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Mortgage is suddenly sexy as SoftBank pumps $500M in Better.com at $6B valuation

Digital mortgage lender Better.com has raised a $500 million round from Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank that values the company at $6 billion.
The financing is notable for a few reasons. For one, that new $6 billion valuation,  is up 50% from the $4 billion it was valued at last November when it raised $200 million in Series D financing. It’s also up tenfold from its $600 million valuation at the time of its Series C raise in August 2019.
Secondly, it’s further proof that mortgage – a traditionally “unsexy” industry that has long been in need of disruption – is officially hot. For all its controversy, when …

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How Jamaica failed to handle its JamCOVID scandal

As governments scrambled to lock down their populations after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared last March, some countries had plans underway to reopen. By June, Jamaica became one of the first countries to open its borders.
Tourism represents about one-fifth of Jamaica’s economy. In 2019 alone, four million travelers visited Jamaica, bringing thousands of jobs to its three million residents. But as COVID-19 stretched into the summer, Jamaica’s economy was in free fall, and tourism was its only way back — even if that meant at the expense of public health.
The Jamaican government contracted with Amber Group, a technology …

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ChargerHelp raises $2.75M to keep EV chargers working

The coming wave of electric vehicles will require more than thousands of charging stations. In addition to being installed, they also need to work — and today, that isn’t happening.
If a station doesn’t send out an error or a driver doesn’t report it network providers might never know there’s even a problem. Kameale C. Terry, who co-founded ChargerHelp!, an on-demand repair app for electric vehicle charging stations, has seen these issues firsthand.
One customer assumed that poor usage rates at a particular station was due to a lack of EVs in the area, Terry recalled in …

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Everlywell acquires two healthcare companies and forms parent Everly Health

Austin-based home lab testing kit startup Everlywell is expanding its scope considerably with two acquisitions, and a transformation that includes the establishment of a new parent company led by Everlywell CEO and co-founder Julia Cheek. The new entity, called Everly Health, will now offers services including at-home lab testing kits and education, population-scale testing through a U.S.-wide clinician network, telehealth and payer-supported/enterprise self-collected lab test.
This is a big move for Everlywell, which was found in 2015 (and which was a finalist in TechCrunch’s 2016 Disrupt SF Battlefield completion). The company has steadily iterated on its offerings, expanding …

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Ro raises $500M to grow its remote and in-home primary care platform

Healthcare tech startup Ro has raised $500 million to help fuel continued growth of its hybrid telehealth/in-home primary care platform, which also includes a growing pharmacy business as the company pursues a strategy of vertical integration to optimize delivery and reduce costs for clients. The company’s latest raise is a Series D round, and means it has now raised over $876 million since its 2017 founding.
That may seem like a lot of money, but as Ro co-founder and CEO Zachariah Reitano told me in an interview, it’s actually “peanuts” when it comes to the healthcare industry – which is part …

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The Robinhood competitor landscape intensifies as Invstr raises $20M

One of the biggest gripes about investing apps is that they are not acting responsibly by not educating users properly and allegedly letting them fend for themselves. This can result in people losing a lot of money, as evidenced by the number of lawsuits against Robinhood.
Today, an eight-year-old company that has been focused on nothing but financial education is now offering trading and banking services in the U.S..
Over the years, London-based Invstr has built out an educational platform with features such as an investing Academy. It’s created a Fantasy Finance game, which gives users the ability …

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Carbon Engineering inks Shopify as its first partner for carbon removal as a service

Carbon Engineering is moving ahead with its carbon removal service business, allowing customers to buy the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using its direct air capture technology.
The launch of the service, and the announcement that Shopify will be the company’s first customer, comes as the company’s most direct competitor, Climeworks, made moves of its own — striking a deal with the Swedish sequestration services company Northern Lights to move forward with its own direct air capture as a service offering.

With the  Shopify agreement, Carbon Engineering has the first paying customer for 10,000 tonnes of permanent carbon …

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SoFi acquires community bank Golden Pacific Bancorp to speed up its national bank charter process

SoFi, more formally known as Social Finance, announced today that it has agreed to acquire Golden Pacific Bancorp (GPB) for about $22.3 million.
The dollar amount is not staggering. What is more notable about the acquisition is that it’s giving SoFi a quick route to getting a national bank charter. SoFi, a digital personal finance company, got preliminary approval for a bank charter last October. By acquiring Golden Pacific, the company gets a fast track into that process. Once the transaction closes later this year, GPB will become a subsidiary of the company.
A national bank charter will give SoFi …

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Virgin Galactic Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sells off remaining personal stake in the space company

The man who arguably ushered in the current SPAC rush with the merger of Virgin Galactic with his Social Capital Hedosophia holding company has divested the remainder of his personal holdings in the space tourism company. Chamath Palihapitiya, who serves as the Chairman of Virgin Galactic’s board, still holds 6.2% ownership in the company in partnership with investor Ian Osborne, but his solo holdings are now at zero.
Palihapitiya sold 3.8 million shares in December 2020, noting that he was selling that equity “to help manage [his] liquidity” in order to provide funding for “several new projects starting in 2021.” At the time, …

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Fintech startup ClearGlass Analytics closes $3.6M for pension funds transparency platform

Fintech startup ClearGlass Analytics has closed a £2.6 million ($3.6M) funding round for its platform, which aims to create greater transparency on fees in the long-term savings market, such as pensions and the wider asset management market. 
The £2.6m seed round includes European VC Lakestar and Outward VC, the venture arm of Investec, as well as several angels from both the asset management and pension fund worlds. These include Ruston Smith, a pension trustee; Richard Butcher, Chair of the PLSA (UK pension trade body); Chris Wilcox, former Global Head of JP Morgan Asset Management; and Rob O’Rahilly, Sikander Ilyas and …

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