Monthly Archives: October 2015

Blind, An Anonymous Chat App for Employees, Raises Series A Funding from DCM

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 8.34.11 AMTired of being monitored by your company while wanting to dish with colleagues about said company? Or maybe you’re curious about what people with similar work experience are making at other companies? Blind, a two-year-old app founded in South Korea and newly available in the U.S., may be just the thing for you.

Its big idea: bringing anonymity to the workplace so you can “share the real you” with other employees. If you happen to figure out what’s really happening in the upper echelons of the company, so much the better.

Blind’s origins trace back to Naver, the South Korean Internet giant, which long ran a widely used employee forum but pulled the plug when employees began making less-than-flattering remarks about management. When a group of Naver employees left to form Blind, many Naver employees embraced the platform, followed by employees elsewhere.

It’s been growing ever since, says Osuke Honda, a general partner at DCM, which led an unannounced Series A round of “single digit millions” in the company in May. Indeed, he says that another pivotal moment for Blind came late last year, when a senior Korean Air executive exploded in a rage after a flight attendant presented her peanuts in a bag instead of on a dish.

More here.




StrictlyVC: October 29, 2015

Hi, happy Thursday, everyone.:)

—–

Top News in the A.M.

PayPal stumbled yesterday in its first earnings call since splitting from eBay.

GoPro also took a dive yesterday after releasing Q3 financials that disappointed street expectations.

Meanwhile, Yelp disclosed its third quarter earnings, too, and they look far better than the previous quarter.

—–

Pay to Play: How Investors Get Burned in a Downturn

Earlier this year, the law firm Fenwick & West published a report analyzing the financing terms of 37 U.S.-based venture-backed companies that raised money at valuations of $1 billion or more in the 12-month period ending March 31.

The report’s headline-grabbing conclusionwas that in all cases, the investors had received significant downside protection in case the companies’ value declines. (Called a liquidation preference, the companies’ later-stage investors basically received the right to get paid ahead of other investors, as well as the companies’ management teams and employees.)

The findings were a revelation, but they didn’t provide a complete picture of what could happen in a downturn. In fact, there’s a giant hitch the report did not touch on, and that’s pay-to-play provisions, which became routine during the dot com bust of 15 years ago and could well become commonplace again if things head south.

“VCs, especially people who’ve been in the business a long time, understand them,” says attorney Barry Kramer, who authored the Fenwick & West report and more recently wrote on Mediumabout pay-to-play provisions. “It’s part of their calculation. I’m not sure that a good chunk of newer investors, whether non-traditional or because they’re just younger or whatever, have this scenario in mind.”

They should.

More here.

—–

New Fundings

Brandwatch, an eight-year-old, Brighton, U.K.-based social media monitoring firm that says it crawls more than 80 million sites, has raised $33 million in Series C funding led by Partech Ventures, with participation from earlier investors Highland Capital Partners Europe and Nauta Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Digital Currency Group, an eight-month-old, New York-based holding firm that was created by SecondMarket founder Barry Silbert and focuses on investing and developing businesses that deal in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from some big U.S. financial names, including Bain Capital Ventures, MasterCard, New York Life Insurance Company, and CIBC. Reuters has more here.

Enlitic, a year-old, San Francisco-based company applying machine learning to X-rays, MRIs and other medical images to radiologists, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Capitol Health Limited, an Australian radiology company that operates imaging centers in Australia and some Asian markets. Enlitic previously raised $5 million in Series A funding from Amplify PartnersData Collective, and individual investors. Venture Capital Dispatch has the story here.

Gobble, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that delivers weekly “dinner kits” — meals that can be prepared in 10 minutes or fewer, using just one pan — has raised $10.75 million in Series A funding led by Trinity Ventures, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Fenox VCInitialized Capital and Trinity Ventures entrepreneur-in-residence Anjula Acharia-Bath. More here.

Qvella, a six-year-old, Toronto-based molecular diagnostics company, has raised $20 million in Series A financing co-led by RA Capital Management and Whitecap Venture Partners, with participation from Hatteras Venture Partners and Sands Capital Ventures. More here.

Two Bit Circus, a three-year-old, L.A.-based company that produces interactive, experiential tech exhibits, has raised $6.5 million in funding co-led by Techstars Ventures and Foundry Group. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

—–

New Funds

Frazier Healthcare Partners, a 24-year-old healthcare-focused venture firm with offices in both Menlo Park, Ca., and Seattle, has raised $262 million for its eighth fund. The vehicle is substantially smaller than its predecessor fund, a $375 million pool raised in 2013. We’ve talked with longtime general partner Jamie Topper about why that is. More here.

