Monthly Archives: August 2014

StrictlyVC: August 29, 3014

Good morning, and happy Labor Day weekend, everyone! We’ll see you back here next week, where, among other things, we’ll be featuring renowned serial entrepreneur and investor Ariel Poler and former Tiger Global Management director Nazar Yasin.

(Web visitors, you can find an easier-to-read version of today’s email here.)

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Top News in the A.M.

The White House has picked Washington, D.C. attorney Danny Marti to be its next “IP czar.”

To compete against Alibaba, Wanda has just joined forces with Baidu and Tencent.

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NEA Partner Dayna Grayson on Turning Designers Into Founders

New Enterprise Associates is growing more serious about young design talent. On Wednesday, the 36-year-old venture firm announced the third of an ongoing series of two-week-long design mentorship programs that aim to transform more designers into founders. Among the big names who’ve signed on to help with the initiative are Albert Lee, the founder of the New York-based product studio All Tomorrows; and Liz Danzico, founding chair of the MFA in Interaction Design program at New York’s School of Visual Arts.

To better understand why NEA — which manages billions of dollars — is bothering with the whole enterprise, I spoke yesterday with Dayna Grayson, the Washington, D.C.-based NEA partner who is herself a former product designer and who helped launch the program last summer.

NEA and Kleiner Perkins are among a growing number of venture firms that are trying to close the gap between design and technology. Why do startups need investors to play that role?

There are different flavors of these programs. But the reality is that for any startup – consumer or enterprise – great, intuitive design has become table stakes. Ten years ago, you could have clunky design and enterprise salespeople would explain it and get the technology into the hands of users. Today, technologies have to suit users from day one, so we asked ourselves last year: What if we could mentor and push more designers to become founders to ensure that that [design] DNA is there from the beginning rather than a bolt-on later?

Kleiner’s program aims to get more and better designers into its portfolio companies, whereas NEA’s is designed to help designers start their own companies. Where are your applicants coming from, and how far along must they be to gain admittance into NEA’s program?

Some are coming straight out of design schools. Some have held agency jobs but want to own and commercialize a product themselves.

We now have two types of sessions on a rolling basis. For the [upcoming] “go-to-market” session, you have to have a product that’s ready to be taken live imminently. We’ve also [organized two-week] “vision” sessions, where we take applicants that have nothing.

So you’re first helping people create a vision, then inviting them back to hone it.

We’ll have some teams back, though we’ll also select new teams.

Many accelerator programs go on for months. What convinced you that two weeks of intense mentoring is enough?

We want [these designers] to take what they’ve learned and ruminate on it and decide if it’s right for them. These aren’t necessarily people who are founders above all else. You have to let their entrepreneurial ability sort itself out. Also, frankly, I think it’s more true to life. With entrepreneurship, you have these intense periods of advice and ideation followed by intense periods of executing and scaling.

What sorts of companies are people coming up with?

We had one team come up Shortwave, an app that allows customers to easily exchange files via Bluetooth with others who are within 100 feet. Another, Factory, is a mobile application that features a stream of fascinating facts in short form. It’s like an ingestible Wikipedia. A third project, Booya Fitness, features high intensity workouts [online] for people who don’t have an hour-and-a-half to exercise.

Have you funded any of the teams to pass through the program? Also, how much of your time is focused on it?

We’re in the process of funding one startup now. Because we encourage some to come with nothing — they’re pre-seed — we expect more to [evolve into] seed-stage and Series A [type opportunities] over time.

I’m an investor first and I have five portfolio companies, so the [NEA Design Studio] is a project that probably accounts for 10 to 20 percent of what I do. But it’s an important project of mine.

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New Fundings

Armetheon, a three-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing mid- to late-stage cardiovascular drug candidates, has raised $7 million in Series A funding co-led by AshHill Biomedical Investments and Hercules Bioventures. Other participants in the round included Atheneos Capital and Larry Hsu, the founder of Impax Laboratories.

Attero Recycling, a seven-year-old, Noida, India-based e-waste disposal and management company, has raised $16.5 million in Series C funding led by Forum Synergies. The company has now raised at least $28.6 million altogether, shows Crunchbase, including from earlier investors DFJGranite Hill India Opportunity Ventures and Kalaari Capital.

CyanogenMod, a five-year-old, mobile software startup that has “quietly built a dedicated fan base of thousands of developers who contribute code to it” and supporters who believe it’s “poised to become a full-fledged alternative to Google Android” is “looking to raise a big Series C round,” reports The Information. The company, largely a side project for founder Steve Kondik until last year, raised its first institutional funding — two rounds totaling $30 million — last year. Its investors include BenchmarkRedpoint VenturesTencent, and Andreessen Horowitz.

Enevo, a four-year-old, Espoo, Finland-based company that runs a sensor-based system designed to optimize waste collection, has raised $8 million in new funding, including from Draper AssociatesEarlybird Venture CapitalFinnish Industry Investment and Lifeline Ventures. The company has now raised $11 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Green & Grow, a four-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based company focused on developing new, naturally derived agricultural products, has raised $6 million in Series B funding from Otter Capital.

Hipvan, a year-old, Singapore-based e-commerce platform that sells various types of men’s, women’s, and children’s products, has raised $1.4 million in Series A funding from Hong Kong-based LionRock Capital and Toivo Annus, a former head of engineering at Skype.

IFTTT, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that acts as a “giant switchboard to connect disparate services, anything from Facebook to text messages to telephone calls,” as the New York Times describes it, has raised $30 million in funding from Norwest Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz. The company has now raised $38.5 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

JustFab, a four-year-old, El Segundo, Ca.-based, subscription-based e-commerce startup that personalizes users’ experiences based on their fashion preferences, has raised $85 million in new funding led byPassport Capital, with participation from earlier investors Shining CapitalMatrix Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures. The round, done at a $1 billion valuation, pushes JustFab’s funding to $250 million altogether. Venture Capital Dispatch has all the details here.

MinuteBuzz, a four-year-old, Paris-based media entertainment site focused around viral stories, has raised $1.3 million in funding from Seventure Partners. Rude Baguette has more here.

OncoPep, a four-year-old, North Andover, Ma.-based developer of targeted immunotherapeutics to prevent the progression of cancer, has raised $6.9 million in Series B funding from new and existing investors, including angel groups, family foundations, individuals and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The company has raised at least $14.4 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Plasticity Labs, a two-year-old, Toronto, Ontario-based company that uses data analytics to measure workplace morale, has raised $2.1 million in seed funding led by Fibernetics Ventures. The company had previously raised $500,000 in seed funding, including from BDV Venture Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Patsnap, a seven-year-old, Singapore-based IP analytic and management platform (it makes finding patents easier by turning search results into a 3D topographical map), has just raised $3.6 million in Series A funding led by Vertex Venture Partners. The company has now raised $5.4 million to date. Tech in Asia has the story here.

ReaLync, a two-year-old, Chicago-based mobile and web platform that enables live virtual tours of real estate, has raised $300,000 in funding from angel investors who’ve come out of GrubHub, Leo Burnett, and ExactTarget, among other companies.

SeatGeek, a five-year-old, New York-based ticket search engine, has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by Accel Partners. Other participants in the round included Causeway Media Partners (a firm that StrictlyVC profiled last month); Melo7 Tech Partners, a new fund co-founded by NBA star Carmelo Anthony; and individual angel investors, including football’s Peyton Manning and Eli Manning and the rapper Nas. The company has now raised $41 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

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New Funds

HighLight Capital, a young, Shanghai-based firm looking to back both early-stage and growth-stage healthcare companies in China, has raised two separate funds totaling around $300 million, reports VentureWireAccording to PEDailySequoia Capital is among the firm’s LPs.

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IPOs

The German web fashion retailer Zalando reported a second-quarter profit yesterday — just in time for its IPO.

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People

Mikael Hed, CEO of Finland’s “Angry Birds” maker Rovio Entertainment, is stepping down in January, following plummeting profits at the company. Hed will be replaced by former Nokia executive Pekka Rantala, who joined Rovio is its chief commercial officer in June.

Megan Smith, a longtime executive at Google and most recently a vice president at its secret lab, Google X, is the top candidate for the role of U.S. chief technology officer, according to Bloomberg sources. Smith would become the third person to fill the job.

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Job Listings

LinkedIn is looking for a senior manager in its corporate development group. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.

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Essential Reads

The next iPhone will feature its own payment platform and it will be a “hallmark feature” of the device, reports Wired.

Apple has also tightened its privacy rules relating to health apps ahead of next month’s product launch.

Did we mention that the iPhone will feature full-screen ads?

Inside Google’s secret drone-delivery program.

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Detours

Conscious brain-to-brain communication in humans using non-invasive technologies. It is here, for real.

How to tell your French revolutions apart. (H/T: Heidi Moore.)

Paper transformed into stunning works of art.

“Welcome to this voice activated elevator, the Intellivator. Please select language.”

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Retail Therapy

Ninety-nine cans of beer in the fridge, 99 cans of beer . . .


NEA Partner Dayna Grayson on Turning Designers Into Founders

team-Dayna_Grayson_520_990New Enterprise Associates is growing more serious about young design talent. On Wednesday, the 36-year-old venture firm announced the third of an ongoing series of two-week-long design mentorship programs that aim to transform more designers into founders. Among the big names who’ve signed on to help with the initiative are Albert Lee, the founder of the New York-based product studio All Tomorrows; and Liz Danzico, founding chair of the MFA in Interaction Design program at New York’s School of Visual Arts.

To better understand why NEA — which manages billions of dollars — is bothering with the whole enterprise, I spoke yesterday with Dayna Grayson, the Washington, D.C.-based NEA partner who is herself a former product designer and who helped launch the program last summer.

NEA and Kleiner Perkins are among a growing number of venture firms that are trying to close the gap between design and technology. Why do startups need investors to play that role?

There are different flavors of these programs. But the reality is that for any startup – consumer or enterprise – great, intuitive design has become table stakes. Ten years ago, you could have clunky design and enterprise salespeople would explain it and get the technology into the hands of users. Today, technologies have to suit users from day one, so we asked ourselves last year: What if we could mentor and push more designers to become founders to ensure that that [design] DNA is there from the beginning rather than a bolt-on later?

Kleiner’s program aims to get more and better designers into its portfolio companies, whereas NEA’s is designed to help designers start their own companies. Where are your applicants coming from, and how far along must they be to gain admittance into NEA’s program?

Some are coming straight out of design schools. Some have held agency jobs but want to own and commercialize a product themselves.

We now have two types of sessions on a rolling basis. For the [upcoming] “go-to-market” session, you have to have a product that’s ready to be taken live imminently. We’ve also [organized two-week] “vision” sessions, where we take applicants that have nothing.

So you’re first helping people create a vision, then inviting them back to hone it.

We’ll have some teams back, though we’ll also select new teams.

Many accelerator programs go on for months. What convinced you that two weeks of intense mentoring is enough?

We want [these designers] to take what they’ve learned and ruminate on it and decide if it’s right for them. These aren’t necessarily people who are founders above all else. You have to let their entrepreneurial ability sort itself out. Also, frankly, I think it’s more true to life. With entrepreneurship, you have these intense periods of advice and ideation followed by intense periods of executing and scaling.

What sorts of companies are people coming up with?

We had one team come up Shortwave, an app that allows customers to easily exchange files via Bluetooth with others who are within 100 feet. Another, Factory, is a mobile application that features a stream of fascinating facts in short form. It’s like an ingestible Wikipedia. A third project, Booya Fitness, features high intensity workouts [online] for people who don’t have an hour-and-a-half to exercise.

Have you funded any of the teams to pass through the program? Also, how much of your time is focused on it?

We’re in the process of funding one startup now. Because we encourage some to come with nothing — they’re pre-seed — we expect more to [evolve into] seed-stage and Series A [type opportunities] over time.

I’m an investor first and I have five portfolio companies, so the [NEA Design Studio] is a project that probably accounts for 10 to 20 percent of what I do. But it’s an important project of mine.


StrictlyVC: August 28, 2014

Good Thursday morning, everyone! We had a few meetings yesterday so don’t have a column today. Hope you enjoy the rest of today’s newsletter. 

Also, psst, web visitors, an easier-to-read version of today’s newsletter is here.

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Top News in the A.M.

Ruh roh. At least a handful of U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase, have been struck by hackers in a series of coordinated attacks this month, reports the New York Times. Among the data stolen: checking and savings account information.

Good thing Uber has David Plouffe. Its campaign to cripple competitor Lyft might well prompt a federal investigation.

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New Fundings

Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, a 10-year-old, Houston, Tx.-based developer of cellular immunotherapies, has raised $55 million in Series C funding from new backers RA Capital ManagementPerceptive AdvisorsJennison AssociatesSabby CapitalRidgeback Capital ManagementvenBio SelectRedmile Group and AJU IB Investment, among others. Earlier investors AVG Ventures and Remeditex Ventures also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $107 million.

The Earnest Research Company, a young, stealthy New York startup that helps customers understand trends around the consumer economy, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding, reports VentureWire. The round was led by Greycroft Partners. Other participants include Osage Venture Partnersff Venture CapitalRincon Venture Partners, and Peak Opportunity Partners.

Glassbeam, a five-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based machine data analytics company, has raised $2 million in new funding led by its sole earlier investor, VKRM Group. The company has now raised $3.3 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

GoEuro, a two-year-old, Berlin-based meta-mode travel search platform for Europe, has raised $27 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with Battery VenturesHasso Plattner Ventures and Lakestar participating. Venture Capital Dispatch writes about the company here.

Hike, a 1.5-year-old, New Delhi, India-based startup behind a popular mobile messaging app, has raised $65 million from Bharti Softbank Joint Ventures (BSB) and Tiger Global Management. BSB had invested at least $21 million in the company across two previous rounds, shows Crunchbase.

InContext Solutions, a five-year-old, Chicago-based market research firm that creates 3D virtual store environments so companies can study the shopping behavior of their customers, has raised $12 million in Series D funding led by Beringea, with its London affiliate, Beringea LLP, participating alongside earlier investors Plymouth Ventures and Hyde Park Venture Partners. The company has now raised roughly $20 million altogether.

KKBOX, a 10-year-old, Taiwan-based streaming music services company, has raised $104 million from Singapore GIC. TechCrunch has more here.

Mizzen And Main, a two-year-old, Dallas-based menswear startup that produces tailored clothing, has raised $1.2 million in Series A funding led by VegasTechFund and Astor & Black founder David Schottenstein, with other individual investors participating. The company has now raised just less than $1.5 million altogether. More here.

Nutanix, a five-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based virtualized datacenter platform, has raised $14 million in funding from unnamed investors that it characterizes as “two premier Boston-based public market investors with over $3 trillion in combined assets under management.” That description suggests Fidelity Investments and Wellington Management are involved, notes the WSJ, but neither responded to the outlet’s request for comment.

Rockbot, a 4.5-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based social music platform for businesses, has closed an undisclosed amount of funding from Universal Music Group, with Detroit Venture PartnersXG VenturesSusa Ventures and an AngelList syndicate led by Sundeep Ahuja participating. The company had previously raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Google VenturesAccelerator Ventures and others.

Socure, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that verifies online identities through “social biometrics,” has raised $4.2 million in new funding from 34 investors, shows a new SEC filing. According to Crunchbase, the company has raised $8.5 million altogether, including from AlphaPrime Ventures and Abundance Partners.

Wikia, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based fan-generated media site, has raised $15 million in funding to expand in Asia, at a valuation north of $200 million, VentureWire reports. The round was led by Digital Garage, and includes earlier investors AmazonBessemer Venture Partners and Institutional Venture Partners, among others. The company has now raised $39.8 million to date.

Ybrain, a 1.5-year-old, Seoul, Korea-based neuroscience startup that makes wearables for Alzheimer’s patients, has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding led by Stonebridge Capital. The company has raised $4.2 million to date. TechCrunch has much more here.

ZAI Laboratory, a Shanghai, China-based drug development and commercialization company, has raised more than $30 million in Series A funding led by Qiming Venture Partners, with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersTF CapitalSequoia Capital and other institutional investors participating. ZAI was founded by Samantha Du, who has also served as a Sequoia Capital venture partner.

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New Funds

Acer, the Taipei, Taiwan-based personal computer maker, has established a venture fund to seek out long-term strategic investments that also promise good financial returns, the company announced earlier today. The fund, approved by the company’s board of directors back in April, will invest roughly $33.5 million to start. More here.

Arch Venture Partners, a 28-year-old, Chicago-based venture firm that originally spun out of the University of Chicago, has raised a $400 million fund to invest in early-stage companies. The firm last closed a fund — also a $400 million vehicle — in 2007. Forbes has more here.

Shoreline Venture Management, a 16-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based early-stage venture firm, is hoping to raise up to $60 million for its third fund, shows an SEC filing that states that the first sale has yet to occur. Shoreline was last in the market in 2006, show SEC filings.

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IPOs

The last numbers that investors will likely see before deciding to buy into the Alibaba IPO are highly encouraging. The company’s net income almost tripled to $1.99 billion in the three months ended June. Bloomberg has the story here.

LendingClub, the seven-year-old, San Francisco-based, online peer-to-peer financing company, has filed to go public. The good news from the company’s S-1: the $86.9 million in revenue it saw in the first six months of the year is up 134 percent over the year-ago period. The meh news: the company’s growth precipitated a $16.5 million loss in the first half of the year, down from $1.7 million in profit during the same time last year. Dealbook has more here. LendingClub’s biggest institutional shareholders are Norwest Venture Partners, which owns 16.5 percent of the company; Canaan Partners, which owns 15.9 percent; Foundation Capital, which owns 12.8 percent; and Morgenthaler Venture Partners, which owns 9.2 percent.

Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, 1.5-year-old, Boston-based company that’s developing drugs to treat diabetes and obesity, has filed plans to raise as much as $86.3 million in an IPO. The company is majority owned by New Enterprise Associates, which holds a 31.21 percent stake; Third Rock Ventures, which owns 31.09 percent; MPM BioVentures, which owns 18.58 percent; and Pfizer, which owns 9.92 percent.

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People

Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates is joining Silicon Valley’s fight against the National Rifle Association.

Forbes asks Benchmark‘s Bill Gurley how he advises his portfolio companies. Says Gurley: “[I]t does feel like we are in the later innings. So I try to help the entrepreneurs in our portfolio understand that times like 2001 and 2009 happen with some regularity and that it is good to be prepared for such down-turns.”

Yuri Milner hasn’t retired to the Maldives on his Facebook riches. He’s still making bold bets, including on Snapchat, which he quietly backed earlier this year at a $7 billion valuation, according to WSJ sources.

Beth Seidenberg of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on getting along with the agency tech loves to hate, the FDA.

