Monthly Archives: October 2016

The SEC Gets the Case It’s Been Waiting for in Silicon Valley

sec-beastieNot so long ago, Theranos was flying high, its claims that it was upending the medical diagnostics business largely accepted by the public. Behind the scenes, however, some employees were growing wary of those claims, with at least one eventually reaching out to regulators to report the company’s failure to report its questionable test results.

A stinging series of articles by the Wall Street Journal soon followed, and in recent months, the government agency that oversees U.S. labs has banned founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes from operating a blood-testing laboratory for two years, and Theranos has shuttered its clinical labs and wellness centers. To make matters worse, the company was last week slapped with a lawsuit by one of its biggest investors, which claims that Theranos knowingly lied to it.

It’s a nearly ideal scenario for the SEC, which is investigating Theranos and widely expected to use a case against it to expand its mandate into Silicon Valley’s startup ecosystem. The truth is while the SEC has long been viewed as a force in the public markets, it also has the authority to chase after private companies that engage in any “act or omission resulting in fraud or deceit in connection with the purchase or sale of any security.” And lately, Wall Street’s top cop is finding Silicon Valley too high-profile a target to resist.

“If you’re only raising couple million bucks, everyone expects your huffing and puffing,” says one San Francisco-based securities attorney. “But if you’re raising hundreds of millions to billions of dollars, why would the SEC ignore that when they’re auditing the financials of some piddly company that’s raising $50 million in an IPO?”

More here.

Image credit: Bryce Durbin




StrictlyVC: October 14, 2016

Happy Friday, everyone! We’re working on a story that isn’t *quite* ready, so no column today, but we’ll see you back here Monday. Hope you have a fantastic weekend.

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Top News in the A.M.

Chicago-based Morningstar is buying the Seattle-based private deal-tracking site PitchBook. Morningstar is paying $180 million, valuing PitchBook at $225 million. The Chicago Tribune has more here.

Verizon is either trying to get out of its deal to buy Yahoo, or it’s still working to knock down the purchase price.

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New Fundings

Baroo, a two-year-old, Boston-based startup that partners with apartment buildings to deliver high-quality pet care services straight to residents’ doors, has raised $2.25 million in seed funding, including from the The Graduate Syndicate, a new seed-stage fund that plans to fund the startups of recent Harvard grads. BostInno has more here.

Hyperloop One, the two-year-old, L.A.-based transportation company that aims to shuttle cargo and people in pod-like trains at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour, has raised $50 million in new funding  led by Dubai’s DP World Group, one of the world’s largest port-terminal operators. The company has also brought on as a strategic adviser Brent Callinicos, who spent two years as Uber’s CFO. The WSJ has more here.

InnoGames, a nine-year-old Hamburg, Germany-based developer and publisher of successful browser games such as “Tribal Wars” and “Grepolis,” has sold a 35 stake in its business for an estimated $100 million to MTG (Modern Times Group), a Swedish digital entertainment company. TechCrunch has more here

Iora Health, a five-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based private primary care company, has raised $75 million in Series D funding led by Temasek, with participation from earlier backers .406 Ventures, Flare Capital Partners, F-Prime Capital, GE Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Polaris Partners and Rice Management Company. MobiHealthNews has more here.

mParticle, a 3.5-year-old, New York-based startup whose software helps mobile app owners to manage and control their data, has raised $17.5 million in Series B funding led by Bain Capital Ventures, with participation from earlier backer Social Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Veeba Food Services, a three-year-old, New Delhi, India-based maker of specialty food ingredients, has raised $6 million in new funding from earlier backer Saama Capital and Verlinvest. Livemint has more here.

Virgil Security, a two-year-old Manassas, Va.-based startup that makes cryptography software for app developers, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by KEC Ventures, with participation from Bloomberg Beta, Blu Venture Investors, Charge Ventures, NextGen Venture Partners, Sparkland Capital, and Working Lab Capital. eWeek has more here.

Webscale Networks, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based web application delivery platform, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Mohr Davidow Ventures, with participation from Benhamou Global Ventures, Grotech, and Silicon Valley Bank. SiliconAngle has more here.

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New Funds

Whoa. Saudi Arabia’s top sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund(PIF) and Japan’s SoftBank Group, plan to create a tech investment fund that could grow as large as $100 billion, making it one of the world’s largest private equity investors. PIF may invest up to $45 billion over the next five years, while SoftBank expects to invest at least $25 billion. Reuters has more here.

Founders Factory, a London-based accelerator/incubator, has received a “multimillion pound” investment from CSC Group. The China-based private equity group is the same outfit that’s committed to investing $400 million in deals on the AngelList platform. Tech.eu has more here.

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IPOs

As many as four IPOs could price in the week ahead, notes Renaissance Capital. They are Forterra, CRISPR Therapeutics, iRhythm Technologies, and Full Spectrum.

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Exits

InfiniLED, a Cork, Ireland-based spin-out from research center Tyndall National Institute, has been acquired by the Facebook-owned Oculus in a “multi-million euro deal” that clears the way for InfiniLED’s low-power display technology to be integrated into Oculus’s VR flagship products, such as the Rift headset. Tech.eu has more here.

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People

HP intends to cut up to 4,000 jobs over the next three years. Reuters has more here.

Spotify cofounder Martin Lorentzon just announced that he’s stepping down as chairman of the company; cofounder and CEO Daniel Ek will take on the role in what looks like a move to consolidate his own power. TechCrunch has more here.

Investor Chamath Palihapitiya tells CNBC his hedge fund is both beating the stock market and outperforming the average hedge fund.

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Data

Nine companies became newly minted unicorns in the third quarter. Here’s the list along with some other funding numbers.

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Essential Reads

In the midst of a highly charged presidential election, where fact and fiction have frequently become confused, Google News has introduced a new fact check feature in search results for news stories, reports the Guardian.

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Detours

Wall Street’s top in-house lawyers are apparently part of a secret society.

Really, really short workouts.

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Retail Therapy

Golden tree rings.




StrictlyVC: October 13, 2016

Thursday already!? We will take it.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Pinterest said today that more than 150 million people use its visual bookmarking and ideas service, up from 100 million a year ago. More here.

WeWork, the 6.5-year-old, New York-based shared office and living space provider, just raised a whopping $260 million, including from Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels, reports the WSJ. The money reportedly brings WeWorks’s latest funding round to $690 million; the round values the company at around $16.9 billion. More here.

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Fast Chat With Science Inc.

It’s been a good week for Science, a five-year-old, L.A.-based startup studio that’s known for both funding nascent startups and incubating them, including FameBit, a three-year-old outfit that helps marketers connect with digital influencers and which sold on Wednesday to Google.

Science was the majority owner. FameBit was the firm’s third exit of the year, too. Science also funded the marketing agency HelloSociety, which sold to the New York Times in March for undisclosed terms, and it backed the men’s grooming company Dollar Shave Club after its founder, Michael Dubin, showed Science what would go on to become a massively viral video promoting Dollar Shave Club’s razors. (Dollar Shave Club sold to Unilever for $1 billion in cash in July.)