—–

People

A new ruling clears the way for a trial of Facebook shareholder Ernesto Espinoza’s allegations that Facebook allowed directors to award themselves excessive pay in 2013, when non-employee directors received an average of $461,000 in stock. That’s as much as 43 percent more than its industry peers, says Espinoza’s complaint. Bloomberg has the story here.

Nirav Tolia, co-founder and CEO of the neighborhood social networking site Nextdoor.com, met with a group of activists in Oakland, Ca., yesterday to discuss concerns about racial profiling on the website; he told them that Nextdoor plans to add a “racial profiling button” to allow users to flag inappropriate posts. East Bay Express has more here.

Jon Winkelried, who previously served as president and co-chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, has been named Co-CEO of TPG Holdings, where he’ll work alongside TPG cofounder and current CEO Jim Coulter. David Bonderman, who co-founded TPG with Coulter, will continue on as chairman of TPG. The Wall Street Journal has more here.

—–

Jobs

Redpoint Ventures is looking to hire a data-driven analyst for its early-stage investing team. The job is in both San Francisco and Menlo Park, Ca. To apply, write to talent@redpoint.com.

—–

Essential Reads

IT is using wireless signals to identify people through walls.

Amazon is planning to release its own QVC-like shopping channel, and purchases can be done right from the screen. More here.

An interesting new virtual reality startup is trying to bring professional decorating to the masses. More here.

—–

Det0urs

Expectant dad photographer.

How the 1 percent says, “Boo!”

—–

Retail Therapy

Frappula, the Halloween drink of your nightmares (if you are scared of chocolate sauce and raspberry syrup).




Pay to Play: How Investors Get Burned in a Downturn

burnt toastEarlier this year, the law firm Fenwick & West published a report analyzing the financing terms of 37 U.S.-based venture-backed companies that raised money at valuations of $1 billion or more in the 12-month period ending March 31.

The report’s headline-grabbing conclusion was that in all cases, the investors had received significant downside protection in case the companies’ value declines. (Called a liquidation preference, the companies’ later-stage investors basically received the right to get paid ahead of other investors, as well as the companies’ management teams and employees.)

The findings were a revelation, but they didn’t provide a complete picture of what could happen in a downturn. In fact, there’s a giant hitch the report did not touch on, and that’s pay-to-play provisions, which became routine during the dot com bust of 15 years ago and could well become commonplace again if things head south.

“VCs, especially people who’ve been in the business a long time, understand them,” says attorney Barry Kramer, who authored the Fenwick & West report and more recently wrote on Medium about pay-to-play provisions. “It’s part of their calculation. I’m not sure that a good chunk of newer investors, whether non-traditional or because they’re just younger or whatever, have this scenario in mind.”

They should.

More here.




StrictlyVC: October 28, 2015

Hi, everyone! Apologies for the insanely late send; we’ve been on back-to-back calls since earlier this morning.

Hope you’re having a great Wednesday.:)

—–

Top News in the A.M.

The tiny vials used by Theranos to collect finger-pricked blood has been declared by the FDA as an “uncleared medical device” that the company was shipping across state lines, reports the WSJ.

Apple turned in another blockbuster quarter yesterday, fueled by sales of the iPhone.

Twitter revealed yesterday that it’s user base still isn’t growing.

—–

Klarna, a Swedish Unicorn, is Coming to the U.S. with Big Ambitions to Take on Its U.S. Peers

If you live in the U.S., you might not be terribly familiar with Klarna, a 10-year-old Stockholm-based company that provides payment services for online storefronts in a somewhat unique way — by “separating the buying from the selling,” as company cofounder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski explains it.

Put simply, you visit a site powered by Klarna, input only your email and zip code, and presto, your item is purchased. You then have 30 days to pay back Klarna, using whatever payment method you like. The big idea is to increase conversion rates, and whether or not they realize it, 35 million consumers have now used Klarna across the sites of 50,000 merchants, who understandably love the service. (The fewer keystrokes required, the higher the chance a purchase will be made, especially with a smartphone.)

Of course, what’s happening behind the scenes is a sophisticated fraud management operation, one that counts Sequoia’s Michael Moritz as a board member and which was most recently valued at $2.25 billion. Klarna plans to compete more aggressively in the U.S., too. Over the past year, it has set up offices in New York and Columbus, Ohio. Now it’s searching for space in San Francisco, where it eventually expects to employ up to 30 people to help it strike relationships with companies big and small.

Over coffee earlier this week, we talked with Siemiatkowski about Klarna’s roadmap and what he thinks of one competitor in particular: four-year-old Stripe, whose valuation is twice that of Klarna and which now has its sights on the Nordic countries where Klarna has become king. (Stripe also happens to be backed by Sequoia.) Our chat has been edited for length.

