Monthly Archives: April 2017

StrictlyVC: February 10, 2017

Friday! Pheeeew. Everyone, hope you have a wonderful weekend! Stay dry/warm.

For those of you who came out to our event in San Francisco on Wednesday night, we have lots of pictures here. Thank you again for making it a very fun event.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Ford is investing $1 billion into an AI startup, Detroit’s biggest investment yet in self-driving car tech.

Xiaomi is planning to roll out 1,000 retail stores.

Carl Bass on His Surprising Resignation from Autodesk — and What’s Next

Carl Bass is sitting at his desk at Autodesk today, but he’s no longer CEO of the publicly traded design software company. He stepped down earlier this week in a move that some associated — wrongly, notes Bass — with an interview Bass granted to the outlet Pando, wherein he disparaged President Donald Trump.

This morning, we talked with Bass about his resignation, his continuing role as a board member with Autodesk, if he regrets speaking out against the administration as a public company CEO, and whether he thinks more tech CEOs should do the same. The famously straight-shooting Bass had plenty to say about all. He also shared some of what he hopes to work on next. Our conversation has been edited lightly for length.

You stepped down as CEO on Tuesday, and senior VPs Amar Hanspal and Andrew Anagnost have been installed as interim co-CEOs. But you’re helping in the search for your replacement, is that correct? 

Yes, Tuesday was my last day, but I’ll continue working as an employee for three months and am continuing on the board of directors for a while. We started planning this a while ago, because the best way to do [a succession change] is for the current CEO to step down. Otherwise, the best external candidates aren’t sure there’s really a job opening.  You know, sometimes you see the pocket veto, where the CEO has a change of heart and says, “Hey, if you’re going to choose so and so, I’m not leaving.” This is a clean break, and outside candidates take it seriously, and the board takes it seriously. We’ve hired an outside search team who will be talking with both internal and external candidates, so hopefully [we’ll find the right candidate] quickly.

You’ve said that you and Autodesk’s board began succession planning talks 18 months ago, but some people believe an interview wherein you criticized Donald Trump played a role in the timing of your resignation.

There were a lot of rumors this week that couldn’t be further from the truth. To the extent that you take what a company says with a grain of salt [because companies can be so promotional], when it comes to governance, these are real rules. There are real penalties of law. Public companies don’t take that lightly.

Do you at all regret being so public about how you feel about Trump? 

Not, not at all. Not one bit. When you look at Trump, there are three things going on: policies; character and temperament; and executive or administrative functioning. I think on two and three, almost everybody can agree that he’s not qualified, and that’s why I joked [to Pando’s Sarah Lacy] that he’s running the government like someone in between a small businessman and dictator. I watch what’s happening every day, and I’m reminded of my kids when they were four years old and had no awareness of anything outside of themselves. He’s a 70-year-old baby.

On the policy stuff, it’s hard to parse what his is policy is. We’re against the “One China” policy; now we’re for it. We’re going to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jersusalem; now we’re not. Policy seems to be the part of the job that least interests him. These are complicated issues, but they don’t seem to captivate him. He doesn’t seem particularly curious or thoughtful about them. He’s more interested in tweeting out the latest insult that [springs to mind].

Do you think other tech executives should be more vocal, or is too much of a risk?

I think anybody who has a platform should speak out. I’ve had a ton of people reach out to me this week — people much better-known than I am, saying, “That’s awesome, what you said.” And I’m like, “Why don’t you say it? You have a bigger pulpit.”

A lot of people think Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk should step off Trump’s economic advisory council. What do you think?

It’s a complicated issue for Elon. I think many of the things he’s trying to accomplish are really worthy goals but they intersect with regulation: automomuos vehicles, putting things in space. You can’t do that without the government, so from very self-interested point of view, and in the interest of his companies, I understand. On the other hand, he has a very pubic platform and I’m sure he has an opinion and if everybody takes the self-interested view, the world doesn’t get to hear the opinions of its leaders. So I think it’s important but I certainly understand.

I’ve [feel even more strongly about Facebook COO] Sheryl Sandberg. She has gone out of her way to build a brand around the power of women and what they’re capable of, and when it comes to the Women’s March, she was invisible. She seems to have leaned out quite a bit.

More here.

New Fundings

Botworx.ai, a year-old, Los Altos, Ca.-based conversational commerce platform, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Costanoa Ventures, with participation from SV Angel. More here.

Capsule8, a months-old, New York City-based cybersecurity startup that’s focused on container-aware, real-time threat protection for Linux, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding, including from Bessemer Venture Partners, Shardul Shah of Index Ventures and Jay Leek of ClearSky. More here.

Demisto, a 1.5-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based chatbot startup that offers a comprehensive security operations platform, has raised $20 million in funding led by ClearSky. SiliconAngle has more here.

Empow, a 2.5-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cybersecurity startup, has raised $9 million in funding from both private investors and the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Israel Ministry of Economy. FinSMEs has more here.

Evident.io, a 3.5-year-old Pleasanton, Ca.-based company that offers security services for public cloud infrastructure provider AWS, has raised $22 million in new funding led by GV. Earlier investors Bain Capital, True Ventures, and Venrock also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $49 million. VentureBeat has more here.

HealthReveal, a two-year-old, New York-based startup that uses remote monitoring and data analytics to help payers and providers make sure patients get the treatments that line up with evidentiary guidelines, has raised $10.8 million in first-round funding. The round was led by GE Ventures, with participation from Greycroft Partners, Flare Capital Partners, and Manatt Ventures.

Oncoinvent, a six-year-old, Oslo, Norway-based cancer therapeutics firm, has raised roughly $25 million from corporate investors that include Geveran Trading, Canica, CGS Holding, Helene Sundt, and Must Invest. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News has more here.

New Funds

Nasdaq is planning to set up a venture capital arm to invest in financial technology, according to Reuters. (Guess that’s one way to get listings!) More here.

People

A Google X engineer has written a bot that turns Donald Trump’s tweets into money for Planned Parenthood.

Data

VC firms backed a record number of cybersecurity startups in 2016. Bloomberg has more here.

Essential Reads

Inside Medium‘s meltdown: How an idealistic Silicon Valley founder raised $134 million to change journalism, then crashed into reality.

The AI threat isn’t Skynet; it’s the end of the middle class.

Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial announced a surprise deal to acquire international payment service MoneyGram for $880 million last month, but that looks like being just the start of its M&A activities. A source at the company confirmed to TechCrunch that it is close to raising nearly $3 billion in debt financing in order to bankroll further acquisitions. More here.

Detours

Cringe your way throught this Breitbart News interview with poor Sean Spicer.

Your dog is judging you for being a jerk.

Life on hold.

Retail Therapy

cat forest climbing tree. It’s not cheap, but whiskers is worth it.


StrictlyVC: February 9, 2017

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Thanks very much to those of you who made it to our StrictlyVC event last night. We had so much fun, and the speakers — all of them — were outstanding. Giant thanks again to Aileen Lee, Amy Chang, Brad Feld, Emily Weiss, Bradley Tusk, Vivek RamaswamySemil Shah, and Eric Liaw for making the time for readers. Thanks, too, to our wonderful sponsors: Bolt, Crunchbase, and Rosebud Communications. You can still get half off a Crunchbase annual subscription, btw. Use the code “strictlyvc” here through the end of this month. You can also sign up for Accompany, Chang’s new company, by visiting accompany.com/strictlyvc. People are raving about it, and it’s free (at least for now).

We should have pictures of the event ready for you tomorrow.

Also! Save the date: We’re hosting our next SVC event Thursday, May 4.

Also, also! We hope to see some of you at the SaaStr conference in a short while; we’ll be talking with Naval Ravikant of AngelList around 1:30. (We need to prep, which is why you’re receiving a short newsletter today.)

Top News in the A.M.

Twitter revealed its fourth quarter earnings earlier today. The big takeaway: its ad business is stalling.

What Software Engineers Around the World are Being Paid

new study published by the data science team at Hired, a jobs marketplace for tech workers, shows why it’s becoming harder for software engineers to afford life in San Francisco, even while they make more money than their peers elsewhere in the U.S. and the world.

Based on 28,000 interview requests and job offers provided by more than 5,000 companies to 45,000 job seekers on Hired’s platform, the company’s data team has determined that the average salary for a software engineer in the Bay Area is $134,000. That’s more than software engineers anywhere in the country, through Seattle trails closely behind, paying engineers an average of $126,000. In other tech hubs, including Boston, Austin, L.A., New York, and Washington, D.C., software engineers are paid on average between $110,000 and $120,000.

Higher salaries don’t mean much with jaw-dropping rents and other soaring expenses associated with life in “Silicon Valley,” and San Francisco more specifically. Indeed, factoring in the cost of living, San Francisco is now one of the lowest-paying cities for software engineers, according to Hired’s lead data scientist, Jessica Kirkpatrick. According to her analysis, the $110,000 that an Austin engineer makes is the rough equivalent of being paid $198,000 in the Bay Area, considering how much further each dollar goes in the sprawling capital of Texas. The same is true of Melbourne, Australia, where software engineers are paid a comparatively low $107,000 on average, but who are making the equivalent of $150,000 in San Francisco.

More here.

New Fundings

Better Mortgage, a three-year-old, New York-based tech-driven mortgage bank, has raised $15 million in Series B funding, including from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Goldman Sachs, and Pine Brook Partners. The WSJ has more here.

