Monthly Archives: June 2016

StrictlyVC: June 22, 2016

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Quick mention for the founders out there. TechCrunch is hosting its signature Disrupt conference in San Francisco in September. We’re helping out behind the scenes and want to remind you that TC’s “Startup Battlefield” competition is a big part of the production and that applications are open through July 5. It’s definitely worth considering. To date, 610 contestants have gone on to raise a collective $6.1 billion from investors, and 76 of those startups have either been acquired or gone public. If you have questions, probably best not to ask us (we only know so much), but sam@techcrunch.com will happily help you.

Also, thanks to those of you who signed up yesterday for our event in September.:)

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Top News in the A.M.

Elon Musk plans to combine two of his companies: SolarCity and Tesla. The deal is worth an estimated $2.5 billion to $3 billion. Much more here.

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The Muse Raises $16 Million for Its Next-Gen Career Site

The Muse, a New York-based career site that offers job opportunities, skill-building courses, coaching, and video profiles meant to show what it’s like to work at different companies, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by Icon Ventures. Earlier backers Aspect Ventures, DBL Partners and QED Investors also joined the round, which brings funding for the 4.5-year-old startup to $28.7 million.

Co-founder and CEO Kathryn Minshew says that platform’s users are largely women — 65 percent of them, in fact — with 50 percent of users below age 30, another quarter of them in their 30s, and the rest age 40 and over. That’s apparently been good for business. “When women find The Muse,” says Minshew, “they’ll come back and tell us, ‘We told 15 people,'” about the platform.

What’s also good for business is LinkedIn’s announced sale last week to Microsoft for a stunning $26.2 billion, says Minshew. We talked yesterday about why the acquisition bodes well for The Muse, as well as what the company is building right now that could double its size.

You founded the Muse with two other women, Alex Cavoulacos and Melissa McCreery, with whom you worked at McKinsey. Cavoulacos is COO but McCreery is no longer with the company. What happened?

She’s an advisor and a current PhD student at [University of California San Francisco] studying cancer biology. Whenever I come up to SF, I usually stay with her.

The Muse has a variety of revenue streams, but the biggest is recruiting. How many companies are listing jobs and corporate profiles on the site at this point?

We’re in the high 500s, with everything from smaller businesses to Fortune 1000 companies using the platform. In finance, there’s Vanguard, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs. In travel and hospitality, there’s Marriott. We have The Gap in retail; HBO, Conde Nast, Bloomberg and Hearst in media; and insurance companies like Geico and Aflac.

You also do content marketing, letting sponsors basically give your users recommendations around career-related products and services. How big a business is that?

It makes up a small but growing part of our model — probably high single digits to low double digits. We grew revenue last year by 5x, and sponsored content probably grew by the same percentage. Deloitte, for example,  sponsored an article about how to go from a military to a civilian career that was authored by an employee of theirs who has done it.

Much more here.

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New Fundings

128 Technology, a two-year-old, Burlington, Ma.-based startup whose software aims to simplify routers, has raised $36 million from investors, including G20 Ventures, company employees, and other unnamed backers. SDX Central has more here.

AppZen, a 3.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based company that makes automated expense report auditing and compliance software, has raised $2.9 million in seed funding led by Resolute Ventures, with participation from Bloomberg Beta, Silicon Valley Bank, MasterCard, and FundersClub. More here.

GamEffective, a nearly four-year-old, Charlotte, N.C.-based company that makes workforce performance management software, has raised $7 million in new funding from Jerusalem Venture Partners, CE Ventures and earlier backers. VentureBeat has more here.

Gong.io, a Palo Alto and Tel Aviv-based SaaS company focused on “sales conversion intelligence,” has raised $6 million in Series A funding led byNorwest Venture Partners and Check Point Software cofounder Shlomo Kramer. More here.

Iggbo, a year-old, Richmond, Va.-based company that employs 8,000 phlebotomists to draw blood on demand wherever patients are (at home, at work, or in their doctor’s office), just raised $13 million in funding led by Heritage Group. MedCity News has more here.

Kaola FM, a China-based audio program network that delivers content around news, finance, entertainment, cars and audio books and is run by China’s AutoRadio Group, has raised $26 million from Legend Capital and other unnamed investors, reports China Money Network. More here.

Kespry, a three-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company that makes automated drone systems for commercial use, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by DCM Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Spectrum 28, H. Barton Asset ManagementRothenberg Ventures, and Wilson Sonsini. More here.

Kwik, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv-based end-to-end IoT platform that connects customers to retailers and service providers, has raised $3 million in seed funding from Norwest Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

LightCyber, a four-year-old Tel Aviv, Israel-based cybersecurity company, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Access Industries, with participation from earlier backers Battery Ventures, Glilot Capital Partners and Amplify Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Lystable, a 1.5-year-old London-based company that makes a software tool focused on helping businesses manage freelancers, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Valar Ventures and Goldcrest Capital, with participation from Spring Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Pearl, a months-old, Scotts Valley, Ca.-based company that’s working on autonomous vehicle technologies and just unveiled its first product  —  an advanced automotive backup camera — has raised $50 million in Series A and Series B funding, including from Accel Partners, Shasta Ventures, Venrock, and Wellcome Trust. According to the Santa Cruz Tech Beat, 53 of the company’s 74 current employees worked previously at Apple. More here.

PediaQ, a year-old, Dallas, Tex.-based pediatric concierge care startup (parents use the app to request a call or in-home visit from a nurse practitioner), has raised $4.5 million from unnamed Texas investors, according to the company. MedCity News has more here.

