Hi, everyone, hope your Wednesday is off to a promising start!
If you have questions or comments about today’s newsletter, you can typically find investor-writer Semil Shah (who is nicely writing StrictlyVC’s columns for Connie while she takes some time offline) right here on Twitter.
Top News in the A.M.
Apple to the media: “We have not discussed nor do we have any plans to launch an MVNO.” More here.
Etsy reported another quarterly loss yesterday; its shares are now trading down roughly 46 percent since its IPO.
Yesterday, Netflix introduced an unlimited leave policy for new moms and dads that allows them to take off as much time as they want during the first year after a child’s birth or adoption. (“The talent is growing up,” notes TechCrunch.)
Quick Chat with DCM’s Jeff Lee
By Semil Shah
Jeff Lee joined the venture firm DCM as a principal last year after running his own business for the previous four years. We caught up with him recently to see how things are going, and what insights into DCM — a 19-year-old firm that invests in the U.S., China, and Japan — he might share.
Most people know Yik Yak but don’t know DCM was an early lead investor. Does DCM like being under the radar in this sense?
At DCM we are very focused on our entrepreneurs. We like our investments to speak for themselves. That said, we also do a lot of deals in China and Japan, where I think we actually are more visible than in the U.S.
What’s happening right now in China that most people in the Valley don’t have a good read on?
Right now there is a huge amount of capital not only in China, but also in Japan, and it’s looking internationally for new opportunities. The major technology companies, “BAT” (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent) in China, as well as Rakuten, Softbank, and Recruit Holdings in Japan are actively looking to invest in U.S.-based companies, as well as to acquire startups. Also given that much of the mobile innovation really got started in Asia, startups should increasingly look to Asia as the emerging source of knowledge, capital, and potentially also exits.
How competitive is it for a Series A investor to win a good deal right now? You’re relatively new to DCM — how’s it been in that regard?
There is a ton of capital focused on Silicon Valley right now that has driven valuations to all-time-high levels, as well as increased competition for great deals. I prefer to get to know an entrepreneur ahead of a financing. It not only helps you lean forward on an opportunity, but ultimately helps to build [the kind of] trusted relationship you need to build a great business together.
You spent a good deal of time building your previous company in LA. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed since moving back to Silicon Valley?
Well I did my undergrad at Stanford so in a lot of ways it feels like I’ve come home. I think the biggest difference between L.A. and the Valley is the pace and the feel of the community. Things happen much faster in the Valley because of the competition and size and fast feedback cycles, whereas L.A. has a tight entrepreneurial community because it tends to sit in the shadows of the entertainment industry, as well as Silicon Valley. Also because there are many other core industries in L.A. like entertainment, real estate, and autos and the population is so diverse, the types of entrepreneurs you find are also much more creative. The Valley is like the older, more mature brother of L.A.
If you could share and broadcast one niche area you’re dying to invest in, what would it be and why?
Workflow-enabled marketplaces. Complex tasks like remodeling your home have historically been difficult because they require the coordination of lots of different resources, and there’s frequently not visibility to figure out the right the small business vendors fit the job. These next generation marketplaces not only allow the user to identify the best vendors through reputation built within the system, but also coordinate the delivery of service through the SaaS-like workflow they provide. One thing I really love about these models is they’re network effect businesses that enable underserved markets, much like my prior company Cost Cooperative, which was a group- buying marketplace for small businesses. Addressing large, underserved needs with network effects are two core pieces in building an industry-defining, transformative business.
Amplitude, a three-year-old mobile analytics platform designed to give developers better insights into user behavior, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Benchmark, with participation from Data Collective, Merus Capital, Quest Venture Partners, and entrepreneurs Dave Morin and Charlie Cheever, among other individuals. The company has now raised at least $11 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
BankFacil, a three-year-old, Sao Paulo, Brazil-based online loan origination platform, has raised $3 million in funding from Frontier Investments Group and Redpoint eventures. VentureWire has more here.
