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Fandango launches new program to help moviegoers safely return to theaters




The company is giving users detailed information about the policies of over 100 movie theater chains

There’s a lot of things I’ve missed over the last three or so months of shelter in place, but at the top of that list is going to the movies. As an AMC A-List member I was, at one point,  seeing just about everything that came out. The last time I was in a movie theater was on March 8, so that’s been a big change for me. 

Despite my desire to go back, I have to admit that I still don’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea of being in an enclosed space with other people for a few hours. I don’t seem to be alone in those feelings, either: an ABC News/Ipsos poll from the beginning of May found that less than a quarter of Americans said they would be willing to going back to a movie theater. 

Fandango wants to help mitigate those fears by launching what it calls “a multi-dimensional program to help moviegoers go back to theaters with confidence and peace of mind.” Essentially, that means the company will be giving people information about how to go to the movies while also staying safe from COVID-19.

Customers will get access to social distance seating maps, a special search filter to find reopened theaters by location and instructional videos. The company is also giving users access to detailed overviews of the policies being put in place by over 100 movie theater chains, which are listed alphabetically, so that people can see what protections are being put in place in each of their local theaters.

In addition, Fandango also said it will be using some of its other properties, including Rotten Tomatoes, which it bought in 2016, and Movieclips, which it has owned since 2014, as well as its social media and performance marketing platforms, to give this information to its customers. 

The company also announced that it will be extending expired rewards for its VIP+ loyalty program, giving customers more time to use them.

“We are working closely with our friends in exhibition to help get their ticketing back online and film fans back in seats with peace of mind,” Melissa Heller, Fandango’s vice president of domestic ticketing, said in a statement. “In addition to our new product features, Fandango’s mobile ticketing will be an added benefit, helping moviegoers and cinema employees reduce the number of contact points at the box office and throughout the theater.”

This has been a tough time for movie theater chains, as they were forced to shut their doors just as the summer movie season was about to kick off. AMC, in particular, has been fielding a ton of bad press, including stories about the chain potentially going bankrupt. That was followed by a controversy over whether or not the chain would require patrons to wear masks, adding to general confusion about what would be expected of people if they do decide to return. 

Giving people more information about what theater chains are doing to maintain safety, and what customers themselves should expect, will no doubt ease at least some fears people have, though it’s still likely to be a long, slow road before people feel fully comfortable sitting in a packed auditorium again.

“At Fandango, our mission has always been super-serving fans with their entertainment needs, and we cannot wait to help fans get back to the big screen safely and at the right time,” Paul Yanover, President of Fandango, said in a statement. “It’s a complicated rollout, with various states, cities and counties opening their venues in different phases. We hope Fandango will serve as a helpful one-stop resource for fans to find all the information and services they need for a comfortable return to their local theaters.” 

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New report finds VC investment into climate tech growing five times faster than overall VC




VC and corporate investment into climate tech grew at a faster rate than overall VC investment as a whole between 2013-2019, according to a major new report — to the tune of $60 billion of early-stage capital.

The new research by PwC (“The State of Climate Tech 2020“) found that although it’s still early days for climate tech in terms of the overall VC market (approximately 6% of total capital invested in 2019), VC investment into the space is growing at a clip: it increased from $418 million per annum in 2013 to $16.3 billion in 2019. According to the report, that is approximately three times the growth rate of VC investment into AI over the same period, and five times the average growth in VC.

The reasons are, predictably, to do with market economics. It’s quickly becoming more capitally efficient to prove and scale the technologies involved, and carbon-neutral or even carbon negative solutions have fewer costs than carbon-producing ones.

Nearly half of this venture cash ($60 billion) went to U.S. and Canadian climate tech startups ($29 billion), while China comes in second at $20 billion. The European market attracted $7 billion. The majority of investments for the U.S. and China go to mobility and transport solutions.

Climate tech startup investment in the San Francisco Bay area, at $11.7 billion, was 56% higher than its nearest rival, Shanghai, which reached $7.5 billion. Europe is more invested in renewable energy generation (predominantly photovoltaics cells) and batteries.

Celine Herweijer, global leader, Innovation & Sustainability, PwC UK, said in a statement: “The analysis shows the urgency of the opportunity, and gap to close, to support and scale innovative technologies and business models to address the climate crisis. Climate tech is a new frontier in venture investing for the 2020s.”

“Some of the technologies and solutions critical to enabling this transformation are proven and need rapid commercialization, which is why venture capital is key. It will not need trillions invested in startups to make a difference. But for the trickier technologies and markets it will need targeted support, including from governments, to make it through research and development, and the early stages beyond which capital increasingly is lining up,” she added.

The biggest drivers for growth in climate tech, according to the report, relate to mobility and transport, heavy industry, and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) capture and storage. These are followed by food, agriculture, land use, built environment, energy and climate and Earth data generation.

Anyone who reads TechCrunch will be well aware of the electric scooter and e-bike wars that have broken out in recent years. And sure enough, the report finds that investment in these micromobility startups has grown dramatically, recording a CAGR of 151%, and representing 63% $37.4 billion of all climate tech funding over the past seven years.

Azeem Azhar, senior advisor to PwC UK, founder of Exponential View, and co-author of the report, said: “The climate tech market is maturing. As a society we are seeing more entrepreneurs launch startups, more investors back them, and an increasing number of larger funding rounds for later-stage high-potential deals. But PwC’s analysis shows the ecosystem is still nascent, with key gaps in the depth and nature of funding available to founders and tricky structural hurdles for them to navigate as they scale their businesses.”