Financial terms of the FameBit deal weren’t disclosed, but we reached out earlier this week to Science cofounder (and former MySpace CEO) Mike Jones to talk about it and get a bit of an update on Science while we were at it. Because he was traveling, we had an email exchange.

How much has Science raised in its five years? CrunchBase shows $10 million in venture capital, another $30 million in private equity, and another $20 million in debt financing. is that correct?

We don’t share that information.

Does Science plan to raise more money?

Yes, we are actively fundraising now.

How many companies is Science currently incubating?

We have four companies being incubated at the moment.

How many of those companies have you either cofounded or backed altogether at this point?

We’ve co-founded and invested in more than 60 companies.

You invest in companies off a balance sheet. What’s Science’s annual budget for startups?

We don’t share that information.

At the outset, Science planned to work with larger, publicly traded companies to help them invigorate their businesses. Was FameBit part of that strategy? If not, can you point to a startup that you’ve incubated or funded that is?

Despite its purchase by Google, FameBit will remain independent, which confirms that it’s a crucial, scalable ad unit for brands and YouTube. Traditional brands [haven’t been able to fully understand] their audiences, and that’s why we’re starting to see so much M&A activity in commerce. Brands like HelloSociety, FameBit and Dollar Shave Club energize seasoned companies, and that’s why we continue searching for similar disruptors.

More here.

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New Fundings

Astronomer, a year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based platform for enterprise-scale big data integration, has raised $1.9 million in seed funding led by CincyTech, with participation from AngelPad, 500 Startups, First Ascent, Connetic Ventures, Drummond Road Capital and CoreNetwork Fund. Cincinnati Business Courier has more here.

ComplyAdvantage, a two-year-old, London-based startup that claims to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help firms manage compliance obligations at reduced cost, has raised $8.2 million in Series A funding led by Balderton Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Coorpacademy, a three-year-old, Paris-based company at work on expanding its online platform for corporate education, has raised $11 million in funding from Serena Capital, NextStageAM, and Debiopharm Investment funds, among others. VentureBeat has more here.

Group Nine, a newly formed holding company that comprises four digital media organizations — Thrillist (lifestyle), NowThis Media (video news), The Dodo (animals), and Discovery’s digital network Seeker (including its production studio SourceFed) — has accepted $100 million in funding from Discovery Communications in exchange for a minority stake in the business. TechCrunch has more here.

PlaceIQ, a five-year-old, New York-based mobile location intelligence startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from e-commerce giant Alibaba. TechCrunch has more here.

Pluto TV, a three-year-old, L.A.-based video streaming service that targets cord cutters, has raised $30 million in Series B funding from ProSieben of Germany, which is one of Europe’s largest independent media companies, and the lifestyle media company Scripps Networks Interactive. TechCrunch has more here.

TouchBistro, a six-year-old, New York-based company whose iPad-based restaurant point-of-sale system enables owners to manage reservations and take orders quickly, has raised $17 million in Series B funding led by BDC IT Venture Fund. Other participants in the round include Round13 Capital, Huff Capital, and earlier backers Relay Ventures and Kensington Capital Partners. More here.

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New Funds

They’re baaaack. Longtime investors and operators Dixon Doll, Eric Ball and Jack Crawford have formed a new venture firm called Impact Venture Capital; interestingly, they plan to make investments alongside corporate venture groups. Doll founded Doll Capital Management (DCM), which has gone on to great success by investing in both Silicon Valley and China. Ball previously served as the Treasurer for Oracle. Crawford previously managed Velocity Venture Capital. More here.

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IPOs

Snapchat has reportedly chosen bankers for an IPO that could happen as soon as March. The big winners? Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Bloomberg has the story here.

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People

Investors Ron Conway, Michael Moritz and William Oberndorf have each donated $50,000 to a controversial measure to rid San Francisco of its homeless tent cities. More here.

Longtime VC John Doerr has shelled out $500,000 to support Prop. 62 in California, a measure looking to repeal the 1978 law that imposes the death penalty.

If investor Peter Thiel still supports Donald Trump, he’s not telling.

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Data

At big U.S. law firms, there is a 44 percent(!) difference in pay between female partners and their male colleagues, according to the latest survey of big-firm partners released yesterday by the legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. More here.

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Essential Reads

Are we living in a simulation? No, really, Silicon Valley wants to know (and the press can’t quite believe it).

Twitter wants more TV producers live-streaming on Periscope with this new feature.

After years of behind-the-scenes planning, Goldman Sachs is opening its new online lending platform, Marcus, today. You need a special code  to use it, though.

Morgan Stanley is furnishing a $100 million credit line for Affirm, the four-year-old San Francisco-based online lending company led by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin.

Mercedes decides who an autonomous car should save, and the answer is, erm, worrying.

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Detours

The ultimate efficiency hack — have kids.

Donald Trump’s reported Plan B: launch a next-gen Fox News.

Where did all the good movies on Netflix go?

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Retail Therapy

Two words: Levitating. Turntable. (Ya welcome.)




StrictlyVC: October 12, 2016

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

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Top News in the A.M.

Geofeedia, a Chicago-based company that says it analyzes social media posts to deliver real-time surveillance information to help 500 law enforcement agencies track and respond to crime, just lost its access to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram after the ACLU alerted the companies about looming public exposure in an extensive report. The Washington Post has more here.

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Four Kites Tracks Trucks for Customers Like Staples

FourKites, a two-year-old, Chicago-based company that aims to make sense of the fragmented trucking industry for vendors trying to ship their goods, has raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Bain Capital Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Hyde Park Venture Partners, Hyde Park Angels, and Otter.

What the platform is promising more specifically is visibility into where each truck is traveling at any point in time, so that problems — a breakdown, an unforeseen delay — can be addressed quickly.

FourKites planned from the start to share as much data as possible with shippers, brokers, and carriers to boost on-performance time from what it says is in the low 90 percent range to closer to 98 percent. But the company is also taking advantage of a December 2015 ruling by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association that states every professional truck driver and commercial motor carrier need have an electronic logging device (ELD) onboard by the end of next year.

We talked yesterday with cofounder and CEO Mathew Elenjicka about the company’s software, its customers, and how it differs from the many other trucking-related startups to emerge in recent years. Our chat has been edited for length.

There’s no shortage of companies trying to wring efficiencies out of the stodgy trucking business, including TransFix, Cargomatic, Cargo Chief, and Trucker Path. What are you promising that’s different?

The strategy [of those companies is] is, let’s build an app for the drivers and take this community [of drivers] and go to shippers and try to disintermediate brokers, who take a lot of margins and don’t add a lot of value.

The problem with that approach is first, you can only get a subsection of drivers to do download those apps. In the U.S, there are four million truck drivers but just half a million of them are owner-operators; the rest are working for a trucking company, and [those companies] aren’t making them use the apps. They have ELD devices and GPS and are already running a pretty efficient operation.