Bright, a year-old, San Francisco-based solar panel installation and distribution startup, has raised $4 million in seed money from a number of firms and angel investors, including First Round Capital, Felicis Ventures, Max Levchin, Patrick Collison and several Y Combinator partners. TechCrunch has more here.
Doormint, a year-old, Mumbai, India-based online marketplace for hiring workers for particular household tasks, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by Helion Venture Partners, with participation from Kalaari Capital. It had received angel funding from Powai Lake Ventures in May. DealCurry has more here.
Leanplum, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based service that helps developers and marketers engage with mobile users through personalized messages, dynamic user-interface optimization and A/B testing services, has raised $11.6 million in Series B funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, with participation from earlier backer Shasta Ventures. The company has now raised a total of $17.2 million. TechCrunch has more here.
Letstransport, an eight-month-old, Bangalore, India-based last-mile delivery company, has raised $1.3 million led by Rebright Partners, with participation from individual investors Ankush Nijhawan, Gaurav Bhatnagar, and Manish Dhingraalso. TechCrunch has more here.
Line, a 15-year-old, Tokyo, Japan-based messaging company that’s owned by the Korean internet giant Naver, has partnered with Korean game development firm LongTu to create Hong Kong-based Lantu Games, a $20 million joint venture that will begin operations this month. TechCrunch has more here.
Mark43, a three-year-old, New York-based company whose law enforcement software makes it easier for police to collect, manage, analyze and share information, has raised $10.8 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital and General Catalyst Partners, with participation from Lowercase Capital, Govtech Fund, Allen & Co., Innovation Endeavors, and individual investors, including actress Sophia Bush and retired General David Petraeus. VentureWire has more here.
Tintri, a seven-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based hybrid storage startup, has raised $125 million in Series F funding led by Silver Lake Kraftwerk, with participation from Insight Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners,Menlo Ventures and New Enterprise Associates. ZDNet has more here.
Workfront, a 14-year-old, Lehi, Ut.-based maker of work management software (it was previously known as AtTask), has raised $33 million in Series E funding led by the growth equity firm JMI Equity, which also previously led the company’s $38 million Series D round last year. Greenspring Global Partners and Atlas Peak also participated in the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $95 million. TechCrunch has more here.
Global Blood Therapeutics, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose early-stage drug is designed to treat the serious blood condition sickle cell disease and that filed to go public last month, has revealed plans to sell six million shares at $16 to $18 per share. At the midpoint of that range, the offering would bring in $102 million. Currently, the company’s two biggest shareholders are Third Rock Ventures, which owns a 63 percent stake, and Fidelity, which owns 13.2 percent.
Publicly traded Tableau Software is acquiring another company for the first time, bringing aboard Infoactive, a three-year-old, Montreal-based startup that turns data into infographics. GeekWire has more here.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee — who has benefited from the public support of Silicon Valley bigs like investor Ron Conway and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer — has been implicated in bribery and money laundering schemes, according to new filings related to the Richard “Shrimp Boy” Chow. Chow was the head of a Chinese criminal enterprise and arrested by the FBI last year. More here.
Anybody with a great startup idea in America should have a chance to explore it, suggested President Barack Obama at the first-ever White House Demo Day held yesterday in Washington D.C. GeekWire has more on the event here.
PayPal has a new CFO: John Rainey, who joins the company from United Continental Holdings. More here.
Rough Draft Ventures, the General Catalyst-supported, student-run investment team, is looking for a head of platform. The job is in Cambridge, Ma.
Twitter may be a takeover target — but likely not for Google, says Recode. More here.
China plans to set up “network security offices” staffed by police inside major Internet companies, a move to strengthen the government’s grip on the world’s largest population of Web users.
The world’s highest-paid actors.
The debate over “illegal immigrant.”
A jeweler has created a line of Apple Watches that only Russian President Vladimir Putin could love.
An incredible e-bike that costs an incredible $25,000 (to start).