Exactuals, a nearly six-year-old, L.A.-based SaaS platform for complex payments, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by City National and TTV Capital. Other participants include Stanford-StartX Fund, S-Cubed Capital, Palo Alto Venture Partners, Skyview Fund, The Strand Partners, Temerity Capital, and numerous angel investors. More here.

Float, a 2.5-year-old, L.A.-based fintech startup that offers instant access to small dollar credit lines, has raised $3 million in seed funding. Backers included Camp One Ventures, Funders Club and 500 Startups. FinSMEs has more here.

New Funds

Greycroft Partners, with offices in New York and L.A., has closed a second growth equity fund with $250 million. Greycroft Growth II will focus on participating in later-stage rounds in companies already in the firm’s portfolio; it will also make first-time later-stage investments in companies outside the fund.

Airbnb is in talks to buy Montreal-based Luxury Retreats — a company with more than 4,000 properties around the world — to help it expand in high-end vacation rentals and travel services, reports Bloomberg. A sale is expected to fetch no more than $300 million in cash and stock, said one of its sources. More here.

People

Ousted Hyperloop One founder Brogan BamBrogan just started a new company called Arrivo. The Verge has more here.

Snapchat’s parent company has corrected the record after it first appeared that board member Joanna Coles was making significantly less than her male peers.

Apparently no longer under investigation by the SEC, investor Mike Rothenberg, who’d rebranded his firm Frontier Ventures last summer, has renamed it Rothenberg Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Greylock Partners, the Silicon Valley venture firm, has hired a growth advisor in residence to help goose growth at its portfolio companies. Casey Winters — who spent nearly three years at Pinterest, and nearly three years at GrubHub before that — will be working with Greylock exclusively for the next six to 12 months.

Zenefits is laying off roughly 430 employees — roughly half the company — in its single largest round of cuts, showing how the embattled startup fell far short of its lofty expectations. Buzzfeed has the story here.

Essential Reads

It’s not just Google — Snap has a $1 billion cloud services deal with Amazon, too.

Detours

Steve Young is an athlete who’s actually good at finance.

Retail Therapy

Star Wars Land. It’s coming, fellow dorks.


StrictlyVC: February 8, 2017

Good morning, everyone! Busy day; see some of you tonight!

No column again today. We know: sad! (We’ll make it up to you, we promise.)

Top News in the A.M.

A Justice Department lawyer yesterday said courts should not second-guess President Trump’s targeted travel ban, drawing skepticism from a three-judge federal appeals panel that’s weighing the limits of executive authority in cases of national security. The appeals panel will make a decision within the next few days.

New Fundings

hatbooks, a 2.5-year-old, Provo, Ut.-based photo-printing startup, has raised $11.5 million in new funding led by Aries Capital Partners. The company has now raised $20 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

CXA, a four-year-old, Singapore-based startup insurance brokerage, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by B Capital, the fund from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, and EDBI, the investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board. TechCrunch has more here.

Fuze, an 11-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based cloud-based unified communications platform that enables voice, video conferencing, and messaging to enable easier collaboration at work, has raised $104 million in funding. The round was led by Wellington Management Company, with participation from Greenspring Associates and earlier backers Summit Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and G20. BostInno has more here.

HackerOne, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based vulnerability management platform that helps customers build bug bounty programs to find vulnerabilities in their software, has raised $40 million in Series C funding. Dragoneer Investment Group led the round, with participation from an unnamed strategic investor and earlier backers New Enterprise Associates and Benchmark. TechCrunch has more here.

Hashed Health, a six-month-old, Nashville, Tn.-based provider of support services for blockchain networks, has raised nearly $2 million in funding led by Martin Ventures, with participation from Fenbushi Capital. More here.

Once Upon a Farm, a 1.5-year-old, San Diego-based organic baby food maker, has raised $3.1 million in Series A funding led by Cambridge Companies SPG, with participation from Seed 2 Growth Fund and Harbinger Ventures. The San Diego Business Journal has more here.

Rippleshot, a four-year-old, Chicago-based fraud analytics firm, hsa raised $2.6 million in funding led by KDWC, with participation from CMFG Ventures. The Chicago Tribune has more here.

Tipit, a 2.5-year-old, Israel-based augmented reality startup looking to bring AR feature sets to a more diverse set of applications through its own SDK, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from Tel Aviv-based Atooro Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

WelbeHealth, a year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based healthcare services company that delivers care to seniors by combining physician house calls with team-based, intensive care management, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by F-Prime Capital and .406 Ventures. More here.

New Funds

Dick Kramlich, the co-founder of New Enterprise Associates, is launching a new $130 million early-stage fund called Green Bay Ventures with partner Anthony Schiller. The fund is geared toward early stage companies that are focused on applying artificial intelligence to manufacturing, energy, transportation, logistics, and more. Shiller was formerly managing Kramlich’s family office platform. TechCrunch has more here.

Palo Alto and Tokyo-based Sozo Ventures and the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based fund of funds TrueBridge Capital Partners have raised $134 million toward a second joint venture fund, according to a filing with the SEC that shows a $200 million target. Four years ago, TrueBridge established the venture with Sozo to bring venture-backed tech startups to the Japanese market. They began raising money for this second fund about a year ago.

Stellaris Venture Partners, a Bangalore, india-based early-stage venture fund, has closed its $100 million maiden fund. Its investors include financial institutions, corporates, entrepreneurs, and family offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Times of India has more here.

Trident Capital Cybersecurity has raised $300 million to invest in new technology companies tackling security threats around the internet of things, payment technologies, identity management, privacy and data management. The San Mateo, Ca., firm was founded in 2015, when the partners of Trident Capital — a venture firm formed in 1993 — created two new, focused firms: Trident Capital Cybersecurity and Sunstone Partners. (Sunstone Partners is a growth equity firm focused on tech-enabled business services.) TechCrunch has more here.

Exits

Publicly traded Twilio revealed in its quarterly earnings report that it has acquired Beepsend, a 10-year-old, Sweden-based SMS messaging provider. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Crunchbase doesn’t show any outside funding information about Beepsend. TechCrunch has more here.

Invincea, a midsize cybersecurity firm based in Fairfax City, Va., is being bought by Sophos, the British cybersecurity firm, in a deal that could be worth up to $120 million. Crunchbase shows Invincea had raised roughly $50 million from investors. Said one of them, John Backus of New Atlantic Ventures, to the Washington Post: “Sophos made us a good offer and, when someone makes you a good offer, sometimes it’s hard to say no.” More here.

Cosmetics giant L’Oreal  is reportedly considering putting the The Body Shop up for sale for roughly $1.1 billion. Bloomberg has more here.

People

Ashish Aggarwal has joined Grishin Robotics as a principal. He was previously a director of corporate development at Opera Software.

Carl Bass has stepped down at the CEO of Autodesk, the $18 billion computer-aided-design software company. Bass, who will be replaced by interim co-CEOs and will remain on the company’s board, has reportedly been planning out his departure for the last 18 months. But news of his resignation also comes a day after the outlet Pando published an interview in which Bass spoke openly of his disdain for Donald Trump. “My concern is all on the personality side, the kookiness of the way [Trump is] operating, and the people he has surrounded himself with,” said Bass of the new administration. “Imagine we had a left-wing President, and he decided to appoint Arianna Huffington as the person to preside over the National Security Council. [And] what do you say or do to someone who is going to have a tantrum about whether a crowd size was bigger? That’s a very hard thing to respond to.”  Much more from that interview here.

The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a nonprofit research institute in San Francisco that’s part of Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan’s plan to cure, prevent, or manage all diseases, announced today that 47 faculty at three nearby research universities will get no-strings-attached awards to delve into risky new directions. Each scientist and engineer chosen will receive an average of up to $300,000 per year for five years for life sciences research. Science has more here.

Famed VC Mike Moritz doesn’t think much of Trump’s choice to head his business council, Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman. Likening Schwarzman to someone out of “Good Fellas,” Moritz warns (in a piece that reminds us that the former Time magazine bureau chief can still write): “The lower- and middle-income Americans who voted for Mr. Trump in droves would do well to listen hard to what Mr. Schwarzman is advising. They’ll hear the sound of dollars being sucked out of their pockets and slipped into the wallets of the 1 percent.”

Peter Thiel is not running for governor of California, a spokesman tells the L.A. Times.

China-based juggernaut Baidu has hired Liu Wei, formerly a partner at Legend Holdings’ venture arm Legend Star, as the CEO of its early stage investment unit Baidu Ventures. Launched in October, Baidu Ventures aims to back artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality projects. China Money Network has more here.

Jobs

Excel Venture Management, a life science and healthcare-focused venture firm, is hiring a new associate. The job is in Boston.

Essential Reads

Jawbone isn’t backing down in its legal fight with Fitbit, asserting in a court filing that its rival is under investigation by a criminal grand jury for theft of trade secrets. According to Bloomberg, Fitbit is trying to get the suit thrown out, arguing the trade secret claims were already analyzed and rejected by the U.S. International Trade Commission, but Jawbone says the agency looked only at a limited number of allegations against Fitbit and had no authority to consider claims against the former employees who are also defendants in the suit. Bloomberg has more here.

