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Pot luck: Hound Labs raises $8.1 million to combat stoned drivers with cannabis breathalyzers

Law enforcement agencies have been using breathalyzers to test motorists’ sobriety for decades, but a new startup is staking a claim to bring its cannabis version of the technology to market.

So far, the only reliable ways to test for cannabis use have been through saliva, blood, or urine, which aren’t always practical in a roadside setting. But more than that, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known to remain detectable in the system long after a user would be impaired from its use. This is why Hound Labs is developing its breathalyzer, given that THC is detectable in the breath for only a few hours after marijuana use.

Oakland-based cannabis breathalyzer startup Hound Labs is today announcing an $ 8.1 million funding round led by Benchmark, the renowned Silicon Valley VC firm that has made early-stage investments in a number of notable startups, including eBay, Uber, Dropbox, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram. So Hound Labs, it’s fair to say, is in good company.

Hound Labs field-tested its Hound breathalyzer with law enforcement in California last year, and clinical trials started this month at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH). The company plans to begin manufacturing a market-ready device later this year.

“Over the past two and a half years, we have extensively tested our device with marijuana users and routinely correlated our results with state-of- the-art forensic laboratory equipment,” explained Hound Labs CEO Dr. Mike Lynn. “We are eager to demonstrate the Hound marijuana breathalyzer’s capabilities and to take the final steps toward commercial availability.”

The Hound breathalyzer is touted as being portable, as well as highly accurate, which means it could be used by police roadside or by employers in a place of work where drug-testing is standard.

Though the device is similar in look and feel to an alcohol breathalyzer, the Hound has to be more sensitive to detect THC — it claims to measure THC molecules in parts-per-trillion, as opposed to the parts-per-thousand measurement standard with alcohol.

Above: Hound Labs’ cannabis breathalyzer


Since the legal floodgates to sell cannabis have opened in several U.S. states, the fledgling weed industry has been gaining momentum. Indeed, a number of VC firms have plowed cash into marijuana startups — DCM Ventuers, Tusk Ventures, and 500 Startups are among the firms that have invested in medical marijuana delivery firm Eaze.

Elsewhere, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund took a minority stake in Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based company behind weed startup Leafly.com.

But while some VC firms have been investing in technology startups that enable cannabis intake, Benchmark is looking to tackle things from the other side. With as many as 55 million Americans reportedly using marijuana to some degree, Hound sees an opportunity to take on the problem of stoned drivers.

“Cannabis legalization has created a new global market for employee and law enforcement testing,” stated Benchmark general partner Mitch Lasky, who will also join Hound Labs’ board of directors. “In the past, employers and law enforcement professionals focused on possession and use. After legalization, impairment — whether behind the wheel or on the job — becomes the new enforcement paradigm. Groundbreaking science is necessary to make an accurate measurement of recently used cannabis, and Hound Labs is uniquely positioned to deliver a solution to the market that respects the needs of the enforcement community as well as the rights of legitimate cannabis users.”

In addition to the clinical trials that have kicked off in San Francisco, Hound Labs said that it will continue carrying out field studies with law enforcement agencies across the U.S.

Today’s funding takes Hound Labs total cash injection past the $ 14 million mark.

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The 400 million dollar company helping people find the right fitness class

Who doesn’t love options? But as psychologists have pointed out, choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them. And if you’ve been paying attention to the growing boutique fitness class trend,  you know that the options are endless – and slightly overwhelming. It used to be that you went to class at your local gym. Now there’s pilates, yoga, barre, spin classes, CrossFit, and countless others. And unless you have a small fortune and copyist amounts of free time, you’re unsure just what’s best for your fitness goals. This is the problem Payal…

This story continues at The Next Web

The Next Web

Collaboration software company Jive to be acquired by Aurea for $462 million

Jive at IPO in 2011 Jive, a community collaboration software company that was one of the biggest Enterprise 2.0-era success stories, going public in 2011, announced today it had agreed to be acquired by ESW Capital’s Wave Systems for $ 462 million. It will become part of the Aurea family of companies. In the end, it was a kind and healthy exit for Jive shareholders. ESW paid $ 5.25 a share to purchase the… Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey snaps up shares worth about $9.5 million

(Reuters) – Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey snapped up more than half a million of the company’s shares for about $ 9.5 million, a regulatory filing on Friday showed.

Dorsey bought 574,002 Twitter shares in multiple transactions at prices ranging between $ 16.47 and $ 16.74 per share, according to the filing.

That adds to the roughly $ 7 million worth of Twitter stock Dorsey bought earlier this year, bringing the total number of shares he has purchased this year to 1 million, the CEO said in a tweet.

According to the filing, Dorsey now owns about 16 million Twitter shares, which equates to a stake of about 2.2 percent in the company he co-founded.

Dorsey’s disclosure comes a day after Twitter reported better-than-expected user growth for its first quarter, following several quarters of stalled growth.

Twitter’s shares rose 1 percent to $ 16.65 after the bell on Friday.

The stock closed up nearly 5 percent in regular trading on Friday, adding to a gain of roughly 8 percent on Thursday when the company reported its results.

(Reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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LinkedIn passes 500 million member milestone

Giant cloud-based resume repository LinkedIn announced that it now has 500 million members spread across 200 countries.

For context, the company announced 400 million members back in October 2015, and 450 million members in August 2016. However, these numbers don’t tell the full story — at last count, only 25 percent of LinkedIn’s members were active on the platform every month. With this latest announcement, LinkedIn hasn’t revealed how many of the 500 million are monthly active users (MAUs), but it’s probably safe to assume that the previous 25 percent figure remains about the same.

After its $ 26 billion acquisition by Microsoft last year, LinkedIn is no longer a public company, so we may not ever get a breakdown of its active users, unless Microsoft decides to do so as part of its own earnings. As it happens, LinkedIn has lost $ 100 million since it was bought out by Microsoft.

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Q&A app Quora valued around $1.8 billion in $85 million fundraise

 Quora just became the unicorn of subjective human knowledge. After eight years carefully cultivating an intelligent question and answer community, it’s just raised an $ 85 million Series D round co-led by Collaborative Fund and Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund. Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Gladly, incubated at Greylock, nabs $36 million in Series C funding

 There’s no shortage of customer service startups trying to meet the changing expectations of consumers, who want to Tweet, phone, text and use Facebook Messenger, among other newer ways to get their points across. That hasn’t deterred Joseph Ansanelli, who joined Greylock Partners in 2012 but who’d first started and sold three companies and was itching to do it again. Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Instagram: Direct Inbox is now used by 375 million people

Four years ago, Instagram introduced Direct, for private messaging, and today the Facebook-owned company announced that 375 million people are using the feature. In addition, Direct is getting an update that merges the sections containing normal messages and ephemeral ones, with the goal of making it easier for you to communicate with friends and keep track of all your conversations.

Ephemeral messaging within Direct became available in November, at which time Instagram said 300 million people were already using the permanent messaging tool. Since then, Instagram Direct has offered two distinct areas, one dedicated to just ephemeral messages in a Stories-like row and a list of permanent conversations that don’t expire after 24 hours. The company declined to share the breakdown between permanent and ephemeral messages over the past five months.

Instagram claims it “wants to make Direct the best place to have fun, visual conversations with your friends,” and blending the two areas together could help ingrain Stories-like messaging in people’s minds. Instagram may also have been watching to see whether people would adopt the feature before merging the conversation tools.

The 375 million people using Direct account for nearly 63 percent of the photo-sharing app’s 600 million monthly active users.

Within the new Instagram Direct, users can tap on the blue camera icon located at the bottom of the screen or in an existing thread to take an ephemeral photo or video. When you’re done, tap the arrow to select the individual or group of friends it should be sent to, and that’s it. New ephemeral messages sent to you will be highlighted in blue within the Direct Inbox and can be viewed twice (the first time and then replayed once). The sender will receive a notification when the message has been replayed or a screenshot has been taken.

The latest update is available on Instagram’s iOS and Android app.

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GE invests $2 million in Alchemist Accelerator to back industrial IoT startups

 Alchemist Accelerator has raised $ 2 million from GE Digital to start a new program for industrial IoT startups. Stanford lecturer Timothy Chou, formerly President of Oracle On Demand, will chair Alchemist’s new IIoT accelerator along with GE Digital’s West Coast group. In the past, enterprise hardware and software startups were seen as capital intensive, with the challenge of… Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

NBCUniversal is betting $500 million on Snap

Snap IPO Snapchat NYSE New York Stock Exchange

(Reuters) – Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal said on Friday it had invested $ 500 million in Snap as it continues to spend heavily on digital media companies.

Snap’s shares jumped 8.6 percent to $ 26.59 in early trading. The company finished its first day of trading with a 44 percent gain compared to its IPO price of $ 17.00.

The investment was made as a part of the Snapchat owner’s initial public offering, NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke said in a memo to employees.

Earlier, CNBC reported that Snap’s stock allocation to NBCUniversal seems to be the only one made to a new strategic investor, making NBCUniversal the lone U.S. media company with a stake.

Comcast has invested heavily in digital-native companies such as BuzzFeed and Vox Media, partly in an effort to better service existing advertisers.

“With the Snap investment, we have invested over $ 1.5 billion in promising digital businesses in the last eighteen months,” Burke said in the memo.

NBCUniversal has already launched entertainment programs such as The Voice, SNL and E! News’ The Rundown on Snapchat. The media company said it expects to launch more Snapchat shows in the coming weeks.

NBCUniversal has agreed to hold Snap’s shares for at least a year, according to the CNBC report.

Snap disclosed last month that it expected investors buying up to a quarter of its shares in the company’s $ 3.4 billion initial public offering to agree not to sell them for a year.

Lock-up periods help companies moderate stock volatility by preventing company insiders from selling their shares within an allotted time.

NBCUniversal courted Snap co-founder Evan Spiegel for the past year, CNBC said, and both companies have been working on deepening their relationship.

Snap declined to comment beyond details noted in its prospectus and other U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Comcast’s shares were marginally lower.

(Reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Anya George Tharakan; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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