Monthly Archives: April 2015

StrictlyVC: April 30, 2015

Happy Thursday, everyone! We interviewed a couple of folks yesterday — including the head of TPG Growth, Bill McGlashen —  and hoped to publish one of those chats today. We’re running a little late as it is, though, so stay tuned. McGlashen, in particular, had some interesting things to say about the way TPG Growth operates — and why he takes issue with one common perception about his group.

(Psst, web visitors, here’s an easier-to-read version of this morning’s email.)

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Top News in the A.M.

Salesforce is working with financial advisers to help it field takeover offers after being approached by a potential acquirer, according to Bloomberg sources. ZDNet takes a look at some possible buyers.

Shares of the business ratings and reviews company Yelp have tanked more than 21 percent today, following a big miss on its first quarter earnings.

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New Fundings

Beisen, a 13-year-old, Beijing, China-based maker of SaaS-based HR software, has raised $18 million in Series C funding led by Matrix Partners and another unnamed investor. The company reportedly raised roughly $10 million in Series B funding in 2013 from Matrix and Sequoia Capital.

Campus Job, a year-old, New York-based online marketplace for college students to find part-time jobs and internships, has raised $7.8 million in Series A funding led by General Catalyst Partners, with participation from Index Ventures, SV Angel, Slow Ventures, and others. Earlier backers Box Group and Lerer Hippeau Ventures also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $9.1 million.

Cintell, an eight-month-old, Boston, Ma.-based customer intelligence platform, has raised $800,000 in seed funding led by angel investor and entrepreneur Venkat Janapareddy, whose startup, Gozaik, was acquired by Monster Worldwide.

Circle Internet Financial, a two-year-old, Boston-based bitcoin brokerage firm, has raised $50 million in new funding led by Goldman Sachs and IDG Capital Partners, with participation from all of its earlier backers. (Some of those include Breyer Capital, Accel Partners, Pantera Capital, and Oak Investment Partners.) The company, cofounded by by Brightcove founder Jeremy Allaire, has now raised $76 million altogether, shows Crunchbase. Reuters has more here.

Clarifai, a two-year-old, New York-based company whose image recognition software helps companies better handle certain kinds of data, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Union Square Ventures, Lux Capital and Osage University Partners. Other participants included Google Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Nvidia Ventures,Corazon Capital, LDV Capital and New York University. Crain’s New York has more here.

Femasys, an 11-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based company that has developed a non-surgical female sterilization device that delivers biomaterial through a catheter-based system to block a patient’s fallopian tubes, has raised $10.2 million in funding led by Legacy Capital Partners, Salem Partners, and Mario Family Partners. The company has now raised $16.6 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

Glu Mobile, the 14-year-old, San Francisco-based publicly traded games maker, has sold 21 million shares, or 14.6 percent of its outstanding shares, to the Chinese Internet giant Tencent for $126 million. Recode has more here.

Lyst, a four-year-old, London-based fashion e-commerce platform, has raised $40 million in Series C funding from Groupe Arnault, Accel Partners, Balderton Capital, 14W, DFJ and an unnamed New York based hedge fund. More here.

MD Insider, a three-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based healthcare platform that helps companies choose the best doctor networks for their employees based on experience, quality and cost, has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by the company’s executive chairman, Jason Ader, with participation from Tim Ferriss and Bill Ackman.

Mobile Action, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based marketing platform that helps app publishers figure out how to better optimize their apps’ search result rankings, has raised $2 million in funding led by Felicis Ventures, with participation from Streamlined Ventures500 Startups, 500 Mobile Collective, CrunchFund and numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

MX, a five-year-old, Provo, Ut.-based  personal finance startup, has raised $30 million in Series A funding led by a subsidiary of USAA, with participation from the Tokyo-based venture firm Digital Garage. The company has now raised $50 million altogether, including from Peak Ventures, Commerce Ventures, North Hill Ventures, and TTV Capital. (We’d mentioned this same deal early last week, though we didn’t know at the time who the new backers were.)

MyoKardia, a 2.5-year-old, South San Francisco-based company that’s developing precision therapies for genetic heart disease, has raised $46 million in Series B funding from an undisclosed public investment fund, Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Perceptive Life Sciences, an affiliate of Cowen Group, and BridgeBio, with participation from earlier backer Sanofi.

NetBase, an 11-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based social media analytics company, has raised $9 million in Series E funding led by ORIX Ventures, with participation from return backer Thomvest Ventures. The company had earlier raised $24 million in Series E funding (announced in March). Altogether, Netbase has raised $84.6 million, shows Crunchbase.

PlateJoy, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based meal-kit delivery startup, has raised $1.7 million in seed funding from Foundation Capital, Sherpa Ventures, HealthBox, 500 Startups, VaynerRSE, Bassett Investments, and angel investors Joanne Wilson and Jared Leto.

Rimidi, a three-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based digital health company focused on diabetes and other chronic conditions, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Cox Enterprises. The company had previously raised at least $1.4 million in seed funding, shows Crunchbase. More here.

Rocana, a year-old, Boston, Ma.-based company whose software helps IT professionals trace data center problems to their root cause, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Google Ventures, with participation from General Catalyst Partners, Toba Capital and Paul Sagan. The company, which has now raised $19.4 million altogether, was formerly called ScalingData.

Sticky, a six-year-old, New York-based online eye-tracking analytics platform for content publishers, advertisers and agencies, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Dawn Capital, with participation from previous investors Northzone and Conor. More here.

SwitchedOn, a year-old, Singapore-based company behind a team messaging app, has raised $300,000 from 14 angel investors. More here.

TripleMint, a four-year-old, New York-based online real estate brokerage, has raised $1.65 million in seed funding from Dominion Capital, Winklevoss Capital, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, Kima Ventures, Archangel Ventures, and individual investors, including Fabrice Grinda. TechCrunch has more here.

Visidraft, a four-year-old, Cheverly, Md.-based augmented reality startup that’s developing a communications and design platform for architecture and construction work, has raised $250,000 in seed funding led by Hivers & Strivers. DCInno has more here.

Warby Parker, the five-year-old, New York-based online glass retailer, has raised $100 million in new funding led by T.Rowe Price, with participation from Wellington Management and earlier backers Tiger Global Management and General Catalyst Partners. The round reportedly values the company — which has now raised $215 million altogether — at $1.2 billion. The WSJ has the story here.

XOEye Technologies, a 4.5-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based maker of work-related wearables, has raised $1.9 million in Series A funding led by IncWell, an early-stage venture firm founded by former Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda. More here.

Zooppa, a Seattle-based company that crowdsources advertising creative through online contests, has raised $3.4 million in a new round of funding, according to an SEC filing. GeekWire has more here.

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New Funds

Catalyst Investors, a 15-year-old, New York-based growth equity firm, has closed its fourth fund with $377 million.

Slow Ventures, a four-year-old, seed-stage firm, has raised $65 million for its fourth fund. Business Insider has more here.

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IPOs

Blueprint Medicines, a seven-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based developer of experimental cancer therapies that was originally formed by Third Rock Ventures, sold 8.15 million IPO shares at $18 apiece last night, bringing in nearly $147 million. The company began trading on Nasdaq today. Along with Third Rock, which owned 41.8 percent of the company before the IPO, Blueprint’s biggest shareholder is Fidelity, which owned 13.4 percent. Xconomy has more here.

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Exits

Amazon has acquired ClusterK, a 1.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that can run apps on Amazon Web Services at 10 percent off the regular price, reports VentureBeat. According to its report, Amazon paid between $20 million and $50 million for the company, which had raised one undisclosed round of seed funding.

Secret — the 16-month-old, anonymous social app that made headlines around the world in the months after its controversial debut— is closing shop, having lost the interest of users, BuzzFeed News reported yesterday. Secret had raised more than $37 million from investors, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersS-Cubed CapitalIndex VenturesRedpoint VenturesGoogle Ventures and Matrix Partners. Cofounder David Byttow declined to address questions from BuzzFeed regarding how much of that capital would be returned, including the $6 million in restricted stock he and his co-founder, Chrys Bader, sold and split last summer. (Byttow, who’d bought a red Ferrari with the proceeds, has since sold it, a source tells the New York Times.)

You might want to know: Twitter paid $532.6 million in stock for the ad targeting company TellApart, whose acquisition it revealed in an earnings call on Tuesday. The number was first reported by Business Insider, which dug up a new, related SEC filing yesterday.

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People

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is heading to Silicon Valley – the first sitting Japanese leader to do so – in the “hopes of rekindling that innovative spark,” reports Reuters. Scheduled stops include meetings with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang, and California Governor Jerry Brown.

Daniel Hoffer and Shashi Seth have joined the eight-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based seed fund Tandem Capital as partners. Hoffer cofounded the startup CouchSurfing; Seth has spent the last 16 months as the president of Tribune Digital Ventures.

Looks like Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel is set to deliver his first commencement speech next week, for undergraduates at the USC Marshall School of Business.

Mark Troughton, a former president at Wonga and Green Dot, has joined the three-year-old, L.A.-based anonymous social network Whisper as president, reports Recode. Whisper — whose primarily competitor, Secret, just went out of business — also just disclosed that there are now 10 million people using the app every month. Recode generously suggests that both pieces of Whisper news, coming out this week, could be a coincidence rather than what they kind of look like — a way to elude inquiries into the health of Whisper’s own viability.

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Jobs

Launch Angels, a New England-based venture capital firm that helps alumni, universities, and other affinity groups create early-stage venture funds, is looking for managing directors interested in raising (and helping fund) alumni venture funds.

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Data

From Silk: A ranking of the leading AngelList syndicates, as of March’s end.

Corporate venture groups accounted for 19 percent of all venture deals in the first quarter. (That’s $2.2 billion across 196 deals, though a big slug of that total, $900 million, centered on Google Ventures’s January investment in SpaceX.) The NVCA has more here.

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Essential Reads

Twitter has a huge problem, and it’s all in your head.

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Detours

Compare conditions in your own country with another country. (H/T: Business Insider.)

Watch the first test flight of Jeff Bezos’s mysterious new rocket.

Based on a study of reader comments at each NFL team website, Redskins fans can’t spell very well, reports the WSJ, which insists there is no correlation between fan exasperation and grammatical errors. (Indeed, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns fans were tied for the best spelling.)

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Retail Therapy

The unstainable white shirt. We don’t care what it’s made of. We’ll take four.


StrictlyVC: April 29, 2015

Good morning, dear readers. Our upcoming event in San Francisco is just two weeks from tonight — squeal! Excited to see many of you there.

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Top News in the A.M.

Uber is quietly testing a massive merchant delivery program. More here.

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A Startup Exposes the Shadiness of Shipping

Among a sea of specialized data companies,Windward, a five-year-old, 35-person, Tel Aviv-based company, stands out. The reason: it’s among few companies attempting to collect and sell detailed, real-time information about global ship activity.

Its story attracted Horizon Ventures of Hong Kong to its door. (Horizon just led a $10.8 million strategic investment in the company, with participation from Windward’s early backer, Aleph). Windward also counts a dozen governments around the world as customers. After poring over some of Windward’s findings about ship behavior, we also found ourselves wanting to learn more.

Luckily, we were able to catch Windward’s cofounder and CEO, Ami Daniel, as he bounded around New York City yesterday, trying to strike new partnerships. Our chat, edited for length, follows.

You were a navy officer for six years before starting Windward. Did you start thinking about the company during that period?

I was entrepreneurial as a teenager, and when I left the Navy, I hooked up with [Windward cofounder] Mantan [Peled], who I’d served with for five or six years. We wanted to do something big, and we felt that oceans were the Wild West. More than 90 percent of the world’s trade is carried by sea [according to the International Maritime Organization, or IMO], yet the shipping ecosystem is much more opaque than most people realize.

How so?

