Hi, everyone, welcome back. What a game last night! What a terrible play! “Of course I can say now I wish we had done something different,” said Seahawks’s delated offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell afterward.
Top News in the A.M.
President Obama will announce today that he wants U.S. companies to pay a 14 percent tax on the approximately $2 trillion of overseas earnings they’ve amassed, reports the WSJ. They could reinvest those funds in the U.S. without paying additional tax, says the piece. They would also face a 19 percent minimum tax on future foreign profits. Tech and pharmaceutical companies hold the greatest share of overseas cash, accounting for 30 percent of the total; Apple alone has roughly $160 billion in offshore cash.
On the Bias Toward Writing About Bias
The last two years have seen countless articles about why there aren’t more successful women in tech. First, a story is published about the dearth of female entrepreneurs or female investors (or both), then people either applaud the piece or enumerate why its wrong-headed (or both). Finally, someone else is legitimately wronged by some knucklehead, and the cycle begins anew.
Much of the coverage has had a positive impact. By shining a light on age-old behaviors that were deemed acceptable for too long, more tech startups are instituting sensitivity training and diversity initiatives. Women who felt isolated in facing gender bias have learned that they’re far from alone.
The many reports about women in tech have also put a finer point on some differences between male and female entrepreneurs that are now being actively addressed.
For example, Mar Hershenson, a serial entrepreneur-turned venture capitalist, now advises some of the female entrepreneurs with whom she meets to “raise their voice – not be afraid to talk about the best-case scenario for their startups.” Talking up their work doesn’t always come as naturally to women, says Hershenson. But “venture firms look for big vision, nothing-is-going-to-stop-me type pitches,” and getting that memo beforehand is useful, she adds.
Still, some think much of the coverage around women in tech is becoming counterproductive.
Mada Seghete, cofounder of the deep-linking tech company Branch Metrics, says some of what she reads in the media rings true. For example, she observed more of a “risk-taking attitude, to some extent” by her male classmates at Stanford, where Seghete — who has two engineering degrees from Cornell — recently snagged her MBA.
Yet Seghete also notes that a higher percentage of her female classmates have seen their businesses take off since graduating, partly because “a lot of guys played with the ideas and took their time” while their female peers dove into things that are “less risky,” says Seghete.
Among those companies is The League, a dating startup cofounded by Seghete’s former classmate Amanda Bradford. It just closed on $2.1 million in funding last week.)
Seghete also seems to think the ongoing narrative of women as victims can have unintended consequences – namely, making women unnecessarily ill at ease.
“Even as a software developer, I don’t consider that I’m different, and maybe it’s because I don’t anticipate bias that I’m confident in a way that people don’t look at me differently,” says Seghete, whose own company — cofounded with classmates Alex Austin, Dmitri Gaskin, and Mike Molinet — has raised $3 million led by New Enterprise Associates.
“If I thought I’d be facing bias in a situation, then I might be more self-conscious. It would be a self-fulfilling process.”
Apttus, an 8.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company that helps customers manage the second half of their sales cycle, has raised $41 million in Series B funding led by Salesforce Ventures, with participation from K1 Capital and Iconiq. All three were previous investors in the company, which has now raised $78 million altogether, says TechCrunch.
Coursmos, a year-old, San Francisco-based company that offers short “micro courses” for users via a web and mobile platform, has raised $600,000 in seed funding from Altera Capital Group, with participation from Imperious Group. The company has now raised $1.2 million altogether.
ERelevance, a 1.5-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based healthcare IT startup that makes patient-engagement software, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by Martin Ventures. The company had previously raised $1.3 million.
MileIQ, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose mobile app tracks mileage, has raised $11 million in funding led by Trinity Ventures, with participation from earlier backers CRV, SV Angel and Marc Benioff. The company has raised $14 million to date.
Pulsate, a 1.5-year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based startup whose tech platform helps brands communicate with customers based on their location, context, interests and behavior, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding from PayPal and the marketing research company Dunnhumby. TechCrunch has more here.
QASymphony, a nearly four-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based software company that sells testing services for testing organizations and quality-assurance teams, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Buckhead Investment Partners, Poplar Ventures, and KMS Technology.
Siva Power, an 8.5-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based company that makes third-generation thin film PV technologies to increase solar cell efficiency, has closed on $10 million in Series D funding from earlier investors Trident Capital, DBL Investors, Medley Partners, and Acero Capital. The city of Wuxi, China, also participated as a new investor. The round includes $3 million in debt financing that Siva received last May. The company, which has now raised roughly $115 million altogether, was formerly called Solexant.
Skipta, a six-year-old, Lancaster, Pa.-based operator of online communities for health-care professionals, has raised $2.5 million in Series A financing from Mansa Capital.
Sportsman Tracker, a 3.5-year-old, Grand Rapids, Mi.-based company with a suite of mobile applications for hunters and anglers, has raised $950,000 in seed funding led by Huron River Ventures and Start Garden, with participation by Detroit Innovate, Muskegon Angels and Karis Capital Partners.
