Monthly Archives: December 2015

StrictlyVC: December 23, 2015

It is Wednesday! And we. Are. Outta here. (Until early January.) Happy New Year, everyone! See you soon.

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Top News in the A.M.

The Beatles are coming.

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18 Female Founders Who Killed It In 2015

Last week, on an internal conversational thread over at my second job with TechCrunch, the staff began chatting about some of female founders who’ve made a major dent on the tech scene in 2015, and the thread quickly became a very long and involved one.

The following are some of the people who popped immediately into mind. This list is in no way comprehensive, so please do reach out with your own thoughts about some of the women impacting the world of startups right now. We welcome any and all nominations.

In fact, since publishing this list yesterday afternoon, we’ve received many great suggestions, including Leura Fine of the interior design marketplace Laurel & Wolf (her company raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Benchmark in September), and Ida Tin of Clue, a Berlin-based fertility tracking app that raised$7 million in Series A funding led by Union Square Ventures in October.

Much more here.

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New Fundings

ChargeItSpot, a three-year-old, Philadelphia, Pa.-based provider of cell phone charging stations for retail chains and other indoor public venues, has raised $5.3 million in Series A funding from Robin Hood Ventures, SeedInvest and SoundBoard Angel Fund. More here.

Eved, a five-year-old, Chicago-based provider of event management software, has raised $14.3 million in new funding led by Huizenga Capital Management, with participation from Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Merrick Ventures and MK Capital. ChicagoInno has more here.

Feedvisor, a nearly five-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based company that sells algorithmic repricing and revenue intelligence software to online retailers, has raised $5 million in funding led by Square Peg Capital, with participation from earlier backers JAL Ventures and Titanium Investments. More here.

Foursquare, the 6.5-year-old, New York-based startup, is close to finalizing a funding round that will value the company at about $250 million — less than half of what investors thought the company was worth two years ago, reports Recode. TechCrunch had reported earlier that the company, which focuses on local business recommendations, was raising a down round. More here.

Gojimo, a three-year-old, London-based app that helps U.K. high school students prepare for exams, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding, bringing the total raised by the startup to just more than $3 million. Investors in the round include father and son duo Robin and Saul Klein, Deborah Quazzo of GSV Advisors, seed-stage investment platform Firestartr, and the London Mayor’s London Co-Investment Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

The Happy Home Company, a 1.5-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based “home manager” that aims to eliminate the headaches of home maintenance and improvement by finding the experts for each job, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding from a long list of investors, including Lowercase Capital, SV AngelSlow Ventures, Freestyle Capital, and Box CEO Aaron Levie. TechCrunch has more here.

HomeTouch, a three-year-old, London-based company that operates a home care marketplace to let families with elderly parents and others needing care to find vetted help, has raised an additional undisclosed amount of funding from Passion Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Neural Analytics, a nearly three-year-old, L.A.-based developer of devices and services that measure, diagnose and track brain health, has raised $10 million in Series A funding from JSR Ltd. and Taiyu Capital. More here.

PsiKick, a 3.5-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based semiconductor startup that’s building ultra-low-power sensors for use in Internet of Things applications, has raised $16.5 million in Series B funding led by Osage University Partners, with participation from earlier backers New Enterprise Associates, the University of Michigan Investment in New Technologies Fund, and unnamed individual angels. The company has now raised $22 million altogether. More here.

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New Funds

Greenspring Associates, the 15-year-old, Owing Mills, Md.-based venture capital fund-of-funds, is raising a $100 million secondaries fund, shows an SEC filing that states the first sale has yet to occur. It’s also raising a $225 million “opportunities” fund, shows a separate filing. Last month, the firm closed on $430 million for its Greenspring Global Partners VII. Like its previous six funds, the money for that fund will largely be earmarked in part for emerging venture capital managers.

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IPOs

Nutanix, a six-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based company that sells data center hardware that combine elements of servers and storage arrays, filed to raise $200 million in an IPO yesterday. The company has raised $317.6 million in funding, including a $140 million Series E funding round in August of 2014. Investors include Blumberg Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Khosla Ventures and Battery Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.

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People

The 2015 Silicon Valley “Nice” List.

Jack Dorsey on managing his busy life.

Sapphire Ventures (formerly known as SAP Ventures) has promoted three of its colleagues just in time for the holidays: Kevin Diestel, who joined the firm in 2012, is now a principal; Winter Mead, who joined last year, is now a VP; and David Pordes, who also joined last year, has been promoted to controller. (Congrats, all.)

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Jobs

Google Capital is looking for a senior financial analyst. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.

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Essential Reads

Drone registration may seem like unnecessary hassle for some, but an incident at the alpine skiing world cup this week illustrated why the FAA is pushing for regulation.

Rising costs have Amazon seeking alternative delivery routes, straining relations with its longtime shipping ally, UPS.

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Detours

The 12 best iPhone apps of 2015, by Mashable.

Forbes on 20 startups to watch in 2016.

The best sandwiches in New York.

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Retail Therapy

Wine bottle fire extinguisher. Just don’t drink the stuff.


18 Female Founders Who Killed It In 2015

Like a BossLast week, on an internal conversational thread over at my second job with TechCrunch, the staff began chatting about some of female founders who’ve made a major dent on the tech scene in 2015, and the thread quickly became a very long and involved one.