Instead of starting with the trucking companies and going bottoms up, as do those companies, we’re going top down, building our platform for shipping customers, and they are pushing our app down on the platform, saying to trucking companies, “If you want our business, you have to use our platform.”

What’s the advantage of working with FourKites versus working directly with the trucking companies themselves?

The shippers in the country are working with a lot of trucking companies already, and the data is out there, but it’s all siloed. We’ve built integration across all of these ELD devices, so can act as a single data point for shippers, enabling them to see, for example, which shipments are delayed so they can focus on those exceptions. If you’re asking why it has to be a third party, a new player, it’s because existing players can’t build it. If a dispatcher wanted to build what we’re building, they’d have to build integrations with their competitors, and that’s not going to happen.

More here.

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New Fundings

Akriveia Therapeutics, a year-old, Thousand Oaks, Ca.-based immune-oncology startup, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding from F-Prime Capital Partners. More here.

Blue Medora, a nine-year-old, Grand Rapids, Mi.-based company that develops plugins for virtualization and cloud monitoring and management, has raised $8.6 million in Series B funding led by Lewis & Clark Ventures, with participation from earlier backers VMWare, eLab Ventures, Start Garden and Grand Angels. Grand Rapids Business Journal has more here.

C1X, a two-year-old, California City, Ca.-based ad tech company, has raised $8.5 million in Series B funding led by the Japanese firm Venture Labo Investment, with participation from earlier investors. TechCrunch has more here.

DTI Management, a four-year-old, Alexandria, Va.-based company that makes inventory software for online marketplaces, has raised $75 million in growth equity funding from CVC Capital Partners and New Amsterdam Growth Capital. FinSMEs has more here.

MEL Science, a 2.5-year-old, London- and St. Petersburg-based company whose standalone educational packages include virtual reality and augmented reality content, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding from Sistema Venture Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Mist, a 2.5-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based smart wireless networking company, has raised $28 million in Series B funding led by GV, with additional funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, and Cisco Investments. The company has now raised $43 million altogether. More here.

Nexus Systems, a 17-year-old, Falls Church, Va.-based maker of so-called procure-to-pay software for medium and large businesses, has raised $28 million in growth equity funding from Mainsail Partners. More here.

Noodle, a 6.5-year-old, New York-based education company that’s partnering with schools to create new online certificates and degree programs, has raised $4 million in funding led by the Philadelphia-based venture firm Osage Venture Partners. Other participants in the round include New Markets Venture Partners and 500 Startups. TechCrunch has more here.

Optimus Ride, a 1.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based MIT spinoff that’s working on a fully autonomous driving technology (that it’s not disclosing in much detail yet), has raised $5.25 million in seed funding led by NextView Ventures and FirstMark Capital. Other participants in the round incude MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito, Greycroft Partners, Morado Venture Partners, Haystack, and Uj Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Serverless, a year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based startup whose open source framework allows developers to more easily write applications for platforms like AWS Lambda, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Trinity Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Yi Wei Xing, a Beijing-based car sharing tech platform provider that’s responsible for Feezu, a timeshare rental car service similar to Zipcar, as well as for providing the backend for rental companies looking to provide their own car-sharing service, has raised an undisclosed amount of strategic funding from GM. More here.

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New Funds

China’s Baidu said today that it has established a 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) investment fund, Baidu Capital, that will focus on mid- and late-stage deals in the internet sector, in Chinese yuan, U.S. dollars and other currencies, with individual funding amounts ranging from $50 million to $100 million, the company said on its official WeChat mobile messaging account. Fortune has more here.

Three veterans of a number of Silicon Valley companies, including Samsung, Cisco, and SGI have formed a Los Altos, Ca.-based venture firm called Immersive Capital and raised $21.4 million for their debut fund, shows an SEC filing.

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Exits

Google has acquired FameBit, a marketplace that connects video creators with marketers who want to sponsor their content. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. FameBit was backed by the L.A. startup studio Science. More here.

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People

Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, is launching a new virtual reality company called Modal VR. More here.

Among the tech tidbits buried in the trove of Clinton campaign emails published by WikiLeaks on Monday was a request from Apple CEO Tim Cook for a one-on-one meeting with Hillary Clinton last year. Wrote a campaign aide, “Tim’s office requested a 1:1 meeting today, which was a nice way of saying ‘no staff.’ I think this is one [where] we should proceed cautiously. He’s supportive but new to this so I think we shouldn’t come on too strong.” More here.

President Obama talks AI with Wired: “One of the challenges that we’ll have to think about is, where and when is it appropriate for us to have things work exactly the way they’re supposed to, without surprises?” More here.

Might Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg be the next U.S. Treasury Secretary? Asked during a fireside yesterday about whether she’d accept the post if asked by Hillary Clinton, Sandberg insisted that she’s staying put. “I really am staying at Facebook. I’m very happy.” More here.

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Essential Reads

Would you pay a few extra bucks a month to turn your smart home speaker into an intelligent, unlimited jukebox?  Amazon is betting people will.

Bed Bath & Beyond paid just $11.78 million to acquire online retailer One Kings Lane earlier this year, according to regulatory documents turned up by Fortune. The company had raised more than $200 million from investors and was once valued at more than $900 million.

Elon Musk‘s wild ride. (Biographer Ashlee Vance examines troubles at SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity.)

Why does Siri still seem so dumb (and what does it mean for Apple)?

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Detours

Painstaking, heartfelt and misunderstood gifts for professional tennis players.

The 10 best Ken Bone memes on the internet.

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Retail Therapy

BMW’s new motorcycle concept. So smart, you won’t need a helmet. (You should probably wear one anyway.)




StrictlyVC: October 11, 2016

Tuesday! [Roundhouse kick.]

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Top News in the A.M.

Twitter execs are continuing deal talks with at least one suitor, the online software company Salesforce.com, according to Dealbook. More here.

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A Hedge Fund is Now Suing Theranos, Citing “Lies” and “Omissions”

Partner Fund Management (PFM), a San Francisco-based hedge fund that reportedly wrote out a $96 million check to Theranos back in 2014, is now suing the blood-testing startup and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, saying it was duped into its investment “through a series of lies, material misstatements, and omissions,” and accusing the firm of engaging in “securities fraud and other violations by fraudulently inducing” it to invest and to maintain its investment in the company.

The $198 million Series C-2 round in which Partner appears to have participated drove the firm to a reported valuation of $9 billion. Fortune wrote about the round in June 2014 in a flattering feature story about Holmes, for which it later published a protracted correction.

According to the WSJ, in a letter sent earlier today to its shareholders about the suit, filed in a Delaware court, Partner says Holmes and another former Theranos executive blatantly lied to the hedge fund by claiming it had developed “proprietary technologies that worked” and that it was nearing regulatory approvals.

Theranos is saying the “suit is without merit, and Theranos will fight it vigorously.”

Theranos announced last week that it’s shutting down its laboratory operations and firing 340 people — about 40 percent of its staff — to focus instead on an initiative to create small medical testing machines.

