Happy Thursday, dear readers! [Elbow stand.]
Top News in the A.M.
Bill Gurley just published his bi-annual musings state of the venture industry. They’re worth reading, here.
Felicis Ventures Closes on $20o Million, Roughly Doubling Its Last Fund
When we first met Aydin Senkut in 2006, it was just months after he’d resigned from Google, where he was a senior manager responsible for strategic partner development in Asia Pacific. He was among a small number of “Googlaires” who had lots of money, great connections, and the ability to see many web startups before traditional VCs.
In fact, many in the industry viewed Senkut and his ilk as arrivistes, and Senkut has been on his unwavering mission since, first to first impress them, then to surpass them. His execution has been pretty spot on, too. Felicis Ventures, the San Francisco-based firm that he founded 10 years ago and he now manages with three other investors, just closed its fifth fund with $200 million. That’s nearly double the amount Felicis gathered up for its fourth fund less than two years ago.
Institutions are writing out big checks left and right these days. But it’s easy to understand why Felicis’s limited partners were particularly open to providing the firm with more capital. Felicis has invested in 180 startups to date. Three of those companies have gone public, including Fitbit and Shopify. At least three others — Credit Karma, Planet Labs, and Adyen — appear positioned to go public.
Meanwhile, another 60 companies in Felicis’s portfolio have enjoyed what Senkut calls “meaningful exits.” Most meaningful, seemingly, Felicis was an early investor in Cruise Automation, which is being acquired by General Motors for more than $1 billion; it backed the cloud infrastructure startup Meraki, acquired by Cisco for $1.2 billion in cash; it invested in Twitch, acquired by Amazon for $970 million in cash; and it backed Climate Corp., which Monsanto bought for roughly $930 million.
If you’re wondering about the number of companies that have flamed out after receiving a check from Felicis, Senkut says it’s is in the “very low digits; it’s in the teens percentage on a dollar-adjusted basis.”
When we talked earlier this week, Senkut suggested Felicis’s success so far owes to what he characterizes as a unique strategy.
Acorns, a four-year-old, Newport Beach, Ca.-based robo advisory company whose app targets young investors, making it simple for them to buy into a diversified group of exchange-traded funds, has raised $30 million in funding from PayPal, with participation from the Rakuten Tech Fund. The WSJ hasmore here.
Advantagene, a 17-year-old, Auburndale, Ma.-based immuno-oncology company, has just raised $5 million of a proposed $35 million round, according to an SEC filing. The company is developing a prostate cancer vaccine that’s in Phase 3 development. MedCity News has more here.
BeBop Sensors, a two-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based developer of smart fabrics embedded with sensors that are capable of measuring motion, force, location, weight, size and shape, has raised more than $4.4 million in a round of funding that remains open. The company hasn’t disclosed its investors. MedCity News has more here.
Brayola, a three-year-old, New York-based online markeplace service for women’s intimate apparel, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from investors, including Haim Dabah of HDS Capital and FirstTime Capital’s Jonathan Benartzi. TechCrunch has more here.
China Eastern Airlines, a 28-year-old, Shanghai, China-based state-run airline that claims 94 million passengers, has raised $463 million in funding from the 16-year-old, Shanghai-based travel booking giant Ctrip. TechCrunch has more here.
Forter, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based fraud prevention company, has raised $32 million in Series C funding led by Scale Venture Partners, with follow-on funding from Sequoia Capital and New Enterprise Associates. TechCrunch has more here.
Framebridge, a two-year-old, Lanham, Md.-based online custom framing company, has raised $9 million in Series B funding from SWaN & Legend Venture Partners and earlier backers New Enterprise Associates and Revolution. TechCrunch has more here.
MemSQL, a five-year-old, Sam Francisco-based in-memory database platform, has raised $36 million in Series C funding led by new investors REV and Caffeinated Capital, with participation from earlier investors Accel Partners, Khosla Ventures, Data Collective, IA Ventures and First Round Capital. MemSQL has now raised a total of $85 million. TechCrunch has more here.
