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The DL - August 2020 PNW Venture Deals, DL Special Announcement, Athira IPO, and Frank Slootman's "Three-peat"

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Welcome to The DL, a weekly newsletter about tech, startups, and investing in the Pacific Northwest.
 
September 8 · Issue #64 · View online
The DL
Welcome to The DL, a weekly newsletter about tech, startups, and investing in the Pacific Northwest.

This week’s issue covers August 2020’s PNW Venture Deals, a special DL announcement, the first female CEO to lead a Seattle IPO, Softbank’s new fund, and a profile on Frank Slootman.

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August 2020 PNW Venture Deals
Here are the PNW startups that announced new fundraising rounds in the month of August. These 23 companies raised more than $350M last month!

Series B and Later Rounds 🚀
  • Chinook Therapeutics - Precision medicines for kidney diseases - $106M round
  • Kymeta - Hybrid satellite-cellular broadband networks - $85M round led by Bill Gates
  • Dutchie - Ecommerce platform for dispensaries - $35M Series B
  • Dapper Labs - Platform to build games on the blockchain - $23M round
  • AppDetex - Brand protection platform - $12M round

Series A Rounds 🛫
  • Prescryptive - Prescription intelligence platform - $26M Series A led by Morningside Group
  • Optimize.health - Remote patient monitoring software and services - $15M round
  • Barn2Door - Platform to help farms sell direct online - $6M Series A led by Bullpen Capital
  • Xealth - Digital content and services for healthcare teams - $6M round from Cerner and LRVHealth 

Seed Rounds 🌱
  • Atomo Coffee - Molecular coffee created without coffee beans - $9M Seed led by Horizons and S2G Ventures
  • Stratify - Intelligent budgeting tools for finance teams - $4.9M Seed led by Madrona
  • Copper - Digital banking solution for teens - $4.3M Seed led by PSL
  • Starform - Game development studio - $4.15M round
  • PANDA AI - Natural language processing to help teams communicate - $3.46M Seed led by PSL
  • HerdDogg - Livestock data and insights platform - $3.16M round
  • KitoTech - At home wound closure kit - $3M round
  • Resonance AI - AI platform to analyze video content - $2.28M round
  • Special Project - Subscription video platform for creators - $2.26M Seed led by Next Frontier Capital
  • Minnow - Contact-free food pickup pod - $2.2M Seed led by Elevate Capital
  • Alpha Ledger - Direct marketplace for municipal bonds - $1.61M round led by Ten Eighty Capital
  • Genemod - Inventory and project management software for life sciences - $1.5M Seed led by Defy
  • Reflective - Platform for automating and managing recurring processes - $1.32M Seed led by Founders’ Co-op
  • Candidate - Personal referrals for startup jobs - $1M Seed

M&A and IPOs 💥

Thoughts and Observations 🧐
  • Napster is still worth $70M! Equally as surprising… a VR company has enough cash to acquire it!
  • Between Barn2Door, MilkRun, Crowd Cow, and Canlis selling out of their $200 grocery box every week, seems like the PNW loves “direct from farm” ecommerce
  • Seed deals have been slowing down for a few months, but this month we saw a ton of them! And they were mostly led by local investors - Madrona, PSL, Next Frontier, Elevate, and Founders’ Co-op!
  • Many of the seed deals spun out of local startup groups like MVL, AI2, UW, and VentureOut, or were incubated within another company

Request for Help!
Special announcement 🎉: Sarah and I are expecting a baby boy next month! Please send us all of your best baby and new parent advice! We need to get him ramped up ASAP, so he can start contributing to the DL! 😁

Or maybe… the goal should just be to never let him see a piece of technology? 🤣

First Seattle IPO Led by a Female CEO
Over the last 20 years, 77 companies in Washington state have successfully completed IPOs, but none of them had a female CEO.

Athira Pharma will be the first Washington company to go public with a female CEO in over 20 years. Here are two great Geekwire articles about the company and Athira’s CEO, Leen Kawas. Some highlights:
  • Leen Kawas co-founded Athira Pharma in 2011 at age 26 while she was earning her (second) doctorate degree at WSU
  • She started as the company’s VP of Research and became CEO in 2014
  • Athira is a drug development company treating neurodegenerative diseases by restoring and building new connections in the brain
  • Their primary therapeutic candidate is a drug that could slow, halt, or re-establish brain function for patients with Alzheimer’s disease
  • They only have ~20 employees, but they’ve raised $100M+ of venture capital, including $85M in June (biotech is expensive!)

“I’m not a bonus and salary guy”
Back in July, SoftBank set up a new fund to invest in public equities, and it’s doing very well. So far, they have purchased $4B of call options on tech stocks, and they are up ~100% on their investment. 😲

The WSJ and FT reported that SoftBank’s investments actually drove the market rally this summer because Softbank was buying so many shares, the banks on the other side of their trades had to buy more shares to hedge themselves, and that cycle of buying drove the price of stocks up.

But apparently, SoftBank’s investors don’t like this strategy - their stock dropped ~10% after the news came out. Shouldn’t be a surprise though. At last month’s investor meeting, someone asked Masayoshi Son about his personal investment in the fund, and his answer was he wanted to take more risk because he’s “not a bonus and salary guy.”

Other stuff Dan's talking about
🖥️ What an interesting website - Here’s a curated list of websites that mimic desktop user interfaces. I love that someone maintains this. I especially liked itsbritneybot.com, emuOS, and GeekPrank (good COVID prank!)
❄️ “Too old to work with new people” - Snowflake will be “professional CEO” Frank Slootman’s third IPO. This profile digs into his obsession with winning and how he’s different than the typical tech CEO
🦹‍♂️ The New Silk Road - American Kingpin is a great book about Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road, a $1B+ dark web marketplace. Here’s a great story about the founder of the next-gen Silk Road, Telegrass
🏛️ Gov Decisions - This is cool. The UK government has a public Github repo where they record all of their AWS architecture decisions. Here’s the page on why they switched from MongoDB to AWS DocumentDB

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About me: I work as an investor at Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle-based venture capital firm that has been early partners with companies like Amazon, Smartsheet, Apptio, and Redfin.
If you have thoughts, questions, or comments, hit reply! If you’re new, check out some of the DL’s top articles from the last few months:

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