SFWeekly profiles Sam Singer, Bay Area crisis manager extraordinaire. “When your workspace is engulfed in flames; when your mistress threatens to reveal your illegitimate family; when your restaurant serves up E. coli burgers . . . you better call Sam Singer. ‘When things go bump in the night,’ assures Singer, ‘we are there.'”

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Job Listings

IAC appears to be looking anew for an associate director or director of M&A. The job is in New York.

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Data

In the first six months of this year, $2.75 billion was invested in 218 venture deals throughout emerging Asia, nearing a record high, reports the WSJ. Sequoia Capital was reportedly the most active investor. It closed 25 deals in the region during the first half of the year.

Top mobile apps by age and share of time spent. (H/T: Paul Kedrosky)

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Essential Reads

Is Silicon Valley the new Versailles?

Find out how many people see your tweets.

The technology behind Hyperlapse from Instagram.

Google is opening a 20,000-square-foot startup center in Seoul’s Gangnam neighborhood to bolster regional startups and give them more global exposure.

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Detours

Who’s in the office? The American workday in one graph.

“The Simpsons” writer Dana Gould on the dark side of the funny business.

Seven smart smartphone photography hacks.

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Retail Therapy

Pigeon Edition prints.

Patchnride, a bicycle flat repair system that promises to permanently repair a flat tire — on the fly.

Oh, we’re definitely going to be needing one of these.


StrictlyVC: August 27, 2014

It is Wednesday, fine people! Hope your morning is off to a great start.

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Top News in the A.M.

Apple is reportedly preparing to make its largest-ever iPad, with production scheduled to begin early next year.

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Eric Liaw Means Business

Eric Liaw of Institutional Venture Partners has been at the center of two of this week’s biggest deals, both of which happen to be in L.A. On behalf of IVP, Liaw led a $63 million investment in the jobs aggregation platform ZipRecruiter. Liaw is also on the board of The Honest Company, the maker of eco-friendly baby products, which just closed on $70 million in Series C funding.

Given that Liaw is still a principal and not a partner, we thought his involvement in both deals was interesting, so we chatted with him yesterday about how things work at IVP and how interested the firm has become in Southern California specifically.

You joined IVP from Technology Crossover Ventures in 2011 but you’re not yet a partner. Is it typical for a principal at the firm to lead deals?

At our firm, it’s something we’ve been doing for a while. When [general partner] Jules Maltz was a principal, he was leading deals. For [current principal] Somesh [Dash], it’s the same. Our firm is fairly small so it’s something we decided to do and we think it’s working.

Honest just raised a huge round of funding in preparation for an eventual IPO. When, exactly, did you get involved with the company?

Lightspeed [Venture Partners] had funded the company in September 2011 and we came in for a little bit, then General Catalyst Partners led a Series A-1 in the company in March 2012 and we participated. [Honest raised $27 million across those fundings.] We then led the company’s [$25 million] Series B round in October 2012. Finding Honest was a team effort. [General partner] Dennis Phelps and I have been spending a lot of time in L.A.; we’d gotten to know Honest cofounder Brian Lee at LegalZoom [which Lee also cofounded and is another IVP investment]. It was a little unorthodox for us to invest in something that didn’t even have a site yet, but we knew early on that it was a good thing to get involved with and it’s grown by leaps and bounds since. Brian and [cofounder] Jessica [Alba] have said publicly that they passed the $100 million run rate back in January, and it’s safe to say that the business has only accelerated from there.

Do you divide your time between San Francisco and L.A.? Is that how you came to know of ZipRecruiter?

I went to high school in L.A. and my parents still live down there, but the firm is based up here. Half our deals are in the Valley; the rest are outside, including L.A., New York, Austin, Scandinavia … ZipRecruiter we met a couple of years ago but they hadn’t wanted to seek outside funding. When the opportunity came up in the earlier part of this year, they talked with a handful of firms. It was very competitive. But our success in building subscription businesses at the growth stage [won over the company].

So it largely comes down to product experience?

There has to be a lot of comfort around the table, too. One piece of advice I gave [ZipRecruiter CEO Ian Siegel] was that [founders] should be super comfortable with whoever they’re going to work with, because it’s a lot easier to get into a deal than get out of it when things go sideways. Also, in this case, the founders retain significant majority of company, so I had to be comfortable with [the team] and I certainly am.

As a late-stage investor, how are you feeling about valuations?

You can look at valuations as indicators of broader trends and excitement. People are definitely feeling more comfortable in investing in [late-stage venture] where the perception of risk has been diminished — accurately or inaccurately — because the market is perceived to be much larger.

We look at valuations on a company-by-company and deal-by-deal basis. It’s like public stocks. The “market” is a basket of individual stocks. Some do well even when most do not.

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New Fundings

Admittedly, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based online college advisory platform, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding from investors, including Quotidian VenturesRRE VenturesCorrelation VenturesJoanne Wilson, and Shawn Byers.

AirStrip Technologies, a 10-year-old, San Antonio, Tx.-based platform that delivers critical patient information directly to a doctor’s smartphone, has raised $25 million in funding led by the Gary and Mary West Health Investment FundSequoia Capital, and Wellcome Trust. The company has now raised at least $65 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Bizible, 3.5-year-old, Seattle-based maker of marketing performance management software, has raised $8 million in funding led by Scale Venture Partners. Earlier investors also participated in the round, including Madrona Venture PartnersMHS CapitalInvestment Group of Santa Barbara, and RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser. Bizible has raised $10.5 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Brandnew, a year-old, Berlin-based startup that helps brands create native ad campaigns for Instagram and Pinterest, has raised $1.9 million in seed funding, including a $1.1 million grant from the city of Berlin, and $845,000 from investors including the French multinational marketing firm PubliGroupe and Berlin Ventures.

Bridestory, a months-old, Indonesia-based has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Sovereign’s CapitalBEENOS PlazaEast Ventures and Fenox Venture CapitalMore here.

Feedvisor, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv-based algorithmic pricing and business intelligence platform for online retailers, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Australia’s Square Peg Capital. Earlier investors JAL VenturesOryzn Capital and Micro Angel Fund participated in the round, too. The company has now raised $7.7 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

The Honest Company, a three-year-old, L.A.-based company that sells a line of eco-friendly, non-toxic products, has raised $70 million in fresh funding led by Wellington Management Company and other public market institutional investors. Earlier investors Lightspeed Venture PartnersInstitutional Venture PartnersGeneral Catalyst Partners and ICONIQ Capital also participated. The company has now raised $172 million altogether and is eventually planning to go public, General Catalyst’s Neil Sequeira tells Venture Capital Dispatch.

Mobiquity, a three-year-old, Wellesley, Mass.-based mobile engagement startup, has added $5 million to its Series B round, led by earlier investor NewSpring Capital. The company had raised $12 million in Series B funding in June of last year from Longworth Venture PartnersSigma Partners and Thomas Weisel Partners. The company has raised $24 million to date. BostInno has more here.

Pluralsight, a 10-year-old, Cedar Valley, Ut.-based online technology education company for serious software developers, has raised $135 million in Series B funding led by Insight Venture PartnersICONIQ Capital and Sorenson Capital Partners. The money represents the largest-ever financing round for a Utah company, notes Venture Capital Dispatch. Pluralsight has now raised $165 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

Smarter Remarketer, a four year-old, Indianpolis-based marketing software startup, has raised $7 million in venture debt from City National Bank. The company, which raised $7 million in Series A funding earlier this year from Battery Ventures, has raised $17.3 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

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New Funds

A new seed fund in New South Wales, Australia is hoping to attract outside investment to early-stage startups at a local university’s accelerator program. ZDNet has more here.

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IPOs

Civitas Therapeutics, a five-year-old, Chelsea, Ma.-based biopharmaceutical company developing and commercializing therapeutics, has filed to go public. It plans to raise up to $86.25 million. The company’s biggest shareholders include Longitude Capital Partners, which owns 19.9 percent of the company; Canaan Partners, which owns 18.9 percent; Fountain Healthcare Partners, which owns 10.2 percent; Bay City Capital, which owns 10.5 percent; and Alkermes, which owns 7 percent.

ReWalk Robotics, a 13-year-old, Yokneam, Israel-based company whose motorized devices are designed to aid movement for people with lower body paralysis, yesterday disclosed plans to raise $50 million by offering 3.4 million shares at a price range of $14 to $16. The company’s biggest backers include SCP Vitalife Partners, which owns 28.4 percent of the company; Yaskawa Electric Corporation, which owns 25.4 percent; Israel Healthcare Ventures, which owns 18.4 percent; Pontifax, which owns 10.6 percent; and Previz Ventures, which owns 6.5 percent.

Vivint Solar, the three-year-old, Provo, Ut.-based home security and solar-energy provider owned by Blackstone Group, has gone public with its IPO plans, reports Reuters. The company, which had filed confidentially earlier this month, is the second-biggest installer of residential solar panels in U.S. behind SolarCity, backed by Elon Musk. Vivint plans to raise up to $200 million.

Snapchat, the three-year-old, Venice, Ca.-based messaging startup, is raising up to $20 million at a $10 billion valuation from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byersreports the WSJ. At least one strategic investor has also committed to invest in its newest round, which isn’t yet closed, reports the WSJ. (The WSJ goes on to report that Snapchat now has more than 100 million monthly users.) Snapchat has raised more than $160 million since it was founded, including from TencentSV AngelLightspeed Venture PartnersBenchmarkGeneral Catalyst PartnersInstitutional Venture Partners, and Coatue Management.

