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Why a startup that counts people has raised $51 million amid the pandemic

July 28, 2020, 2:10 PM UTC

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Signs that limit the number of people in a store have become endemic in the pandemic.

Now a startup that automatically monitors indoor headcounts has raised $51 million as restrictions on gatherings usher in a fresh wave of demand for the business.

San Francisco-based Density, which uses sensors to monitor the number of people entering and exiting a room or building, announced Tuesday that it raised the Series C funding with Kleiner Perkins leading the round and substantial capital from 01 Advisors. Other investors included Upfront Ventures, Founders Fund, Ludlow Ventures, Launch, DTA, Alex Rodriguez, LBC Ventures, and Julia and Kevin Hartz, as well as Cyan and Scott Banister.

Prior to the pandemic, Density’s main pitch was space optimization: Using its sensors and software, businesses and real estate investors could analyze which commercial properties were being under-used and cull wasted rentals and buildings. For those who know the pain of lining up at the Department of Motor Vehicles, the startup may also be remembered as one that sought to kill lines at the DMV.

“Prior to COVID, this was an important and material thing for those that led large real estate portfolios,” says CEO and co-founder Andrew Farah regarding headcount control. “In the pandemic, this is a mainstream issue.”

Businesses such as manufacturing, food production, and shipping logistics are still bringing workers to work—all sectors where Density says it has experienced a flood in inquiries. In one case, says Farah, a meat plant became a customer after two coronavirus outbreaks led the factory to seek ways to limit its worker concentration. Stores are also using Density to display the number of people inside with iPads at the door.

While Farah declined to give specifics on revenue and valuation, he says new bookings grew 493% in the quarter beginning February compared to the quarter prior.

There are ways to trick the technology, says Farah. Pop up an umbrella. Or, if you feel so inclined, walk under a sensor under all fours and you might just fulfill your childhood fantasy of becoming a dog—at least in a machine’s eyes. But these, says Farah, are “edge cases.” Read more.

Don’t miss this story from last week: The name may not ring bells for many, but it’s one that rings loud in fintech. Ribbit Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in financial technology startups (such as Robinhood, Hippo Insurance, Revolut, and Chainalysis), is planning to raise a $600 million blank-check company, according to the Financial Times. The deal, per the report, could be announced as soon as early August.

What makes this particular SPAC deal interesting, if it goes through: Sure, Dragoneer, another investor in the venture space, recently filed to raise a multimillion blank-check company too. But unlike Dragoneer, a growth-stage investor known for investing both in public and private markets, Ribbit is generally known as an early-stage player. Which would make a $600 million SPAC—which historically represents a fraction of the actual size of the company it will acquire—a first. The press-shy firm also filed to raise $420 million for its sixth flagship fund in January.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- Ro, a New York-based online health start-up, raised $200 million in Series C funding. General Catalyst led the round that values it at $1.5 billion. Read more.

- Geltor, a San Leandro, Calif.-based maker of designer proteins, raised $91.3 million in Series B funding. CPT Capital led the round and was joined by investors including WTT Investment.

- Withings, a Paris-based connected health devices company, raised $60 million in Series B funding. Gilde Healthcare, Idinvest Partners, and Bpifrance led the round, and were joined by BNP Paribas Développement, ODDO BHF Private Equity, and Adelie Capital.

- Nanox, an Israel-based medical imaging company, raised an additional $59 million in funding as part of a $110 million round. Its investors include SK Telecom, Foxconn, Yozma Korea, and Industrial Alliance.

- ComplyAdvantage, a London-based financial crime detection company, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board led the round and was joined by investors including Index Ventures and Balderton Capital.

- Conexiom, a Vancouver-based provider of sales order and invoice automation, raised $40 million in funding from ICONIQ Capital. 

- True Link Financial, a San Francisco-based maker of customizable prepaid debit cards, raised $35 million in two Series B tranches, the first led by Khosla Ventures and the second led by Centana Growth Partners.

- MBX Biosciences, a biotech focused on rare endocrine diseases, raised $34.6 million in a Series A funding. Frazier Healthcare Partners led the round and was joined by investors including OrbiMed, and NEA. Read more.

