Deals That Matter

Top VC deals: Stitch Fix, flying cars and retail robots used at Wal-Mart

Key Points
  • Stitch Fix went public, the first tech IPO led by a woman in the U.S. this year.
  • Volvo owners Geely acquired a start-up working on flying cars, Terrafugia.
  • Bossa Nova raised $17.5 million for robots that Wal-Mart and other retailers use to automatically track inventory on the shelf.

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


Katrina Lake, co-founder and chief executive officer of Stitch Fix Inc.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Stitch Fix CEO: How we use data to power personal styling

Stitch Fix went public on Friday, pricing shares below its expected range at $15 the night before. The e-commerce company sends subscribers boxes of stylish outfits to wear and return by mail, so they don't have to shop in stores or assemble their own looks. Customers have the option to buy items they like and want to keep. The company raised $120 million in the IPO and had raised $42.7 million in venture funding from Baseline Ventures, Benchmark and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The tech IPO was the first led by a woman in the U.S. this year, CEO and cofounder Katrina Lake.

SendGrid, an e-mail marketing company based in Denver, went public on Wednesday pricing shares at $16, above its expected range. It was the first start-up to go public after participating in a major accelerator, TechStars. SendGrid raised $80 million in venture funding prior to its IPO from others including: Foundry Group, Bessemer Venture Partners, Highway 12 Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures.

Artist's rending of Terrafugia's TF-X flying car.
Source: Terrafugia

Geely, a Chinese automotive group that owns Volvo, acquired Terrafugia, a start-up developing a "flying car" with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Geely said in a statement that Terrafugia headquarters will remain where they are now, in Woburn, Massachusetts, following the deal.

Williams Sonoma is acquiring an augmented reality start-up called Outward for at least $112 million, TechCrunch reported. The company's software allows users to see exactly what a piece of furniture would look like in one of the rooms in their own home or office. Outward had raised $11.5 million in venture funding from Merus Capital, according to Crunchbase.

Airbnb acquired Accomable, a London start-up that lists homes and apartments that are accessible for people living with disabilities. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But Airbnb said it will add features to its own marketplace of non-hotel lodgings that will show whether homes listed there have ramps and elevators or bathrooms big enough to accommodate wheelchairs.

Start-ups funded

A space start-up called Spire raised $70 million to keep a constant watch over the Earth. The company launches constellations of small satellites, then uses data from these and other ground-based stations to generate reports and predictions. The company's technology is used to track and forecast things like hurricanes and other weather, and to thwart problems like over-fishing and piracy at sea.

Graphcore is taking on Nvidia, Intel and others, developing processors for AI or machine learning. The fledgling chip makers raised a $50 million series c round of funding led by Sequoia, which backed Nvidia early on. The new round brings Graphcore's total raised to about $110 million. The start-up based in Bristol, England is also backed by Dell Technologies, Demis Hassabis who co-founded DeepMind (Alphabet's AI unit), Uber chief scientist Zoubin Ghahramani and others.

Amgen, Merck, Roche and GE Ventures are among investors in a $30 million series D round for oncology start-up Syapse. The company's software helps cancer doctors and other health professionals exchange data around patient treatments and outcomes, so that they're armed with more evidence on which to base their treatment plans.

Temasek led a $30 million investment in Arterys, a medical tech start-up developing machine learning software to rapidly, and accurately analyze medical images including MRI and CT scans. For now, Arterys works with cardiac imagery, but the company plans to use its funding to create new products to diagnose cancer and brain health images, as well.

Intel's investment arm joined Cota Capital, Paxion and others in a $17.5 million round of funding for Bossa Nova, a start-up building robots for the retail industry. The company's robots roll around stores, and scan the shelves to take an inventory, sending data back to managers to keep them apprised of what does (or doesn't) sell, and when items need to be restocked. Wal-Mart is trying out Bossa Nova's bots in select stores, as CNBC previously reported.

Natilus is building unmanned cargo planes that could carry 100 tons each.

Natilus, a start-up developing self-flying cargo planes, raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding. The deal represents the first for Starburst Ventures, the investment vehicle for the aviation and aerospace accelerator led by Francois Chopard. Natilus is aiming to build large drones that can haul 2 tons, and launch from small airports.

Funds and firms

Steve Jurvetson
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tesla and SpaceX board member Steve Jurvetson left the venture firm he co-founded, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, amidst allegations of sexual harassment. Jurveston has denied the claims, and said on Twitter he was leaving the firm to pursue "legal action against those whose false statements have defamed me."

A fund formed by veteran venture investors, Trae Vassallo and Neil Sequeira, Defy Partners officially closed its first fund at $151 million.