Monthly Archives: March 2016

StrictlyVC: March 25, 2016

Hi, all, happy Easter. Hope you have a terrific weekend.:)

No column today.

—–

Top News in the A.M.

Microsoft execs have reportedly been meeting with private equity firms mulling over bids to buy Yahoo and telling investors the company might be willing to lend significant financing to their efforts. Recode has the story here.

Netflix admits it’s been throttling its videos on AT&T’s and Verizon’s wireless networks for more than five years, saying it wanted to protect users from exceeding data caps, which could discourage viewing. The WSJ has the story here.

—–

New Fundings

6Fusion, an eight-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based end-to-end cloud management platform, has raised $6.6 million from investors, shows an SEC filing. More here.

Bromium, a 5.5-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based developer of endpoint protection using virtualization, has raised $40 million in funding from Silver Lake Waterman and earlier backers, including Andreessen Horowitz,Ignition Partners, Highland Capital Partners, Intel Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Meritech Capital Partners. The company has now raised $115 million altogether. More here.

CiValue, a two-year-old, Israel-based customer analytics and personalization cloud platform for grocery, health and beauty retailers, has raised $2.4 million in seed funding from Nielsen Innovate, Mac Fund and Deutsche Telekom. VentureBeat has more here.

DimensionalMechanics, a year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based startup that says it’s making artificial intelligence scalable, has raised $4.7 million in funding, shows an SEC filing. More here.

EndoStim, a seven-year-old, St. Louis, Mo.-based company that makes a neurostimulation device to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, has raised $11 million in new funding, shows an SEC filing that shows a $20 million target. Earlier investors include Sante Ventures and Prolog Capital.

FLYR, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based travel and data science company, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from JetBlue Technology Ventures. More here.

Hive, a 10-month-old, New York-based team collaboration platform, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by Tribeca Venture Partners with participation from funds and angel investors from Google and Grey GroupMore here.

Iterum Therapeutics, a year-old, Dublin, Ireland-based pharmaceutical company that’s developing anti-infective therapies, has raised $40 million in Series A funding led by Frazier Healthcare Partners, with participation fromCanaan Partners, Sofinnova Ventures and New Leaf Venture Partners. FierceBiotech has more here.

June, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based countertop “smart” oven designed by former Google, Apple and GoPro employees, has raised $22.5 million in Series A funding led by hardware and software investor Eclipse. Previous investors also participated in the round, including Foundry Group, First Round Capital, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Lagou, a nearly three-year-old, Beijing, China-based online recrutiing platform, has reportedly raised $34 million in Series C funding led by Hongdao Capital, with participation from earlier backers Qiming Venture Partners and Rongchao Capital. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Soasta, a 10-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based performance analytics business, has raised $30 million in debt funding led by Tennenbaum Capital, with participation from earlier backers Canaan Venture Partners, Pelion Venture Partners and Formative Ventures. More here.

—–

New Funds

Forté Ventures, a four-year-old, Atlanta-based VC firm, is looking to raise up to $75 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing that states the first sale has yet to occur. More here.

—–

Exits

Ebates, a San Francisco-based subsidiary of Rakuten, has acquired Shopular, a four-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based mobile product discovery app, for undisclosed terms. Shopular had raised $13.6 million, including from Sequoia Capital, shows CrunchBase.

Olapic, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based startup that helps brands leverage user-generated images, has acquired Piqora, a 3.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based visual marketing and visual commerce platform for marketers and publishers. Deal terms aren’t being disclosed. Olapic has raised $21 million in funding, according to CrunchBase. Its backers include Felix Capital and Fung Capital. Piqora had raised roughly $11 million, shows CrunchBase. Its backers include DFJ, Baseline Ventures and Freestyle Capital.

PriceZombie, a three-year-old, Tampa, Fla.-based price comparison site, is shutting down without investor intervention, the company announced this morning, saying it lost 90 percent of its income after its Amazon affiliate account was closed. The company appears to have been bootstrapped. More here.

Snapchat has agreed to acquire Bitstrips, an 8.5-year-old, Toronto-based company that makes customized emojis, for a reported $100 million in cash and stock (roughly). Bitstrips had raised $11 million in funding, including fromHorizons Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Fortune has thestory here.

TiVo, the digital video recorder company, is reportedly in advanced negotiations to be sold to Rovi, one of the largest owners of patents for digital entertainment devices. Dealbook has the story here.

—–

People

Alphabet’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, on how Google helps the government track down criminals.

—–

Jobs

Credit Karma is looking to hire a summer associate to join its corporate development team. The job is in San Francisco.

—–

Essential Reads

Snapchat has hit a notable milestone: for the first time ever, its iOS application reached the top of the iTunes App Store, where it briefly become the number one “overall” free application in the U.S. More here.

Square has jumped into the online lending business.

Dyson may be gunning for Tesla Motors. Here’s why.

—–

Detours

Professional rowers really seem to love economics, finance, and management.

In Tokyo, friendship is just a credit-card swipe away.

The 100 funniest Twitter jokes. (Our favorite: Hello sir, I-*briefcase full of jellybeans falls open*)

—–

Retail Therapy

Trax & Wax. And seriously fashionable backpacks.


