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The DL - September 2020 PNW Venture Deals, Trusting Amazon, How to Remote Work, and How to Sell SaaS

October 5 · Issue #68 · 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 September 2020’s PNW Venture Deals, trusting Amazon, how to remote work, and what SaaS buyers are looking for.
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September 2020 PNW Venture Deals
Here are the PNW startups that announced new fundraising rounds in the month of August. These 40 companies raised more than $450M last month!
Series B and Later Rounds 🚀
  • Silverback Therapeutics - Therapies designed to modulate fundamental disease pathways - $85M Series C led by EcoR1 Capital
  • Virogin - Oncolytic virus technology designed to treat tumors - $62M Series C led by CDH Investments
  • Seeq - Advanced analytics for process manufacturing data - $28M Series B led by Chevron and Saudi Aramco
  • Thinkific - Platform to create and sell online courses and membership sites - $22M round led by Rhino Ventures
  • Cardiac Dimensions - Right-heart transcatheter mitral valve repair device - $17.5M Series C
  • Lumen Bioscience - Biologic drug platform to provide orally delivered antibody drugs - $16M Series B
  • Owl Insights - Behavioral health platform using patient reported outcome measures - $15.5M led by Blue Venture Fund
  • BulletProof - Food and beverage products designed to enhance health and performance - $13M round led by Beliv
  • Eclypsium - Enterprise device security platform - $13M round
Series A Rounds 🛫
  • Pure Watercraft - All-electric boats and outboard motors - $37.6M Series A led by L37 Ventures
  • Polyverse - Security company using polymorphing technology - $16M Series A
  • - Software for remote patient monitoring programs - $15.6M Series A led by US Venture Partners
  • - Software platform to collect competitive and market intelligence - $15M Series A led by Craft Ventures
  • Cloudentity - Identity and access management for API security - $13M Series A led by ForgePoint
  • Boundless - Online immigration services for spousal visas and naturalization - $7.5M Series A1 led by Foundry Group
  • Spiceology - Freshly ground gourmet spices - $6.6M Series A
  • Fitplan - Customized fitness programs from top trainers - $6.2M round
  • Attunely - ML platform for receivables management - $6M Series A
  • Brüush - Direct-to-consumer electric toothbrush - CAD 6.5M Series A 
Seed Rounds 🌱
  • ThruWave - Millimeter wave technology to see through packaging - $6.4M round
  • Immusoft - Technology to deliver protein therapeutics using a patient’s own cells - $4.5M round
  • Nori - Blockchain-based marketplace for carbon removal - $4M Seed led by Placeholder
  • The Dyrt - Campground search and review - $3.8M round led by Helios Capital Ventures
  • WhyLabs - AI observability platform to analyze data from ML models - $4M Seed led by Madrona
  • Inmedix - Devices to assist people suffering from autoimmune diseases - $3.5M Seed led by Keiretsu Forum
  • Intelage - End-to-end solution to manage global trade - $3.5M Seed led by Blumberg Capital
  • Cloud Paper - Tree-free toilet paper made with ultra-soft bamboo - $3M Seed led by Greycroft
  • SturdyAI - Software to analyze client communications - $2.3M Seed
  • VegaCloud - Cloud automation and optimization platform - $2.3M Seed led by Kick-Start
  • Resonance AI - Software to analyze video - $2.3M Seed
  • AltPep - Peptide-based platform for diagnosing and neutralizing amyloid diseases - $2.1M Seed
  • Cozy Finance - Risk management platform for decentralized finance - $2M Seed led by Electric Capital
  • Uberbinder - Low carbon concrete and asphalt - $1.4M Seed led by Espey Shaw
  • Zuper - Tool for field workforce collaboration - $1.1M Seed led by Prime Venture Partners
  • Sironix - Eco-friendly cleaning ingredients derived from plants - $1.1M Seed
  • PreAct Technologies - Pre-collision automotive safety technology - $1.05M Seed
  • DeepSurface - Predictive network vulnerability management - $1M Seed led by Cascade Seed Fund
  • Olive - Collaborative vendor selection software - $1M Seed led by Active Capital
  • DeepSurface Security - Software to predict and measure risk on enterprise networks - $1M Seed
  • Mindcurrent - Personalized suggestions from experts to reduce stress - $870K of equity crowdfunding 
M&A and IPOs 💥
Thoughts and Observations 🧐
  • Wow! I think this is the longest list of PNW fundraises I have ever published. September was a busy month at every stage!
