Apollo 15 launch - courtesy of NASA and Wikimedia Commons

As startup names go, Robinhood’s a pretty good one. The Redwood City company offers users a mobile-first stock brokerage service with zero commission — robbing from all those rich stockbrokers, and giving to the poor schmoes like you and me. On Wednesday, the company landed some financial services of its own: A $3 million seed round led by Index Ventures. Tim Draper and a16z seed, the fledgling fund from Andreessen Horowitz.

Just up Highway 101 in San Mateo, big data analytics startup Datameer announced a $19 million Series D. The round was led by Next World Capital, and prior venture backers Redpoint and Kleiner Perkins also participated. But the most interesting name on the list, to me at least, was Workday, whose soaring 2012 IPO did as much as any other recent event to pump up enthusiasm for cloud computing.

Even further up Highway 101, a San Francisco startup called Soundhawk came out of stealth mode with a $5.7 million round led by True Ventures. The company aims to “bring enhanced hearing to people everywhere” via a small wearable device and smartphone app, both developed by a renowned Stanford ear surgeon. I’m guessing this is not your father’s hearing aid. 

Another San Francisco startup scored the biggest haul of the morning: a $52 million Series B led by Yuri Milner. The lucky winner? PlanetLabs, founded by a team of NASA scientists to launch satellites that will take photos of Earth “at an unprecedented frequency,” then share that data about the planet’s changes to “encourage global action.” Which may sound highfalutin, but the company already launched four satellites this year alone, with dozens more on the launch pad.

It seems like just yesterday — wait, it was just yesterday — that Y Combinator announced Milner was doing less seed investing. One wonders if these kind of moonshots (if you will) are what he plans to do with all his Facebook loot; he, Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin teamed last week to spend millions of dollars on encouraging more scientific breakthroughs. The PlanetLabs announcement quoted Milner to say the company is “revolutionizing the spacecraft sector,” while another of its early backers, brainiac VC Steve Jurvetson, said: “I have rarely seen a team perform so well.” That”s the same Steve Jurvetson who’s on the board of SpaceX.

Peter Delevett Peter Delevett (184 Posts)

Peter Delevett covers startups and venture capital for the San Jose Mercury News. He's been a journalist in Silicon Valley since the dot-com daze.