The market response to Playtika reflects that. Playtika’s stock price since its mid-January debut has been mostly positive. The company’s stock closed at $32.56 on Feb. 18, still above its first day of trading close of $31.62.

Qualtrics

  • IPO date: Jan. 28, 2021
  • IPO price: $30
  • IPO valuation: $15 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Positive

Qualtrics’ IPO was significant for a couple different reasons. It wasn’t a traditional venture-backed tech company going public, but one that had already been acquired. After SAP acquired the company in 2018 before Qualtrics’ planned IPO, SAP ended up spinning it out in 2021. The IPO was also significant because it ended up being the largest IPO of a Utah-based company. Qualtrics’ public debut valued the company at $15 billion, and its stock price arc has been positive since. Qualtrics’ stock closed at $44.63 on Feb.18.

Bumble

  • IPO date: Feb. 11, 2021
  • IPO price: $43
  • IPO valuation: $8.2 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Positive

Bumble’s IPO made founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd a billionaire and the youngest woman to take a company public. It was also a big deal for Texas’ tech scene, as the dating app is a homegrown Austin company. The company raised $2.15 billion through its IPO and its stock closed 64 percent above its IPO price on its first day of trading. Overall, its post-IPO arc since then has been positive, and its stock closed at $74 on Feb. 18.

Oscar Health

  • IPO date: March 3, 2021
  • IPO price: $39
  • IPO valuation: $7.9 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Negative

As of this writing, Oscar Health has been a public company for less than three days. So, its negative post-IPO arc should be taken with a grain of salt — especially because the market in general dipped at the end of its first week of trading. That said, Oscar’s public market debut wasn’t like many of the venture-backed IPOs we’ve seen recently where the stock surges right out of the gate. The company initially set a price range of between $32 and $34 before increasing it to between $36 and $38, and pricing at $39. The company closed its first day of trading at $34.80, and its stock closed at $31 on Friday, March 5.

Coupang

  • IPO date: March 11, 2021
  • IPO price: $35
  • IPO valuation: $60 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Negative.

While Coupang’s stock popped around 40 percent on its first day of trading, it has trended mostly down since the company went public nearly a month ago. When the company went public in March, it made Coupang the largest IPO of the year so far, according to CNBC. The South Korean e-commerce company’s stock closed at $45.58 on Thursday, April 8.

DigitalOcean

  • IPO date: March 23, 2021
  • IPO price: $47
  • IPO valuation: $5 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Negative.

DigitalOcean didn’t exactly start its time trading on the public markets on a high note. The company opened and closed its first day of trading below its IPO price, and its stock has pretty much gone down since then. Since DigitalOcean has been a public company, its stock hasn’t reached the IPO price of $47 that the company had set. The company closed its first day of trading at $42.50, and closed at $40.25 on Thursday, April 8.

VIZIO

  • IPO date: March 25, 2021
  • IPO price: $21
  • IPO valuation: $3.9 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Positive.

VIZIO finally made it public this year after filing for an IPO for a second time (it first filed in 2015). The company had a less-than-stellar debut when it began trading at the end of March, with its stock opening nearly 17 percent below its IPO price of $21. Since then, the company’s stock price has increased, reaching a high of $24.72 on March 30. VIZIO’s stock price has tapered off a bit since then, closing at $21.95 on Thursday, April 8.

ThredUp

  • IPO date: March 26, 2021
  • IPO price: $14
  • IPO valuation: $1.3 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Negative.

While ThredUp saw its stock close around 43 percent above its IPO price of $14 on its first day of trading, its stock has trended down since it went public at the end of March. ThredUp closed at $18.39 on Thursday, April 8. The company is one of a handful of clothing and accessories resale companies to go public in recent years, including Poshmark and The RealReal.

Coursera

  • IPO date: March 31, 2021
  • IPO price: $33
  • IPO valuation: $4.3 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Positive.

