Wednesday! We’re halfway through the week (yaassss). We also have some great news about our upcoming event May 4th in San Francisco; Julie Wainwright, the CEO of the luxury consignment business The RealReal has joined the program, and we couldn’t be happier about it. As those familiar with the company already appreciate, the RealReal is trying to do much more than sell customers’ luxury items; it’s striving to change the fundamental way that people shop. We’ll talk with Wainwright about movement on that front, trends in counterfeiting, and much more.
We’ll also be sitting down with CEO and renowned geneticist Pat Brown of the highly ambitious and Bill Gates-backed company Impossible Foods (who is bringing along Impossible’s burgers for attendees, possibly as well as a top chef to oversee their preparation); and Confide CEO Jon Brod, whose messaging app — long a favorite tool for paranoid VCs — more recently swept through the White House. (It has also run into its own controversy along the way — which we’ll discuss with Brod, too.)
More announcements to come, but we’re genuinely excited about each of these very different conversations. If you’d like to catch them, nab a seat while you can.
Today’s StrictlyVC is brought to you by the startup studio Expa. Startups can apply now to be considered for Expa Labs, where selected companies receive a $250,000 or $500,000 equity investment, six-months of office space, and guidance from the Expa team. The application deadline is March 31.
Top News in the A.M.
Google Maps has today launched a new feature to allow you to share your location with others. Useful or creepy? You decide.
The Senate could take the first step tonight to kill the FCC’s privacy rules.
Athens Gets a New Venture Fund
Raising money for a venture fund is almost never easy, but it’s a whole lot harder in certain places that are struggling economically like Greece.
Thankfully for the country, a new seed-stage firm has formed called Marathon VC that’s currently investing $8.6 million and expects to close its debut fund with roughly $25 million in commitments later this year.
Its mission, broadly: to back Greek tech entrepreneurs, regardless of where they are based.
It’s one of the only funds in Athens — though its founders are hardly new to the startup scene.
One cofounder, George Tziralis, previously cofounded OpenFund, a seed-stage firm in Athens that’s currently investing a €15 million fund. (We talked with another partner, Georgios Kasselakis, last year.)
While Tziralis describes himself as someone who tried — and failed — twice at being a software entrepreneur, he also launched Open Coffee, a popular meeting series for founders who get together monthly to talk shop.
Marathon was also cofounded by Panos Papadopoulos, who first met Tziralis a decade ago when starting his first company — which he describes as an Airbnb for exchange students in Athens — and who went on to cofound Bugsense. The mobile analytics company, which would eventually wind up in the Bay Area, was acquired in 2013, two years after its founding, by the publicly traded tech company Splunk.
The price wasn’t disclosed at the time, but Papadopoulos says Splunk paid roughly $9 million in cash – a good outcome for investors who had invested just $100,000 into the company.
Boom Technology, a 2.5-year-old, Centennial, Co.-based company at work on a supersonic airliner for passenger travel, has raised $33 million in Series A funding, including from 8VC, Caffeinated Capital, Palm Drive Ventures, RRE Ventures and YC’s Continuity Fund. Interestingly, YC President Sam Altman has joined the board, as has investor Greg McAdoo, formerly of Sequoia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
BioClin Therapeutics, a 6.5-year-old, San Ramon, Ca.-based clinical stage drug development company, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Sofinnova Ventures and Ysios Capital, with participation from existing investors HealthCap, Life Sciences Partners, and Tekla Capital Management. FinSMEs has more here.
Casetext, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based resource that sells AI-based legal research technology to lawyers, has raised $12 million in Series B funding led by Canvas Ventures, with participation from Union Square Ventures, 8VC and Red Sea Ventures. More here.
DeepScale, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based startup that’s developing perceptual systems for semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, has raised $3 million in seed funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Greylock Partners, Auto Tech Ventures, Andy Bechtolsheim and Jerry Yang. TechCrunch has more here.
Elvie, a 3.5-year-old, London-based startup behind a (yes) connected kegel exerciser, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from the female-focused investment firm AllBright. TechCrunch has more here.
HotelTonight, the 6.5-year-old, San Francisco-based last-minute hotel booking app, has raised $37 million in Series E funding led by earlier investor Accel Partners. Other participants in the round include RSC Capital, Founder’s Circle and Aspect Ventures, as well as earlier backers Battery Ventures, US Venture Partners, GGV Capital, Coatue Management and First Round Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
Lynkos, a nearly six-year-old, Nyack, New York-based business networking platform, has raised $2.5 million in in seed funding from Inforcorp’s IC Ventures, Logitech Investments, and numerous individual investors. More here.
Mythic, a five-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based company that’s developing a local AI platform that turns devices into secure intelligent assistants, has raised $9 million in Series A funding. The round was led by DFJ, with participation from Lux Capital, Data Collective, and AME Cloud Ventures. TechCrunch has much more here.
Pear Deck, a 2.5-year-old, Iowa City, Ia.-based company behind a SaaS-based, real-time classroom engagement platform, has raised $4 million in funding from Growth Street Partners and earlier backers Village Capital, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and AOL co-founder Steve Case. More here.
Pocketwatch, a year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based media company that offers online video viewing for kids, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Machinima co-founder Allen DeBevoise’s Third Wave Digital, a firm that invests in digital media brands. The round also includes numerous big names in the entertainment industry, including CBS CEO and chairman Les Moonves. TechCrunch has more here.
Stitch Fix, the online personal-styling service backed by Benchmark, is considering an IPO, with executives holding early discussions about a potential deal and the board reportedly planning to decide next month whether it’s time to pull the trigger. Bloomberg has more here.
Jake Fingert is starting a new chapter: venture capital. The former White House senior policy adviser for infrastructure has joined real estate-focused venture capital firm Camber Creek as a partner. Fortune has the story here.
Rent the Runway cofounder Jennifer Fleiss is stepping down from her executive role at the fashion tech company as it gets closer to an initial public offering. Forbes has more here.
Chinese internet giant Baidu is losing Andrew Ng, the head of its data and artificial intelligence research division. TechCrunch has more here.
Airbnb is doubling down on China.
Instagram is becoming more like Yelp.
Ten-year-old Tencent yesterday announced total revenue of $21.9 billion for its fiscal 2016. That’s up 48 percent from last year.
All 51 startups that debuted on day two at Y Combinator‘s Demo Day.
Inside the troubled Kushner tower: empty offices and mounting debt.
“Don’t try this at home, unless you think you can really pull it off.”
A post-modern property in Woodside, Ca., designed by IDEO cofounder David Kelley. (This one requires a very “special” buyer.)