Hi, happy Thursday, everyone! We’ve had a phone glued to our ear for the past few hours (in case you were wondering why SVC hadn’t landed in your inbox yet).
Also, sponsorship news! Today’s StrictlyVC is brought to you by Rosebud Communications. The L.A.-based PR firm is excited to announce their newest enterprise client, Oro Inc. To learn more about how Rosebud helped launch their 1.0 OroCommerce product and secure press on a global basis, click here.
Top News in the A.M.
The Senate just voted to undo landmark rules covering your internet privacy.
Geez, it doesn’t take much: Snap shares jumped today after investment firm Piper Jaffray initiated coverage on the stock at “neutral” with a price target of $23.
Years After Crashing on Travis Kalanick’s Couch, This Founder Just Raised $18M for His Startup
For Mashape CEO Augusto Marietti, the Silicon Valley dream is playing out as well as could be imagined.
In 2009, Marietti and his co-founder Marco Palladino — who’d formed a software company in Milan a year earlier — learned of and were accepted into TechCrunch50, a pitch competition that has evolved into today’s giant TechCrunch Disrupt events.
As the event approached, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick — then an active angel investor who was just beginning work on the ridesharing service — posted an ad on Craigslist, offering his home to founders coming in from out of town. Three teams responded; Kalanick chose Marietti and Palladino, providing them a bedroom for a few days and, more importantly, a lifeline to Silicon Valley after they returned home. Indeed, Marietti says he was back in California six months later, negotiating $100,000 in convertible notes with several early YouTube employees at Kalanick’s kitchen table.
At the time, Mashape had just $2,000 in the bank. Fast-forward, and today, San Francisco-based Mashape has raised $28 million in funding, including a fresh $18 million in Series B funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from earlier backers Index Ventures and CRV.
It’s been a battle that has gotten easier to fight over time, as Marietti tells it.
Carro, a nearly two-year-old, Singapore-based auto classifieds marketplace, has raised $12 million in funding from an unnamed lead investors, along with earlier backers Venturra Capital, Singtel Innov8, Golden Gate Ventures, Alpha JWC Ventures, Skystar Capital and GMO. TechCrunch has more here.
Clarity Money, a year-old, New York-based startup whose personal finance app aims to help users lower their monthly bills and improve their financial health, has raised $11 million in funding from RRE Ventures and Citi Ventures. Clarity was founded by serial entrepreneur and investor Adam Dell. TechCrunch has more here.
Drivemode, a 2.5-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based smartphone-based connected car platform that lets drivers control key apps and functions of their phone safely, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding led by Panasonic. TechCrunch has more here.
Ixigo, a nearly nine-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based online travel search portal, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Fosun Kinzon Capital. DealStreetAsia has more here.
Kuaishou, a six-year-old, Beijing-based live broadcasting app, has raised $350 million in fresh funding led by Chinese internet giant Tencent. Bloomberg has more here.
Lystable, a two-year-old, London-based startup that makes a workflow management platform aimed at businesses needing to manage lots of freelancers, raised raised $10 million in additional Series A funding from earlier investors Valar Ventures, Max Levchin’s SciFi VC, Kindred Capital and Goldcrest Capital and from new investors Glynn Capital and Wilmont Ventures. The company’s Series A round has now reached $21 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
MotorK, a 6.5-year-old, Milan, Italy-based company that offers digital services to the automotive industry, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by 83North and Zobito. TechCrunch has more here.
The News Lens, a three-year-old, Tapei, Taiwan-based online journalism startup that aims to be the voice of reason in Asia’s raucous media landscape, says it has raised at least $2 million from investors. The round was led by Wiskey Capital and includes returning investor North Base Media. TechCrunch has more here.
Ripcord, a two-year-old, Hayward, Ca.-based company at work on robots that scan, index and categorize paper records, making them searchable from the cloud, has raised $9.5 million in funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. TechCrunch has more here.
SoundCloud, the 10-year-old, Berlin-based music streaming service, has raised $70 million in debt funding, according to documents discovered by Business Insider. The documents show that SoundCloud raised the loan from Kreos Capital and Davidson Technology Growth Debt Fund. SoundCloud last raised money in June 2016 when it raised around $70 million from Twitter Ventures as part of a $100 million round. (It reportedly failed to close on that additional funding.) More here.
Ycloset, a 1.5-year-old, Beijing-based rental platform and mobile app for women’s clothing (it charges a monthly membership, à la Rent the Runway) has raised $20 million in funding led by the private equity firm Pan-Lin Asset Management Co. Other investors in the round include IDG Capital, Zhen Fund, and GSR Ventures. China Money Network has more here.
Zenreach, a 4.5-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that enables merchants to track returning shoppers through a customizable log-in portal to free WiFi (clever!), has raised $30 million in Series C funding. The round includes Maverick Ventures, Founders Fund, 8VC, Bain Capital Ventures, First Round Capital and SV Angel, with participation from NBA star Kevin Durant and actor-investor Ashton Kutcher.
Octopus Ventures, the London-based venture capital firm, has raised £120 million ($150 million) for a new fund dedicated to investing in machine learning and AI startups in the U.K. The Financial Times has more here.
MapR, an eight-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based enterprise software company, is preparing for an IPO, says Bloomberg. According to Crunchbase, the company has raised $194 million in equity and debt over the years, including from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Mayfield Fund, New Enterprise Associates, and Redpoint. More here.
Apple has finalized a deal to acquire Workflow, a tool that lets users hook together apps and functions within apps in strings of commands to automate tasks. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known. Workflow doesn’t appear to have raised outside funding. TechCrunch has the story here.
Amazon has acquired Souq, often described as the Amazon of the Arab world and the region’s biggest e-commerce player, for $650 million. The sum is significantly less that the $1 billion valuation the company was assigned during its last private round of funding last year. TechCrunch has more here.
Gawker founder Nick Denton reportedly bailed himself out of bankruptcy yesterday. According to the New York Post, he’s expected to walk away with around $16 million cash after selling Gawker.com’s sister websites Deadspin and Jezebel to Univision for $135 million, and settling with Hulk Hogan for $31 million following a much-watched lawsuit filed by the former wrestler.
Annie Kadavy has left the venture firm CRV, where she was a general partner. According to her LinkedIn profile, she parted ways with the firm December and is “taking time off” before making her next move. Kadavy was featured on Forbes’s “Brink List” in 2015 for bets on the interior design marketplace Laurel & Wolf, the restaurant delivery service DoorDash, and the monthly gym membership company ClassPass. (H/T: Term Sheet, which reported on Kadavy’s departure earlier this week.)
Hyperloop One doesn’t have a hyperloop; that isn’t stopping it from hiring D.C. lobbyists.
Investor Chris Sacca is set to play himself in an ABC startup comedy pilot.
J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy” and a former principal with Mithril Capital, has joined Steve Case’s Revolution to help identify and invest in startups located far from tech centers.
Canada is seeking to end Uber‘s tax advantage over taxi companies.
A group of scientists in the Netherlands think they’ve created a drug that reverses aging in animals.
“Bro, I’m going rogue”: the Wall Street informant who double-drossed the FBI.
That “home court advantage” has practically disappeared in the NBA; here’s the fascinating reason why.
How Dilbert-creator Scott Adams became hypnotized by Trump.