Where is the investment coming from? From a wide range of sources: traditional VC firms and venture funds specializing in sustainability, corporate investors, including energy majors, global consumer goods companies and big tech, government-backed investment firms and private equity players.

The report found that corporate venture capital (CVC) looms large in the sector, especially startups typified by high capital costs aimed at disrupting incumbent industries with high barriers to entry, such as in energy, heavy industry and transport. For mobility and transport, 30% of the climate tech deals include a CVC firm, and in energy, 32% of capital deployed came from CVCs. Overall, nearly a quarter of climate tech deals (24%) included a corporate investor.

Herweijer said: “The involvement of corporates will be key to the continued success of climate tech – both in terms of their net-zero commitments driving demand for new solutions, and their investments into commercializing innovation. It’s not just the financial means they bring, but the commercial know-how, and industry knowledge to help startups navigate how to rapidly deploy and scale new innovations into the market.”

Amongst the top 10 cities for climate tech startup investment — outside of the U.S. and China — are Berlin, London, Labege (France) and Bengaluru, India, attracting $1.3 billion, mainly across energy, agriculture and food and land use.

The sections perhaps most relevant to a TechCrunch audience occur on page 44 onwards, which shows that the climate tech market is starting to behave like the high-growth tech startup world. Where barriers existed before, such as technical risk, product risk and market risk, these are being addressed. Recognizable VC names such as Sequoia, GV, Kosler, Horizons, YC, USV are all getting involved.

And although almost 300 global companies have committed to achieving net-zero emissions before 2050, “with just ten years to reduce by half global greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 1.5C, climate tech needs a rapid injection of capital, talent and public-private support to match its potential to build and accelerate faster, bolder innovation,” added Herweijer.


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Peterson Ventures, a firm that quietly backed Allbirds and Bonobos, just closed a $65 million fund




Peterson Ventures, a 12-year-old, Salt Lake City, Utah-based seed-stage fund, has long operated fairly quietly, but many of its bets have become known brands in the respective worlds of consumer and enterprise software investing. Among these is the shoe company Allbirds; the men’s clothing company Bonobos (acquired a few years ago by Walmart); and Lucid Software, which closed its newest, $52 million round back in April.

Thanks to a newly raised $65 million fund — more than double the size of its $33 million second fund — Peterson has even more money now to write checks in the range of $250,000 to $1 million in a wide variety of startups.

We were in touch this week with Peterson partner Ilana Stern, whose own consumer startup, Weddington Way,  raised money from Peterson before selling to the Gap in 2016. Stern, who joined the outfit last fall and is based in San Francisco, shared a bit more about the firm’s newest fund and where it’s looking to shop. Our exchange has been edited lightly for length.

TC: Peterson is part of a bigger platform called Peterson Partners. How many asset classes is Peterson Partners funding?

IS: Peterson Ventures is part of the Peterson Partners platform with funds that invest in lower-middle-market private equity and search funds. There are over 30 people firm-wide, including a four-person full-time investing team [on the venture side]. We’ll be looking to add one to two more members in the next year.

TC: How does the firm think about consumer versus SaaS, and is this different than in past years? For example, First Round Capital used to invest half its capital in consumer-facing startups, and that’s not the case right now, as Josh Kopelman told us a couple of weeks ago.

IS: Our first, $25 million fund, was close to a 50/50 split; in the second fund, we shifted to 65%/35%, focusing more heavily on B2B SaaS than consumer. Going forward, we expect to be investing around 60% to 70% SaaS and around 30% to 40% consumer.

The bread and butter of the Utah market is SaaS, and we expect to continue to back great SaaS companies in Utah. That said, there is a growing ecosystem of compelling e-commerce and consumer companies, including in healthcare and financial services where we see a continued ‘consumerization’ of those two sectors.

TC: What are two of the firm’s most recent bets, and what do they say about the way your team operates?

IS: Via and Tava Health are two of our new seed investments. Via connects businesses to their consumers on their favorite messaging and voice platforms. Commerce infrastructure is an area where we’ve been very active over the last five or so years, [including because it’s a] perfect cross section of SaaS companies selling into e-commerce and retail. Tava Health is a telemedicine platform for mental health for employees paid by employers, and healthcare SaaS is an area that we’ve also invested in a lot. In fact, its founder, Dallen Allred, is someone whose earlier company, Artemis Health, is another portfolio company.

TC: Out of curiosity, how did Peterson get involved with Bonobos?

IS: Co-founders Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly were students of our founding partner, Joel Peterson, at Stanford GSB. GSB is a key area of deal flow for us. Joel has been teaching there for almost 30 years. Ben [Capell, a partner with Peterson since 2010] has been involved in backing over 20 companies in the last eight years led by Stanford GSB alumni, and I’ve been guest lecturing there for seven years.

TC: You don’t invest exclusively in Utah, but you spend much of your time with local startups. How has the Utah scene changed since Peterson swung open its doors?

IS: Peterson dates back to 1995, so we’ve been fixtures in the Utah market for 25 years as a firm. When we started Peterson Ventures in 2008 investing Joel’s personal capital — it’s now a mix of institutions, family offices and high-net-worth individuals — there were no seed-stage firms. Now there are three institutional seed-stage firms, several Series A firms that will also invest in seed-stage startups, and active family offices and angel investors.

Also, where the firm used to have to work hard to convince coastal firms to invest in Utah we now have an abundance of mid- and late-stage investors from both coasts spending significant time and
investing meaningful dollars here.


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Private Equity

KKR buys into Reliance Retail at $57bn valuation as firms scramble to back business




KKR has followed private equity peer Silver Lake in picking up a stake in the retail arm of India’s Reliance Indus


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