StrictlyVC: July 30, 2014

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Top News in the A.M.

Twitter soundly beat Wall Street expectations yesterday, reporting 271 million monthly active users, second-quarter revenue of $312 million, and a two cent profit. CEO Dick Costolo tells Business Insider how the company did it.


A New Venture Firm Bets on India

One of the biggest venture fundings ever was confirmed yesterday, a billion-dollar round for the India-based e-commerce company, Flipkart.

Vispi Daver and Murli Ravi hope it’s a good omen for their new venture capital firm, Unicorn Venture Capital — named not after a popular blog post, they say, but a mythological creature in East Asian culture associated with prosperity. Indeed, with a little luck, they’ll raise the $50 million they’re targeting for their debut fund, which they intend to invest in early-stage tech startups in India, Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Their backgrounds should help. Daver spent eight years at Sierra Venture Partners, where he led several deals in India-based companies, including Makemytrip, one of India’s largest online travel companies. (It went public on Nasdaq almost exactly four years ago.) Ravi, meanwhile, spent the last five years as the head of South Asia investments for JAFCO Asia in Singapore. I spoke with Daver earlier this week about the duo’s plans.

Murli is staying in Singapore while you move from the U.S. to India. What’s the competition like where you’re headed?

There are only about 40 people on the tech side of VC with early-stage investing experience in India and that’s probably across 10 groups, from indigenous funds to Sand Hill Road firms. It’s still very early there. MakeMyTrip is just one of three [India-based] venture-backed public tech companies, and the only one on Nasdaq.

Do LPs think it’s still too early? I’d read that $190 million was invested in early-stage tech firms in India last year, up 25 percent from 2012. But those are still small numbers.

No, the growth metrics are too exciting. Talk with any tech bellwether – Facebook, Google, Evernote, Dropbox, Salesforce – and they’ll tell you about downloads from India. Growth on the smart phone side has wowed everyone. Facebook already has 100 million users in India – the second biggest base of users after the U.S. If you take into consideration [other] app stats, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Vietnam – they’re all in the top 30 [in terms of users] and they’ll be in the top 10 soon, based on economic and population [trends].

How well do you and Murli know each other? Have you made investments together?

We’ve known each other for a year and looked at 75 companies together — two of which we’ve invested in and will grandfather into the new fund. We both grew up in Mumbai. He was one of those really smart kids who the Singaporean government sucks into the system, sending them to premier educational institutions and to a premier investment house after. [Before joining JAFCO, Ravi was a senior associate at Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings.]

Why does it make sense to operate from two different posts?

No tech company is focused on Singapore alone, where just five million people live, and similarly we think that Indian startups will be expanding into Southeast Asia and that having a presence there will be helpful. From a legal and regulatory perspective, it makes a lot of sense for India companies to [plant their] headquarters there. It’s very developed, with a government that works really well. There are also lots of positives in terms of easy living.

How do you feel personally about returning to India?

I’m excited. The environment in India is interesting. Entrepreneurship is generally in a lot of people’s blood. There weren’t as many professional jobs for the last generation, so a lot of people were entrepreneurs and it’s not a big convincing act to get people to [take the plunge]. It’s also the case the young developers are less and less different than their counterparts elsewhere. They’re using the same apps and learning the same ways to code. Big ideas can come out of India, too.


New Fundings

Abodo, a 3.5-year-old, Madison, Wi.-based apartment listing service, has raised $1.25 million in Series A funding led by American Family Ventures. Other participants in the round included 4490 Ventures and Lakewest Venture Partners. The company has raised $1.3 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

ChargePoint, a seven-year-old, Campbell, Ca.-based electric-vehicle charging network, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series E funding from Constellation Technology Ventures. Though the company isn’t breaking out the amount of the round, it says that it has now raised nearly $114 million, including from Braemar Energy VenturesKleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersSiemens Venture CapitalVoyager CapitalBMWand Rho Ventures.

Dianwoba, a 5.5-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based online-to-offline e-commerce company that guarantees same-day delivery service to customers of restaurants and shops, has raised $10 million in Series B financing from undisclosed sources, reports China Money Network. The company previously raised $2 million in Series A funding from Gobi Partners, says the report.

Epic Sciences, a six-year-old, San Diego-based company whose blood test can help physicians monitor a patient’s cancer, has raised $30 million in Series C funding from RusnanoMedInvest and Arcus Ventures. Earlier investors Domain AssociatesRoche Venture FundPfizer Venture Investments and numerous undisclosed individual investors also participated. MedCity News has more here.

EyeNetra, a three-year-old, Somerville, Ma.-based company whose device, the Netra-G, can measure the refractive error of the eye using a smartphone and a cheap pair of plastic binoculars that anyone can use, has raised $4 million in Series A funding, including from Khosla Ventures. MedCity News has more here.

Frameri, a 1.5-year-old, Cincinnati-based company that makes prescription eyewear with interchangeable lenses, has raised $750,000 in seed funding led by CincyTech. Numerous angel investors also participated in the round.

Jet, a new, Hoboken, N.J.-based e-commerce company founded by Marc Lore (former CEO of parent Quidsi), has raised $55 million in funding, Recode reports. Lore isn’t yet talking about the company yet, but Recode sources say it will “innovate around its logistics network.” The investment is being led by New Enterprise Associates, with additional investment from Accel PartnersMentorTech Ventures, and Bain Capital Ventures. Recode notes that all but Bain Capital were investors in Quidsi, which sold to Amazon in 2011 in a $545 million deal.

JuiceBox Games, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile gaming company founded by three former Zynga employees, has raised $2.54 million seed funding led by Initial Capital, the company tells Venture Capital Dispatch. Other investors in the round include General CatalystIndex VenturesMaveron, and angel investors, among them Scott Dale (a former vice president of engineering at Zynga) and former Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello.