The new miniaturized devices aim to allow lab tests to be “decentralized” and carried out at more locations, but it underwhelmed an audience of scientists, doctors, and lab professionals when unveiled at a medical conference in Philadelphia in August.

More here.

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New Fundings

Cassia Networks, a two-year-old, New York-based maker of a Bluetooth router, has raised $10.27 million in Series B funding co-led by IDG-Accel and Everest Capital, with participation from China Rock, Social Starts, GCP Venture, Z-park Capital, TEEC Angel, and SumaVision USA. More here.

Cityworks, a 30-year-old, Sandy, Ut.-based company that makes public asset and land management software for local governments, has raised $14.5 million in funding from Polaris Venture Partners, with participation from Blue Cloud Ventures. More here.

CloudCoreo, a two-year-old, Seattle-based company working in stealth mode on a “next-gen” way to manage and secure cloud infrastructure, has raised $2.9 million in seed funding led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Divergent Ventures, Aristos Ventures, and Data Collective. More here.

Everwise, a three-year-old, San Francisco and New York-based startup focused on how to make professional development scalable, has raised $16 million in Series B funding led by earlier backer Sequoia Capital, with participation from two other earlier backers, Canvas Ventures and Webb Investment Network. TechCrunch has more here.

Evidation Health, a four-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company whose software aims to enable companies across healthcare to design and execute clinical studies easily and quickly, has raised $15 million in funding led by B Capital Group (a newish firm cofounded by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin). Earlier backers GE Ventures, AMV, Fresco Capital, and new investor Pappas Ventures also joined the round. More here.

Kindly Care, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based online marketplace that pairs caregivers with older clients who might not be interested in or can’t afford an assisted living situation, has raised $3.1 million in funding led by MHS Capital, with participation from Floodgate and Jackson Square Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

HomeMe, a 1.5-year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based startup whose rental application process pre-approves and screens potential renters for apartments and landlords, has raised $3.2 million in its first round of funding led by Menlo Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Infutor Data Solutions, a 13-year-old, Plainfield, Il.-based maker of data compilation and data management software, has received an undisclosed amount of funding led by the growth equity team at Norwest Venture Partners. More here.

The Iran Internet Group, a two-year-old, Iran-based startup behind a ride-sharing application called Snapp, has raised €20 million ($22.1 million) in Series A funding from the South African mobile phone company MTN. TechCrunch has more on the funding here.

Navya, a two-year-old, Paris-based startup that makes driverless shuttles, has raised $34 million in funding co-led by two strategic backers: the public transportation provider Keolis and the automotive parts group Valeo. TechCrunch has more here.

Payfit, a seven-month-old, Paris-based startup whose software aims to help small and mid-size companies easily and quickly pay their employees, has raised $5.6 million from Otium Venture and Xavier Niel. TechCrunch has more here.

Remote Year, a 1.5-year-old, Chicago, Il.-based company that brings together people from across the globe to spend a year, working, travelling, and exploring 12 cities internationally, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Highland Capital Partners, with participation from WeWork Labs co-founder Jesse Middleton and Airbnb co-founder Nate Blecharczyk. TechCrunch has much more about the company here.

VenueNext, a three-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based connected venue technology platform company, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Causeway Media Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

YuppTV, an eight-year-old, Alpharetta, Ga., and Mumbai, India-based video streaming service that serves Indian video content to viewers all over the world, has sold a minority stake in its business to Emerald Media, a Pan-Asian platform established by the private equity firm KKR. The price: $50 million. More here.

Zymergen, a three-year-old, Emeryville, Ca.-based biological materials engineering company that leverages both robotics and big data, has raised $130 million in Series B funding led by SoftBank Group. Other participants in the round include Iconiq Capital, Prelude Ventures, and Tao Capital Partners, as well as earlier investors Data Collective, True Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, DFJ, Innovation Endeavors, Obvious Ventures and Two Sigma Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

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New Funds

Amino Capital, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based early-stage venture firm that focused largely on artificial intelligence and data-driven startups, has closed its second fund with $50 million. The outfit was formerly called zPark Venture. More here.

Greylock Partners, the decades-old early-stage venture firm, has closed its 15th fund with $1 billion. TechCrunch has more here.

Private equity executive Sam Valenti is joining forces with his entrepreneur son, also named Sam, in a new Bloomfield, Mi.-based venture capital firm called V5 Partners that has secured $200 million to invest in auto tech. Crain’s Detroit Business has much more here.

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IPOs

Investors gearing up for the IPO of Ant Financial, the $60 billion online finance arm spun off by e-commerce giant Alibaba, will have to wait until at least late 2017, reports Reuters. More here.

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People

It’s been a terrible few weeks for Yahoo. The Washington Post looks at whether it’s Marissa Mayer‘s fault.

Dan Primack, a well-known columnist who writes about venture capital and private equity (and is an adored former colleague of ours), is leaving Fortune to join a new content startup from the co-founders of Politico. Recode has more here.

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Essential Reads

Samsung just killed the Galaxy Note 7 for good, owing to safety fears over defective batteries.

Amazon is considering building its own convenience stores to sell perishable items such as produce, milk and meat.

The Honest Company, which reportedly spent part of this fall in talks with CPG companies about an acquisition, is now looking to expand internationally.

Inside the spectacular collapse of Fab.com, or, how not to strangle your unicorn.

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Detours

The fight to save Johnny Manziel from all-out self-destruction.

Your kitchen counter is far dirtier than your floor and other takeaways from this piece on bacteria.

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Retail Therapy

Oktober Fuel. We’ll take two gallons, please.




StrictlyVC: October 10, 2016

Happy Monday, everyone!

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Top News in the A.M.

Anew study from Germany’s Federal Highway Research Institute has found the autopilot feature of the Tesla Model S constitutes a “considerable traffic hazard.” Unsurprisingly, Tesla CEO Elon Musk doesn’t agree and today said in a tweet that those reports were “not actually based on science.”

Jack Dorsey just tried to rally Twitter around an independent strategy in a new memo.

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The IPO Window May be Opening, But Getting Liquid is Tricky for VCs

Venture capitalists and their financial backers may be feeling a skip in their step this week, following the recently successful IPOs of several tech companies, including the cloud software companies Nutanix, Apptio and Coupa Software. In fact, media outlets are already tallying up who’s going to make what off each of the deals.

If only it were so simple.

While there’s plenty of reason for the startup industry to be feeling a wave of optimism, it’s rarely so straightforward as it looks to exit a public company, and it may be even trickier today than in past years.

One primary reason is float. In recent years, more startups have been offering smaller batches of shares to test an uncertain market for tech offerings, as well as to drive up demand through some scarcity. These smaller floats seem to be having the desired effect, at least in the shorter term. But to keep a company’s share price from plummeting once their lock-up period has expired, VCs have to take more care than ever in making distributions to their own investors (or LPs).

“Most companies, even if they’re at a billion-dollar market cap, there’s no float these days, so you have to plan carefully, including selling in tranches,” says managing director Naveen Chadda of the venture firm Mayfield. “If you sell on day one, the stock will take hit, so exit planning is extremely important.”