Talk to a big commodity trader, for example – someone who buys and sells more than $100 million in oil every year. His secret sauce is his connections, like port agents who know who is entering or leaving the ports, or the mine manager who knows when cargo is rolling out to market, or the contact in Nigeria who knows how to buy [low and sell high]. It’s an industry that’s based on 200-year-old methods. It’s all very gray. It’s kind of like real-estate in New York. [Laughs.]

You claim Windward has a better picture than anyone of everything that’s happening. How does your tech work? 

We start by checking whether you are who you say you are and creating a record of what you’ve been doing. We also calculate what you say you’re transporting by gauging, for example, how long you’re in the jetty, and how long it’s taking you to load what you’re carrying compared with the average loading rate for the same cargo. We don’t necessarily trust you to tell us how much oil you’re carrying. There’s a lot of [subterfuge in shipping]. For example, ships only report their final destination 41 percent of the time, and 55 percent of ships misrepresent their port of call for most of their voyage.

Aren’t there mandates against doing such things?

The IMO is responsible for maritime data and there are mandates issued by the UN, which is the regulator. But there is no punishment for not complying. You can steal an identity. You can turn off your data transmissions. I personally approached the head of the IMO to give him an executive summary of our findings and to ask for the organization’s feedback and they never called us back.

And you collect all this information how? Through satellites? Sensors? 

It starts with public information, then we get commercially available information. Spire, for example, is a San Francisco-based company that tracks ship transmissions and weather and sells information to companies like us. Beyond our data partnerships, we go to port agents and logistics brokers and we say, “We’ll give you technology [in exchange for information].”

Everyone has a small segment of the picture. There are no magic solutions, no one vendor, no one protocol. Everybody’s stories are different, so it’s very time- and resource-intensive work. But one of the moats we’re building is one of the biggest databases ever.

But you have competitors. 

We do have competitors, including IHS [a company that sells information and analytics about the maritime industry to customers]. But what we’re doing is better. Others take this older approach of information services, with analysts looking at databases and writing reports and then selling a giant report to everybody. We’re taking a data science approach, using Hadoop and Apache Spark to compute and slice and dice things automatically according to different queries.

You have a dozen governments paying you to subscribe to this platform. Can you give us some idea of what they’re paying you?

We’re happy that we’re being paid for the value that we’re providing, which is high, but I can’t be more specific except to say that we’re seen three times revenue growth year over year for the last three years and we’re making enough that we’ve barely touched the [$5 million Series A round we closed in 2013 from Aleph].

Like another intelligence specialist, Palantir Technologies, Windward started with government customers but wants to begin targeting financial clients. Have you lined up any firms so far?

We’re in beta testing. No one is paying yet. But we’re not cash strapped. We can afford to engage with customers as we develop the product. We want to make a billion dollar company out of this  That’s why I’m in New York, meeting with hedge funds and commodity traders. Legwork!

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New Fundings

Access Integrated Healthcare, a six-year-old, L.A.-based healthcare services company, has raised $8.5 million in its first round of growth capital led by Penta Mezzanine FundMore here.

Albeado, a five-year-old Santa Clara, CA-based software company that markets its predictive analytics and causal modeling platform to the healthcare, utilities and mining industries, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by the tech consulting outfit Brillio.

CargoSense, a three-year-old, Reston, Va.-based big data and analytics SaaS company that targets the pharmaceutical, cold chain, and refrigerated storage industries, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from IrishAngels, Middleburg Capital Development and Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology.

Crispr Therapeutics, a two-year-old, London-based biopharmaceutical company that’s hoping to use a particular genome-editing technology to create medicines for serious human genetic diseases, has raised a combined $89 million in Series A and Series B funding, it just announced. Its investors include SR One, Celgene Corp., New Enterprise Associates, Abingworth, and Versant Ventures.

The Daily Dot, a four-year-old, New York-based media company, has raised $10 million in funding from an undisclosed media company, reports The Observer. More here.

Dedrone, a year-old, Kassel, Germany-based maker of drone early-warning and detection systems, has raised $2.9 million in funding. The round was led by Target Partners, with participation from angel investors, including  Tom Noonan, a Cisco exec who was long CEO of Internet Security Systems (acquired by IBM).

Empathetics, a four-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based interpersonal skills training company for medical professionals, has raised $1.5 million in funding led by GDN Holdings and Key Venture Partners.

Grab A Grub, a three-year-old, Mumbai, India-based food delivery service, has raised $1 million in seed funding from Oliphans Capital and former Network18 CEO Haresh Chawla. The startup says it has more than 500 delivery people in Mumbai and that it connects users to more than 350 restaurants in the city. VC Circle has more here.

Huakang Mobile Health, a three-year-old, Shenzhen, China-based mobile healthcare app developer, has raised $32 million in Series B funding from Yunfeng Capital (cofounded by Alibaba’s Jack Ma), Shenzhen Co-Win Venture Capital Investments, New Horizon Capital, and Henan Haijie Healthcare Investment. More here.

InCarda Therapeutics, a six-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based biotech company that’s developing inhaled therapies for acute cardiovascular conditions, has raised more than $5 million in Series A funding led by Morningside Venture, with participation from other angel investors.

Infinidat, a five-year-old, Herzliya, Israel-based data storage company, has announced a whopping $150 million in new funding, at a valuation of $1.2 billion, led by TPG Growth. The company has now raised $230 million altogether. Venture Capital Dispatch has much more here.

Jukely, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based concert subscription service, has raised $8 million in fresh funding led by Northzone and 14W, with participation from a long list of individual investors, including GroupMe founders Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht. The company has now raised $11.3 million to date, shows Crunchbase.

Kaizen Platform, a two-year-old,  San Francisco-based marketing optimization platform, has raised $4 million in funding from Fidelity Growth Partners and GREE Ventures. The company has now raised $9.8 million altogether, shows Crunchbase. AdWeek has more here.

Ninox Medical, a three-year-old, Lyon, France-based medical device company that’s developing a wearable to treat obstructive sleep apnea, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Mérieux Développement and Pitango Venture Capital, with participation from earlier backer Xenia Venture Capital.

Pamlico BioPharma, an Oklahoma City, Ok.-based company that’s developing human monoclonal antibody therapeutics to treat human pathogens, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, has raised $2.2 million in Series A funding led by Accele Venture Partners and the Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund.

ReGlobe, a six-year-old, New Delhi, India-based consumer electronics refurbishment platform, has reportedly raised around $1 million in seed funding from Bessemer Venture Partners and Blume Ventures. The Economic Times has more here.

ShipBob, a year-old, Chicago-based shipping startup, has raised $1 million in seed funding from SV Angels, Funders Club, and WeFunder, and others. ChicagoInno has more here.

SlamAd, a 16-month-old, New York-based ad tech startup that’s developing a mobile texting application that integrates advertising, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding from unnamed strategic investors.

Styla, a three-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based company whose software makes it possible for anyone to publish an online magazine, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Redalpine Venture Partners, with participation from Groupe Arnault, Atlantic Labs,Cherry Ventures, and Westtech Ventures.

ThreatQuotient, a two-year-old Dulles, Va.-based cybersecurity software company, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Blu Venture Investors, the Center for Innovative Technology, the Virginia Tech Investor Network and angel investor Todd Headley.

Tracxn, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based analytics firm that tracks data from startups, has raised 3.5 million in Series A funding from SAIF Ventures.

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New Funds

Foundation Medical Partners is announcing a new name today — Flare Capital Partners — and a new, $200 million fund. The 14-year-old, Boston-based firm specializes in early-stage and growth-equity investments in healthcare technology, and it’s led by three general partners: Bill Geary, Michael Greeley and Lee Wrubel. Flare also recently appointed Kristen Laguerre as a partner and its CFO.

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IPOs

Teladoc, a 13-year-old, Dallas, Tex.-based health services company that provides medical care via video conferencing and phone consultations, has taken a first step toward an IPO, filing a confidential registration statement with the SEC, it tells MedCity News. The company has raised at least $74.3 million from investors, shows Crunchbase. Its backers include Icon VenturesCardinal PartnersKleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersQuestMark PartnersGreenspring Associates, and FLAG Capital Management.

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Exits

Bitcoin Shop, a year-old, Arlington, Va.-based blockchain startup whose shares trade on the over-the-counter market, is merging with Spondoolies, a digital currency server manufacturer. Spondoolies, a two-year-old, Kiryat Gat, Israel-based company, has raised $5 million from investors, including Aleph partner Eden Shochat.

SolarWinds, a 15-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based, publicly traded IT performance management service, has acquired Papertrail, a four-year-old, Seattle-based log management service, for $41 million in cash. Papertrail hadn’t raised outside funding. Geekwire has more here.

Twitter has acquired the six-year-old, Burlingame, Ca.-based commerce ads tech firm TellApart, which was formerly a big Facebook ad partner. TellApart had raised $17.8 from investors, including Harrison MetalBain Capital VenturesGreylock Partners, SV Angels and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (who presumably recused himself from the selection process of else sold his stake previously). More here.

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People

Yesterday, at the Milken Institute Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton, Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz talked again about why the firm’s general partners are exclusively male, reportedly saying at one point,  “It would be great if we could attract a great person to that position, but why should that be a goal? It’s not going to actually change Silicon Valley.” Megan Quinn, an investor-turned-strategic advisor to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byersrespectfully disagrees.

Rahul (“RJ”) Jain has joined the Menlo Park, Ca.-based venture firm Foundation Capitalas an entrepreneur-in-residence. Jain cofounded Appurify, a performance optimization platform for mobile applications that Google acquired last year for undisclosed terms. Earlier in his career, Jain was director of engineering at the ride-sharing startup Sidecar Technologies and a principal software engineer at the games company Zynga.

Saul Klein, a longtime partner at Index Ventures, is leaving the firm, he announced in a post yesterday.

Stripe, the five-year-old payment company, has just leased 300,000 square feet of a building in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, says the San Francisco Business Times. It’s apparently the largest lease deal of the year.

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Jobs

Adobe is looking to add a senior manager to its corporate development team. The job is in San Jose or San Francisco.

Hewlett-Packard is also looking for a senior manager who will be part of its venture investment, as well as corporate development, teams. The job is in Palo Alto.

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Essential Reads

OUYA, a three-year-old, L.A.-based company that makes game consoles for television, is on the auction block after tripping a debt covenant, according to an email sent to investors from CEO Julie Uhrman and obtained by Fortune. Sounds like something has to happen by month’s end.

Investors have spent the last year criticizing Twitter’s slowing user growth. After seeing its first-quarter numbers yesterday, their big concern now is revenue.

Facebook‘s impact on surrounding real estate prices in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park has been profound, reports TechCrunch.

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Detours

David Letterman on his 33-year run.

The billionaire, the dealer, and the $186 million Rothko.

Antartica.

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Retail Therapy

Wet suits.


A Startup Exposes the Shadiness of Shipping

Shipping IndustryAmong a sea of specialized data companies, Windward, a five-year-old, 35-person, Tel Aviv-based company, stands out. The reason: it’s among few companies attempting to collect and sell detailed, real-time information about global ship activity.

Its story attracted Horizon Ventures of Hong Kong to its door. (Horizon just led a $10.8 million strategic investment in the company, with participation from Windward’s early backer, Aleph). Windward also counts a dozen governments around the world as customers. After poring over some of Windward’s findings about ship behavior, we also found ourselves wanting to learn more.

Luckily, we were able to catch Windward’s cofounder and CEO, Ami Daniel, as he bounded around New York City yesterday, trying to strike new partnerships. Our chat, edited for length, follows.

You were a navy officer for six years before starting Windward. Did you start thinking about the company during that period?

I was entrepreneurial as a teenager, and when I left the Navy, I hooked up with [Windward cofounder] Mantan [Peled], who I’d served with for five or six years. We wanted to do something big, and we felt that oceans were the Wild West. More than 90 percent of the world’s trade is carried by sea [according to the International Maritime Organization, or IMO], yet the shipping ecosystem is much more opaque than most people realize.