Much more here.

—–

New Fundings

Alteryx, which offers an analytics tool aimed at business users, announced an $85 million round today led by Iconiq Capital and Insight Venture Partners, with participation from Meritech Capital Partners. The company has now raised $163 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

APL Software, a two-month-old, San Jose, Ca.-based parallel computing company, has raised $5.2 million in funding from Accomplice, Wing Venture Capital and company co-founder Cheng Wu, who was previously head of tech strategy at Ericcson. More here.

Commerce Signals, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based data collaboration startup for serving retailers, mobile operators, banks and payment networks, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by OpenAir Equity PartnersMore here.

Desktop Metal, a months-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based 3D printing startup that works with metal, has raised $14 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Lux Capital and Bolt. Desktop Metal was founded by Ric Fulop, the founder of A123 Systems and former general partner with North Bridge Venture Partners. Xconomy has more here.

Envelop VR, a year-old Bellevue, Wa.-based company creating enterprise and productivity software that allows businesses and consumers to create, work and play in a virtual reality environment, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Madrona Venture Group. More here.

KeepTruckin, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose apps and hardware enable truck drivers to electronically log all of their miles and hours worked, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from Google Ventures, which had previously led the company’s $2.3 million seed round. More here.

Marqeta, a five-year-old, Emeryville, Ca.-based developer and provider of payment processing technologies, has raised $25 million in new funding from IA Capital, CommerzVentures, and entrepreneur Max Levchin. Earlier backers 83North, Granite Ventures, and Commerce Ventures also joined the round.TechCrunch has more here.

Nuritas, a 1.5-year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based therapeutics discovery startup that leverages artificial intelligence, has raised $3.2 million in new funding led by the Singapore-based firm New Protein Capital, with participation from entrepreneur-investor Ali Partovi.

Paddle8, a four-year-old, New York-based secondary marketplace for art and luxury collectibles, has raised $34 million in Series C funding from Mousse Partners, art dealer David Zwirner, Sony Music Entertainment Chairman Edgar Berger and Working Title Films Co-Chairman Eric Fellner. The company has now raised $51 million altogether, shows CrunchBase. More here.

Petnet, a three-year-old, L.A.-based company connected pet device company, has raised $4 million in funding from Black River Ventures, Aspiration Growth, iRobot Ventures and the Amazon Alexa Fund. More here.

SmartZyme, a two-year-old, New York and Israel-based company building a platform for protein design, has raised $4 million in funding led by OrbiMedMore here.

Spigit, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based company focused on crowdsourcing software for enterprises, has raised $14 million in new funding led by earlier backer Investor Growth Capital. More here.

Taris Biomedical, a seven-year-old, Lexington, Ma.-based developer of treatments for urologic diseases, has raised $32 million in funding led by Flagship Ventures, with participation from RA Capital Management and earlier backer Polaris Venture Partners. More here.

Turnstone Biologics, a new Vancouver-based biotechnology company focused on developing treatments for cancer, has raised $11.3 million in Series A funding led by Versant Ventures. More here.

Zype, a two-year-old, New York-based cloud platform for video publishing and distribution, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from Revel PartnersEntrepreneurs Investment Fund, and numerous individual investors including former Tumblr president John Maloney. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

Exits

IBM announced this morning it’s acquiring The Weather Company, the parent company to the The Weather Channel, as well as the company’s B2B, mobile and web properties. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

Essential Reads

You no longer have to dread the day that a game developer shuts off its servers and renders your favorite title unplayable. More from Engadget here.

—–

Detours

How to detect lies with a storytelling technique.

A Japanese study claims to have found the brain-scan imprint of misogynistic views.

Computer scientists in Germany and California have found a way to manipulate videos to change a person’s facial expressions in real time.

—–

Retail Therapy

Tom Ford’s Black Orchid. Manly cologne, in a manly bottle. For men.




Swedish Payments Unicorn Klarna Hits the U.S. to Take On Its American Rivals

klarna-sebastian-ceoIf you live in the U.S., you might not be terribly familiar with Klarna, a 10-year-old Stockholm-based company that provides payment services for online storefronts in a somewhat unique way — by “separating the buying from the selling,” as company cofounder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski explains it.

Put simply, you visit a site powered by Klarna, input only your email and zip code, and presto, your item is purchased. You then have 30 days to pay back Klarna, using whatever payment method you like. The big idea is to increase conversion rates, and whether or not they realize it, 35 million consumers have now used Klarna across the sites of 50,000 merchants, who understandably love the service. (The fewer keystrokes required, the higher the chance a purchase will be made, especially with a smartphone.)