Facebook is extending its bereavement leave, offering employees who have lost immediate family members up to 20 days off and those who have lost members of their extended family up to 10 days off. Previously, the policy allowed for 10 and 5 days off, respectively. The WSJ has more here.

Apple shares are within a dollar of their all-time high.

IBM is reportedly cracking down on remote workers, ordering them to either come into one of six main offices and work “shoulder to shoulder” – or leave for good. In a confidential video message to staff seen by The Register yesterday, chief marketing officer Michelle Peluso told her staff they must work at “a smaller set of locations” if they want to continue with the company. Employees have 30 days to decide whether to stay or go. More here.

Detours

Why you might feel like it’s been years since the inauguration.

Fourteen under-the-radar getaways, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Retail Therapy

Like the New York Times and Spotify? This may be the deal for you.


StrictlyVC: February 7, 2017

Happy Tuesday! It was great to see those of you who came out last night to the Crunchies awards; that was fun (though we now have a pretty serious headache). Congrats to our colleagues at TC for throwing a great party.

We’re excited to see many of you at a much smaller party tomorrow night in San Francisco for SVC. Special thanks again to our sponsors Bolt, Crunchbase and Rosebud Communications for making the evening possible.:)

No column today.

Top News in the A.M.

Say what? Starting next month, the FBI will no longer accept Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by email. In lieu of its popular email service, the FBI suggests sending a fax or snail mail.

Twitter just unveiled three new updates to curb bad behavior and keep trolls off the platform.

New Fundings

Airsorted, a year-old, London-based Airbnb management company that handles everything from key exchanges and laundry to guest bookings and complaints, has raised £1.5 million in funding led by Concentric, with participation from 500 Startups and Pi Labs. TechCrunch has more here.

Chorus.ai, a year-old, San Francisco-based company whose software records and transcribes conference calls in real time, flagging important action items and topics in the process, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by Redpoint Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Comprehend Systems, a six-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company whose software aims to help clinical research teams improve the speed and quality of their work, has raise$15 million in Series C funding led by Eminence Capital, with participation by earlier backers Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company has now raised $44.5 million altogether. More here.

Exabeam, a 3.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based big data security analytics company, has raised $30 million in Series C funding co-led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Cisco Investments, with participation from Norwest Venture Partners, Aspect Ventures, Icon Ventures and angel investor Shlomo Kramer. More here.

Fungible, a 1.5-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based company that aims to provide a full-stack solution for cloud data centers, has raised $32.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Mayfield, Walden Riverwood Ventures, and Battery Ventures, with participation from Juniper Networks. Fungible was cofounded by Pradeep Sindhu, founder of Juniper Networks, and Bertrand Serlet, a former Apple software engineering leader. More here.

Goat, a six-year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based mobile-only marketplace for collectible sneakers, has raised $25 million in funding led by Accel Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Lola, a 1.5-year-old, Boston-based on-demand, personal travel service for hotels, flights and more (its cofounder, Paul English, previously cofounded Blade and Kayak, among other companies), has added $5 million to its Series B round. The money, from GV and Tenaya Ventures, brings the round to $25 million altogether. More here.

Shansong Express, a 2.5-year-old, Beijing-based startup that provides intercity courier services across China, has raised $50 million in Series C  funding led by SIG Asia Investment and Yi Capital, with participation from Prometheus Capital. More here.

SnapRoute, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup whose open source software enables network engineers to customize commodity networking switches and routers to meet their exact requirements, has raised $25 million in Series A funding led by Norwest Venture Partners. Lightspeed Venture Partners, AT&T and Microsoft Ventures also participated in the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Tenka Labs, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that designs small blocks that operate as parts of circuits that connect to Lego bricks (the idea is to teach kids some of the early principles of engineering), has raised $2.1 million in seed financing from undisclosed investors. TechCrunch has more here.

TravelTriangle, a three-year-old, Singapore-based marketplace for finding and booking travel, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Singapore-based RB Investments, with participation from earlier investors SAIF Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Trax, a 6.5-year-old, Israeli-developed and Singapore-based retail image recognition platform, has raised $19.5 million in fresh funding led by the banking group Investec Bank. The company has now raised $97.5 million altogether. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Tucows, a 23-year-old, Toronto-based, publicly traded network access company, has raised an undisclosed amount of “substantial” funding from the early-stage venture firm Union Square Ventures. The firm explains its unusual bet here.

New Funds

Frontline Ventures, a four-year-old, London-based seed-stage firm focused on business-to-business startups, has raised €60 million ($64 million) for its second fund. TechCrunch has more here.

IPOs

Kuaishou — a hot photo-sharing application in China — is reportedly planning to go public in the U.S. later this year. TechCrunch sources say the app has more than 40 million daily active users, 100 million monthly active users, and that it was most recently valued at around $3 billion. More here.

Exits

Hootsuite, the startup and platform that lets marketers manage a company’s interactions across a range of social media networks, has acquired AdEspresso, a three-year-old company that has built a set of tools to create, A/B test, and post advertisements on Facebook and Instagram. AdEspresso was originally spun out of an ad agency in Italy and went on to raise $3 million from a range of investors, including 500 Startups and the Vegas Tech Fund. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

People

Twitter’s VP of diversity and inclusion, Jeffrey Siminoff, is leaving the company at the end of the month, and its chief human resources officer, Renee Atwood, has already left, TechCrunch has confirmed in a new report. It isn’t clear if the departures are related. More here.

Essential Reads

In what could become a long and costly battle, Uber is suing Seattle over a new law that allows drivers to unionize.

TV maker Vizio, founded 14 years ago in Irvine, Ca., will pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit after it was shown that the company has been secretly collecting viewing data and selling it to third parties for years.

The 97-year-old ACLU just joined the incubator that gave us Airbnb and Dropbox. Now what?

Detours

Russian engineers have developed a way to cheat slot machines, and casinos have no way to address it.

Babak Hodjat believes humans are too emotional for the stock market. So he’s started one of the first hedge funds run completely by artificial intelligence.

Europe trolls Trump.

Retail Therapy

Logitech just started selling a $200 webcam that shoots 4K video. (We’re not sure you need to go that high-def when it comes to conference calls; on the other hand, it’s surprisingly affordable.)


StrictlyVC: February 6, 2017

Hi, everyone, what a game last night. Holy smokes. The Super Bowl, the NBA finals, the World Series — so many spectacular come-back wins with each. (Yes, as Cavs fans, we’re still talking about last June.)

Looking forward to seeing some of you tonight at the Crunchies in San Francisco. We’re honored to be giving away the VC of the Year award with Udacity and Google X founder Sebastian Thrun. If you’re curious to see who wins it, get there early; it’s the first award to go.

Top News in the A.M.

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and 93 other tech companies filed an amicus brief last night, voicing opposition to President Trump’s executive order on immigration on the grounds that it is discriminatory and has a negative impact on business. TechCrunch has more here.

A Debit Card for Kids That Parents Manage from their Phones

Greenlight, a three-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based startup, is trying to solve a problem that any parent of an elementary or junior high school student can well understand: how to give kids money without worrying that they’ll lose it or spend it on something they shouldn’t.

It isn’t the first reloadable, prepaid card. MasterCard, Visa and American Express each offer parent-friendly debit cards, among other outfits. But Greenlight — backed with seed funding from its executive team and a startup incubator at Georgia Tech called the Advanced Technology Development Center — is hoping to take on these giants by adding every imaginable bell and whistle to its FDIC-insured offering, as well as making its pricing affordable and straightforward.

Because we have a seven- and nine-year-old — both of whom reliably lose whatever money we give them for field trips and the like — we were curious to learn more. Co-founder Johnson Cook answered some of our questions last week.

Greenlight is a nice idea, but it has plenty of competition. How does what you’re offering differ from what’s out there already?

[We think] Greenlight is the first card with store-level controls — in other words, the ability for a parent to give a child a specific amount that he or she can spend at a specific store or website — like Starbucks, Chick-fil- A, the neighborhood market store, Amazon.com. We found that the ability to choose the specific stores where their kids can shop really resonated with parents.

What are some of the card’s other features?

Parents can automate allowances very easily in the app. We’re also rolling out a Greenlight Savings account and Greenlight Giving, which will give parents and their kids a full view of their finances across spending, savings and giving. We’re very focused on empowering parents to raise their kids to be financially smart: to learn to spend wisely, the importance of saving so they can cover unexpected expenses, how to build wealth through investing, and the importance of credit.

What about notifications? I’d think these would be pretty important to parents.

Parents are instantly alerted any time the card is used, letting them know how much was spent and where. And notifications are customizable for both parents and their kids. You can receive notifications for when purchases are made, transactions are declined, the child makes a new request, low balances, funds transfers, for when the card is turned on or off, and messages received.

You charge $4.99 per family per month for up to five kids. How did you settle on that particular price point, and why do a monthly fee versus take some percentage from each transaction?

More here.

New Fundings

Comprehend Systems, a six-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company that makes cloud software for clinical researchers, has raised $15 million in Series C funding led by Eminence Capital, with participation from earlier backers Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. More here.

Desktop Metal, a 1.5-year-old, Burlington, Ma.-based company at work on much cheaper and smaller metal-making 3D printers, has raised $45 million in Series C funding led GV, with participation from BMW I Ventures and Lowe’s Ventures. According to Fortune, the new round assigned the company a $305 million pre-money valuation, up from its valuation of $100 million in April 2016. Desktop Metal, cofounded by serial entrepreneur and longtime VC Ric Fulop, has now raised $97 million altogether. More here.