How so?

Talk to a big commodity trader, for example – someone who buys and sells more than $100 million in oil every year. His secret sauce is his connections, like port agents who know who is entering or leaving the ports, or the mine manager who knows when cargo is rolling out to market, or the contact in Nigeria who knows how to buy [low and sell high]. It’s an industry that’s based on 200-year-old methods. It’s all very gray. It’s kind of like real-estate in New York. [Laughs.]

You claim Windward has a better picture than anyone of everything that’s happening. How does your tech work? 

We start by checking whether you are who you say you are and creating a record of what you’ve been doing. We also calculate what you say you’re transporting by gauging, for example, how long you’re in the jetty, and how long it’s taking you to load what you’re carrying compared with the average loading rate for the same cargo. We don’t necessarily trust you to tell us how much oil you’re carrying. There’s a lot of [subterfuge in shipping]. For example, ships only report their final destination 41 percent of the time, and 55 percent of ships misrepresent their port of call for most of their voyage.

Aren’t there mandates against doing such things?

The IMO is responsible for maritime data and there are mandates issued by the UN, which is the regulator. But there is no punishment for not complying. You can steal an identity. You can turn off your data transmissions. I personally approached the head of the IMO to give him an executive summary of our findings and to ask for the organization’s feedback and they never called us back.

And you collect all this information how? Through satellites? Sensors? 

It starts with public information, then we get commercially available information. Spire, for example, is a San Francisco-based company that tracks ship transmissions and weather and sells information to companies like us. Beyond our data partnerships, we go to port agents and logistics brokers and we say, “We’ll give you technology [in exchange for information].”

Everyone has a small segment of the picture. There are no magic solutions, no one vendor, no one protocol. Everybody’s stories are different, so it’s very time- and resource-intensive work. But one of the moats we’re building is one of the biggest databases ever.

But you have competitors. 

We do have competitors, including IHS [a company that sells information and analytics about the maritime industry to customers]. But what we’re doing is better. Others take this older approach of information services, with analysts looking at databases and writing reports and then selling a giant report to everybody. We’re taking a data science approach, using Hadoop and Apache Spark to compute and slice and dice things automatically according to different queries.

You have a dozen governments paying you to subscribe to this platform. Can you give us some idea of what they’re paying you?

We’re happy that we’re being paid for the value that we’re providing, which is high, but I can’t be more specific except to say that we’re seen three times revenue growth year over year for the last three years and we’re making enough that we’ve barely touched the [$5 million Series A round we closed in 2013 from Aleph].

Like another intelligence specialist, Palantir Technologies, Windward started with government customers but wants to begin targeting financial clients. Have you lined up any firms so far?

We’re in beta testing. No one is paying yet. But we’re not cash strapped. We can afford to engage with customers as we develop the product. We want to make a billion dollar company out of this  That’s why I’m in New York, meeting with hedge funds and commodity traders. Legwork!


StrictlyVC: April 28, 2015

Happy Tuesday, everyone! No column today. We had a strange Monday, including having our car towed (while parked legally, as we were volunteering at a school, no less!). Mostly, we’re sorry we missed an outing at San Francisco’s AT&T park that Rothenberg Ventures organized yesterday. Sounds like it was a hit (no pun intended).

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Top News in the A.M.

Apple’s announcement yesterday that it would dole out the biggest chunk of cash to shareholders in history—$200 billion of capital will be returned to investors through March 2017—means one thing and one thing only, says Time: The market has topped.

After three years of testing, Amazon is rebranding its business offerings and unveiling a new site around them. The WSJ has more here.

Watch out, Skype. Facebook just introduced video calling in its Messenger platform.

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New Fundings

Babajob, a nearly eight-year-old, Bangalore, India-based jobs marketplace, has raised $10 million in new funding from SEEK, an Australia-based online employment marketplace. The company had raised an earlier, undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by GrayGhost Ventures and Khosla Impact. The outlet e27 has more here.

Beijing Weiying, a year-old, Beijing, China-based company that provides online booking and payment for movie tickets via mobile apps based on Tencent’s Wechat and QQ platforms, has raised $105 million in Series B funding from Tencent Holdings, Dalian Wanda Group, and other investors. China Money Network has more here.

Benefit, a 2.5-year-old, Grand Rapids, Mi.-based pre-paid mobile wallet application that sends a percentage of each transaction to the cause of a user’s choice, has raised $900,000 in seed funding led by Start Garden, an early stage venture capital fund. The company had previously raised $550,000 in seed funding across two rounds, shows Crunchbase.

CareCloud, a six-year-old, Miami, Fla.-based company that makes practice management and electronic health records software, has raised $15 million in funding from previous investors. The company also appointed a new CEO. The company has now raised roughly $100 million altogether, shows Crunchbase, including from Tenaya Capital, Intel Capital, and Norwest Venture PartnersMore here.

DataTorrent, a three-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based data analytics software company, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Singtel Innov8, with participation from GE Ventures and all of its previous investors. The company has now raised $23.8 million altogether, including from Morado Venture PartnersAugust Capital, and AME Cloud Ventures.

DingIt.tv, a year-old, Ashburn, Va.-based live streaming broadcast site for professional and aspiring gamers, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from the London-based venture firm Black Green Capital. More here.

DocDoc, a three-year-old, Singapore-based online service providing ratings about doctors in Southeast Asia, along with booking services, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Raymond Choong Yee How, CEO of the Malaysian banking conglomerate Hong Leong Financial Group. Sparklabs Global Ventures also participated in the round. DocDoc had previously raised $2.6 million in seed funding. TechCrunch has more here.

Icertis, a six-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based company whose software lets corporate customers manage contracts from the cloud, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Greycroft Partners and Fidelity Growth Partners India. The company had previously raised roughly $500,000 in seed funding.

Loop Commerce, a 2.5-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based online gift card startup, has raised $16 million in Series B funding co-led by investor Oren Zeev and Wicklow Capital. The company has now raised roughly $30 million altogether. Venture Capital Dispatch has much more here.

Naaptol, a seven-year-old, Mumbai, India-based online store selling a wide variety of items, has raised $21.4 million in Series C funding led by the Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co., with participation from earlier backers New Enterprise Associates, Canaan Partners and Silicon Valley Bank. The company has reportedly raised around $76 million altogether. Tech-Portal has more here.

Refinery29, an 11-year-old, New York-based fashion and style site, has raised $50 million in new funding led by Scripps Network Interactive and the ad giant WPP. The company, which has raised $80 million to date — including from Floodgate, First Round Capital, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures — is reportedly now valued at $290 million. Recode has more here.

SensorSuite, a three-year-old, Toronto, Ontario-based wireless sensor and cloud analytics platform, has raised $550,000 in seed funding from Extreme Venture Partners, BDC Capital, and unnamed angel investors. TechVibes has more here.

Smava, a 10-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based social lending platform, has raised $16 million in funding led by Phenomen Ventures, with participation from existing investors Earlybird Ventures and Neuhaus Partners. The company has now raised $29.1 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

UBeam, a four-year-old, L.A.-based wireless power startup that transmits power over-the-air to charge electronic devices, is reportedly in talks to raise $50 million or more in Series B funding, at a valuation of $500 million or more. The company has raised just $13.2 million to date, from a long list of investors that includes Crunchfund, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. TechCrunch has the story here.

Validic, a five-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based company whose mobile health API connection enables healthcare companies to access data from clinical and remote-monitoring devices, sensors, fitness equipment, wearables and other applications, has raised $12.5 million in Series B funding from Kaiser Permanente Ventures, SJF Ventures and Greycroft Partners. The company had previously raised $5.9 million over numerous rounds, shows Crunchbase.

Windward, a five-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup that has developed maritime tracking and predictive technology, has raised $10.8 million in Series B funding led by Horizon Ventures, with participation from earlier backer Aleph. The company had previously raised $5 million in Series A funding.
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New Funds

Scale Up Ventures Fund, a new, Ontario-based venture fund, has received $25 million from the Government of Ontario that will be matched with $25 million from private investors — all to provide capital to Ontario-based start-ups. The fund is expected to begin operations in summer. More here.

Saama Capital, a three-year-old, Bangalore-based venture firm whose team previously worked together at SVB Financial Group, is raising its third fund, shows an SEC filing that doesn’t list a target. More here.

Yet2Ventures, a five-old, Wilmington, De.-based secondary shop that buys stakes from venture funds looking to liquidate some of their holdings, has raised roughly $12 million for its newest fund, shows an SEC filing. Yet2Ventures was cofounded by Ben DuPont, a member of the Du Pont family.

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Exits

Drug company Celgene Corp. is acquiring the six-year-old, San Francisco-based biotech startup Quanticel Pharmaceuticals for $100 million cash, with another $385 million in payouts contigent on certain milestones being met. Quanticel, a Stanford University spin-off, had entered into a multi-year deal with Celgene in 2011 and was provided with $45 million in return.

Loqate, a five-year-old, San Bruno, Ca.-based company that provides location-based intelligence and data to other apps, has been acquired for $13.4 million by GBGroup, a U.K.-based identity intelligence firm. Silicon Valley Business Journal has more here.

Skava, a 13-year-old, San Francisco-based e-commerce company focused on mobile and in-store platforms for big-box retailers, is being acquired by an affiliate of the Indian tech services giant Infosys for $120 million. The San Francisco Business Times has more here.

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People

Facebook and Twitter are gearing up to battle the gender discrimination and harassment claims that have been brought against them recently. According to The Recorder, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s powerhouse partner Lynne Hermle, who represented Kleiner Perkins in its recent case, is defending Twitter. Meanwhile, Facebook has hired Morgan, Lewis & Bockius partner Melinda Riechert to defend itself against claims brought by a former employee.  More here.

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Jobs

Google is hiring a corporate development associate. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.

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Data

In the first quarter of of this year, 166 Israeli high-tech companies raised $994 million, according to a survey conducted by IVC and KPMG. The total marks the second-highest quarterly amount in the last decade; it also represents a 48 percent jump up from the $673 million raised by 160 companies in the corresponding quarter of 2014. Globes has the story here.

Apple is crushing it in China (chart).

—–

Essential Reads

When it comes to real-estate related tech firms (and many others), Europe is playing catch-up with the U.S., reports the WSJ.

The astonishing, untold story of Silk Road.

—–

Detours

Art by roller skate.

The 25 business schools with the best social life.

Good news? The chore gender gap (kind of) evens out after retirement.

—–

Retail Therapy

A bike cruiser that can land you a speeding ticket. (Well, if you’re biking through a school zone anyway.)


StrictlyVC: April 27, 2015

Hi, happy Monday, everyone! Hope you had a great weekend. (We’re still trying to recover from ours.)

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Top News in the A.M.

Google announced this morning that it’s launching an experimental portal that allows interested patent holders to sell their patents to the company.

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A Far-from-Comprehensive List of Women We’d Hire as VCs

In recent weeks, StrictlyVC has received several requests from readers asking what women we’d propose that venture firms hire. The timing isn’t surprising. Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins dominated the headlines throughout March and triggered anew discussions about the gender imbalance in the venture community. Then there was Fortune’s sit-down with Marc Andreessen, in which he said his venture firm – whose general partners are exclusively male — has repeatedly tried, and failed, to hire the same female executive as a GP.

VCs are asking recruiters for help, too, says Joe Riggione, a cofounder of the executive recruiting firm True Capital, who tells us that even before the Pao trial got underway, “we’d begun getting investor searches where they asked us to prioritize female candidates.”

Riggione sees a particularly “big opportunity on the operator side,” because so many women have the engineering, product and marketing experience that would make them attractive venture candidates, particularly for investor roles where they can be groomed into general partners.