UrWork, a year-old, China-based co-working space operator modeled after WeWork in the U.S., has raised $46 million from investors, including the Chinese commercial property developer Yintai Land and Zhongrong International Trust Co. The round follows a separate round of $31 million that the company closed just three months ago. China Money Network has more here.

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New Funds

DFJ Growth, the 10-year-old growth-stage arm of the 30-year-old Sand Hill Road firm, is raising a new $500 million fund, suggests an SEC filing first flagged by Fortune. The timing fits the narrative of many Silicon Valley venture firms that have been returning to their LPs in two years’ time, rather than a more traditional three or four years. Indeed, the firm raised its last growth fund, a $470 million pool, in May of 2014. More here.

Female Founders Fund, a three-year-old, New York-based seed stage fund, is looking to raise up to $30 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing that states the first sale has yet to occur. More here.

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Exits

Verizon is acquiring the telematics startup Telogis. The 15-year-old, Aliso Viejo, Ca.-based software company had raised roughly $126 million from investors, shows CrunchBase. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

Verve, an 11-year-old, New York-based location-based mobile marketing platform, has acquired Roximity, a Denver-based maker of location-based beacon software and hardware for retailers and venues. Verve has raised around $36 million from investors, shows CrunchBase. Roximity had raised about $2.6 million. SoCal Tech has a little more here.

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People

Scott Aronson is joining Greylock Partners as an executive-in-residence. Aronson was most recently a senior VP at the software and services company Pivotal. He also spent a couple of years at VMWare as a senior VP. More here.

Amit Kumar and Nate Niparko have joined Accel Partners in the U.S. as principals. Kumar most recently led engineering for numerous commerce and customer service initiatives at Twitter after his company, Cardspring, was acquired in 2014. Niparko is rejoining the firm later this summer; he most recently spent time at Amazon Web Services as a product manager, as well as nabbed an MBA from Stanford. Kumar focuses on consumer-oriented early-stage deals; Niparko will be focused on growth-stage enterprise software and infrastructure tech companies. More here.

Lockheed Martin has hired Christopher Moran for the newly created role of executive director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures. Moran was previously a general manager at Applied Ventures and held earlier roles at Atari and Hughes Aircraft. More here.

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Jobs

Adobe is looking for a senior corporate development manager. The job is in San Jose, Ca.

Fitbit is looking for a director of corporate development. The job is in San Francisco.

IAC is looking to add an associate director to its M&A group. The job is in New York.

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Essential Reads

Headphone jacks are the new floppy drives, apparently.

Lawsuits are continuing to pile up against Theranos, with one Bay Area firm filing a proposed class action on behalf of all consumers who purchased a Theranos lab test back to 2013. In May, Theranos disclosed that it was forced to void thousands of blood tests because the results were unreliable. The Recorder has more here.

Europe’s growing army of robot workers could be classed as “electronic persons” and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the new industrial revolution. Reuters has the story here.

We told you last week that a 30,000-member Facebook group recently formed in Austin, Tex., to help facilitate ride requests in the absence of Uber and Lyft. Now, the city has targeted drivers in a sting operation for driving without appropriate documentation.

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Detours

An incredible sculpture of the Night King from “Game of Thrones” — made of watermelon.

Queen Elizabeth wore a “green screen” outfit in recent pictures, and the internet has gone to town with it.

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Retail Therapy

Hah. Egg Monster Bread Cutter.


The Muse Raises $16 Million for its Next-Gen Career Site

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 8.11.21 PMThe Muse, a New York-based career site that offers job opportunities, skill-building courses, coaching, and video profiles meant to show what it’s like to work at different companies, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by Icon Ventures. Earlier backers Aspect Ventures, DBL Partners and QED Investors also joined the round, which brings funding for the 4.5-year-old startup to $28.7 million.

Co-founder and CEO Kathryn Minshew says that platform’s users are largely women — 65 percent of them, in fact — with 50 percent of users below age 30, another quarter of them in their 30s, and the rest age 40 and over. That’s apparently been good for business. “When women find The Muse,” says Minshew, “they’ll come back and tell us, ‘We told 15 people,'” about the platform.

What’s also good for business is LinkedIn’s announced sale last week to Microsoft for a stunning $26.2 billion, says Minshew. We talked yesterday about why the acquisition bodes well for The Muse, as well as what the company is building right now that could double its size.

You founded the Muse with two other women, Alex Cavoulacos and Melissa McCreery, with whom you worked at McKinsey. Cavoulacos is COO but McCreery is no longer with the company. What happened?

She’s an advisor and a current PhD student at [University of California San Francisco] studying cancer biology. Whenever I come up to SF, I usually stay with her.

The Muse has a variety of revenue streams, but the biggest is recruiting. How many companies are listing jobs and corporate profiles on the site at this point?

We’re in the high 500s, with everything from smaller businesses to Fortune 1000 companies using the platform. In finance, there’s Vanguard, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs. In travel and hospitality, there’s Marriott. We have The Gap in retail; HBO, Conde Nast, Bloomberg and Hearst in media; and insurance companies like Geico and Aflac.

You also do content marketing, letting sponsors basically give your users recommendations around career-related products and services. How big a business is that?

It makes up a small but growing part of our model — probably high single digits to low double digits. We grew revenue last year by 5x, and sponsored content probably grew by the same percentage. Deloitte, for example,  sponsored an article about how to go from a military to a civilian career that was authored by an employee of theirs who has done it.

Much more here.