Sofatutor, a six-year-old, Berlin-based online education platform for high school and college students, has raised $5.8 million in new funding led by the school book publishing company Cornelsen. Earlier investors Acton Capital PartnersJ.C.M.B. and IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft also participated in the round, which is the company’s third.

Snapdeal, the four-year-old, New Delhi, India-based e-commerce juggernaut, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Ratan Tata, the chairman emeritus of Indian conglomerate Tata Group, says the Economic Times. The funding follows the roughy $233 million that the company has raised in two prior rounds this year, notes TechCrunch. The company, in a land grab with its biggest rival, Flipkart, has raised $435 million to date, notes Crunchbase.

Square, the five-year-old, San Francisco-based payments provider that turns any smartphone into a credit card terminal, is in the process of raising $200 million at a $6 billion valuation, reports CNBC, whose sources say part of the round will likely come from the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. The company has already raised $440 million in equity and debt financing, shows Crunchbase.

Strut, a year-old, San Francisco-based, social commerce company focused on mobile shopping, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Khosla Ventures. Other participants in the round included Eniac VenturesSherpa VenturesSlow VenturesSK VenturesFG AngelsBase VenturesKevin RoseRick MariniRyan BloomerDarius MonsefSteve JangDan RoseDaniel BrusilovskyElliot LohBo Han, and Owen Van Natta. (StrictlyVC talked earlier this week with Strut co-founder and CEO, Mark Daniel, a winner of last year’s Thiel Fellowship, about Strut’s very big syndicate; we wondered whether investors are beginning to descend on Thiel Fellows with the same enthusiasm as they do Y Combinator-backed startups. “The Fellowship has no relationship to any fundraising process or specific investors,” said Daniel. “Given the variety of projects Fellows work on, it makes sense for some to raise venture money and for some not to. It’s not a incubator of any sort. It’s very much like a grant and everyone hits the ground running on their own projects. Investors certainly don’t view Fellows in terms of a ‘batch.’ You’re definitely pitching as a normal entrepreneur.” Given that Thiel Fellows are typically students under the age of 20 who drop out of school in exchange for $100,000 and guidance over two years, we also asked Daniel if he planned to return to college. His answer: Nope. “Dropped out of Babson College. Did Freshman year. No current plans to return.”)

Zuli, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes a Bluetooth-enable smart plug, has raised $1.65 million in seed funding, including from Menlo VenturesXG VenturesWinklevoss CapitalLogitech, and DeNA. The company had previously raised $175,000 from a Kickstarter campaign. TechCrunch has more here.

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Exits

BruteProtect, a security and management tool that’s currently used by 110,000 WordPress sites, has been acquired by WordPress parentAutomatticreports TechCrunch. Reportedly, the company was talking to Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg about funding; Mullenweg decided to acquire the company instead.

LeapPay, a New York-based company that provides funding against account receivables, has been acquired by the U.K.-based peer-to-peer loan platform company Funding Circlereports TechCrunch. In an unusual twist, LeapPay’s three co-founders and sole full-time employees are not joining Funding Circle as part of the acquisition, adds TechCrunch’s report.

Rezopia, a 4.5-year-old, Lucerne Valley, Ca.-based cloud technology provider for travel companies, is now majority owned by Sonata Software of New Delhi, India, which has acquired a controlling stake for an undisclosed amount. The Economic Times has more here.

WaveGroup Sound, a 19-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based audio production company that specializes in sound for games, has been acquired for undisclosed terms by Facebook, which has turned WaveGroup’s employees into its in-house sound design team. TechCrunch has more here.

Zync Render, a five-year-old, Boston-based service that makes it easier for movie studios to render their visual effects in the cloud, has been acquired by Google for undisclosed terms. PCWorld has more here.

—–

People

As Andreessen Horowitz celebrates its fifth anniversary, founders Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz take a stab at explaining “everything.”

“Note and Vote”: How the Google Ventures team tries avoiding groupthink in meetings.

Three stewards of Utah Capital Investment — an 11-year-old quasi-public entity that has invested more than $100 million in business startups — have overstated the returns on their investments, downplayed the costs of doing business and haven’t been transparent enough, according to an audit of the agency. The Salt Lake Tribune has the story here.

Startup employees flush with cash are beginning to invest it in businesses with high failure rates. They aren’t tech startups; they’re restaurants and bars.

—–

Job Listings

Citi Ventures is looking for a program manager. The job is in Palo Alto, Ca.

—–

Happenings

Applications are still open for the next batch of companies at the accelerator 500 Startups, but the deadline is this Friday, August 30, so get a move on if you’re thinking of applying.

—–

Essential Reads

Uber is starting to make the cab industry smell like a rose. According to The Verge, the company is “arming teams of independent contractors with burner phones and credit cards as part of its sophisticated effort to undermine Lyft and other competitors.”

How social media silences debate.

Err, great? These 3-D printed skeleton keys can pick high-security locks in seconds.

—–

Detours

“How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

And you wonder why there were so many alcoholics in your family.

Geez, sometimes, you just cannot win.

—–

Retail Therapy

Pretend you can’t be bothered with Only Black V-necks.

The Coolest cooler is now the most-funded startup in Kickstarter history. And it’s not too late to get in on the action (though almost!).


Eric Liaw Means Business

eric_liawEric Liaw of Institutional Venture Partners has been at the center of two of this week’s biggest deals, both of which happen to be in L.A. On behalf of IVP, Liaw led a $63 million investment in the jobs aggregation platform ZipRecruiter. Liaw is also on the board of The Honest Company, the maker of eco-friendly baby products, which just closed on $70 million in Series C funding.

Given that Liaw is still a principal and not a partner, we thought his involvement in both deals was interesting, so we chatted with him yesterday about how things work at IVP and how interested the firm has become in Southern California specifically.

You joined IVP from Technology Crossover Ventures in 2011 but you’re not yet a partner. Is it typical for a principal at the firm to lead deals?

At our firm, it’s something we’ve been doing for a while. When [general partner] Jules Maltz was a principal, he was leading deals. For [current principal] Somesh [Dash], it’s the same. Our firm is fairly small so it’s something we decided to do and we think it’s working.

Honest just raised a huge round of funding in preparation for an eventual IPO. When, exactly, did you get involved with the company?

Lightspeed [Venture Partners] had funded the company in September 2011 and we came in for a little bit, then General Catalyst Partners led a Series A-1 in the company in March 2012 and we participated. [Honest raised $27 million across those fundings.] We then led the company’s [$25 million] Series B round in October 2012. Finding Honest was a team effort. [General partner] Dennis Phelps and I have been spending a lot of time in L.A.; we’d gotten to know Honest cofounder Brian Lee at LegalZoom [which Lee also cofounded and is another IVP investment]. It was a little unorthodox for us to invest in something that didn’t even have a site yet, but we knew early on that it was a good thing to get involved with and it’s grown by leaps and bounds since. Brian and [cofounder] Jessica [Alba] have said publicly that they passed the $100 million run rate back in January, and it’s safe to say that the business has only accelerated from there.

Do you divide your time between San Francisco and L.A.? Is that how you came to know of ZipRecruiter?

I went to high school in L.A. and my parents still live down there, but the firm is based up here. Half our deals are in the Valley; the rest are outside, including L.A., New York, Austin, Scandinavia … ZipRecruiter we met a couple of years ago but they hadn’t wanted to seek outside funding. When the opportunity came up in the earlier part of this year, they talked with a handful of firms. It was very competitive. But our success in building subscription businesses at the growth stage [won over the company].

So it largely comes down to product experience?

There has to be a lot of comfort around the table, too. One piece of advice I gave [ZipRecruiter CEO Ian Siegel] was that [founders] should be super comfortable with whoever they’re going to work with, because it’s a lot easier to get into a deal than get out of it when things go sideways. Also, in this case, the founders retain significant majority of company, so I had to be comfortable with [the team] and I certainly am.

As a late-stage investor, how are you feeling about valuations?

You can look at valuations as indicators of broader trends and excitement. People are definitely feeling more comfortable in investing in [late-stage venture] where the perception of risk has been diminished — accurately or inaccurately — because the market is perceived to be much larger.

We look at valuations on a company-by-company and deal-by-deal basis. It’s like public stocks. The “market” is a basket of individual stocks. Some do well even when most do not.


StrictlyVC: August 26, 2014

Happy Tuesday morning, everyone! (Web visitors, for an easier-to-read version of today’s email, click here.)

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Top News in the A.M.

That Google acquisition of Twitch, a popular site for watching people play games, wasn’t a done deal after all. In fact, Amazon is buying it, The Information reported yesterday morning. Amazon made it official soon after, announcing that it’s acquiring the company for $970 million in cash. The exit means a big win for a number of firms, and early investor Alsop-Louie is among the biggest winners, notes the WSJ.

So what happened? According to The Information, Twitch’s deal with Google fell apart in the six weeks after a term sheet was signed. The biggest sticking point: Twitch’s growing concerns about its ability to remain relatively independent within Google’s massive YouTube division. Forbes meanwhile reports that Google was unable to close the deal because it was concerned about potential antitrust issues that could have come with the acquisition.

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This Four-Year-Old Internet Startup Just Landed $63 Million in Series A Funding

You probably haven’t heard yet of four-year-old ZipRecruiter, a profitable, L.A.-based online hiring platform for small and medium-size businesses. In recent months, though, plenty of growth-stage equity firms were kicking its tires and hoping the company might bring them aboard as investors. In the end, its four cofounders agreed to a $63 million round led by Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from Industry Ventures and the brand-new L.A. firm Basepoint. I talked with one of those cofounders, ZipRecruiter CEO Ian Siegel, last week about the company’s low-flying trajectory so far.