LogicHub, a year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based cyberthreat detection startup, has raised $8.4 million in Series A funding co-led by Storm Ventures and Nexus Venture Partners. eWeek has more here.

SubVRsive, a 1.5-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based virtual reality startup, has raised $4 million in Series A funding from WPP. As part of the round, the company has also appointed a new CEO, Johannes Larcher, who was most recently an SVP at Hulu. More here.

TerrAvion, a three-year-old, San Leandro, Ca.-based provider of aerial imagery services for farmers, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Merus Capital, with participation from Promus Ventures, Initialized Capital, and 10x Group. More here.

Virtualitics, a new, Pasadena, Ca.-based platform that combines artificial intelligence, big data, and virtual reality to help users understand data, has raised $3 million in seed funding from unnamed angel investors. The company’s founders include George Djorgovski, the founding director of Caltech’s Center for Data-Driven Discovery. SoCal Tech has more here.

New Funds

Promus Ventures, a 4.5-year-old, Chicago-based early-stage venture firm, has raised $14.7 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing. The firm had set out to raise $35 million for its debut fund in 2013. (Like many venture firms, it didn’t announce how much it ultimately raised.) More here.

Exits

Nextdoor, the neighborhood-focused social network, is buying the assets of a much smaller rival, London-based Streetlife, for less than $10 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Stratoscale, a 3.5-year-old startup that gives enterprises AWS-compatible environments inside their data centers, has acquired Tesora, a six-year-old, database-as-a-service company. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but according to Crunchbase, Tesora has raised a total of $12.7 million, and Stratoscale has raised roughly $70 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Terra Bella, the satellite imaging company that Google bought about two years ago for $500 million, will be sold to mapping startup Planet Labs, the companies announced Friday. According to the agreement, Planet Labs will acquire the Terra Bella business and satellites, and Google will continue to license the satellite imagery for its mapping products. The companies didn’t disclose deal terms, but Business Insider’s sources say Planet Labs paid less than the $500 million Google originally paid. More here.

Mobile carrier Three UK is acquiring UK Broadband in a transaction valued at $373 million. UK Broadband claims to be “the largest commercial holder of national radio spectrum suitable for 4G mobile services and fixed wireless solutions in the UK.” It also owns a fiber network for backhaul. TechCrunch has more here.

Electrolux, the world’s second-largest appliance maker, has agreed to acquire Anova, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based sous vide machine maker, for approximately $250 million. According to Crunchbase, Anova had raised just $1.8 million — $1.3 million of it from a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in 2014. Cnet has more here.

Klarna, the Stockholm-based online payments company, has agreed to acquire Berlin-based payments company BillPay from British short-term lender Wonga for a reported $75 million. According to the Financial Times, Klarna hopes the acquisition will consolidate its dominant position in Germany, Europe’s second largest e-commerce market. More here.

People

According to Fortune, Neeraj Chandra has left Tiger Global Management after 13 years with the firm. Chandra had led Tiger into many of its positions in privately held tech companies. He’s reportedly likely to launch his own investment fund.

Jay Fulcher was just named CEO of Zenefits. He’s the third person to lead the health-benefits broker. Fulcher was formerly CEO of software startup Ooyala and Agile Software and he replaces David Sacks, who in early December said he would step down after taking the reins from Zenefits co-founder Parker Conrad in February of last year. Fulcher will also chair Zenefits’ board. The WSJ has more here.

James Hobson, the COO of New York-based marketplace lender On Deck Capital, will resign on March 15 to become CEO of a seed-funded, Mountain View, Ca.-based online insurance startup called Attune. On Deck went public in 2014; its shares have since fallen 77 percent. More here.

Josh Miller, who was a member of the White House Office of Digital Strategy under President Barack Obama, has joined Thrive Capital, the venture capital firm run by investor Joshua Kushner (brother of Jared). Miller will focus on technology that serves the needs of underprivileged Americans, reports the New York Times. More here.

Elon Musk tweeted a tunnel image on Friday, but no one is quite sure whose tunnel it is, says Cnet.

Thomas Siebel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who heads the internet-of-things company C3 IoT, has been quietly locked in a courtroom standoff for more than two years with an ex-salesman at his company in what started as a fight over $360,000 in commissions. According to American Lawyer, Siebel has now gone through four sets of attorneys, including renowned lawyer Lynn Hermle of Orrick (who defended Kleiner Perkins in the case brought against it by former partner Ellen Pao). C3 IoT has raised roughly $110 million from investors.  The full story is here.

A collection of Silicon Valley executives, engineers and activists are quietly plotting a progressive counterattack against President Donald Trump, reports Politico. Through a new organization tentatively called Win the Future, or WTF, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Zynga founder Mark Pincus and others are teaming up with former Sierra Club President Adam Werbach to connect political organizers and shore up progressive candidates and causes ahead of the 2018 midterm and 2020 presidential elections. More here.

More than 1,200 tech employees from around the Bay Area have pledged to walk off their jobs at noon on Tuesday, March 14 (Pi day) to attend a rally at Palo Alto City Hall. Another 8,300 people have expressed interest in the so-called Tech Stands Up movement via a Facebook page. Axios has more here.

Jobs

Comcast Ventures is looking to hire an associate. The job is in L.A.

Comcast Ventures is also looking to hire a principal. That job is in San Francisco.

Essential Reads

After months of speculation about a potential acquisition by IBM or private equity firms, Revel Systems has announced that private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson and Stowe just led a large growth round in the company that will make it Revel’s majority shareholder. As part of the deal, the company’s co-founder Lisa Falzone has stepped down as CEO. Her replacement: Scott Betts, a former CEO of Global Cash Access who has also worked at First Data and Procter & Gamble. TechCrunch has more here.

Uber has hired a veteran NASA engineer to develop flying cars (yes) in a new role as Uber’s director of engineering for aviation. Bloomberg has more here.

And it’s another pivot for Jawbone, which is dropping its low-margin, consumer wearables line to focus on . . . clinical services. TechCrunch has more here.

Detours

The best and worst Super Bowl commercials of 2017.  (Our favorite: Sprint.)

Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey is missing, and it may be worth as much as half a million dollars.

Are you college-ready? Test your math and find out!

Retail Therapy

Darth Vader silicone ice tray. It’s not just for ice cubes. (But mostly it’s for ice cubes.)


StrictlyVC: February 3, 2017

This will sound familiar, but we are again racing out the door to a doctor’s appointment — this time to see our friendly neighborhood dentist. Why do we make appointments in the morning, the worst possible time of the day for us to do this? We may well contemplate this today while our gums are being prodded.

No column today, but happy Friday, everyone; we’ll see you back here Monday.:) (Speaking of which, if you were thinking of coming to the Crunchies awards on Monday night in San Francisco, it’s not too late to grab a ticket here.)

Top News in the A.M.

Yesterday, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down from the new administration’s economic advisory council. In an email to employees, he said his participation was being interpreted as a sign that he had endorsed the president and the administration’s agenda, when in reality, he thinks the  immigration order is hurting many people across America. (The New York Times looks at the various factors that drove Kalanick’s eventual decision here.) The conversation in Silicon Valley almost immediately shifted focus to another tech entrepreneur on the council: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. But Musk says he’s staying on.

New Fundings

Ceres Nanosciences, a nine-year-old, Manassas, Va.-based life sciences company developing a diagnostic test for Lyme disease, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by GreyBird Ventures. Washington Business Journal has more here.

Hutch, a 5.5-year-old, London-based startup that makes free-to-play mobile games, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures and Backed VC. TechCrunch has more here.

Jobaline, a four-year-old, Kirkland, Wa.-based company behind an engagement platform for hourly workers, has raised $3.5 million from investors, including Madrona Venture Group, Trilogy Equity Partners, Founder’s Co-op and Rudy Gadre, as well as new Pacific Northwest angel investors. More here.

LendingFront, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based platform for business lending, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from a Fort Lauderdale, Fl.-based investment firm, Las Olas Venture Capital.

Litify, a months-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based developer of software for law firms, raised $5 million in funding from Fortress Investment Group. More here.

SparkFund, a 3.5-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based financial technology company that lets businesses pay over time for energy efficient products and services (it partners with utilities and others), has raised $7 million in Series B funding led by Energy Impact Partners, with participation from Vision Ridge Partners and undisclosed strategic partners. More here.

Taxfyle, a 1.5-year-old, Miami, Fl.-based on-demand tax and accounting marketplace, has raised $2 million in seed funding from individual investors. More here.

VisCardia, a 1.5-year-old, Beaverton, Or.-based medical device company that’s developing a chronic heart failure therapy, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding led by Kinetic Capital Partners. It simultaneously obtained the assets and technology rights from Inovise Medical. More here.

New Funds

Legend Capital, the venture and growth capital arm of China’s Legend Holdings Corporation, has raised $243 million for its seventh venture capital fund, according to an SEC filing that shows a target of $375 million. China Money Network has more here.

Exits

Worth noting: Teen-focused retailer Wet Seal sought chapter 11 protection yesterday the latest victim of market headwinds—declining traffic, changing consumer preferences and the popularity of online shopping. The WSJ has more here.

