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Insight Partners, Precursor Ventures join Hustle Fund in raising new fund money

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Even as the country is in the final days of a polarizing election, the cogs of VC never stop turning. On this ever-so-quiet, non-election-news Tuesday, venture firms still managed to file paperwork with the SEC indicating newly raised funds. Precursor Ventures and Insight Partners will join Hustle Fund in closing new capital.

The filings are noteworthy because they signal new capital coming into the startup world, which could look dramatically different in the coming weeks. Still, Precursor Ventures and Hustle Fund are both still fundraising, so expect them to (hopefully) add more capital in the coming months.

Precursor Ventures, led by Charles Hudson, has raised a new tranche of capital to invest in pre-seed companies. The firm first filed in March 2020 that it had plans to raise a $40 million fund, and today it appears that it has closed $29 million of that goal. Recent investments from Precursor include The Juggernaut, mmhmm and TeamPay. The fund made headlines recently because it promoted Sydney Thomas, its first hire, to principal. Hudson was unable to comment due to fundraising activity.

We also saw a filing from Insight Partners, which closed a $9.5 billion fund in April for startups and growth-stage investments, indicating that it has raised money for its first-ever Opportunity Fund. The SEC filing shows that Insight Partners has raised $413 million for the opportunity fund. Insight did not return a request for comment.

Earlier today, SEC filings also showed that Hustle Fund has raised $30 million for a second fund, surpassing its previous fund of $11.5 million. Interestingly, paperwork for this new fund was first filed in May 2019 with the intention to raise $50 million. Today’s news, thus, is its first close. While the firm is still fundraising, it’s a long gap between filing and first close. The fund was launched in 2018 by ex-500 Startup partners Eric Bahn and Elizabeth Yin to, similar to Precursor, invest in pre-seed startups. Hustle Fund invests $25,000 checks into 50 startups per year.

Yin declined to comment due to ongoing fundraising activity.

While the spree of funds on Election Day was noteworthy, it was somewhat expected. Generally speaking, funds want to get their paperwork cleared and closed before a potentially chaotic event or time of unrest. We saw closes from OpenView, Canaan, True Ventures and more, while firms including First Round and Khosla filed paperwork for new funds. Time will tell if this is a final exhale of news until January 1, or if the VC world will continue pushing droves of capital, holidays be damned.

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Neuroglee gets $2.3 million to develop digital therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases

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There are now about 50 million people with dementia globally, a number the World Health Organization expects to triple by 2050. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia and caregivers are often overwhelmed, without enough support.

Neuroglee, a Singapore-based health tech startup, wants to help with a digital therapeutic platform created to treat patients in the early stages of the disease. Founded this year to focus on neurodegenerative diseases, Neuroglee announced today it has raised $2.3 million in pre-seed funding.

The round was led by Eisai Co., one of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical companies, and Kuldeep Singh Rajput, the founder and chief executive officer of predictive healthcare startup Biofourmis.

Neuroglee’s prescription digital therapy software for Alzheimer’s, called NG-001, is its main product. The company plans to start clinical trials next year. NG-001 is meant to complement medication and other treatments, and once it is prescribed by a clinician, patients can access its cognitive exercises and tasks through a tablet.

Neuroglee founder and CEO Aniket Singh Rajput (brother of Kuldeep) told TechCrunch that its first target markets for NG-001 are the United States and Singapore, followed by Japan. NG-001 needs to gain regulatory approval in each country, and it will start by seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance.

Once it launches, clinicians will have two ways to prescribe NG-001, through their healthcare provider platform or an electronic prescription tool. A platform called Neuroglee Connect will give clinicians, caregivers and patients access to support and features for reimbursement and coverage.

The software tracks patients’ progress, such as the speed of their fingers and the time it takes to complete an exercise, and delivers personalized treatment programs. It also has features to address the mental health of patients, including one that shows images that can bring up positive memories, which in turn can help alleviate depression and anxiety when used in tandem with other cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.

For caregivers and clinicians, NG-001 helps them track patient progress and their compliance with other treatments, like medications. This means that healthcare providers can work closely with patients even remotely, which is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Govtech intelligence platform, The Atlas for Cities, bought by Government Executive Media Group

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The Atlas for Cities, the 500 Startups-backed market intelligence platform connecting tech companies with state and local governments, has been acquired by the Growth Catalyst Partners-backed publishing and market intelligence company Government Executive Media Group.

The San Diego-based company will become the latest addition to a stable of publications and services that include the Route Fifty, publication for local government and the defense-oriented intelligence service, DefenseOne.

The Atlas provides peer-to-peer networks for state and local government officials to share best practices and is a marketing channel for the startups that want to sell services to those government employees. Through The Atlas, government officials can talk to each other, find case studies for best practices around tech implementations, and post questions to crowdsource ideas.

Government contractors can use the site to network with leadership and receive buyer intent data to inform their strategy in the sector, all while getting intelligence about the problems and solutions that matter to state and local jurisdictions across the nation. 

The Atlas delivers on GEMG’s promise to look for companies that complement and supplement the full suite of offerings that we provide to our partners to reach decision makers across all facets of the public sector,” said Tim Hartman, CEO of Government Executive Media Group, said in a statement.

Led by Ellory Monks and Elle Hempen, The Atlas for Cities launched in 2019 and is backed by financing from individual investors and the 500 Startups accelerator program. It now counts 21,000 government officials across 3,400 cities on its platform.

“State and local governments in the United States spend $3.7 trillion per year. That’s almost 20% of GDP,” said Elle Hempen, co-founder of The Atlas. “Our mission to increase transparency and access for local leaders has the opportunity to transform this enormous, inefficient market and enable tangible progress on the most important issues of our times.”

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Google shutting down Poly 3D content platform

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Google is almost running out of AR/VR projects to kill off.

The company announced today in an email to Poly users that they will be shutting 3D-object creation and library platform “forever” next year. The service will shut down on June 30, 2021 and users won’t be able to upload 3D models to the site on April 30, 2021.

Poly was introduced as a 3D creation tool optimized for virtual reality. Users could easily create low-poly objects with in-VR tools. The software was designed to serve as a lightweight way to create and view 3D assets that could in turn end up in games and experiences, compared to more art and sculpting-focused VR tools like Google’s Tilt Brush and Facebook’s (now Adobe’s) Medium software.

Google has already discontinued most of the company’s AR/VR plays, including most notably their Daydream mobile VR platform.

The AR/VR industry’s initial rise prompted plenty of 3D-centric startups to bet big on creating or hosting a library of digital objects. As investor enthusiasm has largely faded and tech platforms hosting AR/VR content have shuttered those products, it’s less clear where the market is for this 3D content for the time being.

Users that have uploaded objects to Poly will be able to download their data and models ahead of the shutdown.

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