StrictlyVC: September 22, 2016

Hey, everyone, happy first day of fall!


Top News in the A.M.

A hacker named “Peace” is bringing chaos to Yahoo just as its sale to Verizon is pending. Recode has more here.


Good News for the Mutual Fund with the Most Unicorn Stakes! Wait . . .

A new report may have mutual fund investors beaming right now — and traditional venture investors sniggering.

According to new research from the data company Pitchbook, Fidelity Investments has assembled stakes in 24 “unicorn” startups. That’s more than any venture firm. Fidelity’s peer and rival, T. Rowe Price, isn’t doing too shabbily on the same front. Pitchbook places it fifth in terms of its unicorn holdings, with investments in 17 privately held startups that are valued at a billion dollars or more.

Pitchbook asks whether mutual funds might be beating VCs at their own game, but a wealth of unicorn holdings isn’t necessarily a positive signal about Fidelity so much as a reminder that it has stuffed an awful lot of money into venture-backed companies that haven’t yet gone public or been acquired.

For one thing, the investment giant has in some cases bought stakes in companies afterthey were assigned billion-dollar plus valuations. Take Oscar Health, the three-year-old health insurance startup that has so convinced investors of its uniqueness that by last September, it was already valued at $1.75 billion. Fidelity then led a $400 million investment in the company this February, pushing Oscar’s valuation to a reported $2.7 billion.

And that’s hardly the only time a mutual fund company has taken an already rich valuation and driven it substantially higher. While the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz in particular seemed to get the ball rolling – remember that $100 million in first-round funding it provided to Github, or the $90 million it plugged into Tanium in one shot? – it was non-traditional venture investors like Fidelity, T. Rowe, and Tiger Global Management that picked up the torch and carried it to new lengths over and over and over again.

More here.


New Fundings

Anodot, a two-year-old, Ra’anana, Israel-based real time business incident detection and analytics company, has raised $8 million in funding led by Aleph Venture Capital with participation by Disruptive Technologies L.P. The company has now raised $12.5 million altogether. GeekTime has more here.

Avalara, a 12-year-old, Seattle-based company that makes tax compliance automation software, has raised $96 million in new growth equity funding from return backers, including Warburg Pincus, Technology Crossover Ventures and Sageview Capital. VentureBeat has more here.

BrightFarms, a five-year-old, New York-based company that designs, finances, builds and operates hydroponic greenhouse farms at or near supermarkets, has raised $30.1 million in Series C funding led by Catalyst Investors, with participation from earlier investors WP Global Partners and NGEN Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Centec Networks, a Suzhou, China-based company focused on software-defined networking, has raised $47 million in Series E funding led by China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund. More here.

GameCo., a year-old, New York-based company that’s making skill-based video game gambling machines(?), has raised $8.25 million in seed and Series A funding led by Javelin Venture Partners, with participation from Courtside Ventures, QB1 Ventures, New York Angels, Steel Partners and individual angels. More here.

Operator, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based personal shopping assistant chatbot, has raised $15 million in Series B funding at a $100 million pre-money valuation led by GGV Capital, with participation from Formation8Morningside Ventures, Horizons Ventures and earlier investors Greylock Partners and Expa. TechCrunch has more here.

Sonder, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that aims to combine the hospitality and perks of a hotel with home rentals (a la Airbnb), has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital, with participation from Thayer Ventures, Real Ventures and BDC Capital. More here.

TrueFacet, a three-year-old, New York-based online marketplace for used jewelry and watches, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Maveron, with participation from Freestyle Capital, Social Leverage, Founders’ Co-op, Trilogy, Liquid2 Ventures and individual angels. GeekWire has more here.

Vina, a 21-month-old, Bay Area-based  social network for girls, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from Greylock Partners, New Enterprise Associates,Wildcat Venture Partners and Tinder. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

Signia Venture Partners, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm has closed its second fund with $85 million to lead early-stage deals in emerging tech startups mostly in and around San Francisco. TechCrunch has more here.



Airware, a Newport Beach, Ca.-based drone OS and hardware startup, has paid an undisclosed amount for Redbird, a three-year-old, Paris-based startup focused on drone analytics. According to CrunchBase, Airware has raised roughly $70 million from investors, including Next World CapitalAndreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Redbird had raised roughly $3 million from investors, shows CrunchBase. TechCrunch has more here.

Apple is on a machine learning company buying spree. After buying Perceptio at the end of 2015 and Turi just a few months ago, Apple has now acquired the machine learning startuo Tuplejump. TechCrunch has more here.



Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, pediatrician Priscilla Chan, announced yesterday that they are making a $3 billion investment over the next decade to help cure, prevent, or manage disease — all of it. TechCrunch has more here.

Fortune just published its annual “40 Under 40” compilation. Are you an influential young person? Find out here.

Not to be outdone by Fortune, Bloomberg has simultaneously released its age-agnostic 50 Most Influential People list.



The Climate Corporation, now a division of Monsanto, is looking to hire a director of corporate development. The job is in San Francisco.


Essential Reads

How Hampton Creek sold Silicon Valley on a fake-mayo miracle.

Driven in the Valley: Fortune’s smart look at the startup founders fueling GM’s future.

How the FDA manipulates the media.



Zack Galifianakis grills Hillary Clinton “Between Two Ferns.”


Retail Therapy

Leo DiCaprio’s $11 million Malibu beach house hit the market last Friday. You can take a look-see here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: