The Brief | July 23, 2018

Alzheimer’s startup accelerator, Chance the Publisher, Blavity ramps up, Sorenson Impact Center’s new CEO

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Greetings, ImpactAlpha readers!

Dealflow: Follow the Money

Bill Gates is looking for biotech startups with new approaches to Alzheimer’s disease. “Imagine a world where diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease is as simple as getting your blood tested during your annual physical,” Gates wrote in a blog post. The software billionaire is backing a $30 million accelerator to support early stage biotech companies working on Alzheimer’s research, detection and diagnosis. Gates, whose father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, has pledged $100 million for advancing Alzheimer’s research. The “diagnostics accelerator” of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is aiming to fill the gap in funding research without an immediate commercial return by striking a balance “between taking more risks than traditional venture capital funds and being more focused on developing real products for the marketplace than basic research funded by governments or charitable organizations,” the foundation said. The fund’s other backers include Estée Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder, the Dolby family, and the Schwab Foundation. More here.

There’s a #DealFlood in media amplifying independent and diverse voices, including:

Chance the Rapper buys local news pub the Chicagoist. The Chicago native, announced his acquisition of the local news site in a new song. Said Chance in a separate statement, “I look forward to re-launching it and bringing the people of Chicago an independent media outlet focused on amplifying diverse voices and content.” The Chicagoist is part of the Gothamist local news group that was saved in February by a group of public radio stations. Chance has invested and advocated for Chicago institutions—first public schools, now media—as a way of elevating the city’s underserved, and particularly its black community. Check it out.

Blavity raises $6.5 million to serve next-gen black media consumers. The digital media company has grown rapidly since launching in 2014 by delivering lifestyle, tech and finance content geared towards black millenials. Morgan DeBaun, the 28-year-old co-founder and CEO of Blavity, says to expect “a lot of innovation” from the firm in the next six to nine months. The tell: Blavity is opening an office in Atlanta to house its growing engineering and data team. Google Ventures led the round and was joined by Comcast Ventures, Plexico Capital and former NBA star Baron Davis. Previously, Blavity raised $1.8 million from MACRO, New Media Ventures, Base Ventures, Cross Culture Ventures, Harlem Capital Partners, and the Knight Enterprise Fund.

Omidyar Network backs Indian online news publisher The Ken. The deal is Omidyar Network’s second media investment in India, after it backed Pratilipi, a native-language self-publishing platform, in February. The Ken, based in Bangalore, publishes analytical business news from India on a subscription basis. Omidyar Network led the startup’s $1.5 million Series A funding round. Last year, Omidyar Network announced that it would commit $100 million to fixing the global “trust deficit,” in particular eroding faith in the media. It has partnered with the Media Development Investment Fund for a new media accelerator in South Africa. The impact investor gave a grant to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which last year broke the “Panama Papers” tax evasion story. Dig in.

Agents of Impact: Follow the Talent

Hewson Baltzell is the new CEO of the Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business… Jasmine Richards joinsCambridge Associates as a senior investment director to identify women- and minority-owned investment managers… Jane Ambachtsheer joins BNP Paribas Asset Management as global head of sustainability.

— July 23, 2018.