StrictlyVC: March 24, 2016

Hi, everyone, happy Thursday!

—–

Top News in the A.M.

Hedge fund Starboard Value is seeking to remove the entire board of Yahoo, setting the stage for a battle over the future of the faded Web giant. (We’re actually starting to feel sorry for CEO Marissa Mayer.)

Google is reportedly building a live-streaming app to take on Twitter‘s Periscope.

—–

Recharge Invites Users to Book Hotel Rooms — One Minute at a Time

Call it on-demand on steroids. A 10-month-old, San Francisco company called Rechargehas developed an app that enables users to book a stay in hotel for just for 67 cents a minute, or $40 an hour.

The offering sounds both brilliant and preposterous, yet it has already attracted some smart investors, including Scott and Cyan Banister and early Google engineer Harry Cheung, who’ve provided the company with $650,000 in seed funding. It’s raising up to $2.5 million altogether.

To learn more about the company, we chatted recently with CEO Emmanual Bamfo, who held numerous brief stints at startups, including at the carpooling company Hitch (acquired by Lyft), before teaming up with two former classmates at Washington University in St. Louis to create Recharge.

Okay, so tell us about this seemingly crazy idea that just might work. Who is your target audience?

Somebody who came up to San Francisco from L.A. for a day trip booked a Recharge earlier today. We see folks who just want to change a diaper or nurse their baby. We get people who live in Menlo Park but work in San Francisco and who want to shower and take a little time for themselves before they head to an evening engagement.

It’s a real need that we’re solving. [Customers] are getting privacy in the city to nap or shower or prepare for something. You can’t do that at Starbuck’s.

This concept is very much like that of Breather, which provides on-demand rooms in cities so that visitors can pop in to relax with friends or maybe make some quiet calls. We should also note that Breather has raised nearly $28 million from investors. Why is this better?

More here.

—–

New Fundings

Acutus Medical, a five-year-old, Carlsbad, Ca.-based medical device maker with a new technology for diagnosing and treating irregular heartbeats, has raised $75 million in Series C funding, including from new investors Deerfield Management, Xeraya Capital, and an undisclosed strategic investor. Advent Life Sciences, the company’s founding investor, also joined the round, along with existing backers OrbiMed and GE Ventures. Xconomy has more here.

Fixt, a three-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based app for on-demand smartphone repair services (it works with both individuals and enterprise customers), has raised $1.4 million in seed funding, according to VentureWire. More here.

Juno, a months-old, New York-based ride-sharing service that is planning to take on Uber, is talking with investors about a $30 million round of funding, according to several TechCrunch sources, one of whom said of the valuation that Juno seeking, “It’s high.”  More here.

Kreditech, a four-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based startup that offers loans and other financial services to consumers who have little or no credit history, has added another $11 million to its Series C financing, bringing the total round to $103 million. The new capital comes from the International Finance Corporation (a division of the World Bank). Other investors already in the round — which initially closed last September — include PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, Amadeus Capital Partners, Värde Partners, HPE Growth Capital, Blumberg Capital, and the private equity firm J.C. Flowers, which invested the most in the round. More here.

LifeBEAM Technologies, a four-year-old, New York-based startup that makes wearable goods for measuring fitness and performance, has raised $16 million in Series A funding, says VentureWire. Square Peg Capital led the round, with participation from Wellborn Ventures, Cerca Partners, Atomic14 Ventures, Triventures and angel investors. More here.

Mesosphere, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based container-centric company that aims to help enterprises better use their data centers with the help of its own operating system, has raised a $73.5 million Series C funding round. The round was led by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and also includes previous investors Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, and Fuel Capital, as well as new investors A Capital, Triangle Peak Partners, and Microsoft. TechCrunch has more here.

OneRent, a nearly two-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based startup behind a full-service rental management platform for landlords and tenants, has raised $4 million in Series A funding from the Chinese social-networking company Renren. More here.

Turner, a unit of Time Warner, reportedly intends to pour $100 million into its digital sports property, Bleacher Report. The WSJ has the story here.

Verdigris, a five-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca., based company that makes cloud analytics software for enterprise facilities managers and large commercial buildings, has raised $9 million in funding across a previously undisclosed seed and Series A round, including from Jabil Circuit, Stanford StartX FundFounder.org Capital, DCVC, and a collection of private investors. More here.

Zeel Networks, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based on-demand massage startup, has closed $10 million of a $12 million Series A round. Emil Capital Partnersled the round, with participation from Slow Ventures, Partech VenturesNew Atlantic Ventures and Spafinder. The company has raised $11.5 million to date. VentureWire has more here.

—–

New Funds

Gobi Partners has partnered with Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhard (MAVCAP), which claims to be the country’s largest venture capital firm, to launch a $14.5 million fund dedicated to seed-stage companies in Southeast Asia. More here.

True Ventures, the 10-year-old, early-stage venture firm, is targeting $295 million for its fifth investment fund, according to an SEC filing. The company, which closed its last fund with $290 million in 2014, could presumably raise much more. We wrote last fall about why that is.