People

Mozilla is laying off around 50 people. Cnet has more here.

Jobs

Engineering Capital, the early-stage venture firm founded by former Foundation Capital investor Ashmeet Sidana, is looking to bring aboard an associate. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca.

Essential Reads

Snap‘s IPO prospectus was made public yesterday, and reporters have been chewing through the numbers since. Among the many data points worth noting: Snap lost $515 million on $404 million in revenue in 2016, compared with the $373 million it lost on sales of $59 million in 2015.

Snap has a lot of users, but maybe less than you might have guessed: 158 million at the end up last year, up from 107 million in 2015, and growth appears to be slowing. The number of users rose 7 percent between the second and third quarters but grew just 3.3. percent in the last quarter of 2016.

Assuming the company is still valued out of the gate at between $20 billion and $25 billion, a select group of folks will make out exceedingly well. Among them, Benchmark, which owns 12.7 percent of the company, Lightspeed Venture Partners, which owns 8.3 percent, and cofounders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, both of whom own 21.8 percent of the company. (Turns out Reggie Brown, a third cofounder who was bounced out of the company early on, has done okay, too, having received a $157.5 million settlement after he sued Spiegel and Murphy for his fair share of the business.)

More here and here and here.

Apple will begin assembling iPhones in India by the end of April, a regional minister says, heightening its focus on the world’s fastest-growing major smartphone market as growth slows elsewhere. Bloomberg has more here.

Detours

Why the feds are losing the war on fake Super Bowl merchandise.

The most popular Super Bowl ads of all time.

An easy way to get your coworkers to trust you more.

Retail Therapy

A 295-foot yacht with a nightclub, hot air balloons, and its own submarine. (Now to snag an invite.)


StrictlyVC: February 2, 2017

Hi, happy Thursday, everyone.:)

Top News in the A.M.

A Dallas jury decided yesterday that Facebook will need to shell out $500 million to tech company ZeniMax in a lawsuit that questioned the origins of the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift. The jury found that cofounder Palmer Lucky did not comply with a non-disclosure agreement he had signed; it also said that Oculus did not steal trade secrets, as alleged by ZeniMax in its suit. More here.

Dropcam Cofounder Aamir Virani Joins Felicis

Last week, we learned that Dropcam cofounder Greg Duffy has headed over to Apple. Today, Felicis Ventures, the early-stage venture firm, is disclosing it has brought aboard Dropcam’s other cofounder, Aamir Virani, as its newest partner.

The move seems a perfect fit for both sides. Felicis wrote one of the earliest checks to Dropcam, an internet-connected security camera company that was sold to Nest Labs in 2014 for $555 million, months after Nest was itself acquired by Google for $3.2 billion.

As StrictlyVC reported in late 2014, the acquisition proved far from a seamless fit, and by last year, Duffy had gone public about his regrets over selling Dropcam to Nest, which he left in 2015.

For his part, however, Virani — who also left Nest in 2015 — stayed mum, calling Google “one of the great companies” of the world during a call earlier this week. Explaining his departure, he said simply that “I wasn’t really a big company person. I just don’t think that mentality is right for me. I like trying to figure out how to make something useful for customers, then figuring out how to create a business that will ensure it survives.”

It largely explains why, over the past year or so, Virani has chosen to do a limited amount of angel investing and to advise a small group of startups, many of them through his network, which includes friends from Rice University, where the Houston native nabbed his undergraduate degree, and Stanford, where he went to grad school.

More here.

New Fundings

Against Gravity, a year-old, Seattle-based virtual reality company that makes a social VR app called Rec Room, has raised $5 million in seed funding from Sequoia Capital, First Round Capital, Acequia, Vulcan Capital,Maveron, Anorak, Betaworks, and the Venture Reality Fund. More here.

Airware, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose cloud-based software and services aim to help large enterprises use drones throughout their operations, has raised an undisclosed amount of money from the venture arm of Caterpillar, the construction and mining equipment company. TechCrunch has more here.

ApcinteX, a young, Cambridge, England-based spin-out of the University of Cambridge that’s developing a new therapy for haemophilia, has raised £14 million ($17.6 million) in Series A funding led by Medicxi and Touchstone Innovations Group. More here.

Aquilon Energy Services, a six-year-old, Lisle, Il.-based cloud platform that enables energy companies to settle financial energy transactions, has raised $19 million in Series B funding from investors (and, the company says, customers) Citi, Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments, Invenergy, and Macquarie Group. More here.

Disruptor Beam, a six-year-old, Framingham, Ma.-based community-centric games company, has raised $8.5 million in Series B funding from earlier investor GrandBanks Capital and Romulus Capital. GrandBanks, which participated in Disruptor Beam’s $3.2 million Series A, says it bought out another early investor, Midverse Studios, as part of the deal. TechCrunch has more here.

GAN Integrity, a 2.5-year-old, Brooklyn, New York-based maker of compliance management software for managing corporate risk, third-party due diligence, and whisteblower concerns, has raised $9 million in funding led by Edison Partners. Other participants in the round include NorthCap, Chicago Ventures, MissionOG, and Cultivation Capital. Tech.eu has more here.

GoldenKey, a three-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based service that unbundles real estate services and gives buyers a three percent rebate when they buy a home through the startup, has raised $1.75 million from Lowe’s Ventures, NFX Guild (whose accelerator program it passed through last year), and others. The company has now raised $3.4 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

MapAnything, an eight-year-old, Charlotte, N.C.-based software service built on top of Salesforce for developing location-based workflows, has raised $33.1 million in Series B funding led by Columbus Nova, with participation from ServiceNow Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Opti, a 2.5-year-old, Boston-based IoT company that monitors and controls stormwater infrastructure in real-time, has raised $5.5 million in funding led by Ecosystem Integrity Fund, with participation from earlier investors MissionPoint Partners, the Renewal Funds, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and Geosyntec Consultants. More here.

PointClickCare, a 22-year-old, Mississauga, Canada-based maker of cloud-based software for the senior care industry, has raised $85 million in funding led by Dragoneer Investment Group, with participation from JMI Equity. BetaKit has more here.

Scytl, a 16-year-old, Barcelona, Spain-based company that develops secure electronic voting technologies, has raised €12 million ($13 million) in funding from earlier investors Vulcan Capital, Balderton Capital, Nauta Capital, Spinnaker Invest, Sapphire Ventures, Vy Capital, Industry Ventures, and Adams Street Partners. Tech.eu has more here.

SIM Partners, an 11-year-old, Chicago-based location marketing company, has raised $5 million in funding led by River Cities Capital Funds, with participation from Jump Capital. More here.

Suplari, a year-old, Seattle-based stealthy enterprise “intelligent app” company, has raised $3.1 million in funding led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Amplify Partners. GeekWire has more here.

Tarveda Therapeutics, a 4.5-year-old, Watertown, Ma.-based cancer drug developer, has raised $30 million in fresh funding led by Versant Ventures, with participation from earlier backers New Enterprise Associates, Novo A/S, NanoDimension, and Flagship Pioneering. Xconomy has more here.

Text IQ, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based platform that streamlines the document review process for attorneys, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Floodgate. Forbes has more here.

Vividion Therapeutics, a 2.5-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based biotech company whose drug discovery platform applies chemical proteomics to expand the druggable proteome, has raised $50 million in Series A funding co-led by ARCH Venture Partners and Versant Ventures. Cardinal Partners also participated in the funding. FierceBiotech has more here.

Wity, a year-old, Paris, France-based AI-driven virtual assistant that aims to help small businesses with their accounting and other administrative needs, has raised €4.7 million ($5.1 million) in funding from M Capital Partners. Tech.eu has more here.

Xnor.ai, a young, Seattle-based company bringing AI computational frameworks to mobile devices, raised $2.6 million in funding led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (from which the company spun off). TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Grab, the Singapore-based ride-sharing service, has created a $100 million fund to invest in Indonesian startups. TechCrunch has more here.

In a boost for the European life sciences start-up ecosystem, Dublin, Ireland-based venture capital firm Seroba has closed a third life sciences fund with €100 million ($107.9 million). Silicon Republic has more here.

Exits

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has acquired Niara, a 3.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based security analytics company, for an undisclosed sum. According to Crunchbase, Niara had raised around $30 million from investors, including Venrock, New Enterprise Associates, and Index Ventures. eWeek has more on the deal here.

OpenSky, a marketplace for small businesses that’s backed in part by the juggernaut Alibaba, has spent a “few hundred thousand dollars” to acquire the assets of Dot & Bo, a San Francisco-based online furniture retailer that had raised $18.5 million from investors before shutting down in September. Recode has more here.

Salesforce, which is looking to sell more services to its customers that complement the software they are already buying, has acquired Sequence, a 12-year-old, user experience design agency based out of San Francisco and New York. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but according to Crunchbase, Sequence had raised less than $1 million. TechCrunch has much more here.

IPOs

Hamilton Lane, the 26-year-old, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based alternative asset manager, filed to raise up to $200 million in an IPO yesterday. Renaissance Capital has a bit more here.

People

Carl Schachter, a Google VP who was one of the public faces of its cloud computing business under Diane Greene, is leaving the company, reports The Information. No word yet on where he’s headed. The story is here.

The 10 people who know everybody in New York’s startup scene.

