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Deals That Matter

Top VC deals: HelloFresh, headphones, and the fight against superbugs

Key Points
  • In the hyper-competitive meal kit market, HelloFresh pulled off an IPO in Frankfurt.
  • Spero Therapeutics raised $77 million in a Nasdaq IPO to fight drug-resistant bacteria.
  • Hardware start-up Muzik raised $75 million to take on Beats, Sennheiser and SOL Republic with wireless headphones.

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

HelloFresh meal kits in a refrigerator.


HelloFresh, the meal-kit delivery company, went public on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The company, which is majority-owned by Rocket Internet, priced its shares at 10.25 euros bringing its valuation to about 1.7 billion euros, or.more than double the $888 million (763 million euros) market cap of Blue Apron, its most direct competitor. Other competitors include: Amazon, Albertsons-owned Plated, SunBasket, Green Chef and Gobble.

Spero Therapeutics raised $77 million in its Nasdaq IPO Wednesday, selling 5.5 million shares at $14 apiece, Xconomy reported. The company is developing treatments for drug-resistant bacteria, or "superbugs." According to the CDC, every year in the U.S. at least 2 million people are infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and 23,000 people die as a result of those infections.

Start-ups funded

Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, founders of TransferWise
Source: Transferwise

A company that helps small businesses and individuals send money across borders, TransferWise, raised $280 million in a later-stage round of funding, attaining a $1.6 billion post-money valuation, according to Reuters. Investors included: IVP and Old Mutual Global, with Sapphire Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Baillie Gifford and Sir Richard Branson.

Los Angeles hardware start-up Muzik raised $74.9 million to make wireless, smart headphones that rival Apple-owned Beats, Sennheiser or SOL Republic. According to an SEC filing, Muzik's backers included Steve Guggenheimer, who is VP of Microsoft's AI business, and veteran media executive Ross Levinsohn, currently the publisher and CEO of the L.A. Times.

Dash & Dot robot.
Source: Wonder Workshop

Tencent, SoftBank Korea, Madrona Venture Group, TAL Education and MindWorks are investing $40 million into Wonder Workshop. The company makes robots, called Dash, Dot and Cue, which are sold at Apple stores and can be programmed and controlled via a user's smartphone or tablet. CEO and co-founder Vikas Gupta told CNBC the funding will go towards developing new STEM-learning toys for kids of different ages, as well as new software and accessories for the company's existing products.

A maker of industrial 3-D printers called Markforged, raised $30 million in series c funding. Investors included Next47, Microsoft Ventures, Porsche, Matrix Partners, Northbridge Venture Partners and Trinity Ventures. The company's printers can make carbon fiber and metal parts. The company competes with Impossible Objects, Formlabs and HP, among others.

Instart Logic, a company whose technology helps website content load quickly, while ensuring that ads don't get blocked, announced $30 million in new funding. ST Telemedia led the round, joined by earlier backers including Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Tenaya Capital.

AI's expanding role in modern medicine

PathAI has raised about $15 million in total, according to an SEC filing, to use AI to help pathologists more rapidly and accurately diagnose breast cancer or other health issues. Investors in PathAI included: General Catalyst, Pillar Companies, Refactor Capital, 8VC, Danhua Capital, and KdT Ventures Xconomy reported.

A maker of supplements and grooming products for men, Hims, has raised $7 million in series a funding from consumer-oriented funds including: Thrive Capital, Forerunner Ventures, SV Angel and Harry's, among others.

Ceres Imaging added $2.5 million to its coffers in an extension round led by Romulus Capital, according to a report from The Oakland, California start-up uses aerial spectral imaging and machine learning software to help farmers figure out exactly where and how their crops are suffering.

Funds and firms

Aisling Capital-- a life sciences firm that backed CoolSculpting, Mucinex and Imbruvica, among others-- closed its fifth fund at $280 million. According to a statement from Aisling, the fund will invest in "breakthrough medical treatments," and companies "improving global health in a broad range of therapeutics including oncology, aesthetic dermatology and women's health."

As CNBC previously reported, CircleUp closed a $125 million fund (CircleUp Growth Partners) to invest in consumer products and retail companies. The company, which started out as a crowdfunding platform for food and beverage businesses, is using machine learning software and data that it has amassed on more than 1 million consumer products to guide its investment decisions.