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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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