Happy Friday, everyone, we hope you have an outstanding weekend!
Quick reminder that we’ll be in transit en route to Fortune’s Brainstorm conference early Monday so we will not be publishing. We’ll see you back here Tuesday, though.:)
Top News in the A.M.
Samsung is reportedly bumping up the launch of its smartphone line-up to August to gain some ground against Apple, which typically has some big reveals of its own in September. The WSJ has the story here.
Y Combinator’s Big Future
There’s been a lot of talk in venture circles lately about “signaling risk” and seed-stage investments. The gist: When earlier backers are high-profile venture firms, and these firms decide not to participate in a startup’s next round, it hurts the company’s ability to raise a Series A round.
Although this concern isn’t exactly new, recent numbers published by the firm CB Insights suggest that the issue is worth revisiting. According CB Insights’s findings, while 35 percent of all venture-backed, seed-funded companies go on to raise a Series A, a company that counts a respected venture firm among its seed backers has a 51 percent chance of raising a Series A if that firm participates in the round.
That’s the good news. The bad: If the venture firm decides not participate in the startup’s Series A, the company’s chances of closing its Series A round drop to 27 percent.
The study made us think about Y Combinator, the popular accelerator program, and its plan for the future. Right now, Y Combinator has the best of both worlds. It can make seed-stage investments at scale, for sizable stakes in startups, and not worry in the least about signaling risk: no one expects it to pour more of its capital into follow-on rounds. Its very model is premised on finding and funneling smart companies to other Series A, B, and C investors.
Recently, however, some have speculated that Y Combinator is heading into a future where it is both seed and growth-stage investor.
Aptimmune Biologics, a five-year-old, Champaign, Il.-based mucosal vaccine company developing novel swine vaccines, raised $2.75 million in funding from Arsenal Capital Management, Fox Ventures and a group of Midwest angel investors. More here.
BeneStream, a four-year-old, New York-based health technology company, has raised $4.26 million in Series A funding led by TLSG Investments, with participation from Kapor Capital, Relativity Healthcare Partners, and earlier backers, including Serious Change and individual investors. More here.
BitFury Group, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based bitcoin blockchain infrastructure provider and transaction processing company, has raised $20 million in funding from backers, including DRW Venture Capital, iTech Capital and Georgian Co-Investment Fund. TechCrunch has more here.
Octopus, a 2.5-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based startup that provides physical security systems for large facilities, has raised $2.5 million in funding from Singulariteam. TechCrunch has more here.
BioStar Ventures, a 12-year-old, Petoskey, Mi.-based venture capital firm focused on medical device and connected health technologies in cardiovascular and orthopedic medicine, has raised $68 million for its third, and largest, fund. FierceBiotech has more here.
Not a new fund exactly, but: Cisco said yesterday that it plans on pouring $1 billion into the United Kingdom over the next three to five years years to boost the country’s technology sector, especially the burgeoning Internet of things market. Fortune has more here.
Splunk, the publicly traded operational intelligence software company, announced last night that it has purchased Caspida, a Palo Alto-based cybersecurity and threat detection company, for $190 million. The deal has already closed, the company reported. Caspida had raised $11.5 million from investors, shows Crunchbase (though it doesn’t list its backers). TechCrunch has more here.
Uber moved aggressively on Thursday to shut down a high-stakes case over the company’s designation of drivers as independent contractors, arguing among other things that most Uber drivers don’t even want to be employees. The Recorder has more here.
Peter Read has left the European arm of Google Ventures almost a year after it was unveiled, reports TechCrunch. No word on why he left, though his departure leaves Eze Vidra, Tom Hulme, and Avid Larizadeh as the remaining GPs of the European arm.
Intel Capital’s outgoing head honcho Arvind Sodhani on his career — and what’s next.
Joshua Topolsky, the top digital editor at Bloomberg, has been fired from the company due to Michael Bloomberg’s frustration with the website. Politico has more here.
A dozen candidates for Twitter‘s seach committee (plus Snoop Dogg).
In recent weeks, Facebook has held preliminary discussions with the major record companies, seeking licensing deals to insert music videos into Facebook users’ feeds, reports the New York Times.
The coder who encrypted your texts.
The curious truth about belly button fluff.
A replica of the bluetooth communicator used in the original “Star Trek.”
Also amazing: The Knight Rider K.I.T.T. USB car charger.