Thursday! We’re so excited to see a bunch of you later today at our event; wish we could have accommodated more of you but we’ll cover what you miss right here and elsewhere. One final pre-game thank you to our wonderful sponsors Ballou PR, Mattermark, and Bolt for all their support! More tomorrow.:)
Top News in the A.M.
The streaming music company Spotify is reportedly in advanced talks to buy fellow online music service provider SoundCloud. The Financial Times has more here.
Qualcomm is in talks to acquire NXP Semiconductors NV, a deal that would likely be valued at over $30 billion and represent the latest merger in a rapidly consolidating semiconductor industry. The WSJ has more here.
Venky Ganesan on Interest Rates, Diamonds, and Quietly Imploding Startups
Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told lawmakers that she’s not ready to hold interest rates low for much longer, but she isn’t raising them right now. Afterward, we talked about the news and what it might augur for startups with Venky Ganesan, a managing director at Menlo Ventures, the early-stage firm that led Uber’s Series B round (among its many other investments). Part of that chat, edited for length, follows.
Are we wrong or does it sound from Yellen’s testimony like the money is going to keep rushing into Silicon Valley?
Yes, though it’s not about when the Fed raises interest rates; it’s when [the Fed] tells the market they’re going to do it. There’s a sea of liquidity that gets pushed out when interest rates are low and gets pulled back fast when people think they’re going to rise. Remember, the slowdown in the market happened in the third quarter and fourth quarter of last year, when the Fed said it planned to raise interest rates in Q1. Then they backed down. Then they said the same in Q3 and they didn’t [raise rates].
Is that good news or bad news for the startup ecosystem?
My sense is that you’re going to see an uptick in financings. The money is still flowing in. I don’t think it’s going to go back to where it was in early 2013, but you’re going to see some big financings get announced in Q4.
What are implications of that? Are there enough good companies to fund?
There’s enough big change in the word that people want to invest behind it. Are there enough good companies? No. But let’s say I told you there’s a treasure chest, and there are hundreds of balls in the chest and inside five of them, there’s a diamond ring worth a lot of money. The others are worth a dollar. You can either opt out of the game or you can try to buy all the balls, knowing you’re going to get a diamond. That’s [the mindset of investors]. They don’t know which companies will be the next Facebook or Uber, so they’re investing in everything. And you have to keep investing because what if the next one was Uber and you missed it?
Apptus, a 16-year-old, Lund, Sweden-based software company that helps online retailers develop, manage, and optimize their merchandising strategies, have raised $88 million in Series D funding led by the UAE investment firm GII, with participation from Iconiq, K1 and KIA. The funding values Apttus at more than $1.3 billion. Forbes has more here.
codeSpark, a 2.5-year-old, Pasadena, Ca.-based startup whose web and mobile games teach kids how to code, has raised $4.1 million in seed funding led by Kapor Capital, with participation from Idealab, PGA Advisors, Felton Group, NewGen Venture Partners, and angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Folloze, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based account-based marketing sales platform, has raised $7.3 million in funding co-led by Canvas Ventures and earlier investor New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Cervin Ventures and others. More here.
Karamba Security, a 1.5-year-old, Hod Hasharon, Israel-based startup aiming to protect internet-connected and self-driving cars from hackers, has raised $2.5 million in Series A funding led by Fontinalis Partners, with participation from earlier investors YL Ventures and GlenRock. TechCrunch has more here.
Lingumi, a year-old, London-based ed tech company that has created a pre-school English language learning system for children, has raised roughly $650,000 in seed funding from LocalGlobe, founded by former Index Partners investors Robin Klein and Saul Klein. TechCrunch has more here.
Lydia, a three-year-old, Paris-based iPhone and Android app that enables users to pay anyone very easily and for free, has raised raised $7.8 million from New Alpha AM and Oddo & Cie. TechCrunch has more here.
Lystable, a two-year-old, London-based startup that helps companies more easily onboard, manage, talk with, and pay their external workers, has added an undisclosed amount of Series A funding to a previously closed, $11 million round, the new funding comes from PayPal co-founder Max Levchin. TechCrunch has more here.
Remedy, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup that helps consumers save money on medical billing errors, has raised $1.9 million in seed funding from Karlin Ventures, Marc Benioff, Brian Lee, Haystack, Precursor Ventures, Slow Ventures, Susa Ventures, Baroda, and others. More here.
Skymind, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based company that’s developing an open-source deep-learning library for Java (along with tools for implementation), has raised $3 million in new funding from Tencent, SV Angel, GreatPoint Ventures, Mandra Capital and Y Combinator. TechCrunch has more here.
Analogix Semiconductor, a 13-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based startup that designs and manufactures high-performance analog and mixed-signal semiconductors for the digital media market, is being acquired for more than $500 million by Shanhai Capital. Analogix had raised roughly $40 million from investors, who say this is one of the biggest deals for a semiconductor company in the last decade. More here.
Emergence Capital, a venture firm focused on enterprise cloud companies, is announcing a few promotions this morning. Joe Floyd, who joined the firm as a principal in 2012, has been named partner. Floyd was previously a Kauffman Fellow and an associate at McKinsey & Co. Emergence also promoted Jake Saper to principal (he joined as a senior associate in 2014 from Kleiner Perkins). And Emergence has brought aboard Kara Egan as a senior associate. Egan was most recently director of product marketing at Stitch Labs.
Longtime Microsoft executive Qi Lu — he’s in charge of the company’s applications and services unit — is leaving the company following medical issues that arose from a bicycle accident that took place several months ago, says Recode. More here.
Elon Musk wants us to colonize Mars but, er, says he won’t actually go himself because he doesn’t want to die.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says women are learning in, but facing pushback, too.
Martin Shkreli, the former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO, is now auctioning off the opportunity to punch him in the face for charity.
Kapil Venkatachalam and John Doran have both been promoted to general partner at TCV. Venkatachalam, based in New York, joined the firm as an associate in 2006. Doran joined TCV’s London office in 2012 as a principal and worked previously at Summit Partners, Xander Group and Morgan Stanley.
Twilio, the cloud communications software company that went public in June, is looking to hire a corporate development associate. The job is in San Francisco.
An immigrant-funded biotech center in rural Vermont. What could go wrong?
What millennials actually use the mobile payment app Venmo to do.
Vox on the sudden, incredible decline in teen births since 2009.
Mark Zuckerberg’s photos from Facebook’s futuristic, arctic data center.
This woman ate a pork bun in a typhoon and now everyone loves her.
VW debuted its first dedicated electric car yesterday at the Paris Auto Show. Though it’s technically a concept car, the company says it should be buyable in 2020. (VW says it’ll drive more than 370 miles on a single charge, too.)