As you may have noticed, LPs have also grown somewhat impatient. While they continue pouring money into venture firms, those same firms  — some of which hold stakes in more than a dozen so-called unicorns — are also under pressure to act quickly given the eye-catching paper returns LPs have been shown in recent years — and the real returns on which they’ve been waiting.

“Our LPs are very clear with us, which is they are paying us to manage private and not public money,” Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz told this editor at a recent event, explaining that for the most part, the idea is to pay back the firm’s investors and fast.

It can be a complicated dance.

More here.

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New Fundings

Beyond Meat, a six-year-old, El Segundo, Ca.-based company that makes plant-based products and has raised at least $17 million from investors over the years (including from Obvious Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, and Bill Gates), has just sold a five percent stake in its business to the giant meat company Tyson Foods. The dollar amount isn’t being disclosed. Dealbook has more here.

Eve Sleep, a 1.5-year-old, London-based luxury mattress e-tailer, has raised $18.3 million in Series B funding led by Woodford Investment Management, with participation from Channel 4 and earlier backers Octopus Investments and DN Capital. FinSMEs has more here.

OncoResponse, a year-old, Houston, Tex.-based immuno-oncology antibody discovery startup, has raised $7 million in Series A funding from GreatPoint Ventures and Helsinn Investment Fund. More here.

Soundtrap, a four-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based cloud-based music and audio recording platform, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by the Nordic VC firm Industrifonden, with participation from an array of existing investors and other new backers, including former Spotify CFO and COO Peter Sterky. The company has now raised $8.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

StreetTeam, a five-year-old, London-based company whose sales and marketing software helps brands build, deploy, and manage large decentralized ambassador programs, has raised $10 million in funding. The round was led by Kindred Capital, with participation from Frontline Ventures, Backed and numerous strategic investors, including Universal Music Group, Saatchi Invest, and Peter Davies. TechCrunch has more here.

Vectary, a two-year-old, Bratislava, Slovakia-based startup whose online 3D design tool for modeling and customization aims to provide easy ways to create complex shapes, has raised $2.5 million in funding led by the Berlin-based venture firm BlueYard Capital, with participation from Neulogy Ventures, based in Bratislava. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

New Funds

BioVentures Investors, a Wellesley, Ma.-based venture firm focused on med-tech startups, has closed its fourth fund with $87 million in capital commitments, the firm announced in a news release. It says it has now raised $220 million altogether. More here.

EQT Partners, a Stockholm Sweden-based firm that burst onto the European scene earlier this year with a roughly $600 million growth fund, has now closed its first dedicated U.S. mid-market growth buyout fund with $726 million. EQT was formed by a small group of highly successful European entrepreneurs, including former Booking.com CEO Kees Koolen. More here.

—–

IPOs

iRhythm Technologies, a 10-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of cardiac diagnostic monitoring products (one of its products is a 14-day patch), has set its IPO terms to 5.35 million shares being offered at between $13 and $15 per share. Priced in the middle of that range, it would have a fully diluted value of roughly $310 million. iRhythm has raised roughly $200 million in private funding; you can see who owns what here.

—–

People

Cyanogen, a startup behind its own, alternative version of the Android operating system, has a new CEO. More here.

Rishi Garg has joined the early-stage venture firm Mayfield as a general partner. While readers might recall that Garg’s last full-time gig was Twitter’s VP of corp dev, a role he left in July 2015, he spent the previous two years leading M&A at the payments company Square and before that, logged time at General Catalyst Partners as an entrepreneur-in-residence; at MTV Networks in biz dev; and as an associate with the venture firm Highland Capital Partners, where he focused on software and digital media. We have more for you over at TechCrunch.

—–

Data

McKinsey has published new study showing that 20 to 30 percent of the working age population in the U.S. and Europe engage in independent work, and they largely fall into four categories: free agents, who actively choose independent work and derive their primary income from it; casual earners, who use independent work for supplemental income and do so by choice; reluctants, who make their primary living from independent work but would prefer traditional jobs; and the financially strapped, who do supplemental independent work out of necessity. More here.

—–

Essential Reads

Samsung has now temporarily halted production of the Galaxy Note 7 amid reports that a number of the devices have caught fire. More here.

Netflix wants to brings its products and services to 130 countries around the world. It’s looking like China won’t be one of them, though.

People have become “violently ill” after eating the food bars of venture-backed Soylent; now the company has some theories why.

—–

Detours

What 18th-century Paris sounded like.

Eff millennials: why more people are dropping the “f” bomb at the office.

—–

Retail Therapy

Cover clamp. People steal duvets. Don’t let them steal yours.




StrictlyVC: October 7, 2016

Friday! Hope it goes as well as possible. See you soon, everyone.:)

—–

Top News in the A.M.

As reported by the WSJ, Snap is working on an IPO that could value the fast-growing virtual-messaging company at $25 billion or more, making it one of the highest-profile share debuts in years and — VCs are praying — possibly signaling a turnaround in the new-issue market.

In the wake of Yahoo‘s admission that the user names and passwords of 500 million accounts were swiped in 2014, Verizon wants a discount off its pending $4.8 billion agreement to buy the company. Like, a $1 billion discount. The New York Post has the story here.

—–

In Buyers’ Market, Acquirers Look to Lock in Key Players Longer

Acquisitions are often celebrated in the press. But academic research suggests that 70 percent to 90 percent of mergers don’t succeed, owing to a wide variety of factors. Buyers overvalue the synergies they’ll derive, or they underestimate the impact of the associated costs, or they rely too heavily on assumptions about where a market is heading.

Of course, another reason acquisitions don’t always go as planned is that founders often leave a year or two after their company has been gobbled up.

That’s changing in today’s challenging market for exits, where a growing number of well-funded companies and their investors are hoping that if an IPO isn’t in the cards, an acquisition might be. Indeed, in addition to other changing deal terms, acquiring companies are seemingly thinking long and hard about locking up talent longer than they have in the recent past.

You saw it happen when the e-commerce company Jet sold to Walmart for a whopping $3.3 billion in August. According to Recode, cofounder and CEO Jet Lore agreed to stay on with Walmart for an atypically long five years as part of the acquisition agreement. In fact, according to that same August report, if Lore leaves before the summer of 2021, he’ll forfeit a sizable amount of both cash and stock that could otherwise earn him up to an estimated $1 billion.

Lore may be exceptional in many ways, including his understanding of e-commerce and how to compete specifically with Amazon, which acquired his previous company. It’s easy to understand why Walmart wants him around. He probably won’t be alone, though.

More here.

—–

New Fundings

Financeit, a nine-year-old, Toronto-based company whose platform allows businesses to offer consumer financing to their customers from various devices, has raised $17 million in new funding co-led by The Pritzker Organization and DNS Capital. More here.

Lulalend, a two-year-old, Cape Town, South Africa-based online business lending platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by Accion Venture Lab, with participation from Newid Capital and Hallmann Holding International Investment. More here.