Of course, what’s happening behind the scenes is a sophisticated fraud management operation, one that counts Sequoia’s Michael Moritz as a board member and which was most recently valued at $2.25 billion. Klarna plans to compete more aggressively in the U.S., too. Over the past year, it has set up offices in New York and Columbus, Ohio. Now it’s searching for space in San Francisco, where it eventually expects to employ up to 30 people to help it strike relationships with companies big and small.

Over coffee earlier this week, we talked with Siemiatkowski about Klarna’s roadmap and what he thinks of one competitor in particular: four-year-old Stripe, whose valuation is twice that of Klarna and which now has its sights on the Nordic countries where Klarna has become king. (Stripe also happens to be backed by Sequoia.) Our chat has been edited for length.

Much more here.




StrictlyVC: October 27, 2015

Hi, everyone, happy Tuesday!

—–

Top News in the A.M.

The European Union just rejected legal amendments that would firmly establish and protect the concept of net neutrality in Europe.

Skype, Spotify, and others have created European Tech Alliance, a lobbying group designed to influence policy-making; it’s being spearheaded by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström.

—–

Construction App Fieldwire Raises $5.5 Million Led by Formation 8

Fieldwire, a San Francisco-based mobile and web platform designed to make collaboration on construction projects more efficient, has raised $5.5 million in fresh funding led by Formation 8. Other participants in the round included Trinity Ventures and earlier backers Bloomberg Beta and AngelPad, the investment fund and accelerator where the company first gained investors’ attention in the fall of 2013.

Including earlier seed funding, the company has now raised $6.6 million altogether.Because Fieldwire is part of an increasingly crowded, if nascent, group of startups that are zeroing in on the same market, we decided to talk last week with cofounder Yves Frinault to learn more. Our chat has been edited for length.

One of your better-known competitors is PlanGrid. How do your companies differ?

At our core, we’re a task management platform, working on tasks and collaboration, including with the foreman, the subcontractors, and labor; PlanGrid is more focused on digitizing and storing blueprints and construction documents. We’re more like Asana for construction; they’re more like Box. It’s tasks versus files.

How big is Fieldwire at this point?

We were five people. We’ve doubled in the last four months to meet demand, but we could have been a lot more; we believe in dense, focused teams. As for [our clients], there are currently 35,000 projects on the platform [owned by] 1,000 companies.

So these are big clients.

When you operate a typical SaaS company, you usually start in mid-market and go up market. In construction, it’s different. The top line, half-a-billion-dollar companies are the ones driving the projects, so we found ourselves working with those guys — the large general contractors and specialty contractors — right away.

More here.

—–

New Fundings

ArtLifting, an online art marketplace for homeless, disabled and other disadvantaged people to sell their artwork, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding from Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, angel investor Joanne Wilson, author and entrepreneur Eric Ries, the social impact accelerator Tumml, and others.

Cato Networks, a months-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based network security company co-founded by Shlomo Kramer, who famously cofounded Check Point Software and founded Imperva, has raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Aspect Ventures and  U.S. Venture Partners. The company’s software will be available next year; it’s currently accepting beta customers. More here.

Convoy, a year-old, Seattle-based startup whose platform aims to make it easy for shippers to quickly connect with nearby trucking companies to book jobs, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from a long list of investors, including Bezos Expeditions, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Omidyar Technology Ventures, KKR CEO Henry Kravis, entrepreneur-investors Hadi and Ali Partovi, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. TechCrunch has more here.

DirectScale, a five-month-old, Provo, Ut.-based company that makes cloud-based software for the direct sales industry, has raised $4 million in Series A funding from Kickstart Seed Fund and publicly traded NetSuite. More here.

SourceClear, a two-year-old, Seattle-based company whose software helps development teams to visualize vulnerabilities across all their projects in real time, has raised $10 million in funding from Index Ventures and Storm Ventures. More here.

Sportradar, a 12-year-old, St. Gallen, Switzerland-based sports data company, has raised $44 million (€40 million) in new funding led by Revolution Growth, with participation from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and basketball great Michael Jordan. TechCrunch has more here.

Zebit, a four-year-old, London-based company that provides zero-interest credit to shoppers who work but don’t yet have access to traditional credit cards, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Crosslink Capital, with participation from Correlation Ventures, Leapfrog Ventures and Wildcat Venture Partners.

—–

New Funds

VC Brad Harrison is planning to launch a $40 million Australian division of his seven-year-old, New York-based seed stage venture firm Scout Ventures, reports Financial Review. Harrison was formerly a director of media strategy and develoment at AOL. More here.