The following are some of the people who popped immediately into mind. This list is in no way comprehensive, so please do reach out with your own thoughts about some of the women impacting the world of startups right now. We welcome any and all nominations.

In fact, since publishing this list yesterday afternoon, we’ve received many great suggestions, including Leura Fine of the interior design marketplace Laurel & Wolf (her company raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Benchmark in September), and Ida Tin of Clue, a Berlin-based fertility tracking app that raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Union Square Ventures in October.

Much more here.


StrictlyVC: December 22, 2015

Happy Tuesday, everyone! StrictlyVC happens to be working out of a Starbucks in Washington, D.C. today where things just got a little too real (customer brawl). But did we jump up, leave, stop writing StrictlyVC? We did not! (We should have left. We’re getting out of here right now, in fact. No column today.)

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Top News in the A.M.

You can register your drone now.

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New Fundings

4Tech, a six-year-old, Newton, Ma.-based medical device company focused on the treatment of tricuspid valve disease, has raised $26.4 million, shows an SEC filing. The company had previously raised at least $7 million previously.

eFFECTOR Therapeutics, a 3.5-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based biopharmaceutical company developing translation regulators for the treatment of cancer, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Altitude Life Science Ventures, with participation from AbbVie Biotech VenturesBioMed Ventures and earlier backers Abingworth, Novartis Venture FundSR One, The Column Group, US Venture Partners, Astellas VenturesOsage University Partners and Mission Bay Capital. More here.

Foursquare, the 6.5-year-old, New York-based startup focused on local business recommendations and discovery,  is reportedly in the process of raising capital in a down round, says TechCrunch. TC doesn’t list an exact dollar amount but suggests that Microsoft, which joined a previous financing round, is looking to participate in its current round. More here.

MapAnything, a 6.5-year-old, Charlotte, N.C.-based company that provides mapping and geoanalytics to Salesforce users, has raised $7.3 million in Series A funding led by Greycroft Partners, with participation from Harbert Venture Partners, Salesforce Ventures and individual investors Michael Lazerow and David Stern. More here.

MJ Freeway, a five-year-old, Denver, Co.-based company that makes “seed-to-sale” tracking software for legal cannabis businesses, has raised $8 million in Series B funding from investors including longtime VC Roger McNamee and Tao Capital Partners. More here.

Nuvo Logistics, a year-old, Gurgaon, India-based company that provides hyper-local grocery delivery services its online platform PepperTap.com, has reportedly raised $15 million in its fourth round of funding this year. Investors in the newest financing include Russia’s Ru-net, the Japanese private equity firm JAFCO and Beenext. Earlier investors Sequoia India and SAIF Partners also joined the round. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Shuttl, an eight-month-old, Delhi, India-based startup that enables commuters find a route, buy their ticket and take one of the company’s air-conditioned mini buses by ordering a seat via its smartphone app, has raised $20 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital and Uber-investor Times Internet. TechCrunch has more here.

Siteimprove, a 12-year-old, Copenhagen, Denmark-based maker of web governance software, has received a  $55 million minority investment from global growth equity firm Summit Partners. More here.

The China business of  Uber, the six-year-old, San Francisco-based ride-hailing business, has taken a strategic investment from Chinese automaker GAC Group (Guangzhou Automobile Group). Terms are undisclosed, but Uber China said that the tie-up will also include partnerships around “auto sales, services, financing, and marketing, with a particular emphasis on promoting new energy vehicles.” TechCrunch has more here.

WorkFusion, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based platform for automating the sourcing and structuring of data by pairing machine learning with online human intelligence, has raised $14 million in Series C funding led by Nokia Growth Partners, with participation from Mohr Davidow Ventures, Greycroft Partners, iNovia Capital and RTP Ventures. More here.

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New Funds

Colle Capital Partners, a new, New York-based early-stage venture firm, has raised $9.4 million for a fund that’s targeting $20 million, shows an SEC filing.Victoria Grace is the firm’s founding partner. She was previously a partner at Wall Street Technology Partners, a mid-stage tech fund, and a director at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein Private Equity Group.

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Exits

Developers are always looking for the next big distribution model and right now, they seem to be betting on messaging platforms. Slack is one big target. So is China’s hugely popular WeChat. In another indicator of the trend, the Canada-based popular messaging app Kik yesterday acquired a small company behind one of the most successful apps on its service, Blynk. Terms weren’t disclosed, but TechCrunch has much more here.

Microsoft has acquired Talko, a Boston-based startup dedicated to helping workgroups (or families or other sets of associates) collaborate using their smartphones. Terms were not disclosed. Talko was founded by Lotus Notes founder and former Microsoft executiveRay Ozzie. Fortune has more here.

The publicly traded storage hardware company NetApp has acquired the five-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based flash storage hardware startup SolidFire for $870 million in cash. SolidFire had raised roughly $150 million from investors, including Greenspring Associates, Samsung Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates. VentureBeat has more here.

Vivendi, the French media conglomerate, has acquired a 64.4 percent stake inRadionomy, an 8.5-year-old, Brussels-based online radio services company that owns Winamp, Shoutcast, and the online radio ad marketplace Targetspot. Variety has more here.

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People

Jeff Bezos, founder of both Amazon and rocket company Blue Origin, took a little dig at fellow billionaire and rocket company owner Elon Musk yesterday.More here.

