Hi, happy Thursday! One more day, friends; let’s do this thang!
StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by the Financial Solutions Lab at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, which is now accepting applications for its next class. Selected companies will receive $250,000 (which is not nothing!), plus access to lots of fintech resources. If you’re a fintech innovator with a product or service that can help more Americans achieve financial health (or know someone who is), apply today. Applications are due March 16.
Top News in the A.M.
Amazon is sticking to its guns in the fight to protect customer data. The tech titan has filed a motion to quash the search warrant for recordings from an Amazon Echo in an upcoming murder trial. Forbes has more here.
A New Way for Founders to Connect with the Right VCs
A young Silicon Valley venture firm is taking the wraps off a piece of software that it says makes it a cinch for founders to figure out which VCs are worth approaching, based on stage, sector, and a variety of other factors.
It’s called Signal, and it’s the first project of NFX Guild Labs, an offshoot of the venture firm and invite-only accelerator program NFX Guild, which we’ve written about here.
Serial entrepreneur James Currier — who cofounded NFX with longtime business partners Gigi Levy Weiss and Stan Chudnovsky (who’s also the head of product at Facebook Messenger) — says that like so many innovations, Signal comes from a problem he found himself struggling to address.
Though part of NFX Guild’s promise to founders is to help them navigate the fundraising process, he says there was “no place for us to get an easy, clean list of active investors, where we could choose our target investors, then export that into a Google Doc or whatever.”
Signal is focused foremost on founders, but it should prove useful for VCs, too, says Currier. He uses travel startups as a theoretical example. “For [the early-stage venture firm] Felicis, a related intro is [a waste of everyone’s time]. Felicis doesn’t invest in travel, but no one knows that and there’s no easy way for Felicis to signal that to everyone. Or,” adds Currier, “say you’re an investor and you haven’t really spent time with blockchain startups. You won’t pop up on a founder’s radar as a result, but if you say on Signal that you’re starting to [poke around], you will.”
More on how it works here.
C3Nano, a 6.5-year-old, Hayward, Ca.-based company that develops hybrid carbon nanotube-based transparent electrode inks and films for display devices, has raised $15 million in new funding led by earlier backer GSR Ventures. Other investors in the round include Nissha Printing Co., Xinjiang Guoli Minsheng Equity Investment Co., Phoenix Venture Partners, and several undisclosed backers. The company has now raised $37 million altogether. More here.
Collage, a six-month-old, Toronto, Canada-based digital HR and benefits platform to enables companies to quote, buy and manage their benefits plans online, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Diagram. BetaKit has more here.
Earin, a 2.5-year-old, Lund, Sweden-based company that makes small wireless earbuds, has raised $3.5 million in funding from numerous business angels. TechCrunch has more here.
Enbala Power Networks, a 13-year-old, Vancouver, Canada-based maker of distributed energy resource management software, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by ABB Technology Ventures. Other investors in the round include National Grid, GE Ventures, Chrysalix Venture Capital and Obvious Ventures. More here.
Fusion Pharmaceuticals, a 2.5-year-old, Hamilton, Ontario-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing targeted alpha-particle radiotherapeutics for treating cancer, has raised $25 million in Series A funding led by Johnson & Johnson Innovation. Other participants include HealthCap, TPG Biotech, Genesys Capital and FACIT. More here.
Mercatus, an eight-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based provider of cloud software for power producers and utilities to manage energy development projects and portfolios, has raised $5.1 million in funding as part of an extended Series B funding round. The capital, which brings the round’s total to $16.8 million, was led by TPG Alternative & Renewable Technologies Research. More here.
Privacy Labs, a stealth-stage, Seattle-based startup that wants to enable internet users to “regain control” of their personal data, has landed $4 million in seed funding led by Initialized Capital. Other participants in the round include Lemnos Labs, Liquid 2 Ventures, CrunchFund, Fuel Capital and angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Roadmunk, a 4.5-year-old, Toronto, Ontario-based product roadmapping platform, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Golden Venture Partners, Felicis Ventures and Garage Capital. BetaKit has more here.
SlamData, a two-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based open source analytics company for modern unstructured data, has raised $6.7 million in Series A funding led by Shasta Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.
Storj Labs, a 2.5-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based distributed cloud storage provider, has raised $3 million in seed funding, including from GV, Qualcomm Ventures and Techstars, as well as Cockroach Labs, Ionic Security, and Pindrop Security. CoinDesk has more here.
TL Biolabs, a year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based start-up whose genomic test provides farmers with information on the health, productivity, and fertility of their cows, has raised $4 million in seed funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Refactor Capital, Josh Buckley, and Y Combinator. More here.
Uponit, a 1.5-year-old, Tel Aviv and New York-based ad recovery platform for premium publishers (it helps publishers measure and restore their blocked ad inventory and serve direct ad campaigns), has raised $2.3 million in funding led by Jerusalem Venture Partners. More here.
Vention, a year-old, Montreal, Quebec-based 3D machine builder platform that enables designers to design and order their custom industrial equipment in a few days, has raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding. The round was led by Bolt and Real Ventures, with participation from numerous individual investors. More here.
Zibby, a four-year-old, New York City-based provider of a point-of-sale lease payment software for online and in-store shopping (it targets non-prime customers who may not own a credit card), has raised $150 million in debt financing from Victory Park Capital. Bankless Times has more here.
Wix.com has acquired DeviantArt, a 16-year-old online community for artists, designers and art/design enthusiasts with some 325 million individual pieces of original art and more than 40 million registered members, for $36 million in cash. TechCrunch has more here.
Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, the founders of e-commerce giant Snapdeal, told employees they have to lay off roughly 600 of their 8,000 staffers in a bid to make a profit. CNN has more here.
Tesla announced on its earnings call yesterday that CFO Jason Wheeler has decided to leave the company in April to pursue opportunities in public policy. He’ll be replaced by Deepak Ahuja, who was Tesla’s first CFO when he joined the company in 2010. More here.
Uber is not a happy place, dozens of employees tell the New York Times.
Brett King once hoped his company, Moven, would become “the Facebook of banking.” Today, like a lot of startup founders, he is selling his software to the banks he once scorned.
Neat. NASA has discovered seven planets with Earth-like qualities orbiting a nearby star, making them among the strongest candidates in the continued search for extraterrestrial life among planets that exist outside of our own solar system. More here.
Is your favorite lipstick –gulp — fake?
And the Oscar for Best Picture Nobody Saw goes to . . .