Top VC deals this week: Magic Leap, tech talent and the future of retail

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Deals That Matter

Top VC deals this week: Magic Leap, tech talent and the future of retail

  • Filings reveal that augmented reality start-up Magic Leap is raising up to $1 billion more, even though the company hasn't released a product.
  • Andela raised $40 million to train coders in Africa, and connect large employers with the best tech talent there.
  • Hong Kong-based LalaMove raised $100 million to p"delivery on-demand" help throughout China and Southeast Asia.
Magic Leap is developing augmented reality technology
Source: Magic Leap
Magic Leap is developing augmented reality technology

Here's a round-up of the most important deals in venture capital this week.

Exits

Car reviews and listings site, CarGurus , made its Nasdaq debut on Thursday, raising around $150 million in its initial public offering.

CarGurus CEO Langley Steinert, who was also a co-founder of TripAdvisor, told CNBC the company plans to use the money to support international expansion and to build out its peer-to-peer marketplace. The company raised early-stage capital from angel investors, but skipped institutional funding until it was nearly ready for an IPO. Then, it raised money from mutual funds. CarGurus example could inspire other tech start-ups to demonstrate restraint i n taking mid-stage rounds from venture capital firms.

Start-ups funded

A filing from augmented reality start-up Magic Leap, first secured by CB Insights, revealed that the company has authorized the sale of more than 37 million shares at $27 each. The authorization means its next round of funding could spike to $1 billion, although a source familiar with the situation says the current amount committed is less than that, and closer to the $500 million that had been previously reported.

Magic Leap, founded in 2010, had already raised more than $1 billion and is expected to release an augmented reality headset to challenge Facebook's Oculus or Microsoft's Hololens. But the company has never publicly demonstrated its technology (people who have seen private demos generally rave about it but are sworn to secrecy on the details), and has given no timeline for when its first product will be released. Magic Leap's backers include big names like Google, Alibaba and Andreessen Horowitz.

Mapbox raised a $164 million round led by Softbank Vision Fund and joined by the company's earlier backers including Foundry Group, DFJ Growth, DBL Partners, and Thrive Capital. The start-up's technology helps businesses build location services into their websites and mobile apps. CEO Eric Gunderson told CNBC, "We have over 350 million people [using] our maps." Competitors include map data and location services firms like TomTom, Google and Esri.

Hong Kong-based logistics start-up Lalamove has raised $100 million in a round led by ShunWei Capital, a venture firm founded by Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun. Lalamove offers on-demand delivery by scooter, van or truck. Its service becomes a kind of outsourced delivery fleet for companies big and small operating in China and throughout Southeast Asia. As Forbes reported, the company competes with everyone from Uber EATS to other start-ups in the region like GoGoVan.

EShares raised $42 million for software that helps entrepreneurs issue shares in their companies, and keep track of who owns what. The start-up's CEO Henry Ward told CNBC eShares is aiming to inspire more companies to offer stock options to employees, a standard practice among tech start-ups in Silicon Valley. He views the company's platform as any start-up's "on ramp to an IPO," he said.

Andela developers collaborating in newly opened Nigerian Headquarters.
Source: Andela
Andela developers collaborating in newly opened Nigerian Headquarters.

Businesses can never hire enough good coders these days. A start-up called Andela has raised $40 million to train, and then connect corporations with qualified developers across Africa. CRE Venture Capital led the round joined by Spark Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Google's venture arm (GV) and others.

Standard Cognition raised $5 million for technology that can eliminate the checkout line at retail. The company uses computer vision, cameras and sensors in stores to figure out what items consumers are taking off the shelves and carrying out the door. Investors in the early round included Charles River Ventures, Initialized Capital, Y Combinator and others.

A start-up called Allume raised $3 million to build a StitchFix competitor. The Allume site quizzes shoppers about the brands and looks that they prefer, then automatically matches them with personal stylists who send them hand-picked items from retailers by mail. Founder Mauria Finley previously built Citrus Lane, another e-commerce company acquired by Care.com. for around $48 million.