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Top News in the A.M.
This weekend, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg committed to turning on Safety Check in more human disasters going forward, responding to criticism that the company turned on its safety feature for Paris on Friday night, but not for Beirut and other bombings.
Brooklyn Bridge Ventures Nears a Close on Fund Two
Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, a three-year-old, seed-stage venture firm led by its founder and sole general partner, Charlie O’Donnell, is about to close its second fund with $15 million, up from an $8.3 million debut fund closed last year.
It’s a meaningful milestone for O’Donnell, who got his start in venture capital as an analyst at Union Square Ventures and later worked as a principal with First Round Capital before striking out on his own in late 2011.
Last week, we sat down with him in San Francisco to talk about what the fundraising process has been like. We also chatted about his current portfolio, whether Silicon Valley VCs are paying as much attention to New York as they have in recent years, and why he’ll (probably) never be more than a one-man show.
You’re just finishing up your first fund. How many companies did you wind up backing and what was your average check size?
We funded 33 deals and the average check size was between $200,000 and $250,000.
Given its size, were you able to make any follow-on investments?
I don’t care about that stuff. I’m getting in so early [that] my average pre-money valuation is $4 million. If you sell a company for $250 million and you got in at $4 million and your fund is only $8 million, the multiple is so high and the base is so low that you return your fund on just two or three of those deals.
At $8 million, you basically need to create a billion dollars in total enterprise value across 33 companies. It’s hard work, but you don’t have to suspend reality to imagine that a few portfolio companies might exit [in acquisitions totaling around] $250 million. You get four or five [additional] $50 million [exits], and a couple of singles and doubles where you get your money back, and it’s a 3x fund, even if the other 17 investments go to zero.
Ample Hills Creamery, a four-year-old, Brooklyn-based chain of ice cream shops that has become renowned for its unusual and decadent creations, has raised $4 million in funding from Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Red Sea Ventures, and individual investors, including Brooklyn Brewer cofounder Tom Potter, who led a CircleUp syndicate that joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.
Avedro, an eight-year-old, Waltham, Ma-based ophthalmic drug and medical device company that leverages corneal cross-linking and refractive correction, has raised $32 million in funding co-led by InterWest Partners and OrbiMed Advisors. More here.
BridgeU, a two-year-old, London-based higher-ed preparation and application platform, has raised a seed round of $2.5 million led by Octopus Investments, with participation from Fresco Capital, Seedcamp, and individual investors, including Deborah Quazzo. TechCrunch has more here.
CashKaro, a two-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based startup that redirects traffic to e-commerce sites and tries converting visitors into buyers with coupons and price comparison information, has raised Rs 25 crore (around $5 million) in Series A funding from Kalaari Capital. The Economic Times has more here.
Digg, the Internet curation site founded in San Francisco in 2004 and later acquired and relaunched by Betaworks in 2012, has raised $4 million in Series A funding. This latest funding comes from DG Incubation, the investment subsidiary of Digital Garage, which also invests in Betaworks. TechCrunch has more here.
Jobber, a five-year-old, Edmonton, Alberta-based cloud software company that helps mobile service businesses organize their scheduling, invoicing, CRM, and team management, has raised $8 million in Canadian dollars ($6 million U.S.) in Series A funding led by OMERS Ventures, with participation from existing investors, Version One Ventures and Point Nine Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
LoveCrafts, a nearly four-year-old, London-based crafting community, marketplace and e-commerce startup, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Highland Europe, with participation from existing investor Balderton Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
Mavrck, a three-year-old, Boston-based startup that helps marketers recruit customers to create promotional content, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from Kepha Partners and GrandBanks Capital. The company has now raised $8.3 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Ovizio, a five-year-old, Belgium-based company whose microscopes act as a non-invasive tool for the 3D real-time imaging of living cells, has raised €8 million ($8.6 million) in venture funding co-led by New Science Ventures and an undisclosed U.S. investor. Qbic and Nausicaa Ventures also joined the round. FinSMEs has more here.
PatientPing, a two-year-old, Boston-based network of healthcare facilities that enables patient information sharing, has raised $9.6 million in Series A funding co-led by Google Ventures and FPrime Capital, with participation from First Round Capital and SV Angel. BostInno has more here.
Watchwith, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup offering an alternative to the standard pre-roll and mid-roll ads that delay or interrupt online videos, has raised $8 million in Series B funding from Rogers Venture Partners and Samsung, as well as new investor Arris. The company has now raised $13 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
LoanDepot, a fast-growing, private equity-backed mortgage lender founded after the U.S. housing bubble burst, aborted a plan to sell as much as $540 million of stock to the public, hours before it was scheduled to set a price late last week. Bloomberg has more here.
A little afield, but interesting: Marriott International is acquiring Starwood Hotels & Resorts, creating the world’s largest hotel company. The deal is valued at $12.2 billion, consisting of $11.9 billion worth of Marriott stock and $340 million in cash. Business Insider has more here.
ThinkingPhones, a nine-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based unified communications-as-a-service company, has acquired Fuze, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based cloud-based videoconferencing company. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. ThinkingPhones has raised roughly $88 million in funding from investors, including ATV, Technology Crossover Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. Fuze had raised $68.5 million from investors, including Index Ventures, Hermes Growth Partners, Insight Venture Partners and Khosla Ventures.
A recent report observed that Facebook director Marc Andreessen has sold half his Facebook shares in recent weeks, but Recode says it’s actually a whopping 73 percent of Andreessen’s shares that he has offloaded.
Adam Goulburn has been promoted to partner at Lux Capital. Goulburn joined the firm in 2011 as a principal. Before coming to Lux, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow of Neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College, researching regenerative medicine in association with brain disorders, including schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Formation 8 cofounder Brian Koo talks with Business Insider about the break-up of his four-year-old firm. “A business partnership is sometimes like a marriage. In that sense, we had a lot of ‘marriage fights,’” Koo says.
Linda Kozlowski, Evernote’s COO, has put in her notice and will be leaving the company by the end of this year. Kozlowski has been with Evernote for just over three years but took up the COO role just this past summer. TechCrunch has more here.
Uber’s top lobbyist in Europe, Mark MacGann, is planning to leave the company just a year and a half on the job, telling the WSJ that he plans to work with European venture firms instead.
Another day, another story about an engineer living in a van. The good news: the Tesla Motors employee managed to pay off $14,000 of his student loans by staying in his Dodge Sprinter instead of a pricey San Francisco apartment.
CSC Venture Capital — the newly formed U.S. venture capital operation of CSC Group, one of the largest private equity investment managers in China — is looking to hire an associate. The job is in the Bay Area.
Demand Media is looking for a corporate development manager. The job is in Santa Monica, Ca.
The doomsday invention: Will artificial intelligence bring us utopia or destruction?
Zenefits is launching its own payroll platform.
The world’s biggest drone maker, China’s DJI, is opening a giant, flagship retail store in Shenzhen.
The secret to sustaining high job performance.
Pet portraits for rich people.
John Oliver on the Paris attacks.
A car vending machine. (You knew it was coming.)