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Jobs

China Oceanwide USA Holdings, a newly established investment company with headquarters in Beijing, China, is looking to hire a venture capital analyst. The job is in San Francisco.

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Data

According to a new study from UBS and PwC, only 44 percent of global billionaires in 1995 maintained that status through 2014. That means 56 percent of the billionaires in 1995 lost a comma — and sometimes more — in roughly 20 years. More here.

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Essential Reads

SpaceX successfully launched and then landed a Falcon 9 rocket yesterday; previous attempts had ended in explosions.

Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, reports Yahoo.

Vanity Fair on the “piercing of the Millennial bubble.”

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Detours

Understanding the lust for colored diamonds.

Longevity lessons from Ikaria, Greece.

Nicolas Cage just returned a stolen dinosaur skull he’d purchased. (Oh, Nicolas Cage.)

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Retail Therapy

Now this is a Japanese supercar.


StrictlyVC: December 21, 2015

Happy Monday, dear readers!

Just a quick reminder that we’re publishing for a few more days, then recharging through New Year’s, so we can keep going and going . . .

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Top News in the A.M.

U.S. health regulators are investigating complaints about laboratory and research practices at Theranos by two former employees of the blood-testing startup company, reports the WSJ.

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On “60 Minutes,” Tim Cook Bats Away Car Talk and More

Last night, “60 Minutes” aired a segment on Apple, in which interviewer Charlie Rose talked with CEO Tim Cook about running a modern-day tech giant and the challenges the company faces daily, from a world filled with terrorists to criticisms that its manufacturing operations in China have everything to do with low-wage workers.

Unfortunately, Rose didn’t get much new out of Cook, including about Apple’s rumored car-building operation.

Cook wouldn’t apologize for the fact that Apple is keeping $74 billion in revenue offshore, either. Two-thirds of Apple’s business is overseas, Cook noted, adding that he doesn’t plan to pay “40 percent [of that sum in taxes] to bring it home . . . I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to do.”

One thing Cook did confirm for Rose: Apple’s new headquarters will cost a whopping $5 billion, give or take, to build.

The news magazine sent us the script last night; here it is in its entirety.

More here.

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New Fundings

Assurex Health, a nine-year-old, Mason, Oh.-based personalized medicine company that specializes in pharmacogenomics, has raised $15 million in Series D extension funding from existing (unnamed) investors. More here.

Axonics Modulation Technologies, a two-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based company that’s developing implantable neuromodulation technologies, has raised $38.5 million in Series B funding. New investors Advent Life Sciences and Cormorant Asset Management joined earlier investors in the round, including a syndicate led by Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, NeoMed Management, Legend Capital, The Alfred E. Mann Foundation and unnamed private individuals. Axonics has now raised $59 million altogether. More here.

CellSavers, a year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based on-demand repair service that’s like an Uber for smartphone repairs, has raised $3 million in seed funding from Sequoia Israel. TechCrunch has more here.

Flux Factory, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of collaborative design software for the building design and construction industry, has raised $29 million in Series B funding co-led by Temasek and Surbana Jurong Private Limited.  Far East Ventures, DFJ, South Park Ventures, Borealis Ventures, and Obvious Ventures also participated in the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Gusto, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based online platform for payroll, compliance, and benefit services, has raised $22.3 million in new Series B funding, according to an SEC filing that shows a $50 million target. Earlier backers include Google Capital, Emergence Capital Partners, Google Ventures, and Ribbit Capital. Gusto was formerly known as ZenPayroll.

Lyft, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based ride-hailing company, plans to raise as much as $1 billion in new funds, according to a Delaware state filing. Bloomberg has the story here.

Memblaze, a nearly five-year-old, Beijing, China-based flash memory card maker, has raised “tens of millions of U.S. dollars” in Series C funding from General Technology Venture Capital Co. and Qualcomm Ventures, according to a company announcement. China Money Network has more here.

Segura Networks, a four-year-old, U.K.-based company that makes production tracking systems that retailers and brand owners in the garment industry use to control their supply chain, has raised roughly $3 million in funding from Octopus Ventures.

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New Funds

BioGeneration Ventures, a nine-year-old, Naarden, North Holland-based venture investment firm, is looking to raise about 50 million euros ($54 million) for its third fund next year, reports Dow Jones VentureWire. The firm reportedly just saw a huge exit with AstraZeneca $4 billion purchase of the cancer-drug startup Acerta Pharma B.V.

OrbiMed, the 26-year-old, New York-based investment firm leading investment firm focused on the healthcare sector, just announced the closing of its newest fund, OrbiMed Private Investments VI, LP, with a stunning $950 million, citing the “increasing pace of translation of science to medicine” and the “exciting opportunities” that’s creating in areas like oncology, central nervous system disease, and gene editing. The new fund, focused on North America and Europe, is expected to fund roughly 30 companies, via checks that range from $10 million to $75 million. (If this announcement sounds vaguely familiar to you, it may be because last week, we mentioned another, Israel-focused fund that week that Orbimed is raising.)

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Exits

Qihoo, a Beijing-based developer of security software and Internet browsers, announced late last week that it will go private in a deal worth $9.3 billion. As Reuters notes, this makes Qihoo the latest in a growing list of U.S.-listed Chinese tech firms that have decided to go private. More here.