Nauto, a 1.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup that uses cameras, motion sensors, GPS systems, and its own artificial intelligence software to detect what’s happening on the road and inside a car, has raised an undisclosed amount of venture funding and entered into data-sharing partnerships with big name auto and insurance companies BMW, Toyota and Allianz Group. The company had previously raised $12 million in Series A funding. TechCrunch has more here.

Nugit, a three-year-old, Singapore-based startup focused on marketing, has raised $5.2 million in fresh funding from Sequoia Capital’s India fund. The company had previously raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from 500 Startups and The Hub Singapore. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

IPOs

Bloom Energy, a maker of fuel cell power generators that has raised $1.2 billion from investors over its 15-year history and was valued by investors at $2.9 billion back in 2011, has filed confidential IPO papers, reports the WSJ. More here.

CRISPR Therapeutics, a Basel, Switzerland-based gene editing company, plans to offer 4.7 million shares at between $15 and $17 per share, it says in its newest IPO-related SEC filing. Priced in the middle of that range, the company would have an initial market capitalization of roughly $636 million. To see who owns what, click here.

—–

Exits

Paribus — a New York startup that helps online shoppers get automatic refunds when prices drop on items they purchased and that first launched as part of the Startup Battlefield at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2015 — has been acquired by Capital One. Deal terms were not disclosed. Paribus had raised at least $2.2 million in seed funding, shows CrunchBase. Its backers include Y Combinator, Greylock Partners, General Catalyst Partners, and Slow Ventures, among others. TechCrunch has more here.

Rinse, a three-year-old, L.A.-based on-demand laundry service, has acquired the assets of rival Washio — which shut down in August — for undisclosed terms. Rinse has raised roughly $10 million from investors, shows CrunchBase. Its backers include Javelin Ventures PartnersArena Ventures and CAA Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

People

A systems engineer in New York who is suing Google, alleging the company systematically discriminates against older job applicants, won a key ruling this week; she can can now notify everyone else in her position that they may opt in to join a class action lawsuit against the search giant. Fortune has more here.

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey was conspicuously missing from the keynote stage at yesterday’s Oculus Connect 3 conference in San Jose, Ca. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

Jobs

Goldman Sachs Asset Management is looking to hire an analyst to help with due diligence, among other things. The job is in New York.

—-

Data

Take note, video publishers: A new study released this week from the Pew Research Center found that younger people are actually more interested in reading the news than watching it. Meanwhile, it’s OGs who prefer watching the news instead of reading, Pew found. More here.

—–

Essential Reads

Inside Rocket Internet‘s ailing startup factory.

Both Uber and Lyft have been hit with a court injunction banning their activity in Philadelphia, following complaints by the local taxi industry.

Postmates, the on-demand delivery company, has reportedly had trouble securing the additional funds it has chased for the better part of this year despite seeking new funding at around $450 million, the same as its Series D valuation. Quartz has more here.

—–

Detours

North American monsoons.

The cities where rent is rising the fastest.

“Everyone’s been wondering who would be the target of 2016’s worst racism. I didn’t even know Asians were in the running.”

—–

Retail Therapy

Nike Mags. Try and snag a pair; it’s for a good cause.




StrictlyVC: October 6, 2016

One more day. You can do this! (We’re projecting here, but you’re with us, right?)

—-

Top News in the A.M.

U.S. venture capital firms have raised $32.4 billion through the third quarter, putting 2016 on pace for a record-breaking year, the National Venture Capital Association and Pitchbook said today. You can check out their full report here.

Remember when Disney was interested in buying Twitter? That’s apparently no longer the case. Google and Apple aren’t planning to make bids, either, reportedly.

—–

Twyla, Which Sells Artists’ Prints, Just Raised $14 Million Led by GV

Twyla, a year-and-a-half-year-old startup that collaborates with artists to create exclusive prints for sale at its site, at prices that range from $1,000 to $5,000, has raised $14 million in new funding led by GV, with participation from earlier investors IVP and Redpoint Ventures. The company has now raised $19 million altogether.

Twyla was cofounded by HomeAway cofounder Brian Sharples and employs 30 people in Austin, Tex., and it’s pitching itself a win for artists and art lovers a like. While it’s making accessible the work of people who’ve shown at top museums and galleries, including LACMA, MoMA, and the Whitney Museum, it says a limited-edition licensing model that it employs should also provide these artists with valuable revenue and exposure to a wider audience.

To make things even easier, the artist chooses a frame for customers, which is included in its price. To make the prints easier to consider in person, the company is beginning to partner with venues like boutique hotels that can act as “showrooms” for its pieces.

Twyla has plenty of competition, starting with 18-year-old Art.com and including younger companies Curioos and Juniqe, among others. We were in touch last night with Sharples’ cofounder and company CEO Matt Randall — who previously cofounded the POP Austin International Art Show — to ask why that isn’t stopping the company.

More here.

—–
New Fundings

Botfactory, a 3.5-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup developing an electronic circuit printer, has raised $1.3 million from investors led by NY Angels. TechCrunch has more here.

Code Climate, a 5.5-year-year-old, New York-based company that consolidates the results from a suite of static analysis tools into a single, real-time report, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding from Union Square Ventures, NextView Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Trinity Ventures and Fuel Capital. More here.

CognitiveScale, three-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based startup specializing in artificial intelligence and machine learning, has raised $25 million in funding including a strategic investment from Microsoft Ventures. Silicon Hills News has more here.

Cybric, a 1.5-year-old, Boston-based cloud-based platform that checks applications, integrations, operating systems, data centers, and other components of an enterprise network for anomalies using a shadow environment, has raised $6.3 million in seed funding from Capstone Ventures and Petrillo Capital. More here.

DiCentral Corporatiion, a 16-year-old, Houston, Tex.-based IT services firm, has raised $15 million in outside financing from the private equity firm Kayne Partners. More here.

Enable Injections, a 6.5-year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based maker of wearable, large volume “injectors” for the subcutaneous delivery of biologics and high volume drugs, has raised $30 million in Series A funding led by ORI Healthcare Fund. More here.

Goby, a year-old, New York-based electric toothbrush subscription service, has raised $2 million in seed funding from a long list of investors, including Lerer Hippeau Ventures, BBG Ventures, Correlation Ventures, Galvanize, and Red Sea Ventures. More here.

Happycar, a three-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based car rental comparison startup, has raised a fresh €2.6 million ($2.9 million) in funding led by Creathor Venture, with participation from HR Ventures, Capnamic Ventures, NWZ Digital, and TruVenturo. TechCrunch has more here.

Madefire, a five-year-old, New York-based motion book tool provider for content creators, has raised $6.5 million in Series B funding from investors that include Plus Capital, Kevin Spacey, Drake (yes), True Ventures, Big Loud Capital, Anthem Ventures and Framestore Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

OpenGamma, a seven-year-old, London-based company that makes risk analytics software for the derivatives markets, has raised $13.3 million in funding led by Accel Partners and ICAP. Tech.eu has more here.