—–

Exits

AppDirect, a company that helps customers manage multiple cloud vendors, is spending an undisclosed amount to acquire Xendo, a two-year-old startup that enables users to conduct federated searches across cloud services. This is the sixth purchase for AppDirect, which has raised more than $245 million so far. As for Xendo, it’ raised just $28,000 in seed money, says TechCrunch. More here.
—–

People

Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen has announced a $100 million investment in the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a fund focusing on the future of biotech research. Allen, who is worth about $15.3 billion, announced the investment yesterday at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. More here.

We told you in late 2014 that things were a mess at Nest Labs, particularly pertaining to its $550 million acquisition of Dropcam. Today, The Information takes an even deeper dive, with insight from Dropcam’s cofounder and CEO Greg Duffy, who left Nest after CEO Tony Fadell reportedly told him, “You can’t report to me because you haven’t earned it.” More here.

Smartwatch pioneer Pebble is laying off 25 percent of its staff amid increased financial concerns. More here.

—–

Data

Email is dying among mobile’s youngest users, says a new report out of App Annie (that we hope is wrong).

—–

Essential Reads

Instacart is  . . . generating profits?

A new startup, Boom, just landed a $2 billion deal with Virgin Group. Now it just needs to build 10 supersonic planes.

—–

Detours

You’re excited! Not nervous. Just keep telling yourself that.

—–

Retail Therapy

Neat. Swivel chairs, made from old Vespa parts.


Recharge Invites Users to Book a Hotel Room — One Minute at a Time

rechargetc (2)Call it on-demand on steroids. A 10-month-old, San Francisco company called Recharge has developed an app that enables users to book a stay in hotel for just for 67 cents a minute, or $40 an hour.

The offering sounds both brilliant and preposterous, yet it has already attracted some smart investors, including Scott and Cyan Banister and early Google engineer Harry Cheung, who’ve provided the company with $650,000 in seed funding. It’s raising up to $2.5 million altogether.

To learn more about the company, we chatted recently with CEO Emmanual Bamfo, who held numerous brief stints at startups, including at the carpooling company Hitch (acquired by Lyft), before teaming up with two former classmates at Washington University in St. Louis to create Recharge.

Okay, so tell us about this seemingly crazy idea that just might work. Who is your target audience?

Somebody who came up to San Francisco from L.A. for a day trip booked a Recharge earlier today. We see folks who just want to change a diaper or nurse their baby. We get people who live in Menlo Park but work in San Francisco and who want to shower and take a little time for themselves before they head to an evening engagement.

It’s a real need that we’re solving. [Customers] are getting privacy in the city to nap or shower or prepare for something. You can’t do that at Starbuck’s.

This concept is very much like that of Breather, which provides on-demand rooms in cities so that visitors can pop in to relax with friends or maybe make some quiet calls. We should also note that Breather has raised nearly $28 million from investors. Why is this better?

More here.


StrictlyVC: March 23, 2016

Hi, everyone. It is Wednesday! [Slowly rolls head from left to right, cracks knuckles.]

Quick mention: If you’re interested in hardware and seed investing, we’ll be moderating a related investor panel on Tuesday, April 5 at Highway1’s offices in San Francisco. Among the featured investors: Charles Hudson of Precursor VC, Semil Shah of Haystack, and Highway1’s Brady Forrest. Come if you can; it should be fun. More details here.

—–

Top News in the A.M.

Cellebrite, an Israel-based maker of mobile forensic software, is reportedly helping the company that’s helping the FBI in its attemp to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters. Reuters has the story here.

—–

Former Apple Exec Launches At-Home Blood Test Startup

Bob Messerschmidt knows a little about health and wellness tech, having spent three years helping architect the Apple Watch platform after Apple quietly acquired his spectroscopy company, Rare Light, in 2010. (The terms were undisclosed.)

Messerschmidt also knew when he left Apple to found a new company that it would again involve smartphones. After all, he reasoned, they’re starting to help us track not just our general wellness but also our responses to medicine and other treatments. The bigger question was which chronic condition he would tackle and before long, he settled on Cor, a now two-year-old, San Francisco-based, consumer-facing startup that helps measure heart health, all with just a tiny drop of blood.

Before you start worrying that Cor is a young Theranos, the embattled blood testing company, it’s worth noting that there are many meaningful differences between the two companies. For one thing, Cor wants people to test themselves in their own homes, using an appliance the size of an electric toothbrush and disposable cartridges. Their blood chemistry information is then sent “into the cloud,” analyzed, and results are beamed backed to users within five minutes, along with helpful tips about how to improve them.

Which raises another important point: Cor isn’t trying to tell its users anything definitive. “Theranos is trying to provide diagnostic numbers,” notes Messerschmidt. “We’re not. We’re not a medical device company. We’re providing life style guidance.”

It’s trying to be as transparent as possible about how, too.

More here.

—–

New Fundings

Aerin Medical,  a five-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based company that develops devices and procedures for improved nasal breathing, has raised $16.7 million in Series C funding from Targeted Technology Fund and KCK Group. FinSMEs has more here.

BetterWorks, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based cloud-based platform designed to help employees set and reach business goals, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Emergence Capital, with participation from earlier backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Joe Lonsdale’s 8VC. (Formation 8 was a Series A investor in the company.) Vator has more here.

