Coinbase (YC S12) Raises $25M Led By Andreessen Horowitz

Coinbase has raised $25 million in a Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz in the largest funding to date for a company focused on the Bitcoin digital currency. Existing investors Union Square Ventures and Ribbit Capital also participated.

The round brings the total raised by Coinbase up to $31 million.

Coming out of Y Combinator last year, Coinbase provides a wallet and payment processor for merchants, analogous to what PayPal created a decade ago to provide a simple online means for transactions.

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Instant grocery delivery service Instacart (YC S12) launches in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville

With holiday parties and family meals looming, it's easy to see the appeal of Instacart: you can order groceries online and have them delivered to your doorstep in an hour or two, for a delivery charge of as little as $3.99.

And here's the twist: similar to errand services like Task Rabbit or transportation networks like Lyft, just about anyone who can find their way around the produce section can sign up to earn money as a grocery courier for Instacart. The company says that its "personal shoppers" earn an average of $20 an hour, but they're paid based on the number of orders they handle, and the size of those orders. It raises the interesting possibility of pocketing some extra dough by shopping for a few neighbors whenever you visit the store.

"My fridge was always empty," says Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta, right. "I just never had time to go to the grocery store during the day." Mehta previously worked to improve order fulfillment at Amazon, and as an engineer at Qualcomm and RIM. Instacart started in San Francisco, and expanded to Chicago in September; Boston is Instacart's third market. "Our goal is to offer an Amazon-like experience without building any the infrastructure, using crowdsourcing," Mehta says.

Read the full article at Boston.com

Codecademy (YC S11) releases first learn-to-code iOS app Hour of Code, hits #1 in Education on App Store

Eliza Brooke at TechCrunch writes:

Today Codecademy made its first foray into the app space and released an intro to coding course designed to take less than an hour to complete. I had a lot of laundry to do, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

The launch was timed to coincide with Computer Science Education Week, one of the goals of which is to get 10 million students in the U.S. to take an hour of coding. But the broader aim with the app was to create a version of the coursework that could be done in bite-sized portions on the go, well-suited for working professionals and busy types who want to learn a new skill.

Codecademy for iPhone will eventually be its own independent learning platform, CEO and founder Zach Sims said. Version one is very basic — it essentially shows you what coding looks like and what the most rudimentary functions are — and the team is hoping to push more content out this week.

The app is meant to be a super-easy onboarding ramp to future coding. The text feedback you get after each question is encouraging and makes you feel like you’re nailing it, which is nice motivation if you, like me, have a fragile but easily swollen ego. I finished the course just before the wash cycle on my lights ended and immediately wanted more.

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Rainforest (YC S12) lets dev teams run plain-English QA tests on-demand with help from the crowd

Rainforest, a Y Combinator company, has developed an on-demand service that runs functional tests against a crowd of people through Mechanical Turk, Amazon’s crowdsourcing platform. The service is similar to how a customer can use Amazon Web Services to spin up and down instances. But in this case a customer makes an API request for people instead of machines.

The company is also working toward developing ways to seek out workers through private groups to suit companies that have NDAs and bound by regulatory issues.

With Rainforest, the customer can scale the QA work up or down, depending on what they want tested. Customers write tests in plain English, the requirements they have, and then the service takes people through a series of steps to run the tests that the customer wants performed. For example, a customer can ask a simple question about the layout of a site and get it tested in real-time.

Read the full article at TechCrunch

iBeacon Pioneer Estimote (YC S13) raises $3.1M from Innovation Endeavors, Betaworks, Bessemer

Jakub Krzych, founder of Estimote, has announced a $3.1 million seed round raise from Innovation Endeavors, Betaworks, Bessemer Venture Partners, Birchmere Ventures, Valiant Capital Partners and others. The company is already shipping its small Bluetooth products, called Beacons, to retailers and they expect a huge rush in orders as they line up large clients next year.

“In the future apps will not be designed just for smartphones. They will also be developed and installed on top of retail stores and other real world locations – like airports, museums or hospitals,” said Krzych. “We are shipping thousands of beacons per week and more than 10,000 developers around the world are already experimenting with Estimote beacons in contextual computing applications.”

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Announcing the Safe, a Replacement for Convertible Notes

Paul Graham

YC partner (and lawyer) Carolynn Levy has created a new alternative to convertible notes, called a safe, that has the advantages of convertible debt without some of the disadvantages.  We're publishing a standard safe document for all startups to use, and we expect most future YC startups will use this when raising money.

"Safe" comes from "Simple agreement for future equity." Although the name is an acronym, we got tired of typing "SAFE" all the time when talking about it, and we've already switched to lowercase.

Carolynn wrote the standard series AA equity financing documents that we and Wilson Sonsini published in 2008.  In 2010 we advised startups we funded to switch to convertible notes, which have since become the norm, and Carolynn wrote the standard convertible note documents that we offered to YC startups to use when fundraising. (We made those available on Clerky, but we didn't publish the text separately online; sorry about that.) Convertible notes made fundraising a lot easier, but there were still a few things about them that were inconvenient.  So Carolynn has created a replacement that is essentially convertible debt without the debt.

The advantage of raising convertible debt is that it makes fundraising quicker.  You don't have to negotiate all the details you'd have to if you sold stock to an investor.  Instead you give them the right to buy stock in your equity round when it does happen, on whatever the terms turn out to be.

The disadvantage of convertible debt is that although it's only nominally debt, the law cares what things are nominally, and there are all sorts of regulations about debt.  There has to be a term, which in California can't be too long, and there has to be an interest rate not too far from market rates.   The interest on convertible notes makes conversion complicated, and the fact that the debt has a fixed term causes extra work for both parties when it has to be extended.

A safe is like a convertible note in that the investor buys not stock itself but the right to buy stock in an equity round when it occurs.  A safe can have a valuation cap, or be uncapped, just like a note.  But what the investor buys is not debt, but something more like a warrant.  So there is no need to fix a term or decide on an interest rate.

Safes should work just like convertible notes, but with fewer complications.

Learn more about safes and download the documents here.


Clever (YC S12) Gets $10 Million From Sequoia To Provide A Standardized API For School Data

Clever launched about a year and a half ago to provide a standardized API for K-12 schools that allows them to unlock and share data with outside developers. It’s managed to get 10,000 schools signed up to use its tools since then. Now, according to our sources, the company has raised $10 million in funding led by Sequoia Capital.

The funding comes as Clever is finding ways to make schools more connected and accessible for developers. Most schools today use a variety of legacy Student Information Systems (SIS) as a way to store student data. But many of those systems tend to be outdated or custom-built, meaning that the information held within — which includes class lists, attendance, and grades — can’t be shared or accessed by outside developers.

For developers, that means integrating with individual schools on a one-to-one basis, and that just doesn’t scale. Clever, by contrast, provides a single, universal API that will allow developers and education companies to access all the data that has been locked up in legacy silos and use it in their apps.

Brace (YC W12) launches Dropbox-powered hosting, making it easy to host and update static websites

Sometimes, all you need is a static website. Thanks to the advances in HTML5 and JavaScript, you can even offer relatively complex services through a static site. Brace, which is officially launching next week but is already available today, believes that there is a sizable market for a service that can make static hosting easier.

As Cole Krumbholz, Brace’s co-founder, told me earlier this week, the service is mostly aimed at web designers who can use it to push their work onto a live site without the need to know about setting up and managing servers. With Brace, they simply upload their files to a designated Dropbox folder and Brace will then sync it with its Amazon-hosted servers.

Read the full article at TechCrunch