StrictlyVC: June 21, 2016

Hi, everyone, happy Tuesday!

Great news: We’re hosting another INSIDER event for readers on September 29, a Thursday evening. It’s going to be pretty great, too. We’re working on the final agenda, but we’re super excited to announce that investor Marc Andreessen will be joining us for a fireside chat. We’ll also be talking with SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie, who’s going to catch us up on the company and share some fun election season survey results. In fact, we’ll all be meeting on the top floor of SurveyMonkey’s very cool building in Palo Alto (conveniently across the street from the Caltrain station). Space is limited and tickets will go fast, so grab your seat here.

Much thanks to our friends and partners in the evening: Bolt, the hardware-focused venture firm, and Ballou PR, another previous sponsor that has helped many a U.S. startup get established in Europe. If you’re interested in getting involved as a sponsor, too, please do let us know.

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Top News in the A.M.

In surprising news, SoftBank today announced the departure of President and COO Nikesh Arora; he’d been primed to take the top spot from SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son. More here.

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Spaceflight Industries Just Raised $25 Million, Led by Mithril

Spaceflight Industries, a startup whose overarching goal is providing affordable, high-resolution images of earth, just raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Mithril Capital Management.

Previous investors RRE Venture Capital, Vulcan Capital and Razor’s Edge Ventures also joined the round; it brings total funding for the seven-year-old, Seattle-based company to $53.5 million.

Spaceflight joins a small but growing number of outfits turning geospatial data culled from satellite imagery into actionable, and lucrative, insights. Ambitiously, it has a three-pronged business strategy, too.

First, working with companies like Planet Labs, Spire, and Planetary Resources, among others, Spaceflight helps organize these customers’ payloads, ensuring that their satellites get into space as seamlessly as possible. (It essentially arranges for ride-share launches for dozens of small satellites at a time.)

According to the company, it has already organized the launch of 81 satellites, including by buying excess capacity on SpaceX rockets, along with Soyuz, PSLV, Dnepr, and Antares rockets. And Spaceflight has another 135 satellites scheduled to take space flights through 2018 via partnerships with a wide range of companies, Virgin Galactic and Orbital ATK among them.

Spaceflight takes the business seriously enough that it purchased an entire SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and plans to expand its services beyond ride-share launches, beginning late next year.

But there’s more. In addition to getting other companies’ satellites into space, Spaceflight’s much bigger business — called BlackSky —  involves selling the satellite imagery of its customers to anyone willing to pay for it. A government might want to see whether an opposing army is beyond a hill, for example, or a humanitarian organization might want to measure the effects of deforestation. Unlike Orbital Insight, which uses machine learning to make sense of satellite imagery (then publishes its findings for customers), BlackSky largely wants to provide easy access to the images at unprecedented price points.

More here.

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(Other) New Fundings

Airobotics, a two-year-old, Israel-based maker of automated industrial drones, has raised $28.5 million in combined Series A and B funding, including from investors BlueRun Ventures, CRV, Israel Chief Scientists, UpWest Labs, and individual backers like Waze CEO Noam Bardin. TechCrunch has more here.

Blueprint Bio, a year-old, Newport Beach, Ca.-based biomarker discovery and licensing startup, has raised $7.5 million in funding from Forentis PartnersMore here.

InVision, a 23-year-old, New York-based company that sells collaborative prototyping and design tool software and services, has raised $55 million in Series D funding led by Iconiq Capital, with participation from earlier backers Accel Partners and FirstMark Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Juniqe, a two-year-old, Berlin-based online marketplace for curated art, has raised €14 million ($15.8 million) in Series B funding led by Highland Europe, with participation from earlier backers Vorwerk Ventures, High-Tech Gründerfonds, and Redalpine. TechCrunch has more here.

Number26, a three-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based retail bank without a brick-and-mortar presence, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Horizons VenturesBattery Ventures, Robert Gentz, David Schneider and Rubin Ritter also participated in the round, along with earlier backers Valar Ventures, Earlybird Ventures and Redalpine Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Piper, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based Minecraft toolbox for budding engineers, has raised $2.1 million in funding from Princeton University, 500 Startups and others. TechCrunch has more here.

Zerto, a seven-year-old, Boston and Israel-based company that makes disaster recovery and data management software, has raised $20 million in Series E-1 funding led by CRV. Globes has more here.

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New Funds

Trae Vassallo, a longtime partner at Kleiner Perkins who left the firm in 2014, and Neil Sequeria, a longtime partner at General Catalyst Partners who left the firm last fall, have banded together to create a new early-stage venture firm called Defy.vc, reports Fortune’s Dan Primack. The firm is targeting $150 million for its debut fund, he says; its focus will be on connected software. Vassallo led Kleiner’s invesment in Dropcam; we’d talked with her about her passion for connected devices here. Meanwhile, Sequeria had told the WSJ in October that he’d be starting a new venture fund.

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Exits

Tencent Holdings and its partners are paying $8.6 billion to buy the Finnish maker of the “Clash of Clans” mobile game, a deal that will catapult the Chinese internet giant to the global top of the fast-growing mobile game industry. The deal for Finland’s Supercell Oy is Tencent’s biggest-ever acquisition. The WSJ has more here.

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People

Apple may be down on Donald Trump but that doesn’t extend to the rest of the Republican party. According to Politico, Apple CEO Tim Cook plans to host a fundraiser for House Speaker Paul Ryan later this month in Menlo Park.

Former Postmates COO Peter Hazlehurst is back with his own, seed-funded startup. We have more here.

