Startups Weekly: Is Munchery the Fyre Festival of startups?

It was a tough week. Journalists around the U.S. were hit hard
by layoffs, from HuffPost to BuzzFeed News to Verizon
Media Group, which owns this very site. The government entered day
35 of the shutdown before President Donald Trump agreed to a
short-term deal to reopen it for three weeks. And in the startup
world, a once high-flying, venture-subsidized food delivery
startup crashed and burned, leaving a cluster of small businesses
in its wreckage.

Some good things happened too — we’ll get to those.

  1. Munchery fails to pay its debts

In an email to customers on Monday, Munchery announced it
would cease operations, effective immediately. It, however,

failed to notify any of its vendors
, small businesses in San
Francisco that had supplied baked goods to the startup for years. I
talked to several of those business owners about what they’re
owed and what the sudden disappearance of Munchery means for

  1. #Theranos #Content

If you haven’t read John Carreyrou’s “Bad Blood,” stop
reading this newsletter right now and go get yourself a copy. If
you love to read, watch and listen to the Theranos saga as much as
I do, you’ll be glad to hear there’s some fresh Theranos
content released to the world this week. Called “The Dropout,”
ABC documentary
 and an accompanying podcast about Theranos
features never-before-aired depositions. Plus, TechCrunch’s Josh
Constine reviews the
Theranos documentary, “The Inventor,” which premiered at the
Sundance Film Festival this week.

  1. Deal of the week

Confluent, the developer of a streaming data technology that
processes massive amounts of information in real time, announced a

$125 million Series D
round on an enormous $2.5 billion
valuation (up 5x from its Series C valuation). The round was led
by existing investor Sequoia Capital, with participation from other
top-tier VCs Index Ventures and Benchmark.

  1. Wag founders ditch dogs for bikes

Jonathan and Joshua Viner, the founders of the SoftBank-backed
dog walking startup Wag, launched Wheels this week, an electric
bike-share startup with a
$37 million funding
 from Tenaya Capital, Bullpen Capital,
Naval Ravikant and others.

Not that I think we need ANY more bike-share
startups, at least they are getting a bit savvier. This one says
its different because of its modular design, which includes
swappable parts and batteries, resulting in a 4x longer product
life cycle.

— Kate Clark (@KateClarkTweets)
January 23, 2019

  1. Go-Jek
    makes progress on a $2B round

Indonesia-headquartered Go-Jek has closed an
initial chunk of what it hopes will be a $2 billion round after a
collection of existing investors, including Google, Tencent and, agreed
to put around $920 million toward it
, according to
TechCrunch’s Southeast Asia reporter Jon Russell. The deal, which
we understand could be announced as soon as next week, will value
Go-Jek’s business at around $9.5 billion.

  1. Knowledge

There’s been a lot of chatter around direct listings since
Spotify opted to go public via the untraditional route in 2018, but
exactly is a direct listing
… We asked a panel of six
experts: “What are the implications of direct listing tech IPOs
for financial services, regulation, venture capital and capital
markets activity?” 

Here’s your weekly reminder to send me tips,
suggestions and more to or @KateClarkTweets

  1. Contraceptive deserts

Through telemedicine and direct-to-consumer sales platforms,
startups are streamlining the historically arduous process of
accessing contraception. The latest effort to secure a significant
financing round is The Pill Club, an online birth control
prescription and delivery service. This week, the consumer-focused
investor VMG Partners led its
$51 million Series B. 

  1. More startup cash

  1. Fundraising activity

Sunil Nagaraj spent years investing in startups at Bessemer Venture Partners, but he
was itching to meet with younger companies and strike out on his
own. So in the summer of 2017, he did, and now, Nagaraj said
he’s closed
Ubiquity Ventures’ debut fund with $30 million
. March Capital
Partners, the Los Angeles-based venture capital firm,
raised $300 million for its latest fund
. Plus, Zynga
founder Mark Pincus is reportedly raising up to
$700 million for a new investment fund
, called Reinvent
Capital, that will focus on publicly traded tech companies in need
of strategic restructuring.

  1. Finally, meet the startups in Alchemist’s 20th

A mental health startup, a construction tech business and a
fintech company, among others. Take
a quick look
at the startups that just completed Alchemist’s
six-month accelerator program.

  1. Listen to me talk

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out
TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s
episode, available
, Crunchbase editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm, TechCrunch’s
Silicon Valley editor Connie Loizos and I chatted about
Munchery’s downfall, The Pill Club’s mission to make birth
control more accessible and the VC slowdown in China.

Source: FS – All Tech News 2
Startups Weekly: Is Munchery the Fyre Festival of startups?