Deals That Matter

Top VC deals: Walmart buys; Steph Curry backs travel AI; Salesforce launches a Japan fund

Key Points
  • Walmart announces it plans to buy, one of the largest online sellers of art and wall decor globally.
  • Two of Alphabet's venture arms, CapitalG and GV, back a voice security and authentication start-up. 
  • NBA player Steph Curry invests in a Series A round in Toronto-based SnapTravel.



Walmart announced this week it plans to buy, one of the largest online sellers of art and wall decor globally. A person familiar with the deal told CNBC the size of the acquisition is similar to Walmart's other recent deals, which puts the deal roughly in the neighborhood of $100 million. had previously raked in roughly $55 million in venture capital, according to Crunchbase, from investors including Saints Capital, Benchmark and Polaris Partners.


Singapore-based Uber competitor Grab invested $100 million in Indian hotel-reservations startup OYO, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Both companies are backed by Japan's SoftBank Group. The investment is part of a $1 billion fund raise announced in September. OYO partners with independent and small hotel owners and works with them to standardize the rooms and services before selling the OYO-branded rooms to travelers through its website and other travel partners.

Google signage.
NurPhoto | Getty Images

Two of Alphabet's venture arms, CapitalG and GV, are among the backers of a $90 million Series D fund raise for Atlanta-based Pindrop. The company develops voice security and authentication technology for advanced biometric protection. The round was led by Vitruvian Partners and also included Goldman Sachs, Andreessen Horowitz and Citi Ventures.

A new online content-sharing platform, launched in partnership with soccer superstars David Beckham, Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr raised $64 million in venture financing. OTRO, formed in partnership with sports investment firm 23 Capital, offers subscription-based daily content from the world's best players.

Digital pharmacy company Alto closed $50 million in Series C financing. The company simplifies the process of prescribing drugs, delivers medications to patients and enables better cost transparency through its provider-patient platform. The funding round is backed by Olive Tree Capital, Greenoaks Capital, Jackson Square Ventures and Zola, according to Crunchbase.

Aceable, a digital education start-up, announced $47 million in Series B funding, led by Sageview Capital. Based in Austin, Texas, the company offers accredited education via mobile device. Aceable is backed by Silverton Partners, Floodgate Fund and Next Coast Venture Partners, among others.

U.K.-based Ultrahaptics develops "mid-air touch" technology that uses ultrasound technology to project sensations onto a user's hands.
Source: Ultrahaptics

U.K.-based Ultrahaptics raised £35 million ($45 million) in a Series C round, led by Mayfair Equity Partners. The company develops "mid-air touch" technology that uses ultrasound technology to project sensations onto a user's hands for automotive, entertainment and virtual reality applications. "Users can 'feel' and interact with virtual objects and controls, using freehand gestures," the company says. Australia's Hostplus, IP Group plc, Woodford Investment Management, Cornes and Dolby Family Ventures also participated in the investment round.

Fidelity Investments and Nasdaq Ventures invested in new cryptocurrency exchange ErisX as part of a $27.5 million round. ErisX says it will offer investors the ability to trade the cryptocurrencies bitcoin, litecoin and ether on spot and futures markets starting next year, subject to regulatory approval. The Chicago-based company's first round of investment, in October, included funding from retail brokerage TD Ameritrade Holding Corp, private equity firm Valor Equity Partners and Cboe Global Markets.

Can blockchain save bitcoin?
Can blockchain save bitcoin?

Cupertino-based Workato announced $25 million in Series B funding from Battery Ventures, Storm Ventures, ServiceNow and Workday Ventures. Workato offers businesses an intelligent platform for app integration and workflow automation.

A company that places geo-targeted digital advertisements atop ride-sharing vehicles announced $21.5 million in seed funding. Firefly launched out of beta this week and operates what it calls "situationally aware" digital smart screens that display relevant ads based on the vehicle's location. Venture firms NFX and Pelion Venture Partners invested alongside angel investors including the founders of scooter start-up Lime and Patrick Schwarzenegger.

NBA player Steph Curry is among the investors behind a $21.2 million Series A round in Toronto-based SnapTravel. Telstra Ventures also participated in the round. The company helps users book hotels through conversations with an AI assistant, and curates personalized offers using machine learning. Users can access SnapTravel over Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS text, iMessage, Slack and Amazon's Alexa.

The founders of Cambridge, Mass.-based Wise Systems, from left, Ali Kamil, Layla Shaikley, Chazz Sims, Jemel Derbali. 
Source: Wise Systems

Google's AI-focused venture arm led a $7 million investment in Cambridge, Mass.-based Wise Systems. Existing backers including E14 Fund, Neoteny, Trucks Venture Capital and Fontinalis Partners also participated in the round. The company provides autonomous dispatch and routing software for the evolving transportation and logistics industries. Wise was founded in 2014 by graduates of MIT and Harvard and today powers delivery operations in 50 U.S. locations. The company counts Anheuser-Busch among its clients.

Healthcare start-up Patch closed $6 million in new funding from Waterline Ventures, Rogue Venture Partners and others. Patch offers a point-of-sale interface for medical professionals and patients in an effort to improve medical price transparency.

A London flower marketplace announced £2 million ($2.5 million) in seed funding, led by Firstminute Capital. Floom connects independent florists with global customers and provides florists with proprietary software and tools. The start-up operates in more than 125 countries and offers same-day bouquet deliveries in the U.K., New York and Los Angeles.

Funds and firms

Salesforce Ventures announced a new $100 million fund focused on Japanese start-ups. The Japan Trailblazer Fund will invest in enterprise cloud companies at start and growth stages. Salesforce Ventures has previously backed start-ups including Stripe, Evernote and MapAnything, and now-public companies including Dropbox, SurveyMonkey and Twilio.

Building Ventures closed its debut fund with $53 million in committed capital. The firm has offices in Boston and San Francisco, and has previously invested in construction software, sustainable heating and cooling, and 3D imaging.

—Reuters and CNBC's Lauren Thomas and Adam Reed contributed to this report.