David Morgenthaler, one of the industry’s earliest venture capitalists, passed away Friday in Cleveland, Oh., at age 96. Morgenthaler founded the firm Morgenthaler Ventures in 1968, well before venture capital could yet be considered an industry. More here.

A high-profile artificial intelligence research group backed by Elon Musk is developing an “off-the-shelf” robot that others can manufacture. The idea is to speed innovation without a financial motive. More here.

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Jobs

The venture capital arm of Sanofi, the global healthcare company, is looking for a senior director of investments. The job is in Cambridge, Ma.

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Essential Reads

Why Uber keeps raising billions.

The FAA just grounded delivery drones.

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Detours

When Trump meets Clinton, no TV record in America will be safe.

Legendary artist Christo’s newest project was nearly 50 years (and $17 million) in the making.

LeBron feeds entire city of Cleveland with loaves and fishes.

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Retail Therapy

Another beautiful San Francisco home comes on the market — at a $2 million discount to its earlier asking price.

Rocking Pacman bench. Neat design. (Not for sitting long, looks like.)


Spaceflight Industries Just Raised $25 Million, Led by Mithril

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 7.58.33 PMSpaceflight Industries, a startup whose overarching goal is providing affordable, high-resolution images of earth, just raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Mithril Capital Management.

Previous investors RRE Venture Capital, Vulcan Capital and Razor’s Edge Ventures also joined the round; it brings total funding for the seven-year-old, Seattle-based company to $53.5 million.

Spaceflight joins a small but growing number of outfits turning geospatial data culled from satellite imagery into actionable, and lucrative, insights. Ambitiously, it has a three-pronged business strategy, too.

First, working with companies like Planet Labs, Spire, and Planetary Resources, among others, Spaceflight helps organize these customers’ payloads, ensuring that their satellites get into space as seamlessly as possible. (It essentially arranges for ride-share launches for dozens of small satellites at a time.)

According to the company, it has already organized the launch of 81 satellites, including by buying excess capacity on SpaceX rockets, along with Soyuz, PSLV, Dnepr, and Antares rockets. And Spaceflight has another 135 satellites scheduled to take space flights through 2018 via partnerships with a wide range of companies, Virgin Galactic and Orbital ATK among them.

Spaceflight takes the business seriously enough that it purchased an entire SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and plans to expand its services beyond ride-share launches, beginning late next year.

But there’s more. In addition to getting other companies’ satellites into space, Spaceflight’s much bigger business — called BlackSky —  involves selling the satellite imagery of its customers to anyone willing to pay for it. A government might want to see whether an opposing army is beyond a hill, for example, or a humanitarian organization might want to measure the effects of deforestation. Unlike Orbital Insight, which uses machine learning to make sense of satellite imagery (then publishes its findings for customers), BlackSky largely wants to provide easy access to the images at unprecedented price points.

More here.


StrictlyVC: June 20, 2016

Hi, everyone, welcome back!

Juggling one too many things today (thus the very late send!). Back on track tomorrow, when we’ll also have some exciting news for you about our next SVC event.:)

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Top News in the A.M.

Francisco Partners and Elliott Management have agreed to acquire Dell’s software division. Elliott Management, Francisco Partners and Dell issued a joint press release confirming the acquisition this morning. More here.

Twitter has Periscope. Amazon has Twitch. Google has YouTube’s live streaming. And Facebook has Facebook Live. Now, Tumblr is getting into live video, too.

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New Funding

Condeco, an 11-year-old, London-based startup that makes meeting scheduling software, has raised €27 million ($30 million) in Series A funding led by Highland Europe. TechCrunch has more here.

Plaid, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose software allows a variety of financial-technology startups to access their customers’ bank account information, has raised $44 million in new funding led by Goldman Sachs.

Rocketrip, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that helps customers reduce travel spending by providing employees with gift cards for beating their budget, has raised $9 million in funding. Bessemer Venture Partners led the round, with participation from earlier backers Canaan Partners and Genacast Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

ShipBob, a two-year-old, Chicago-based startup that helps small businesses and sole proprietors with an outsourced packaging and shipping service, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Hyde Park Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

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New Funds

Kellogg’s is launching a venture arm called eighteen94 Capital to invest in startups developing new ingredients, foods, packaging, and enabling technology. It’s committing about $100 million to the unit, which plans to focus on early-stage deals. TechCrunch has much more here.

Industry Ventures, one of the largest buyers of secondary shares, has raised about $700 million to purchase more equity from VCs, hedge funds, startup employees and others. About $500 million is for the secondary fund, and $200 million is separated into a special opportunities fund. TechCrunch has more here.

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Exits

Twitter is acquiring Magic Pony Technology, a 1.5-year-old, London-based company that uses neural networks and machine learning to provide expanded data for images (to enhance a picture or video taken on a mobile phone, for example). TechCrunch sources say Twitter is paying $150 million for the company, which had raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Entrepreneur First and Balderton Capital, among other possible investors. More here.

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People

Flybridge Capital Partners is ramping up its presence in New York City, bringing on WeWork Labs’ cofounder Jesse Middleton as a full-time general partner. More here.

Facebook today held its annual shareholder meeting, and the group approved the formation of a new class of voting shares that will keep CEO Mark Zuckerberg in control as long as he’s with the company. It also re-elected its board of directors, including investors Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel. VentureBeat has more here.

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Jobs

Baxter Ventures, the venture arm of the drug and medical device giant Baxter, is looking for a senior manager. The job is in Deerfield, Il.