We don’t think it’s all that hard to come up with potential general partners, either. Let’s face it: Any top female executive would have the same odds of developing a great track record as a male executive pulled into a venture firm (or founding their own). In fact, in little more than an hour this weekend, we came up with a short list of 16 women that firms would be smart to pursue if they’re truly interested in diversity (and they should be, for the obvious reason that more diverse teams are more effective teams). Here’s what we came up with, in alphabetical order. Note: we have not talked to these women about this list or gauged their interest in VC.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. Cassidy is the founder and CEO of the e-commerce video platform company Joyus. We’ve no idea how it’s doing, though it has raised $41 million, including a $22 million round led by Marker last November. (It also just settled a lawsuit against it by a company claiming it infringed on its patents.) We’d probably hire Cassidy no matter its fate. Before Joyus, she served (briefly) as the CEO of Polyvore, spent a year as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Accel Partners, and before that, logged five-and-a-half years as president of Asia Pacific and Latin America operations at Google. Cassidy was also a senior VP of business development at the now publicly traded company Yodlee, which she helped form with numerous colleagues from Amazon, where, yes, she also once worked, as a business development manager. (And her resume goes on. In fact, this reporter wrote a piece for BusinessWeek about Cassidy’s impressive track record back in 2001.)

Caterina Fake. A Vassar grad, Fake cofounded Flickr and Hunch, both of which were acquired for nice sums (by Yahoo and eBay, respectively). Fake is also a seasoned investor who is a partner of Founder Collective and has made numerous seed-stage investments, including in the online marketplace Etsy, where she wound up serving as board chair for five years. Fake is currently running her newest company, four-year-old Findery, and likely wants to see it through to some natural exit. It could be worth starting to woo her from now, though.

Shana Fisher. Fisher may not be interested in working for anyone but herself, which is currently the case, but it’d be worth making the effort to see. Fisher currently runs her own New York-based, early-stage firm, High Line Venture Partners, but earlier in her career, she was an SVP of strategic planning at IAC; served as a VP and director of media and technology mergers and acquisitions at Allen & Company; and, oh, yeah, was a program manager at Microsoft before that. Did we mention that she was also one of the first investors in Pinterest?

Kimber Lockhart: Lockhart was recently appointed chief technology officer at One Medical Group, a very well-funded primary care practice, which she’d joined in April of last year as its VP of engineering. Given that plum assignment, she might be hard to wrest from the company, but if we were hiring, we’d give it a shot. Before joining One Medical, the Stanford grad was a senior director of web application engineering at the storage company Box, which she joined in 2009 after it acquired her two-year-old collaborative document editing startup Increo Solutions.

For more, click here.

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New Fundings

C2P, a 12-year-old, Singapore-based e-payments processing company, has raised $7 million in Series C funding led by Amun Capital AG and GMO Venture Partners. The company has now raised just more tthan $10 million, it says. Tech In Asia has more here.

Chariot, a year-old, San Francisco, CA-based startup that operates 14-passenger vans across San Francisco on five set routes that passengers can book for $3 to $5 using their smartphones, has raised $3 million in funding, including from SoftTech VC, Maven Ventures, and Haystack. The company was incubated at Y Combinator. Bloomberg hasmore here.

CoverFox, a two-year-old, Mumbai, India-based online platform which lets users quickly compare and purchase insurance packages, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by Accel Partners and SAIF Partners. Tech-Portal has more here.

Diandao, a nine-month-old, Beijing, China-based on-demand massage app that allows users (in Beijing and Shanghai alone, currently) to order at-home massages, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Banyan Capital, with participation from 58Daojia, a local startup that specializes in other on-demand services for things like housekeeping and beauty treatments. Tech In Asia has more here.

Fliplet, a six-year-old, TK-based enterprise app platform that claims to help customers create, manage and securely distribute apps without writing code or creating designs, has raised roughly £500,000 ($780,000) in seed funding from angel investors, including Ben Wynne-Simmons, a Techstars mentor and former associate director at 3i. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Helijia, a year-old, Beijing, China-based startup that provides on-demand manicure, facial, and hair-styling services, has raised $49.5 million in Series C funding led by Qiming Venture Partners, according to a Wechat post spied by China Money Network. Other investors include Maison Capital, GX Capital, and earlier backers IDG Capital Partners and Broadband Capital.

HomeSlice, a two-year-old, San Luis Obispo, Ca.-based startup company whose app helps roommates build their own private social networks to manage the splitting of bills, chores, grocery shopping and more, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from an undisclosed investor. More here.

Immunio, a 1.5-year-old, Montreal, Canada-based web security startup that vows to make web applications immune to exploitation by malicious actors in  less than two minutes, has raised $2.7 million in seed funding from Hoxton Ventures, Real Ventures, and Bloomberg Beta.

Jimubox, a 1.5-year-old, Beijing, China-based peer-to-peer lending startup, has raised $84 million in Series C funding led by Investec Bank, with participation from Haitong Kaiyuan InvestmentMandra CapitalZhong Capital Fund, and earlier backers Matrix China PartnersXiaomiShunwei CapitalVentech China, and Magic Stone Alternative. The round comes just months after Jimubox closed on $37 million from Xiaomi and ShunWei, a venture fund headed by the phone maker’s founder, Lei Jun. Tech In Asia has more here.

MediaPro, a 22-year-old, Bothell, Wa.-based company that makes corporate security, privacy, and compliance training software and develops custom courseware, has raised $5 million in funding from Clovis Point Capital. It appears to be the company’s first institutional round.

Neuronetics, a 12-year-old, Malvern, Pa.-based medical device company that develops non-invasive therapies for psychiatric and neurological disorders using magnetic field pulses, has raised $34.3 million in Series F funding from GE Ventures and unnamed earlier backers. (Some of those include Three Arch Partners, InterWest Partners, ONSET Ventures, Pfizer Venture Investments, and Polaris Partners.) The company has now raised $94.3 million altogether, according to Crunchbase.

Predixion Software, a six-year-old, Aliso Viejo, Ca.-based developer of cloud-based predictive analytics software, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series D funding led by Software AG, with participation from GE Ventures and other unnamed earlier backers. The company had previously raised at least $32.8 million, shows Crunchbase. Among its earlier backers are Toba Capital, Frost Data Capital, Accenture, DFJ Frontier, and Miramar Venture Partners.

Property Online, the three-year-old, Chennai, India-based company that owns real estate classifieds portal IndiaProperty.com, is raising more than $50 million, reports Live Mint. In December 2013, the company  raised $12 million in Series B funding, led by Bertelsmann India Investments, Canaan Partners, and Mayfield India. Altogether, it has raised $19 million to date, says the outlet.

Scanadu, a Mountain View, Ca.-based company that’s building a family of mobile medical devices, including a puck-shaped, sensor-filled scanner that reads vital signs, has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by Fosun International and Tencent Holdings, with participation from China Broadband Capital, Iglobe Partners, and earlier backers Relay Ventures, Redmile Group, Ame Cloud Ventures, and Three Leaf Ventures. Scanadu, which StrictlyVC first profiled in late 2013, has now raised $49.7 million altogether.

UrbanClap, an eight-month-old, Delhi, India-based mobile services marketplace, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from SAIF Partners, Accel Partners and the founders of Snapdeal: Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal. More here.

Visual Supply Co., a four-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based company known for its VSCO Cam, a mobile app that lets users edit and share their images, has raised $30 million in Series B funding from Glynn Capital Management, with participation from earlier backers Accel Partners and Goldcrest Investments, reports Bloomberg. The company has now raised at least $70 million, including a $40 million Series A round announced in May of last year.

Westwing, a four-year-old, Munich, Germany-based e-commerce company selling furniture and homeware products, has raised €30m ($32.5 million) in Series E funding led by earlier backer Investment AB Kinnevik, with participation from other previous investors, including Access Industries, Fidelity Worldwide Investment, Odey, Rocket InternetSummit Partners and Tengelmann Ventures. The Berlusconi family also reportedly invested in the company for the first time. More here.

Xiaomi, the five-year-old, Beijing, China-based maker of smartphones and other consumer electronics, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from famed Indian businessman Ratan Tata. The round comes just five months after the company raised $1.1 billion at a $45 billion valuation led by All-Stars Investment, a tech investment fund run by former Morgan Stanley analyst Richard Ji. TechCrunch has more here.

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New Funds

Knightsbridge Advisers, a 32-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based fund-of-funds investment firm, has closed its eighth venture capital pool with$ 203 million, as well as created a $50 million separate account around an undisclosed investor.

TPG Growth, the San Francisco, Ca.-based middle market and growth equity investment firm, has officially closed its latest fund at $3 billion. Dealbook has the latest here.

Whitecap Venture Partners, a Toronto-based firm that began as the venture arm of a family office, has held a first close on its third fund, having received $70 million in commitments from its first outside LPs, including Kensington Venture Fund, Bank of Montreal, and several high net-worth families. Whitecap focuses on three verticals: information technology, med tech, and what it calls food tech.

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Exits

JP Morgan Asset Management has acquired the India portfolio of Canaan Partnersaccording to Live Mint. JP Morgan, in an emailed statement to the outlet, declined to comment on the acquisition. (The Economic Times and other India-based outlets reported last month that JPMorgan was the “frontrunner” to buy the portfolio for more than $200 million, which would be the largest secondary portfolio sale in India’s private equity and venture capital market.)

Defense contractor Raytheon is buying Websense, the cybersecurity firm, for $1.9 billion. Reuters has more here.

Bigcommerce, a six-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based software maker that helps small businesses set up online stores, is close to announcing its first acquisition, according to Recode. It’s reportedly buying ZingCheckout, a 4.5-year-old startup that makes checkout software and inventory management tools for brick-and-mortar businesses. ZingCheckout raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding in 2012 from Capital Factory, shows Crunchbase.

—–

People

Dan Fredinburg, a 33-year-old who headed privacy for Google X and product management for the overall privacy team, died Saturday morning of a head injury after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Nepal triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest. According to aRecode report, Fredinburg along with fellow Googlers Michele Battelli and Flo Nagl, were scaling the world’s tallest mountain together. Battelli and Nagl suffered non-life-threatening injuries.Peter Hamby, a top CNN political reporter, is leaving the network to join Snapchat as Head of News, reports Politico. More here.

Lars Rasmussen Facebook’s engineering director, who helped create and run the Facebook search engine Graph Search and later the burgeoning Facebook at Work initiative — is leaving the company in June to co-found a music startup with his fiancé. TechCrunch has much more here.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television late last week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg commented on the Ellen Pao trial for the first time, saying she wrote “a whole book” about experiences like Pao’s, and observing that “for women, success and likability are negatively correlated.” The treatment of women in the workforce is an issue,” she added. “We all have it. Much more here.

Madame Tussauds, which has been looking to add a new wax figure of a tech innovator to its San Francisco location, has narrowed down the field to 10 finalists, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. They include SpaceX and Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, filmmaker George Lucas, Google CEO Larry Page, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Pixar Animation Studio president and co-founder Ed Catmull, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Exploratorium founder Frank Oppenheimer and Wired magazine co-founder Jane Metcalfe.

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NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture philanthropy firm in Washington, D.C., is looking to hire both an associate partner and an analyst.

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Data

European venture investment in the first quarter: The WSJ breaks down the numbers here.

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Essential Reads

Xiaomi expects revenue from mobile services—such as games and a payment app—that it sells to more than triple this year to nearly $1 billion, says founder and CEO Lei Jun.

The popularity of mobile phones in India is driving Flipkart, the country’s biggest e-commerce company, to shut down its website within a year. More here.

The latest fashion: Trending on Google.

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Detours

A dozen absurd things acquired by Nicholas Cage.

Bruce Jenner and the modern American family.

How to turn your Apple Watch gold.

—–

Retail Therapy

portable washing machine that doesn’t need energy.

What $27 million buys you atop the Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York.