Jobs

The early-stage venture capital firm White Star Capital is looking to hire an associate. The job is in Montreal.

Essential Reads

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and other U.S. companies are circulating an open letter to President Trump expressing concern about his recent order on immigration and offering their help. Bloomberg has the story here.

Samsung Electronics may build a manufacturing base in the U.S. for its home appliances business amid growing concerns about protectionist policies pursued by the Trump administration. Reuters has more here.

Facebook had another strong quarter at the end of last year. TechCrunch has much more here on its newest earnings report.

Detours

Ron Hill ran every day for 52 years . . . until Sunday. The decision ended the longest-recorded streak of running every day.

What a bunch of turd balls.

Why Silicon Valley’s young elite won’t invest in art.

Retail Therapy

The Supreme x Louis Vuitton collection is now available for pre-order. (Just mentioning.)


StrictlyVC: February 1, 2017

Thank God it’s February. We’re not sure how much more of January we could have taken.)

Hope you’re having a nice Wednesday, everyone.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Online lender Social Finance is acquiring a digital-banking startup as it looks to accelerate its expansion into more pockets of consumer finance (and become the central financial services hub for its customers). Its new purchase: Zenbanx Holding, a four-year-old firm that offers online and mobile bank accounts in multiple currencies and performs international money transfers. Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but a WSJ source pegs the all-stock deal valued at nearly $100 million. More here.

Why East Coast Investors are Better Off if the Market Turns

new trends report published by the law firm Cooley report suggests that the venture market remains largely healthy for now. In the fourth quarter, for example, Cooley handled 187 “disclosable” (versus stealth) deals that represented more than $2.7 billion of invested capital. That’s 18 percent more deals than it closed in the fourth quarter of 2015 — though the amount of money involved fell 23 percent from the year-earlier period. (VCs were writing smaller checks into a greater number of startups.)

Of slightly more interest to us were the deal terms involved in these fundings, some of which suggest that East Coast VCs have more safeguards than their West Coast peers if the market changes.

We talked with one of the study’s author, Cooley attorney Dave Young, about what he found and what it might mean.

This report seems pretty positive on its face.

I think it shows a surprisingly strong, healthy venture market. In 2015, there was this sense that maybe things were getting overheated, with nontraditional investors coming in and leading later-stage rounds in companies that hadn’t proven themselves yet. And that led to the view that things would slow down meaningfully in 2016. That didn’t really happen, though. People were being more disciplined around valuations and the size of rounds, but a lot of deals were getting done.

You also focus on the terms in this report. Are you starting to see anything onerous? 

I’d say founder-friendly terms are still really prevailing, and by that I mean plain vanilla terms. Whenever we inevitably head back to where the economy turns down, terms will get tough, and the levers will shift back toward [investors].

So no pay-to-play provisions [meaning if a company needs to raise money and resorts to insiders for it, those who can’t or don’t want to contribute their pro rata share will see their preferred shares reduced to either common stock or some other subset of equity with fewer rights]. I think there was some expectation that those would start reappearing in deals as this tech boom runs on and on.

We’re seeing some, but it’s been steady over the last three or four quarters or so, which is a good sign. We’re seeing them in situations when it makes sense — when it’s the right tool for that particular situation. But it’s not something people are defaulting to.

That said, sometimes with those down rounds and recaps and pay-to-plays, there’s a bit of a lag, because if companies are having a hard time getting funded, earlier investors will put in six, nine, 12 months of cash. If you have $10 million in a company already, you’d rather do that than see it crater. But you only do it once. Without a new lead investor and a new plan, those companies [are going to go out of business].

East Coast investors have historically been a little more metrics-driven than West Coast investors. Is that still true and does that impact how the market could shake out if there’s a downturn?

This has always been the case, but you see East Coast terms that are way more investor favorable, compared with West Coast [terms]. It’s more surprising to me that that hasn’t changed over time.

How do the terms differ, exactly?

In East Coast deals, you see more of what are called redemption provisions and cumulative dividends. Redemption provisions basically give investors the right to be bought out four or five years down the line — to get their money back if a company joins the living dead. They’re very rarely seen in Silicon Valley, but they appear in 25 to 30 percent of the deals on the East Coast.

More here.

New Fundings

AIM, a 1.5-year-old, New York and Seoul-based startup behind an artificial intelligence-powered app for financial investments (largely for customers in Korea), has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from DT&I, Soorim, Seoul Business Agency, and Startup Bootcamp. TechCrunch has more here.

ClearMotion, an eight-year-old, Boston-based digital chassis developer that replaces traditional automotive shock absorbers with software-controlled actuators, has raised $100 million in Series C funding from clients of J.P. Morgan Asset Management, with participation from New Enterprise Associates, Qualcomm Ventures, World Innovation Lab, and Eileses Capital. The company, founded out of MIT, has now raised more than $130 million altogether. More here.

Glide Technologies, an Oxford, U.K.-based pharmaceutical development and device company, has raised £3.2 million ($4 million) in funding from earlier backers Invesco Perpetual, Oxford Technology Venture Capital Trusts, Oxford Capital Partners and Hygea VCT. More here.

Inmoji, a 2.5-year-old, Boston-based startup that creates emoji-focused marketing campaigns, has raised $1.5 million in fresh funding that brings its total funding to $9 million. The capital comes from previous investor John Wigneswaran (a longtime pharma and medical device exec) and a group from MIT’s Sloan business school. TechCrunch has more here.

InovyTec, a six-year-old, Hod-Hasharon, Israel-based developer of emergency medical devices, has raised $3 million in fresh funding from Hong Kong-based Vincent Medical Holdings. The Times of Israel has more here.

Kinestral Technologies, a 6.5-year-old, South San Francisco-based maker of “smart-tinting glass,” has raised $65 million in Series C funding led by glass manufacturer AGC Asahi Glass, with participation from Hermes-Epitek and earlier backers 5AM Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, Capricorn Investment Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and Versant Ventures. Silicon Valley Business Journal has more here.

LatiPay, a year-old Auckland, New Zealand-based cross border payments company looking to expand into Singapore and elsewhere, has raised $3 million in funding from Singapore-based Jubilee Capital Management, with participation from Tuhua Fund, Zino Fund and an unnamed angel investor. e27 has more here.

Netgain, a 16-year-old, St. Cloud, Mn.-based company offering IT-as-a-service for healthcare providers, has raised $25 million in funding from Bluff Point Associates. Tech.mn has more here.

Reserve, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based startup offering table and customer management tools for restaurants, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Expa, the startup studio where it was first incubated. Other investors include First Round Capital and Human Ventures. Reserve has now raised more than $27 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Trussle, a 1.5-year-old, London-based online mortgage broker, has raised £4.5 million ($5.7 miillion) in funding led by Orange Growth Capital,with participation from existing investors LocalGlobe, Zoopla, Seedcamp, and angel investors Ed Wray and Ian Hogarth. The Times has more here.

Uptake, a 2.5-year-old, Chicago-based predictive analytics startup that was founded by Groupon cofounder Brad Keywell, has raised $40 million from Revolution Growth. The company has been valued at $2 billion in the deal, says the WSJ. More here.

Wealthsimple, a 2.5-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based robo-adviser startup, has raised C$20 million ($15.3 million) from Power Financial Corp. Reuters has more here.

Xometry, a 3.5-year-old, Gaithersburg, Md.-based on-demand manufacturing marketplace, has raised $23 million in new funding from GE Ventures and earlier investors, including Highland Capital Partners. More here.

Exits

Fingerprint Cards, a Gothenburg, Sweden-based company, is paying $106 million to acquire Delta ID, a five-year-old, Newark, Ca.-based iris recognition technology company. According to Crunchbase, Delta ID had raised roughly $6 million, including from Intel Capital. More here.

Video app Flipagram is getting acquired by the Chinese company Toutiao for an undisclosed amount. Flipagram was once a social media darling — raising money from both Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital and attracting both star VCs John Doerr and Michael Moritz to its board — but the startup appeared to lose momentum over the last year. TechCrunch has more here.

Kickstarter, the crowdfunding service, has acquired the 1.5-year-old Canadian video streaming startup Huzza. The purchase follows a close collaboration between the two parties that led to the launch of Kickstarter Live back in November, a live streaming feature with real time feedback designed to give creators a direct channel of communication with their community. Terms aren’t being disclosed. It doesn’t look like Huzza raised outside funding (tho’ we aren’t positive about that). TechCrunch has more here.

Publicly traded games maker Take-Two Interactive has acquired Social Point, a nine-year-old, Barcelona-based social game publisher, for $276 million. According to Crunchbase, Social Point had raised roughly $44 million from investors, including Highland Capital Partners Europe, Idinvest Partners, and Nauta Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

IPOs

ForeScout, a 16-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based security company, has filed confidentially for an IPO, reports TechCrunch. The company has raised more than $158 million since it was founded, including from Accel Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and Pitango Venture Capital. More here.

People

Michael Cardamone has joined SaaStr Ventures as a venture partner. Cardamone — an early Box employee — is also a managing director at Acceleprise, an enterprise software focused accelerator.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio’s honeymoon with President Donald Trump is looking to be short lived. Bloomberg has the story here.

Star VC Jim Goetz is stepping away from his management responsibilities at Sequoia Capital, and Roelof Botha is stepping up. We have more here.

