StrictlyVC: February 15, 2017

Hi there, happy Tuesday, everyone. SVC is short and sweet today (field trip). More tomorrow.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Verizon is close to finalizing a renegotiated deal for Yahoo‘s internet properties that would reduce the price of the $4.8 billion agreement by about $250 million. Bloomberg has more here.

More Capital for L.A., as Fika Ventures Closes Its Debut Fund

Investors are seemingly growing more excited about L.A. by the day. The newest sign comes via a $40 million fund that L.A.-based Fika Ventures is announcing today.

That’s none too shabby for a venture firm that was founded just last year.

Fika was created by TX Zhuo, formerly a managing partner at Karlin Ventures, and Eva Ho, a former general partner and cofounder of San Francisco-based Susa Ventures who decided not to participate in that firm’s second, $50 million seed-stage fund — a split that Ho characterizes as “highly amicable. I left because I wanted to focus more on L.A-based investments, as well as be part of a smaller partnership. (Ho had three other partners at Susa.)

The two met in 2011, when Zhuo left a job as an associate with a Palo Alto outfit and headed to L.A. to launch Karlin, which is an affiliate of a much larger investment firm called Karlin Asset Management. He and Ho wound up working on several local events together, as well as collaborating and co-leading several days; over time, they realized they had complementary networks and like investing in similar things.

Ho declines to take credit for any deals at Susa, saying it “applied a team-approach across all deals,” but she says she was involved in supporting companies that include Andela, a startup currently building a network of top tier computer science education programs across the African continent (it has gone on to raise $41 million to date, including from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative); Modsy, a startup bringing virtual reality to home design (it has raised roughly $10 million, including from Norwest Venture Partners); and Flexport, a freight logistics company that wants to be the Uber of the oceans and has so far raised at least $94 million toward that end.

Zhou’s most notable deals meanwhile include the interior design marketplace Laurel & Wolf (it has raised more than $25 million, including from Benchmark) and PolicyGenius, an online insurance platform that has raised roughly $21 million, including from  Revolution.

Zhou and Ho says the fund took about six months to raise, including from some funds of funds, family offices, VCs, CEOs and founders — including 15 from their past portfolios. They also attracted institutional investors Cross Creek Advisors and Knollwood Investment Advisory.

Their pitch?

More here.

New Fundings

Caavo, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based new media company that’s interconnecting pay TV, streaming and gaming in one $399 device, has raised $15 million in funding from Jason Krikorian at DCM, David Sze at Greylock Partners, Sky and Hearst Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Get Spiffy, a three-year-old, Durham, N.C.-based app for on-demand car washes and detailing services, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Bull City Venture Partners, with participation from Development 72, IDEA Fund Partners, and Industry Ventures. More here.

mClinica, a 4.5-year-old, Singapore-based company that provides data, analytics services, and patient programs to healthcare organizations in Asia’s emerging markets, has raised $6.3 million in Series A funding led by Unitus Impact in Silicon Valley, with participation from London-based Global Innovation Fund, Indonesia’s MDI Ventures, and Endeavor. Previous investors 500 Startups, IMJ Investment Partners and Kickstart Ventures also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

MealPal, a year-old, New York-based subscription service that provides members with affordable daily lunch options from restaurants near where they live or work, has raised $15 million in Series A funding. Comcast Ventures led the round, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners, Haystack Partners and NextView Ventures. More here.

MiDrive, a 3.5-year-old, London-based startup that helps users learn to drive with a driving test app and instructor marketplace, has raised £2 million in Series A2 funding from Initial Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Minute Media, a five-year-old, Tel Aviv-based sports media company whose sites use fan-generated content for sports journalism, has raised $15 million in funding led by Qumra Capital, with participation from Battery Ventures, Dawn Capital, and ProSieben. GeekTime has more here.

NewsWhip, a six-year-old, New York-based company that tracks what stories, themes and “influencers” are trending and provides that data to publishers and brands, has raised $6.4 million. The Associated Press and the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbu led the round. Other participants include Tribal Ventures, unnamed clients of investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald, and previous backers like Enterprise Ireland, Matter VC, Social Starts, and AIB Seed Capital Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Orreco, a six-year-old, L.A.-based sports and data science company that employs machine intelligence to find hidden signals in data that help improve athletic performance, has raised $2 million in Series A funding from True Ventures. More here.

Pleo, a nearly two-year-old, London-based fintech startup whose subscription-based platform helps companies automate their expenses, has added $3.25 million to a previously closed Series A financing, bringing the total round to $5.5 million. Creandum led the round, with participation from Seedcamp and Founders. has more here.

ROKT, a six-year-old, New York-based marketing technology company, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. Moelis Australia Asset Management led the round, with participation from Time Inc.Square Peg Capital and individuals John Ho, Lachlan Murdoch, and Greg Roebuck. More here.

StockX, a four-year-old, Detroit-based marketplace for sneakers, has raised $6 million in fresh funding from a group of high-profile investors like Mark Wahlberg, Scooter Braun, and Wale. TechCrunch has more here.

(Other) New Funds

Venture51 Capital Partners, a six-year-old, San Diego-based early-stage venture firm, is looking to raise up to $25 million for its third fund, and it has amassed $6 million in commitments toward that goal, shows an SEC filing. More here.


PayPal is buying the 20-year-old, Vancouver-based bill payment management company TIO Networks for $233 million in cash. TIO has been trading publicly on the Toronto Stock Exchange. TechCrunch has more here.

SoftBank is paying a whopping $3.3 billion in cash to acquire the Fortress Investment Group, an asset manager and investor in its own right, with significant holdings in Lyft, ZestFinance, Xapo, Jawbone and other tech companies. More here.

Walmart is acquiring a outdoor retailer Moosejaw for approximately $51 million in an all-cash deal. Headquartered in Madison Heights, Michigan, the 25-year-old company has a large online presence; it also has 10 brick-and-mortar stores across Michigan and the Midwest. TechCrunch has more here.


Tannen Campbell, a former VP of marketing at Magic Leap, says she was brought in to help improve its appeal to women. Now she’s suing the augmented reality company for sexual discrimination. More here.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told the world yesterday that he recently bought $7 million in Twitter stock. Whether it inspires confidence in other investors is an open question.

Essential Reads

To become a global travel behemoth, Airbnb is considering a combination of acquisitions and partnership deals to quickly grow its portfolio, according to Bloomberg. The company’s targets are in luxury tourism, airfare aggregation, group payments and guest-management. More here.

Apple is reportedly struggling to make big acquisitions. Here’s why.


Is the chicken industry rigged?

India has grown obsessed with crimes committed by software engineers.

Oh, great, guys. American’s just broke the American Psychology Association’s stress meter.

Retail Therapy

Bunny Mellon’s 142-piece collection of Schlumberger jewels. (It’s not for sale, but you can still marvel at it.)

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