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Venture Capitalists Are Having a Hot Deal Summer: Term Sheet

August 21, 2019, 1:39 PM UTC

The summer of mega-deals continues — there’s three $100M+ funding rounds today. (Guessing at this point, no one’s going on vacation?) Today’s edition features Tala, a Santa Monica-based provider of micro-loans to individuals in the emerging markets.

The company raised $110 million in Series D funding. RPS Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including GGV Capital, IVP, Revolution Growth, Lowercase Capital, Data Collective VC, ThomVest Ventures, and PayPal Ventures. The deal values the company in the $700 million range, according to a person close to the funding.

My colleague Lucinda reports further: 

Here’s a simplified version of how the company evaluates customers in the absence of a established credit system: First, Tala determines whether or not an individual is who they say they are through a selfie and a photo of an identification card that is cross-verified with the customer’s digital footprint. If that checks out, the financial services firm goes forward with a loan.

The next step: determining loan size and repayment terms. Tala uses a mix of data that feeds into its algorithm, thought no one factor taking overwhelming weight. For instance, for a loan with Tala through its Android app, the consumer gives the firm access to some of their phone data including call logs, SMS, and transactional data that can act as proxies for predicting behavior. Say an individual is more likely to include both first and last names in their phone’s contact list—that could signal greater attention to detail and therefore a greater likeliness of repayment.

To be clear, how Tala determines creditworthiness is ever evolving in a bid to ensure that it’s both ethical and does not “leave money on the table” in what is a new world in big data and credit scoring. Increasingly, Tala has found that how their applicants interact with the app—for example, whether they read the Terms and Conditions, to be a more important way of determining a consumer’s ability to pay back a loan. And while Tala once took an individual’s foot-traffic into account, it has cut out geographic data from the mix out of concern that the information could exclude certain underserved populations from the mix.

Read the full story here.

IN GOLDMAN WE TRUST: Apple’s Goldman Sachs credit card has officially launched, and the Internet has lit up with excitement. The card lives in the iPhone’s Wallet app where purchases are automatically totaled and organized by color-coded categories. It’s clean, it’s beautiful, it’s Apple

Just one thing to note: Apple promises that Goldman “will never share or sell your data to third parties for marketing or advertising.” The caveat being that, “Of course, Goldman Sachs will use your data to operate Apple Card.” 

As my friend and CoVenture founder Ali Hamed said in March: “Fascinating that we’ve finally hit a point in time where people trust Goldman Sachs more than they trust tech companies.” A lot can change in a decade.

PEOPLE MOVES: Earlier this month, we reported that three members of startup studio Human Ventures — Joe Marchese, Nick Bell, and Ashlyn Gentry — will launch a new venture that targets media brands called Attention Capital.

Now, Term Sheet has learned that there have been several new additions to the team: Matt Resnick (formerly at Barstool Sports) joined as VP of finance and business strategy, Savannah Greene (formerly at Evercore Partners) as an associate, and Elissa Levine (previously at Fox) as a founding associate.


- PlusAI Inc, a Cupertino, Calif.-based developer of self- driving trucks, is close to raising approximately $200 million in funding at a valuation of more than $1 billion, according to Bloomberg. Investors will include Sequoia and Full Truck Alliance. Read more.

- thredUP, a San Francisco-based fashion resale marketplace, raised $175 million in funding. Park West Asset Management and Irving Investors led the round, and were joined by investors including Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Upfront Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and Redpoint Ventures.

-, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of artificial intelligence and automatic machine learning for the enterprise, raised $72.5 million in Series D funding. Goldman Sachs and the Ping An Global Voyager Fund led the round. 

- Starship Technologies, a San Francisco-based provider of autonomous delivery service, raised $40 million in Series A funding. Investors include TDK Ventures.

- WeTransfer, an Amsterdam-based provider of file-sharing services, raised $40 million in Series B funding. HPE Growth led the round, and was joined by investors including Highland Europe.