- Advertima, a St.Gallen, Switzerland-based computer vision platform provider, raised €15 million ($17.6 million) in Series A funding. Fortimo Group led the round.

- Abzena, a Cambridge, U.K.-based organization researching biologics and antibody drug conjugates, raised $10 million from Biospring Partners.

- Tandem, a Berlin-based app for practicing a second language, raised £4.5 million (~$5.7 million) in Series A funding. Brighteye Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Trind Ventures, Rubylight Limited and GPS Ventures. Read more.

- Tire Agent, a New York-based platform for buying tires, raised $5 million in funding. American Family Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including ERA, Sidekick Fund, NY Angels and HBS Angels. Read more.

- InSilicoTrials, an Italy-based maker of a collaborative platform for healthcare simulation models, raised €3 million in Series A funding. United Ventures led the round and was joined by  Pi Campus.

- Pyn, a Sydney-based HR company, raised $2.2 million seed round led by Accel, and was joined by investors including Skip Capital, Scott Farquhar (co-founder and co-CEO of Atlassian), and Jay Simons (former president of Atlassian). Read more.

- Wingocard, a Montreal-based personal finance platform for teens, raised $2 million in funding from Diagram Ventures.

- Spotta, a Cambridge-based startup that uses AI to spot pests, raised a $1.2 million in seed funding. Investors include Cambridge Angels, the Angel CoFund and US VC REMUS.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Oak Hill Capital will acquire Otelco Inc. (Nasdaq: OTEL), a wireline telecommunication services provider in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia, for $11.75 a share. The deal values it at about $40.5 million.

- KKR, The Carlyle Group and Blackstone are interested in buying ITP Aero,  a Spanish engine and turbine manufacturer, from Rolls-Royce in a deal that could be worth £1 billion (about $1.3 billion), per a report from the Times. Read more.

- TA Associates and Francisco Partners agreed to make a significant investment in Edifecs, a Bellevue, Wash.-based health information tech company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Modern Hire, backed by the Riverside Company, acquired Sonru, an Ireland-based provider of automated video interviewing technology. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- 3i Group’s single use bioprocessing platform acquired Sani-Tech West, a U.S.-based manufacturer, distributor and integrator of single-use bioprocessing systems and components. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- Tencent proposed buying out and taking private Sogou, a Chinese search engine listed in the U.S. Tecent is bidding $9 a share.

- Paysafe acquired Openbucks, a U.S.-based payments company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Hughes Network Systems agreed to invest $50 million in the British government and Bharti-backed consortium buying Oneweb, the bankrupt satellite operator. Read more.

IPOS

- Churchill Capital Corp IV, a New York-based blank check company founded by former Citi executive Michael Klein, now plans to raise $1.5 billion. It plans to list on the NYSE as “CCIV.U.” Read more.

- Northern Genesis Acquisition, a Kansas City, Mo.-based blank check company led by Stone Capital founder Michael Hoffman, filed for a $300 million IPO. It plans to acquire a sustainable business. It plans to list on the NYSE as “NGAU.” Read more.

- Lionheart Acquisition II, a Miami, Fla.-based blank check company formed by Lionheart Capital, plans to raise $200 million in an IPO. It is targeting a company in the real estate space. Lionheart founder Ophir Sternberg leads the company. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “LCAPU.” Read more.

- Harmony Biosciences Holdings, a Plymouth Meeting, Penn.-based biotech developing therapies for narcolepsy and other CNS disorders, filed for an $100 million IPO. Valor Management, Fidelity, and HBM Healthcare back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “HRMY.” Read more.

EXITS

- Thomas H. Lee Partners and Cannae Holdings plans to co-invest in a company formed after Black Knight, Inc (NYSE:BKI), agreed to acquire Optimal Blue, a provider of secondary market solutions (for an enterprise value of $1.8 billion) from GTCR, and combine it with Compass Analytics. Cannae and THL will each own roughly 20% of the new company while Black Knight will own about 60%.

F+FS

- Gallant Capital Partners closed its debut fund with $378 million.

PEOPLE

- Silver Creek Capital Management appointed Art Zaske, managing director and portfolio manager, as deputy chief investment officer. 

- TPG added Michael Woolhouse as a partner for secondaries. 

- Cove Hill Partners added Alex Jannotta as a vice president.