It is Tuesday! Hope yours is off to a good start.:)
Top News in the A.M.
Microsoft is holding a big hardware event right now. You can check out a live stream here.
Europe’s highest court just struck down an international agreement that could make it a lot harder for global technology giants like Amazon and Facebook to collect and mine online information from their millions of users in the 28-member European Union.
A Survey on Diversity, of Lack of It, at Venture Firms
The Venture Capital industry is stuck in yesteryear – the same people, living the same lives and having the same experiences making largely the same decisions. This sameness may have been a strength but is now creating blind spots. For every idea we fund, how many great ideas don’t even get a sounding board because we can’t relate to the problem or the entrepreneur? How much better off would we be if we had a larger lens from which to take bets on a broader class of entrepreneurs and ideas? My suspicion is greatly.
So begins an op-ed by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya about some research that his firm,Social + Capital, has just produced in concert with The Information on the state of diversity in venture capital.
You may think the results can’t possibly surprise you, given venture capital’s stubbornly persistent reputation as a bastion of largely white, privileged men who’ve attended top universities and gone on to land plum operating assignments or start their own venture-backed companies on their path to becoming VCs.
You’ll still be taken aback.
According to the organizations’ conclusions, fully 92 percent of senior investment team members at top venture firms are men, and 78 percent of them are white. More shockingly, fully 21 of the 71 most active U.S. venture firms – that’s 30 percent — employ only white “leaders,” as they’re called in the study.
Even compared with tech giants — many of which have been called out for terrible gender and diversity numbers — the venture firms look lousy in this rendering.
Take Microsoft, where just 17 percent of employees are women. That puts Microsoft behind Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, where 23 percent, 25 percent, and 28 percent of employees are women, respectively. Meanwhile, at venture firms, just 8 percent of senior VCs are women.
As for ethnicity, venture firms don’t score quite as terribly, as long as you’re willing to overlook that the 71 firms employ just four black people who happen to be men. (Given that 12 percent of the American population is African-American, you should not overlook this.)
Says Palihapitiya in his op-ed, “The bottom line is that the VC community is an increasingly predictable and lookalike bunch that just seems to follow each other around from one trivial idea to another.” To “fund the big ideas of our day,” he continues, “we need to improve the decision making — or change the decision makers within our industry.”
For a link to the diversity data collected from VCs; the rankings; and Palihapitiya’s full op-ed,click here.
To download an Excel file of all the data, click here.
If you want to complain to Palihapitiya about these findings, which, it should be noted, rank Social + Capital as the most diverse venture firm among those managing more than $1 billion in assets, you can find him here on Twitter.
90min, a four-year-old, London-based contributor-driven football media platform (it relies largely on unpaid, volunteer writers), has raised $15 million in new funding from the German media group ProSiebenSat.1 Media, with participation from earlier backers Battery Ventures, Dawn Capital and Gemini Ventures. The company has now raised $39 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Breakout Labs, the three-year-old, San Francisco-based program of Peter Thiel’s philanthropic organization, the Thiel Foundation, has announced funding for four new companies owing to their discoveries in biomedical, chemical engineering, and nanotechnology. You can see the list here.
Canva, a three-year-old, Sydney, Australia-based online design platform that makes creating quality professional graphics easier for non-technical users, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Felicis Ventures. The deal values the startup at $165 million. TechCrunch has more here.
Code42, the 14-year-old, Minneapolis-based developer of the Crashplan enterprise backup tool, has raised $85 million in new funding co-led by JMI Equity and New Enterprise Associates, with participation from earlier backers Accel Partners and Split Rock Partners. The company has now raised $137.5 million over two rounds. TechCrunch has more here.
EverCharge, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based smart electric vehicle charging company for multi-tenant properties, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by the hardware-focused venture fund Bolt. More here.
ezCater, an eight-year-old, Boston-based online marketplace for business catering, has raised $28 million in Series C funding led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers. The round brings ezCater’s total funding to $35 million. More here.
Flixel, a four-year-old, Toronto-based company that enables users to create cinemagraphs (a still photo with a portion of seamless and infinitely looping motion), has raised $2.2 million in seed funding led by Extreme Venture Partners, with Cranson Capital Securities and business angels also participating. TechCrunch has more here.
Frame.io, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based startup that improves the collaboration process around video production, has raised $2.2 million in seed funding led by Accel Partners. TechCrunch has more here.
Ripple Labs, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based company adapting the blockchain for mainstream finance, has raised $4 million from Santander InnoVentures, the bank’s $100 million tech investment fund. Business Insider has more here.
Robin Systems, a two-year-old, Milpitas, Ca.-based service that makes it easier for businesses to set up a data-centric high-performance IT infrastructure, has raised $15 million in new funding co-led by a subsidiary of USAA and DN Capital, with participation from Hasso Plattner Ventures and other, earlier investors. The company has now raised $22 million altogether. More here.
SightCall, a nearly eight-year-old, San Francisco-based platform for live visual communications, has raised $8.4 million in Series B funding led by Idinvest. More here.
Symphony Communication Services, a year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based messaging platform backed by major Wall Street firms, has raised funding from Google in a deal that values the company at $650 million, says the WSJ. Much more here.
Thoughtexchange, a seven-year-old, Rossland, British Columbia-based group insight platform, has raised $7 million in funding at a post-money valuation of more than $50 million, it says. New investors include Marin Investments and Kingswood Capital. Earlier backers First Generation Capital and JNKS Investments also participated. The company has now raised $12 million altogether. More here.
General Catalyst Partners Managing Director Neil Sequeira, an early investor in The Honest Company and NatureBox, among others, is launching his own venture firm to focus on early-stage companies. He tells the WSJ he hasn’t chosen a name yet, but he plans to raise $100 million for his debut fund early next year. Much more here. As the Journal notes, Sequeira is among a continuing stream of VCs to leave their big-name funds to create their own brands, and Sequeira, who is is particularly intrigued by e-commerce particular, is a big believer in new brands, as he told StrictlyVC in a sit-down last year.
Apple has acquired Perceptio, a startup whose technology aims to let companies run advanced artificial intelligence systems on smartphones without needing to share as much user data. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. Bloomberg has more here.
Though their last startup flamed out, Secret co-founder David Byttow is launching a new project with the help of former Secret designer Ben Lee. TechCrunch says the new startup will be in the enterprise space and won’t be based around anonymity. More here.
On the fourth anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death, Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent out a memo to Apple employees. You can read it here.
Entrepreneur-investor Reid Hoffman gets a nice big profile in The New Yorker.
Mathew Lodge, VMware’s vice president of cloud services, is now COO atWeaveworks, a startup focused around Docker containers. Fortune has more here.
Matrix Partners just added a 10th general partner to its roster, bringing aboard Estonian entrepreneur Hadi Meybaum. TechCrunch has more here.
TransferWise, the London fintech startup valued at close to $1 billion, quietly changed CEOs last month. According to some sleuthing by Business Insider, co-founder Taavet Hinrikus has taken over from fellow founder Kristo Käärmann as head honcho. More here.
Kind of neat: The daughters of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs competed against each other in an equestrian event this past weekend.
Twitter debuts Moments.
A major scandal is erupting in the multibillion-dollar industry of fantasy sports. The New York Times has the story here.
Are you a head person or a heart person?
Jean-Claude Van Damme ridiculousness (submitted by a favorite, if bloodthirsty, reader).