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July 23 2020

Online publishers and print media businesses are not doing well. Exacerbated by the pandemic, many have cut their budgets. This situation gives rise to a class of talented freelance individuals who have loyal followings and pointed insights. 

A new platform has emerged to help these freelancers monetize their assets. Substack’s business model is simple: it charges people to read thought leaders’ newsletters. Much like traditional media, Substack is a subscription. But unlike Medium, Substack is more focused on the thought leaders to which the reader is subscribed. One can only access content by that creator as a subscriber. 

Founded in 2017, the company allows writers to build their own paid subscription businesses and takes a 10% cut of revenue. Most coverage of Substack has focused on the coterie of writers "newslettering" full-time, earning salaries rivaling mainstream jobs, but the chaos of the current media moment has widened the platform’s appeal.

As the media ecosystem contracts amid coronavirus, Substack has been thrust into an uncomfortable role — that of a savior. As more writers go solo, the question has emerged as to whether Substack can become the kind of monetization system that never materialized during the last major Internet writer-driven movement, the halcyon days of the early blogging era of the 2000s.

There are more than 100,000 subscribers who pay writers on Substack, according to the company. Although Substack is disaggregated, some writers are already figuring out how to bundle their newsletters — or considering doing so. Group enough newsletters together and what’s left is, effectively, a blog or magazine. 

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Subscription Platform Companies:

Medium was created by The Obvious Corporation and is a privately-held company that operates in the software & Internet services industry, running a social publishing platform. The company's platform is an example of social journalism when people of different professional levels can share their ideas on any point in the form of blog posts. Founded in 2012 by Biz Stone and Evan Williams. Medium's headquarters are located in San Francisco, California.

Patreon is a membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service. It allows creators and artists to earn a monthly income by providing exclusive rewards and perks to their subscribers, or "patrons."

Stitcher is a media company that specializes in the creation, distribution, and monetization of podcasts. Stitcher creates original shows through networks such as Earwolf and Witness Docs. Via Midroll Media, Stitcher provides ad sales and distribution services to 300+ shows.

TikTok to hire 10,000 people in the U.S. and conduct a potential internal buyout
It's reportedly hiring mostly in California, Texas, Florida and New York. Meanwhile, a group of U.S. ByteDance investors may be thinking about buying TikTok.
[Read more].
Fiat Chrysler signs deal with Waymo as it steers away from Aurora
Waymo and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have inked a deal to develop and test autonomous cargo vans and other light commercial vehicles designed to shuttle goods.  [Read more].
Since last week, PrivCo has added:
1422 Profile Updates | 199 M&A Deals176 Funding Activities

Funding & Deal Highlights:

Joywell Foods, a food technology company developing a sweet protein portfolio, announces the closing of a $6.9M Series A financing round.

ProciseDx raises $10.5M through $8.5M of equity and $2M of debt. The new financing will be used to fund ongoing development and commercialization of its point-of-care (POC) diagnostic platform. The investment round was led by Biosynex, S.A., a French diagnostics company, and included management and private investors.

MeetElise, the leading artificial intelligence-powered leasing agent software that now streamlines leasing processes for over 250,000 multifamily communities nationwide,  announces their $6.5M Series A financing led by Navitas Capital. This investment brings the total amount of funding raised by MeetElise to $8.5M. MeetElise, founded by Minna Song (MIT) and Tony Stoyanov (University of Cambridge) in 2017, uses machine learning to fill the communication gaps between prospective renters and apartment operators, increasing the conversion rates of traditional leasing agents using conventional methods and tools by more than 65%.

Elevation Oncology, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of precision medicines for patients with genomically defined cancers, announces the launch of the Company with a $32.5M Series A financing, initiation of the Phase 2 CRESTONE study, and new partnerships with Next Generation Sequencing diagnostic providers including Ashion Analytics, Strata Oncology, and Tempus to explore innovative models for real-time identification, patient referral, and enrollment of patients with tumors driven by rare genomic alterations. The Series A financing was led by Aisling Capital and a syndicate of investors including Vertex Ventures HC, Qiming Venture Partners USA, Driehaus Capital Management, and BVF Partners.

Innovium, a leading provider of high performance, innovative switching silicon solutions for Cloud and Edge data centers, announces $170M in additional equity funding today. This financing comprises new investments from Premji Invest, DFJ Growth, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, and multiple strategic investors, along with existing investors including Greylock, Capricorn, WRVI, Qualcomm Ventures, Redline, S-Cubed Capital, and DAG. Innovium becomes the first network silicon company to achieve unicorn status.

FLX Distribution closes a $2.5M seed funding round led by RiverNorth Capital Management and included six strategic investors.

CurvaFix, Inc., a developer of medical devices to repair fractures in curved bones, announces the completion of its oversubscribed Series B private equity financing, totaling $10.75M. The financing was led by Sectoral Asset Management and included participation from existing investors, including Delta Dental Washington Seed Fund, and board members. The company also announces the appointment of Sectoral Asset Management’s Michael Sjöström and Marc-André Marcotte to its board of directors.

Rah Rah raises another $1M to enrich student life on campus through its community engagement platform.

Smol is a startup that delivers to people’s homes eco-friendly laundry capsules and dishwasher tablets on subscription through letterboxes, which undercuts the prices of the leading brands. It has now raised £8M in a Series A funding round led by Balderton Capital, with participation from JamJar Investments.

Tenzing Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, and Reviva Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Delaware corporation and a California-based clinical-stage pharmaceutical company developing therapies that address unmet medical needs in the areas of central nervous system, cardiovascular, metabolic, and inflammatory diseases, announces they have entered into a definitive agreement and plan of merger (the "Merger Agreement") for a business combination transaction resulting in a total post-money equity value of the combined company of approximately $119M, assuming $34M stays in Tenzing's trust account in connection with the closing, and assuming no other equity issuances by Tenzing.

C. Mondavi & Family, widely known for its four generations in the Napa Valley wine and grape business, announces plans to add imported wines to its product portfolio, starting with the acquisition of the French Blue brand from Flying Blue Imports.

HealthEdge Software, Inc., a provider of the industry’s leading integrated financial, administrative and clinical platform for health insurers, HealthRules Payor, announces the acquisition of The Burgess Group, LLC, an innovative payment integrity software company focused on improving healthcare payment operations through technology.

Toronto-based enterprise software startup Cryptonumerics has been acquired by Snowflake Inc., the California-based cloud-based data-warehousing startup that is anticipated to go public on the Nasdaq later this year.

Buildout, commercial real estate's premier brokerage software company, announces that they secured a new investing partner in The Riverside Company.

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