A Far-From-Comprehensive List of Women Who Venture Firms Should Be Pursuing

Emily WhiteIn recent weeks, StrictlyVC has received several requests from readers asking what women we’d propose that venture firms hire. The timing isn’t surprising. Ellen Pao’s gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins dominated the headlines throughout March and triggered anew discussions about the gender imbalance in the venture community. Then there was Fortune’s sit-down with Marc Andreessen, in which he said his venture firm – whose general partners are exclusively male — has repeatedly tried, and failed, to hire the same female executive as a GP.

VCs are asking recruiters for help, too, says Joe Riggione, a cofounder of the executive recruiting firm True Capital, who tells us that even before the Pao trial got underway, “we’d begun getting investor searches where they asked us to prioritize female candidates.”

Riggione sees a particularly “big opportunity on the operator side,” because so many women have the engineering, product and marketing experience that would make them attractive venture candidates, particularly for investor roles where they can be groomed into general partners.

We don’t think it’s all that hard to come up with potential general partners, either. Let’s face it: Any top female executive would have the same odds of developing a great track record as a male executive pulled into a venture firm. In fact, in little more than an hour this weekend, we came up with a short list of 16 women that firms would be smart to pursue if they’re truly interested in diversity (and they should be, for the obvious reason that more diverse teams are more effective teams). Here’s what we came up with, in alphabetical order. Note: we have not talked to these women about this list or gauged their interest in VC.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. Cassidy is the founder and CEO of the e-commerce video platform company Joyus. We’ve no idea how it’s doing, though it has raised $41 million, including a $22 million round led by Marker last November. (It also just settled a lawsuit against it by a company claiming it infringed on its patents.) We’d probably hire Cassidy no matter its fate. Before Joyus, she served (briefly) as the CEO of Polyvore, spent a year as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Accel Partners, and before that, logged five-and-a-half years as president of Asia Pacific and Latin America operations at Google. Cassidy was also a senior VP of business development at the now publicly traded company Yodlee, which she helped form with numerous colleagues from Amazon, where, yes, she also once worked, as a business development manager. (And her resume goes on. In fact, this reporter wrote a piece for BusinessWeek about Cassidy’s impressive track record back in 2001.)

Caterina Fake. A Vassar grad, Fake cofounded Flickr and Hunch, both of which were acquired for nice sums (by Yahoo and eBay, respectively). Fake is also a seasoned investor who is a partner of Founder Collective and has made numerous seed-stage investments, including in the online marketplace Etsy, where she wound up serving as board chair for five years. Fake is currently running her newest company, four-year-old Findery, and likely wants to see it through to some natural exit. It could be worth starting to woo her from now, though.

Shana Fisher. Fisher may not be interested in working for anyone but herself, which is currently the case, but it’d be worth making the effort to see. Fisher currently runs her own New York-based, early-stage firm, High Line Venture Partners, but earlier in her career, she was an SVP of strategic planning at IAC; served as a VP and director of media and technology mergers and acquisitions at Allen & Company; and, oh, yeah, was a program manager at Microsoft before that. Did we mention that she was also one of the first investors in Pinterest?

Kimber Lockhart: Lockhart was recently appointed chief technology officer at One Medical Group, a very well-funded primary care practice, which she’d joined in April of last year as its VP of engineering. Given that plum assignment, she might be hard to wrest from the company, but if we were hiring, we’d give it a shot. Before joining One Medical, the Stanford grad was a senior director of web application engineering at the storage company Box, which she joined in 2009 after it acquired her two-year-old collaborative document editing startup Increo Solutions.

Marissa Mayer. Life doesn’t seem so rosy for Mayer as the CEO of Yahoo, though she undoubtedly knew what she was walking into when she accepted the job in July 2012. (After all, life hasn’t been too rosy for any of Yahoo’s many recent CEOs.) Whether Mayer would leave without being ousted remains a question, but one senses she’d probably be a good investor (maybe even better than CEO). Certainly, she’s been building on her investing skills, collecting a wide range of startup stakes that include the automated investment service Wealthfront and the wireless power startup UBeam.

Mary Meeker. Kleiner Perkins spent a dozen years trying to recruit Merrill Lynch’s longtime star investment analyst. It finally succeeded in late 2010, and Meeker, who helps lead the firm’s digital growth funds, sounded happy enough to be there during the very public trial last month of former junior partner Ellen Pao, where Meeker testified that Kleiner is the “best place to be a woman in the business.” Still, all things considered, we wouldn’t be shocked if Meeker decided on a change of scenery given the right circumstances.

Michelle Peluso. Peluso is the CEO of the discounted luxury e-tailer Gilt.com, as well as a board member. It’s hard to know how the company is doing. It planned to go public in the third quarter of last year, then the fourth quarter, and instead wound up raising $50 million earlier this year. (The company has raised $286 million since it was founded in 2007.) Still, Peluso, who assumed the role of CEO in February 2013 from cofounder Kevin Ryan, has been widely credited with helping to revive the company’s fortunes. She’s also held some other major-league roles – – including as a top honcho at Citibank for four years and as the longtime CEO of Travelocity – that would make her a very big catch for any venture firm, particularly one focused on later-stage investments.

Deborah Quazzo. Quazzo is the founder and managing partner of GSV Advisors, a six-year-old, Chicago-based broker dealer that provides advisory services to the education and business services sectors, as well as invests in related startups. Quazzo, who also co-founded the investment bank ThinkEquity Partners, was recently taken to task by the Chicago Sun-Times, which criticized her role as a member of the Chicago school board. It noted that during Quazzo’s tenure (which is ongoing), the district has tripled its spending on education-technology companies she has invested in. In response, Quazzo, who said she didn’t appreciate becoming the outlet’s “punching bag,” has promised to donate any profit she sees from those investments.

Sheryl Sandberg. We don’t need to explain why it would be the coup of all time for any firm to hire Facebook’s longtime COO except to say that, in addition to having such an impressive career (Google, Treasury Department), she seems — from this distance, anyway — imminently likable. We’d guess this is the person Andreessen Horowitz has pursued, by the way, though it’s just a hunch based on Marc Andreessen’s penchant for working with his close colleagues. (The firm didn’t respond to our request for more information about the female GP it has tried to hire. But as many readers will know, Andreessen joined the board of Facebook in 2008. Sandberg, who was invited onto Facebook’s board in 2012, joined the company in 2008.)

Gwynne Shotwell. Shotwell is the longtime president of SpaceX, which she joined in 2002 as its VP of business development. With a master’s and undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and applied math from Northwestern University and the very apparent endorsement of Elon Musk, we figure if she can help him run his spaceship company, she can probably figure out venture capital, too. (She’d presumably add a lot in particular to firms like DFJ and Founders Fund and Lux Capital that more aggressively think “outside the box.”)

Kara Swisher. This may be the most controversial of our picks, mostly because it’s very hard to imagine Swisher abandoning journalism. Still, we think Swisher would be a huge get for a top venture firm. A former Wall Street Journal columnist turned co-executive editor of the highly successful All Things Digital franchise, Swisher isn’t just great at landing scoops and synthesizing information but she’s an entrepreneur now, too, having given her old employer the finger in late 2013 and more recently forming the media property, Recode, with her longtime partner, Walt Mossberg. Swisher isn’t a technologist. But you can imagine the flow of opportunities that would find their way to her based on her extensive network.

Tiffany To. To has spent the last three years as VP of product management and marketing at Coho Data, a company whose storage appliances help enterprises scale-out storage. Before that, she was a group product manager at VMWare. (She has also held product and marketing jobs at Intel and SGI.) To, who graduated from Stanford with a computer systems engineering degree, also has an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School. (Just remarking.)

Trae Vassallo. Vassallo, a strategic partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, might be turned off from venture capital, given what sounds like an uneven experience at Kleiner. To wit, she led the company’s investment in Dropcam and reportedly played an instrumental role in its investment in Nest Labs but was eventually cut in a broad downsizing. (She also testified recently that she once had to fend off a former colleague who showed up in her hotel doorframe in his bathrobe.) A firm would be smart to try changing her mind, if so.

Emily White. White’s career has taken off over the last eight years, beginning with a job at Google as a director of its Asia Pacific Latin America online sales and operations. In 2010, she jumped to Facebook, ultimately becoming the director of mobile partnerships at its subsidiary, Instagram. White’s name was in the news more recently because of another role – as COO of Snapchat, a job she left in March after just 15 months. We don’t know if she’s interested in venture capital right now. According to Recode, White has “long wanted to become CEO of a company herself.” Given how highly she’s regarded by entrepreneurs, though, we’d certainly give her a call if we were running a top venture firm.

Susan Wojcicki. Wojcicki probably has more money than most venture firms, even the big ones. She’d also be very hard to pry from Google, where she spent nearly 14 years as its SVP of Adwords and Adsense and where she has spent the last year-plus running its enormous YouTube subsidiary. Still, who would have thought LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman would join Greylock Partners? Sometimes, you just never know.

Julie Zhou. She headed to Facebook nine years ago after getting her undergraduate and master’s degrees in computer science at Stanford and has been managing design and research teams across numerous products ever since. Zhou has also demonstrated a knack for sharing what she has learned about design and management issues. (See here.) We’re guessing she’d bring plenty to the table.

Photo (above) of Emily White, via Instagram.


StrictlyVC: April 24, 2015

Good Friday morning, everyone! We hope you’re in for a terrific weekend.:)

Quick note: Tickets are nearly sold out to our May 13 INSIDER event with Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad and many others. If you were going to grab a ticket, now’s the time. We’ll send a separate note to those of you who’ve RSVP’d at our Splash page.

(Psst, if you’re reading this online, here’s an easier-to-read version of this morning’s email.)

—–

Top News in the A.M.

It’s over. Comcast has terminated its $45 billion Time Warner Cable merger agreement.

A new version of Google Glass is in the works and will be out soon, the CEO of Italian eyewear maker Luxottica said this morning.

—–

Need a Breather? This VC is Hoping So

This week, StrictlyVC chatted with Steve Schlafman, a principal with RRE Ventures in New York who spends a fair amount of his time considering on-demand startup models. Among the deals he has led for RRE are Managed by Q, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based company that provides office cleaning and services like restocking to small businesses; and Shuddle, a year-old company in San Francisco that employs women to shuttle around children on behalf of their busy parents. (The proposed promise: the ride is safer than an Uber.)

Along with Vayner/RSE, Schlafman also led a $6 million Series A last September inBreather, a company that provides on-demand rooms in cities so that visitors can pop in to relax with friends, finish a speech, or maybe make some calls that would be harder to execute from a crowded coffee shop.

It may be Schlafman’s boldest, and riskiest, bet. Getting enough repeatable business to make profitable use of Breather’s rooms — which the company leases — would seem to be an enormous challenge. Breather also operates in a crowded sector with more than a handful of competitors, including LiquidSpace, which also invites users to find and book private spaces to rent by the hour, day or longer. (It’s raised more than $26 million, including from Shasta Ventures, Floodgate and Greylock Partners.)

Schlafman, who says Breather might look for capital later this year, isn’t concerned, telling us that it’s all in the execution. Here’s more from our chat, edited for length.

You call Breather the craziest idea you’d ever seen, yet you invested anyway. Why?

I became a user, and they’ve just completely nailed the experience of creating a fourth space. Think about it. For a long time, people had their home space and work space and there wasn’t much in between. Then along came Starbucks and cafes and public spaces that had multifunctional uses, but we believe that people need another space, so when you’re in [San Francisco’s] SOMA [neighborhood], for example, and you have two hours, you can pull out your phone, book a room, and have a business meeting or [quietly decompress].

A lot of startups now offer people an alternative to Starbucks.

A lot of companies are focused on coworking on demand, including LiquidSpace, PivotDesk and WeWork; they’re very much catering to a business user. Breather is building a tightly controlled experience that’s aesthetically pleasing. You can sell to a business user or a consumer.

How many rooms does it currently offer users?