Welltok, a seven-year-old, Denver, Co.-based consumer enterprise platform for the healthcare industry, has raised $33.7 million in Series E funding from a long list of investors that New Enterprise Associates, Bessemer Venture Partners, Georgian Partners, Emergence Capital, InterWest Partners, Sigma Partners, HLM Venture Partners, Flare Capital Partners, Okapi Venture Capital and Miramar Ventures. The Denver Post has more here.

—–

New Funds

Corazon Capital, a 2.5-year-old, Chicago-based venture firm founded by serial entrepreneur Sam Yagan, has raised $37 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing that lists a $39.9 million target. The firm closed its debut fund with $13 million. ChicagoInno has more here.

—–

IPOs

Shares of Coupa Software, a U.S. maker of cloud-based software that helps companies manage spending, hit the trading floor this morning, more than doubling in their debut. The stock rose to a high of $39.50 in early trading on the Nasdaq, valuing the company at $1.9 billion. Fortune has more here.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times asks: Can rising momentum amid unicorn stocks last?

—–

Exits

eBay has acquired Corrigon, an eight-year-old, Israel-based startup that specializes in computer vision and visual search technology. Terms of the deal were not disclosed by eBay. The Israeli newspaper The Marker is reporting a price of $30 million but TechCrunch sources say the deal was for a smaller amount. It isn’t clear how much Corrigon had raised from investors. More here.

Samsung is acquiring four-year-old Viv, an AI and assistant system co-founded by Siri creators Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham. Presumably, Samsung will use the tech to compete with Siri’s acquirer, Apple. (Quel scandale!) TechCrunch has the scoop here.

—–

People

Jim Freeman, a longtime Amazon executive who’d been vice president of video since early 2015 and was considered the chief engineering architect of the platform, quietly left for German retailer Zalando last month, and Jeff Blackburn, a top lieutenant of Jeff Bezos is now directly overseeing Amazon’s video division. It seems a signal of videos importance to Amazon’s business, reports The Information (subscription required).

Vanity Fair published its annual New Establishment list yesterday.

—–

Jobs

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, formed nearly a year ago by Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, is looking to bring aboard a principal to help identify investment opportunities in for-profit companies that are trying to transform learning. The job is in San Francisco.

—–

Essential Reads

Uber Slayer: How China’s Didi beat the ride-hailing superpower.

Mark Zuckerberg in Lagos land.

Poor Theranos. It’s closing its labs and wellness centers to focus on another product that academics don’t seem all that excited about, either.

—–

Detours

Tilting house.

Why voices deepen and thin over time.

—–

Retail Therapy

Solar hats to keep your iPhones charged. (Hey, we’ll do what it takes.)




StrictlyVC: October 5, 2016

Hi, happy Wednesday, everyone. We have a shorter-than-planned edition of the newsletter for you this a.m. as we need to run out the door for a meeting but more tomorrow!

—–

Top News in the A.M.

Yikes. A “hard Brexit” that would leave Britain with restricted access to the EU’s single market could cost the U.K. finance industry upwards of $48 billion, says a new report.

—–

Metamorphic Ventures Has a $50 New Fund, and a New Brand

Metamorphic Ventures, a six-year-old, New York-based seed-stage fund, is officially taking the wraps off a $50 million fund — its third. The firm is also rebranding itself simply as Compound. (One-word names seem to be a growing trend; you might recall that Pejman Mar Ventures is now simply Pear.)

The name change is a nod to the way that the firm sees itself — as an element that works among others, including its founders, advisors, and investors. The fund size, which is smaller than the firm’s $70 million second fund, likely owes to the departure of Marc Michel, a longtime investor who cofounded Metamorphic with David Hirsch, who was Google’s second employee in New York and stayed eight years before diving into venture capital in 2009. (Michel left in January to start yet another venture firm called Runway Venture Partners, which focuses more narrowly on post-seed-stage e-commerce startups. Michel appears to be in fundraising mode currently. Hirsch says the split was “completely amicable.”)

We talked earlier today with Hirsch, who today runs Compound with Josh Nussbaum, a principal who has worked his way up from an analyst position in 2012. Among other things, he explained that the firm — which funds both East and West coast startups and originally invested primarily in digital media, commerce, payments, and ad tech — is now focusing on artificial intelligence and regulated industries like health care, among other newer areas of interest.

More here.
—–

New Fundings

BEFORE Brands, a five-month-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based consumer products company aiming to bring proprietary nutritional products directly to families, has raised $13.1 million in Series A funding led by Gurnet Point Capital, with participation from a long list of individual investors, including Martha Goldberg Aronson and Dan Aronson, and Justine and John Arrillaga. BEFORE was co-founded by Ashley Dombkowski, a longtime healthcare investor who once served as chief business officer at the genome research company 23andMe. More here.

Clearpath Robotics, an eight-year-old, Ontario-based company whose self-driving vehicles autonomously move boxes and pallets around factories, warehouses and distribution centers, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by INovia Capital, with participation from Caterpillar Ventures, GE Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, RRE Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. TechCrunch has more here.

iwoca, a five-year-old, London-based finch startup that offers small businesses fast online credit, has raised £21 million ($26.8 million) in fresh funding from Prime Ventures, as well as existing investors Acton Capital Partners, CommerzVentures, Global Founders Capital, and Redline Capital. Business Insider has more here.

Money Forward, a four-year-old, Tokyo-based personal financial management and cloud-based accounting software service, has raised roughly $11 million in Series D funding from Mizuho Capital and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, with participation from earlier backers Fenox Venture Capital and Toho Bank. Tech in Asia has more here.

Ollie, a year-old, New York-based company that makes all-natural pet food for dogs, has raised $4.4 million in seed funding. Primary Ventures and Lerer Hippeau Ventures led the round, with participation from other investors that included Canaan Partners. Business Insider has more here.

Payoneer, an 11-year-old, New York-based fintech company that helps businesses send and receive money across borders online, has raised a whopping $180 million in Series E funding from Technology Crossover Ventures. Business Insider has more here.

Wine n Dine, a year-old, New York-based meal review app that helps consumers decide where to eat, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Jordache Ventures, The Chetrit Group and Melo7 Tech Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

—–

IPOs

Coupa Software, the 10-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based corporate spend management platform, increased its IPO terms yesterday, reporting it will now offer 7.4 million shares at between $16 to $18 per share, up from its original plans to sell 6.7 milion shares at between $14 and $16. Business Insider has more here

—–

People

Jack Dorsey is losing control of Twitter, reports Bloomberg. More here.

Pinterest has hired its first chief financial officer, Todd Morgenfeld, who was most recently vice president of finance at Twitter. TechCrunch has more here.

Fenox Venture Capital has put plans for its India focused fund on hold after a recently appointed general partner who was hired to lead that fund, Venktesh Shukla, hastily departed the firm. TechCrunch has more here.

A senior deal maker at Goldman Sachs, John Vaske, will retire from the investment bank after 28 years, the company announced yesterday. Dealbook has more here.