Coursera closed its first day of trading at $45, about 36 percent above its IPO price. Since then, the company’s stock price has gone up, closing at $56 on Thursday, April 8. It makes sense given what a big year the edtech space has had. Coursera marks the first major edtech IPO of the year, though it’s possible it won’t be the last. Other edtech companies rumored to be 2021 IPO candidates include Duolingo and Udemy.

Compass

  • IPO date: April 1, 2021
  • IPO price: $18
  • IPO valuation: $8 billion
  • Initial post-IPO arc: Negative.

Compass’ IPO comes after a busy year for the residential real estate market. The company, which operates like a brokerage but gives agents a suite of digital tools to better market themselves, raised about $450 million through its IPO. However, in the week that Compass has been public, its stock price has fallen slightly, closing at $21.90 on Thursday, April 8, below its IPO price. The company priced its shares at $18, the low end of its IPO range, after lowering its price range from between $23 and $26 to between $18 and 19.

Direct Listings

Roblox

  • First day of trading: March 10, 2021
  • Reference price: $45
  • Valuation: $30 billion
  • Initial arc: Positive.

Roblox marks both the first major direct listing of the year (in terms of tech companies) and one of the most-anticipated public debuts for gaming companies. The company’s stock surged 43 percent above its reference price and has had a generally positive trend since then, though of course there have been dips here and there. Roblox’s stock closed at $70.76 on Thursday, April 8.

SPACs Clover Health

  • First day of trading: Jan. 8, 2021
  • SPAC proceeds: Up to $1.2 billion
  • SPAC valuation: $7 billion, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal
  • Initial stock price arc: Negative

Clover Health was the first VC-backed company to go public via a special purpose acquisition company, with Chamath Palihapitiya’s SPAC, Social Capital Hedosophia V, acquiring the company. The company’s stock since the merger was completed in early January has trended negatively since it started trading, though, with its stock closing at $10.83 on Feb.18.

Billtrust

  • First day of trading: Jan. 13, 2021
  • SPAC valuation: $1.3 billion
  • Initial stock price arc: Positive.

Payment cycle management platform Billtrust went public in mid-January after merging with South Mountain Merger Corp. The company raised $115 million in funding while private and announced plans to go public via a SPAC in the fall. Since the company’s stock started trading, its initial arc has been positive. Billtrust’s stock closed at $18.80 on Feb. 18.

Hims and Hers Health

  • First day of trading: Jan. 21, 2021
  • SPAC proceeds: $280 million
  • SPAC valuation: $1.6 billion, according to Forbes
  • Initial stock price arc: Positive

Hims and Hers Health, which initially started out as a company aimed toward men’s health issues, went public after merging with special purpose acquisition company Oaktree Acquisitions Corp. The deal was among the first major VC-backed SPAC mergers to be completed in 2021, and raised proceeds of about $280 million. Since the combined company’s stock started trading, its stock price has been trending up and closed at $19.01 on Feb. 18.

ChargePoint Holdings

  • First day of trading: Feb. 26, 2021
  • SPAC proceeds: $450 million, according to Inside EVs.
  • Initial stock price arc: Negative

Companies in the electric vehicle space are evidently popular targets for SPACs, and ChargePoint is among them. The company, which is based in Campbell, California, went public by merging with special purpose acquisition company Switchback Energy Acquisition Corp. Since the company completed the merger on Feb. 26 and began trading (closing at $30.83 last week), its stock has fallen a bit, closing at $26.13 on Friday, March 5.

Metromile

  • First day of trading: Feb. 9, 2021
  • SPAC proceeds: Unclear
  • Initial stock price arc: Negative

Digital insurance platform Metromile went public by merging with blank-check company INSU Acquisition Corp. II. The company, which is backed by investors including Index Ventures and Future Fund, follows other insurtech companies like Lemonade and Root to the public market, though through a SPAC rather than a traditional IPO. The company’s stock has mostly trended down since then, closing at $10.45 on Friday, March 5.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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

So, we’ve adapted our ever-updated Here’s Who’s Gone Public list to fit more with the times, and are including both traditional IPOs and other methods of going public. So far this year, that means IPOs and SPACs.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/heres-whos-gone-public-in-2021-so-far/

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