Hi, happy Thursday, everyone!
Know this is arriving at an odd hour; we had to rush off to a school production this a.m. before SVC was ready to ship(!).
Top News in the A.M.
Uber is testing its fleet of self-driving Ford Fusion cars on the streets, bridges and hills of Pittsburgh, the ride-sharing company confirmed for the first time yesterday.
The truth about due diligence
There’s an expression in venture capital. It’s called the “Oh, shit” board meeting. “That’s when you learn all sorts of things that you wish you’d known after writing a company that first check,” says general partner David Hornik of August Capital.
It’s easy to imagine that they’ve been happening regularly across the startup industry. The pace of funding in recent years has been feverish, giving investors less time than ever to assess the startups they’re funding. That once-celebrated companies like the blood testing outfit Theranos, and the wireless charging company uBeam, are seemingly fighting for their lives raises plenty of questions, too.
A recent Vanity Fair piece blamed Silicon Valley media for the rise of certain companies. Meanwhile, a story published earlier this week in Fast Company suggested a culture of spin is at the root of the problem. As one founder told the outlet, “Being honest in Silicon Valley is like being the one member of an Olympic team that isn’t on steroids.”
Of course, none of us would likely have heard of Theranos or uBeam if not for investors, who’ve given the companies $686 million and $25 million, respectively. Were these backers overly optimistic? Did they get duped? Were they even paying attention? It’s easy to wag our fingers as we wait to see how these narratives unfold, but here’s the truth: due diligence only goes so far. While some may think it a scientific process that insulates venture firms from bad investments, due diligence is a surprisingly imperfect process with plenty of limitations.
“If you’re looking for a black or white answer in doing diligence, it’ll be a fail,” says Matt Murphy, a former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner who joined Menlo Ventures a year ago as a managing director. “You’re usually dealing with shades of gray.”
6SensorLabs, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that was formerly known as Nima and makes a tiny gluten tester, has raised $9.2 million in Series A funding from investors to create products that also detect peanuts, milk, and other hidden ingredients to which a user could be allergic. Foundry Group led the round, with participation from Upfront Ventures, SoftTech VC, SK Ventures, Lemnos Labs, Mitch Kapor and Nest Labs cofounder Matt Rogers. TechCrunch has more here.
Afero, a two-year-old, Los Altos, Ca.-based cloud company that secures connected devices — from toys and arcade games to medical equipment — has raised $20.3 million in Series A funding led by Samsung Catalyst Fund, with participation from Presidio Ventures, Sanshin Electronics, SoftBank, Fenox Venture Capital, Assembly Fund, and Linear Technology co-founder Robert Dobkin. TechCrunch has more here.
BeMyEye, a five-year-old, London-based mobile crowdsourcing app that companies use to enlist people to carry out mobile tasks, like photographing in-store promotions, has raised €6.5 million ($7.3 million) in Series B funding fromNauta Capital, P101, and previous backer 360 Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.
Decisio Health, a three-year-old, Houston, Tex.-based startup that aims to help acute-care provider organizations improve their clinical processes, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by Declatex, with participation from the University of Texas Horizon Fund. More here.
Dojo Madness, a two-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based e-sports startup whose mobile app offers tips to gamers to help them improve their gameplay, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by March Capital Partners, with Investment Bank of Berlin and earlier backers London Venture Partners and DN Capital also participating. TechCrunch has more here.
DriveScale, a three-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company at work on flexible, scale-out computing using standard servers and commodity storage, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Pelion Venture Partners, with participation from Nautilus Venture Partners and the Foxconn subsidiary Ingrasys. More here.
Personal Capital, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based digital wealth management firm founded by former PayPal CEO Bill Harris, has raised $50 million from IGM Financial, a Canadian financial services company that has agreed to invest another $25 million in the next year. More here.
Showpad, a five-year-old, Belgium-based company that has built a platform designed to improve other businesses’ sales productivity, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Dawn Capital and Hummingbird Ventures. TechCrunch hasmore here.
Tally Technologies, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based app that promises to help people maintain good credit scores while avoiding unnecessary fees, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Shasta Ventures, with participation from earlier investors Cowboy Ventures and AITV. Silicon Valley Bank also invested. TechCrunch has more here.
ThoughtSpot, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company whose business intelligence technology uses a search interface similar to what you might find in a consumer Internet search engine, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by General Catalyst Partners. The company has now raised just less than $91 million altogether. Fortune has more here.
Tink, a four-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based mobile banking app, has raised $10 million in Series B funding co-led by the Swedish investment firm Creades and SEB Venture Capital, the venture arm of Swedish bank SEB. TechCrunch has more here.
B Capital, a new India and Southeast Asia-focused venture fund cofounded by Eduardo Saverin of Facebook fame, has raised $143.6 million for its debut fund, according to SEC filings. In a letter to “friends of B Capital” that were obtained by TechCrunch, Saverin and his cofounder, Raj Ganguly (a prominent investor who worked with Saverin on past deals), the new fund has so far pulled in just 60 percent of its target amount, meaning it’s likely to close with around $250 million. More here.
e.ventures, a 19-year-old, early-stage venture firm that has offices in Berlin, San Francisco, Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow and São Paulo, has closed a new, $150 million fund to invest in European startups. The company has also brought aboard Bernardo Hernández as its newest general partner. Hernández has founded multiple companies, including the real estate listing site idealista. TechCrunch has more here.
Carol Bartz, the former CEO of Autodesk and Yahoo!, has joined the board of the field productivity software company PlanGrid.
Apple CEO Tim Cook‘s India visit in pictures.
The average age at which children now receive their first smartphone is 10.3 years old.
A new lawsuit accuses Airbnb of discriminatory housing practices.
Can a 700 mile-per-hour train in a tube be for real?
The biggest star on “Game of Thrones” and his surprisingly tiny puppy.
Why happiness will always will just one more life achievement away.
Looking to get out of SF? This mansion in Ross might be right up your alley. Note: you will need around $9 million.)