Hi, everyone, happy Wednesday! (And thanks to those of you who wished us well on Monday. We’re happy to report that we’ve recovered from our plague of earlier this week.)
Top News in the A.M.
If you live in San Francisco and call up an Uber today, it might just be self-driving. It rolled out its new program without DMV approval, too. (You can find out why at our evening event in SF in February, featuring Bradley Tusk, the regulatory strategist who has long counseled Uber on just how far it can push things. Roughly half the seats are now gone, but you still have time to nab yours.)
Newer VC Firms Trounce Their Predecessors on Diversity Front
Over the last three months, the venture firm Social Capital has worked with the media outlet The Information to put together a look at the most diverse venture firms for the second year in a row. The teams say they gathered more than 6,000 data points about 580 senior investment professionals at the 72 most active U.S. venture firms to draw their conclusions
What they found, broadly speaking, was a tiny bit of change in the right direction. The number of women working as investors within venture firms increased 2.5 percent over last year. That sounds grim, but it turns out that women represented slightly more than 23 percent of all new investors at the venture firms studied.
As for the number of non-white senior investment professionals, that stat — which is 2.4 percent higher than it was a year ago — sounds grim and looks even worse on close inspection. Just one percent of senior VCs involved in investment decisions are black. And only 1.3 percent are Hispanic. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the percentage didn’t slip backwards from last year
Those numbers didn’t surprise us. Nor did the study’s findings that 89 percent of investment decision-makers at the top 72 firms are (still) male and 75 percent are (still) white, even while those numbers are slightly improved from last year, when the numbers were 92 percent and 78 percent, respectively
What we found more striking is that among the top ten most diverse venture firms, nine have been founded in the last decade or so. That’s pretty significant to our mind
One could argue that younger venture firms are almost by definition smaller venture firms, meaning diversity can come a bit more easily.
Lowercase Capital, for example, receives top billing as the most diverse venture firm in this study. But Lowercase has just three partners: Chris Sacca, who’s a white man, Matt Mazzeo, another white man, and Sacca’s wife, Crystal English Sacca, who’s both a woman and Asian. Because the Saccas are eight years older than Mazzeo — they are both 41 and he is 33 — Lowercase also scores much higher in terms of age diversity than many of the firms in the list, most of which have more than three partners.
One could further argue that to date, diversity hasn’t been necessary in producing strong returns. Union Square Ventures, which is managed by five middle-aged white guys, ranks dead last on this new list, and most investors would kill for its track record.
But as the saying goes, past performance does not guarantee future results.
Alinto, a 16-year-old, Paris-based email software company, has raised €2.3 million ($2.4 million) from Cic Lyonnaise De Banque and has merged with the Swiss anti-spam filtering company Cleanmail. Tech.eu has more here.
Amcure, a five-year-old, Leopoldshafen, Germany-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing cancer therapeutics, has raised €6 million ($6.4 million) in Series B funding led by LBBW Venture Capital. Other participants include KfW, MBG Mittelstaendische Beteiligungsgesellschaft Baden-Wuerttemberg, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. More here.
BlueVine, a three-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based online provider of financing to small businesses, has raised $49 million in Series D funding from earlier backers Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, 83North, Citi Ventures, Rakuten FinTech Fund, and Silicon Valley Bank. Pymnts.com has more here.
Boom, a year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based startup behind a 3D live-streaming platform for watching e-sports on any device, has raised $3.5 million in seed funding from First Round Capital, Tandem Capital, Crosscut Ventures, Betaworks, Boost VC, BITKRAFT eSports Ventures, and angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Chappy, a new, New York-based gay dating app, has received an undisclosed amount of funding from Bumble, itself a dating app that aims to empower women. Terms of the investment aren’t being disclosed, but Bumble is the sole investor in the round. TechCrunch has more here.
Conversica, a nine-year-old, Foster City, Ca.-based sales platform that employs AI-driven email conversations to convert inbound leads, has raised $34 million in Series B funding led by Providence Strategic Growth Capital Partners, with participation from Toba Capital, Wellington Financial, Recruit Holdings, Kennet Partners, and company founder Ben Brigham. VentureBeat has more here.