It has 60 spaces right now – something like 15 in San Francisco, almost 40 in New York. The company just opened in Boston, too. What’s nice is that as soon as they put a space on the map, it gets to breakeven. What I love about [cofounder and CEO] Julien [Smith] is that he’s scrappy. He isn’t a Silicon Valley-type operator in a tweed jacket. He’s a child of the Internet who believes in testing, including when it comes to developing relationships with landlords. I’m not sure he’d want me to spill the beans, but he’s looking at asset-light models where Breather isn’t necessarily taking on the lease.

How many people are these rooms supposed to accommodate?

These are fairly small rooms, with a couch and a desk and a conference table with chairs and WiFi, and you can fit 5 to 10 people in them, which is great as companies can use it for overflow space or small offsite events, instead of spending a sh_tload of money on a hotel. It’s hard to wrap your head around the concept, but once you use one, you get it.

That’s a big challenge, though, getting people to think about heading somewhere new. I’d also think establishing repeatable business would be tricky. How is the company juggling that?

They’ll be introducing a smart pricing algorithm, so that not every hour is created equally. [It’ll be] upwards of $35 to $40 an hour during peak times. You’ll also be able to unlock certain services eventually. In the meantime, based on early cohorts, the payback is very fast on our marketing spend.

How does Breather ensure that there’s nothing funky going on in these rooms?

Trust is a huge factor. Every single time a room is cleaned – and we partner with a well-known cleaning service right now — there are reviews coming from the cleaning side, as well as from [the next] consumer.

Will the spaces always run on the smaller side?

That’s where we think there’s a good opportunity to build a completely new category. The idea is to have a breather in every city in the world. Will that happen in the next year or two? I don’t know, but once I tried it, I was sold.

—–

New Fundings

Dash Robotics, a two-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based maker of hand-held, bio-inspired robots, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by IronFire Capital. VentureBeat hasmore here.

Datical, a three-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based company that creates database schema automation software, has raised $2.25 million in funding, extending its total Series A round to $5.9 million. The new funding was led by Mercury Fund, with participation from Austin Ventures and other investors.

EatShopLove, a year-old, Bangalore, India-based fashion e-commerce company, has raised $3.5 million in angel funding from an unnamed investor in London. The company had previously raised $1 million in seed funding last fall. More here.

Ferris, a three-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based company whose app makes mobile videos more watchable — and shareable —  has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Upfront Ventures, with participation from Machinima founder Allen DeBevoise and other investors. TechCrunch has the story here.

GoFundMe, a seven-year-old, San Diego-based crowdfunding and fundraising startup, is reportedly raising its first institutional round of funding, at a $500 million valuation, with “Accel Partners” in “the mix,” reports TechCrunch. More here.Happay, a three-year-old, Bangalore-based startup that makes software to manage business expense reports, has raised $500,000 in seed funding from AngelPrime. Tech In Asia has more here.

Headout, a year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based on-demand “mobile concierge” that helps travelers book local experiences at discounted prices, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding from Version One Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, 500 Startups and Arena Ventures, along with individual investors, including WhatsApp vice president Neeraj Aroraand entrepreneur-investor Rick Marini. More here.

iContainers, an eight-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based freight forwarding company offering online ocean and air quotes and bookings, recently raised $1.4 million in Series B funding, including from Kibo Ventures, Vitamina K, and GrupoRomeu. More here.

StrataCloud, a year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based company that sells infrastructure management software for virtual, converged and cloud environments, has raised $3.4 million in Series A funding from Hallett Capital, BLH Venture Partners, Mosley Ventures and BIP Capital.

TrackTik, a five-year-old, Montreal, Canada-based company that sells security operations management software, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by iNovia Capital, with participation from Klass Capital. More here

——

New Funds

Institutional Venture Partners has officially closed its newest fund with $1.4 billion, making it the second largest venture fund formed in the U.S. this year (right behind NEA’s mammoth new fund). Forbes has much more here.

—–

IPOs

Apigee, an 11-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based software platform that sells enterprise tools that helps companies build and scale apps, began trading publicly this morning. The company had priced its shares at $17, the midpoint of an expected range of $16 to $18, giving it a valuation of $494.5 million. The company had raised at least $173 million over the years, shows Crunchbase. Norwest Venture Partners is its largest shareholder with a 26.2 percent stake; Bay Partners meanwhile owns a 18.6 percent stake. More here.

Laureate Education, the largest for-profit college network in the world, is interviewing banks for a $1 billion IPO, according to Bloomberg sources. The company was taken private in a management-led $3.8 billion buyout in 2007, backed by an investor group including KKR and Citigroup. It would be the the biggest school chain to go public, notes Bloomberg.

Renaissance Capital offers a look at next week’s IPO calendar.

—–

Exits

ClassPass, a two-year-old, New York-based subscription service for unlimited monthly fitness classes, has acquired two-year-old, San Francisco-based FitMob — a direct competitor — for undisclosed terms. ClassPass has raised more than $54 million, including from CRV, General Catalyst Partners, and Slow Ventures. FitMob had raised $14.8 million from investors, including QueensBridge Venture Partners, Silicon Valley Bank, and Mayfield Fund, where Fitmob CEO Raj Kapoor was formerly a managing director. TechCrunch has more here.

The publicly traded cloud business software company Netsuite is paying $200 million to acquire Bronto Software, a 13-year-old, North Carolina-based marketing software company. The deal is NetSuite’s sixth acquisition and will be its largest yet. Forbes has more here.

Publicly traded Synopsys is acquiring the 14-year-old, Oulu, Finland-based software security company Codenomicon, which had long ago raised $3.6 million from Prime Ventures and Eqvitec Partners Oy. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

—–

People

The file-sharing company BitTorrent laid off 40 of its 150 U.S.-based employees yesterday as part of an effort to streamline its operations and narrow its focus to a smaller suite of products. Buzzfeed has the news here.Zynga COO Clive Downie has resigned from the social gaming company and is joining the game development platform Unity Technologies as chief marketing officer, reports VentureBeat. Downie was hired by Don Mattrick, who resigned as CEO of Zynga two weeks ago. Unity is led by John Riccitiello, who says he goes back “a long ways” with Downie. (The two were executives together at Electronic Arts.)

Robert Heath, a 64-year-old software engineer rejected for a job at Google, is suing it for age discrimination, saying that when he was interviewed for a job with the company, the recruiter called 10 minutes late, was barely fluent in English, and conducted the interview over a malfunctioning speakerphone, which made it hard for the two to communicate. According to Heath’s attorneys, “Google intentionally did not allow Mr. Heath to communicate or demonstrate his full technical abilities, and did not have a sincere interest in hiring Mr. Heath.” Several years ago, Google settled a separate age discrimination claim. The Recorder has more here.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is offering to let Ellen Pao — the former junior partner who famously lost her gender discrimination suit against the firm last month — off the hook if she promises not to pursue the case further. Otherwise, Kleiner will ask her, as the losing party in the suit, to repay the $972,815 in witness fees, deposition and court reporter costs that it spent on the case. The New York Times has more here.

Amazon revealed yesterday that its Amazon Web Services unit is a nearly $5 billion business and is profitable.

—–

Detours

Bizarre trends in Taiwanese pet grooming.Haunting photos of abandoned factories.

How to set up your Apple Watch in 16 steps.

Retail Therapy

A look inside the Four Season’s private new jumbo jet.

The Phantom Flex4K full-featured digital cinema camera. It’ll cost you an arm and a leg, but it can do this!


Need a Breather? This VC is Hoping So

1c44283.how-iphone-spacesThis week, StrictlyVC chatted with Steve Schlafman, a principal with RRE Ventures in New York who spends a fair amount of his time considering on-demand startup models. Among the deals he has led for RRE are Managed by Q, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based company that provides office cleaning and services like restocking to small businesses; and Shuddle, a year-old company in San Francisco that employs women to shuttle around children on behalf of their busy parents. (The proposed promise: the ride is safer than an Uber.)

Along with Vayner/RSE, Schlafman also led a $6 million Series A last September in Breather, a company that provides on-demand rooms in cities so that visitors can pop in to relax with friends, finish a speech, or maybe make some calls that would be harder to execute from a crowded coffee shop.

It may be Schlafman’s boldest, and riskiest, bet. Getting enough repeatable business to make profitable use of Breather’s rooms — which the company leases — would seem to be an enormous challenge. Breather also operates in a crowded sector with more than a handful of competitors, including LiquidSpace, which also invites users to find and book private spaces to rent by the hour, day or longer. (It has raised more than $26 million, including from Shasta Ventures, Floodgate and Greylock Partners.)

Schlafman, who says Breather might look for capital later this year, isn’t concerned, telling us that it’s all in the execution. Here’s more from our chat, edited for length.

You call Breather the craziest idea you’d ever seen, yet you invested anyway. Why?

I became a user, and they’ve just completely nailed the experience of creating a fourth space. Think about it. For a long time, people had their home space and work space and there wasn’t much in between. Then along came Starbucks and cafes and public spaces that had multifunctional uses, but we believe that people need another space, so when you’re in [San Francisco’s] SOMA [neighborhood], for example, and you have two hours, you can pull out your phone, book a room, and have a business meeting or [quietly decompress].

A lot of startups now offer people an alternative to Starbucks.

A lot of companies are focused on coworking on demand, including LiquidSpace, PivotDesk and WeWork; they’re very much catering to a business user. Breather is building a tightly controlled experience that’s aesthetically pleasing. You can sell to a business user or a consumer.

How many rooms does it currently offer users?

It has 60 spaces right now – something like 15 in San Francisco, almost 40 in New York. The company just opened in Boston, too. What’s nice is that as soon as they put a space on the map, it gets to breakeven. What I love about [cofounder and CEO] Julien [Smith] is that he’s scrappy. He isn’t a Silicon Valley-type operator in a tweed jacket. He’s a child of the Internet who believes in testing, including when it comes to developing relationships with landlords. I’m not sure he’d want me to spill the beans, but he’s looking at asset-light models where Breather isn’t necessarily taking on the lease.

How many people are these rooms supposed to accommodate?

These are fairly small rooms, with a couch and a desk and a conference table with chairs and WiFi, and you can fit 5 to 10 people in them, which is great as companies can use it for overflow space or small offsite events, instead of spending a sh_tload of money on a hotel. It’s hard to wrap your head around the concept, but once you use one, you get it.

That’s a big challenge, though, getting people to think about heading somewhere new. I’d also think establishing repeatable business would be tricky. How is the company juggling that?

They’ll be introducing a smart pricing algorithm, so that not every hour is created equally. [It’ll be] upwards of $35 to $40 an hour during peak times. You’ll also be able to unlock certain services eventually. In the meantime, based on early cohorts, the payback is very fast on our marketing spend.

How does Breather ensure that there’s nothing funky going on in these rooms?

Trust is a huge factor. Every single time a room is cleaned – and we partner with a well-known cleaning service right now — there are reviews coming from the cleaning side, as well as from [the next] consumer.

Will the spaces always run on the smaller side?

That’s where we think there’s a good opportunity to build a completely new category. The idea is to have a breather in every city in the world. Will that happen in the next year or two? I don’t know, but once I tried it, I was sold.

(Readers: We’ll be talking with Schlafman and other investors about the fast-changing on-demand economy next month in San Francisco.)


StrictlyVC: April 23, 2015

Hi, everyone, happy Thursday! We’ve run out of time for a column this morning, but more tomorrow! (Psst, web visitors, here’s an easier-to-read version of this morning’s email.)

—–

Top News in the A.M.

When Amazon reports its quarterly earnings today, it will, for the first time, provide financial information on an important division: Amazon Web Services.

The Apple Watch arrives in stores tomorrow. (Just not Apple stores.)