Convoy, a year-old, Seattle-based on-demand service for local and regional trucking, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by Greylock Partners. The company had raised $2.5 million in seed funding last fall. The Seattle Times has more here.

Domo, a 5.5-year-old, American Fork, Ut.-based data management platform company, has raised $131 million in additional Series D funding, pushing a $200 million round that it had initially closed last April to a whopping $331 million. The newest capital comes from BlackRock and unnamed family offices n Asia and Russia. The company, currently valued at $2 billion, has now raised $589 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

FOVE, a nearly two-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of an eye-tracking VR headset, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by the Japanese game publisher Colopl. TechCrunch has more here.

GoCardless, a five-year-old, London-based payments company that makes collecting payments by direct debit easy, has raised a $13 million in new funding led by Notion Capital, with participation from earlier backers Balderton Capital, Accel Partners, and Passion Capital. TechCrunch hasmore here.

HomeUnion, a 6.5-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based online real estate investment management firm that specializes in single-family rental properties, has raised $16 million in Series B funding from Artiman Ventures, Colchis CapitalNorthgate Capital, and Tamarisc. HomeUnion has now raised $23 million in funding altogether. More here.

Polarsteps, a 1.5-year-old, Amsterdam-based company that makes an automated travel blogging app, has raised €500,000 ($563,000) in seed funding from Silver Point Ventures and TMG. TechCrunch has more here.

Quanterix Corporation, a nine-year-old, Lexington, Ma.-based diagnostic company whose device is able to test for proteins in the blood that correlate with a variety of different diseases, has raised $46 million in Series D funding led by three new strategic investors: Trinitas Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, and Arch Overage Fund. Existing investors also joined the deal, including ARCH Venture Partners, Bain Capital Ventures, Tufts University and David Walt. Hercules Capital participated, too. More here.

Science Exchange, a nearly five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based scientific research marketplace, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Maverick Capital, with participation from Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, OATV, Collaborative Fund, YC Continuity Fund and individual angels. TechCrunch has more here.

Start A Fire, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based company whose software enables individuals and brands to promote their social presence and content over any link they share, has raised $2.5 million in funding led by Canaan Venture Partners, with participation from Lool Ventures and Aleksandar Totic, who was one of the original developers of the Mosaic browser. More here.

Stratoscale, a three-year-old, Herzliya, Israel-based company that sells data center software, has raised $27 million in Series C funding from Qualcomm Ventures along with earlier backers Battery Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Cisco Investments, Intel Capital and SanDisk Ventures. More here.

Visionary VR, a 1.5-year-old, L.A.-based story creation software company that’s hoping to make it possible for people other than expert-level developers to create VR stories, has raised $6 million in Series A funding by DFJ Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

New Funds

Last October, we told you about the newest early-stage fund of Frazier Healthcare Partners, a 25-year-old firm. Now, the firm is announcing that it has closed a companion fund, Frazier Healthcare Growth Buyout Fund VIII, at $525 million. The fund, which is run out of the firm’s Seattle office, was oversubscribed, according to its partners.

—–

People

Power couple? Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez is reportedly dating 23andme CEO Anne Wojcicki.

—–

Essential Reads

All 60(!) companies that launched at Y Combinator’s Demo Day yesterday.

SpaceX’s big plan to launch rockets every few weeks.

—–

Detours

Tesla is now offering Ludicrous Mode upgrades for older P90D models because why not.

The stars of “Silicon Valley” guess what real startups do.

—–

Retail Therapy

Hahaha. Worst place ribbons.


Former Apple Exec Launches In-Home Blood Test Startup

Cor Product (Lifestyle)Bob Messerschmidt knows a little about health and wellness tech, having spent three years helping architect the Apple Watch platform after Apple quietly acquired his spectroscopy company, Rare Light, in 2010. (The terms were undisclosed.)

Messerschmidt also knew when he left Apple to found a new company that it would again involve smartphones. After all, he reasoned, they’re starting to help us track not just our general wellness but also our responses to medicine and other treatments. The bigger question was which chronic condition he would tackle and before long, he settled on Cor, a now two-year-old, San Francisco-based, consumer-facing startup that helps measure heart health, all with just a tiny drop of blood.

Before you start worrying that Cor is a young Theranos, the embattled blood testing company, it’s worth noting that there are many meaningful differences between the two companies. For one thing, Cor wants people to test themselves in their own homes, using an appliance the size of an electric toothbrush and disposable cartridges. Their blood chemistry information is then sent “into the cloud,” analyzed, and results are beamed backed to users within five minutes, along with helpful tips about how to improve them.

Which raises another important point: Cor isn’t trying to tell its users anything definitive. “Theranos is trying to provide diagnostic numbers,” notes Messerschmidt. “We’re not. We’re not a medical device company. We’re providing life style guidance.”

It’s trying to be as transparent as possible about how, too.

More here.


StrictlyVC: March 22, 2015

Hi, happy Tuesday, everyone. (We’re thinking of those of you in Europe today. Ugh.)

—–

Top News in the A.M.

Here’s everything that Apple announced yesterday.

The FBI thinks it has found a way to hack into that iPhone 5c without Apple’s help.