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People

More than two years after he bought the Post from the Graham family for $250 million, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has shaped its digital transformation in ways big and small. Bloomberg takes a look here.

Sam Fort has been promoted to partner at DFJ Growth. Fort joined the firm five years ago as a principal, after logging time as an analyst at Morgan Stanley and an associate at TPG Growth. When we talked with DFJ Growth cofounder Randy Glein last week, he credited Fort with “doing a terrific job for us, both in helping us envision new markets that we’ll be investing in and sourcing several of our important investments.”

The WSJ takes a look at famed investment banker Frank Quattrone‘s “comeback in the new tech era.”

Pharmecuticals executive Martin Shkreli said this weekend that securities fraud allegations that resulted in his arrest last week were “baseless and without merit.” No matter; he’s losing jobs left and right as a result.

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Jobs

Scrum Ventures is looking to hire an associate. The job is in San Francisco.

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Essential Reads

Ruh roh. On Friday, Jet.com announced in emails to customers and on its website that it can’t guarantee delivery of merchandise in time for Christmas except items eligible for pricey two-day delivery.

Maybe we’ll see Terrafugia‘s flying car in the U.S. someday after all.

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Detours

How you’ll search for a job in 2016.

How to read an entire book in a single day.

The siege of Miami.

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Retail Therapy

Apps to download in 2016.


On “60 Minutes,” Tim Cook Bats Away Car Talk, Criticisms of Tax Picture, Low-Wage Workers

TIm CookLast night, “60 Minutes” aired a segment on Apple, in which interviewer Charlie Rose talked with CEO Tim Cook about running a modern-day tech giant and the challenges the company faces daily, from a world filled with terrorists to criticisms that its manufacturing operations in China have everything to do with low-wage workers.

Unfortunately, Rose didn’t get much new out of Cook, including about Apple’s rumored car-building operation.

Cook wouldn’t apologize for the fact that Apple is keeping $74 billion in revenue offshore, either. Two-thirds of Apple’s business is overseas, Cook noted, adding that he doesn’t plan to pay “40 percent [of that sum in taxes] to bring it home . . . I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to do.”

One thing Cook did confirm for Rose: Apple’s new headquarters will cost a whopping $5 billion, give or take, to build.

The news magazine sent us the script last night; here it is in its entirety.

More here.


StrictlyVC: December 18, 2015

Friday!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and we’ll see you back here Monday morning. (We’ll be publishing through Wednesday of next week, then taking a little time off en famille.)

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Top News in the A.M.

Facebook has been accused of threatening a security researcher who uncovered a vulnerability that allowed him to access Instagram servers that hold the photos of its 400 million users. The company is denying the accusation.

Target is reportedly developing its own wallet.

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Randy Glein of DFJ Growth on Today’s Crazy Late-Stage Market

DFJ, the renowned Sand Hill Road Firm, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. At the same time, its low-flying, later-stage offshoot, DFJ Growth, is turning 10.

This week, we caught up with DFJ Growth cofounder Randy Glein to understand how closely related or not the two remain, how the firm is feeling about the shaky late-stage market, and whether his team of five general partners is ready to raise their own, third, fund from investors. Our chat has been edited for length.

Quickly, what are you looking for when you’re writing checks? How mature does a company need to be?

We pick up where venture funds leave off. We’re invest in the scaling phase of businesses, so we’re looking for that inflection point where the company has found its product market fit and customers who are paying for its products. We come in when companies are generating low tens of millions of dollars in annual bookings, growing more than 100 percent a year, and playing in a market that’s big enough to support a large company. That can be $1 billion to $100 billion dollars, depending on the market opportunity.

Can you invest in a company regardless of whether or not DFJ’s venture team has made an earlier investment in it?

Many companies we’ve co-invested in with DFJ and not followed. It just depends on the stage of the business. Also, as we’ve raised bigger funds – our first fund closed with $290 million in 2007 and our second closed with $470 million in 2013 — there’s been less overlap. I’d say 25 to 30 percent of our first fund was invested in companies backed by DFJ; in the second fund, it’s less than 10 percent. Our charter is to invest in the most exciting growth-stage companies on the planet, and to go anywhere to find them.

Do you share the same investors?

Again, there was more overlap in first fund; with the second fund, less than half the capital is coming from [DFJ’s same investors]. Some LPs want to invest in venture. Some want to invest in growth stage companies because they have a different risk tolerance profile or need to take a different size bite. Some want both and see us as sister funds.

Are you raising another fund in 2016?

More here.

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New Fundings

Depositphotos, a six-year-old, New York-based stock photo platform, has raised $5 million in funding led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Previous investor TMT Investments also participated. More here.

Farmobile, a two-year-old, Overland, Ks.-based company specializing in farm data, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding led by Anterra Capital. More here.

Juesheng, a four-year-old, Beijing, China-based online education platform, has raised $31 million in Series C funding from the Shenzhen-listed children’s book publisher Tangel Publishing, the NASDAQ-listed IT training firm Tarena International, and unnamed individual investors. China Money Network has more here.

Lily, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based robotics company that makes flying cameras that can take photos or videos of users on the go, has raised $15 million in funding led by Spark Capital. Other investors in the round include SV Angel, Stanford-StartX Fund and individual investors, including musician Steve Aoki and retired NFL star Joe Montana. (Yesterday, the company also told customers their preordered devices would arrive next summer rather than in February as previously promised.) TechCrunch has more here.

