StrictlyVC: April 10, 2014

Good morning! We’re publishing a little early as we have to hightail it down to Palo Alto for a mobile conference. Before we go: a quick thank you to Sequoia Capital for hosting what seemed like a very successful mixer last night for the media and its startups. We had fun, chatting with old and new friends alike. (The canapés were delish, too.)

Yesterday was so busy, in fact, that we don’t have a column for you today. We’ll have more good stuff coming your way tomorrow, though. In the meantime, enjoy the intel!


Top News in the A.M.

After a lot of inflated talk from both sides, eBay and shareholder activist Carl Icahn have quietly made friends in a settlement that has Icahn withdrawing his bid for two seats on eBay’s board and ending demands that the company sell a minority stake in PayPal to shareholders. In return, eBay is installing a candidate on the board that both sides have agreed on: David Dorman, the former CEO of AT&T and today, a founding partner with Centerview Capital Technology, a private equity fund affiliated with the investment bank Centerview Partners.

The Heartbleed hit list: here are the passwords you need to change now.


New Fundings

Booktrack, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose technology lets users add a synchronized movie-style soundtrack to an eBook or other digital text content, paced to the individual’s reading speed, has raised $3 million in Series A funding, reports TechCrunch. The round was led by Sparkbox Ventures. The firm’s earlier investors — including Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, filmmaker Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post Productions, and others — also participated in the new round.

Drync, a five-year-old, Boston-based company whose mobile app allows consumers to find, track, share, and purchase wine while they’re drinking it, has raised $2.1 million in seed funding from Cross Link Ventures,Great Oaks Venture CapitalKEC Ventures and Foundry Group, which raised more than $434,000 for Drync through an AngelList syndicate. Hubspot founder Darmesh Shah and ScanScout founder Wakit Lau also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $3 million.

Flayvr Media, a 2.5-year-old, Tel Aviv-based mobile gallery app that organizes users’ digital photos and videos, has raised $2 million in new funding from Kaedan CapitalAviv Venture Capital, and several new and former angel investors. The company has raised $2.45 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

FlexReceipts, a 3.5-year-old, Windermere, Fl.-based company whose software digitizes receipts, enables its customers to manage their returns and exchanges, business expense reports, taxes, and personal finances without involving paper, has closed a $1.4 million in Series A funding led by venVelo, a Winter Park, Fl.-based early-stage venture fund. Other participants in the round included The Florida Institute for Commercialization & Public ResearchFlorida Angel NexusAngel Round TableAngel Street Capital and TiE Tampa Angels.

Genomind, a five-year-old, Chalfont, Pa.-based personalized medicine company — its saliva-based genetic test is used to inform treatment decisions for patients with depression and other psychiatric disorders — has raised $5 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Claritas Capital and joined by undisclosed investors.

GreenSQL, a five-year-old, Tel Aviv-based database security company, has raised $7 million in new funding led by Jerusalem Venture Partners. GreenSQL’s existing investors Magma Venture Capital,RhodiumAtlantic Capital PartnersGandyr and 2Bangels also participated in the funding, which brings the total amount it has raised to $14.4 million.

NuCana BioMed, a 5.5-year-old, Edinburgh, Scotland-based company developing new chemotherapy drugs, has raised $57 million in new funding from Sofinnova Ventures, which also participated in an earlier round in the company. Altogether, the company has raised $67.5 million, including from Morningside Group and Scottish Venture Fund, shows Crunchbase.

PivotDesk, a two-year-old, Boulder-based online platform that matches startups needing space with hosts that have it, has raised $3.6 million in new funding, shows an SEC filing. The company had previously raised $3 million, including from TechstarsFoundry GroupDraper Associates,David Cohen, and other individuals.

Racemi, a 13-year-old, Atlanta-based company that sells image-based provisioning software for data center consolidation and disaster recovery, has raised $6 million in new funding, according to an SEC filing. The company raised $13.4 million previously, says Crunchbase, including from Paladin Capital Group and Harbert Venture Partners.

Savioke, a 10-month-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company that’s creating autonomous robots for the services industry, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Morado Venture Partners. Other participants in the round included AME Cloud VenturesGoogle Ventures and individual investors. GigaOm has more here.

