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Top News in the A.M.
Google’s “right to be forgotten” requests from European citizens have come under fire by regulators. They say the company restricted the removal of Internet links to European sites only, reports Reuters.
Bloomberg Beta’s Roy Bahat on Year One
In the spring of last year, former News Corp. executive Roy Bahat was hired to head up a newly created, $75 million tech fund with a single LP, the financial news giant Bloomberg. Since then, that outfit, Bloomberg Beta, has made 28 investments, and two of its companies have been acquired. One deal isn’t yet announced; the second, the machine learning startup Newsle, was snapped up last week by LinkedIn for an undisclosed amount.
While Bloomberg Beta appears to be off to a fast start, Bahat isn’t ready to break out the champagne just yet. He says instead that he’s “still getting used to the pacing” of venture capital. “It’s like a chess game, where every move is separated by a year to 18 months.”
That isn’t typical talk in the world of VC, where sugarcoating things is standard operating procedure. But telling it like it is seems to be among Bahat’s biggest differentiators in the competitive field of seed-stage startup investing. We caught up yesterday; our chat has been edited for length.
Broadly speaking, what you are you trying to do with Bloomberg Beta?
A lot of recent [investing] trends [center on] making progress with fewer dollars and funds that act more like individuals and less like institutions. We didn’t invent them but we like them and we’re taking them to their logical extreme. Our standard first check is $250,000. [The biggest check we’ll write is a] seven-figure check. We like to get involved really early and remain valuable and invest much more over time.
What’s the benefit of having Bloomberg as your LP?
We aren’t a strategic investor, but our LP cares about tech companies, so there’s plenty of value beyond the financial [muscle it gives us]. We can provide startups with technical feedback when they want it, validation with customers, customer trial runs. There are never companion deals, but if a startup wants a relationship with Bloomberg, [we can help].
Bloomberg Beta is a five-person operation. Does majority rule when it comes to what to fund?
If anyone on the team says yes to a deal – if they want to make an investment – we’ll do it. There’s no voting. At the seed stage, the risk of missing something is worse than the risk of investing in the wrong company. We know the best deals in particular tend to be controversial, so we wanted a process that sidesteps that.
Are you “thesis driven”? You’ve invested in numerous media companies, for example.
I’m not a huge believer in thesis-driven investing. The best founders teach you more about an industry than you can learn [by researching it].
I’m not a huge believer in boards for very young companies, either. I’d rather be on the private Github repository of a startup or be on Google Analytics than have them prepare a PowerPoint presentation every month or so and bloviate on the state of the industry. That’s going to be an unpopular view, but it’s my view.
You were the head of the game and entertainment business IGN at News Corp. Tell us more about your transition into VC.
It takes some getting used to. I think we’re trying to do things in a different way, and when you do that, there’s some chance that you create something special. There’s also a chance that you create something that blows up in your face. With a startup, if something isn’t working, you know three months [into it]. Here, maybe in five years I’ll have the data to know if what we’re doing works.
That’s refreshingly candid.
[Laughs.] Well, everyone wants you to be blunt and transparent until you’re in the room with them. I just met with someone and told him that his startup wasn’t right for us for XYZ reasons. He said, “Don’t you want to think about it for a few days and get back to me?” I said, “I could pretend to think about it and not email you for a week and then tell you. Or I can tell you right now.”
Atox Bio, an 11-year-old, Ness Ziona, Israel-based company that develops therapeutics for severe infections, has raised $23 million in Series E funding led by SR One, with participation by Lundbeckfond Ventures and OrbiMed Israel. The Globes has more here.
CounterTack, a three-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based firm that makes threat detection and response software, has held a final, final close on its $20 million Series B round, adding to two previous closings with additional funding from Alcatel-Lucent. Earlier investors in the round include Razor’s Edge Ventures, Goldman Sachs, Siemens, Fairhaven Capital and OnPoint Technologies. The company has raised at least $36 million altogether.
Deem, a 14-year-old, San Francisco-based cloud and mobile commerce company based in San Francisco, has raised $50 million in funding led byHony Capital. The deal follows a recent recapitalization financing led by PointGuard Ventures, which was joined by mutual fund investors, Stern Aegis Ventures, Keating Capital and Deem CEO Patrick Grady.
Fixed, a year-old, San Francisco-based mobile application that helps you fight your parking tickets by snapping a photo of the ticket with your mobile phone, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding, including from Y Combinator, Merus Capital, Scott Banister, John Cobbs, Mark Randolph, Matt Humphries, Eric Wu, and David King. TechCrunch has much more here.
Glow Digital Media, a 3.5-year-old, London-based social ad platform ad tech platform that helps marketers create, improve, and understand Facebook and Twitter ad campaigns, has raised $7 million in Series A funding from Notion Capital and White Star Capital. Project A Ventures and Avonmore Developments, which had provided the company with $1.3 million in seed funding, also participated in the round.
