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Top News in the A.M.
Amazon may soon pay normal people to deliver packages en route to their destinations as part of a crowdsourced delivery program. The WSJ has more here.
A security flaw has left 600 million Samsung smartphones at risk of being hacked.
Tesla Motors is getting a cash injection in the form of a loan worth up to $750 million from banks like Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Deutsche Bank ,reports Business Insider. The capital might concern Tesla fans, but CEO Elon Musk has said the company needs “staggering” amounts of money to grow its operations, and Tesla has five years to pay back the money, says BI.
Uh oh, Uber.
The Case Against Anthony Noto (and Most Other CFOs) Becoming CEO
But promoting Noto to the top spot may not be such a great idea — not based on the experience of longtime executive recruiter Jon Holman, who says CFOs tend to make lousy CEOs. In fact, of the hundreds of C-level executives that Holman has placed over the last 30-plus years, he says he has “never” placed a CFO as a CEO – “nor would I recommend it to someone.”
Holman “doesn’t know Noto at all,” he is quick to say. He adds that Noto could become the “second or third guy in history who has gone from CFO to CEO and been successful.” But he’s highly skeptical of the model for a variety of reasons.
First, it’s likely that until April — when Noto was also put in charge of Twitter’s floundering marketing department — Noto has never managed anything near the roughly 4,000 employees that Twitter has around the world.
“At Goldman, Noto was an analyst, meaning he was a domain expert who knows a huge amount about various industries,” observes Holman. “But he was never managing large numbers of people, and the people he was managing [in the several years that Noto spent as co-head of the investment bank’s technology, media and telecommunications group] were analysts – not people in marketing, sales, finance, engineering . . .” notes Holman.
More, says Holman, while CFOs generally sound like they know everything, they do not. “Because CFOs sit in on board meetings along with the CEO, they speak as if they understand the business.They understand the financials of the business. They know that, ‘We’re spending 33 percent of revenue on sales and marketing.’ But they’ve never run a sales organization, and their job has never been on the line if there’s a revenue shortfall,” he notes.
Not last, CFOs tend to reign in spending and to generally take the most conservative path possible, notes Holman. That’s probably not ideal at Twitter, which has shied away from making dramatic changes to its platform — and been soundly criticized for it. “Most CEOs are outer directed, while CFOs are inner directed,” says Holman. Using a baseball analogy, he observes that “Most CEO types want to swing for the fences; CFOs want players to hit singles.”
That’s not to say Twitter should rule out Noto completely, suggests Holman. In fact, he could make sense as CEO in the very short term.
Among other reasons why a company like Twitter might bring in a CFO is if “you have investors who think the sky is falling, or, in this case, that it’s a big problem that Twitter isn’t converting tweets to revenue. CFOs generally speak in appropriate adult-like tones and can [massage] investors and assure them that a company will get it all figured out.”
Another argument for promoting the CFO is when a company is just going to sell itself anyway, says Holman. In that case, “What you need is someone who understands how to sell a company, someone who will run a [sales] process, which Noto clearly knows how to do.”
A third reason a CFO like Noto could make sense right now is “if there’s a perception that what a company needs to do is big-time pruning: laying people off, getting expenses under control, those kinds of things that CFOs tend to be really good at.”
Of course, all of these scenarios would be a prelude to bringing in someone else, and Twitter already has an interim CEO lined up in co-founder Jack Dorsey. Could we see the equivalent of two interim CEOs at the company?
Twitter “can do whatever it wants,” says Holman. “Is it a clever strategy? Probably not.”
123ContactForm, a seven-year-old, Timisoara, Romania-based provider of web forms and surveys for companies and NGOs, has raised more than $1 million in funding from Catalyst Romania.
Bluebridge, a four-year-old, Fishers, Ind.-based, cloud-based mobile app development and management platform, has raised $2 million in funding led by CultivationCapital and Allos Ventures, with participation from angel investors, including ExactTarget cofounder Scott Dorsey. The company had previously raised $2. 8 million in seed and debt financing.
Boxful, a six-month-old, Hong Kong-based valet storage startup (it comes to take and store users’ surplus items), has raised $6.6 million in Series A funding from Great Eagle, Arocrest Capital, Tinghsin Group, Lonsdale Capital, Soundwill Holdings, Vega Properties and Carlton Holdings.
Brightwheel, a year-old, San Francisco-based mobile platform for preschools and daycares that allows teachers to track attendance, record observations, and gain insights into daily activities while administrators can send paperless, automated tuition invoices, has raised $2.2 million in seed funding. The round was led by RRE Ventures and Eniac Ventures, with participation from CrossLink Capital, Golden Venture Partners, Red Swan Ventures, and SherpaVentures.
Cohesity, a two-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based company that consolidates what are called “secondary” storage systems (meaning anything that doesn’t run a company’s production applications), has quietly raised $70 million across two funds, it says. The company, founded by Mohit Aron — who previously cofounded the “unicorn” storage company Nutanix — most recently raised $55 million in Series B funding led by Artis Ventures and Qualcomm, with participation from Accel Partners, Battery Ventures, Google Ventures andTrinity Ventures. Cohesity’s earlier, $15 million, Series A round was led by led by Sequoia Capital and Wing Venture Capital. Venture Capital Dispatch has the story here.
Convene, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based conference and meeting company that promises to “orchestrate the perfect meeting” for its customers (it has access to more than 70 meeting rooms in New York and Washington, D.C.), has raised $15.5 million in Series B funding led by Conversion Venture Capital, with participation from earlier backer Boathouse Capital. The company has now raised roughly $21 million altogether. More here.
