Happy Wednesday, everyone!
Quick mention for those of you who’ve been in and out on vacation: On September 29, a Thursday night, at the glass-lined offices of SurveyMonkey in Palo Alto, we’re hosting our fifth and newest StrictlyVC INSIDER event, and it’s going to be great. Featured guests include the inimitable Marc Andreessen, along with SurveyMonkey CEO Zander Lurie, who will update us on the unicorn company and where it goes from here. We’ll also be announcing a third interview that you won’t want to miss. Seating is limited and many spots have been snapped up by readers already, so don’t wait too long to nab yours.
Much thanks to our wonderful partners in the evening, without whom we couldn’t host these things. They include the young, early-stage venture firm Bolt; Ballou PR, to which many startups (and VCs) have turned to raise their profile in Europe; and Mattermark, which organizes and sells information about a wide swath of startups and, increasingly, other businesses.
Top News in the A.M.
Twitter is streaming Wimbledon today.
Tesla Says It Told Government of Autopilot Crash Ahead of Stock Sale
Tesla says it told regulators about the May 7th crash involving one of its electric cars in self-driving Autopilot mode nine days after the incident, adding that there was nothing unusual in either the delay or its decision to keep quiet about the incident before a federal investigation was publicly announced last Thursday.
Tesla says the company was informed of the accident “shortly” after it took place.
Tesla’s statement, issued late this afternoon, seems to be a direct response to a Fortune article published earlier today that notes the enormous stock sale that Tesla announced on May 18. States the Fortune piece:
“On May 18, eleven days after [Tesla owner Joshua] Brown died, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk, in combination (roughly three parts Tesla, one part Musk), sold more than $2 billion of Tesla stock in a public offering at a price of $215 per share—and did it without ever having released a word about the crash.
“To put things baldly, Tesla and Musk did not disclose the very material fact that a man had died while using an auto-pilot technology that Tesla had marketed vigorously as safe and important to its customers.”
When Fortune sought comment from Musk, he first replied that he didn’t think the fact of the crash was “material to the value of Tesla” and therefore did not need to be disclosed at the time of Tesla’s stock sale. He reportedly continued, via email to Fortune:
“Indeed, if anyone bothered to do the math (obviously, you did not) they would realize that of the over 1M auto deaths per year worldwide, approximately half a million people would have been saved if the Tesla autopilot was universally available. Please, take 5 mins and do the bloody math before you write an article that misleads the public.”
In this afternoon’s statement, Tesla said it had disclosed the incident to the government by May 16.
Asked by Reuters why Tesla didn’t also disclose the accident to the public before that share sale, the company sent the outlet the following statement:
“Tesla does not find it necessary, nor does any automaker, to share the details of every accident that occur in a Tesla vehicle. More than a million people die globally every year in car accidents, but automakers do not disclose each of these accidents to investors, let alone before those investigations are complete and without regard to what the results of those investigations end up being.”
Darktrace, a three-year-old, London-based company that makes enterprise cybersecurity software, has raised $65 million in growth equity funding led by KKR, with participation from TenEleven Ventures, SoftBank, and return backer Summit Partners. TechCrunch has more here.
Homee, a nearly year-old, L.A.-based company whose mobile app helps users design rooms for free, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from Founders Fund and Tinder CEO Sean Rad. TechCrunch has more here.
KisanHub, a four-year-old, Cambridge, U.K.-based enterprise farming platform that connects agronomic and operational data to enable smarter decision-making, has raised $1 million in seed funding led by Notion Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
Service Partner One, a year-old, Berlin-based startup that’s trying to build a kind of office operating system for office managers, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by EQT Ventures, with participation from Earlybird Venture Capital, Target Global, Rheingau Founders, Ringier Digital Ventures, and Vito Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
StockTwits, an eight-year-old, San Diego-based real-time financial communications platform for the financial and investing community, has raised $2 million in new funding led by Social Leverage, a venture fund cofounded by StockTwits founder Howard Lindzon. The company has also just announced that Ian Rosen, co-founder of Even Financial and a former general manager at MarketWatch, is becoming CEO, as Lindzon becomes executive chairman of the company. TechCrunch has more here.
Twistlock, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes enterprise security software for virtual containers, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by TenEleven Ventures, with participation from Rally Ventures, an unnamed strategic investor, and return backer YL Ventures. GeekTime hasmore here.
Veriflow, a three-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based network breach and outage prevention software company, has raised $8.2 million in Series A funding led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from earlier backer New Enterprise Associates. SDX Central has more here.
Akkadian Ventures, a San Francisco-based firm that buys shares of privately owned startups from entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capital firms that are looking to sell a portion of their holdings, is raising a fourth fund, shows an SEC filing that doesn’t list a target. The firm closed its third fund with $74 million in October 2014. More here.
Forerunner Ventures, an early-stage, San Francisco-based venture firm that’s known as an e-commerce specialist, has closed its third fund with $122 million, shows an SEC filing. Forerunner’s second fund, which held its first close in 2012, was capped at $75 million, says Fortune. More here.
Alibaba has acquired Wandoujia, a Chinese app store for Android devices, for a reported $200 million. Wandoujia was reportedly valued at more than $1 billion in January 2014 when it raised $120 million in funding led by SoftBank. But TechCrunch notes that “increased competition from carrier-run app stores and rivals like 91 Wireless and Qihoo 360, not to mention reports of internal conflict, appear to have impacted its development over the past two years.” More here.
Google has acquired Moodstocks, a startup based out of Paris that develops machine-learning based image recognition technology for smartphones. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. It’s not clear how much Moodstocks had raised, notes TechCrunch. Any related data has been scrubbed from CrunchBase, though TechCrunch reported in 2010 that Moodstocks had raised $500,000 in seed funding from European investors. More here.
SGN, an L.A.-based gaming company led by ex-MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe, has acquired TinyCo, a San Francisco-based mobile game studio. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. According to CrunchBase, TinyCo raised $38 million in funding from investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Pinnacle Ventures, and SV Angel. The Wrap has more here.
Bret Taylor, best known as the longtime CTO of Facebook, has joined the board of Twitter. More here.
Zenefits may have dramatically readjusted its valuation (from $4.5 billion to $2 billion), but an analysis by The Information suggests that its Series A investors are still currently sitting on a none-too-shabby paper return of 1,800 percent. More here. (Subscribers only.)
Primary Venture Partners has taken a look at second-quarter seed activity in New York City. You can check it out here if you’re interested in what’s up and coming.
In separate news you can hopefully use, Mergermarket has just released its global M&A roundup report for the technology, media and telecom (TMT) sector for the first half of this year. You can check it out here.
Snapchat just rolled out a way of saving and sharing old snaps in a private archive inside the main app. More here.
What. A 61-year-old Canadian man survived an attack by a 300-pound mother black bear by punching it in the face. (H/T: Significant Digits.) More here.
How Stephen Colbert met his wife.