Kixer, a six-month-old, L.A.-based Los Angeles-based mobile ad tech company, has raised $1 million in a seed funding from TenOne Ten VenturesLowercase Capital, and numerous angel investors.

Knoa Software, an 11-year-old, New York-based maker of workforce optimization software, has $5.1 million in Series B funding from earlier investors Ascent VenturesGefinor CapitalAdvantage Capital Partners and Rand Capital. The company has raised at least $14.4 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Ludi, a 1.5-year-old, Chicago-based company whose software helps hospitals track administrative expenses while managing the legal risks of regulatory compliance with physician agreements, has raised $1 million in Series A funding from the Martin Companies, a healthcare and technology focused firm in Nashville.

Mind Palette, the three-year-old, Tokyo-based company behind the photo sharing app Snapeee, has raised $4 million from Japanese venture firmGlobal Brain Corp. along with Japanese magazine publishing giant Kodansha.

Privlo, a four-year-old, L.A.-based startup that offers private real estate loans online, has raised $3.8 million in Series A funding from Spark Capital and QED Investors. VentureWire has more here.

Proteus Digital Health, an 18-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company that makes digital health products, including wearable sensor-based tools, has raised $172 million in Series G funding from both earlier backers and new “respected institutional investors,” none of whom the company has named. Proteus, which has raised money from Oracle and Novartis in the past, has now raised at least $291 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

Thermalin Diabetes, a five-year-old, Cleveland-based biomedical company has raised $5.9 million in Series B funding from undisclosed investors. The money comes on the heels of a $1.5 million Phase 2 SBIR grant that the company recently received for a rapid-acting insulin it has developed.

ThredUP, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based online consignment marketplace, has raised $23 million in Series D funding, per an SEC filing first flagged by TechCrunch. The company has now raised $46 million to date, including from Highland Capital PartnersTrinity VenturesRed Point Ventures, and Upfront Ventures.

ZipZap, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based payment network that enables people to buy, sell or use digital currencies with cash or other payment options, has raised $1.1 million from Bitcoin Foundation board member Brock Pierce’s AngelList syndicate, 500 Startups, andBlumberg Capital. The round brings the company’s total funding to $2.7 million.


New Funds

Accelerator Corp., an 11-year-old, Seattle and New York-based life science investment firm that invests in emerging biotechnology research, has held a first close of its fourth fund with $51.1 million. Investors includeAlexandria Venture InvestmentsARCH Venture PartnersWRF CapitalEli LillyHarris & Harris GroupJohnson & Johnson Development Corp.The Partnership Fund for New York City and Pfizer Venture Investments.



Luvocracy, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based online community for consumers to discover cool products recommended by people whose style they trust, has been “acq-hired” by Walmart for undisclosed financial terms. Along with founder Nathan Stoll, a former Googler who also founded Aardvark, 16 employees from Luvocracy will now head over to Walmart’s R&D group, WalmartLabs. Luvocracy had raised $11 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersGoogle VenturesMarissa MayerAli PincusJim LanzoneTony RobbinsCrunchFundRPM Ventures and XG Ventures.

Madbits, a stealthy computer vision startup, has been acquired by Twitter. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. GigaOm has much more here.

Poptip, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that helps companies conduct social media surveys and analyze online conversations and other unstructured conversation data, has been acquired by the data analysis company Palantir Technologiesreports TechCrunch. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Poptip had raised $2.4 million from investors, including Lerer Hippeau VenturesRSE VenturesSoftbank Capital, and BoxGroup. Palantir, meanwhile, has raised nearly $900 million from investors over its 10-year history, including a $107.5 million round last year that valued the company at $9 billion.

SecuSmart, a seven-year-old, Dusseldorf, Germany-based mobile security company known for its anti-eavesdropping software, has been acquired by BlackBerry. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. ZDNet has more here.



Facebook board members Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel converted class-B shares in Facebook to class-A shares, among other detailed transactions, show Form 4 filings with the SEC on Monday. AllFacebook has the nitty-gritty details if you’re curious.

David Cancel, the chief product officer of pre-IPO Hubspot, the Cambridge, Ma.-based digital marketing startup, is leaving the company in September, along with Elias Torres, an engineering vice president, reports BetaBoston. The two joined HubSpot in 2011 through the $20 million acquisition of their startup, Performable; they plan to work on a new startup together.

Trulia cofounder Sami Inkinen is rowing across the Pacific Ocean with his wife, meaning that he missed most of the negotiations involving the sale of his company to Zillow (though he stayed informed via satellite phone and email). Dealbook has the story here.


Job Listings

Prosper, the San Francisco-based peer-to-peer lending marketplace company, is looking for a senior business development manager.


Data took a deep dive into all the available data on European tech company exits announced during the second quarter of this year. You can have a look here.

Bitcoin investment hit a new high in the second quarter, says CB Insights.

The news sharing service Nuzzel has built a new custom news page that shows the top news stories being shared by 1,000 investors on AngelList.


Essential Reads

Just one day after Flipkart’s big funding announcement, Amazon has made an announcement of its own: it plans to invest $2 billion in its Indian marketplace, with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos saying that “India is on track to be our fastest country ever to a billion dollars in gross sales.”

Android has a fake ID problem.

Facebook wants to help other businesses sell things, so it’s done selling its own. (Also, erm, no one used Facebook Gifts.)



Eleven things you should stop worrying about when traveling.

In search of the NBA’s next star.

Paying tribute to the strobe flash.


Retail Therapy

The 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale by Scaglietti. One of three built, it goes on sale next month. (Bring your stock certificates. It’s going to cost a fortune.)

Fish-shaped ice cubes.

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