Top VC deals: Apple buys Texture, Magna backs Lyft, Snoop Dogg raises a $45 million fund
- Apple acquired Texture, an app billed as "Netflix for digital magazines."
- Auto-parts giant Magna is investing $200 million in ride-hailing company Lyft, and is partnering with Lyft to develop self-driving vehicles.
- Casa Verde Capital, a venture fund co-founded by hip-hop's Snoop Dogg, closed its debut fund at $45 million.
Here's a round-up of the most important deals in venture capital from the past week.
Apple is acquiring Next Issue Media, makers of the online magazine subscription service Texture, the companies announced Monday. Next Issue Media had raised $50 million in growth funding from KKR previously. The company was started and owned by Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., Rogers Communications, and Time Inc. Apple didn't say how much it would pay for the app which gives users digital access to 200 magazines for one monthly fee. The deal could help Apple compete with Facebook and Google, who have been criticized for the way that their services present news content to users.
L'oreal is acquiring a digital beauty start-up, ModiFace. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. ModiFace technology has been used for "AR mirrors" in Sephora stores that allow customers to try on different styles before they go on to sample or buy any cosmetics. Toronto-based ModiFace had raised seed funding of C$3.8 million prior to the deal.
Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo raised a venture debt and equity round that amounted to $866 million in total this week. Alibaba, its affiliate Ant Financial, and Chinese venture capital firms including Haofeng Group, Tianhe Capital and Junli Capital participated in the round. An earlier Ofo investor, the ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, has integrated Ofo into its own bike-sharing app so that Didi users can find and rent a bike from Ofo's supply if they want. Ofo claims 200 million users globally and is operating in 250 cities in 21 countries, Reuters reported.
Lyft announced on Wednesday that it has raised $200 million in growth funding from auto-parts supplier Magna. According to a joint statement, Lyft and Magna also entered into "a multi-year collaboration in which the companies will jointly fund, develop, and manufacture self-driving systems." Lyft and Uber are in a race to make safe, driverless cars and services available to their customers.
Tencent led a $100 million investment in a news aggregator called Qutoutiao, a name which translates to "fun headlines" in English. Earlier investors also participated in the round including: Redpoint China Ventures, Chengwei Capital and China Media Capital, according to China Money Network. The start-up competes with Toutiao, a news app made by Beijing-based ByteDance.
Alphabet's GV, formerly known as Google Ventures, led a $34 million series C investment in athletic apparel start-up, Outdoor Voices. Outdoor Voices' success has been fueled by direct-to-consumer sales online and social media, CEO Tyler Haney told CNBC. The company boasts more than 200,000 followers on Instagram, for example. Mickey Drexler, the former CEO of J.Crew and Gap serves as the chairman of the board at the Austin-based apparel start-up.
GV is also leading a $56 million funding round in SambaNova Systems, a start-up building computer processors and software for artificial intelligence and data analytics. The deal marks the first time that Alphabet's venture arm has backed an AI hardware company. Samba CEO Rodrigo Liang ran a team of nearly 1,000 chip designers at Oracle, previously.
Data Collective and Boeing are among investors in a $15 million series A round for Fortem Technologies, a start-up that has developed radar technology and drones. Fortem's DroneHunter can detect unauthorized drones in the sky, then fly after them and capture them in a net. Fortem also sells its radar technology to other drone and security companies to enable autonomous flight and high-velocity object tracking.
Spark Capital and Sequoia are among investors in a $19 million series B round for Zum, a start-up that's billed as a kind of "Uber for kids." The Zum app lets parents pre-book drivers, who also have some child care credentials, to cart their kids from home to school and back, or to different activities. Zum wants to displace traditional school bus services in some districts. It competes with HopSkipDrive, Sheprd and others targeting families with kids ages 5 to 15 years old.
Firms and funds
Casa Verde Capital, a firm co-founded by Calvin Broadus Jr., a.k.a. Snoop Dogg, closed its debut fund at $45 million. The fund invests primarily in series A-stage deals, and tech start-ups helping to grow the nascent, legal cannabis industry in the U.S. and elsewhere.