—–

A VC in Greece, Operating in Tumultuous Times

Georgios Kasselakis has the same concerns as most VCs: How to raise money, how to grow the money investors provide him, how to identify the most promising startups.

Unlike most VCs, Kasselakis and his seed-stage firm, OpenFund, are based in Athens, Greece, a country that’s nearly bankrupt and where, even worse, more than 44,000 refugees are now trapped (a number that’s growing daily, owing to the closed-door policies of its neighbors).

We talked with Kasselakis last week via email to learn more about how seven-year-old OpenFund operates, and how it’s coping with what’s happening all around it.

How much money is OpenFund managing?

We sit on top of a €15 million fund, which is our second one. [It’s] a big jump from the €500,000 that we originally launched with.

How many companies has your firm funded to date?

We’ve made more than 20 investments in our second fund. While small by Silicon Valley standards,  you have to keep in mind the cost of labor for highly trained knowledge workers (developers, IT, network), which is roughly six to seven times less than the Valley.

How many other active tech venture firms are there in Athens?

There are four:  Odyssey Venture Partners; First Athens; VentureFriends, which just launched; and PJ Tech Catalyst.

Is that more or less than, say, five years ago?

A lot fewer. At some point, a fund of funds firm called Taneo had helped create more than 10, which were then discontinued. Most fund managers stumbled on the crisis, panicked, and didn’t do any investments at all.

More here.

—–

New Fundings

Big Basket, a 4.5-year-old, Bangalore, India-based online grocery delivery company, has raised $150 million in new funding led by Abraaj Group, with participation from International Finance Corp, Sands Capital, and earlier backers Bessemer Venture Partners and Helion Advisors. More here.

BYJU, an eight-year-old, Bangalore, India-based educational app for Indian schoolchildren, has raised $75 million from Sequoia India and Sofina. The round brings the company’s total funding to $90 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Edgewater Markets, a seven-year-old, New York-based electronic foreign exchange aggregation and distribution platform, has raised $30 million in growth equity led by FTV Capital. More here.

Edj Analytics, a three-year-old, Louisville, Ky.-based company that sells game-based data-driven decision-support software, has raised $2.4 million in funding led by Chrysalis. More here.

Maxwell Health, a 3.5-year-old, Boston-based employee benefits tech platform, has raised $22 million in new funding from GIS Strategic Ventures, an investing arm of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America; Sun Life Financial; and Cendana Capital. Previous backers also contributed, including Adams Street Partners, Cambia Health Solutions, Catalyst Health Ventures, Industry Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Schooner Capital,Tribeca Venture Partners, and Vaizra Investments. Xconomy has more here.

Terminus, a 1.5-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based business-to-business marketing startup, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding, including $5 million in equity financing and $2.5 million in venture debt. The round was led by Edison Partners, with participation from existing investors including Hyde Park Venture Partners, Arthur Ventures, and Knoll Ventures. More here.

Zodiac, a year-old, Philadelphia, Pa.-based startup that makes predictive marketing analytics software, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by First Round Capital, with participation from Metamorphic Ventures, Felicis Ventures and Western Technology Investment. More here.

—–

New Funds

Polytech Ecosystem Ventures, a seed and early stage venture firm with offices in Lausanne, Switzerland and San Francisco, has closed a $40 million venture capital fund that’s headquartered in Luxembourg and aimed at seed-stage startups in Switzerland, Europe and the U.S. The fund was raised from Swiss-based institutional investors and international private investors.

Just days after SV Angel filed for a new, $46 million fund, its former managing partner, David Lee, looks to be raising his own new fund under the brand Refactor Capital. An SEC form filed earlier today shows the Burlingame, Ca.-based outfit is raising up to $50 million for its debut effort and that its co-founders include Zal Bilimoria and Rick Barber. According to Fortune’s Dan Primack, the firm plans to invest in seed-stage software startups on the West Coast, including those focused on healthcare IT.

—–

Exits

Apple has been talking about acquiring the 31-year-old, publicly traded British chip design company Imagination Technologies, according to Ars Technica UK.  Apple has even confirmed those talks, but says there are no plans to buy the company right now.

Jumio, the Andreessen Horowitz-funded mobile and online credentials authentication business, whose technology can scan and read information from payment cards and IDs, says that its U.S. business has begun voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings. The company is selling its business to early backer and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. According to CrunchBase, Jumio had raised roughly $37 million from investors. More here.

—–

People

Legendary former Intel CEO Andy Grove passed away yesterday at age 79. Seed-stage VC Robert Siegel, who was Grove’s former research assistant, remembers him here.

Super entrepreneur Elon Musk and his wife, Talulah Riley, are divorcing again.

—–

Jobs

Hyde Park Venture Partners is looking to bring aboard an analyst. The job is in Chicago.

The Kapor Center for Social Impact is looking for a chief tech community officer. The job is in Oakland, Ca.

—–

Data

This quarter has already seen 8 new unicorn companies, according to CrunchBase. (Last year, it tracked 77 newly minted unicorns, an average of 19 per quarter.) You can see its interactive timeline visualization here.

—–

Essential Reads

ANI Technologies, which runs the hugely popular India-based cab-hailing service Ola, has been dragged to court by Uber, which accuses Ola of creating fake accounts to book rides, then cancel them. (Hmm, why does this sound so familiar?)