—–

New Fundings

3D Robotics, the six-year-old, San Diego-based personal drone manufacturer co-founded by former Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson, has added $14 million to its Series C round led by WestSummit Capital, with participation from SanDisk Ventures and Atlantic Bridge Ventures. At February’s end, the company had announced $50 million in Series C funding led by Qualcomm. The company has now raised roughly $100 million in funding, including from Ooga Labs, True Ventures, Foundry Group, SK Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, and Mayfield Fund.BurstIQ, a Colorado Springs, Co.-based technology advisory services company, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the Colorado Springs-based firm PV Ventures.

Chef, a 6.5-year-old, Seattle-based company that allows its users to automate how they build, deploy, and manage their infrastructure, has raised $32 million as part of a larger Series E round that’s expected to close later this year. The company has now raised $63 million altogether, including from Scale Venture Partners, Citi Ventures, Battery Ventures, DFJ and Ignition. Total funding now stands at $63 million. GeekWire has more here.

Craftsvilla, a four-year-old, Mumbai, India-based, Etsy-like e-commerce site for ethnic products, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Nexus Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Global Founders Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Deep Information Sciences, a five-year-old Waltham, Ma-based database science startup, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Sigma Prime Ventures and Stage 1 Ventures, with participation from AlphaPrime Ventures. The company has now raised $18 million altogether.DNAnexus, a six-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company that says it accelerates the development of genomic medicine through a global network for sharing and managing genomic data and tools, has raised $15 million in Series D funding from WuXi PharmaTech, a laboratory and manufacturing services company. Genomeweb has more on the deal here.

Folsom Labs, a nearly four-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of a PV design tool that simplifies the process of engineering and selling solar projects, has raised $1 million in funding from individual investors, includng REC Solar founder Tim Ball. More here.

Funding Circle, a six-year-old, London-based online marketplace that lets individuals and organizations to loan money to small businesses online, has raised a whopping $150 million in funding led by DST Global, BlackRock, and Temasek Holdings. The company has now raised $300 million altogether, including from Accel PartnersUnion Square VenturesRibbit Capital, and Index Ventures.

Jounce Therapeutics, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company that’s developing cancer immunotherapies that harness individuals’ immune systems, has raised $56 million in Series B funding from Wellington Management Company, Redmile Group, Nextech Invest, Pharmstandard International, Cormorant Asset Management, Omega Funds,Casdin Capital, Foresite Capital Management and an undisclosed investment fund. The company had launched out of Third Rock Ventures in early 2013 with $47 million in Series A funding.

Knotch, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based still-in-beta company that’s building what it hopes will become a  standard digital means of tracking the impact of advertising content, has raised $4 million from Greylock Partners, Allen & Co. and Stanford University, as well as individual investors, including entrepreneur Michael Birch. The WSJ has more here.

LiveStories, a two-year-old, Seattle-based company whose software makes it easier for governments and nonprofits to analyze and visualize data, has received $1 million in seed funding from Founder’s Co-op and Social Leverage among others. More here.

Minube, an eight-year-old  Madrid, Spain-based travel startup whose site and mobile app help travelers decide where to go, then plan their trips and share photos and reviews afterward, has raised $1.6 million in funding led by FIDES, with participation from earlier investors Kibo Ventures and Bonsai Venture Capital. The company has now raised $2.9 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.

Mpirica Health, a year-old, Bellevue, Was.-based  healthcare startup that scores surgeries at more than 4,800 U.S. hospitals based on a methodology developed by Harvard-trained cardiologist Michael Pine (the scores reveal relationships between procedure cost and quality), has raised $1.6 million in Series A funding from McQuinn Trust. Geekwire has more here.

New Signature, a 12-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based systems integrator that works closely with Microsoft, has raised $35 million in funding from Columbia Capital. More here.

OpenFin, a 4.5-year-old, New York-based company that provides runtime technology for financial desktops, has raised $3 million in funding from Bain Capital Ventures, Pivot Investment Partners, Nyca Partners, Cris Conde and Tom Glocer. Crunchbase shows the company has now raised $9.6 million altogether. More here.

Peloton Technology, a four-year-old, Mountain View, CA-based company that sells radar and dedicated short-range communication-based safety systems to trucking fleets (it keeps them in close formation on the highway, reducing collisions), has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by Denso International America and Intel Capital. Other participants in the round include Magna International, Castrol innoVentures, Volvo Group Venture Capital, UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund, Sand Hill Angels, Band of Angels, and Birchmere Ventures.

Perseus, a six-year-old, New York-based high-frequency trading technology firm, has raised  $20.5 million in funding from Goldman Sachs. The International Business Times has more here.

PingThings, a year-old, San Juan Capistrano, Ca.-based company that’s building its predictive intelligence software for the electric utility industry, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from earlier backers GE Capital and Frost Data Capital.

Raise Labs, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company that enables students to earn micro “scholarships” throughout high school, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by Owl Ventures, with participation from First Round Capital, SJF Ventures and individual angel investors. The company had previously raised $1 million in seed funding, as well as $200,000 in cash awards from education tech and business plan competitions. The WSJ has its story here.

RadPad, a two-year-old, L.A.-based mobile rental marketplace, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Altpoint Ventures, with participation from Goldcrest Investments. The company has now raised $12.8 million altogether. Business Insider has more here.

Simplilearn, a 5.5-year-old, Houston, Tx.-based company helping customers get certified in areas like Android development, has raised $15 million in Series C funding led by Mayfield Fund, with participation from earlier backers Kalaari Capital and Helion Venture Partners. Simplilearn has reportedly now raised a total of $27 million. TechCrunch has more here.

SiteZeus, a two-year-old, Tampa, Fla.-based company whose technology automates the process of choosing physical sites for the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries, has raised $2.2 million in funding from Baldwin Beach Capital and Outback Steakhouse cofounder Chris Sullivan. The Tampa Bay Business Journal has more here.

Smule, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose apps enable users to play or sing along with musical arrangements by professional artists, as well as to record music and invite others to layer in their voices or instruments, has quietly raised $26 million in funding led by Adams Street Partners. The round brings the company’s total funding to $68 million. It also has $12 million line of credit. Venture Capital Dispatch has the story here.

SnowShoe, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose plastic “stamps” interact with the touch sensors on mobile phones, unlocking content from video game characters to gift cards, has raised $1 million in seed funding led by Lowercase Capital, with participation from Collaborative Fund and MESA+ Capital. SnowShoe had raised an earlier $2.5 million in seed funding from Foundry Group’s AngelList Syndicate, 500 Startups, TechStars, Ludlow Ventures, Queensbridge Capital, BAM.vc, Scott Banister, Hiten Shah, and other angels. TechCrunch has the story here.

SureCash, a five-year-old, Bangladesh, India-based mobile banking and payment platform that allows users to deposit cash, send money, make purchases, and pay bills, has raised $7 million in Series B funding from the Osiris Group. The company says it previously raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding from a “group of Japanese investors.”

Swirl Networks, a four-year-old, Boston-based micro-location marketing startup, has raised $18 million in Series C funding at a $150 million valuation led by Twitter Ventures, with participation from two unnamed groups. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

—–

New Funds

Yesterday, the online storage company Box announced a $40 million fund for startups that are building their companies on top of its service. It’s partnering with Bessemer Venture Partners and Emergence Capital Partners in the endeavor. Business Insider has more here.

—–

Exits

Lifecake, a three-year-old, London-based company whose photo-sharing app lets parents privately share photos of their young children with friends and family, has been acquired for undisclosed terms by Canon Europe. According to Crunchbase, Lifecake had raised just $1.4 million from investors, including Saber Growth PartnersEC1 Capital, and Balderton Capital.

Milyoni, a six-year-old, Pleasanton, Ca.-based social video marketing platform for brands and artists, has been acquired for undisclosed terms by the photo-sharing site Photobucket, which itself recently raised $3.6 million in new funding. Milyoni had raised roughly $30 million from investors, including Oak Investment Partners, ATA Ventures, and Thomvest Ventures, shows CrunchBase. More here.

Ozon, the e-commerce portal commonly referred to as the Amazon of Russia, is selling Sapato.ru, a Zappos-like business that it acquired three years ago. The buyer, for undisclosed terms, is online fashion retailer KupiVIP. Citing the Russian finance publication Vedomosti, TechCrunch writes that the deal was likely for hundreds of thousands of dollars , a far cry from the reported $60 million Ozon had spent on the company. (StrictlyVC had lunch last year with Ozon CEO Maelle Gavet, who, understandably, tried downplaying the challenges she faces as the head of a Russia-based company.)

—–

People

Bloomberg takes a look at the “big business” of being Google cofounder Sergey Brin, saying that in addition to the ex-bankers and philanthropy experts working at Brin’s family office, Bayshore Global Management, Brin also has employed a former Navy SEAL for security, a yacht captain, a fitness coordinator, a photographer, and an archivist. More here.

Google’s robotics unit is now reporting to former SVP or products and longtime advisor to CEO Larry Page, Jonathan Rosenberg, reports The Information. Rosenberg succeeds James Kuffner, a professor turned Google engineering director who oversaw the robotics unit after Andy Rubin left last year to start a fund called Playground Global. The move doesn’t appear to be permanent, adds the report.

Joseph Tsai, Alibaba’s executive vice chairman, along with other early Alibaba executives, is setting up a multibillion-dollar family office to invest the wealth created by the e-commerce giant’s highly successful IPO. Tsai reportedly controls a roughly $6.5 billion stake in Alibaba. More here.

Twitter has ended a program whereby top executives had been selling company stock at regular intervals and possibly depressing the stock’s price as a result, reports Fortune. Co-founder and director Ev Williams is reportedly the exception; according to Fortune, he has cashed out $45 million worth of Twitter stock since the broader moratorium went into effect.

—–

Essential Reads

The online marketplace Jet talks an awfully big game for a company that hasn’t yet launched.

In its first-quarter earnings call yesterday, Facebook said it now sees four billion video streams each day. It didn’t say much about its efforts to monetize video ads, though.

The Verge reviews Jawbone‘s new Up3, and it’s not a ringing endorsement.

More on the Pentagon‘s plans to open a Silicon Valley office, which is expected to be up and running at Moffett Field in a month.

—–

Detours

Every question you’ve ever had about flying, answered by a pilot.

Wanted: Style and design intern for up-and-coming instabrand.

Can your relationship handle a trip to IKEA?

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Retail Therapy

The Xiaomi Mi 4i. Says Business Insider: “On paper at least, it bests the iPhone 6 in most categories — for less than a third of the price.


StrictlyVC: April 22, 2015

Hi, all, good morning, and happy Earth Day! Hope it’s off to a good start.

Quick mention: Highway1, the San Francisco-based accelerator program for hardware startups, has asked us to tell you it’s opening up applications today for its fall program. (It’ll accept 15 companies.) Teams can apply here

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Top News in the A.M.

Google is set to unveil its new U.S. wireless service as early as today.Hope you like your Apple Watch; it’s reportedly going to be a pain to return it.Yahoo‘s first-quarter revenue fell short of analysts’ estimates. More here.

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As On-Demand Valet Battle Intensifies, Luxe CEO Shifts Gears

The battle to baby your car is heating up. This morning, Zirx, a year-old, San Francisco-based company that will park your car, wash it, fill up its gas tank, and rotate its tires, is announcing $30 million in new funding. The round comes roughly a month after Luxe, another San Francisco-based valet app, raised $20 million. (Luxe has now raised roughly $25 million altogether, while Zirx has raised around $36 million.)Yesterday, we talked with Luxe CEO Curtis Lee – a former product manager at Zynga, YouTube, Google, Skype, and Groupon — about the competition, and whether and when these types of companies turn profitable. Our chat has been edited for length.You now have 40 full-time employees and hundreds of contract workers parking customers’ cars in San Francisco, L.A., and Chicago. Yet you say that parking cars is step one. What’s next?

We’re more of a services platform than anything else. We happen to park your car, but we’re already doing gas fill-ups, car washes, and oil changes . . . Your car is effectively an urban locker, and we want to get stuff delivered to your car, as well as do things with it, like pick up your keys, get your groceries . . .