Singapore state-fund Temasek Holdings’ wholly owned investment arm –Vertex Venture Holdings – has garnered commitments of more than $200 million for its third China fund, a top executive with the firm tells DealStreetAsia. More here.

—–

Exits

Cisco is acquiring Lancope, a 15-year-old, Alpharetta, Ga.-based company that detects malicious activity on corporate networks. The purchase price is $452.5 million in cash and equity, with Lancope’s team becoming part of the Cisco Security Business Group. Over the years, Lancope had raised $24.6 million from investors shows CrunchBase, including Canaan Partners, GMG Capital, HIG Partners and Council Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

People

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is crediting Tesla’s Elon Musk with saving his life following a recent car crash.

—–

Data

In the past nine months, angel investors and venture capitalists have poured an unprecedented amount of money into Indian startups. Between January and September, $7.3 billion was invested across 639 deals. YourStory has much more here.

—–

Essential Reads

More bad news for Theranos; Over the last year, multiple news outlets have reported that Theranos earns a portion its income from large pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. But according to representatives from both companies who spoke to the Financial Times, that information is incorrect. “I cannot find any evidence that we’ve done business with them in recent years,” a spokesperson for GSK tells the outlet.

At the payments company Square, quarterly losses are mounting and sales growth is slowing, it revealed in an amended SEC filing yesterday. (The filing also disclosed that Vinod Khosla, who joined the board in 2011, has stepped down.)

Slack, the workplace chat tool, has just reached a new milestone, according to CEO Stewart Butterfield: recently, one million users signed into the service at the same time.

—–

Detours

How the world’s 50 best restaurants are chosen.

The best time to schedule a job interview.

Why some U.K. firms are recruiting nameless applicants.

—–

Retail Therapy

Slaughterhouse Beach House. (You have to take the virtual tour.)

 




Construction App Fieldwire Raises $5.5 Million Led by Formation 8

Field16x9NoLogo (1)Fieldwire, a San Francisco-based mobile and web platform designed to make collaboration on construction projects more efficient, has raised $5.5 million in fresh funding led by Formation 8. Other participants in the round included Trinity Ventures and earlier backers Bloomberg Beta and AngelPad, the investment fund and accelerator where the company first gained investors’ attention in the fall of 2013.

Including earlier seed funding, the company has now raised $6.6 million altogether.Because Fieldwire is part of an increasingly crowded, if nascent, group of startups that are zeroing in on the same market, we decided to talk last week with cofounder Yves Frinault to learn more. Our chat has been edited for length.

One of your better-known competitors is PlanGrid. How do your companies differ?

At our core, we’re a task management platform, working on tasks and collaboration, including with the foreman, the subcontractors, and labor; PlanGrid is more focused on digitizing and storing blueprints and construction documents. We’re more like Asana for construction; they’re more like Box. It’s tasks versus files.

How big is Fieldwire at this point?

We were five people. We’ve doubled in the last four months to meet demand, but we could have been a lot more; we believe in dense, focused teams. As for [our clients], there are currently 35,000 projects on the platform [owned by] 1,000 companies.

So these are big clients.

When you operate a typical SaaS company, you usually start in mid-market and go up market. In construction, it’s different. The top line, half-a-billion-dollar companies are the ones driving the projects, so we found ourselves working with those guys — the large general contractors and specialty contractors — right away.

More here.




StrictlyVC: October 26, 2015

Hello! Hope you had a terrific weekend, everyone.

—–

Top News in the A.M.

Yikes. From the New York Times: “Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.”

The U.S. government-backed American Egg Board has been working to sink the privately held food startup Hampton Creek, reveals a report from The Guardian that turns up leaked emails describing Hampton Creek as a “major threat” and a “crisis” for the $5.5 billion-a-year egg industry.

—–

Bessemer’s Byron Deeter on Mobile Enterprise Apps: They’ll Create “Tens of Billions” of Dollars

Top SaaS investors have been saying for nearly a year that the next billion-dollar market opportunities are rooted in mobile enterprise apps – software for people who don’t sit behind a desk but do keep a smartphone in their pocket.

Last month, we talked about the trend with Kevin Spain of Emergence Capital. More recently, we caught up with Byron Deeter of Bessemer Venture Partners, who says Bessemer, which has already made 10 related bets, is similarly making a giant push into more mobile enterprise apps businesses. More from our chat, lightly edited, here:

How long have you been focusing on mobile enterprise apps?

