Monday, January 16, 2017

SPACES Gets $6.5M For Virtual Reality Theme Park Efforts

Monday, January 16, 2017

Playa Vista-based SPACES, a developer of virtual reality technology aimed at the theme park industry, announced last week that it has raised $6.5M in additional seed funding. The funding was led by Chinese theme park operator Songcheng Performance Development, and also included Comcast Ventures, along with Boost VC, Colopl VR fund, GREE Inc., Kai Huang, The Venture Reality Fund, Youku Global Media Fund, and CRCM VC. The company said the new funding will go towards buildling VR-enabled theme park attractions. SPACES is led by CEO and co-founder Shiraz Akmal, and was co-founded by CTo Brad Herman. As part of the funding, the company said it has named Fazal Merchant (former CFO of DreamWorks Animation), Michael Yang (Comcast Ventures), and Ethan Wang (Songcheng Technology) to its board.

 
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SpaceX Successfully Returns To Space

Monday, January 16, 2017

Hawthorne-based SpaceX successfully returned to space on Saturday with a launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, launching ten Iridium satellites into orbit, and successfully landing the first stage of the rocket an its barge at sea. The SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off from Vandenberg at 9:54 a.m. on Saturday, and was the first launch for the space rocket developer since a catastrophic failure in September. That failure has been traced to the failure of a high pressure helium vessel in the Falcon 9's second stage liquid oxygen tank.

 
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Rubicon Project Seeks Buyer, Says Report

Friday, January 13, 2017

Los Angeles-based advertising exchange Rubicon Project is reportedly seeking a buyer, and has engaged investment banking firm Morgan Stanley to shop the firm, according to the WSJ on Friday. The report cited "people familiar with the matter". The report said Rubicon Project is looking at strategic options for the company, including a sale of the company.

 
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Maple Media Launches App Rollup Venture, Backed By Shamrock Capital

Friday, January 13, 2017

Los Angeles-based Maple Media, a new startup led by startup veterans Clark Landry and Michael Ritter, said late Thursday evening that it has launched a new venture which will acquire and roll up mobile apps. The startup says it is backed by private equity investor Shamrock Capital, and is actively looking to acquire profitable iOS and Android mobile app. Maple Media says it already owns a portfolio of 150 mobile apps, and is specifically focused on creating a network of cash-flow positive mobile apps. Landry is a very active investor in Southern California startups, and is the former co-founder and chairman of SHIFT; he also has invested in such companies as The Trade Desk, Adconion, Gradient X, TagWorld, Edgecast Networks, and many, many others. Ritter, who serves as CEO of Maple Media, was previously in business development at Jam City and Mindjolt.

 
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Report: Venture Dollars Decline In Q4, Says NVCA

Friday, January 13, 2017

Venture capital investment dollars declined in Q4, to $12.7 billion invested across 1,736 companies, according to the new Pitchbook-NVCA Venture Monitor, the new report tracking venture capital investment across the U.S., as the venture market eased off its torrid funding pace. The NVCA called the investment levels "fairly health" and said that it appears that venture funding is coming to a "more normal level" versus the peak in 2015. According to the report, for the whole of 2016, more than $69.1 billion was invested across 7,751 companies, the second highest annual investment total in the past 11 years in terms of dollars. Although total dollars were high, the Pitchbook-NVCA report said there was actually a big decline in the number of deals, with a 22 percent year-over-year decline in terms of deal count--the lowest since 012. In addition to investments, fundraising by venture capital hit $41.6 billion raised across 253 funds, driven by billion dollar funds from firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Greylock Partners.

 
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Illumina Powers Molecular Breeding Tool Effort For Cattle

Friday, January 13, 2017

San Diego-based life sciences equipment maker Illumina said this week that it has linked up with genome assembly and analysis software developer NRGene, on an effort to develop new molecular breeding tools for cattle. According to the two, they will work together to sequence cattle from different breeds, to gain more knowledge on the genetic variations across cattle breeds--all aimed at accelerating breeding for better meat and milk production. Financial details of the collaboration were not announced. The two said the effort is being done in conjunction with researchers at the Universidade Estadual Paulista in Brazil.

