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Venture Capital

Musk, Zuckerberg, Kutcher invest in AI firm Vicarious

Three prominent figures in the technology world have invested serious cash into a company that's trying to make a major move in artificial intelligence.

Tesla chief Elon Musk, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and actor and venture capitalist Ashton Kutcher have invested $40 million into Vicarious, a company that's studying the human brain's neocortex and attempting to translate its function to computer code, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The neocortex is an essential element of being human, providing the functions that allow us to think, see, move, and much more. Speaking to the Journal in an … Read more

Airbnb nears major funding round on $10B valuation, report says

Airbnb, the service that connects travelers and those who want to rent their homes out to those folks, is closing in on a massive funding round, a new report claims.

Airbnb could raise between $400 million and $500 million in a round that would value the company at $10 billion, making it among the most valuable online startups in the world, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the company's plans. If completed, the round would be the first for Airbnb since 2012 when the company raised cash on a $2.5 … Read more

Auction.com raises $50M from Google Capital

Auction.com, an online marketplace where users can sell and buy real estate in an auction setting, has raised a significant sum of capital for its future growth.

Google Capital and Auction.com announced on Wednesday that the search company's growth-equity firm has dropped $50 million in the real estate marketplace on a valuation of $1.2 billion. A Google Capital representative will also join Auction.com's board.

Irvine, Calif.-based Auction.com handles "tens of thousands of transactions" in both commercial and residential real estate every year. The company's online platform launched in 2008, … Read more

EA founder raises $6.5 million for children's learning game

EA founder Trip Hawkins has raised a bundle of cash to build out his learning game for children.

Hawkins' startup, If You Can Company, raised $6.5 million in a Series A funding round led by venture-capital firm Greylock Partners, the company confirmed to TechCrunch on Wednesday. Almaz Capital also participated in the round.

If You Can Company's game, called If..., is designed for children and aims at improving their emotional intelligence with social and emotional learning techniques. According to the company's Web site, If... is essentially a role-playing game, requiring children to make decisions based on "… Read more

Google invests $40M in Renaissance Learning

Google Capital, an investment arm for the search giant that has spent its cash on only two companies prior to this, has invested in Renaissance Learning.

Google Capital invested $40 million into Renaissance Learning, based on a $1 billion valuation. The news was shared on Wednesday with Recode. Google Capital has previously invested in Survey Monkey and Lending Club.

Renaissance Learning is one of many educational companies aimed at improving education at the K-12 levels. The company provides resources to schools to help them teach math and reading. The company told Recode that it currently has 18 million paid subscribers.… Read more

Nest inches closer to $150M finance round on $2B valuation

Nest, the smart-home startup best known for its thermostat, is closing in on some serious cash, according to a new report.

Nest is near the end of a financing round in which it will raise at least $150 million on a $2 billion valuation, Recode's Kara Swisher reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the talks. Nest could raise as much as $200 million on a $3 billion valuation, the site's other sources say.

Over the last few years, Nest has become one of the more popular companies in the smart-home business. The company was founded by Tony Fadell, … Read more

Oculus Rift gets major boost with $75M in funding

Oculus VR, the company behind the highly anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming goggles, has just secured a boatload of cash to bring the product to market.

The company late Thursday announced that it has secured $75 million in a venture funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Spark Capital and Matrix Partners, among others, participated in the round.

The cash infusion, which dwarfs the more than $18 million Oculus has raised through Kickstarter and a Series A round, will be used to hire more staff, the company said in a statement. That staff, coupled with the funding, will provide the … Read more

Zuckerberg, Gates lead funding round for education not-for-profit

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates have dropped cash into a not-for-profit through their respective foundations.

EducationSuperHighway raised $9 million in a recently closed funding round, which was led by Zuckerberg's Startup:Education fund and included participation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, EducationSuperHighway told TechCrunch on Wednesday. According to TechCrunch, the nonprofit will use the funds for everything from lobbying government to expanding its broadband-speed testing initiative.

EducationSuperHighway's Web site claims that 80 percent of public schools in the US "lack fast enough Internet speeds to prepare our students for increasingly digital … Read more

AlphaLab Gear looks to boost hardware, robotics startups

A new startup accelerator has launched in Pittsburgh with an eye on robotics.

AlphaLab Gear opened on Monday, inviting early-stage companies working in hardware and robotics to join the accelerator program. AlphaLab Gear's accelerator initiative starts first with cash. The company will offer $25,000 to startups for 5 percent equity. Those firms that need $50,000 will have to hand over 9 percent of the company to AlphaLab Gear.

In addition to funding, the accelerator will provide business mentorship and space for working on the project, according to the organization. The offer also includes access to TechShop, a … Read more

AngelList snags $24M, ups assault on traditional tech funding

Venture capital, in its relatively short history, has been a small world.

Many times, a company gets funded because a venture capitalist knew where to look, or a company knew how to reach a VC. While there are some cold-call success stories, many would say there is a sense of exclusivity that exists in the industry.

AngelList, a 3-year-old network that matches investors with tech startups, has sought to change that. On Monday, the company announced it's raised $24 million to help it do so.

Originally started as a blog called Venture Hacks, the goal was to teach startups … Read more