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Top VC deals: Muscial.ly, self-driving cars and a mind-reading headband

Lora Kolodny
A weekly recap of some of the most interesting venture capital deals, funds and start-ups.

Here's a round-up of the most important deals in venture capital from the past week.

Exits

China's ByteDance, the company behind the news app Toutiao, acquired Musical.ly for a sum between $800 million and $1 billion, according to the New York Times and other reports. Since it was founded in 2014, Musical.ly, has amassed a reported 120 million users, many of them adolescents in the U.S. The Musical.ly mobile app is used to create and share lip-synch videos, and live video streams. The company raised $146.9 million in venture funding from ChinaRock, Susquehanna International, GGV Capital and GX Capital among others.

Apple acquired imaging sensor start-up InVisage Technologies for an unreported sum. Rumors of the deal had swirled in October. The company's core technology, QuantumFilm, enables cameras to capture images in poor lighting. Investors in InVisage included: Intel Capital, Nokia Growth Partners and GGV.

It's not just tech companies acquiring machine-learning start-ups. Shiseido acquired Giaran, an early-stage start-up backed by MassChallenge. Giaran's virtual mirror software lets users see how different makeup will look on their skin. The software works well with new, high-definition cameras on smartphones, and uses machine learning to make product and make-up recommendations.

Start-ups funded

Nio, an electric vehicle maker in China, raised over $1 billion in a new funding round and attained a $5 billion valuation, Reuters reported. Chinese Internet conglomerate Tencent led the investment. Tencent is also an investor in Nio's U.S. competitor, Tesla . Nio planned for its first mass production car to be released in December 2017. It's a sport-utility vehicle dubbed the ES8 which the company has promised will have "more features" but cost less than Tesla's Model X SUV. The company's U.S. chief executive, Padmasree Warrior, previously told CNBC Nio's self-driving, electric vehicles would be available here in 2020 .

Hip hop's Will.i.am has raised $117 million in new venture funding for his start-up, I.am+. The company started out making bluetooth wireless headphones but is now working on enterprise software , including chatbots and voice assistants for automated customer support. Investors in I.am+ have included Salesforce Ventures and GVA Capital.

Amgen's venture arm joined a $25 million series b round for Boston-based Fortuna Fix, a regenerative medicine startup using stem cells to treat Parkinson's and spinal cord injuries. The new funds will go towards helping Fortuna Fix move into clinical trials, Fierce Biotech reports.


InterAxon in Toronto has raised $11.6 million in new funding for its mind-reading hardware. The company's flagship product called the Muse may sound like the stuff of science fiction but it is already sold at Best Buy, Target and on Amazon. The headband shows wearers data about their brain activity when they meditate, and is meant to improve the quality of their meditation.

AI start-up Embodied Intelligence raised $7 million in seed funding for technology that can help robots quickly learn to do new tasks, and can help people teach their robots what to do whether that's in a factory or a hospital. Amplify Partners led the round, joined by Lux Capital, SV Angels and others.


Funds and firms

BirchBox co-founder and former CEO Hayley Barna joined First Round Capital as general partner. Barna is the first woman to serve in a senior role in the firm's investment team.

Tusk Ventures, founded by political strategist Bradley Tusk, announced that it has closed its debut fund at $36 million.