The fantasy sports operators FanDuel and DraftKings have agreed to shut down in New York, their largest market, as part of a settlement announced yesterday with the state attorney general’s office.

How Tesla‘s Model 3 could conquer low-end luxury.

—–

Detours

Kraft’s crafty switcheroo.

The thing with open letters.

—–

Retail Therapy

The “Tesla of the skies,” from 3D Robotics.


A VC in Greece, Operating in Tumultuous Times

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 11.23.34 AMGeorgios Kasselakis has the same concerns as most VCs: How to raise money, how to grow the money investors provide him, how to identify the most promising startups.

Unlike most VCs, Kasselakis and his seed-stage firm, OpenFund, are based in Athens, Greece, a country that’s nearly bankrupt and where, even worse, more than 44,000 refugees are now trapped (a number that’s growing daily, owing to the closed-door policies of its neighbors).

We talked with Kasselakis last week via email to learn more about how seven-year-old OpenFund operates, and how it’s coping with what’s happening all around it.

How much money is OpenFund managing?

We sit on top of a €15 million fund, which is our second one. [It’s] a big jump from the €500,000 that we originally launched with.

How many companies has your firm funded to date?

We’ve made more than 20 investments in our second fund. While small by Silicon Valley standards,  you have to keep in mind the cost of labor for highly trained knowledge workers (developers, IT, network), which is roughly six to seven times less than the Valley.

How many other active tech venture firms are there in Athens?

There are four:  Odyssey Venture Partners; First Athens; VentureFriends, which just launched; and PJ Tech Catalyst.

Is that more or less than, say, five years ago?

A lot fewer. At some point, a fund of funds firm called Taneo had helped create more than 10, which were then discontinued. Most fund managers stumbled on the crisis, panicked, and didn’t do any investments at all.

More here.


StrictlyVC: March 21, 2016

Hi, everyone, welcome back! Hope you had a fun weekend.

—–

Top News in the A.M.

A group of Johns Hopkins University researchers has found a bug in Apple’s vaunted encryption, one that would enable a skilled attacker to decrypt photos and videos sent as secure instant messages.

Speaking of Apple, it’s holding its smaller iPhone event today; here’s where towatch the live stream.

Also newly posted: How to reserve your Model 3.

—–

How Goguen’s Suit Hurts Sequoia

The Friday before last, we told you that longtime Sequoia partner Michael Goguen had been slapped with a stomach-turning complaint. At its crux, it accused him of breaching an agreement he’d made to pay $40 million to a woman he’d known for years. Apparently, after paying her $10 million, Goguen concluded that he was within his rights to stop writing her checks. The woman then hired a lawyer.

Whether the case ever goes to trial is now beside the point for Goguen, who has enjoyed a lucrative career as a venture capitalist and who, fairly or unfairly, will now be publicly associated with that complaint and the person who filed it, despite his strongly worded counter-complaint.

Fairly or unfairly, it also does real damage to Sequoia Capital.

Entrepreneurs aren’t the immediate issue. It would take a lot more than this bizarre situation for most founders to be deterred from accepting a check from Sequoia, whose imprimatur can make everything easier, from assembling a team, to attracting press, to, later, luring the right investment bankers.

That Goguen is no longer a partner of Sequoia certainly minimizes the damage. (A spokesman didn’t elaborate when explaining to us last week why Sequoia decided Goguen’s departure was the “appropriate course of action.” But we suspect his original deal with his accuser was made without the firm’s knowledge, which would be a major no-no. That kind of financial agreement would be material information to a partnership.)

A much bigger problem for Sequoia will be recruiting female investing partners.

More here.

—–

New Fundings

ApniCure, a nine-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based startup whose medical device aims to treat sleep apnea, has raised $15.8 million toward a $17.4 million financing, according to an SEC filing first flagged by VentureWire. The company previously raised capital from Capricorn Investment GroupKleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and U.S. Venture Partners. More here.

Atlantic Healthcare, a nine-year-old, U.K.-based specialty pharmaceutical company focused on gastrointestinal disorders, has raised $24 million in funding from LDC, Fullbrook Thorpe Investments, the founders of Salix Pharmaceuticals, and earlier investors. More here.

Distribusion Technologies, a 3.5-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based company that connects travel resellers like travel websites, travel agencies and tour operators, with intercity bus operators worldwide, has raised €6 million ($11.3 million) in funding from Northzone, Creandum, HR Ventures and seed investor Frühphasenfonds Brandenburg. TechCrunch has more here.

eGym, a five-year-old, Munich, Germany-based startup that offers cloud-connected gym equipment and supporting cloud software and apps for fitness training, has raised $45 million in Series C funding led by HPE Growth Capital, with participation from earlier backers, including Highland Europe. TechCrunch has more here.

Elliptic, a three-year-old, U.K.-based fintech startup whose blockchain forensics tool mines the public Bitcoin ledger to identify and flag suspicious transaction patterns, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Paladin Capital Group, with participation from Santander InnoVentures, KRW SchindlerDigital Currency Group, and earlier investor Octopus Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

FuboTV, a nearly two-year-old, New York-based TV service that’s focused on streaming and curating soccer content, has raised $15 million in Series B funding, according to an SEC filing flagged by Fortune. Earlier backers include 21st Century Fox, I2BF Digital, BAM Ventures and Luminary CapitalMore here.

