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AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Gigster, a San Francisco-based provider of automation tools for smart software development, has raised $20 million in Series B funding. Redpoint Ventures led the round, and was joined by Michael Jordan, Marc Benioff, Adam D'Angelo and return backers Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator and Sound Ventures.

  • Why it's a big deal: Large enterprises are turning more to outsourced tech project development as things like machine learning and blockchain gain traction within... Oh, who are we kidding? This round is notable because Michael Jordan is involved — becoming the latest pro athlete to dabble in venture tourism. A company spokesman says the introductions to the NBA all-timer came through two existing Gigster investors: Ashton Kutcher (co-founder of Sound Ventures) and Vivek Ranadivé (who also owns the Sacramento Kings).
  • Gigster CEO Roger Dickey, via TechCrunch: "He was my childhood hero. It's just fun to have him on the cap table. He didn't put a ton into the round. We thought it'd be cool to have someone involved that we really look up to."

Go deeper

3 mins ago - World

Scoop: Ukraine tells senators post-invasion sanctions are no help

Zelensky. Photo: Johanna Geron/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told U.S. senators visiting Kyiv this week that waiting to impose sanctions on Russia until after an invasion is of no use to Ukraine, according to four sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: The Senate is currently working on a major sanctions package to deter Russia from attacking Ukraine. Democrats and Republicans are united in their support for Ukraine, but divided over whether it would be more effective to sanction Russia now to signal resolve, or hold up the threat of future sanctions to demonstrate the high costs of an invasion.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks has dropped plans to require that U.S. workers get the COVID vaccine or submit to weekly testing, the company announced Tuesday in a memo to employees.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

4 hours ago - World

Netanyahu plea talks enter crunch time

Netanyahu (right) meets with his lawyer ahead of a court hearing last February. Photo: Reuven Casto/Pool/AFP via Getty

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and former prime minister, is negotiating a possible plea deal over the corruption charges against him, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit appears to be toughening his terms.

Why it matters: Mandelblit leaves office on Jan. 31. Negotiations could continue beyond that point, but the next attorney general may be less interested in quickly reaching a deal.