 
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EDF Renewable Energy Puts Google Wind Farm Into Operation

Friday, January 13, 2017

San Diego-based renewable energy developer EDF Renewable Energy says that it recently put a 225 megawatt, wind farm--which is supplying electricity to Google--into operation. EDF Renewable Energy said the Great Western Wind Project, which is based near Woodward and Ellis counties in Oklahoma, went into commercial operations on December 21st. All of the power at that plant is going to Google, under a long term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the output of the wind farm. EDF Renewable Energy said the wind turbines at the location generate enough electricity to power 70,000 average Oklahoma homes. Google's use of the wind farm is part of the Internet giant's renewable energy efforts, and was originally announced in Paris at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). EDF RE said that Google is now the largest corporate buyer of renwable power in the world, with 2.6 gigawatts worth of renewable energy long-term contracts.

 
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Sonos Brings Sound Shaping To Playbar

Friday, January 13, 2017

Santa Barbara-based whole home music system developer Sonos said on Thursday that it has extended its Trueplay sound shaping system to its PLAYBAR products. Trueplay lets users tune speakers to specific environments where they are installed, using a users' smartphone to measure how sound is bouncing off walls, furniture, and other surfaces. Sonos said that Trueplay for PLAYBAR is available in its 7.0 update.

 
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

RadPad Acquired By LandlordStation

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Los Angeles-based apartment rental marketplace RadPad, which was founded by Jonathan Eppers, has been acquired by LandlordStation. RadPad had offered up a place to search for apartment rentals, which were shown on a map and also let users search by feature, price, and other details. Financial details of the acquisition were not announced. RadPad had been venture backed by Altpoint Ventures, Goldcrest Investments and AmplifyLA.

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Correlation Ventures Raises $200M In New Investment Fund

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Correlation Ventures, a venture capital investment firm with offices in San Diego, Palo Alto, and New York City, said this week that it has raised $200M in a new investment fund. The company said the second fund was oversubscribed, and brings its total assets under management to $366M. Limited partners in the new fund included endowments, pensions, funds of funds and family offices, according to the firm. Correlation's co-founders and Managing Directors are David Coats and Trevor Kienzle. The company's portfolio includes Virsto Software (acquired by VMware), InstaEDU (acquired by Chegg) and AirXpanders (IPO), and the firm says it has made investments in 121 companies total via its first fund, Correlation 1.

 
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General Assembly Opening New Location In Little Tokyo

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Technical training and education provider General Assembly is opening up a new location in Los Angeles, its second, in Little Tokyo, the company said on Thursday. According to General Assembly, the new location--at 2nd Street and S. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo--will allow people located in the "heart of LA" to access its services. General Assembly currently has a campus in Santa Monica and one in Irvine. The company offers up classes around coding, design, marketing, and other topics of interest to startups and other technology companies, as well as hosts many events from different organizations in the area.

 
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SpaceX Edges Closer To Weekend Launch

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hawthorne-based SpaceX is edging closer to a planned launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 this weekend at Vandenberg Air Force based, after successfully loading the Iridium satellite payload to its Falcon 9 on Thursday, according to Iridium. SpaceX's next window for launch of the payload is on Saturday the 14th, at 9:54 a.m. PST. The launch comes after forecasts for rain and high wind--from this week's series of storms in California--moved the launch for an earlier, planned launch date on Monday, January 9th. If successful, the launch will be the first for SpaceX since the explosion of a Falcon 9 at Cape Canaveral last year.

 
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Snapchat Sued Over Electronic Messaging Patents

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Venice, California-based Snap, Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, has been sued in a patent infringement suit, by a company called Vaporstream. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in the Ninth Circuit of the California Central District Court (Vaporstream Inc v. Snap Inc), and cites a number of patents which were granted to Vaporstream in July of 2005 for Vaporstream's secure messaging products. Vaporstream says it develops "secure, ephemeral and compliant messaging" for the financial industry. One of the company's patents covers a system where an "electronic message is permanently automatically deleted from the system at a predetermined time".