Omadi, a four-year-old, Provo, Ut.-based all-in-one web-based towing and security management system, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Pelion Venture Partners, with participation from Peak Ventures, Kickstart Seed Fund, Tall Wave Capital, Service Provider Capital, and others. More here.

Rivigo, a 1.5-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based startup that wants to build a more reliable and safer logistics network, has raised a $30 million in Series B funding led by SAIF Partners. The funding includes equity and debt financing. TechCrunch has more here.

Soft Robotics, a 2.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based startup focused on robotic manipulation and material handling, has closed the first tranche of a $5 million Series A round led by Material Impact Fund, an early-stage venture capital firm. Other participants include Haiyin Capital and Taylor VenturesMore here.

WellDoc, a 10.5-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based company whose app helps patients self-manage their diabetes through motivational, behavioral and educational coaching, has raised $22 million in Series B funding co-led by Samsung Ventures and earlier investor Merck Global Health Innovation Fund. Other participants in the round include Adage Capital ManagementExcel Venture Management, Alexandria Venture Investments and Hudson River Capital Partners. More here.

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People

Pharma executive Martin Shkreli may have hung up on an FBI agent live on video hours before his arrest yesteday on securities fraud charges. Business Insider has more here.

Relatedly, Shkreli plans to step down as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals following his arrest. Bloomberg has more here.

This Sunday on “60 Minutes,” TV interviewer Charlie Rose will take viewers inside Apple’s store of the future, with retail chief Angela Ahrendts acting as tour guide. Recode has the story here.

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Essential Reads

Another delay for an upstart stock exchange.

Uber is “probably” IPO bound, but don’t hold your breath, says the company.

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Detours

An unbelievable new image of the Earth rising over the Moon.

Accidental Renaissance photos.

Are you a “defensive pessimist” or a “strategic optimist?” Take a five-question quiz to find out!

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Retail Therapy

How about a bed that turns into a steel survival crate during an earthquake? Now it can be yours.


Randy Glein of DFJ Growth on Today’s Crazy Late-Stage Market

117 - imgl3791DFJ, the renowned Sand Hill Road Firm, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. At the same time, its low-flying, later-stage offshoot, DFJ Growth, is turning 10.

This week, we caught up with DFJ Growth cofounder Randy Glein to understand how closely related or not the two remain, how the firm is feeling about the shaky late-stage market, and whether his team of five general partners is ready to raise their own, third, fund from investors. Our chat has been edited for length.

Quickly, what are you looking for when you’re writing checks? How mature does a company need to be?

We pick up where venture funds leave off. We’re invest in the scaling phase of businesses, so we’re looking for that inflection point where the company has found its product market fit and customers who are paying for its products. We come in when companies are generating low tens of millions of dollars in annual bookings, growing more than 100 percent a year, and playing in a market that’s big enough to support a large company. That can be $1 billion to $100 billion dollars, depending on the market opportunity.

Can you invest in a company regardless of whether or not DFJ’s venture team has made an earlier investment in it?

Many companies we’ve co-invested in with DFJ and not followed. It just depends on the stage of the business. Also, as we’ve raised bigger funds – our first fund closed with $290 million in 2007 and our second closed with $470 million in 2013 — there’s been less overlap. I’d say 25 to 30 percent of our first fund was invested in companies backed by DFJ; in the second fund, it’s less than 10 percent. Our charter is to invest in the most exciting growth-stage companies on the planet, and to go anywhere to find them.

Do you share the same investors?

Again, there was more overlap in first fund; with the second fund, less than half the capital is coming from [DFJ’s same investors]. Some LPs want to invest in venture. Some want to invest in growth stage companies because they have a different risk tolerance profile or need to take a different size bite. Some want both and see us as sister funds.

Are you raising another fund in 2016?

More here.


StrictlyVC: December 17, 2015

Woot, we’re almost there! Happy Thursday, everyone.

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Top News in the A.M.

The Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates by a quarter point yesterday. The WSJ argues the move could exacerbate crumbling valuations at Silicon Valley startups.

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New Relic’s CEO on the Joys of Not Being a “Unicorn”

Lew Cirne, founder and CEO of the seven-year-old software analytics company New Relic, has a lot for which to be thankful. Near the very top of his list? The fact that New Relic went public a year ago, after raising roughly $214 million from investors. (Its market cap is currently $1.78 billion.)

We talked yesterday about what’s keeping so many other companies from doing the same. Our chat has been edited for length.

You’re a big believer in going public. At the same time, you sold your first company, Wily Technology, for $375 million in 2006 to CA Technologies.

A big part of why Wily didn’t have the characteristics to endure as a public company was that we were able to land big deals, but there was a high degree of variability to it.

That’s not true at New Relic?

The founding idea of New Relic was about building something that could endure as a public company, that would do well in hot and cold markets. We wanted to be geared toward making good decisions even under the obligation of reporting financials every 90 days. So I wanted a 100-percent subscription business. I was focused on high gross margins; ours are 80 percent. We also focused on establishing a broad customer base of both small and big customers, so no one customer would have disproportionate sway [over our financial health].