F50, a two-year-old syndication platform that tries to pair investors with vetted startups seeking funding, is looking for a principal. The job is in San Francisco.

Side note: A top event planner in SF who took a time-out for parenting is getting back in the game now that her children are entering kindergarten. Currently based in Los Altos, Ca., she’s a catch. Happy to put you in touch if you like.

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Data

Global M&A is down 20 percent from last year and 16 percent for U.S. targets specifically, according to new Thomson Reuters data cited by Fortune.

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Essential Reads

Apple has told Republican leaders it will not provide funding or other support for the party’s 2016 presidential convention, as it’s done in the past, citing Donald Trump’s controversial comments about women, immigrants and minorities. Politico has more here.

Good news for FanDuel and DraftKings. The burgeoning fantasy-sports industry got a lift from the New York legislature, which passed a bill early Saturday that explicitly would legalize and regulate the practice in the state. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn’t indicated whether he will sign the bill. The WSJ has the story here.

A hacker on Friday siphoned more than $50 million of digital money away from an experimental virtual currency project that had been billed as the most successful crowdfunding venture ever. The New York Times has more here.

What’s next for artificial intelligence.

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Detours

The science of selflessness.

Where to invest $10,000 right now.

LeBron James, king of narrative.

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Retail Therapy

Unicorn floaty. Perfect for the startup investor’s pool.


StrictlyVC: June 17, 2016

Friday! Hope you have a fun weekend in store, and for those of you who are dads, we’re wishing you a very happy Father’s Day!

(Streamlined version today as we’re racing out the door to Palo Alto for some meetings.)

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Top News in the A.M.

And now we know; Salesforce was reportedly the other bidder for LinkedIn.

Uber says it’s now profitable in all the developed markets where it’s operating.

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Talking Kleiner 3.0 with Its New Consumer Investing Partner

Kleiner Perkins has been through the wringer since the go-go dot-com days of the late 1990s. After making a bundle on Google, the storied venture firm raised too much money from investors and grew too ambitious in scope before dramatically retrenching a few years ago — but not before being hit with one of the highest-profile lawsuits in venture industry. (It won the case, which centered on gender discrimination, but it took a beating in the process.)

To restore its former glory, the firm is largely transformed from the firm it was a dozen years ago. For starters, it has undergone some major casting changes. Only one of its five general partners — Ted Schlein, who leads Kleiner’s investments in security and some of its enterprise investments — has been with the firm throughout all the tumult, having joined the firm 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Beth Seidenberg, who focuses on everything from life science to digital health, joined Kleiner in 2005; Wen Hsieh, who focuses on enterprise and hardware deals, joined in 2006; Mike Abbott joined in 2011 to focus largely on enterprise deals; and Eric Feng, a former CTO for both Hulu and Flipboard, joined last October to lead the firm’s consumer investing.

Kleiner, which is currently raising $1.3 billion across two new funds, has also taken a page from the playbook of Benchmark and some other smaller partnerships, and its partners now enjoy equal partner economics. (Kleiner has also five associate partners, as well as a separate growth investing group.)

To get better insight into the firm and how it operates today — as well as where it’s shopping — we talked yesterday with Feng. Our chat has been edited for length.

More here.

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New Fundings

Beamery, a two-year-old, London-based company that makes employee recruitment software and was previously known as Seed.Jobs, has raised $2 million in seed funding from Edenred Capital Partners and Grupa Pracuj, a human resources tech firm. TechCrunch has more here.

ClearTax, a five-year-old, New Delhi, India-based online tax filing platform, has raised $12 million in Series A funding, including from Founders Fund and Sequoia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Common, a year-old, Brooklyn-based startup that’s creating group living developments with the help of real estate developers, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by 8VC, with participation from Circle Ventures, LeFrakSolon Mack Capital, Ron Burkle’s Inevitable Ventures, Wolfswood Partners and return backers Maveron, Lowercase Capital, Slow Ventures and Pierre Lamond. Fortune has the story here.

Mark One, a 2.5-year-old San Francisco-based company that was cofounded by renowned designer Yves Behar and which right now makes a smart cup that tracks consumption, has raised $4 million in new funding from earlier backers, including Intel Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Tigera, a months-old San Francisco-based startup that’s trying to secure cloud-native applications, has raised $13 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Wing Venture Capital. More here.

Vrse, the 1.5-year-old, L.A.-based VR firm launched by video and commercial director Chris Milk and Google veteran Aaron Koblin, has raised $12.56 million in funding from syndicate that includes WME and Fox. The company is also renaming itself Within. The L.A. Times has the story here.

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IPOs

Business software company AppDynamics has hired investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as lead underwriters for an IPO that could come later this year, reports Reuters. Last November, the company raised $158 million at a $1.9 billion valuation. (One of the investors in that round was Goldman Sachs.) More here.

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People

Facebook has hired e-sports super-connector and former professional gamer Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis to build out a new team at the company. More here.

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Essential Reads

A dispute between Apple and Chinese regulators broke into the open after Beijing’s intellectual property authority said the design of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus violated a patent held by a Chinese company. It wants Apple to stop selling both phones in the city. The WSJ has the story here.

Why Silicon Valley should be paying close attention to the Redstone-Viacom mess.

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Detours

Confessions of a performative dad.

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Retail Therapy

We would happily take fashion designer James Perse’s Malibu farmhouse (up for sale now).  H/T: Uncrate.