—–

Jobs

Scripps Network Interactive is looking for a VP of corp dev. The job is in New York.

seed+speed Ventures, an early-stage German venture capital firm, is looking to hire an associate who will help the firm plant a flag in the U.S. The job is in San Francisco.

—–

Essential Reads

Chris Anderson’s 3D Robotics has laid off more than 150 people, burned through almost $100 million in venture capital funding, and completely changed its business strategy. Forbes reports on its woes here.

Open Whisper Systems, a maker of a widely used encryption app called Signal, received a subpoena in the first half of the year for subscriber information and other details associated with two phone numbers that came up in a federal grand jury investigation in Virginia. And it was told not to tell anyone about the information request for a year.

MailChimp and the un-Silicon Valley way to make it as a startup, in the New York Times.

—–

Detours

How Americans rank on science knowledge.

We are not endorsing this clip. (We will note, however, that this particular video never gets old for us, no matter how many times it’s used.)
—–

Retail Therapy

Countdown clock.

We would definitely live in this house FOREVER.




StrictlyVC: October 4, 2016

It’s Tuesday! Holla! Hope you’re enjoying yours.:)

—–

Top News in the A.M.

Amazon has, at long last, banned reviews tied to free or discounted products.

So Google had some announcements this morning. You can learn about its answer to Amazon’s Echo here, its new VR headset here, and its new phone, called Pixel, here.

—–

Another Former Rothenberg Employee Sues, Citing Wage Abuse

Katie Fanelli — a former chief of staff of Rothenberg Ventures — has brought a proposed class-action lawsuit against the beleaguered San Francisco-based investing outfit, saying it routinely failed to pay contract workers their final paycheck across its four-year history, and that it failed to compensate Fanelli and other hourly workers for overtime.

The suit aims to address anyone who failed to receive final or overtime pay from Rothenberg Ventures Management Company and whose individual claims fall below $75,000. That isn’t an arbitrary distinction. Federal courts may hear suits only where “the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000,” while California law and statutes protect plaintiffs who are seeking less.

Fanelli’s suit employs both colorful prose — and some brow-raising accusations. Describing Rothenberg’s business practices as “lucrative, repressive, and unlawful,” it goes on to say that as part of a “systemic scheme of wage abuse,” Fanelli’s employment was terminated, after which Rothenberg Ventures failed to provide her with a final paycheck covering the hours she had worked in her final pay period.

The lawsuit seeks to represent “all California-based employees who worked any time during the four years preceding” the suit and who “were not paid their final paycheck upon separation and/or termination” from Rothenberg Ventures Management Company.

Fanelli is also accusing Rothenberg of not paying herself and others deserved overtime wages.

More here.

—–

New Fundings

AppsDaily, an eight-year-old, Mumbai, India-based mobile application development and distribution company, has raised roughly $3.75 million from earlier backers, including Zodius Capital, Kalaari Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, Ru-Net and Mumbai Angels. LiveMint has more here.

Aspire Health, a 3.5-year-old, Nashville, Tn.-based palliative care provider, has landed $32 million in fresh funding led by GV. Aspire was co-founded by former U.S. Senator Bill Frist. The Daily Tennessean has more here.

Eatigo, a three-year-old, Bangkok, Thailand-based discount restaurant booking service that bills itself as an anti-Groupon, has raised more than $10 million in fresh funding from travel giant TripAdvisor. TechCrunch has more here.

Grana, a two-year-old, Hong Kong-based online fashion retailer, has raised $10 million in new funding led by Alibaba’s entrepreneurship fund, with participation from earlier backers Golden Gate Ventures (in Singapore) and MindWorks Ventures (Hong Kong). TechCrunch has more here.

GoEuro, a four-year-old, Berlin-based travel planner and booking platform, has raised $70 million in new funding led by Silver Lake Kraftwerk and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. TechCrunch has more here.

Paperspace, a two-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup that aims to bring the virtual desktop experience to the enterprise, has raised $4 million in funding from Ludlow Ventures, Data Collective and Initialized Capital. Individual investors also participated, including Digital Ocean co-founder Jeff Carr. TechCrunch has more here.

Restless Bandit, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that says it finds the highest-potential job candidates from the pool of people who’ve applied for positions previously with a company, has raised $8 million in fresh funding fromGGV Capital and Toba Capital. The company has now raised $10 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Saldum Ventures, a three-year-old, Spain-based startup whose digital-first, vertically integrated sunglasses business — called Hawkers — wants to take on the big brands like Ray-Ban, has raised $56 million in funding. The round was led by Félix Ruiz and Hugo Arévalo, the founders of Tuenti, a social networking app in Spain that was acquired by Telefonica and has since expanded into other mobile services like calls. Others investing include O’Hara, an investment group controlled by Venezuelan businessman Alejandro Betancourt, and unnamed private investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Source{d}, a two-year-old, Madrid, Spain-based AI-driven recruitment startup, has raised $6 million in Series A funding from Xavier Niel, Otium Venture, and Sunstone Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Stripe, the six-year-old, San Francisco-based online payments platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of new funding from Sumitomo Mitsui Card Company. TechCrunch has more here.

Tannico, a four-year-old, Milan, Italy-based wine e-commerce platform, has raised $4.3 million from investors, including the Italy-based venture firm VC P101, and Stefano Saccardi, a managing director at Campari. TechCrunch has more here.

Tock, a two-year-old, Chicago-based company whose software helps restaurants sell and manage bookings in advance, has raised $7.5 million in funding led by Origin Ventures, with participation from restaurateurs, chefs, and hospitality groups, including Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and Will Guidara and Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park.

—–

New Funds

Xiaodong Jiang, a longtime managing director in China for venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, is leaving to launch a new firm called Long Hill Capital Partners. Long Hill plans to raise up to $125 million for its debut fund, which will invest in Chinese startups, with NEA being among its investors. Fortune has more here.

—–

Exits

Salesforce is spending $700 million in cash and stock to acquire the San Francisco-based ad tech company Krux; the move aims to bolster its marketing-data and analytics segment. According to CrunchBase, Krux had raised raised roughly $50 million from investors, including Sapphire Ventures. The WSJ has more here.

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People

In a new Recode podcast, renowned investor Aileen Lee notes that, from what she has seen, men can get roped in as investors in a hot deal just for being fun to socialize with; she says that women meanwhile have to have specific domain expertise, typically, along with a strong professional network. More here.

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Jobs

CSC Venture Capital, the venture arm of CSC Group, one of the largest private equity and venture capital firms in China, is looking to hire a quantitative analyst. The job is in Palo Alto.

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Essential Reads

Whoa. Reuters is reporting that Yahoo last year agreed to demands by U.S. intelligence officials to create a kind of backdoor, one that let the NSA and FBI scan all off its customers’ incoming emails for specific information. More here.

The anything-goes web property 4chan is facing collapse (but not for the reasons you think).

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Detours

Can’t hear in noisy places? It’s a real medical condition.

How to raise kinder, less entitled, kids, according to science.

“Before the Flood” trailer.

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Retail Therapy

The unapologetically impractical Renault Trezor Concept car.