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, 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.)

(Visited 212 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


%d bloggers like this: