Shulamit Levenberg’s Aleph Farms raises a new round while Fidji Simo is tapped to lead Instacart

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing July 12, 2021

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Shulamit Levenberg’s Aleph Farms raises $105M

An Israeli cultivated meat start-up co-founded by Shulamit Levenberg grills up a large round. Aleph Farms raised $105 million from the Growth Fund of L Catterton, DisruptAD, Skyviews Life Science, Thai Union, BRF, CJ CheilJedang, VisVires New Protein, Strauss Group, Cargill, Peregrine Ventures and CPT Capital.

Aleph claims to the first company to grow steaks directly from the cells of cows. It has rolled out the world’s first cell-cultured thin-cut steak and the first cell-cultured ribeye. Aleph will use the capital to executive its plans for large scale global commercialization and portfolio expansion into new types of animal protein.

Shulamit is a professor of biomedical engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. She founded Aleph in 2017 with Didier Toubia.

Mila Suharev’s CASAFARI raises 12.7M euros in Series A financing

CASAFARI, a European real estate data platform co-founded and co-led by Mila Suharev, lines up financing. The company raised 12.7 million euros in Series A financing from Prudence Holdings, Armilar Venture Partners, AMAVI Capital, HJM Holdings, 1Sharpe Capital and FJ Labs. CASAFARI also secured an approximately 101.5 million euros mandate from private equity investors – including Stoneweg – to be deployed in a “buy-to-let strategy” in residential and commercial real estate.

Founded in 2018, CASAFARI has created a cross-border real estate network that connects 15,000 real estate professionals. The site features such applications as metasearch, comparative market analysis, market analytics and utilizes machine learning technology and data operations to automatically index, clean, classify and match duplicates of millions of property listings. CASAFARI now employs 90 employees and works with such clients as Southeby’s International Realty, Coldwell Banker and Keller Williams. The capital will enable the company to expand into Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Mila founded and leads CASAFARI with Nils Henning.

 Tenex Capital Management invests in Shannon Miles’ BELAY

A private equity firm has partnered with BELAY, a virtual staffing company co-founded by Shannon Miles and her husband, Bryan, and now led by Tricia Sciortino. Terms of Tenex Capital Management’s investment in the Roswell, Ga. company were not disclosed, but Shannon and Miles are remaining shareholders. BELAY offers assistant, bookkeepers, social media strategists and website specialists services. Shannon and Bryan launched the company in 2010.

 Joanna Riley’s Censia raises $21M in Series A financing

An AI-enabled talent intelligence platform co-founded by Joanna Riley secures funds to help organizations find, keep and grow a diverse and future-ready workforce. Censia gained $21 million in a Series A funding round led by Marbruck Investments.

San Francisco-based Censia was built on the belief that unconscious bias in talent decisions is affecting billions of highly capable people around the world from getting opportunities they deserve, contributing to the talent shortage and impacting organizations’ bottom line. Censia’s platform applies AI and machine learning to talent data enabling talent acquisition and HR professionals with continuous, extensive and actionable insights. With this funding, Censia will expand go-to-market efforts, scale their API-first offering and continue product innovations for talent acquisition and workforce planning powering HR technologies of the future with AI.

Fidji Simo is tapped to lead Instacart

Facebook executive Fidji Simo is tapped to lead Instacart, the well-funded online grocery platform. Fidji, who has served on Instacart’s board since January, will become CEO on Aug. 2. She’ll replace founder Apoorva Mehta, who will become executive chairman. The move comes as Instacart appears to be preparing for an initial public offering in the not-so-distant future. Fidji has been vice president and head of the Facebook app, which reaches billions of people monthly.

Instacart has raised $2.7 billion, according to Crunchbase. Mary Meeker led Kleiner Perkins into the company before forming BOND. Others that have invested in Instacart include Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, Fidelity Management & Research, D1 and DST Global.

Raluca Ada Popa’s Opaque raises $9.5M in seed funding

A secure data analytics platform co-founded by Raluca Ada Popa receives seed funding. Opaque raised $9.5 million from Intel Capital, Race Capital, The House Fund and FactoryHQ.

Based in San Francisco, Opaque helps organizations analyze encrypted data in the cloud using popular tools while ensuring that their data is not exposed to the cloud provider. Opaque’s technology has been used by such organizations as IBM, Ant Group, Ericsson and Scotiabank. Raluca co-founded the company with Ion Stoica.

Tessa Pugh’s PharmaReview receives backing from Bridgepoint Growth

PharmaReview, a UK provider of outsourced medical and scientific review that was co-founded by Tessa Pugh, receives backing from a private equity firm. Terms of Bridgepoint Growth’s investment in PharmaReview were not disclosed.

PharmaReview was founded in 2011 by Tessa and Ralph Carter to solve the problem of inefficient medical review processes in pharma companies. PharmaReview supplies some of the world’s largest pharma groups, ensuring that their promotional materials are medically accurate, make scientific sense and comply with ethical legal and regulatory code requirements. The company also ensures that all claims are backed up with references to accurate and up-to-date underlying sources. These efforts, in turn, reduce the time it takes for pharma groups to get materials through the review process.

Kim Stiefel and Sarah Wissel’s Repeat receives $6M in Series A financing

Investors pump additional capital into a company co-founded by Kim Stiefel and Sarah Wissel that makes it easier for consumer brand customers to reorder everyday items. Battery Ventures led Repeat’s $6 million Series A round, which also included existing investors Harlem Capital and Mucker Capital.

Based in Venice, Calif., Repeat enables brands to automate replenishment reminders for customers and to deliver one-click reordering experiences. Companies are also using the technology to reacquire customers from other channels, like Amazon. Repeat’s customers include Humankind, Jot and Vegamour.

Kim, who is CEO, and Sarah previously started a subscription T-shirt brand. It was while developing the brand that they discovered that most customers don’t want a subscription. Instead, they want a reminder and an easier way to reorder when the time is right.

Lisa Mitchell-led Solve Industrial Motion Group has been sold to Audax Private Equity

Solve Industrial Motion Group, which has been led since March by Lisa Mitchell, has been sold by one private equity firm to another. Terms of Audax Private Equity’s purchase of the Charlotte, N.C. company from Incline Equity Partners were not disclosed.

Solve provides power transmission components and industrial-grade bearings. Solve was formed last fall by bringing together P.T. International, IPTCI Bearings and LMS Bearing brands.

Lisa had previously been the company’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer. Her background also includes management and executive roles with Tenneco and Vallen.

Arianna Huffington raises $80M for Thrive Global

Arianna Huffington raises additional capital for her behavior change technology company. Thrive Global raised $80 million in Series C financing from Kleiner Perkins, Owl Ventures, Goldman Sachs Asset Management and existing investors IVP and JAZZ Venture Partners. The New York company’s prior investors include Heather Reisman; Advancit Capital, which was co-founded by Shari Redstone; and Female Founders Fund, which is led by Anu Duggal.

Thrive Global is focused on supporting health, productivity and well-being in companies across the world. The company provides science-based solutions to enhance wellbeing and performance, purpose and relationship with technology. Since its launch in 2016, Thrive Global has helped employees at more than 100 organizations in more than 40 countries adopt Microsteps – small, scienced-backed steps to help build healthy habits.

In starting Thrive, Arianna stepped down as president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post – a digital media outlet that she founded in 2001. It was acquired in 2011 for $315 million by AOL, Inc., which, in turn, was itself acquired by Verizon.

Trisha Kothari’s Unit21 lands additional capital

Unit21, a platform of no-code tools for risk and compliance teams whose co-founder and CEO is Trisha Kothari, lands additional capital. The San Francisco company raised $34 million in Series B funding from Tiger Global Management, ICONIQ Capital and existing investors A.Capital Ventures, Gradient Ventures and South Park Commons. The new round comes some nine months after Unit21 raised a $13 million Series A round.

Unit21’s platform helps corporate risk and compliance teams identify, investigate and report suspicious activity. Unit21’s customers include Intuit, Chime, Flywire, Coinbase, Twitter and Gusto. Trisha founded the company in 2018 with Clarence Chio.

Anne-Emilie Prévot’s Wecasa raises 15M euros

Wecasa, a home help and well-being services start-up whose co-founders include Anne-Emilie Prévot, lands capital. The Paris company raised 15 million euros from blisce/, BlaBlaCar founder Frédéric Mazzella and existing investors Serena and Isai.

Wecasa offers mobile wellness, beauty and care services seven days a week. It rolled out its services in France and earlier this year launched in London. Anne-Emilie founded the company in 2017 with Pierre Andre, Fabien Nendaz, Julien Lestavel and Antoine Chatelain, who is CEO.

Sophie Kim’s Kurly, Inc. bags additional capital

Kurly, Inc., a grocery start-up led by Sophie Kim, bags additional capital. According to TechCrunch, Kurly closed $200 million in Series F funding co-led by previous investors Aspex Management, DST Global, Sequoia Capital China and Hillhouse Capital, with new investors Millennium Management and CJ Logistics Corporation also participating. The financing comes some 14 months after it raised a $150 million Series E round. It has now raised $550 million since its launch in 2015.

Kurly is an online food delivery service that compares quality and price for foreign foods, providing next-day deliveries across South Korea. The funds will be used to build out its tech stack, talent recruitment and to expand its coverage of its next-day services.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Sophie said, “we are delighted to have new capital which would allow us to further invest in logistics infrastructure, people and technology to continue to innovate mobile grocery market and improve lives of consumers, producers and workers.” Prior to Kurly, Sophie was a consultant with Bain & Co. She also spent time with Temasek Holdings. 

Helen Vaid-led Foundry raises $100M in debt-free equity capital

A platform led by Helen Vaid to grow online brands launches after receiving sizable funding. Foundry raised $100 million in debt-free equity capital from LightBay Capital and Monogram Capital Partners.

Based in Austin, Texas., Foundry is a data-driven brand acquisition platform with a team discovering online businesses and nurturing them into larger brands to curate a selective portfolio of companies. The funds will be used to selectively build a robust portfolio of omni-digital brands, hire new team members and deploy its data-driven technology platform designed to cultivate lasting brands.

Helen, who is the former chief global customer officer of Pizza Hut and VP of Walmart e-commerce, said in a statement, “we are focused on building omni-digital brands that are essential to the households that buy them, and Foundry is uniquely positioned to bring the capital, the commitment and the capabilities to scale these brands beyond a founder’s wildest dreams. We operate knowing that the sum of our efforts is greater than the individual parts, and with this we envision a future where Foundry redefines the standard for how great brands are built.”

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