Talking Kleiner 3.0 with Its New Consumer Investing Partner

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 5.01.01 PMKleiner Perkins has been through the wringer since the go-go dot-com days of the late 1990s. After making a bundle on Google, the storied venture firm raised too much money from investors and grew too ambitious in scope before dramatically retrenching a few years ago — but not before being hit with one of the highest-profile lawsuits in venture industry. (It won the case, which centered on gender discrimination, but it took a beating in the process.)

To restore its former glory, the firm is largely transformed from the firm it was a dozen years ago. For starters, it has undergone some major casting changes. Only one of its five general partners — Ted Schlein, who leads Kleiner’s investments in security and some of its enterprise investments — has been with the firm throughout all the tumult, having joined the firm 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Beth Seidenberg, who focuses on everything from life science to digital health, joined Kleiner in 2005; Wen Hsieh, who focuses on enterprise and hardware deals, joined in 2006; Mike Abbott joined in 2011 to focus largely on enterprise deals; and Eric Feng, a former CTO for both Hulu and Flipboard, joined last October to lead the firm’s consumer investing.

Kleiner, which is currently raising $1.3 billion across two new funds, has also taken a page from the playbook of Benchmark and some other smaller partnerships, and its partners now enjoy equal partner economics. (Kleiner has also five associate partners, as well as a separate growth investing group.)

To get better insight into the firm and how it operates today — as well as where it’s shopping — we talked yesterday with Feng. Our chat has been edited for length.

More here.


StrictlyVC: June 16, 2016

Thursday! [Karate kicks. Knife hand.]

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Top News in the A.M.

Michael Moritz, the chairman of Sequoia Capital, just slammed Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump in a Financial Times column titled “To the bright and the rich of Silicon Valley, Trump is a loser.” More here.

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Despite Troubled Online Lending Market, a Big Round for Payoff

Payoff, a 7.5-year-old Costa Mesa, Ca., startup that makes loans for people looking to pay off credit card debt, has just raised a bunch of money and it’s looking to raise even more. According to a new SEC filing, the company has raised $46.7 million as part of a round expected to close at $67.4 million.

The company had previously raised $38.4 million from investors, including FirstMark Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and Anthemis Group.

Payoff targets millennials seemingly, with 10-minute-long quizzes to help users understand their financial “personality,” understand what their overall financial picture looks like, and assess how much finance-related stress is impacting them.

The company got a lot of mileage particularly out of a recent study it conducted that showed 23 percent of 2,011 survey respondents were experiencing symptoms commonly associated with post-traumatic stress disorder related to their finances. Among millennials, said Payoff, the number is 36 percent.

Beyond its content, Payoff provides loan amounts of between $5,000 and $35,000, between two- and five-year-long terms, and for fixed rates of between 8 percent and 22 percent APR. Borrowers also are charged a one-time 2 percent to 5 percent fee when their loan is issued.

Payoff seems to be steering clear of subprime borrowers, the kind that firms like LendUp loan to at extravagant rates (though those rates fall with every loan that’s paid in full). It instead requires that applicants have a minimum credit score of 720, gross income of at least $25,000, and a minimum credit history of three years. Borrowers are limited to using the loans to pay off credit card debt, too.

More here.

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New Fundings

Airbnb, the nearly eight-year-old, San Francisco-based online housing marketplace, has secure $1 billion debt facility from some of the largest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley. Bloomberg has more here.

Andela, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that’s helping to train more engineers in Africa to get tech jobs, has raised $24 million in Series B funding led by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the social issues-minded fund of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Other participants in the round include GV, as well as earlier backers Spark Capital, Omidyar Network, Learn Capital and CRE Ventures. Forbes has more here.

Collokia, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based machine learning-based collaboration platform, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding co-led software company Globant and Fundo Pitanga, a Brazilian venture capital firm. More here.

CureJoy, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco- and Bangalore-based online community that connects users with alternative medicine experts, has raised $4.4 million in Series A funding led by its earlier backer Accel Partners India, with participation from unnamed angel investors. VCCircle has more here.

Eyeview, an 8.5-year-old, New York-based video marketing technology company, has raised $21.5 million led by Qumra Capital, with participation from earlier backers Marker LLC, Innovation Endeavors, Nauta CapitalGemini Israel Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. More here.

Elementum, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based cloud supply chain platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Fontinalis Partners. More here.

Mersana Therapeutics, a 1.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech that’s developing antibody drug conjugates, has raised $33 million in Series C funding led by Wellington Management, with participation from Cormorant Asset Management, Arrowpoint Partners, Takeda Pharmaceutical and earlier investors New Enterprise Associates and Rock Springs Capital. FierceBiotech has more here.

Overbond, a year-old, Toronto-based fintech platform for digital bond insurance, has raised $7.5 million in seed funding from Morrison Financial Services. More here.

Performance Horizon, a six-year-old, U.K.-basedcompany whose software aims to help advertisers manage their relationships with marketing partners, has raised $15.4 million in Series C funding from Greycroft Partners, Mithril and DN Capital. The company has now raised a total of $35 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Samba Tech, a 12-year-old, Belo Horizonte, Brazil-based distributor of online videos in Latin America, has raised $3 million in new funding from Brazilian billionaire José Augusto Schincariol. ITWorld has more here.

Vow To Be Chic, a three-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based bridesmaid dress rental company, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from Women’s Venture Capital Fund, with participation from Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Wavemaker Partners. FinSMEs has more here.

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Exits

Microsoft has announced yet another acquisition, this time in the area of natural language and artificial intelligence: the company has purchased Wand Labs, a startup that develops messaging apps.Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. Wand Labs had raised less than $3 million in funding, according to CrunchBase. TechCrunch has more here.