Crocus Technology, an 11-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based maker of magnetic sensors and embedded memory products, has raised $21 million in new funding from NanoDimension, Innovation Capital, IdInvest Partners,Ventech, Sofinnova, CEA Investissement, Rusnano, Industrial Investor Group, and Kreos Capital. The company has now raised $194 million altogether.
Doctor on Demand, a nearly three-year-old, San Francisco-based telemedicine company that connects patients via video with certified doctors, has raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Tenaya Capital, with participation from Qualcomm Ventures, Dignity Health, 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki, and earlier backers Venrock, Shasta Ventures, and Sir Richard Branson. The company has now raised $74 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
FACEIT, a three-year-old, London-based online gaming platform, disclosed yesterday that it raised $2 million in funding earlier this year led by United Ventures. More here.
Iris.tv, a three-year-old, L.A.-based company that makes personalized video recommendations to viewers who watch short clips online, has raised $5.3 million in Series A fundng from Sierra Wasatch, BDMI, Progress Venturesand individual backers, including Machinima founder Allen DeBevoise. Venture Capital Dispatch has much more here.
Kezar Life Sciences, a months-old, South San Francisco, Ca.-based company focused on the development of drugs targeting protein homeostasis for autoimmune disorders, has raised $23 million in Series A funding fromMorningside Venture, Cormorant Asset Management, EcoR1 Capital, 9W Capital Management, Omega Funds, Aju IB Investment, and private investors.
LeadPages, a 2.5-year-old, Minneapolis, Mn.-based company whose software enables businesses to create responsive mobile landing pages, launch pages, sales pages and other conversion pages, has raised $27 million in Series B funding led by Drive Capital, with participation from Foundry Group and Arthur Ventures. The company has now raised $38 million altogether. More here.
Minio, an eight-month-old, Woodside, Ca.-based open source cloud storage product, has raised $3.3 million in seed funding led by Nexus Venture Partners and General Catalyst Partners, with participation from AME Cloud Ventures, Index Ventures, and numerous individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Pixelligent Technologies, a 13-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based advanced materials company that makes next-generation materials for applications in solid-state lighting, flat panel displays, optical components and film, has raised $3.4 million in new funding from undisclosed sources. The company has raised roughly $26 million altogether at this point. (It has also been awarded more then $12 million in U.S. grant programs.)
ServiceTitan, a two-year-old, Glendale, Ca.-based mobile, cloud-based management platform for home service businesses, has raised $18 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners at a post-money valuation of $100 million. The company had previously raised an undisclosed amount of seed capital. Its other backers include Mucker Capital, I2BF Digital, and AMENALAV Group.
SQL Sentry, an 11-year-old, Charlotte, N.C.-based maker of software for SQL server database professionals, has raised $25 million in funding from Mainsail Partners. More here.
Tute Genomics, a three-year-old, Provo, Ut.-based company that sells cloud-based analytics, interpretation, and reporting for clinical sequencing, has raised $3.9 million in Series A1 funding from Intermountain Healthcare, Healthbox, and China-based Tencent Holdings. The company has raised now raised $7.7 million altogether.
Vroom, a two-year-old, New York-based used car sales startup, has raised $19 million in venture funding and $35 million in debt funding from roughly 15 wealthy individuals, including former pro football player John Elway and former Autonation and Blockbuster CEO Steve Berrard. Fortune has the story here.
Garage Technology Ventures in Palo Alto, Ca., and Startup Lab in Oslo, Norway, are launching a joint venture called Silicon Valley Catalyst to fund and grow emerging European tech companies. More here.
Y Combinator is raising money to create a new venture fund, according to an SEC form flagged by Business Insider yesterday. The outfit isn’t talking yet about the vehicle, Y Combinator Continuity Fund I. But our former colleague, Jon Marino, reported back in March that Y Combinator was looking to raise several billion dollars for a fund to deploy in the later-stage rounds of its most promising portfolio companies, like Dropbox and Airbnb.
Brian McClendon, a Google engineering VP and 10-year company veteran of the company who was charge of Google Maps, is leaving to oversee Uber’s new Advanced Technologies Center out of Pittsburgh, reports Recode. McClendon is only the latest Googler to be poached by the popular car-service company. At a StrictlyVC event last month, Tom Fallows, another Uber exec recently poached by Google, remarked half-jokingly on stage that he was surprised in discovering on his first day that “one out of three people is a former Google colleague.”
At the Bloomberg Technology conference yesterday, Mike Schur, an executive producer of TV shows, including “Parks & Recreation,” weighed in on whether or not there’s a tech bubble. “This feels like a very tense moment right now . . .” with “absurd” deals and valuations.” Schur added: “I think Hollywood really likes to satirize any subculture that’s more absurd and self-obsessed than we are.” More here.
Salesforce is looking to hire a senior corporate development manager. The job is in San Francisco.
Microsoft announced an executive shake-up this morning. More here.
Etsy, the newly public, Brooklyn-based online marketplace, anounced its own take on the crowdfunding model made popular by Kickstarter: Fund on Etsy. Now sellers can integrate fundraising directly into their virtual storefronts, as well as raise money for products they haven’t yet made. More here.
A new theory of distraction.
An airport adventure for a lost toy.
Nothing like having Arnold tell you to “turn left.”
BMW’s new, tech-laden 7-Series sedan, coming this fall. It isn’t cheap, but you’ll get what you pay for.