You spent 20 years working for L.A.-based startups. Why start ZipRecruiter when you did?

My experience and my cofounders’ experience was the same. Because the companies were so small where we were working, there was no HR department, no one to do hiring for you but you. So I was the only one posting jobs. I was the one vetting candidates and making decisions about who and when to hire. Part of the reason those companies stayed small was it was so painful to bring another person on board. We weren’t HR professionals. We just thought, Let’s build something that would be useful for us. And it took off. We’ve been profitable since our first month.

What’s so special about your technology?

What ZipRecruiter does is take a set of services that have been used by Fortune 500 companies, from an applicant job tracking system to easy-to-search databases, and [offers these technologies] to small and medium-size businesses. The value for our customers is they can post a job to many job boards at once — Monster, Twitter, Glassdoor; more than 50 at once — then we present them with candidates from all of those places in one, easy-to-review [interface] so they can screen and track candidates.

This is a SaaS business. How much do you charge users?

We charge $129 [per month] and scale up depending on how many jobs a company has to post. Some customers post [a lot of] jobs, and it’s more than $1,000 per month.

You say you’ve been growing like a weed. Give us some metrics.

At the beginning, it was pretty much four founders who were rotating between each other’s kitchens. I took every customer support email and phone call. A dog would be going crazy in the background, and I’d say, “I don’t hear a dog, do you hear a dog?” Now, we’re moving into a 40,000-square-foot space in Santa Monica. We have 150 employees, tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue and we’ll have more new subscribers this year than in all previous years combined. We’ll have 100,000 customers in the relatively new future.

You’re already very profitable, by your own account. How will you use the money you’ve just raised?

More than 7,000 new businesses create an account on ZipRecruiter each month and the primary person [who signs up] is the person who manages HR. And that person is responsible for hiring, but also, potentially, for payroll, insurance, vacation tracking, and for on-boarding. So we’ll do a bit of development into new areas and see what the reaction is. When you’re bootstrapping, everything has to come back to bottom line. Taking investment really frees us as to how much more can we do to make the job of HR managers easier.

How are you reaching all of these far-flung customers?

It was all driven through [search engine marketing] initially. As we grew, we began to benefit from word of mouth — a substantial double digit percentage of our new users come without a marketing source attached to them. But because the product sells so well, we’ve been able to branch into direct mail, TV commercials, and radio. The challenge of going after a disaggregated market is finding [all your customers]. You can’t just buy ads on Google.

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New Fundings

Alchemist Accelerator, a two-year-old, Menlo Park-based accelerator program that’s focused on enterprise startups and accepts 13 companies every four months, has a new backer. Yesterday, Foundation Capital said that it has joined CiscoDFJKhosla VenturesSalesforce.comSAP Ventures, and US Venture Partners as an investor in the program, which typically provides startups with $28,000 in seed funding.

Appcelerator, an eight-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based maker of an open source platform for building smartphone applications, has raised $22 million in Series D funding led by Rembrandt Venture PartnersUnion Grove Venture Partners also participated in the round, along with earlier investors Storm VenturesSierra VenturesMayfield FundTranslink CapitalRelay Ventures and EDB Investments.

Civitas Therapeutics, a five-year-old, Chelsea, Ma.-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing pulmonary delivery therapies, has closed $55 million in Series C funding from new investors Adage Capital ManagementOrbiMed AdvisorsPartner Fund ManagementRock Springs Capital and Sofinnova Ventures. All earlier investors in the company also joined the funding, including Alkermes PLCBay City CapitalCanaan PartnersFountain Healthcare PartnersLongitude CapitalRA Capital and Wellington Management Company.

Datanyze, a two-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based sales lead generation company, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by IDG Ventures, with participation from Google VenturesMark CubanAngelListGil PenchinaNeeraj AgrawalJeff Epstein and Kyle York.

DreamsCloud, a four-year-old, Reston, Va.-based company that makes an app-based dream interpretation tool, has raised $2 million in Series A funding led by Sphere Capital Holdings.

Hootsuite Media, the six-year-old, Vancouver-based social-media management platform, is close to securing an investment from Fidelity Investments, the Boston-based mutual-fund giant, according to a WSJ source. More here. The company has raised roughly $190 million to date, including from Accel PartnersBlumberg CapitalInsight Venture Partners, and OMERS Ventures.

Iyzico, a two-year-old, Istanbul-based payment service startup that enables e-commerce sites and other apps to easily accept online payments, has raised $1.4 million in Series B funding led by the Turkish VC 212 Invest.Previous backers Pahicle and Speedinvest also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $3.2 million. TechCrunch has the story here.

Korbit, a year-old, Seoul, Korea-based Bitcoin exchange, wallet and merchant processor, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by SoftBank Ventures KoreaPantera Capital led the round from the U.S. side, with participation from BAM Ventures and previous investors Bitcoin Opportunity Corp.Tim DraperPietro Dova and initial investor Strong Ventures. The company has now raised $4 million to date.

Smart Energy Instruments, a 10-year-old, Oakville, Ontario-based company that’s developing low-cost sensors for the power grid, has received $5 million in new funding, including from 3M New VenturesArcTern Ventures, the Ontario Capital Growth Corp, and Venturelink Funds.

Theatro, a three-year-old Dallas-based startup that makes a tiny, clip-on voice-controlled wearable device to improve communications for the retail, hospitality and manufacturing industries (employees can ask inventory-related questions, for example), has raised $8.8 million in Series A funding. Kholsa Ventures led the round, joined by angel investors. Dallas Business Journal has more here.

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New Funds

The government-backed New Zealand Venture Investment Fund has held a first close of $75 million on a new fund that aims to back startups from New Zealand to greater China. More here.

—–

IPOs

Calithera Biosciences, a four-year-old, South San Francisco, Ca.-based clinical-stage pharmaceutical company at work on small molecule drugs directed against tumor metabolism, has filed to raise roughly $80 million in an IPO. The company has raised at least $105 million from private investors, shows Crunchbase. According to its S-1, its biggest shareholders include Delphi Ventures, which owns 19.5 percent of the company; Morgenthaler Venture Partners, which owns 18.3 percent; Advanced Technology Ventures, which owns 18.3 percent; Adage Capital Management, which owns 18.1 percent; T. Rowe Price, which owns 7.2 percent; Wellington Management Company, which owns 6.0 percent; and Longwood Fund, which owns 5.8 percent.

HubSpot, the eight-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based marketing software company, has filed a highly anticipated S-1, revealing plans to raise up to $100 million. The company’s revenues for the first half of the year were $51.3 million, compared to $35 million during the same period a year earlier, according to the SEC filing. The firm’s net loss during the first six months was $17.7 million, up from $16.3 million a year before. Hubspot has raised roughly $100 million from private investors; its biggest shareholders include General Catalyst Partners, which owns 27.1 percent of the company; Matrix Partners, which owns 17.1; Scale Venture Partners, which owns 6.8 percent; Sequoia Capital, which owns 10.3 percent; and CRV, which owns 5 percent.

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Exits

Covagen, a seven-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based biotech focused on developing anti-inflammatory antibodies, has been acquired by Cilag GmbH International, an affiliate of Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Covagen has raised at least $90 million from investors, shows Crunchbase. Its backers include VentechBaxter VenturesMP Healthcare Venture ManagementNovartis Venture FundSeroba Kernel, and Edmond de Rothschild Venture Capital.

Moosify, a two-year-old, West Hollywood, Ca.-based mobile-first “social dating” app that connects people around music, has been acquired by London-based Tastebuds, the app that also matches people based on their musical tastes. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. TechCrunch has more here. Moosify raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding, including from the Germany TV network ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG; Tastebuds is also seed-funded.

Sapiens Steering Brain Stimulation, a privately held medical device company that’s focused on brain function and based in the Netherlands, has been acquired by publicly traded Medtronic for about $200 million in cash. More here.

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People

Venture capitalist Mike Dauber is joining Amplify Partners as a partner, Fortune reported yesterday. Dauber had spent the past six years as a principal with Battery Ventures. (Earlier this year, StrictlyVC had coffee with Amplify founder Sunil Dhaliwal about why he, too, left Battery Ventures in 2012 to start the firm.)

Noah Lichtenstein, a partner at the venture firm Cowboy Ventures, was apparently feeling a little lonely in San Francisco yesterday afternoon, tweeting, “You know it’s #BurningMan when SOMA is empty at lunchtime on a weekday.” (What he didn’t know at the time: Burning Man festival organizers were turning away hundreds of people because of a downpour yesterday. They re-opened the roads leading to Burning Man at 6 o’clock this morning.)

Tim O’Shaughnessy has backed two startups since stepping down as CEO of LivingSocial earlier this month. But don’t start calling him a venture capitalist just yet.

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Job Listings

Yesterday, we told you that Samsung is looking for a senior associate to work at its Open Innovation Center, which invests in startups, as well as helps incubate them. Turns out it’s also looking for an investment analyst. Both jobs are in Mountain View, Ca.

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Happenings

Startups have 7.5 weeks left to apply to the fall Y Combinator batch. (Just remarking.)

The San Francisco-based New Co. festival is also fast approaching. Free visits to 125 startups in the city on September 11 and 12. More information here.

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Data

LinkedIn has published has a new research report on diversity in tech startups. Its title: “Why You Shouldn’t Drop Out of School to Start a Company.”