 
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Techstars LA Names Managing Director

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Techstars, the startup accelerator operator which has been ramping up its efforts in Los Angeles, said on Wednesday that it has name Anna Barber as the new Managing Director of its Techstars LA program. In a post, "Why LA is the Future of Startups", Barber said the post is her "dream gig". Barber--who has been in LA for 17 yyears--previously was GM and VP at Fingerprint Digital, and was founder and CEO of Scribble Press, and also served at McKinsey & Co., and was a corporate lawyer. Barber also said that Ethan Austin, co-founder of Giveforward, will become Director of the LA program, and Lara Jeremko, an investor and startup advisor who managed venture capital investments at the University of Texas, will become Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

 
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Report: Crosscut Ventures Launching Fourth Venture Investment Fund

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Los Angeles-based venture capital investor Crosscut Ventures has reportedly started approaching limited partners (LPs) for investments in a new fund, its fourth. Crosscut's last fund, Crosscut Ventures 3, was worth $75M. The report, from the Pro Rata newsletter, said there's "a chance" that the new fund will be double in size of the last fund. Crosscut has not yet filed regulatory details on the new fund. Crosscut Ventures is managed by Rick Smith, Brian Garrett, Brett Brewer, and Clinton Foy. The firm is a heavy investor in Southern California's startup community, and has had a number of exits, including Dermstore (acquired by Target), Docstoc (acquired by Intuit), CircleSt (acquired by Valassis), GradientX (acquired by SingTel), Lettuce (also acquired by Intuit), SHIFT (acquired by Brand Networks), Shoedazzle (Acquired by Justfab); and Star.me (Acquired by Buzzfeed).

 
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MSC Software In Play

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Newport Beach-based CAD/CAM software maker MSC Software is reportedly in play, with current private equity owners Elliott Associates and Symphony Technology Group potentially selling the company to CVC Capital Partners, according to a report. Reuters quoted "people familiar with the matter" in its report, saying the deal could be worth more than $800M. MSC Software went private back in 2008.

 
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Honest Co. Hit By Recall

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Los Angeles-based online natural baby and home products Honest Co., which was founded by Jessica Alba and serial entrepreneur Brian Lee, has voluntarily recalled its house branded "Organic Baby Powder". Honest Co. said the powder is being recalled for due to possible contamination with microorganisms, including some species associated with skin infections or eye infections, and present a possible health risk. Honest Co. said no other products were affected by the recall, and that it would be offering up full refunds.

 
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Inland Empire Startup J2 Innovations Joins Wells Fargo Incubator

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Chino, California-based J2 Innovations, a startup developing building automation and operating systems for connecting and controlling devices, is one of ten early stage companies that are joining a clean tech startup incubator run by Wells Fargo. Well Fargo said that J2 Innovations is one of ten startupss who are each receive up to $250,000 in cash, and in-kind technical assistance to advance their technologies, plus access to Well Fargo's real estate for beta tests. Wells Fargo said the effort is funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and co-administred by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Wells Fargo says it works with groups around the nation, including local groups such as the Cal-Tech Flow Program, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership in Palm Springs, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, UC Irvine, and UC San Diego to help identify startups for its incubator.

 
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Wpromote Joins Corporate Philanthropy Group

Thursday, January 12, 2017

El Segundo-based Wpromote, the digital marketing firm led by Mike Mothner, announced today that it has joined the Pledge 1% movement, which pledges 1 percent of the company's employee time towards working with local non-profits. Wpromote said it will expand its focus on helping non-profits through the initiative. Wpromote already has been active in supporting non-profits, by helping to train those nonprofits on online and digital marketing. Pledge 1% was created by Atlassian, Salesforce.org, and Tides, and now includes such other companies as Yelp!, Salesforce, and Yahoo.

 
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ConsumerTrack Expands In El Segundo, Ramps Hiring

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Los Angeles-based ConsumerTrack, the operator of GoBankingRates.com and other personal finance content and lead generation sites, said today that it is expanding its headquarters in El Segundo. According to ConsumerTrack, it has moved into a new office wich has room for over 100 employees, and which also includes a custom gym and video studio to expand its production facilities. ConsumerTrack did not detail how large the new space is or where it is moving in El Segundo, but did say it expects to accelerating its hiring in 2017 to help support growth. ConsumerTrack says its customer include such companies Fidelity, Transunion, Chase Bank, and many other financial institutions.