EcoVadis, a nine-year-old, Paris-based outfit that ranks companies for environmental responsibility, ethical treatment of workers and other practices, has raised €30 million ($31.9 million) in funding from Partech Ventures. The WSJ has more here.
EyeCam, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of wearable computing devices and apps, has raised $1.5 million in financing via equity crowdfunding site Crowdfunder. More here.
Knowmail, a two-year-old, Boston-based startup that’s using AI to help employees manage email, has raised $3.5 million in funding led by CE Ventures, with participation from AfterDox, Plus Ventures, 2B Angels, INE Ventures, and unnamed private investors. TechCrunch has more here.
LogicWorks, a 23-year-old, New York-based managed hosting and cloud computing services company, has raised $135 million in funding led by Pamplona Capital. Up to this point, the company had raised just $4.6 million in outside equity. TechCrunch has more here.
Managed by Q, a three-year-old, New York City-based platform for office cleaning and maintenance services, raised $30.5 million in funding shows an SEC filing that lists a $40 million target. (H/T: Fortune.) Earlier investors in the company include GV, Homebrew, RRE Ventures, Kapor Capital, Haystack and actress Jessica Alba.
ncgCARE, a 23-year-old, Richmond, Va.-based provider of mental health services, raised $5 million in funding from NewSpring Capital, a private equity firm focused on the mid-Atlantic region. More here.
Splash, a five-year-old, New York City developer of event marketing automation software, has raised $7 million in Series B funding. Ascent Venture Partners led the round, with participation from Spark Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, ScaleUP Ventures, Tumblr founder David Karp, and Vine cofounder Rus Yusupov. TechCrunch has more here.
STRIVR Labs, a two-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based startup that makes virtual reality training software for athletes, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Signia Venture Partners, with participation from Shari Redstone’s AdvancIt Capital, BMW i Ventures, Presence Capital and private investors. The WSJ has more here.
Suiteness, a two-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based online booking service for exclusive, high-end hotel suites, has raised $5 million in Series A funding co-led by Bullpen Capital and Global Founders Capital, with participation from HVF, YC’s Continuity Fund, Kima Ventures, Altair Capital, and other investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Symphony, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based secure communications platform used by the largest financial institutions on Wall Street, is raising up to $200 million at a pre-money valuation of more than $1 billion. TechCrunch has the scoop here.
Tripping.com, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based metasearch engine for vacation homes and short-term rentals, has raised $35 million in Series C funding led by Princeville Global. Past investors in the company include former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford and Qunar.com co-founder Fritz Demopoulos. Bloomberg has more here.
Truecaller, a seven-year-old, Stockholm-based mobile app that let’s you see who’s calling and block unwanted calls, has raised 100 million Swedish Krona ($10.9 million) from Zenith Venture Capital. The company has now raised more than €70 million to date, including from Atomico, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital and Open Ocean Capital. Tech.eu has more here.
Scanadu, a five-year-old, Mountain View-based company whose tricorder device promised to help customers better diagnose their ailments, informed customers yesterday it will no longer support that device starting in May. The reason? Though Scanadu has been working with the FDA to get full approval for the tricorder and devices, it seems it didn’t make the cut. Scanadu has raised roughly $50 million from investors, including Tencent Holdings, Fosun Group, and Relay Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.
Adultery website AshleyMadison.com’s owner just agreed to pay a steeply discounted $1.65 million settlement to resolve state and federal probes into a hack last year that exposed personal data of 37 million users of the site. Bloomberg has the story here.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick are joining Donald Trump’s new economic advisory board. More here.
CVS Pharmacy, the drug store giant, is looking to hire a senior director of corporate development to help with its M&A strategy. The job is in Woonsocket, Rhode Island (pop. 41,000).
That meeting between Silicon Valley leaders and Donald Trump is happening as we type in Manhattan. Here’s what to expect.
The Federal Reserve is wrapping up a policy meeting today, and virtually all of Wall Street is forecasting that it will raise short-term rates by a quarter of a percentage point. More here.
In a major step for drone delivery, Amazon made its first commercial “drop” at a customer’s door in England.
The great AI awakening (a long read in New York Times Magazine).
“I would say we’re not seeing the death of certainty. But certainty has taken a holiday right now.”
On taking a social media break.
Com.Four DJ Console. We don’t know how well it works but we like the way it looks.