Hello, fair readers. No column today, but we’ll see you next week. Hope you have a terrific weekend, and in the case that you’re a Web visitor, here’s an easier-to-read version of this morning’s missive.
Top News in the A.M.
“The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of cellphones through fake communications towers deployed on airplanes, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations,” reports the WSJ.
Apio Systems, a 2.2-year-old, Crystal City, Va.-based company whose mobile platform uses existing sensors in smartphones and tablets to detect a broad range of driving conditions, has raised $5 million in Series A round funding led by Verizon Ventures, with participation from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, the international public transport company Transdev, and East Rock Capital. To date, Apio Systems has raised more than $6 million.
Craftsy, a four-year-old, Denver-based online craft site whose members learn how to create craft ideas via online tutorials, has raised more than $50 million in growth funding led by Stripes Group, with participation from earlier backer Foundry Group, Tiger Global, Adams Street Partners, Access Venture Partners and Silicon Valley Bank. The company has now raised almost $100 million altogether. The New York Times has much more here.
Eventbase, a five-year-old, Vancouver-based event app platform, has raised $2 million in Series A funding from the newly formed vehicle SXSW Tech, founded by the organizers of the South By Southwest conferences and festivals. The capital represents Eventbase’s first institutional funding.
HealthCare.com, an eight-year-old, Miami, Fl.-based healthcare pricing and meta-search engine, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Priceline Chairman Jeffrey Boyd, with participation from People Fund.
Hihey, a three-year-old, Beijing-based online auction site, has raised roughly $100 million in Series B funding from Citic Securities andShenzhen Capital Group.
Indice Semiconductor, a six-year-old, Tualatin, Ore.-based fabless semiconductor company that makes mixed-signal power control and conversion ICs, has raised $6 million in Series A funding, including from the Australian venture firm Rampersand.
LaForge Optical, a 1.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based maker of prescription “smart” glasses, has raised $1.1 million in funding from the smart lens technology company Somo Optical.
Metal Networks, a 2.5-year-old, Houston, Tx.-based company that makes software for buying and selling semi-finished industrial metal, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by S3 Ventures.
Rival IQ, a 1.5-year-old, Seattle-based digital marketing analytics company, has raised roughly $1 million in funding from new and earlier investors, including Confluence Capital, Galvanize Ventures, Gravity Ventures, and Vulcan Capital.
Symbiota, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Mass.-based company whose microbial solutions promote plant health, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding from Flagship Ventures.
Trecker.com, a two-year-old, Berlin-based SaaS platform for farm and agriculture business processes, has raised 2.1 million euros ($2.6 million) in Series A funding led by Target Partners.
UpLift, a three-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based payment marketing platform that allows merchants to promote preferred payment types, has raised $8.2 million in Series A funding led by IDG Ventures, with participation from PAR Capital Ventures, Thayer Ventures and individual investors.
Wildcard, a 22-month-old, New York-based company behind a new mobile brower, has raised $10 million in funding led by General Catalyst Partners. Other investors in the round include Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Softbank Capital, SV Angel, GroupMe founders Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci, Dave Tisch, and Gary Vaynerchuk. GigaOm has a nice overview of why the company is interesting here.
Qihoo 360 Technology, the nine-year-old Chinese Internet-security company, plans to form an early-stage fund with $60 million to invest in Internet-of-Things companies, says the WSJ. The intended fund, called360 Capital—IoT Fund, will reportedly focus on investments in China, the U.S. and Israel. More here.
Unshackled, a new San Francisco-based angel fund, has raised a $3.5 million fund that it will use to help foreign entrepreneurs who are already in the U.S. work full-time on their startups. The idea is to provide the foreign-born entrepreneurs with a paycheck, work visas and health benefits while they try to get their companies to the point where they can raise another round. Unshackled is itself backed by roughly 50 investors, including First Round Capital and 500 Startups. Venture Capital Dispatch has the story here.
DermTech, an 18-year-old, La Jolla, Ca.-based biotech company that develops and commercializes assays for skin samples using adhesive tape biopsy methods, has withdrawn its plans to go public. The company has raised $16.8 million from investors over the years, including Jacobs Investment Company.