We probably began focusing on this 18 months ago, with investments that range from pure plays like [the conference calling software company] Speakeasy to vertical applications – meaning they have mobile-heavy use cases or vertical use cases — like [the construction management software company] Procore; ServiceTitan [it makes management software for home services businesses like plumbing]; and ClearCare [which makes software for home care agencies].

Something like 80 percent of the 3 billion people in the world who work do not sit behind a desk. Given the opportunities, how do you decide which industries to go after first?

We look at industries and market size and sectors. We look at the state of existing technologies. And we try to have hypotheses around which verticals should fall first and where the biggest opportunities should lie. But we’re also very opportunistic in terms of meeting with great entrepreneurs and trying to find out where traction is happening because often it happens in areas you wouldn’t expect. For example, construction wasn’t an area we were looking at as an early adopter segment. Now that we work with Procore, it seems obvious in hindsight. But it isn’t something you would have seen outside in. It took industry insiders and proactive outreach to understand the power of the trend.

Which is suddenly huge. There seem to be a lot of mobile companies now tackling the construction market. 

There can be multiple winners in these markets; they’re surprisingly big. Take ClearCare in the health care space. Healthcare alone is massive and it’s just sourcing a small part of it.

The company is [focused on] home care workers for a specific type of segment. But there are probably dozens of other opportunities to do mobile-centric things in healthcare, within the hospital setting, within the home setting . . . we think it will be many years in the making, and that these are very early days.

What industry do you think is ripe for mobile disruption next?

More here.

—–

New Fundings

Angaza, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose hardware and software platform enables consumers to pay for clean energy devices in an affordable way over time, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by an unnamed U.S.-based family office, with participation from New York-based The Social Entrepreneurs Fund and several others. The company had raised $1.5 million in seeding funding in 2013. TechCrunch has more here.

GoCardless, a four-year-old, London-based service that allows smaller merchants to easily set up interbank transfers for customers, is reportedly in talks to raise a “big round of funding,” in the “tens of millions” of dollars. Business Insider has the story here. GoCardless last raised $7 million in January 2014 from Balderton Capital, Accel Partners, and Passion Capital.

IronNet Cybersecurity, a year-old, Fulton, Md.-based cybesecurity company, has raised $32.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Trident Capital Cybersecurity, with participation from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Jifiti, a four-year-old, Columbus, Oh.-based company that offers packaged gift registries, including the ability to trade an item for another of equal value (without integrating with the retail sites), has raised $3.3 million in funding from Liberty Israel Venture Fund, a subsidiary of the Liberty Media Corp., and the Schottenstein Store Corp. GeekTime has more here.

Karhoo, a 10-month-old, New York-based taxi comparison app that plans to launch in January, has reportedly raised a whopping $250 million and plans to raise more than $1 billion as part of an attempt to combat the likes of Uber. Confirmed financial backers include David Kowitz, cofounder of Indus Capital Partners; Jonathan Feuer, managing partner at CVC Capital Partners; and Nick Gatfield, former chairman and chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment, the record label. The Financial Times has the story.

Knip, a two-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based “mobile-first” digital insurance broker, has raised $15.7 million in Series B funding led by Route 66 Ventures, with participation from QED Investors, Creathor Ventures and earlier backers Orange Growth Capital and Redalpine Capital. TechCrunch hasmore here.

Magic Leap, a four-year-old, Dania Beach, Fla.-based semi-secretive “cinematic reality” company that has already raised a giant funding round from Googleand other investors, is talking with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba as the lead investor in a new round. As we told you on Friday, the South Florida Business Journal has reported that Magic Leap is raising upwards of a billion dollars. Recode has more here.

Palantir, the 11-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based data analytics company that caters largely to government agencies and Wall Street, has added an extra $105 million to an earlier round of $450 million in funding, according to a new SEC filing. Its latest round of financing now totals more than $554 million and, as of a July WSJ report, values the company at $20 billion. Palantir has raised more than $1 billion from investors to date, In-Q-Tel, Founders Fund and Tiger Global Management. Business Insider has more here.

Signals Group, a six-year-old data analytics company that delivers intelligence to Fortune 500 companies to support product development strategy, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from existing investor TPY Capital. More here.

SimilarWeb, a six-year-old, Tel Aviv-based company whose search tools help users understand insights about sites and mobile apps (including those of their competitors), has raised $25 million in funding at a $400 million valuation led the South African media conglomerate Naspers, with participation from Lord David Alliance. To date, SimilarWeb has raised $65 million. TechCrunch has the story here.

Uber, the six-year-old, San Francisco-based ride-hailing service, is reportedly planning to raise close to $1 billion in new venture capital from investors, at a valuation of $60 billion to $70 billion. The round will make Uber the world’s most valuable private start-up. The New York Times has the story here.