Over the past 18 months, investors who wanted the most bang for their buck should have considered venture capitalsays Dow Jones.

—–

Essential Reads

The rise and fall and rise of virtual reality.

The relative cost of bandwidth around the world.

—–

Detours

The filming locations of Emmy-nominated dramas, via Google Maps.

How serious is the California drought? Take a look at these pictures, taken just three years apart.

Bon Appetit ranks the 10 best new restaurants in America.

—–

Retail Therapy

A made-to-order DJ console.

That Knee Defender we once recommended? It’s maybe not such a good idea after all.

We’ll have one Double Whopper, an Android smartphone, and a Croissan’wich with egg to go, please.


This Four-Year-Old Internet Startup Just Landed $63 Million in Series A Funding

Ian_Siegel_CEO_ZipRecruiterYou probably haven’t heard yet of four-year-old ZipRecruiter, a profitable, L.A.-based online hiring platform for small and medium-size businesses. In recent months, though, plenty of growth-stage equity firms were kicking its tires and hoping the company might bring them aboard as investors. In the end, its four cofounders agreed to a $63 million round led by Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from Industry Ventures and the brand-new L.A. firm Basepoint. I talked with one of those cofounders, ZipRecruiter CEO Ian Siegel, last week about the company’s low-flying trajectory so far.

You spent 20 years working for L.A.-based startups. Why start ZipRecruiter when you did?

My experience and my cofounders’ experience was the same. Because the companies were so small where we were working, there was no HR department, no one to do hiring for you but you. So I was the only one posting jobs. I was the one vetting candidates and making decisions about who and when to hire. Part of the reason those companies stayed small was it was so painful to bring another person on board. We weren’t HR professionals. We just thought, Let’s build something that would be useful for us. And it took off. We’ve been profitable since our first month.

What’s so special about your technology?

What ZipRecruiter does is take a set of services that have been used by Fortune 500 companies, from an applicant job tracking system to easy-to-search databases, and [offers these technologies] to small and medium-size businesses. The value for our customers is they can post a job to many job boards at once — Monster, Twitter, Glassdoor; more than 50 at once — then we present them with candidates from all of those places in one, easy-to-review [interface] so they can screen and track candidates.

This is a SaaS business. How much do you charge users?

We charge $129 [per month] and scale up depending on how many jobs a company has to post. Some customers post [a lot of] jobs, and it’s more than $1,000 per month.

You say you’ve been growing like a weed. Give us some metrics.

At the beginning, it was pretty much four founders who were rotating between each other’s kitchens. I took every customer support email and phone call. A dog would be going crazy in the background, and I’d say, “I don’t hear a dog, do you hear a dog?” Now, we’re moving into a 40,000-square-foot space in Santa Monica. We have 150 employees, tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue and we’ll have more new subscribers this year than in all previous years combined. We’ll have 100,000 customers in the relatively new future.

You’re already very profitable, by your own account. How will you use the money you’ve just raised?

More than 7,000 new businesses create an account on ZipRecruiter each month and the primary person [who signs up] is the person who manages HR. And that person is responsible for hiring, but also, potentially, for payroll, insurance, vacation tracking, and for on-boarding. So we’ll do a bit of development into new areas and see what the reaction is. When you’re bootstrapping, everything has to come back to bottom line. Taking investment really frees us as to how much more can we do to make the job of HR managers easier.

How are you reaching all of these far-flung customers?

It was all driven through [search engine marketing] initially. As we grew, we began to benefit from word of mouth — a substantial double digit percentage of our new users come without a marketing source attached to them. But because the product sells so well, we’ve been able to branch into direct mail, TV commercials, and radio. The challenge of going after a disaggregated market is finding [all your customers]. You can’t just buy ads on Google.

Photo of Ian Siegel courtesy of ZipRecruiter


StrictlyVC: August 25, 2014

Hi, everyone, hope you had a terrific weekend! Ours was nice, though after being shaken awake by an earthquake early yesterday, we’ll tell you that we’ve never loved good old Monday morning more. 

—–

Top News in the A.M.

Sony’s PlayStation Network was forced offline for much of yesterday by a cyberattack in what appears to be a campaign against several online gaming services. The BBC has more here.

It’s perfectly okay that the White House’s cybersecurity czar can’t code, says the White House, defending a recent interview of Michael Daniel in Gov Info Security. “Anyone who has worked with Michael Daniel recognizes that he is a master of the substance and technology undergirding U.S. cyber policy,” a spokeswoman tells the Washington Post.

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Micky Malka Doubles Down: “I Don’t Believe in Diversification”

In a crowded market, venture capitalists tend to talk up particular investment angles to differentiate themselves from their peers. When Ribbit Capital founder Micky Malka talks financial services, though, it isn’t for marketing purposes. Malka has been living and breathing finance since co-founding his first company in 1993, a broker dealer that evolved into an online financial services portal and sold in 2000, just before the bubble burst, to the Spanish bank Banco Santander.

LPs clearly like his credentials. Ribbit, in Palo Alto, closed its first fund with $100 million last year and officially closed on a second, $125 million fund last week. I chatted with Malka on Friday to learn more about what those investors — including Silicon Valley Bank, the Spain-based lender Banco Bilbao VIzcaya Argentaria, and individuals from the financial services world — find so compelling about what Malka is doing.

You’re Venezuelan and spent most of your life in South America. When did you come to the U.S. and why?

I came here seven years ago this month. I’d started all kinds of consumer financial services companies in Europe and Latin America and did very well for myself, but I felt like I was playing in the AAA leagues and that Silicon Valley was the majors.

You came to be an entrepreneur, though, not an investor.

Yes, I moved with my family to build another company, again around consumer financial services – around mobile payments. Bling Nation was right on the vision but so wrong on the strategy, wrong on the protocols. It took us a couple of years to figure it out, though. At that point, we went to our VCs and said, “It’s not working and we have two options. We can return your money and lose our own personal money that we’d put in. Or you can give us six months to figure it out.” To my surprise, the investors said, “We backed you guys, not the idea. Take six months to figure it out.” It was really big [of them]. We launched a company called Lemon, a financial app, and we sold it last year to a public company.

Had you had it with startups at that point? Why form Ribbit?

I’d listen to this guy say, “I’m doing this lending business in the U.K.,” and I’d say, “I’d love to be involved.” Then I’d learn of a new financial advisor in the U.S., and I’d think that was interesting. I realized there was an investment thesis going on that was broader than what people were thinking about. Also, I’ve started companies on four continents, and there aren’t many VCs who really know financial services in different jurisdictions. It’s a very particular DNA around which to start a firm.

So much is happening on the financial services front right now. Where in the cycle are we?

Financial services innovate when there’s a new channel and when users or clients are tired of existing brands. Well, people aren’t wearing their Goldman Sachs or Citibank hats anymore. Meanwhile, mobile has taken off dramatically, and banks and insurance companies don’t think in mobile terms. I’m not saying the brands we know will disappear, but who will be the Capital One or Charles Schwab of this generation? It’s early, and there are a lot of unique innovators in different subsets of the universe.

Where are you investing your capital geographically?

Our mandate is global. We look for opportunities in seven markets: The U.S. and Canada, Brazil, the U.K., Germany, South Africa, Turkey, and India, which are all markets where there are entrepreneurs and investment partners who I’ve known for 15 years.

Where have you made some of your biggest bets to date?

We’re the largest bitcoin VC in world. Let Marc [Andreessen] be Marc [in being so public about bitcoin]; we’ve been investing since 2012. Back then, there were no bitcoin entrepreneurs so we had to buy bitcoin directly. Later, we found our first entrepreneurs, including at [bitcoin exchange service] Coinbase [which Ribbit backed last year]. We’ve now made five investments in bitcoin [startups]: Two here in the U.S., one in Hong Kong, one in Brazil and one in Slovenia.

You made 10 investments out of your first fund, and you’ve made six from your second fund, only one of which, Wealthfront, has been announced. Are you still focused narrowly on consumer-facing financial startups?

Yes. We’ve done lending businesses, personal finance, wealth management, accounting and invoicing, and bitcoin, and now we’re going to add insurance, which we’ve spent the last year researching. We just see too many opportunities that we like.

What size checks are you writing?

We make very concentrated bets. Our checks are usually between $3 million to $4 million and $20 million. When we find what we like, we have a lot of conviction. I don’t believe in diversification.

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New Fundings

Aldea Pharmaceuticals, a three-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company whose therapeutics aim to treat aldehyde metabolism disorders, has raised $24 million in Series B funding, including from RusnanoMedInvest and WuXi PharmaTech Corporate Ventures. All previous investors, including Canaan Partners and Correlation Ventures, also participated in the round. The company has raised $42 million to dates, shows Crunchbase.

Bearch, a 1.5-old, Austin, Tx.-based startup that has developed an anonymous photo-sharing app for college students called Unseen, has raised $2.1 million in seed funding, reports Austin Business Journal. The company’s investors include Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf, Indeed.com CEO Rony Kahan, and other angel investors.

Delivery Agent, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose technology that lets viewers make purchases from television shows and ads, has raised $8 million in fresh funding, shows an SEC filing. The company has previously raised roughly $140 million over 10 rounds, shows Crunchbase, from investors including Grazia EquityIntel CapitalLiberty Global VenturesBessemer Venture Partners, and Samsung Ventures.