NurseGrid, a three-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based company behind an online platform for staffing management and communication among nursing teams, has raised $2.5 million from investors, including Toba Capital and returning investor Excelerate Health Ventures. Portland Business Journal has more here.
Preempt Security, a 1.5-year-old, Bay Area-based startup that’s still operating in stealth, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by General Catalyst Partners, with participation from Trusteer founders Mickey Boodaei and Rakesh Loonkar, and former Akamai Technologies CEO Paul Sagan. The company has now raised $10 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
The RealReal, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based consignment site that focuses on authenticated, high-end resale items for women, men, and the home, has raised $40 million in Series E funding led by Greenspring Associates, with participation from Broadway Angels, Next Equity, Springboard Fund and earlier backers Canaan Partners, e.ventures, Greycroft Partners, InterWest Partners, DBL Partners, and Industry Ventures. To date, the business has raised $123 million in funding. TechCrunch has more here.
Europe has a new venture firm in Backed VC, which today is officially outing its €30 million ($33.8 million) pan-European seed-stage fund. TechCrunch has more here.
CrunchFund, the five-year-old, San Francisco-based seed stage fund cofounded by TechCrunch cofounder Michael Arrington, is looking to raise up to $40 million for its third fund, shows an SEC filing. Arrington, who is not listed on the filing, tells Fortune he’s playing a smaller role, by design, in part to focus on his health. “I don’t have cancer or anything, please don’t make it sound so serious,” he tells the outlet. More here.
SecureWorks, an Atlanta-based cybersecurity company owned by Dell, is planning to seek as much as $157.5 million in an IPO that’s scheduled to price today after markets close. It will be the first IPO of a U.S. tech company this year. Bloomberg has more here.
Auris Surgical Robotics, backed by Peter Thield’s Mithril Capital Management, is buying the minimally invasive robotic surgery company Hansen Medical in a deal valued at about $80 million. Auris has raised $184 million to date, according to CrunchBase. FierceMedical Devices has more here.
The Huffington Post, owned by AOL, owned by Verizon (which pays us in our other role, at TechCrunch), is buying a virtual reality studio called RYOT to build VR content production on the site. Sources tell TechCrunch the purchase price was in the $10 million to $15 million range. RYOT had raised a little more than $3 million in Series A funding prior. More here.
Lexmark, the U.S. printer manufacturer, has agreed to be acquired by a Chinese consortium for $3.6 billion, as mainland companies continue their spending spree on established brands in developed markets. The Financial Times has the story here.
Mindie, a venture-backed app that let users pick songs to accompany their videos and which shut down in December, has been acquired by Shots, the selfie app-turned-comedy feed backed by Justin Bieber. Unsurprisingly, Shots co-founder John Shahidi tells TechCrunch the price “wasn’t a crazy amount.” TechCrunch has more here.
Venture capitalist Byron Deeter of Bessemer Venture Partners has been having a host of problems with his (beloved) Tesla Model X, and he isn’t alone. More here.
Zalora, the fashion-focused e-commerce site backed by Rocket Internet, has lost two top executives. Singapore-based managing directors Harry Markl, who is also listed as a co-founder, and Avni Pundir have departed the company. TechCrunch has more here.
Cisco is looking to hire a corporate development associate. The job is in San Jose, Ca.
Ad tech may remain unfashionable, but the online advertising is continuing to attract more revenue, according to a new report prepared by PwC for the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Among the report’s conclusions: that digital ad revenue in the U.S. reached $59.6 billion last year, a 20 percent increase from 2014 and an all-time high. More here.
Apple‘s efforts to move its cloud infrastructure in-house for its web services are being slowed by “political infighting” between the company’s iCloud and Siri engineering teams, according to The Information.
The story behind Donald Trump’s epic Mar-A-Lago portrait.
Matt Damon is back as Jason Bourne.