Senseg, a nearly eight-year-old, Helsinki-based company whose tactile interface technology generates the feel of virtual buttons on smooth surfaces like cell phones and computer screens, has raised $6 million in Series B funding led by NXP Semiconductors N.V. The round also included earlier investors Ambient Sound Investments and Finnvera Venture Capital.

Tendyne Holdings, a 3.5-year-old, Roseville, Mn.-based clinical stage medical device company that’s developing products for transcatheter mitral valve replacement, has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by Apple Tree Partners. Other, undisclosed existing investors also joined the round, the company said.


New Funds

Ballast Point Ventures, a 13-year-old, St. Petersburg, Fla.-based venture capital firm providing expansion capital to companies located primarily in the Southeast and Texas, has nearly finished raising a third fund, suggests a new regulatory filing. According to the Form D, Ballast, which listed its target as $140 million, has already raised $115 million. Ballast was founded in 2001 as a joint venture between Raymond James Financial and the principals of South Atlantic Venture Funds. Among its current investments is SleepMed, a West Palm Beach, Fal.-based medical device and software company whose home sleep tests help doctors diagnose obstructive sleep apnea.

Jafco Ventures, a 10-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture firm focused on mid-stage investing, has raised $260 million for its fifth, the firm is announcing this morning. The fund is the outfit’s biggest to date. It also includes outside investors for the very first time — more than 20 or them, in fact. (Jafco Ventures’s single LP until now has been Jafco, the 40-year-old publicly traded venture capital and private equity firm based in Tokyo.) The firm claims the fund was oversubscribed owing to a chain of recent exits, and indeed, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of them. It had Palo Alto Networks and Proofpoint in its portfolio, both of which have had very successful public offerings. It also backed FireEye, which also went public and that alone produced a 47x return for the company, it says.

Vertical Venture Partners has held a first close of what is expected to be a $40 million debut fund targeting early-stage enterprise startups coming out of the University of California at San Diego and other spots, reports VentureWire. The firm was founded by David Schwab, a managing director at Sierra Ventures, who will be leaving the firm after an 18-year-long run. Specifically, Schwab, a UC San Diego alum, will be leading a group of other UC San Diego alumni in investing in companies and technologies invented by UC San Diego faculty, students, and alumni, in the areas of software, communications, electronics, materials, medical devices, and instruments. Xconomy also has more on the story, here.

TrueStart, a months-old, London-based consumer and retail start-up accelerator, has itself raised $5 million in seed funding that it will use to support startups in its program. TrueStart’s 4,500-square-foot “innovation hub” is capable of hosting up to 20 start-ups on a rolling six-month basis, says its founder, Matt Truman, who was previously Global Head of Retail for Lehman Brothers and later Head of European Retail at JP Morgan. Startups will typically receive cash investments of between $40,000 and $80,000 from TrueStart; in turn, TrueStart will take an average 10 percent stake in the company.



Digital Tutors, a 14-year-old, Oklahoma City, Ok.-based platform company that offers tech and other training online, has been acquired by Pluralsight, which has its own online library of video tutorials, for $44 million in cash and stock. Digital Tutors doesn’t appear to have raised outside funding. Ten-year-old Pluralsight has raised at least $30 million, including via a $27.5 million round from Insight Venture Partners early last year.

InnLink, a 23-year-old, Hendersonville, Tn.-based company that process reservations for hotels and hotel companies, has been acquired by IHS GmbH, a Frankfurt, Germany-based company whose software is also used by the hotel industry. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. InnLink doesn’t appear to have raised outside funding; IHSS was acquired by Battery Ventures last summer.

Longreads, a five-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based website and weekly email that draws readers to high-quality long-form stories on the Web, has been acquired by Automattic, the company behind the popular blogging platform WordPress. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but CEO Matt Mullenweg tells BusinessWeek that Longreads’s staff of four will join WordPress’s editorial team.

Silverpop, a 15-year-old, Atlanta-based marketing technology company, has been acquired by IBM for undisclosed terms. Silverpop had raised roughly $40 million in recent years, including from D.E. ShawDFJEscalate Capital Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank.

Uppidy, a three-year-old, Columbia, Md.-based company that lets users securely back up their phone’s texts, photos and videos to the cloud, has been acquired by ArmorText (formerly known as Gryphn), says TechCrunch. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Uppidy had raised at least $600,000 in seed funding, including from Band of AngelsFortify Ventures, and New Vantage Group. ArmorText, which is focused on secure text messaging for the enterprise, has raised nearly a million in debt and equity, according to Crunchbase.



Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t buy into the notion that the knowledge economy can help anyone and everyone. Speaking yesterday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, Bloomberg said of displaced coal workers, for example, that “You’re not going to teach a coal miner to code.” He added, “[Facebook co-founder and CEO] Mark Zuckerberg says you can teach them to code and everything will be great … I don’t know how to break it to you — but no.”

The operating days of Mark Cuban – who famously sold his company to Yahoo in 1999 for $5.9 billion in stock — may not be over. The Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” judge has reportedly found the time and motivation to create a potential Snapchat killer called Cyber Dust. Forbes has much more here.

Fontinalis Partners, a Detroit-based venture capital firm focused on mobile technologies, has promoted three of its staffers to partner: Chris CheeverChris Thomas, and Laura Petterle. Cheever and Thomas cofounded Fontinalis in 2009 with Bill Ford (yes, that Bill Ford). It isn’t a captive venture arm of the car giant, though; it’s very much a standalone entity, Thomas told StrictlyVC last year. The new partners come from fairly divergent backgrounds: Cheever was most recently an investment associate at LaunchCapital and spent more than five years at UBS. Thomas conducted financial and strategic analysis at Ford Motor Company and UBS. He also served in the U.S. Army as a communications officer in Iraq. Laura Petterle, the firm’s long-time CFO, spent the 20 years before Fontinalis serving as the CFO of Booth American Company, a telecommunications and radio broadcasting company founded by Ralph Booth, another Fontinalis founder.

Doug Mack, who has served as CEO of the online retail site One King’s Lane for the last four years (and was VP at Adobe Systems before that), has just left the company to become the CEO of the sports site Fanatics, the company announced yesterday. Re/code has more here.

Kelly Porter, a partner at the investment bank and advisory firmWoodside Capital Partners, has put his Los Altos Hills manse on the market again — this time for $27 million. (At 30,000-square feet, the property is enormous even by tech billionaire standards; the Los Altos home of Yuri Milner, acquired for a reported $100 million, is 25,545 square feet.) The building has seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms, a Venetian-inspired ballroom, Italian statuary, custom millwork and gold-leaf ceilings. As Silicon Valley Business Journal notes, there’s also a secret speakeasy on the property that’s accessible through a secret door in the grand library.


Job Listings

VMWare is looking for an associate to join its strategy and corporate development team at its Palo Alto, Ca., headquarters.



Asymco graphs the latest U.S. smartphone ownership data, including comScore and PJC Teen Survey data.

Mercom Capital Group, a clean energy research firm, has released its newest funding and M&A report for the solar sector. In the first quarter of this year, it says, total global corporate funding in the solar sector — including via venture capital, private equity, debt financing, and public financing — came in at $7 billion, compared with $5 billion in the previous quarter. (It doesn’t say how the data fares compared with the first quarter of 2013.) Most of the money came from outside the private markets. According to Mercom, just $251 million was invested in 26 deals in the first quarter, taking into account VC, PE, and corporate VC alone. You can read more here.


Essential Reads

The secret shame of an unacquired tech worker. “Google agreed to buy the company for a relatively modest amount, then interviewed all five members of the company before extending job offers to everyone but [one]. Making offers to four-fifths of a company as part of an acqui-hire, while legal, is nearly unheard of in Silicon Valley, where mergers and acquisitions are still generally governed by a certain type of decorum.”

Re/code on the uncertain future of Square.

BusinessWeek on Dropbox‘s “Chapter 2.”

Well, this is getting ridiculous. “Jensen Bergman spent weeks preparing to pitch his team’s business idea to investors. Minutes before the meeting, he was playing ping-pong outside the board room to stay calm. Jensen is 9 years old. ‘If they say no, it’s going to be really upsetting for us,’ he said as one of his teammates wheeled up beside him on a tiny scooter.”



The most painful public service announcement you may ever see.

The irreplaceable David Letterman.

Why we still root for Don Draper.

Matthew’s party. (Classic edition.)


Retail Therapy

BBQ Bath. It’s a marinade, for meat. (Phew.)


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