StrictlyVC: October 18, 2016

GO TRIBE. Also, happy Tuesday.:)

We’re running a little behind today so no column.


Top News in the A.M.

Amazon may become the latest company to try its hand in providing broadband access, not just the services that run on top of it. According to The Information, the company is considering offering internet access directly to consumers in Europe. More here.


New Fundings

Baobab Studios, a year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based VR animation studio, has raised $25 million in funding led by Horizons Ventures, with participation from Twentieth Century Fox, Evolution Media Partners, Shanghai Media Group, Youku Global Media Fund and LDV Partners. Earlier backers Comcast Ventures, HTC, and Samsung also joined the round. VentureBeat has more here., a six-year-old, Pune, India-based online and offline retailer of baby products, has acquired its younger competitor, Mahindra Retail, and raised a fresh $34 million in funding from the private equity firm Mahindra Group and Infosys executive vice chair Kris Gopalakrishnan, as well as from the company’s earlier backers. YourStory has more here.

Gymbox, a 13-year-old, London-based gym chain, has raised $48 million in equity and debt, including from Business Growth Fund and HSBC. FinSMEs has more here.

Heal, a year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based platform for ordering up on-demand doctor house calls, has raised $26.9 million in Series A funding led by Thomas Tull’s Tull Investment Group, with participation from Breyer Capital, Qualcomm’s executive chair Paul Jacobs, Skydance Media CEO David Ellison, and previous investors HashtagOne and Slow Ventures. The company has now raised $40 million altogether. More here.

Hypr, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based biometric security startup that integrates fingerprint, voice, face, eye and palm recognition into mobile and desktop banking and shopping so customers need not use PIN numbers of passwords, has raised $3 million in funding from RTP Ventures, Boldstart Ventures, and Mesh Ventures. American Banker has more here.

Joy, a months-old, San Francisco-based hardware startup whose first product is an interactive photo frame, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from investors including Obvious Ventures, The Chernin Group, BoxGroup, and Maywic Select Investments. Joy was founded by Alan Chan, who sold his last startup, an ad tech company called Bread, to Yahoo in 2013. TechCrunch has more here.

Oblong Industries, a 10-year-old, L.A.-based developer of gesture recognition and immersive collaboration platforms, has raised $65 million from Greenspring Associates; Morgan Stanley; Foundry Group; Industry Ventures; and UTIMCO, the investment arm of the University of Texas. (You don’t see the last make many direct investments in startups, so this is interesting.) VentureBeat has more here.

PayCommerce, a 12-year-old, Edison, N.J.based cross-border payments network for payments disbursement, has raised $22 million investment from Tritium Partners. More here.

SafetyCulture, a 12-year-old, Sydney, Australia-based maker of a business-to-business inspection checklist app called iAuditor, has raised $23 million in Series B funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from Blackbird Ventures and Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar, who led the company’s Series A round in 2014. TechCrunch has more here.

SecureKey Technologies, an eight-year-old, Toronto-based company that makes identity and authentication software, has secured C$27 million ($20.6 million) in funding from BMO Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, CIBC, Desjardins, Royal Bank of Canada and TD. More here.

SoloLearn, a two-year-old, Pleasanton, Ca.-based app that helps would-be developers learn how to code via interactive lessons, coding exercises and more, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by Learn Capital, with participation from unnamed individual investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Tovala, a 1.5-year-old, Chicago-based startup that makes a smart, cloud-connected countertop oven, has raised $1.6 million in seed funding led by Origin Ventures, with participation from New Stack Ventures, Service Provider Capital, and GREE Ventures, along with a handful of individuals. Tovala graduated from Y Combinator last summer. The Chicago Tribune has more here.

Veritas Genetics, a two-year-old, Danvers, Ma.-based startup that offers whole genome sequencing to consumers for under $1,000, has raised $30 million in new funding led by the private equity firm Trustbridge Partners. Lilly Asia and Jiangsu Simcere Pharmaceutical of Nanjing, one of China’s largest drug companies, also joined the round. The Boston Globe has more here.

VMRay, a three-year-old, Bochum, Germany-based company that makes threat analysis and detection software, has raised $3.9 million in Series A funding, including from eCAPITAL entrepreneurial Partners and High-Tech Gründerfonds. More here.

Zumper, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based online apartment search platform, has raised $17.6 million in Series B funding led by Breyer Capital and Foxhaven Asset Management, with participation from earlier backers, including Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, Intuit cofounder Scott Cook and others. TechCrunch has more here.


New Funds

Quark Venture, a year-old, Vancouver-based venture capital firm, said yesterday that it’s establishing a $500 million biotechnology fund — “the largest of its kind in Canada” — with the support of the China-based investment bank GF Securities. FierceBiotech has more here.

Ysios Capital, an eight-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based venture capital firm focused on biotech, has closed its second fund with  €126.4 million (roughly $139 million). More here.



Skyscanner, a 13-year-old, Edinburgh, Scotland-based online travel search company,has begun exploring strategic options, including a possible sale or an IPO, reports Bloomberg. The company was reportedly valued at $1.2 billion after its most recent funding round in January. Its backers include Sequoia Capital and Artemis, among others. More here.



Razer, an 11-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based company that develops hardware and services for gamers and the world of gaming, has made an acquisition to catapult it to more platforms and more people: The company has acquired THX, the legendary audio and video quality assurance company that was originally founded 33 years ago by George Lucas as part of Lucasfilm. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. Razer has raised $125 million from investors, including Accel Partners, IDG Capital, and Intel Capital. TechCrunch has more here.



Trump TV is probably going to happen, says ex-Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau (who, by the way, doesn’t think think Hillary Clinton’s speeches work). More here.

A quick look at billionaire Dan Gilbert‘s mission to rebuild Detroit as a tech hub of “muscles and brains.”

Twitter has hired AngelHack founder Gregory Gopman to work on its virtual reality initiative. (In related news, Twitter has a virtual reality initiative.) Variety has more here.

Good grief, it continues. Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla is now suing two California agencies as part of protracted legal battle over public access to beach on his property. More here.

Activist investor Carl Icahn told CNBC yesterday that he’s “more and more” concerned about the stock market, and that many S&P 500 companies are “way overvalued” considering the risk in emerging markets. More here.

Dinesh Moorjani has joined Comcast Ventures as a managing director. Moorjani was most recently an executive-in-residence at Warburg Pincus. He also cofounded Saffronart, a 17-year-old, fine art and collectibles e-commerce marketplace in India.


Essential Reads

Silicon Valley is now spending twice as much(!) on lobbying the government than does Wall Street.

You’ll have to wait longer on that Tesla Model 3 than you might have hoped.



Can you identify these major global cities from space?

Things aren’t looking good for The Donald according to FiveThirtyEight’s newest election forecast.

Stop storing your tomatoes in the refrigerator already.


Retail Therapy

An incomplete nuclear plant in Alabama can be yours, alarmingly.

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