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Can Neuralink take a ride on Elon Musk’s reputation?

September 1, 2020, 2:25 PM UTC

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Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk demonstrated the latest iteration of Neuralink, his brain-implant startup that aims to one day help paralyzed people walk and even save memories or control computers with just a thought.

Researchers, though, had mixed reviews of the technology, which displayed a personable pig dubbed Gertrude’s brain activity via beeps and boops: Some neuroscience researchers praised Musk for making progress on the technology over the course of a year as well as his high ambitions, while others noted that the demonstration of data being carried to and from the brain was nothing new and has existed for some time.

Scientists took issue in particular with Musk’s speculation that users may eventually be able to “save and replay memories”—a completely different ballpark from recording brain activity, per my colleague David Z. Morris. Musk responded to criticism via Twitter, saying academia tends to “overweight the value of ideas & underweight bringing them to fruition.”

Still, Musk does have a knack for building a following through his moonshot bets: Think of that SpaceX Mars colony. Perhaps more visibly, Tesla has accumulated diehard fans in the form of retail traders who have helped push up the company’s valuation seemingly in excess of its financial performance. Riding on the company’s soaring stock price, Musk is now wealthier than Mark Zuckerberg

For an idea of just how wild that is: Facebook earned revenue of $36.4 billion and net income of $10.1 billion in the first half of 2020. In the same period, Tesla posted revenue of $9.8 billion with a mere net income of $197 million

A blast from WeWork past: Remember the out-of-left-field bets made by WeWork when co-founder Adam Neumann was CEO? Those investments included Wave Garden (a maker of wave pools) and Laird Superfood (a maker of natural food products).

After saying it would divest of the former, It seems that WeWork has also sold stock of the latter, per a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Laird Superfood filed for a $40 million IPO on Monday, and revealed sales of $13.1 million and a loss of $8.5 million in 2019. The filing noted that Laird had repurchased stock from WeWork’s Creator Fund on Nov. 18. On that same date, Laird said it repurchased shares from an unnamed “private investor” for $7.5 million while terminating the investor’s obligation to fund an additional $10 million. While the investor sold back shares for $12.32, the carrying value of the stock was $24.63 apiece.

WeWork invested in Laird as part of a $32 million funding round in early 2019. Read more.

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

VENTURE DEALS

- NeuroPace, a Mountain View, Calif.-based medical technology company, raised $33 million in funding. Accelmed Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Revelation Partners, Soleus Capital, KCK Group and OrbiMed Advisors

- Sarcos Robotics, a Salt Lake City-based maker of robots for productivity and safety, raised $40 million in Series C funding. Rotor Capital led the round.

- Hazel Health, a San Francisco-based provider of healthcare to K-12 students, raised $33.5 million in Series C funding. Owl Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures led the round.

- Pyramid Biosciences, a Boston-based biotechnology company developing new precision therapies focused on cell surface receptors, raised $28 million in funding. Investors include Adage Capital Management, Averill Master Fund, and J.W. Childs Associates.

- InfoSum, a London-based provider of marketing infrastructure, raised $15.1 million. Upfront Ventures and IA Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Ascential, Akamai, Experian, ITV and AT&T’s Xandr.

- One Concern, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based maker of A.I.-based tech for disaster risk reduction, raised $15 million from SOMPO.

- Apna, a Bengaluru-based recruitment platform, raised $8 million in Series A funding. Lightspeed India and Sequoia Capital India led the round. Read more.

- Climax Foods, a Berkeley, Calif.-based food data science company, raised $7.5 million in seed funding. Investors in the round include At One Ventures and S2G Ventures.

- Semalytix, a German startup using public data to deliver insights on treatment experiences, raised €4.3 million in Series A funding. btov Partners led the round. Read more.

- Reflexion, a Lancaster, Pa.-based cognitive sports training service, raised $1 million in Seed funding. 1855 Capital led the round. 

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Frontline Road Safety, a portfolio company of The Sterling Group, acquired Apply-A-Line, a Washington-based provider of road and airport striping solutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- ArchiMed acquired a majority stake in NAMSA,  a Toldedo, Oh. medical device testing company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Service Champions, a portfolio company of CenterOak Partners, acquired ASI Hastings, a San Diego, Calif.-based provider of residential HVAC and plumbing services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Summit Partners made a minority investment in CluePoints S.A., a provider of software for clinical trials. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- Nestlé is acquiring the remaining stake it doesn't own of Aimmune Therapeutics, a peanut allergy treatment company for about $2.6 billion.

BREAKUPS AND BANKRUPTCIES

- Shiloh Industries, a Valley City, Oh.-based vehicle components maker, filed for bankruptcy and plans to sell its assets to private-equity firm MiddleGround Capital for $218 million.

IPO

- Wish, a San Francisco-based e-commerce company last valued at more than $11 billion, and run by ContextLogic, filed confidentially for an IPO.

EXITS

- Bayer agreed to acquire a 70% stake in Care/of, a New York-based provider of vitamin and supplement subscriptions, valuing the startup at $225 million,per Bloomberg. Tusk Ventures and Goodwater Capital are among Care/of's investors. Read more.

- An investor group including the Thai Union Group acquired Golden Gate Capital’s remaining stake in Red Lobster, an Orlando, Fla.-based restaurant chain. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- TigerConnect acquired acquisition of Adjuvant’s Call Scheduler, a physician scheduling tool. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

F+FS

- Thoma Bravo is aiming to wrap up fundraising on a trio of funds that could total over $21 billion, per the WSJ. Read more.

- L Catterton has raised over $3.7 billion for its ninth fund, per an SEC filing. Read more.

- Warburg Pincus is seeking to raise $2.5 billion for its second financial sector fund, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Owl Ventures, a San Francisco-based edtech-focused venture firm, closed on a pair of funds with $585 million. Owl Ventures IV has $415 million while a growth stage opportunity fund has $170 million committed.

PEOPLE

- IVP named Army Tunjaicon as an investor. Tunjaicon was previously at Qatalyst Partners.

- TA Associates hired Benjamin Bold and Daniel Gold as vice presidents in the Boston office and Harry Mahadevan as a vice president in the London office.