Martin Hauge, long a partners at the Nordic venture capital firm Creandum, has joined the growth-stage venture firm Frog Capital as its non-executive chair. More here.

Angela Tran Kingyens, a data scientist, PhD and former entrepreneur, has been promoted to principal at Version One Ventures, which she joined as an associate in 2013. Before joining Version One, Kingyens co-founded Insight Data Science, a YC-backed Silicon Valley startup that helps PhDs transition from academic research to careers in the industry.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg —  who did not join the global Women’s March on January 21nd and has stayed relatively mum about the new U.S. administration — opened up about her stance at an event this morning, saying that a personal obligation kept her from joining the massive protest. “I think we don’t know what’s going to be effective yet,” she added. “It’s very early days of the new administration, but we know that the issues for women in leadership are real and it is about the steps we take as a society. It’s about the public policy we take. It’s also about the individual steps women take.” TechCrunch has more here.

Officials in New Zealand released documents last night related to investor Peter Thiel’s application to become a citizen there. Wrote Thiel on a form that would eventually help win him citizenship: “I am happy to say categorically that I have found no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand.” The New York Times has more here.

Jobs

Grishin Robotics, a hardware-focused venture firm that’s currently investing its second ($100 million) fund, is looking to hire an analyst or associate. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca.

Essential Reads

Amazon said yesterday that it plans to build its first air cargo hub to accommodate its growing fleet of planes, signaling the company is ramping up its expansion into transporting, sorting and delivering its own packages. The WSJ has more here.

Snap is now working on virtual reality lenses that let people overlay images onto landscapes in the real world. The Information has more here.

Detours

Every single Ivy League school has now spoken out against Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Kung fu plus wildly out-of-place music! (H/T: Awesomer.)

Beyonce is pregnant — with twins!

Retail Therapy

The best noise-canceling headphones of 2017. We’re going to be needing some of these.


StrictlyVC: January 31, 2017

Hi, everyone! Quick mention: we’re genuinely sorry we can’t accommodate everyone for our upcoming StrictlyVC event next week; we’re already over capacity. For what it’s worth, we’re looking at putting together another event in San Francisco in early May, so if you miss this one, we hope you can make it to the next.

In separate news, we’ll be sitting down with AngelList cofounder Naval Ravikant in a fireside chat at an event, the SaaStr conference, that’s also taking place in San Francisco next week. The organizers have given us three seats to the event and we’re happy to pass them along to readers on a first-come-first-served basis. Just let us know if you’d like to go.

Top News in the A.M.

Sequoia Capital, the storied venture firm, informed its LPs today that partner Roelof Botha will now lead its U.S. business. Jim Goetz is stepping aside from his leadership responsibilities but will continue to invest and represent Sequoia on boards, according to a spokesman. (More on this soon.)

Apple‘s cash hoard just reached a record high.

In Silicon Valley, Plotting to Get Foreign-Born Workers to Vancouver

For many U.S. startups and their foreign-born employees, a kind of back-up plan may be starting to sound like a good idea right about now.

Yesterday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that administration officials have drafted a new executive order aimed at overhauling, among other things, the H-1B work-visa program that U.S.-based tech companies have long relied on to bring top foreign engineering talent into their ranks. Spicer said the possible executive order is “part of a larger immigration effort” related in part to Friday’s hot-button immigration ban targeting immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

According to Bloomberg, the draft proposal states that: “Our country’s immigration policies should be designed and implemented to serve, first and foremost, the U.S. national interest. Visa programs for foreign workers … should be administered in a manner that protects the civil rights of American workers and current lawful residents, and that prioritizes the protection of American workers — our forgotten working people — and the jobs they hold.” (The shorter version: companies have to try hiring U.S.-born employees first.)

Whether and when that executive order gets signed is an open question, but at least one small group of cofounders has banded together to make it easier for U.S. companies to create subsidiaries in Canada and to move their U.S.-based employees to a new, Vancouver-based office, and all within what they describe as weeks, not months. They haven’t created a nonprofit. They’ve instead formed a new company called True North that’s right now offering a $6,000 package that includes airfare for one person to Vancouver, two nights of accommodations, and a day with “world-class immigration professionals who will walk you through the process and answer any questions you have.”

The package is somewhat rich.

More here.

New Funds

Comparably, a 1.5-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based job placement service, has raised $7.25 million in funding led by Greycroft Partners, with participation from Comcast Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Upfront Ventures, Lowercase Capital, Alpha Edison, Cornerstone on Demand, Accelerator Ventures, and Rincon Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.

Earnix, a 16-year-old, Ramat Gan, Israel-based developer of predictive customer analytics software for financial institutions, has raised $13.5 million in new funding from Israel Growth Partners, with participation from earlier backers JVP and Vintage Investment Partners. Globes has more here.

Feedvisor, a nearly six-year-old, New York-based algorithmic repricing platform for Amazon sellers, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by General Catalyst Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

GoKid, a 1.5-year-old, Detroit-based startup helping parents coordinate carpools for their kids, has raised $1 million in seed funding, according to Fortune. InMotion Ventures led the round, with participation from Fontinalis Partners. More here.

Qvivr, a 2.5-year-old, Fremont, Ca.-based company whose programmable card and smartphone app combines all of a user’s credit, debit, gift and loyalty cards to create an easy way to pay and organize money, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Khosla Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Radish, a year-old, San Francisco-based application for reading bite-sized chunks of serialized fiction, has raised $3 million in seed funding, including from Greylock Partners, Lowercase Capital, Softbank Next Media Innovation Fund, Sherpa Capital and numerous individual investors, including author Amy Tan. TechCrunch has more here.

SoundHound, an 11-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based developer of voice-enabled AI and conversational intelligence technologies, has raised $75 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the SharesPost 100 Fund, MKaNNm, NVIDIA, GPU Ventures, Samsung Catalyst Fund, Nomura, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance and Recruit Holdings. Earlier investors also joined the round, including Global Catalyst Partners, Walden Venture Capital and TransLink Capital. Bloomberg has more here.

TeamSnap, a six-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based maker of mobile and web-based team and group management software, has raised $25 million in funding led by Foundry Group, with participation from Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited. The Denver Post has more here.

YouEarnedIt, a four-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based SaaS platform for employee engagement, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding co-led by IDG Ventures USA and Silverton Partners, with participation from earlier investors WPP, Social Starts, the Motley Fool and Capital Factory. Austin Business Journal has more here.

Third Kind Venture Capital, a New York-based firm led by longtime angel investor and Andreessen Horowitz board partner Shana Fisher, has raised $44.3 million for its first fund, shows an SEC filing.

Centerfield, a five-year-old, El Segundo, Ca.-based ad tech and search engine marketing company, has raised $156 million from investors that include H.I.G. Growth Partners and Falcon Investment Advisors. The capital is being used, in part, to purchase Qology Direct, a nine-year-old, Florida-based performance-based marketing company. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. MediaPost has more here.

Exits

Eventbrite, the 10-year-old, San Francisco-based event ticketing platform, has acquired Ticketscript, a 10-year-old Amsterdam-based event ticketing platform. No financial terms were disclosed. Eventbrite has raised roughly $200 million in funding over the years, including from Sequoia Capital, Tenaya Capital and Tiger Global. Ticketscript had raised £7 million from Fleming Family & Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Radware, a publicly traded, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cybersecurity company, has acquired Seculert, a six-year-old, Israeli cloud-based cyber security company. Seculert raised $15.6 million in venture funding from investors including Sequoia Capital and Norwest Venture Partners. Globes has more here.

Razer, a 12-year-old, Irvine, Ca.-based maker of gaming hardware and wearable devices, has acquired the assets of smartphone developer Nextbit. According to Crunchbase, Nextbit had raised $18 million from investors, including from Accel Partners, GV and Dentsu. Razer has meanwhile raised more than $125 million, including from LianLuo, Intel Capital, IDG Capital, Temasek and Accel Partners.

Return Path, a 16-year-old, New York-based email marketing service, has acquired ThreatWave, a 1.5-year-old, Louisville, Co.-based email data firm. No financial terms were disclosed. The Denver Post has more here.

SmartRecruiters, a 6.5-year-old, San Francisco-based talent acquisition platform that has raised roughly $55 million from investors, acquired Jobspotting, a three-year-old, Berlin-based job-discovery engine that had raised $705,000 in investors, shows Crunchbase. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

Upworthy, a five-year-old, Brooklyn-based viral news and video site, is merging with 10-year-old, L.A.-based media and consulting firm Good Worldwide. No financial terms are being disclosed. According to Crunchbase, Upworthy raised $12 million in funding, including from Spark Capital. Politico has more here.

IPOs

Snap chooses the NYSE. The WSJ has more here. Meanwhile, The Information reminds readers that tech stocks don’t tend to do so well their first year as public companies. More here.

People

More than 2,000 employees of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, walked out of work yesterday afternoon to protest Donald Trump’s recent executive orders curtailing immigration from predominantly Muslim countries. Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Google cofounder Sergey Brin were out there with them, with each delivering a strong rebuke to Trump’s orders. Forbes has the video here.

Elaine Chao is officially the new U.S. Secretary of Transportation. TechCrunch has more here.

Jim Dai, formerly the CTO of Coupang, has joined Oakland, Ca.-based early-stage firm Illuminate Ventures as a venture partner.