 
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Lytx Powers Driver Safety For Organic Food Distributor

Thursday, January 12, 2017

San Diego-based driver safety systems developer Lytx said this morning that natural and organic food distributor KeHe Distributors has been using its DriveCam video safety service. According to Lytx, KeHe is using its DriveCam video safety system to help its drivers stay engaged on driving, and has been since 2013, to cover its nearly 595 drivers and 489 vehicle fleet. Lytx did not detail how much the contract with KeHe Distributors is worth to the company. The company said its DriveCam video safety program is now being used by more than 650,000 commercial and government fleet drivers.

 
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Carbonics Launches First Product

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Marina Del Rey-based Carbonics said on Wednesday that it has launched its first product, a carbon-on-silicon wafer aimed at helping advanced radio frequency (RF) semiconductor development. The company said its ZEBRA carbon-on-wafer helps with the dvelopment of next-generation, semiconductor devices using semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNT), which will allow for densities exceeding both GaAs pHEMT (gallium arsenide metamorphic high electron mobility transistor) and current silicon technology. Carbonics is backed by $5.5M from TAQNIA International, and is a spinout of research conducted at UCLA and USC.

 
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Western Digital Backs Panzura In $32M Funding

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Irvine-based mass storage maker Western Digital is one of the backers in a new, $32M funding round for cloud storage services provider Panzura. Panzura says it has raised $32M in funding, in a round led by Matrix Partners, and which also included Meritech Capital Partners, Opus Capital, Chevron and Western Digital. Patrick Harr, who had been co-founder and CEO of San Diego-based online storage service provider Nirvanix, serves as the CEO of Panzura. Panzura is based in Campbell, California.

 
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GoFundMe Acquires CrowdRise

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

San Diego- and Redwood City-based online crowdfunding site GoFundMe has acquired CrowdRise, the developer of an online fundraising platform for charities and non-profits. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. CrowdRise was based in Detroit. According to the companies, going forwad, CrowdRise will focus on fundraising for charity and fundraising for individuals will be directed to GoFundMe instead. CrowdRise was founded by actor Edward Norton, producer Shauna Robertson, along with Robert and Jeffrey Wolfe.

 
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Interview with Kos Galatsis, Carbonics

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


In the startup world, one of the most difficult journeys to market is by companies who are taking basic scientific advances and technologies originally developed at universities, and taking them all the way to use in the commercial world. One of the companies on that journey is Los Angeles-based Carbonics (www.carbonics.com), which is taking technology developed in the labs of USC and UCLA, and bringing it to use in the wireless semiconductor market. The company's CEO, Kos Galatsis, spoke to us a few years ago at the very beginning of their journey. The company just announced its first product, so we thought it would be interesting to follow up with Kos on his progress bringing the company's technology to market.

Remind our readers, for those who aren't familiar with your company, what your products are all about?

Kos Galatsis: The semiconductor revolution was once all about computers, but it's now all about smartphones. At CES, you heard the term from Qualcomm called mission critical applications--things we can't mess up--and they're all now wireless. Carbonics is focusing on wireless technology, using new semiconductors that bring us into the 5G era. Right now, we're used to 3G and 4G on our smartphones; the next step is 5G, which means we will be able to transmit wireless, 4K resolution video over our telephone networks and through to our smartphones. To do that, we need high performance electronics....

 
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TP-Link Opens New HQ, Sponsors LA Kings

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

TP-Link, which develops wireless networking equipment, hardware for the smart home market, and more, said it has moved its headquarters to Brea, California. The company, which previously was based in San Dimas, said its new headquarters in Brea has more than 26,350 square feet, and will house more than 75 employees in sales, marketing, and product management. TP-Link also said it has openings for another 20 people company-wide. In addition to the new headquarters, TP-Link also announced that it has a new sponsorship with the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, and has rolled out new corporate branding. Financial details of the sponsorship deal were not announced, but TP-Link said its logo will be prominently featured on center ice at the STAPLES Center, among other promotions.

 
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Novatel Wireless Gets Nod From Investors On Sale

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

San Diego-based Inseego Corp.--most recently, Novatel Wireless--said late Tuesday that its stockholders have approved the sale of its MiFi mobile broadband business to T.C.L. Industries Holdings (H.K.) Limited and Jade Ocean Global Limited.The deal is worth $50M in cash. Novatel had announced the sale of the business in September, and said it would rename the rest of the company Inseego Corp. Inseego will focus only on Internet-of-things and telematics services, rather than hardware.