Aorato, a two-year-old, Herzliya, Israel-based cyber security company, has officially been acquired by Microsoft for what TechCrunch sources say is “in the region of $200 million.” Aorato had raised $11 million from investors, including Glilot Capital Partners, Accel Partners, Innovation Endeavors, and individuals Rakesh Loonkar and Mickey Boodaei.
Xtime, a 15-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company that sells customer-service software for auto dealers, has been acquired for $325 million in cash by Cox Automotive, a unit of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. Xtime had raised at least $28 million over the years, including a $23 million round in 2012 that included DFJ, Saints Capital, Lumia Capital, RPM Ventures, and Bessemer Venture Partners.
Adam Boyden has joined RPM Ventures, a 14-year-old, Ann Arbor, Mi.-based seed- and early-stage venture capital firm, as managing director. Boyden had co-founded and led Openlane, an RPM-backed online wholesale automotive marketplace that was acquired by KAR Auction Services for $210 million in 2011. (It had raised $10 million.) In recent years, Boyden has also been the COO of the peer-to-peer lending platform SoFi and served as president of Conduit, a cloud-based user-engagement platform.
The Fancy, the five-year-old, New York-based social shopping platform that was rumored to be in acquisition talks with eBay in September for roughly a billion dollars, has laid off an estimated one-third of its staff,reports Business Insider. A number of Glassdoor reviewers allege that the company has a tendency to fire employees just before their stock options vest, notes BI. It also reminds readers that executives from Fancy took about $20 million off the table during the company’s last fundraise, money that was reportedly distributed to a dozen executives. The company has raised $104 million to date, shows Crunchbase.
Serial entrepreneur Halsey Minor, who has famously burned many of his bridges with Silicon Valley investors, is turning to crowdfunding platforms to fund his newest company, Bitreserve, which seeks to use bitcoin to transfer funds across borders and minimize exchange fees. The company disclosed yesterday that it’s using Venovate Marketplace, a U.S.-based brokerage platform for alternative investing, and London-based crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to drum up its Series B funding.
Kara Nortman has just become the third partner with an operating background to join L.A.-based Upfront Ventures in the past two years. Nortman previously founded P.S. XO, a startup that delivered content for birthday and other kid celebrations to the doorsteps of harried parents; last month, it merged with a similar company, Seedling. Nortman has also run the IAC operating companies Urbanspoon and Citysearch and was a board member at Hatch Labs, where she advised Tinder, maker of a hugely popular online dating app.
Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder of eBay, apparently spent years living as a recluse, interacting with his business contacts using the virtual online world Second Life. More here.
Reddit, the popular online community message board, is undergoing a management reshuffle. Yishan Wong, Reddit’s CEO for the last two-and-a-half years, reportedly resigned from his position yesterday over a disagreement about the location and lease of a new office for the company. (He wanted to move the company down to Daly City, just south of San Francisco; Reddit’s board said no.) Ellen Pao, Reddit’s business and partnerships strategist, will serve as interim chief executive, the company said in a statement. A New York Times piece about the moves also reported that Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian will return to the company full time as its executive chairman.
Evan Spiegel, cofounder of the popular messaging service Snapchat, has moved on — out of his dad’s house, that is. Variety has more here.
Fenwick & West has released the results of its third-quarter Silicon Valley Venture Capital Survey, which analyzed 180 tech and life science companies. The upshot: Though the quarter one of the strongest in the past decade, it wasn’t as strong as the second quarter, with venture investment, IPOs and fundraising all declining a bit. In the third quarter, for example, up rounds exceeded down rounds 76 percent to 12 percent (with another 12 percent closing up so-called flat rounds). In the second quarter, 80 percent of the deals done had been up rounds, 6 percent were down rounds, and 14 percent remained flat. You can find much more here.
Amazon and Hachette have finally resolved their dispute. (Phew.)
Tour the lab where scientists supercharge elite athletes.
Why everyone loves “Serial,” the true-crime podcast.
What it’s like to remember almost everything that has ever happened to you.
To each his own, but this shower does not seem like a particularly good idea.