Airware (YC W13) raises $10.7M from Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures for commercial drone autopilots

The drones are coming. But rather than hovering over our homes in some big-brother scenario, they’ll be checking farmers’ crops, inspecting power lines, fighting forest fires and delivering medicines and vaccines in rural Africa.

Those are just some of the customers and markets in which Newport Beach, California-based startup Airware plays with its commercial drone software and hardware. On Tuesday, Airware announced almost $11 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures.

Airware isn’t going after the hobbyist market—those RC helicopters, planes and quadcopters that can be bought for as little as $100. Airware is all about commercial aircraft—all manner of fixed-wings and choppers that range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on what they do, says Airware CEO Jonathan Downey. Think somewhere between military-grade and consumer: “It’s definitely a nascent market, but there is a huge unmet need,” says Downey, a commercial-rated pilot himself.

Read the full article at Wired with more coverage at Techcrunch, AllThingsD, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes

Cloudant (YC S08) raises $12M for highly scalable database-as-a-service

Hot database-as-a-service startup Cloudant has raised $12 million in its second round of funding, the company announced today.

Boston-based Cloudant was initially founded in Cambridge, Mas. in 2008 by three MIT physicists. The team struggled to move around multi-petabyte data sets and analyze those data sets wherever they went. So they ended up creating what would become Cloudant.

Cloudant offers a highly scalable database-as-a-service that makes it possible to store, access, and analyze your operational data in the cloud. In the layers of the cloud, Cloudant becomes a “data layer” that can be run on top of most infrastructure-as-a-service providers, including Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, SoftLayer, Microsoft Azure, and Joyent.

Cloudant CEO Derek Schoettle told VentureBeat that this “agnostic” approach to infrastructure deployment separates it from its biggest competitor — Amazon database services. “We believe in not having vendor lock in,” Schoettle said.

Cloudant has attracted some big-name customers with its approach, including Samsung, Microsoft, Adobe, Nokia, Salesforce, Expedia, Zynga, and Flurry.

The new funding was led by Devonshire Investors, Rackspace Hosting, and Toba Capital, with participation by current investors Avalon Ventures, In-Q-Tel, and Samsung Venture Investment Corporation. Including the new round, Cloudant has raised $16 million to date.

Read the full article at VentureBeat

YC alums named in Fast Company Most Creative 2013: Apoorva Mehta, Katelyn Gleason, Mahbod Moghadam

Apoorva Mehta is the CEO of Instacart, a nearly year-old grocery delivery service that has already raised $2.3 million. For just $4 plus tip--roughly the price of a cup of Blue Bottle's finest drip--Instacart customers can order food online from a handful of grocery stores, including Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and send a "personal shopper" (that is to say, a delivery guy) to bring it to their door in three hours or less. Urban food-delivery startups are nothing new--Webvan and managed to burn half a billion dotcom dollars between them before going bust in 2001--but Mehta's company takes advantage of two peculiar things about cities in 2013: the ubiquity of smartphones and persistently high underemployment. Instacart's personal shoppers are independent contractors paid on commission. The average wage is between $12 and $15 an hour. The contractors use their own mobile devices and vehicles.

Read more about Apoorva at Fast Company

Before doctors do anything, they have to check a patient’s insurance coverage. These checks cost millions and use “armies of people making phone calls,” says Katelyn Gleason, whose solution is the startup Eligible. It offers one-stop online insurance verification for doctors.

Read more about Katelyn at Fast Company

Mahbod Moghadam started Rap Genius (1) in 2009 as a way to solve a dispute with his friend and cofounder, Tom Lehman, over a lyric on rapper Cam’ron’s album Purple Haze. (2) Then Moghadam had a vision: “I kid you not, Jesus came down and told me that Rap Genius is going to be the biggest website in the world,” he says. 

Read more about Mahbod at Fast Company

Box acquires Crocodoc (YC W10)

Cloud storage company Box has acquired HTML5 document embedding service and Y Combinator alum Crocodoc, both companies announced in a press briefing today. Financial terms of the deal, which was a cash and stock transaction, were not disclosed; however, Box CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie said that it was a successful exit for investors. Crocodoc has raised a little over $1 million in funding from Y Combinator, SV Angel, Paul Buchheit, Joshua Schachter, Dave McClure, Steve Chen and XG Ventures.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Coinbase (YC S12) raises $5M from Union Square Ventures, largest financing round yet for a Bitcoin startup

Eleven-month-old startup Coinbase announced Tuesday the largest funding round to date for a Bitcoin startup, a $5 million investment led by Union Square Ventures.

In an exclusive interview with The Wall Street Journal, Coinbase’s founders Fred Ehrsam and Brian Armstrong said the Series A deal–which followed a seed round in September 2012 of $600,000–will help the San Francisco company cover operating costs and hire engineers, designers and business-support staff.

“We need 10 people yesterday,” said Ehrsam, a 24-year-old former Goldman Sachs trader. Armstrong, 30, was previously a software engineer at peer-to-peer housing startup Airbnb.

Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal

Chute (YC W12) raises $7M to help publishers and brands manage user-generated photos

Chute, a startup that offers tools for collecting and displaying photos, has raised $7 million in Series A Funding.

The round was led by Foundry Group, with participation from existing investors Freestyle Capital and US Venture Partners. Chute previously raised a $2.7 million seed round led by Freestyle.

The company allows publishers and other businesses to pull relevant photos from social networks or collect them directly from users, then display those images on their own websites and in real-world locations. It’s also experimenting with other photo collection methods, like allowing NBC News reporters to post photos of the presidential inauguration directly from a Chute mobile reporting app.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Science Exchange (YC S11) Raises $3 Million from Union Square Ventures, O'Reilly AlphaTech

If the Internet can let you rent someone’s futon, car or cooking skills, it can certainly help you get your hands on some spare scientists or lab time.

Right? Right. That’s the premise behind Science Exchange, a Palo Alto-based startup that lets researchers buy or sell access to people and equipment they can use to run lab tests and experiments.

Scientists are already used to outsourcing certain kinds of work, either because they don’t have the time or the resources to do it themselves. So Science Exchange isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel — they’re just digitizing it and putting it up for bid on the Web, like everything else.


Those numbers have been enough to help the company land a $3 million Series A round, led by Union Square Ventures, along with O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures. Earlier investors who had helped the Y Combinator company raise a $1.5 million seed round are also back; they include Yuri Milner, Lerer Ventures and XG Ventures.

Read the full article at AllThingsD

Grouper (YC W12) launches iPhone app, now in 20 cities, 400 partner bars, served hundreds of thousands of drinks

Since graduating from Y Combinator in 2012, Grouper has been on a mission to help busy, overworked young people get away from the glow of computer screens and out into the real world to meet new people. To do that, the startup sends its members on “Groupers,” which are essentially blind, group dates between two groups of friends, designed to take the awkwardness out of one-on-one dating.

Eager to avoid being seen as another dating site, the startup instead wants to appeal to younger generations who prefer casual meetups over drinks at a local bar to traditional “dinner-and-a-movie” dates. Since launch, the service has expanded into 20 U.S. cities, and members have shared hundreds of thousands of drinks. Up until now, Grouper has existed exclusively on the Web, but today the startup is looking to take its offline social network to the next level by bringing Groupers to the iPhone.

Read the full article on Techcrunch