Most traditional enterprise companies, the way they do financials depends on huge deals that almost always close in last five days of quarter, and there’s a lot of risk in them, so in order to succeed in a predictable way, they wind up prioritizing the big deal over product integrity and strategic direction.

Is New Relic profitable or has it ever been?

We’re not yet profitable, but have a very good handle on our growth versus profitability. You can invest more for growth or dial back for profitability, and we feel like we’ve always had good control over that dial.

Presumably, your public shareholders understand that story.

The shareholders I talk with understand that we’re a growth company. For example, the average New Relic customer spends 38 percent more than the average customer spent a year ago because we’ve invested in new products that they’re buying more of.

Shareholders obviously ask how we think about growth versus profitability, but we don’t see pushback [because] we think it makes more sense to invest in new growth than to slow down and be a more profitable, smaller company.

How much of your time is spent with shareholders? An oft-cited excuse for remaining private is that they’re a huge distraction.

More here.

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New Fundings

Atheer, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based developer of augmented-reality glasses for the enterprise market, has raised $14 million in Series B funding co-led by Signatures Capital and Streamlined Ventures, with participation from Fang Group, FundersClub, RONA Holdings and Shanda Group. More here.

Janrain, a 10-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based maker of customer identity management products, has secured $27 million in Series D funding led by HighBar Partners. Earlier backers Millennium Technology Value PartnersSplit Rock Partners, Epic Ventures, Emergence Capital Partners, RPM Ventures and DFJ Frontier also participated. CMSWire has more here.

Signavio, a 6.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based company that makes business process and decision management software, has raised €31 million ($33.6 million) from Summit Partners in exchange for a minority stake in its business. More here.

Songkick, an eight-year-old, London-based concert discovery app and ticketing company, has raised $10 million in fresh funding from previous backer Access Industries. It follows a $16 million Series C from Access, Sequoia Capital, and Index Ventures that was announced in June. TechCrunch has more here.

Springboard, a six-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based online learning platform that pairs individual mentors with students in weekly catch-up sessions, has raised $1.7 million in seed funding from a long list of individual investors, including LinkedIn founder Allen Blue. TechCrunch has more here.

Tastemade, a three-year-old, L.A.-based maker of food and lifestyle videos, has raised $40 million in Series D funding led by Goldman Sachs. Other participants include Redpoint Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Liberty Media and Scripps Networks. TechCrunch has more here.

Technology Will Save Us, a three-year-old, London-based startup that makes do-it-yourself electronics and gadget kits and activities, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding led by SaatchInvest, with participation from the European seed-stage venture fund Backed and an (as yet unnamed) “substantial retail investor.” TechCrunch has more here.

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New Funds

Idinvest Partners, an 18-year-old, Paris, France-based seed- and early-stage investment firm, says it has held a final close on its second digital fund of 155 million euros ($169.5 million) thanks in part to backing from the corporate venture arm of Cisco.

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Exits

Purch, a well-financed digital content company, has acquired ShopSavvy, a mobile shopping startup backed by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Purch was formerly known as TechMediaNetwork and operates sites including Tom’s Guide and AnandTech. The company recently raised a $135 million funding round and has been on an acquisition spree. ShopSavvy had meanwhile raised around $10 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Salesforce is in talks to buy software firm SteelBrick for as much as $600 million, mostly in stock, according to The Information. (Subscribers only.) SteelBrick makes quote-to-cash software applications built on the Salesforce1 platform; it raised $48 million in October led by Institutional Venture Partners and has raised roughly $78 million altogether.

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People

strong>First Round Capital’s annual holiday video has dropped, yo. You can see it here.

In an interview on Tuesday, entrepreneur Elon Musk argued that if we covered just a corner of Utah or Nevada with solar panels, we could power the entire U.S., and that doing the same with a corner of Spain could power all of Europe.Here’s how it would work.

Martin Shkreli, the 32-year-old pharmaceutical executive who infamously jacked up the price of a life-saving pill from $13.50 to $750, was arrested by federal agents at his New York home this morning on securities fraud related to a firm he founded. (And the world cheered.)

Apple today named Senior Vice President Jeff Williams its COO, filling a role that’s been vacant since CEO Tim Cook assumed his post in 2011.

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Jobs

Wedbush Securities is hiring an investment banking analyst. The job is in San Francisco.

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Data

The five tech startups most likely to go public next year, according to data from CB Insights.

The venture firms with the most startups on the path to going public, according to CB Insights.

Aaaaand, the richest person “by decade,” care of Wealth-X, the wealth research firm.

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Essential Reads

California has issued preliminary rules concerning the operation of self-driving cars on its roadways. They prohibit the use of fully autonomous driverless cars that don’t have a steering wheel or a brake pedal; more, a licensed operator must be present and capable of taking control at all times if the technology fails or there’s another emergency.

JPMorgan will be “aggressively” investing in next-generation technologies like blockchain and robotics as one of its “major priorities” in 2016. Business Insider has more here.

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Detours

A Google exec on how to organize your work week.

The five most expensive Airbnb rentals booked for New Year’s Eve.

The Comments Below “More Than a Feeling” on YouTube.

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Retail Therapy

The Finex  cast iron skillet. Not so glamorous. Highly useful, though.


