Dear people, now that we are back, and with another fun Disrupt in the books, we’re very excited to announce that our next StrictlyVC INSIDER event is coming together and that you can start nabbing seats today. (Sponsors, we’d also love to hear from you if you want to get involved.)
Thanks very much to Bolt, the early-stage hardware firm that is again one our partners in crime in this upcoming event. We so appreciate your ongoing support!
Top News in the A.M.
Turns out Facebook applied for a patent on a tool last year that could help it automate the removal of fake news. The Verge has more here.
Heavy-hitting KKR Just Raised a $711 Million Tech Growth Fund
So much for non-traditional venture investors retrenching from the market.
Yesterday, KKR the global investment firm, announced a $711 million close on its KKR Next Generation Technology Growth Fund, which it plans to use to back growth-stage companies in the technology, media and telco industries in North America, Europe and Israel.
It’s a new product for the firm, though you might have seen its name crop up in a good many deals this past year; that’s because it began investing it nearly year ago.
Among the bets it has made are the big data analytics company Optimal+ ; the tour-booking platform GetYourGuide; the cloud integration software company Jitterbit; and the cyber defense company Darktrace.
Including those bets and others made outside the fund, KKR says it has invested more than $640 million in still-private, growth-stage investments since 2014. Some of those other investments include stakes in the anti-virus software company Cylance; in the fantasy sports business FanDuel; and in the augmented reality company Magic Leap.
What’s KKR’s criteria, exactly, when looking at these deals? According to new-hire David Welsh, who joined the firm in October from Adam Street Partners to head up the new fund, TMT Growth will be focused on “private companies that are beyond early-stage technology risk but are still scaling their market-expansion efforts and are experiencing high growth. They have technology and go-to-market models that are proven but have lacked the capital and backing of an established partner or sponsor who can help catapult their growth and development.”
So what you’d guess, basically.
As for the checks the fund will be writing, Welsh says these will tend to be less than $100 million and that his 12-person team will generally be targeting investments of $40 million to $50 million per company.
Perhaps worth noting: The new fund doesn’t have any strict revenue thresholds, according to Welsh. In fact, it might invest in companies that still have operating losses. But it does “want to see a clear path toward profitability and evidence of a model that improves as revenue continues to scale,” he adds.
Augmedix, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based physician productivity platform that’s powered by smartglasses, has raised $23 million in new funding from strategic investors McKesson Ventures and OrbiMed. Earlier backers Redmile Group, Emergence Capital and DCM Ventures. also joined the round, which brings Augmedix’s total funding than $60 million. Xconomy has more here.
Brandless, a year-old, San Francisco-based e-commerce platform that plans to sell every item on its platform (all of which will be unbranded) for one single-digit price, has raised $16 million in in funding led by Redpoint Ventures, with Cowboy Ventures, Slow Capital, and Sherpa Capital participating. Fortune has more here.
Breather, a four-year-old, Montreal-based company whose mobile app lets users find and book workspaces on-demand, has raised $40 million in Series C funding led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from Valar Ventures, RRE Ventures, Slow Ventures and Real Ventures. The company has now raised $73 million altogether. More here.
eFounders, a five-year-old, Brussels-based European startup studio, is raising an additional $5.3 million (€5 million) from entrepreneurs and family offices. TechCrunch has more here.
Marvel, a three-year-old, London-based maker of a free prototyping and collaboration tool, has raised £4 million ($5 million) in Series A funding led by BGF Ventures, with participation from previous backers Index Ventures, Connect Ventures, Inreach Ventures, Andy McLoughlin and Richard Fearn. More here.
Molotov, a year-old, Paris-based TV streaming service, has raised $23.3 million (€22 million) from earlier investor Idinvest; new, unknown investors and business angels; the British media company Sky; and TDF. TechCrunch has more here.
Movinga, a 1.5-year-old, Berlin-based online relocation service startup, has raised €17 million ($21.4 million) in Series C funding from earlier backers, including Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital, Earlybird Venture Capital and STS Ventures, as well as new investors, including Carlo Kölzer and Gert Purkert. More here.
Nectar, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based, still-stealth connected device startup that aims to play in the hospitality and consumer packaged goods industries, has raised $4.6 million in seed funding from investors Joe Lonsdale and Lior Susan, among others. TechCrunch has more here.
Osmo, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based toys startup that makes educational games systems, has raised $24 million in new funding from Mattel, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Collab+Sesame, the venture fund run in partnership by New York-based Collaborative Fund and Sesame Workshop. Earlier backers Accel Partners, Upfront Ventures and K9 Ventures also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.
Thanx, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that makes customer loyalty software, has raised $17.1 million in Series B funding led by Icon Ventures and earlier backer Sequoia Capital, with participation from Javelin Venture Partners. More here.
Vida Health, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based subscription-based app that pairs patients with health coaches, has raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Canvas Ventures, with participation from Nokia Growth and earlier backers Aspect Ventures and Khosla Ventures. More here.
Waggle, a year-old, New York-based live streaming app that enables pet owners to broadcast the lives of their animal friends to the world, has raised $2.3 million in seed funding led by Raine Ventures, with participation from Lowercase Capital, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, United Talent Agency, Broadway Video Ventures, Ore Ventures, and angel investors, including Allen Debevoise. More here.
(Other) New Funds
Alpha Venture Partners, a New York-based firm that provides late-stage capital to early-stage venture firms, is looking to raise $100 million for its second fund. Among the firm’s investments are Coupang, Vroom, Wish and LiveIntent. FinSMEs has more here.
After going through nearly $150 million in funding, peer-to-peer used-car marketplace Beepi.com is shifting gears by laying off 180 employees and merging its remaining business with Fair.com, a new venture co-founded by several car industry veterans that has yet to launch. TechCrunch has more here.
Facebook investors are accusing Facebook board member Marc Andreessen of conflicts of interest in a new lawsuit. Bloomberg has more here.
Prosper’s chief product officer, Parker Barrile, just joined Norwest Venture Partners as a partner. More here.
Secret founder David Byttow just returned to anonymous publishing with launch of IO. More here.
You knew this was coming when SEC chief Mary Jo White said she was stepping down, but . . . Andrew Ceresny, director of enforcement for the SEC, now says he’s also outta there by year end.
Wish founder Peter Szulczewski says Walmart CEO Doug Mcmillan wanted to meet with him at one point, but he thinks Walmart has since made its big e-commerce bet, when it acquired Jet.com earlier this year. More here.
The digital music marriage that many wanted to happen isn’t happening after all. Spotify has given up on its latest effort to buy SoundCloud following months of talks between the two, according to TechCrunch. More here.
Google just opened its digital assistant to developers in its race against Amazon‘s Alexa. Bloomberg has the story here.
How to get banned from Uber.
The strange complicated history of the house cat.
Tips on talking about wine without sounding like a jerk.
What a colorful world it will be (if you invest a few hours in this giant poster).