Ted Price, founder and CEO of the independent games publisher Insomniac Games, has taken to YouTube with some of the company’s employees to encourage gamers to stand in opposition to Trump’s immigration policy. “Is discriminating based on religious faith or national origin American? Absolutely not.”

Political strategist and investor Bradley Tusk has launched a new bi-monthly podcast called “Firewall” on iTunes that will feature him in conversation with investors, policy makers and entrepreneurs about the latest trends in the venture space, tech world and political arena. More here.

Rashaun Williams, a founding partner with Queensbridge Venture Partners, has joined merchant bank Manhattan Venture Partners to launch a new secondaries fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Jobs

Cambridge Associates is looking to hire an investment associate. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca.

Cisco is looking to add a senior manager to its corporate development unit. The job is in San Jose, Ca.

Essential Reads

Washington-based companies Amazon and Expedia have joined the attorney general of Washington state in a lawsuit that challenges Donald Trump’s controversial immigration order. BuzzFeed has more here.

Uber and Germany’s Daimler AG — maker of the luxury Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks — announced a partnership this morning. In the coming years, Daimler plans to incorporate its own self-driving Mercedes-Benz into Uber’s growing fleet of self-driving cars. Reuters has more here.

Y Combinator just added the ACLU to its winter 2017 batch of companies. The idea: to help it put to effective use the $24 million it raised this weekend.

Detours

The five personality traits that make for a better life.

The right way to say, “I’m sorry.”

Angry voicemails to Congress, or texts to a cheating boyfriend?

Retail Therapy

Bed Tents.


StrictlyVC: January 30, 2017

Hi, everyone. What a weekend. Blergh.

Top News in the A.M.

Trump out. Refugees in.” Silicon Valley companies entered the debate over Trump’s immigration policy this weekend, criticizing a new, seven-country immigration ban of people from predominantly Muslim countries and, in some cases, outlining plans to support the employees it affects.

Among the fastest to respond, Airbnb offered free housing to those who flew into the U.S. Friday night, only to discover they wouldn’t be allowed on to their destinations.

Sergey Brin, Google co-founder and president of Alphabet, joined protesters at San Francisco International Airport Saturday night as demonstrators assembled at airports across the country in opposition to the immigration order. Brin told The Verge that he was attending “in a personal capacity” and would not be giving comment. But Forbes’ Ryan Mac separately overheard him saying, “I’m here because I’m a refugee.”

Y Combinator Sam Altman was also at the SFO protest, telling Forbes, “I hope this will be one of the defining moments where people came together against this administration. This is an unacceptable action, and we need to make our voices heard.”

Lyft, the ride-hailing company, also reacted strongly, saying it will be donating $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union over the next four years. (The ACLU filed suit against Trump’s administration for the refugee ban, and succeeded in getting a temporary stay of the order from a federal judge on Saturday.)

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, meanwhile, who is now a member of an advisory board that will be meeting quarterly at the White House to talk about manufacturing, tweeted (somewhat dispassionately), “The blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s challenges.” (The Archbishop of Chicago agrees, writing yesterday that the weekend “proved to be a dark moment in U.S. history” and that the executive order runs “contrary to both Catholic and American values.”)

By yesterday, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus appeared to reverse a key part of the immigration order, saying that people from the affected countries who hold green cards will not be prevented from returning to the U.S., but that border agents have “discretionary authority” to detain and question suspicious travelers from certain countries. A number of federal judges across the country also halted the implementation of the order. According to reports this morning, however, U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees continue to detain people coming into the country.

According to a new Bloomberg report, it could get worse, too, particularly for high-tech companies. The outlet has reviewed a draft of an executive order aimed at overhauling the work-visa programs they depend on to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.  If implemented, the companies would have to try to hire American first, and if they recruit foreign workers, priority would be given to the most highly paid.

With Snap’s IPO Around the Corner, L.A.’s Amplify Lands New Fund

L.A. is getting a star turn, with the most iconic of its local startups — Snap — on the cusp of going public. Locals expect much more than an endless string of headlines about its IPO performance, too. “The initial performance of the stock will be almost irrelevant,” says Paul Bricault, cofounder of the L.A.-based accelerator and seed-stage venture fund Amplify. “The IPO will shine a bigger spotlight on L.A. tech, and it will likely spin out more Snap execs as founders of new startups over time —  as well as likely inject more capital into angel funding of startups in L.A.”

Bricault has reason for optimism. Five-year-old Amplify just closed its third fund with $10 million, and it could use new, promising startups  to fund, as well as more capital sloshing around L.A. for follow-on funding. Investing $12.6 million across its first two funds, Amplify has already invested in 50 startups. Fourteen have raised a Series A round, five have raised a Series B round, and ten have subsequently been shut down.

Amplify has nurtured almost all of them at its campus in Venice, Ca., where companies of various, early stages stay for five months on average and are given opportunities to meet with investors for whom they would seem to be a fit. (Rather than stage demo days, Amplify invites investors to its offices four times a year for pre-arranged one-on-one meetings with its portfolio companies.)

On average, the firm, led by Bricault (who is also a venture partner with Greycroft Partners), takes a 10 percent stake in each company in exchange for mentorship, introductions, and initial checks of between $100,000 and $250,000.

Bricault says a proliferation of seed-stage funds is already helping Amplify’s companies attract funding in their “post accelerator round,” but that L.A. is still falling short when it comes to Series A, B, and later rounds.

More here.

New Fundings

BitFury Group, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based bitcoin blockchain security and infrastructure provider, has raised $30 million in funding from Credit China Fintech Holdings Limited. Crowdfund Insider has more here.

The Bouqs, a four-year-old, L.A.-based online flower retailer, has raised $24 million in Series C funding led by Partech Ventures, with participation from NextEquity Partners, Reimagined Ventures, Azure Capital Partners, KEC Ventures, Quest Venture Partners, and Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec. TechCrunch has more here.

Budbee, a three-year-old, Stockholm, Sweden-based freight-forwarding service, has raised €3 million ($3.2 million) in funding, including from H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson, Klarna CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski, and former Qliro Group CEO Paul Fischbein. Tech.eu has more here.

CafeX Communications, a three-year-old, New York-based maker of software for real-time collaboration within business applications, has raised $18 million in Series C funding led by Rakuten. SiliconAngle has more here.

Entrypoint, a year-old, New York-based startup whose self-service platform helps users “drag and drop” elements into an interactive video, has raised $2 million in seed funding. Samsung NEXT and Two Sigma Ventures led the round, with participation from Indicator Ventures, KBS Ventures, Galvanize Ventures, Social Starts, Female Founders Fund, and Virtual Reality Investments. Fortune has more here.

Land Life Company, a three-year-old, Amsterdam-based startup whose planting technology aims to allow trees to grow in arid soils, has raised €2.4 million ($2.6 million) in Series A funding, including from Postcode Lottery Green Challenge Fund, SystemiQ, and Vectr Ventures. More here.

Mindspace, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based network of workspaces for freelancers and teams, has raised $15 million in Series A funding from undisclosed private investors. Tech.eu has more here.

Reviver, an eight-year-old, San Francisco-based developer of digital license plates, has raised $6.8 million in Series A funding co-led by WRV and ACK Group. More here.

Skinjay, a 4.5-year-old, Paris, France-based startup that makes in-shower micro-nebulization devices to deliver “essential” oils to the skin and into the lungs, has raised €3.5 million ($3.7 million) in funding from Seventure Partners. More here (if you read French).

Spoke, a 3.5-year-old, London-based online menswear brand, has raised $1.8 million in funding led by Oxford Capital, with participation from Forward Partners, Seedcamp, and a numerous angel investors. Tech City News has more here.

Exits

Ebates, a San Francisco based provider of online rebate service (it’s also a subsidiary of Rakuten), has acquired Cartera Commerce, an 11-year-old, Lexington, Ma.-based company that creates rewards and offers for card issuers, airline frequent flyer programs and merchants. Terms weren’t disclosed, but according to Crunchbase, Cartera had raised roughly $37 million from investors, including Flybridge Capital Partners. More here.

People

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein left a voicemail for the firm’s 34,400 employees last night, saying Trump’s executive order of Friday is at odds with the firm’s long-held policies on workforce diversity and could disrupt Goldman Sachs’s business. “This is not a policy we support,” he said. Bloomberg has more here.

Australia’s largest venture firm, AirTree Ventures,​ has added James Cameron, formerly of a vice president with London-based Accel Partners, to its team. TechCrunch has more here.

Fitbit kicked off the week by announcing a six-percent reduction in global work force, following disappointing fourth quarter financials. The company will go into greater detail on an earnings call today, but a preliminary statement issued this morning details the loss of 110 jobs as part of a “reorganization of its business.” TechCrunch has more here.

Jobs

Dropbox is hiring a director to add to its business strategy and operations team. The job is in San Francisco.

Essential Reads

Sequoia Capital now makes the majority of its investments outside the United States.

Snap reportedly plans to publicly file for its much-anticipated IPO late this week.

Detours

Why you’re paying so much to exercise.

That was some tennis match yesterday!

Eeek. A top European hotel says it had to pay thousands in Bitcoin ransom to cybercriminals who managed to hack their electronic key system, locking hundreds of guests out of their rooms until the money was paid.

Retail Therapy

The Polycade. (You are welcome, startups everywhere.)