Samsung is acquiring Joyent, a 12-year-old, San Francisco-based cloud infrastructure and big data analytics company that had raised $126 million from investors, according to CrunchBase. Financial terms aren’t being disclosed. The WSJ has more here.

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People

Stephen McIntyre, one of Twitter’s most senior executives outside the U.S., is leaving the company to join Dublin-based venture capital firm Frontline Ventures as a partner. Tech.eu has more here.

Streaming music service Spotify has hired Paul Vogel — a Wall Street veteran who most recently ran the internet and media research group at Barclays — as its first head of investor relations. The move strongly suggests the company is prepping to go public. Recode has the story here.

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Jobs

The Samsung Global Innovation Center is looking to hire a director of investments. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.

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Essential Reads

Beyond a new campus that Uber is building in San Francisco and a century-old building it recently purchased in Oakland, Ca., the ride-share juggernaut is now reportedly nearing a deal to lease a building in Palo Alto. The idea: to get closer to employees. Via The Information (subscription required).

China Life, Asia’s largest insurance firm, isn’t the only Uber investor to put money into its Chinese rival Didi Chuxing via its blockbuster $7.2 billion round announced this week. New York-based investment firm BlackRock also took part in the financing, a source close to the deal tells TechCrunch. More here.

For decades, the buyers in some of the largest deals had come in three forms: private equity firms, corporations and public market investors. But over the last few years, a new group of buyers has sprung up: sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and even private families have flexed their deal-making muscles. Dealbook takes a look here.

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Detours

“Starry Night,” in water.

Revisionist History. (More about it here.)

We’re still laughing about this one. (“What did I make there? Oh, we’ve gotta go.”)

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Retail Therapy

Are we the only ones baffled by the direction of the MINI?


StrictlyVC: June 15, 2016

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

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Top News in the A.M.

Didi Chuxing has raised $4.5 billion in a round of funding that values it at close to $28 billion, according to Bloomberg, giving China’s leading ride-sharing company more firepower to battle Uber. More here.

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Expect More M&A, Says Marc Andreessen

Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen spoke at the Bloomberg Technology conference yesterday afternoon, and he said he expects far more M&A than the tech industry has seen in recent years.

The conversation stemmed in large part from questions about LinkedIn’s announced acquisition by Microsoft, which disclosed Monday that it is paying$26.2 billion in cash for the business networking platform.

Asked his opinion about the deal, Andreessen — who was interrupted by the clang of a falling tray (“I hope that was not a symbolic sound effect,” he joked) — said the deal “eliminates the guesswork about how much [a company is] worth when someone pays $26 billion in cash ” for it.

But he also said that, on a higher level, it conveys something about the industry right now. “We see more M&A happening in the pipeline – meaning companies in consideration or negotiation — than in the last four years.”

There are a few reasons for it, he suggested, saying that in recent years, a lot of “public companies sat back and watched the drama play out in the Valley . . . and the constant drumbeat of ‘bubble, bubble, bubble.’” Now, with many private company valuations down from their peaks last year, along with public companies that “now have to go shopping to fill in gaps in their portfolio,” Andreessen said to expect a “run of M&A the rest of this year and next year.”

The buyers won’t necessarily be Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, he noted. “A lot more nontraditional buyers — Fortune 500 companies outside [of tech are] going shopping, [including] the car industry, other consumer products companies, clothing companies.” (Andreessen didn’t say so, but private equity firms also plainly see an opportunity to do some shopping right now.)

In fact, Andreessen’s firm, Andreessen Horowitz, is trying to prep its portfolio companies for an exit by establishing what he described as an IPO preparedness team that’s working with founders on what’s required to go public, from accounting and legal, to building a governance team, to selecting the right CFO.

More here.

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New Fundings

B2X, a nine-year-old, Munich, Germany-based startup behind a customer care platform for smartphones and IoT device makers, has raised €6 million ($6.7 million) from Harbert European Growth Capital. More here.

Fenqile, a three-year-old Shenzhen, China -based installment payment e-commerce platform targeting Chinese millennials, has raised $235 million in Series C funding from Huasheng Capital, the venture capital unit of local investment banking firm China Renaissance Partners; CoBuilder Partners; and an unnamed Chinese insurer. China Money Network has more here.

Huizuche, a two-year-old, Shanghai, China-based car rental startup that provides services for outbound Chinese tourists, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by the Asia-focused private equity firm H&Q Asia Pacific. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Loggly, a seven-year-old, San Francisco-based cloud-based log management company, has raised $11.5 million in new funding led by True Ventures, with participation from Matrix Partners, Cisco, Trinity Ventures, Harmony Partners and Data Collective. More here.

Lumus, a 16-year-old, Rehovot, Israel-based company that makes transparent near-to-eye displays for augmented reality and mixed reality, has raised $15 million in Series B funding from the investment firm Shanda Group and from Crystal-Optech, a Chinese optical imaging company. TechCrunch has more here.

Procured Health, a four-year-old, Chicago-based health IT business started with the goal of helping hospitals to reduce medical device purchasing costs, has raised $10 million in Series B funding from Heritage Group, a venture-capital firm backed by some of the nation’s leading healthcare companies, with participation from Health Insight Capital, a subsidiary of HCA. MedCity News has more here.

Qloo, a four-year-old, New York-based cultural recommendation engine, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding from actor Leonardo DiCaprio; Starwood Hotels founder Barry Sternlicht; Pierre Lagrange of GLG Partners; and Adriaan Ligtenberg’s AllMobile Fund, along with other individual angel investors. TechCrunch has more here. TechCrunch has more here.