NextNav, a seven-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company that’s focused on indoor-position services for both commercial and public safety applications, has raised $70 million in Series D funding led by New Enterprise Associates and Oak Investment Partners. Earlier investors Columbia Capital, Telcom Ventures, and Goldman Sachs, also participated. The company has now raised at least $100 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.
Intigua, a 3.5-year-old, Newton Lower Falls, Ma.-based container technology company, has $10 million in Series B funding led by Intel Capital. Earlier investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Cedar Fund also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $21 million.
Tyto Life, a two-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based company that’s focused on the Internet of Things but not talking publicly yet about its business, has raised $7 million, according to an SEC filing that shows an $8.1 million target. The company is headed by Sam Jadallah, a former partner at the venture firm Mohr Davidow Ventures.
iTOK, a 10-year-old, Lehi, Utah-based remote technology support company, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by ABS Capital Partners, with participation from earlier investor Signal Peak Ventures.
PhysIQ, a nearly 10-year-old, Naperville, Il.-based spinout from Argonne National Laboratory that makes a chest strap that tracks patients’ health away from the hospital, has raised $4.6 million in Series A funding from the Chicago firm LionBird and several angel investors. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here.
Weimob, a year-old, China-based customer relationship management startup built on the messaging service WeChat, has $4.8 million in Series A funding from Meridian Capital China. TechNode has more here.
Garage Technology Ventures, a 16-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based seed and early stage venture capital fund, has signed up two anchor investors for its latest fund, it says in a press release. The fund, whose target isn’t mentioned in the release, will be the firm’s fifth capital pool.
Lightspeed China Partners, the Shanghai-based Chinese venture firm whose mid-June SEC filing showed that it was back in the market and raising $260 million for its second fund, has now closed on that capital. The Lightspeed Venture Partners affiliate had closed its first fund with $168 million in January of last year.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., in Enfield, Ma., has a new, $100 million venture fund, reports the Hartford Business Journal. MassMutual Ventures plans to invest in technologies that leverage the insurance giant’s life, retirement and asset-management businesses, and it’s being led by Doug Russell, a MassMutual senior VP; Eric Emmons, who previously headed Siemens Venture Capital North America; and Mark Goodman, who has launched two previous venture funds, Terawatt Ventures and Brookline Ventures, both in Cambridge, Ma.
Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, the venture capital arm of Mitsubishi UFJ, a major bank in Japan, is coming to the U.S., so to speak. In an interview with Tech in Asia, the firm’s senior VP Yoshihiko Kawamura says it will be establishing a fund that targets American startups after years of focusing instead on China-based investments. Says Kawamura, “This reflects our internal situation. Ten years ago, 15 years ago, China was booming, so we heavily invested in the mining sector, base metals. The major destination for production was China. But China is down now. So we are getting back to the U.S.”
Qualcomm Ventures, the venture arm of the San Diego-based wireless technology giant Qualcomm, has launched a new, $150 million strategic venture fund in China to fund Chinese companies working on mobile technology. More here.
MyCityVenue, a three-year-old, London-based experiences and events platform, has been acquired by the three-year-old travel club Secret Escapes for undisclosed terms. MyCityVenture doesn’t appear to have raised funding; Secret Escapes has raised $12.9 million from Octopus,Atlas Venture, and Index Ventures. TechCrunch has the story here.
Twitch, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based social video game platform, has officially sold to Google for $1 billion. VentureBeat has more here. Twitch had raised $35 million from investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Alsop Louie Partners, WestSummit Capital, Take-Two Interactive Software, Thrive Capital, and Draper Associates.
Zillow is in talks to acquire rival Trulia in a deal that could value Trulia at as much as $2 billion, reports Bloomberg. Talks between the pubicly traded companies are ongoing and may not lead to a deal, noted the Bloomberg report.
Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar of the online collaboration tools maker Atlassian prove you don’t need to move to Silicon Valley to succeed. So writes the Financial Review of the Australia-based founders, whose company is currently valued at roughly $3.3 billion.
Another day, another set of not-great diversity numbers. This time they’re from Pinterest, which is less white than Twitter and Google (it’s 50 percent Caucasian and 42 percent Asian) but just as male dominated. More here.
Yammer founder David Sacks announced yesterday that he’s leavingMicrosoft, almost exactly two years after it acquired his social networking company for $1.2 billion in cash.
SecondMarket founder Barry Silbert is stepping down as SecondMarket CEO to focus exclusively on Bitcoin.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now richer than Google co-foundersSergey Brin and Larry Page.
Facebook is looking to add someone to its business development operations.
Square 1 Bank is hiring a venture banker in New York.
Google‘s new moonshot project: the human body.
It turns out all anyone needs to break into a friend’s apartment is an off switch for their conscience and an iPhone.
A guy walks into a bar. (H/T: Olivia Wilde.)
What a plagiarizing 12-year-old has in common with a U.S. Senator.
Brogamats: Yoga mats for dudes.