DraftKings, a three-year-old, Boston-based daily fantasy sports business, has raised $41 million in Series C funding led by Raine Group, with earlier investors Redpoint VenturesGGV Capital and Atlas Venture participating. The company has now raised $76.4 million, shows Crunchbase. The WSJ has more here.

Dynamic Signal, a four-year-old, San Bruno, Ca.-based social marketing company, has raised $12 million in Series C funding led by investor Rembrandt Venture Partners. Earlier investors VenrockTrinity VenturesTime Warner Ventures and Cox Enterprises also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to just over $33 million.

Groupize, a five-year-old, Gloucester, Ma.-based company that helps users book group hotel reservations, has raised $2 million in Series A funding from Golden Seeds and Thayer Ventures. The company has raised $4 million to date, including from Launchpad Venture Group, shows Crunchbase.

LTG Exam Prep Platform, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based startup whose mobile platform helps students study for standardized tests, has raised $3 million in Series A funding, including from Atlas VentureZhenFundHonglin Technology GroupTal Education Group, and numerous individual investors.

Playlist Media, a San Francisco-based company, has raised $515,000 in debt, as part of a round that’s targeting $2.5 million, shows an SEC filing. Playlist appears to be the newest iteration of Project Playlist, a startup that had raised at least $23 million from investors before threats by music labels drove it to sell off its assets for a nominal amount. Playlist Media’s CEO is Bobby Davidorf, who’d joined Project Playist as CFO in 2009; he went on to lead the company as CEO for several years.

TinyOwl Technology, a months-old Mumbai, India-based startup behind a location-based mobile app for food ordering, has raised $3 million in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital and Nexus Venture Partners, reports VCCircle. More here.

XSteach, a six-year-old, Guangzhou, China-based online education and training platform (course offerings include classes on Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and 3D animation), has raised $30 million in Series B funding from Legend Capital and Northern Light Venture Capitalreports China Money Network. The company reportedly raised $2.4 million in Series A funding last year.

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New Funds

Alsop Louie Partners, the eight-year-old, San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm, has raised $54.4 million for a third, $100 million fund that the firm began raising a year ago, shows an SEC filing. Alsop Louie, whose areas of focus include security-related companies, closed on a $98.6 million second fund in 2010. One of the company’s newest portfolio companies is Wickr, whose mobile application helps users send messages with photos and other attachments on Android and iOS devices. StrictlyVC had breakfast with firm cofounder Stewart Alsop last fall to discuss the firm’s “kid VCs.”

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Exits

Gecko Design, an 18-year-old, Los Gatos, Ca.-based product design firm that has made products for wearable device company Fitbit and high-end furniture maker Herman Miller, among others, has been acquired by Google for undisclosed terms. The company and all of its “geckos” will join Google’s X lab, says the company. Bloomberg has more here.

Moonshark, a small mobile game publishing start-up that was backed in part by Creative Artists Agency, has been acquired by the interactive and creative agency Hitcents (which came up with the digital typewriter that become the most downloaded app in 16 countries last week). Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The L.A. Times has much more here.

Reverse Medical, a seven-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based startup whose medical devices treat vascular disease, has been acquired by the Irish medical-technology giant Covidien for undisclosed financial terms. Reverse Medical had raised $15.5 million from investors, including Emergent Medical PartnersNBGI VenturesBioStar VenturesEarly Stage PartnersWexford Capital, and Medfocus.

StarStreet, a five-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based daily fantasy sports site, has been acquired by a bigger competitor, DraftKings, which itself just raised $41 million in fresh funding. (See New Fundings.) Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. StarStreet, a TechStars alum, had raised at least $2.1 million from investors, including Ecosystem Ventures and SV Angel.

Zao, a three-year-old, L.A.-based social recruitment platform that offers rewards to employees for making job referrals, has been acquired by the recruitment company Amris (owned by The Internet Corporation Limited). TechCrunch has the story here. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed. Zao had raised $1.3 million seed round led by Oren Zeev, a former general partner at Apax Partners.

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People

Bryan Hsu is the newest associate at the late-stage venture firmInstitutional Venture Partners (which, it’s worth noting, tends to promote employees into more senior positions, rather than hire outside operators from brand-name companies). Hsu, a Dallas native, last worked as an investment banking analyst at Qatalyst Partners, the technology-focused boutique investment bank.

Looks like billionaire VC Vinod Khosla could lose his fight to keep surfers and others off property that he acquired several years ago in San Mateo County. Legislation that could mean greater public access to Martins Beach cleared its final legislative hurdle on Thursday and now awaits California Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

The offices of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers were ransacked in late July, reports Bloomberg, and six laptops, two monitors and a docking station were taken during the break-in. Among the items stolen were two password-protected laptops that contained social security numbers and financial-accounts data.

U.S. Chief Technology officer Todd Park is planning to step down by year-end, reports Fortune, which says Park’s next role will see him working from Silicon Valley, where he’ll be recruiting tech talent into government roles.

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Job Listings

Samsung is looking for a senior associate to work at its Open Innovation Center, which invests in startups, as well as helps incubate them. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.

Stanford Management Company is looking for an investment attorney.

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Essential Reads

Xiaomi Mi4 review: China’s iPhone killer is “unoriginal but amazing,” says The Verge.

Business Insider looks at the origins of UBeam and a lawsuit between its founders that has gone unreported until now.

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Detours

In tennis, the one-handed backhand has all but disappeared, but Stan Wawrinka may save it.

“From our humble beginnings selling jam to white people with way too much disposable income, to convincing those same diners that poached quail eggs is a totally normal thing to consume, Hirl has never been about getting bogged down in stasis.”

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Retail Therapy

The Sony Smart Tennis Sensor, compatible with most big-name rackets.

3D printed bobble heads. (Hey, why not?)


Micky Malka Doubles Down: “I Don’t Believe in Diversification”

malka_meyerIn a crowded market, venture capitalists tend to talk up particular investment angles to differentiate themselves from their peers. When Ribbit Capital founder Micky Malka talks financial services, though, it isn’t for marketing purposes. Malka has been living and breathing finance since co-founding his first company in 1993, a broker dealer that evolved into an online financial services portal and sold in 2000, just before the bubble burst, to the Spanish bank Banco Santander.

LPs clearly like his credentials. Ribbit, in Palo Alto, closed its first fund with $100 million last year and officially closed on a second, $125 million fund last week. I chatted with Malka on Friday to learn more about what those investors — including Silicon Valley Bank, the Spain-based lender Banco Bilbao VIzcaya Argentaria, and individuals from the financial services world — find so compelling about what Malka is doing.

You’re Venezuelan and spent most of your life in South America. When did you come to the U.S. and why?

I came here seven years ago this month. I’d started all kinds of consumer financial services companies in Europe and Latin America and did very well for myself, but I felt like I was playing in the AAA leagues and that Silicon Valley was the majors.

You came to be an entrepreneur, though, not an investor.

Yes, I moved with my family to build another company, again around consumer financial services – around mobile payments. Bling Nation was right on the vision but so wrong on the strategy, wrong on the protocols. It took us a couple of years to figure it out, though. At that point, we went to our VCs and said, “It’s not working and we have two options. We can return your money and lose our own personal money that we’d put in. Or you can give us six months to figure it out.” To my surprise, the investors said, “We backed you guys, not the idea. Take six months to figure it out.” It was really big [of them]. We launched a company called Lemon, a financial app, and we sold it last year to a public company.

Had you had it with startups at that point? Why form Ribbit?

I’d listen to this guy say, “I’m doing this lending business in the U.K.,” and I’d say, “I’d love to be involved.” Then I’d learn of a new financial advisor in the U.S., and I’d think that was interesting. I realized there was an investment thesis going on that was broader than what people were thinking about. Also, I’ve started companies on four continents, and there aren’t many VCs who really know financial services in different jurisdictions. It’s a very particular DNA around which to start a firm.

So much is happening on the financial services front right now. Where in the cycle are we?

Financial services innovate when there’s a new channel and when users or clients are tired of existing brands. Well, people aren’t wearing their Goldman Sachs or Citibank hats anymore. Meanwhile, mobile has taken off dramatically, and banks and insurance companies don’t think in mobile terms. I’m not saying the brands we know will disappear, but who will be the Capital One or Charles Schwab of this generation? It’s early, and there are a lot of unique innovators in different subsets of the universe.

Where are you investing your capital geographically?

Our mandate is global. We look for opportunities in seven markets: The U.S. and Canada, Brazil, the U.K., Germany, South Africa, Turkey, and India, which are all markets where there are entrepreneurs and investment partners who I’ve known for 15 years.

Where have you made some of your biggest bets to date?

We’re the largest bitcoin VC in world. Let Marc [Andreessen] be Marc [in being so public about bitcoin]; we’ve been investing since 2012. Back then, there were no bitcoin entrepreneurs so we had to buy bitcoin directly. Later, we found our first entrepreneurs, including at [bitcoin exchange service] Coinbase [which Ribbit backed last year]. We’ve now made five investments in bitcoin [startups]: Two here in the U.S., one in Hong Kong, one in Brazil and one in Slovenia.

You made 10 investments out of your first fund, and you’ve made six from your second fund, only one of which, Wealthfront, has been announced. Are you still focused narrowly on consumer-facing financial startups?

Yes. We’ve done lending businesses, personal finance, wealth management, accounting and invoicing, and bitcoin, and now we’re going to add insurance, which we’ve spent the last year researching. We just see too many opportunities that we like.

What size checks are you writing?

We make very concentrated bets. Our checks are usually between $3 million to $4 million and $20 million. When we find what we like, we have a lot of conviction. I don’t believe in diversification.