Rgenix, a six-year-old, New York-based cancer therapeutics company developing drugs that target novel cancer pathways, has raised $33 million in Series B funding led by Novo A/S and Sofinnova Partners, with participation from earlier backers, including Partnership Fund for New York CityAlexandria Venture Investments, and Conegliano Ventures.

Saavn, a nine-year-old, New York-based digital music service that TechCrunch has likened to India’s Spotify, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Guy Oseary, a high-profile entertainment industry executive who manages U2, Madonna, Alicia Keys, Britney Spears and other top music acts.More here.

Sapho, a two-year-old, San Bruno, Ca.-based startup that makes “micro apps”  that send notifications to employees and execs whenever data is updated or projects are completed, has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by Alsop Louie Partners, with participation from SoftTech VC, Caffeinated CapitalMorado Ventures, AME Cloud and Bloomberg Beta. More here.

Smarter Micro, a four-year-old Chinese semiconductor company, has raised $14 million in Series C funding led by China’s Tsing Capital, with participation from earlier backers GSR Ventures and Vertex Ventures. China Money Network has more here.

SoundCloud, the nine-year-old, Berlin-based music service, is raising a $100 million round, according to Recode, and Twitter has invested around $70 million in the company as part of that financing. Twitter had reportedly wanted to acquire SoundCloud in 2014. Much more here.

Uber, the seven-year-old, San Francisco-based ride-share juggernaut, is turning to the leveraged-loan market for the first time to raise as much as $2 billion, reports the WSJ. The outlet says Uber has hired Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs to get a deal done. More here.

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New Funds

Philadelphia-based 1315 Capital, a two-year-old expansion and growth equity firm that invests in commercial-stage specialty pharmaceutical, medical technology, and healthcare services companies, has announced the final closing of its $200 million inaugural fund. More here.

FirstMark Capital, an eight-year-old, New York-based investment firm, has raised $480 million across two new funds: one a $275 million early-stage fund (FirstMark’s fourth), and the other a $205 millionopportunity fund for FirstMark’s maturing investments (which is its second growth-stage fund). The firm now has $1.5 billion under management. TechCrunch has more here.

Singapore-based Golden Gate Ventures has closed a new $60 million fund for Southeast Asia’s rapidly-growing startup ecosystem. The firm first announced its new fund last summer, when it closed on $35 million in capital commitments from investors including Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Naver, the Korea-based owner of soon-to-go-public chat app Line. Its newest investors include Korea’s Hanwha Life Insurance, Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank, and Germany’s Hubert Burda Media. TechCrunch has more here.

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Exits

Bed Bath & Beyond has bought venture-backed One Kings Lane, a home-goods website that, at its peak, was valued at more than $900 million. Terms aren’t being disclosed. Bed Bath & Beyond, which generated $12 billion in net sales in its most recent fiscal year, said that the purchase price was “not material.” One Kings Lane had raised more than $225 million in venture capital from investors, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Institutional Venture Partners. Business Insider has more here.

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People

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted a live video Q&A on Facebook yesterday and Jerry Seinfeld showed up.

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Jobs

Capital One Ventures is looking for a manager (which is akin to an associate position). The job is in San Francisco.

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Essential Reads

Why Apple doesn’t have a venture capital arm.

China’s co-living boom puts hundreds of millennials under one roof. More here.

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Detours

The Colombian hit man who became a YouTube star.

Ten extremely precise words for emotions you didn’t even know you had.

How to do visual comedy.

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Essential Reads

In what may tell you something about San Francisco’s ever-so-slightly cooling housing market, San Francisco’s second most expensive home was just marked down by $3 million. (You have to check out the views.)


Expect More M&A This Year and Next, Says Marc Andreessen

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 1.31.15 PMVenture capitalist Marc Andreessen spoke at the Bloomberg Technology conference yesterday afternoon, and he said he expects far more M&A than the tech industry has seen in recent years.

The conversation stemmed in large part from questions about LinkedIn’s announced acquisition by Microsoft, which disclosed Monday that it is paying$26.2 billion in cash for the business networking platform.

Asked his opinion about the deal, Andreessen — who was interrupted by the clang of a falling tray (“I hope that was not a symbolic sound effect,” he joked) — said the deal “eliminates the guesswork about how much [a company is] worth when someone pays $26 billion in cash ” for it.

But he also said that, on a higher level, it conveys something about the industry right now. “We see more M&A happening in the pipeline – meaning companies in consideration or negotiation — than in the last four years.”

There are a few reasons for it, he suggested, saying that in recent years, a lot of “public companies sat back and watched the drama play out in the Valley . . . and the constant drumbeat of ‘bubble, bubble, bubble.’” Now, with many private company valuations down from their peaks last year, along with public companies that “now have to go shopping to fill in gaps in their portfolio,” Andreessen said to expect a “run of M&A the rest of this year and next year.”

The buyers won’t necessarily be Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, he noted. “A lot more nontraditional buyers — Fortune 500 companies outside [of tech are] going shopping, [including] the car industry, other consumer products companies, clothing companies.” (Andreessen didn’t say so, but private equity firms also plainly see an opportunity to do some shopping right now.)

In fact, Andreessen’s firm, Andreessen Horowitz, is trying to prep its portfolio companies for an exit by establishing what he described as an IPO preparedness team that’s working with founders on what’s required to go public, from accounting and legal, to building a governance team, to selecting the right CFO.

More here.