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Can Facebook thread the needle?

June 1, 2020, 2:50 PM UTC

As protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis spread throughout the country and even abroad, the conversation has traveled into the realm of corporate America.

Calls to address racism came from the likes of Citigroup CFO Mark Mason and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Box CEO Aaron Levie placed part of the blame squarely on President Donald J. Trump’s shoulders: “He’s spent years stoking tensions that helped amplify today’s pain,” Levie wrote in a tweet.

Perhaps the most comprehensive call for action yet came from Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. In a pages-long letter to employees over the weekend, he called for a non-partisan commission to investigate and recommend restitutions for the African-American community. Tying the protests to wealth inequality, he also called for an overhaul of the tax system with higher estate and corporate tax rates.

“Many of these changes could be ‘bad’ for business in the short term, but because they represent long term investments in the people of our nation, I believe that we will collectively reap tremendous long-term benefits,” he wrote.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg joined the chorus, committing $10 million to groups working on racial justice. But his social-media platform is under pressure like no other. Twitter recently slapped a warning on a tweet from Trump laden with racist history about the protests, saying it violated rules against “glorifying violence.” 

Zuckerberg, though, said Facebook is no “arbiter of truth” and does not plan to police Trump’s messages even if he personally disagrees with their sentiment. Trump’s message in question: “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” (That latter phrase was coined by a Miami police chief in the 1960s about cracking down on black neighborhoods.)

Zuck is trying to position his platform as a neutral pass-through for information amid criticisms from conservatives and progressives, with the executive has sought to massage the situation through soft power: He reportedly jumped on a call Friday with Trump to express concern about the message, per Axios—even after Trump signed an executive order to crack down on social media companies. 

But does Facebook have an option, as social media platforms dictate more and more who sees what and how, and as some of the company’s own employees voice dissent over Zuckerberg’s decision?

Even executives in traditional sectors (and in what was Trump’s Manufacturing Council) have come to learn from Charlottesville—no response is not an option. 

For some, Zuckerberg’s decision to play mediator is as good as a non-response.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda


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- Ligado Networks, a Reston, Va.-based provider of networks for Industrial IoT, raised $100 million in funding. The investors were not disclosed.

- Starling, a London-based digital bank, raised £40 million ($50 million) in funding. JTC and Merian Chrysalis Investment Company led the round. Read more.

- PlusDental, a Berlin-based telemedicine service focused on dentistry, raised €32 million in funding led by Ping An Global Voyager

- Beam, a scooter startup in Singapore,, raised $26 million in Series A funding. Sequoia India and Hana Ventures led the round and were joined by investors including  RTP Capital.

- Syapse, a San Francisco-based cancer analytics firm, raised $30 million in funding. Revelation Alpine led the round and was joined by investors including existing Amgen Ventures, Ascension Ventures, Intermountain Ventures, Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Roche Finance, Safeguard Scientifics and Social Capital.

- OTTO Motors, a Ontario-based division of Clearpath Robotics, raised $29 million in Series C funding. Kensington Private Equity Fund led the round and was joined by investors including BMO Capital Partners, Export Development Canada (EDC), and previous investors iNovia Capital and RRE Ventures.

- Arterys, a San Francisco, Calif.-based medical imaging platform delivering AI products over the internet, raised $28 million in Series C funding. Benslie Investment Group and Temasek Holdings led the round, and were joined by investors including Fosun, Revelation Partners, Emergent Medical Partners, and Varian Medical System.

- Beacon, a London-based freight forwarding and supply chain finance company, raised $15 million in Series A funding from investors including Jeff Bezos and 8VC.

- Belvo, a Latin American API fintech startup, raised $10 million in funding. Founders Fund and Kaszek co-led the round. Read more.

- Orbita, a Boston, Mass.-based provider of conversational AI-powered voice and chatbots for healthcare, raised $9 million in Series A funding. Philips Health Technology Ventures and HealthX Ventures coled the round, and were joined by investors including Cultivation Capital and Newark Venture Partners.

- Quartz, a maker of construction site safety hardware, raised $7.75 million in Series A funding. Baseline Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Felicis Ventures, Lemnos and Bloomberg Beta. Read more.

- Cognosos, an Atlanta, Ga.-based IoT-based asset firm, raised $4.5 million in funding. Investors included current investors Cox Enterprises and Pete Kight.

- Floating Point Group, a Cambridge, Mass.-based provider of a platform for algorithmic  cryptocurrency trading, raised $2 million in funding. The investors included AngelList founder Naval Ravikant,, Algorand’s CEO Steve Kokinos, BoxOne Ventures and Seabury Global Markets.

- PickUp, a New York-based platform for media companies making sports content, raised $1.5 million in seed funding. KB Partners led the round.


- KKR, Cinven and Providence made a bid to take MassMovil, a Spanish telecoms operator, private for 2.96 billion euro ($3.3 billion). Read more.

- United Group, a portfolio company of BC Partners, acquired Forthnet, a Greek telecoms and pay-TV provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- China Youran Dairy Holding is seeking to raise $300 million and $400 million in a new funding round before a potential IPO. PAG and Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group hold 41% and 40% stakes respectively in the dairy producer, per Bloomberg citing sources. Read more.

- Avista Capital Partners agreed to acquire a stake in Vision Healthcare, a Belgium-based direct-to-consumer health-care products, for about €305 million ($336 million). Read more.

- Warburg Pincus is to inject more than £250 million into the merger of U.K.-based wealth managers Tilney and Smith & Williamson, per Sky News citing sources. Read more.

- IG4 acquired two hospitals through its recently formed OPY Health unit amid  for 200 million reais ($38 million), per Reuters citing sources. Read more.

- LLR Partners invested in TrueLearn, a provider of online test preparation and data analytics to healthcare education and training institutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Eyesouth, backed by Shore Capital Partners, invested in Coastal Eye Associates, a Texas-based provider of eye care services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.


- Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA) agreed to acquire Peak, a Turkish mobile games company for $1.8 billion. The deal is the largest deal in the Zynga’s history. 

- Beijing Kunlun Tech said a U.S. national security panel approved the $620 million sale of popular gay dating app Grindr to an investor group called San Vicente Acquisition LLC. The buyer is reportedly backed by founding member James Lu, investor Raymond Zage and Atlanta Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr., according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. Read more.

- Chondrial Therapeutics, a biotech company focused on rare diseases, went public via a reverse merger with Zafgen (Nasdaq:ZFGN). Deerfield Management Co. backs Chondrial. The combined company will be called Larimar Therapeutics and will list as “LRMR.” 


- Beaumont Health ended plans to merge with Summa Health, a Akron, Oh. based hospital. Read more.

- Libbey, a Toledo, Oh.-based glassware maker, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Read more.


- YEAHKA, a payment-based technology platform in China dubbed the “Square” of the country, listed in Hong Kong. It raised a net of $197 million (HK$1,528 million) minus fees in an offering of 98.7 million shares priced at HK $16.64 apiece. The company is backed by investors including Tencent, Recruit Holdings, Adams Street Funds, IVP Funds, and Greycroft

- Tencent Holdings is in talks to buy a stake in Warner Music Group as part of its IPO, per the Wall Street Journal citing sources. Read more.


- DCVC aims to raise $275 million for its second bio fund. Read more.


- OMERS appointed Blake Hutcheson as President and CEO.