Girnar Software, a nine-year-old, Rajasthan, India-based company that oversees several auto portals in India including CarDekho.com, has raised an undisclosed amount of new funding from Google Capital, with participation from earlier backer Hillhouse Capital. This is the fourth Indian startup Google Capital has invested in. (Its other bets include Freshdesk, Commonfloor, and Practo.) TechCrunch has more here.

GreatHorn, a year-old, Belmont, Ma.-based cloud security platform startup focused on stopping phishing attacks, has raised $2.25 million in seed funding led by ff Venture Capital and SoftTech VC, with participation from Techstars Ventures, RRE Ventures, Zelkova Ventures, V1.VC and local investor Walter Winshall. More here.

Mattermark, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that examines public Internet data to provide investors, sales teams and others with search tools and other business intelligence, has raised $7.3 million in Series B funding at a $42 million valuation from inside investors. Foundry Group led the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Mirriad, an eight-year-old, London-based maker of in-video ad software, has raised $15 million in funding led by IP Group PLC, with participation from Parkway Funds and Unilever Ventures. More here.

Moat, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based online media analytics company, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Insight Venture Partners. The WSJ has more here.

Partender, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based app that reduces the time it takes bar managers and owners to assess their inventory by digitizing the process, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding, including, reportedly, from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s parents and 500 Startups.

ServisHero, a nine-month-old, Malaysia-based company that provides local services on-demand in Southeast Asia via a mobile app, has raised $2.7 million in funding led by Golden Gate Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

StreetShares, a 1.5-year-old, Reston, Va.-based online lender, has raised $4.5 million in in the first tranche of its Series A round. The venture firm Fenway Summer, founded by a former deputy director at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is leading the round. Endeavor Equity Holdings and Pivot Investments are also participating in the round, which is still open. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

Tinkergarten, a 1.5-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup that enables a network of instructors to lead classes for young children in parks, has raised $1.6 million in a seed round led by Omidyar Network. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.

—–

New Funds

Bronze Investments, a new, Palo Alto, Ca.-based firm founded by Stephen DeBerry, a former partner with Kapor Capital and Omidyar Network, is looking to raise a debut fund of $50 million, shows an SEC filing first flagged by Fortune.

Empire Angels, a 3.5-year-old, New York based angel group that invests in early-stage tech start-ups, has raised $450,000 for a fund, shows a new SEC filing.

Movac, an 18-year-old, Wellingon, New Zealand-based venture firm, aims to raise at least $80 million by June for a new investment fund, it tells a local outlet. Toward that end, it has already lined up a commitment of up to $20 milllion from the Crown-owned New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. Stuff.co.nz has more here.

“Opportunity” funds are beginning to crop up in India, too, seemingly. Zodius Capital, a five-year-old, Mumbai, India-based venture firm, is  is raising a follow-on fund of up to $40 million to support its maturing portfolio companies, it tells LiveMint. According to managing director Gautam Patel, the firm has already held a first close of $30 million toward that end. Zodius raised a central fund, its $110 million Zodius Technology Fund, last year. More here.

—–

Exits

Next Step Living, an eight-year-old, Boston-based company that sold home energy evaluations and software to individuals and organizations, has shut down, it announced Friday on its website. The company had reportedly raised more than $80 million in venture capital, including from Black Coral Capital,VantagePoint Capital Partners, and Braemar Energy Ventures. Xconomy has more here.

Indian transportation app Ola has acquired Qarth, a startup that has developed a mobile payments app called X-Pay. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The is the third acquisition announced by Ola, and the first to build out an aspect of its business beyond basic transportation. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

People

Dave Engberg, Evernote’s founding CTO, is leaving the company in May.

Motorola President Rick Osterloh is leaving Lenovo amid a broad reorganization.

Jeff Williams, a former senior vice president of sales at the cybersecurity vendor FireEye, has joined Bain Capital Ventures as its first operating partner in California.

—–

Jobs

Yamaha is looking to hire someone willing to work double-duty as an accountant and venture analyst at its corporate venturing arm. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca.

—–

Essential Reads

Good news, cloud companies. Google is shopping for cloud companies.

What’s going on beneath the subprime auto loan turmoil.

Gawker is toast.

—–

Detours

Laser shaming.

The Bay Area Airbnb for both Biebs and Beyonce.

“Silicon Valley” returns next month to HBO. Here’s the trailer.

The Obama doctrine.

—–

Retail Therapy

A hoodie engineered to chill you out.


How Goguen’s Suit Hurts Sequoia

MIchael GoguenThe Friday before last, we told you that longtime Sequoia partner Michael Goguen had been slapped with a stomach-turning complaint. At its crux, it accused him of breaching an agreement he’d made to pay $40 million to a woman he’d known for years. Apparently, after paying her $10 million, Goguen concluded that he was within his rights to stop writing her checks. The woman then hired a lawyer.