How do you decide when to roll out new services?

I’m a product manager. My cofounder [CTO Craig Martin] is a engineer. We worked at Zynga together, and we tend to like to do experimental things often. If they work, we double down. If they don’t, we won’t. And we saw that early on, the primary reason customers decided to use us was for our additional services.

What are you charging for some of these services?

Our rates vary depending on the city, but in San Francisco it’s $5 an hour [to have your car valet parked] and $15 per day. Car washes are $40. Gas fill-ups are the cost of the gas plus a $7.99 surcharge.

Are you dealing with much poaching?

Certainly, other companies are trying, especially because our guys are so obvious on the streets [wearing the Luxe uniform, which are bright-blue jackets]. We’re the only company that shows customers where our lots and our valets are on a map. That makes us vulnerable sometimes, but our retention remains very high. We think [our workforce] is fairly happy. We also have more demand than our competitors, and [valet pay] is hourly based, so [our valets are] not going to make as much money elsewhere. It’s like Uber; people want to work for Uber because it has the [consumer] demand.

What of allegations that on-demand startups short-change workers by classifying them as independent contractors?

We’re not obsessed or worried about it. I think it’s more a philosophy thing than the letter of the law. You treat employees – and independent contractors – with respect. It’s not as much about classifications. Who knows what will happen. [Any potential legal changes] aren’t in our hands. But we’re keeping an eye on it.

Do you pay your valets minimum wage? Do they make much in tips?

It’s completely optional, but our customers can give tips [via our app] because they were trying to do it regardless, through cash. Our guys make way more than minimum wage for sure because of the demand we get.

Also, our guys don’t need to own cars. There’s no equipment necessary [beyond a scooter to get to customers more quickly]. Twenty percent of Uber drivers’ salaries go toward wear and tear and gas.

It’s seems like potentially hazardous work, zipping around town to pick up and drop off customers’ cars as quickly as possible.

We put [our valets] through extensive training so they understand where they need to drop off people’s cars, as well as make sure they aren’t doing anything that puts them at risk. Our bright blue jackets are also designed to ensure people see them. And we have a valet office where people can hang out and eat free food and relax and, if there are issues, go to office hours and talk with us.

Your arrangement with city garages is pretty central to your future profitability. Are these typically monthly arrangements for spots?

We have different agreements with different parking lots all the time — everything from monthly to yearly to daily arrangements. But parking lot owners take care of us and we take care of them, turning over the space enough times that we can make a profit on a per unit basis. The best analogy is to Priceline. For hotels, unused rooms are sunk costs. Priceline has created a billion-dollar business just by providing discounts to customers and getting [hotels paid] for their underutilized inventory.

Still, some VCs think services businesses like yours are too cost intensive. What are they missing?

We’re basically creating a behavioral change. Those days of searching for parking, wasting time, wasting gas – they’ll disappear in time. Also, parking alone is a $100 billion market globally and a $30 billion market in the U.S. And you’re seeing tremendous growth of car ownership internationally, including in Brazil, China, and India, all of which are undergoing massive urbanization without enough infrastructure to keep up. There are just huge opportunities for us.

Will you be fundraising again this year?

We’re open to raising [again] when the time is right.

(Bay Area readers, to learn more about the shifts in on-demand startups, you might want to check this out next month. We’ll be there to moderate a panel.)

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New Fundings

Alodokter, year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based health information site, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding led by Fenox Venture Capital, with participation from 500 Startups, Golden Gate Ventures, and Lim Der Shing, an entrepreneur and venture partner with Jungle Ventures. Tech In Asia has more here.

Ariste Medical, an eight-year-old,  Memphis, Tn.-based company that’s developing drug-eluting surgical implants to prevent common causes of device failure, has raised $4.6 million from undisclosed sources. in funding. In 2012, the company raised $1.3 million, also from undisclosed backers.

ClickMechanic, a three-year-old, London-based online marketplace of users to find and book mobile mechanics, has raised £320,000 ($481,424) from angel investors led by former Just Eat CEO Klaus Nyengaard. TechCrunch has more here.

CompareAsiaGroup, a nearly two-year-old, Hong Kong-based, Asia-focused financial comparison platform, has raised $40 million in Series A funding led by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, with participation from Nova Founders Capital, Jardine PacificAce & Company, Route 66 Ventures, and individuals Mark Pincus and Owen Van Natta. The company has now raised roughly $45 million to date. More here.

ConXtech, an 11-year-old, Pleasanton, Ca.-based modular building company that creates structures to enable the mass customization of buildings, has raised $25 million in Series D funding led by Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures and a venture fund associated with the George Kaiser Family Foundation. More here.

Gengo, a 6.5-year-old, Tokyo, Japan-based crowdsourced translation service, has raised $5.4 million in Series C funding led by Recruit, with participation from SBI InvestmentsMUFJ Capital and CrowdWorks. The company has now raised $23 million altogether, including from Intel Capital, Atomico, and 500 Startups. TechCrunch has more here.

Gravie, a two-year-old, Minneapolis, Mn.-based health insurance marketplace that helps employers transition their employees to the individual health insurance market, has raised $12.5 million in Series B funding led by new investor Split Rock Partners, with participation from earlier backers Aberdare Ventures and FirstMark Capital.The company has now raised $25.6 million to date, shows Crunchbase. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal has more here.

Honey, a three-year-old, New York-based social intranet for employees to discover, discuss and archive content, has raised $1 million in seed funding led by Point Nine Capital. Honey was incubated by the ad giant Interpublic Group as part of its Labs program, which develops new technologies to solve client challenges. It has now raised $2.3 million altogether.

Onfleet, a three-year-old, San Francisco, Ca.-based company that provides a white-label backend infrastructure to numerous on-demand and delivery services (helping them coordinate couriers with their assignments, for example), has raised $2 million in funding, including from CrunchFund, Winklevoss Capital, Playfair Capital, Stanford-StartX Fund, Lee Linden, Semil Shah, Fadi Ghandour and Andy Rachleff. More here.

Poshmark, a four-year-old, Menlo Park, California-based fashion community marketplace where visitors can buy or sell their things, has raised $25 million in new funding from Mayfield, Menlo Ventures, Inventus Capital, Union Grove Venture Partners, Shea Ventures and SoftTech VC. The company has now raised $47.2 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

ReShape Medical, a 6.5-year-old, San Clemente, Ca.-based company that develops non-surgical weight loss “balloons” to support the treatment of obese and overweight patients, has closed a $12 million senior secured term loan from Oxford Finance and Silicon Valley Bank. The company, which will reportedly seek out an equity round soon, has now raised $62.3 million in equity and debt, shows Crunchbase. Earlier investors include New Leaf Venture Partners, U.S. Venture Partners, and SV Life Sciences.

Scalyr, a four-year-old, Portola Valley, Ca.-based log-monitoring service that gives developers more insight into how their applications are performing, has raised $2.1 million in seed funding led by Susa Ventures, with participation from Bloomberg Beta, Google Ventures and Sherpalo Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

SciFluor Life Sciences, a Cambridge, Ma.-based clinical stage biopharmaceutical company that develops fluorination technologies to improve drug properties like metabolic stability and potency, has raised $30 million in funding from Invesco Asset Management,Woodford Investment Management and earlier backer Allied Minds, a Boston firm that forms and funds startups. The company has now raised $35 million altogether, shows Crunchbase.
Sendle, a year-old, Sydney, Australia-based parcel delivery startup, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding from the country’s National Road & Motorists Association (an earlier investor), along with high-net individuals. More here.

Shots, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile app for sharing selfies (Justin Bieber, an early investor, uses it regularly), has raised $8.5 million in new funding led by WI Harper. Other participants in the round include Launch Fund, Upfront Ventures, 500 Startups, music producer Rodney Jerkins and the venture arm of Major League Baseball. The WSJ has much more here.

Shyp, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based on-demand shipping service, has officially raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with participation from earlier backers, including Homebrew, Sherpa Ventures, enterpreneur-investor Kevin Rose and Rent The Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman. The company has now raised $62.2 million altogether.

Untapt, a 1.5-year-old, New York-base recruiting platform exclusively focused on connecting financial services companies with tech talent, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by Tsai Capital, with participation from SenaHill Investment Group.
Weimob, a two-year-old, Shanghai, China-based company whose software helps businesses without software development experience build e-commerce platforms tailored for the WeChat mobile app platform, has raised $24 million in Series B funding by the packaged food manufacturer Jinzi Ham Co., reports China Money Network. Earlier backer Meridian Capital China and an undisclosed individual investor also joined the round, which reportedly values the company at $130 million.

Zirx, a year-old, San Francisco, Ca.-based provider of on-demand valet and related car services (like car washes, oil changes, and tire changes), has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Norwest Venture Partners and Trinity Ventures. The company has now raised $36.4 million altogether.

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New Funds

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev’s Skolkovo Foundation for technical development and China’s Cybernaut Investment Group are teaming up to create a $200 million venture fund, a startup incubator for Russian businesses, and a new Chinese robotics center. Fortune has more here.

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Exits

Path may sell its original social networking app, known as Path Classic, to the makers of South Korean messaging app KakaoTalk, according to Recode. According to its report: “The potential acquisition — the terms of which are still unknown — would give KakaoTalk’s parent company Daum Kakao a major foothold in Indonesia, where Path is a leading social app.” Recode’s sources add that Path, which has raised more than $75 million in funding, would continue to operate independently after selling off the social networking app.

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People

Peter Hazlehurst, who joined the delivery startup Postmates just seven months ago as COO, is out the door, saying CEO Bastian Lehmann isn’t quite ready to relinquish control of the company’s day-to-day operations.“The business is doing great and I’m very proud of being part of that,” Hazlehurst tells Recode. “But I also want to have a role where I have full control and autonomy to drive things, and Bastian was not quite ready for that and that’s cool.” Hazlehurt had previously spent two-and-a-half years at Google, where he was a senior product manager working on the company’s payments initiatives. Before that, he spent nearly eight years at Yodlee, where he was chief product officer.

Venture capitalist Dmitry Kaminskiy of the Hong Kong-based venture firm Deep Knowledge Ventures, is offering a $1 million prize to the first person to reach his or her 123rd birthday. The goal of the prize, says Forbes, is “to get the public interested in longevity research and to motivate people to live longer live.” It has nothing to do with generating press for Kaminskiy, at all.

Sources are telling Recode to expect “a lot of movement” at Yahoo as CEO Marissa Mayer “rejiggers her favorites” and slowly squeezes out others, including Americas head Ned Brody. In fact, according to Recode’s spies, Brody already “seems to have joined the witness protection program . . . after he lost much of his job to Americas ad sales head Lisa Utzschneider and waits around in what insiders describe as a fire-me-and-pay-me standoff with Mayer.”

Jeff Rowbottom, the head of capital markets for North America at KKR, is leaving to join Israeli venture-capital firm Pontifax Group, which invests in biopharmaceutical companies and medical devices. Bloomberg has the story here.

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Jobs

SRI International is looking for a managing director. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca.

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Data

U.S. medical startups raised a record $3.9 billion in venture capital in the first quarter of this year, surpassing the previous high record of $3.42 billion invested in the second quarter of last year, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. The WSJ has more here.

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Essential Reads

Facebook and Google are scrambling to reach people without web access. Meanwhile, the internet’s reach among new users is slowing.

Europe’s plan to compete with Silicon Valley.

The Department of Homeland Security is opening a satellite office in Silicon Valley. More here.
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Detours

The Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight is less than two weeks away, yet no one has a ticket.

A supercut of all 110(!) car crashes from the “Fast and the Furious” franchise.

“Mad Men” cartoon countdown: The fifth-to-last episode.
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Retail Therapy

High-tech “eco” homes, in just a few weeks.

Shhh. Our kids must never learn about this car.