—–

Exits

Five-year-old Everything.me, which added contextual capabilities to smartphones and raised more than $35 million from high-profile investors, is shutting down. Tech.eu has the story here.

—–

People

DraftKings is spending $250,000 on a marketing campaign featuring the “King of Instagram,” Dan Bilzerian, who earned his nickname on Instagram after sharing hundreds of photos of his seemingly lavish lifestyle. Wrote Bilzerian under an Instagram photo last week: “So I guess Draft Kings figured they hadn’t spent enough money running commercials so they gave me 250k to spend on a 3 day Cabo trip hosted by a bunch of models, I usually spend 150k for 4-5 days, so it will be a bit of a challenge to spend it, but I’m sure I can find a way.” Business Insider has the story.

Fortune talks with Ted Ullyot, Facebook’s first general counsel and today Andreessen Horowitz policy chief, about startups, safety nets, and tech’s lack of love for Donald Trump.

We sat down last week with Keith Rabois of Khosla Ventures to talk IPOs, Theranos, and why it’s NBD that Square’s CEO is already running another public company. (Khosla Ventures owns roughly 17 percent of pre-IPO Square.)

—–

Essential Reads

Lawyers are suing Apple over high customer iPhone bills they say are caused by an iOS 9 upgrade can result in phones automatically switching from Wi-Fi to more costly cellular data usage. The Recorder has more here.

Facebook’s “Internet for all” vision is reportedly a tough sell in India.

Are coding academies nonsense?

—-

Detours

How friendships change over time.

The guy who signed Slick Rick and Jay Z is still killing it.

Three sumo wrestlers running a 40-yard dash.  (We do not know why.)
—–

Retail Therapy

A longboard stroller (for European hipsters only).




Bessemer’s Byron Deeter on Mobile Enterprise Apps: They’ll Create “Tens of Billions” of Dollars

Byron DeeterTop SaaS investors have been saying for nearly a year that the next billion-dollar market opportunities are rooted in mobile enterprise apps – software for people who don’t sit behind a desk but do keep a smartphone in their pocket.

Last month, we talked about the trend with Kevin Spain of Emergence Capital. More recently, we caught up with Byron Deeter of Bessemer Venture Partners, who says Bessemer, which has already made 10 related bets, is similarly making a giant push into more mobile enterprise apps businesses. More from our chat, lightly edited, here:

How long have you been focusing on mobile enterprise apps?

We probably began focusing on this 18 months ago, with investments that range from pure plays like [the conference calling software company] Speakeasy to vertical applications – meaning they have mobile-heavy use cases or vertical use cases — like [the construction management software company] Procore; ServiceTitan [it makes management software for home services businesses like plumbing]; and ClearCare [which makes software for home care agencies].

Something like 80 percent of the 3 billion people in the world who work do not sit behind a desk. Given the opportunities, how do you decide which industries to go after first?

We look at industries and market size and sectors. We look at the state of existing technologies. And we try to have hypotheses around which verticals should fall first and where the biggest opportunities should lie. But we’re also very opportunistic in terms of meeting with great entrepreneurs and trying to find out where traction is happening because often it happens in areas you wouldn’t expect. For example, construction wasn’t an area we were looking at as an early adopter segment. Now that we work with Procore, it seems obvious in hindsight. But it isn’t something you would have seen outside in. It took industry insiders and proactive outreach to understand the power of the trend.

Which is suddenly huge. There seem to be a lot of mobile companies now tackling the construction market. 

There can be multiple winners in these markets; they’re surprisingly big. Take ClearCare in the health care space. Healthcare alone is massive and it’s just sourcing a small part of it.

The company is [focused on] home care workers for a specific type of segment. But there are probably dozens of other opportunities to do mobile-centric things in healthcare, within the hospital setting, within the home setting . . . we think it will be many years in the making, and that these are very early days.

What industry do you think is ripe for mobile disruption next?

More here.




StrictlyVC: October 23, 3015

Hello, glorious Friday! Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

—–

Top News in the A.M.

Yesterday, Amazon reported a surprise $79 million profit during its third-quarter earnings report (52 percent of it from its cloud business, Amazon Web Services). This morning, the stock is up nearly 10 percent.

Pandora meanwhile reported a big loss yesterday, and its investors appear to be losing faith.

—–

Watch Out, VCs, Chris Farmer Plans to Massively Disrupt the Industry

For years, Chris Farmer worked as a venture partner at General Catalyst Partners, helping develop its then-nascent seed-investing program while simultaneously working on a big idea: a database that could help screen engineering talent.