Whether the case ever goes to trial is now beside the point for Goguen, who has enjoyed a lucrative career as a venture capitalist and who, fairly or unfairly, will now be publicly associated with that complaint and the person who filed it, despite his strongly worded counter-complaint.

Fairly or unfairly, it also does real damage to Sequoia Capital.

Entrepreneurs aren’t the immediate issue. It would take a lot more than this bizarre situation for most founders to be deterred from accepting a check from Sequoia, whose imprimatur can make everything easier, from assembling a team, to attracting press, to, later, luring the right investment bankers.

That Goguen is no longer a partner of Sequoia certainly minimizes the damage. (A spokesman didn’t elaborate when explaining to us last week why Sequoia decided Goguen’s departure was the “appropriate course of action.” But we suspect his original deal with his accuser was made without the firm’s knowledge, which would be a major no-no. That kind of financial agreement would be material information to a partnership.)

A much bigger problem for Sequoia will be recruiting female investing partners.

More here.


StrictlyVC: March 18, 2016

Hi, everyone, happy Friday! As always, we hope you have a terrific weekend; we’ll see you back here Monday.:)

No column today.

—–

Top News in the A.M.

Uber just ordered 100,000 Mercedes S-Class cars, Manager Magazin reported earlier today. No word yet on what the company is up to. (Intrigue!)

—–

New Fundings

Cumulus Funding, a five-year-old, Chicago-based consumer finance startup that provides funding to customers in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Continental Investors, with participation from HC Technologies, D-W InvestmentsBridge Investments and Service Provider Capital. The company also secured $25 million in new debt financing commitments. More here.

HighGround, a four-year-old, Chicago-based cloud HR platform focused on employee engagement, has raised $7.6 million in new funding led by Chicago-based KDWC, with participation from earlier investors, including Columbus Nova Technology Partners and Lightbank. More here.

Kenandy, a six-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company whose enterprise resource planning software is built on the Salesforce platform, has raised $11.5 million in Series B funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersLightspeed Venture Partners, Salesforce Ventures and Wilson Sonsini Ventures. FinSMEs has more here.

—–

New Funds

Atomico, a 10-year-old, London-based venture firm that invests across sectors and stages in startups that are largely located in Europe’s fastest growing tech hubs — particularly London, Stockhold, Helsinki and Berlin — is raising a $750 million fund, shows an SEC filing. (The firm has also confirmed the total to us). The team includes Niklas Zennstrom (who founded Atomico and cofounded Skype previously), Mattias Ljungman, Hiro Tamura, Haroldo Korte, Yann DeVries, as well as Siraj Khaliq, who previously founded The Climate Corporation and who recently joined Atomico. More here.

SV Angel, the seven-year-old, San Francisco-based seed-stage venture firm founded by renowned investor Ron Conway, is targeting $46 million in funding, shows a new SEC filing that states the first sale has yet to occur. The firm is currently managed by Conway’s son, Topher Conway, along with general partners Brian Pokorny, Kevin Carter, and Robert Pollack. It also employs one principal and two associates. SV Angel closed its last fund with $75 million in 2014. The Conways had said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt last September that their next fund would be closer to $40 million. More here.

Union Square Ventures, a 13-year-old, New York venture capital firm founded by investor Fred Wilson, has raised a $166.8 million fund, according to an SEC filing first spied by Fortune. The fund is the company’s fourth early stage fund and roughly the same size as its third, which closed in 2012. At that time, USV had raised a separate, $175 million “opportunities fund” to make additional investments in its most promising portfolio companies. USV isn’t raising another later-stage fund this time around. More here.

—–

Exits

Google’s parent company Alphabet isn’t happy with Boston Dynamics, its robotics subsidiary. According to a Bloomberg report, Alphabet executives think that Boston Dynamics is unlikely to generate substantial revenue in the next few years and is hard to work with. Toyota or Amazon could be interested in acquiring Boston Dynamics for their manufacturing or warehouse operations. More here.

Kickstarter has acquired Drip, a five-year-old, Brooklyn-based online music community that had shut down last month after raising $1.5 million in seed funding. No financial terms were disclosed. Engadget has more here.

WeWork, the co-working space headquartered in New York and valued north of $5 billion, is acquiring Welkio, a 1.5-year-old digital sign-in system for guests at an office. According to Crunchbase, Welkio had raised around $400,000 in seed funding. Terms of the acquisition aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

People

Jack Dorsey says Twitter’s 140 character limit is here to stay.

Mark Zuckerberg just jogged through Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. He also posted a picture of his run on Facebook, which is blocked in China.

—–

Jobs

The Knight Foundation is hiring a venture investment associate for its in-house venture fund, the Knight Enterprise Fund. The job is in Miami, Fla.

—–

Essential Reads

Dropbox, the cloud storage startup facing questions about its $10 billion valuation, is expected to authorize a sale of its common stock at a 34 percent discount to its most recent round of private funding, according to BuzzFeed News.

If the F.B.I. wins its court fight to force Apple’s help in unlocking an iPhone, the agency may run into yet another roadblock: Apple’s engineers.

—–

Detours

Eleven of the most expensive villas in the world.

—–

Retail Therapy

Fun. Clothes pins coat rack.