New Relic’s CEO on the Joys of Not Being a “Unicorn”

lewis_cirneLew Cirne, founder and CEO of the seven-year-old software analytics companyNew Relic, has a lot for which to be thankful. Near the very top of his list? The fact that New Relic went public a year ago, after raising roughly $214 million from investors. (Its market cap is currently $1.78 billion.)

We talked yesterday about what’s keeping so many other companies from doing the same. Our chat has been edited for length.

You’re a big believer in going public. At the same time, you sold your first company, Wily Technology, for $375 million in 2006 to CA Technologies.

A big part of why Wily didn’t have the characteristics to endure as a public company was that we were able to land big deals, but there was a high degree of variability to it.

That’s not true at New Relic?

The founding idea of New Relic was about building something that could endure as a public company, that would do well in hot and cold markets. We wanted to be geared toward making good decisions even under the obligation of reporting financials every 90 days. So I wanted a 100-percent subscription business. I was focused on high gross margins; ours are 80 percent. We also focused on establishing a broad customer base of both small and big customers, so no one customer would have disproportionate sway [over our financial health].

Most traditional enterprise companies, the way they do financials depends on huge deals that almost always close in last five days of quarter, and there’s a lot of risk in them, so in order to succeed in a predictable way, they wind up prioritizing the big deal over product integrity and strategic direction.

Is New Relic profitable or has it ever been?

We’re not yet profitable, but have a very good handle on our growth versus profitability. You can invest more for growth or dial back for profitability, and we feel like we’ve always had good control over that dial.

Presumably, your public shareholders understand that story.

The shareholders I talk with understand that we’re a growth company. For example, the average New Relic customer spends 38 percent more than the average customer spent a year ago because we’ve invested in new products that they’re buying more of.

Shareholders obviously ask how we think about growth versus profitability, but we don’t see pushback [because] we think it makes more sense to invest in new growth than to slow down and be a more profitable, smaller company.

How much of your time is spent with shareholders? An oft-cited excuse for remaining private is that they’re a huge distraction.

More here.


StrictlyVC: December 16, 2015

Hi, everyone, it is Wednesday! Hope you enjoy it.

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Top News in the A.M.

The SEC has approved a plan from online retailer Overstock.com to issue company stock via the Internet, signaling a significant shift in the way financial securities will be distributed and traded in the years to come. Wired has the story here.

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Never Mind Those Markdowns; An LP Plans for Next Year

Earlier this year, FLAG Capital Management — an asset manager that has backed a long list of top venture firms, including Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint Ventures, Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures — was acquired by the British fund managerAberdeen Asset Management.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. But the union created a giant that manages $15 billion in private equity assets – money that many venture firms will invariably be competing to attract when they hit the fundraising trail next year.

To get a sense for how Aberdeen views the market right now, and who’s liable to see a check from the firm in the coming months, we chatted yesterday with its head of global venture capital, Peter Denious. Our conversation has been edited for length.

It’s a little choppy out there. Meanwhile, your job is to fund venture capital firms. Are you nervous? Are you planning to pull back a bit in 2016?

As it relates to venture, there won’t be any changes in our strategy. A lot of time was invested in this point [when we were being acquired by Aberdeen], and we plan to stay true to our model, which is to invest about $100 million per year in early-stage venture funds.

So you aren’t troubled by private-company valuations trending down right now.

I think it’s somewhat overdue. We aren’t interested in watching markets get overheated. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more volatility in 2016, but I think it imposes more discipline on the private market.

What about interest rates? Would an expected rate hike impact your work?

For all asset classes, there will be some ripple effects for sure, but it’s probably going to be most muted in the case of venture capital and it wouldn’t change how we approach the business. I suspect it will have more of a dampening effect on capital flowing into other alternatives, including the buyouts space.

You sound so positive about venture capital.

It’s been a banner year for distributions for the industry and certainly for FLAG, and now Aberdeen, where we’ve seen record-setting amounts of cash returned. That’s really a reflection of what happened very early this year and last year, when a lot of companies went public; VCs have to work off those lock-up periods, and that takes time. But we’ve had the good fortune of being able to send back a lot of money to our investors.

Of course, IPOs are now down 50 percent year-to-date by dollar amount.

Much more here.

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New Fundings

Blue River Technology, a four-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company that makes robotics systems for farms that employ computer vision and machine learning, has raised $17 million in Series B funding. Pontifax AgTech led the round; Syngenta Ventures, Monsanto Growth Ventures and earlier investors Data Collective Venture Capital, Khosla Ventures and Innovation Endeavors also participated.

Bringg, a 2.5-year-old, Tel Aviv-based tech company that targets enterprises looking to take control of their logistics and deliveries, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from earlier investor ITURAN, a fleet-management company, along with a new, unnamed U.S.-based strategic investor. TechCrunch has more here.

Clover Health, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s trying to use data analysis and preventative care to improve healthcare for seniors, has raised $35 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from earlier backers Athyrium Capital Management, First Round Capitaland individuals. Fortune has more here.

Digital Guardian, a 12-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based maker of advanced data protection software, has raised $66 million from a long list of investors, including GE Pension Trust, Fairhaven Capital Partners, Loring Wolcott & Coolidge, Special Situation Funds, Brookline Venture Partners, LLR Partners, Mass Mutual Ventures, and Siemens Venture Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Faction, a nine-year-old, Denver, Co.-based company that sells cloud computing infrastructure services, has raised $6 million in new equity and debt financing. Earlier backers Meritage Funds and Sweetwater Capital provided the equity, while Ares Capital provided the debt. Denver Business Journal hasmore here.