- Zendrive, a San Francisco-based developer of traffic data tracking application, raised $37 million in Series B funding. XL Innovate led the round, and was joined by investors including Hearst Ventures, BMW iVentures, ACME Capital, NYCA, and SignalFire.

- Homeis, a New York and Tel Aviv-based digital platform for immigrant communities, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Canaan and Spark Capital co-led the round.

- Fund That Flip, a New York-based fintech platform and marketplace lender of residential real estate loans, raised $11 million in funding from Edison Partners.

- BDS Analytics, a Boulder, Colo.-based cannabis research firm, raised $7 million in funding. KEY Investment Partners, Altitude Investment Management and 7thirty led the round. 

- JRNI (formerly BookingBug), a Boston-based customer engagement platform for omnichannel conversion, raised a $6 million extension to its Series C funding. PeakSpan Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Downing Ventures and Somerston Group.

- Versatile Natures, an Israel-based startup using machine learning and AI in a non-intrusive manner to optimize construction processes, raised $5.5 million in seed funding. Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH led the round, and was joined by investors including Conductive Ventures, Leigh Jasper, Rob Phillpot, and Root Ventures. 

- SpotQA, a London-based provider of automated software testing, raised $3.25 million in seed funding. Crane Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Forward Ventures, Downing Ventures and Acequia Capital.

- Brainbase, a Los Angeles-based maker of intellectual property licensing platforms, raised $3 million in seed funding. Struck Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Tectonic Capital, Bonfire Ventures, Sterling Road and Watertower Ventures. 

- Blooma, a San Diego-based provider of an AI-powered platform for automated and expedited commercial loan origination, raised $2.75 million in funding. Floodgate led the round.

- Voyager, a company focused on the bulk commodity shipping market, raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Investors include ATX Venture Partners, Blue Bear Capital, GreenHawk Capital, and Phaze Ventures. 

- Outlier, an Oakland, Calif.-based provider of an automated business analysis platform, raised funding of an undisclosed amount, from Capital One Growth Ventures.

- Auxbus, an Asheville, N.C.-based developer of audio creation tools, raised seed funding of an undisclosed amount, from Ideaship.


- Lightview Capital agreed to make an investment in Buchanan Technologies, a Grapevine, Texas-based provider of IT support and services. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Genesis Innovation Group’s cultivate(MD) Capital made an investment in Genesis Software Innovations, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based developer of software solutions for the orthopedic space. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Rizing, which is backed by One Equity Partners, acquired Transcend Spatial Solutions, a Charlotte, N.C.-based geographic information system services and solutions provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Mobileum, a portfolio company of Audax Private Equity, acquired WeDo Technologies, a Portugal-based provider of risk and business management solutions for communication service providers. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Polytek, which is backed by Arsenal Capital Partners, acquired Stone Coat Countertops, an Oregon-based provider of epoxy coating systems, casting systems and related accessories. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 


- Uhuru, a Japanese firm connecting devices to cloud services, is preparing an IPO in London. SoftBank backs the firm. Read more.


- DoorDash acquired Scotty Labs, a San Francisco-based tele-operations company developing technology to enable people to remotely control self-driving cars. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Scotty Labs had previously raised $6 million in venture funding from investors including Gradient Ventures, Graph Ventures, Social Capital, and Horizons Ventures.

- Jacobs Holding agreed to acquire North American Dental Group, a Pittsburgh, Penn.-based dental services organization. The sellers include Abry Partners and The Riverside Company. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- CenterOak Partners LLC has sold TruRoad Holdings, Inc, a Woburn, Mass.-based automotive glass and claims management company, to Belron Group subsidiary Safelite Group Inc. No financial terms were disclosed.

- PressReader acquired News360, a San Mateo, Calif.-based content personalization platform for news readers and publishers. Financial terms weren't disclosed. News360 had raised approximately $7.5 million in funding from investors including Oradell Capital.


- Arian Simone and Keshia Knight Pulliam have raised $5 million for The Fearless Fund, a vehicle that will invest in “women of color-led businesses seeking pre-seed, seed level, or series A funding.”


- Gauge Capital named David Friedman as a principal.