Image courtesy of the upcoming Money 20/20 conference.


StrictlyVC: August 22, 2014

Woot! It’s Friday. Hope you have a lovely, summery weekend, everyone. Web visitors, for an easier-to-read version of the email, click here. (You can sign up to have these delivered to your inbox here.)

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Top News in the A.M.

An Apple iPhone 6 screen snag has left a supply chain scrambling, reports Reuters.

A federal court has rejected Aereo’s request to argue it’s a cable company.

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After Onavo

Earlier this week, The Information published a piece about mobile software makers who are flying blind following Facebook’s acquisition last year of the app analytics startup Onavo, even as consumers spend more time inside apps than ever before. In fact, according to a new Comscore report, activity on smartphones and tablets has grown to 60 percent of our digital media time, driven predominately by apps.

On the desktop, of course, Comscore, Nielsen and SEO companies can learn a lot about site referrals based on URL tracking, and for the most part, everyone has access to the same data. By contrast, the mobile ecosystem offers no such visibility. Aside from tracking how may times an app has been downloaded, says Keval Desai of Interwest Partners, “There’s no true visibility into the traffic of top sites, no visibility into app discovery.”

Desai compares the dearth of mobile analytics to the old days of the Internet, when there were “these closed islands, like AOL and CompuServe, before the web came along and opened everything up.” Today’s “islands” are Google and Apple and, increasingly, Facebook, which control most of the mobile app market and thus can see what others cannot, including how often particular apps are used.

Things don’t look to change any time soon, either, despite the growing number of companies attempting to make money off of mobile analytics. These companies range from four-year-old, San Francisco-based App Annie, which tracks downloads, to Singular.net, also in San Francisco, a new company in the broader mobile-usage-tracking space that was founded by ex-Onavo employees and raised $5 million in seed funding from General Catalyst Partners this summer.

Other analytics startups trying to figure out mobile analytics include MobileactionSensor TowerMixPanelAmplitudeAppGenius, and Mobiledevhq, a Seattle-based company that was acquired earlier this month for undisclosed terms.

The question is whether the absence of a mobile analytics standard will stunt the development of new mobile apps. Desai, for one, isn’t ready to toss in the towel.

While a lack of transparency into the ecosystem may frustrate reporters and venture capitalists looking for the Next Mobile Trend, the rest of the world may wonder, “Who cares?” suggests Desai. Consumers can visit an app store to get an idea of what’s new and exciting, he notes. VCs employ people to write scripts to figure out what’s hot and what’s trending. Meanwhile, “If you’re a large advertiser and want to know what are the most frequently used apps by a particular demographic, you can get that data through your ad agencies or through the publishers themselves. App publishers have an incentive to voluntarily disclose that information – in private. It’s like with TV and radio and print, where you have publishers who, for the right reasons, aren’t interesting in [publicly] disclosing their viewership data.”

Desai — whose firm was an investor in the mobile analytics firm Flurry, which sold to Yahoo earlier this summer in a reported $200 million deal — adds that he “isn’t saying that [mobile analytics is] not important.” Better insight into how applications are performing would be great. “But people who really care about this stuff have a way of finding it out.”

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New Fundings

Advanced Cooling Therapy, a 5.5-year-old, Chicago-based medical device firm working on an esophageal cooling device to control patient temperature, has raised $1.5 million in Series A funding from Heartland AngelsGopher Angels and TWB Investment Partnership, along with several individual investors.

Claret Medical, a five-year-old, Santa Rosa, Ca.-based developer of a filter system used during structural heart, vascular and cardiac surgery procedures, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Santé Ventures, with participation from Lightstone Ventures. The company has raised at least $23.1 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

ClickBus, a year-old, Sao Paulo, Brazil-based online bus ticket platform, has raised $10 million in funding from Latin America Internet GroupTengelmann VenturesHoltzbrinck Ventures, and Rocket Internet.

Guavus, an eight-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based big data analytics platform, has raised $20 million in new funding from its investors, which include Artiman VenturesSofinnova VenturesIntel CapitalSingTel Innov8Investor Growth CapitalQuestMark Partners and Goldman Sachs. The company now raised just more than $107 million altogether.

Holtzbrinck Ventures, a 14-year-old, Munich-based investment firm, is transferring its stakes in seven e-commerce companies to Rocket Internet AG in exchange for a 2.5 percent stake in the company, which is planning to go public. The announcement, notes Tech.eu, comes after other recent funding rounds at Rocket, the Berlin-based company that creates and funds new startups.

Jaunt, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based virtual reality cinema startup that recently emerged from stealth mode, has raised $27.8 million in Series B funding led by Highland Capital Partners. Other participants in the round included Google Ventures and existing investors Redpoint VenturesBritish Sky BroadcastingPeter Gotcher and Blake Krikorian. GigaOm has more here.

Lastline, a three-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based malware defense company has raised $10 million in new funding from Dell Ventures and Presidio Ventures, along with earlier investors e.ventures and Redpoint Ventures. The company has raised $23.7 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Madrone, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that provides a cloud-based service for alternative investment managers to analyze and automate their portfolio and business decisions, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Green Visor Capital.

Mark One, a nine-month-old, San Francisco-based company whoses flagship product is the Vessyl smart cup — a cup that tracks your liquid consumption throughout the day and was designed in part by renowned designer Yves Behar — has raised $3 million in seed funding co-led by Felicis Ventures and Horizons Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

MobileDay, a three-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based company that provides one-tap mobile dialing into any conference bridge, international call, or online meeting, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by theFoundry Group, with participation from Innoventure Partners and Drummond Road Capital. Earlier investors SoftBankGoogle VenturesBullet Time Ventures, and SoftTech VC also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $10 million, shows Crunchbase.

Product Hunt, a 10-month-old, San Francisco-based site and app that highlights new tech products and services, has raised $1 million in seed funding. Y Combinator provided $120,000 of the funding. (Product Hunt passed through its program this summer.) The other $880,000 came from A-Grade InvestmentsbetaworksCowboy VenturesCrunchFundGoogle VenturesGreylock PartnersLudlow VenturesSlow VenturesSV AngelTradecraftVayner/RSE and unnamed individual investors.

Swift Navigation, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based GPS technology company that promises more accurate positioning, including for drone use, has raised $2.6 million in seed funding led by First Round Capital. Other participants in the round included Fall Line CapitalFelicis VenturesLemnos LabsQualcomm VenturesVegasTechFund and individual investor Kal Vepuri.

Vestaron, a 13-year-old, Kalamazoo, Mi.-based company that makes environmentally friendly insecticides, has raised $10 million in funding led by new investor Cultivian Sandbox Ventures. Earlier investors Southwest Michigan First Life Science Venture FundOpen Prairie VenturesPangaea VenturesMichigan Accelerator Fund and others also participated. The company has now raised roughly $20 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

ViaCyte, a 15-year-old, San Diego-based therapeutic company focused on diabetes, has raised $20 million via a deal with Janssen Research & Development as it prepares to launch clinical studies of a regenerative-medicine treatment. The company has raised at least $61 million to date from institutional investors, including Pacific Horizon Ventures,Sanderling VenturesAsset Management Company, and Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation.

—–

New Funds

Global Polymeric Materials Technology Commercialization Fund, a new, Akron, Oh.-based investment vehicle that’s looking to invest in and help commercialize polymer technologies, has raised $11 million so far — $5 million of which has come from an unnamed Chinese investor. The fund is looking to assemble an additional $20 million by year end in order to receive additional capital from the state of Ohio. More here.

Pereg Ventures, a two-year-old, early-stage venture capital firm, has closed on $25 million for its first fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm was founded by Itzhak FIsher, EVP of Global Business Development for The Nielsen Company. Previously, Fisher led global product development and was executive chairman of Nielsen Online. (Nielsen has reportedly committed $10 million to the fund.) It isn’t clear if the filing represents a final closing. Fisher has told reporters in the past that he was targeting $50 million.

—–

IPOs

IPO stock watch: recent issuers iDreamSky and TrueCar have hit new highs, notes Investor’s Business Daily.

—–

People

Eesh. When Y Combinator cofounder Jessica Livingston arrived at The Wine Room in Palo Alto, Ca., to meet a reporter, another investor, also waiting outside, asked if she was there for a Match.com date.

LinkedIn’s head of product, Deep Nishar, is leaving the Silicon Valley-based business network after a six year run, reports Recode.

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Data

Snapchat versus Skype in the U.S. (H/T: Benedict Evans)

The 10 fastest-growing health IT companies, according to Inc.

—–

Job Listings

Siemens Venture Capital is looking for an associate. The job is in Boston.

—–

Essential Reads

Ebay has been telling potential recruits for the position of PayPal CEO that it’s considering spinning off PayPal as soon as next year, sources tell The Information. Former PayPal exec Keith Rabois says it’d be a whole lot easier if eBay just rebranded itself PayPal.

There are 18,796 distinct Android devices, according to OpenSignal’s latest fragmentation report.

The New Yorker goes to Y Combinator’s Demo Day.

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Detours

Why no one wants to run against Hillary Clinton.

A secret subway exit disguised as a Brooklyn townhouse, and 11 other hidden gems in New York City.

Most office dogs would rather work from home, actually.

—–

Retail Therapy

It’s a finger puppet, it’s a nail mitten, it’s Screenster, a protective microsuede thing that doesn’t leave behind prints on touchscreen devices.

The iPhone 5s for $79, at Wal-Mart right now.

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