Inthera Bioscience, a two-year-old, Zurich, Switzerland-based developer of small molecule therapies for solid tumors, has raised $3.7 million in new funding led by MS Ventures, with participation from Dutch Aglaia BioMedical Ventures, Danish Novo Seeds, and EVA Basel. Startupticker has more here.

LoopMe, a 3.5-year-old, London-based mobile video platform, has raised $7 million in new funding from Holzbrinck Ventures, Open Ocean Capital, and private Chinese investors. TechCrunch has more here.

NavVis, a two-year-old, Munich, Germany-based company that makes interior mapping and navigation software, has raised $8.2 million in Series B funding led by Target Partners, with participation from Google developer advocate Don Dodge and return backers MIG Fonds and Bayerische Beteiligungsgesellschaft. TechCrunch has more here.

Oration, a 3.5-year-old, Foster City, Ca.-based company whose software promises to help employers and employees save money on pharmacy costs, has raised $11.2 million in Series A funding from DFI Venture, Google VenturesAndreessen Horowitz, Chicago Ventures, Data Collective, Work-Bench,Arsenal Ventures Partners and TIE Angels. San Francisco Business Times has more here.

PatSnap, an eight-year-old, Singapore-based, cloud-based intellectual property analytics and management platform, has raised $10 million growth funding from Summit Partners. More here.

Profusa, a six-year-old, South San Francisco-based company that has developed an internal biosensor that continuously monitors body chemistry, has raised $13.2 million in Series B funding led by the China-based firm 3E Bioventures. Earlier backers Asset Management Ventures and Qihoo 360 also joined the round. More here.

Sophia Genetics, a four-year-old, Switzerland-based precision-medicine company, has raised $15 million in Series C funding led by Omega Pharma founder Marc Coucke. Reuters has more here.

Textio, a year-old, Seattle-based startup that analyzes text for how well words and phrases perform in certain scenarios, has raised $8 million in funding led by Emergence Capital. Cowboy Ventures, Bloomberg Beta, and Upside Partnership also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Trustlook, a 2.5-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based mobile security company for the Android platform, has raised $17 million in Series A funding led by Trustbridge Partners, with participation from Sparkland Ventures, Linear Capital Partners and return backer Danhua Capital. More here.

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New Funds

360 Capital Partners, an eight-year-old, Paris, France-based venture firm, has raised a new, $38 million fund (€35 million) that it will use to invest in seed-stage companies. The idea: to write check of between $330,000 and $1.1 million. The firm’s limited partners include MAIF, Société Générale, Groupe Rocher, Thuasne and the Fonds National d’Amorçage.

Google is launching a new accelerator program today. The Launchpad Accelerator will provide mobile startups in India, Brazil and Indonesia with mentorship, training, support, and up to $50,000 in equity-free funding. More here.

Slack, the two-year-old, business-messaging startup, has launched an $80 million venture fund that will primarily invest in startups building apps on top of Slack. Investors in the fund include Accel Partners, Andreessen HorowitzIndex Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Spark Capital, and The Social+Capital Partnership. Slack has also launched an app store called App Directory, where users can download third-party apps that integrate with Slack.More here.

Yesterday, the University of California announced a $250 million venture fund to invest in startups that emerge from the 10-school system. The fund will focus on students, professors and alumni and have a particular emphasis on startups in the life sciences, technology, energy, agriculture and materials sectors. Vivek Ranadive, an entrepreneur and owner of the Sacramento Kings, will head up the effort. More here.

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Exits

Top10, a four-year-old, London-based startup that showed travelers the 10 best hotels in any given city, has shut down. The reason, say it founders: growth had slowed, and competition with established players was too fierce. Altogether, the company had raised $12.4 million (£8.2 million) in funding from investors, including Balderton Capital and Accel Partners. Business Insider has the story here.

Vroom, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based seller of used cars online, has agreed to acquire competitor Texas Direct Auto of Stafford, Texas under a cash-and-stock deal financed that’s being financed with $95 million in Series C venture funding. Vroom’s Series C investors include earlier backers Catterton Partners, T. Rowe Price, General Catalyst Partners, and Allen & Company, among others. The WSJ has the story here.

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People

The ride-share service Lyft has hired Evan Cohen to head up its East Coast operations. Cohen left his position as COO at Foursquare in June of last year.More here.

George Hotz, who was the first person to hack an iPhone, is building a self-driving car — by himself.

Padmasree Warrior, who left Cisco’s executive ranks in September, is joining NextEV, a China-based electric car company, as its U.S. CEO and global development head. Fast Company has more here.

UK authorities have arrested a 21-year-old man in London in the VTech hack, which exposed the data of 6.4 million children last month.

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Essential Reads

Google is turning its self-driving cars unit into a standalone business under Alphabet next year, reports Bloomberg. Google’s autonomous cars will offer “rides for hire.”

Rent your place on Airbnb? The landlord wants a cut.

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Detours

How the universal symbols for escalators, restrooms and transportation were designed.

The most ridiculous facial expressions of the GOP debate.

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Retail Therapy

Pintrill pins. (H/T: Uncrate)