Hi, happy Thursday, everyone.:)
Top News in the A.M.
So that’s why Hugo Barra is coming back to Cali. Yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a post that Barra — a former executive at Google and, more recently, the Chinese phone maker Xiaomi — has joined the company to lead its virtual reality business. More here.
Why Silicon Valley is High-Fiving Over Trump’s SEC Pick
Wall Street lawyer Walter “Jay” Clayton hasn’t been officially appointed to the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission yet. But given the finite amount of political capital that Democrats wield right now, it’s easy to imagine that he’ll be confirmed and fairly easily when it’s his turn on Capitol Hill.
That’s probably welcome news for startup founders and investors who’d seen greater interest in their affairs by the SEC over the last year and will now most likely be left to their own devices.
If haven’t read about him yet, Clayton is the “insider’s insider — a deal maker,” as Dealbook noted earlier this month, when then President-elect Trump selected him to run the agency. A Washington lawyer at the white-shoe firm Sullivan & Cromwell, Clayton has spent his career focused on public and private M&A (including advising Goldman Sachs on various acquisitions), capital markets offerings (including working on Alibaba’s 2014 IPO), and enforcement proceedings (including to help clients settle some mortgage related securities claims after the financial crisis of 2008).
What does that background mean for Silicon Valley? Two things, says political strategist and investor Bradley Tusk, who advises startups on how to navigate changing regulations. For starters, Clayton has “some tech experience, which should be appealing to the tech industry,” he says.
Tusk acknowledges that working on the Alibaba IPO isn’t akin to managing the “deal flow you’d see at Wilson Sonsini,” a law firm that has long and famously worked with startups. “But he’s not a total stranger to the sector; he understands its impact on the economy.”
Perhaps more notably, says Tusk, Clayton “isn’t a policy activist. I don’t think this is someone with an ideological view about how security regulation should be expanded.”
Jiobit, a 1.5-year-old, Chicago-based self-learning location tracking technology, has raised $3 million in seed funding, including from Lior Ron, the cofounder of Otto (now owned by Uber) which is developing autonomous trucks, Chicago-based MATH Venture Partners and Inflection Equity. TechCrunch has more here.
Lighthouse, a three-year-old, New York-company whose app takes data from sensors like Bluetooth beacons to deliver information about users’ surroundings based on their exact position, has raised $940,000 from Tamarisc, an early stage venture capital firm that invests in real estate technology companies. Other participants in the round include Morningside Technology Ventures and Storm Industries Investments. TechCrunch has more here.
Raisin, a 3.5-yearold, Berlin, Germany-based financial marketplace that enables savers to access deposit rates across Europe, has raised €30 million ($32 million) in Series C funding led by Thrive Capital, with participation from earlier investors Ribbit Capital and Index Ventures. Tech.eu has more here.
Reflektive, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that aims to replace the typically painful review process with a lightweight, real-time feedback system that integrates into an employee’s daily workflow, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by earlier backer Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from fellow earlier investor Andreessen Horowitz. TechCrunch has more here.
Verily Life Sciences, the medical arm of Alphabet, has raised $800 million from the Singapore-based investment company Temasek Holdings, which aims to bring the company’s futuristic healthcare approach to Asian markets. Bloomberg has the story here.
Venrock, the 47-year-old venture firm that started as the venture arm of the Rockefeller family, has closed its eighth fund with $450 million, which longtime partner Bryan Roberts calls “not too big and not too small, but just about right” in a new blog post. More here.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based messaging company Kik has made its second major acquisition, acquiring the nine-year-old, Tel Aviv-based mobile video app maker Rounds in deal that Israeli media is reporting to be in the region of $60 million to $80 million. According to Crunchbase, Rounds had raised $17 million from investors, including Verizon Ventures and Sequoia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
Tesla is suing former employee Sterling Anderson, who acted as Director of its Autopilot Programs for just over a year, for breach of contract. The suit accuses Anderson of having tried to recruit away employees from Tesla with the intent of starting his own autonomous driving company, and of also taking Tesla proprietary confidential information to support this goal. TechCrunch has more here.
Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist and Facebook board member, is leading the Trump administration’s search to fill the government’s two top antitrust enforcement jobs, including the head of the Federal Trade Commission and the head of the Justice Department, BuzzFeed reports.
Accomplice, the Boston-based venture firm, plans to hire a partner and either one or two junior investment professionals in San Francisco, according to a new report in Axios. Work those connections if you want to be one of them.
Aster Capital is looking to hire an associate. The job is in San Francisco.
The $99 billion idea: How Airbnb and Uber beat everyone.
Doctors in London say they have cured two babies of leukemia in the world’s first attempt to treat cancer with genetically engineered immune cells from a donor.
@MerriamWebster speaks up.
Why fractals are so soothing.
Ten really unexpected styling tricks for men.
The Warehouse Hotel (H/T: Uncrate).