 
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AnaptysBio Appoints New CFO

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

San Diego-based AnaptysBio, which is developing antibodies to treat inflammation, has named a new CFO. AnaptysBio announced this morning that it has appointed Dominic Piscitelli as its new Chief Financial Officer, to head up finance strategy and oversee accounting and SEC reporting. Piscitelli previously was at Medivation, and was part of that firm's acquisition by Pfizer; he also served at Astellas Pharmaceuticals and OSI Pharmaceuticals.

 
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Qualcomm Names India VP

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

San Diego-based Qualcomm Incorporated said on Tuesday that it has named Larry Paulson as Vice President, and President of Qualcomm India. Paulson has been at Qualcomm since 2013, most recently heading up the company's QCT Platform organization. Paulson also has served at BrightPoint and Nokia.

 
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sonos Founder MacFarlane Steps Down As CEO

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

John MacFarlane, the founder and CEO of Santa Barbara-based music system maker Sonos, has stepped down as CEO, and has handed over the CEO position to Patrick Spence, MacFarlane announced on Tuesday. According to MacFarlane, he will remain an employee of Sonos, where he will "help and advise" the company, and also focus on STEM education. Spence has been President of Sonos since July of 2016, and had joined Sonos in 2012 as Chief Commercial Officer. Spence also had served at Research in Motion and IBM Canada. MacFarlane has been CEO of Sonos for the last fifteen years. Photo: Patrick Spence on Left, John MacFarlane on right, via Sonos.

 
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Snap Inc: No, We Don't Have A New HQ In London

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Venice, California-based Snap, Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, said on Tuesday that it has not established a new international headquarters in London--despite media reports. The company said it has "one HQ, in Venice", and the changes in London simply involved billing advertising revenue in the UK through a UK entity. The change will allow the company to pay taxes in the UK, according to the company, so that it can be a "good local partner as we grow our business."

 
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MobileCause Raises $15M For Nonprofit Software

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Los Angeles-based nonprofit fundraising and crowdfunding software platform developer MobileCause has raised $15M in a Series B funding, according to the company. The funding came from growth equity firm Level Equity. As part of the funding, Levil Equity's Sarah Sommer has joined the company's board. MobileCause said the new funding will go towards "aggressive" product innovation and expansion in the US and internationally. MobileCause is led by CEO Sean MacNeill.

 
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Moonshots Gets Big Exit At Harvest.ai

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Los Angeles-based venture investment firm Moonshots Capital, which is led by Kelly Perdew, has seen a big exit via the acquisition of San Diego's Harvest.ai by Amazon Web Services. The deal, which has not yet been formally announced, was reportedly worth around $20M. Moonshots and fellow investors, including Trinity Ventures, had invested only $2.3M in Harvest.ai, which develops cybersecurity software aimed at data loss prevention. Moonshots was only founded two years ago by Perdew and co-founder Craig Cummings, although both Perdew and Cummings are long time angel investors.

 
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PSI Services Buys Software Secure

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Burbank-based testing software and services provider PSI Services announced this morning that it has acquired Software Secure, a provider of cloud-based, online testing services for the higher education, K-12, and certification markets. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed. The acquisition is the second for PSI in the area in the last two years; the company had earlier acquired Innovative Exams, a similar provider of remote testing services to the industry; the company also acquired three other firms--Computer Assisted Testing Services, EnlightKS, and Applied Measurement Technologies--all in the last year. Steve Tapp is President and CEO of PSI.

 
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March Capital Partners Backs Activehours

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Los Angeles-based venture investor March Capital Partners, the investment firm run by Jim Armstrong, Sumant Mandal, Gregory Milken, and Jamie Montgomery, has made an investment in Activehours, a new startup offering up early access to paychecks. Activehours, based in Palo Alto, said it had raised $22M in a funding round, which was led by Matrix Partners, and also included March Capital Partners, plus existing investors Ribbit Capital, Felicis Ventures, and others. Activehours is a mobile app which lets users access their pay for hours they have already worked, but haven't been paid for yet, and says it does not charge a fee or interest for the service; the company said instead, it gives users the "opportunity to pay what they believe is fair" for the service. March Capital Partners launched its new $240M venture fund back in May of 2016.

 
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