  • Special shout out to WhyLabs because one of their cofounders is a colleague from Madrona. Maria, we will miss you!!
  • Athira Pharma was the first WA state IPO led by a female CEO in twenty years!
  • Cool that one of the M&A deals this month was a local startup acquiring another startup - congrats to Xiao and the Boundless team!
Trust Me 🙂
Who do Americans trust more than Amazon “to do the right thing?” Only their primary physicians and the military.
-Jeff Bezos’ statement for congressional antitrust hearing
According to the study Jeff Bezos cited, people trust Amazon more than the police, extreme weather warnings, and the US government. So would you trust them with your palm print?
Last week, Amazon announced Amazon One, which is a new technology that allows you to walk into a Go store and use your palm to identify yourself and check out. But some people are calling it insane because Amazon is storing your biometric data in their cloud.
Sadly, I don’t think most consumers will really care about the privacy and security issues. If it’s fast, easy, and available everywhere, people will love it. But… please tell me if giving Amazon my palm scan is a terrible idea because I really want to go try it out 😅
As a side note, last week Amazon also released Amazon Explore, which is an events and experiences marketplace similar to Airbnb Experiences. Kind of weird. Definitely less bullish on this one, but LMK if you try it out and what you think.
How to Remote Work
Fast Company wrote an excellent article about the asynchronous, all-remote work style at Gitlab and their (amazing) 7,100 page employee handbook that makes remote work work.
The handbook is all public (like, the whole thing is on the internet), and there is a ton of fantastic information inside. For example…
  • if you ever wondered how the CEO of a $2.75B startup manages his calendar, just go the “CEO Meeting Cadence” section of the handbook
  • if you ever wanted to learn what DevOps means, there are in-depth descriptions of all the responsibilities of GitLab’s DevOps teams
  • if you want to see how GitLab calculates compensation and values options, it’s all in there as well
So much good stuff in the handbook. You should definitely click around. But here are some of the highlights from the article as well:
  • GitLab has 1,300 employees in 67 countries, across nearly every time zone. They didn’t intend to be an all-remote company, but one day people stopped showing up to the office, and “we never talked about it”
  • The new employee onboarding process is a 100 step “issue” (to-do list) that covers everything from setting up 2FA to scheduling a “coffee chat” with a random coworker
  • Meetings are optional (though many meetings are livestreamed on YouTube), and in lieu of meetings, employees are encouraged to write and document everything publicly (hence the 7K page handbook)
  • GitLab is preparing to go public soon, but they are committed to continue sharing information publicly
Other stuff Dan's talking about
🛒 How to sell SaaS - Great analysis of Google search data to tell you what content you need to put on your SaaS product’s website. Surprisingly, one of the best SEO hacks is to write your own “alternatives” page
💕 Seattle dating scene - Funny weekly column from the Seattle Times on what it’s like to date in Seattle. Apparently… people are flaky, they don’t want to travel more than a mile for dates, and they like board games
💼 How to (really) get promoted - Do great work, keep yourself challenged, focused on learning, crush your OKRs… Nope. Cynical writeup on how to win the modern day Game of Thrones
📀 BTS IPO - 1 in 13 people who visit Korea say it’s because they are BTS fans. Their label is going public at a ~$4B valuation, but somehow the band is only going to make $55M! Crazy. (here’s their biggest song: Dynamite)
Please hit reply! (Or subscribe or forward!)
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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