Today, that idea forms the basis of SignalFire, a San Francisco-based investment firm that Farmer, who is its sole general partner, calls the “most quantitative fund in the world.” He says to “think of us as the world’s most elite angel group, with a central institutional fund, built on top of a mini proprietary Google.”

It all sounds pretty audacious, of course, but there’s some “there” there, as we saw first-hand during a demonstration last week.

According to Farmer, SignalFire’s platform, Beacon, tracks more than half a trillion data points that it collects from two million data sources, from patents to academics publications to open source contributions to financial filings.

As a result, SignalFire is able to keep close tabs on the comings and goings of millions of engineers around the globe. And that’s just one piece of the picture. SignalFire also invests heavily in unstructured data, including raw consumer transactions that allow Beacon to see where consumers are spending their time and money — and which companies and sectors are growing or not.

Much more here.

—–

New Fundings

Allay, a year-old, San Francisco-based, easy-to-use online HR and benefits platform for the country’s 500,000 insurance brokers, has raised $3.4 million in seed funding led by BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, with participation from Sandbox Industries, 500 Startups, Arnold Capital and individual angels. The company has passed through AngelPad’s accelerator program last winter.

Avito, a seven-year-old, Moscow, Russia-based site for online classified ads in Russia, has raised $1.2 billion from Naspers. The deal sees the South Africa conglomerate upping its stake in the site — reportedly the third largest classifieds site in the world — to 67.9 percent from its previous ownership position of 17.4 percent via the shares of previous shareholders. TechCrunch has more here.

IntelliCyt, a nine-year-old, Albuquerque, N.M.-based company whose platforms aim to accelerate drug discovery, has raised $5.4 million in new funding led by Arboretum Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Prolog Ventures, Verge Fund, and New Mexico Community Capital. The company also secured a $2 million debt facility from Oxford Finance. More here.

Magic Leap, a four-year-old, Dania Beach, Fla.-based augmented reality technology company (click here to see what it can do), is closing on $1 billion in new funding from as-yet undisclosed sources, reports the South Florida Business Journal. The transaction will reportedly value the company — which has previously raised upwards of $600 million, including from Google and Andreessen Horowitz — at more than $4.5 billion.

Off Grid Electric, a four-year-old, Arusha, Tanzania-based pay-as-you-go solar power provider, has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by DBL Partners, with participation from Western Technology Investment, SolarCityOmidyar Network, Serious Change LP, Vulcan Capital, and Helios Investment Partners founder Tope Lawani.

Outlearn, a year-old, Boston-based cloud publishing platform and curated content catalog for professional developer learning, has raised $2 million in seed funding from General Catalyst Partners and Paul Sagan, an EIR at General Catalyst and the former CEO of Akamai Technologies. BetaBoston has more here.

Poynt, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based smart payment terminal manufacturer, has raised $28 million in Series B funding led by Oak HC/FT, with participation from Stanford-StartX Fund and earlier backers Matrix Partners, Webb Investment Network, and Nyca Ventures. The company never disclosed how much funding it raised for its Series A round last year. Vator has more here.

Simility, a 1.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of fraud prevention software that employs machine learning, big data analytics, and data visualization, has raised $3.45 million in seed funding led by Accel PartnersMore here.

—–

New Funds

Sequoia Capital is raising a new U.S. growth fund and a global growth fund, show SEC filings.

—–

Exits

Nitro, a 10-year-old, San Francisco-based document productivity company that has raised roughly $25 million from investors over the years, just acquired DoxIQ, a 1.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based “connected documents” company that raised a small amount of debt funding. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed.

Yota Devices, a Russian company that sells two-screened Android smartphones, has a new owner after shareholder Telconet Capital sold its majority 64.9 percent holding to Hong Kong-listed REX Global Entertainment for $100 million, according to a regulatory filing. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

People

Hoping to counter poverty’s toll on children, Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, are launching a private comprehensive preschool and K-8 school that’s linked to health services for children and families in East Palo Alto, Ca. More here.

Domo, the fast-growing business management platform provider, has begun providing an interesting perk to its expectant employees: $2,000 in gift certificates for maternity clothes.

Jack Dorsey is giving about a third of his Twitter shares — or 1 percent of the company — back to Twitter’s employees, he said in a yesterday today. More here.

Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones to staff: Learn to write or I’ll rip up your memo.

—–

Essential Reads

Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company that last month raised the price of the decades-old drug Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750, now has a competitor — and it’s charging $1 per pill.

—–

Detours

When the doorman is your main man.

The perfect password that’s also easy to remember.

—–

Retail Therapy

Cocoon Cabin. (H/T: Uncrate)