Zapproved, a 6.5-year-old, Portland, Or.-based company whose software platform helps companies comply with legal rules and regulations, has raised $15 million funding round led by K1 Investment Management. The company has now raised roughly $20 million altogether, including from numerous individual investors.
Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has created a $130 million fund called the Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation, with the aim of enticing founders to build up businesses through Alibaba’s platforms, including its main shopping sites Taobao Marketplace and Tmall. TechCrunch has much more here.
Aspect Ventures — cofounded by Theresia Gouw, formerly of Accel Partners, and Jennifer Fonstad, formerly of DFJ — is looking to raise its first outside fund, and it’s targeting $150 million for the effort, shows an SEC filing. The pair began investing their own money a year ago. Among their bets to date: Vida, a young, San Francisco-based company whose mobile app connects consumers with coaches and doctors to improve their health; BaubleBar, a four-year-old, New York-based e-commerce company focused on “on-trend” fashion jewelry; and Exabeam, a 1.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based big data security analytics startup.
August Capital has set out to raise a $450 million seventh fund, according to a new SEC filing. Interestingly, the fund size is moving in the opposite direction of many recents funds. August closed on $550 million for its sixth fund, down from the $650 million it had raised for its fifth fund. Among some of its newer bets: Open Garden, a nearly four-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile broadband network for Internet of Things devices; Avant Credit, a two-year-old, Chicago-based online consumer lender; and Quandl, a three-year-old, Toronto-based data management platform and marketplace where people can buy, sell, and download financial and economic data.
Blumberg Capital, the 24-year-old, San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm, is looking to raise up to $200 million for its fourth fund, according to an SEC filing. Blumberg had closed its third fund with $150 million in November 2013. Some of the firm’s newer bets include Kreditech, a three-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based consumer finance startup that focuses on lending money to “unbanked” consumers with little or no credit rating; and Credorax, a six-year-old, Southborough, Ma.-based small startup that enables online payment processing for a range of online merchants.
Cendana Capital, the five-year-old, San Francisco-based firm that has made a name for itself by backing so-called micro funds, has added $40 million to its Cendana Co-Investment Fund, money it manages with capital from the University of Texas Investment Management Company. (UTIMCO had originally commited $60 million to the fund in July 2012.) You can find the SEC filing here.
Northern Light Venture Capital, a 10-year-old, Beijing-based early-stage venture fund, is looking to raise $365 million for its fourth fund, shows an SEC filing. It closed its last fund with $404 million, according to Thomson Reuters.
Victory Park Capital, the eight-year-old, Chicago-based alternative investments firm, is setting up a listed fund to invest in loans originating on sites like the peer-to-peer platforms Prosper and Funding Circle, reports the WSJ. The fund — VPC Specialty Lending Investments — plans to hold a £200 million ($224 million) IPO in London, says the report.
SolarWinds, the publicly traded IT software company, has acquired the San Francisco-based analytics company Librato for $40 million in cash. According to Crunchbase, Librato had raised $5.1 million from investors, including Baseline Ventures, Cowboy Ventures and Harrison Metal.
Swyft Media, a three-year-old, New York-based digital marketing company that had raised $1 million in seed funding from undisclosed investors, has been acquired by publicly traded Monotype, a company specializing in typesetting and typeface design. Swyft Media is reportedly being paid $12 million up front and could see up to $15 million more in additional earn-outs.
Ticketea, a Madrid-based ticketing startup, has acquired TodayTickets, a two-year-old, Berlin-based last-minute ticket booking app, for undisclosed terms. TodayTickets had raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding; Ticketea has raised $5.7 million from investors. TechCrunch has more here.
TripAdvisor, the travel planning and booking business, has acquired San Mateo, Ca.-based ZeTrip and its travel journal app app Rove, which provides a travelog of users’ movements based their GPS coordinates. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. ZeTrip had raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding in 2012 from Inspiration Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
New Jersey state Treasury investigators found no wrongdoing in venture firm General Catalyst Partners‘ decision to not report a political contribution from one of its EIRs – now Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker – months before the pension committed millions to the firm. The outlet peHUB has more here.
On Friday, Nest Labs told employees that founding VP of technology Yoky Matsuoka and Greg Duffy, who’d joined Nest last summer when it acquired his connected-camera company, Dropcam, have left the company. The company didn’t provide employees insight into why Matsuoka was leaving but credited her with having a “tremendous impact” on the team. As for Duffy, they said he was “leaving to pursue other opportunities.” As we’d reported last November, the cultural fit between Dropcam and Nest was a poor one, with both Dropcam and earlier Nest employees describing a frustrating environment at Nest under Tony Fadell’s leadership.
Cue Ball Capital, the Boston-based venture capital firm, is looking to hire an investment associate.
According to VentureSource, investors poured $15.5 billion into China-based deals last year, more than twice the previous record of $7.3 billion set in 2011. More here.
So-called zombie apps are on the rise.
Twitter hopes to display its value to new users through a feature called Instant Timeline that shows tweets to people who haven’t yet followed anyone.
Vintage portraits of (modern) Hollywood celebrities.
Saturday Night Live takes on football commercials in this very funny parody.
The case of the next U.S. housing boom in eight charts.
Srirachup. You can have it both ways.