Monthly Archives: June 2017

StrictlyVC: June 26, 2017

Monday! What a weekend. If you were online and obsess about all things Silicon Valley — and we recognize there are plenty of you who, to your credit, do not fall into this camp — you already know what we’re about to tell you: Binary Capital’s limited partners are right now trying to decide whether or not to move forward with young venture fund. (We predicted a few days ago this would happen.)

Binary cofounder Justin Caldbeck — outed last week in a report for making unwanted advances to at least six women in the tech industry — downplayed the story at first. Within 36 hours, after being shamed by many more prominent people in the venture industry, Caldbeck had issued a hollow-sounding apology about a self-rehabilitation campaign he planned to launch. Soon after, Binary’s investors were discussing a third fund that Binary has been rushing to close. (The firm was aware for some time that an expose about Caldbeck was about to hit.) As of Saturday, that new fund has been suspended, and now both Caldbeck and a newer member of Binary, Matt Mazzeo (formerly of Lowercase Capital), are out of the firm.

Mazzeo’s friends say he he left because he made an obvious mistake in joining. Caldbeck presumably had no choice. Meanwhile, Binary’s remaining investor, cofounder Jonathan Teo, is trying to see what he can salvage from this situation. He seems to be starting with his own reputation, suggesting in a statement sent to TechCrunch last night that he was himself clueless about Caldbeck. “I trusted my partner and it is clear that I shouldn’t have.  The predatory behavior Justin has been accused of is deplorable, and there will be zero tolerance at our firm of any conduct that is demeaning to women.”

Interesting tack; we don’t think it will work but stay tuned. In the meantime, no column today.

Sponsored By . . .

This week’s StrictlyVC is brought to you courtesy of Crowded Ocean, the two-person marketing agency that specializes in positioning and launching startups (46 to date, including Palo Alto Networks, Nimble Storage and Sumo Logic—as well as 10 exits). We help develop your positioning and messaging, turn it into content (website, white papers, use cases) and hire the resources (PR, web design, demand gen, etc.) to launch your company. Today’s successful startup is based on strong positioning and early customer acquisition. We then help hire our successor and depart. To learn more about our services, see our book, The Ultimate Startup Guide, or contact us.

New Fundings

Autotalks, a nine-year-old, Israel-based fabless semiconductor company, raised $40 million in Series D funding, including from the Mirai Creation Investment FundMore here.

Clobotics, a year-old, Shanghai-based drone platform and analytics service, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by GGV Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Dook Book, an 11-year-old, Shanghai-based book publisher that also has digital media and film operations, has raised $18 million in Series A funding led by Legend Capital, with participation from Zhihe Capital and Neixiang Fund. China Money Network has more here.

Fintonic, a five-year-old, Madrid, Spain-based personal financial management app, has raised €25 million ($28 million) in Series B funding, including from the banking and financial services giant ING Group and the insurance group PSN. TechCrunch has more here.

Homer Logistics, a three-year-old, New York-based startup aiming to optimize local, final-mile delivery using its logistics technology, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding led by Two Sigma Ventures. Other participants in the round include Lerer Hippeau VenturesRSE Ventures, and Laconia Capital GroupMore here.

Houzz, an eight-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based home design platform, has confirmed that it has raised $400 million in Series E funding, reportedly at a $4 billion valuation. Iconiq Capital led the round; other participants include Wellington Management and earlier investors GGV CapitalSequoia Capitaland Zeev Ventures. The WSJ has more here.

M2i, a four-year-old, Paris-based industrial groupe that manufactures and markets natural products meant to replace traditional pesticides, has raised €12 million ($13.4 million) in funding from Idinvest PartnersMore here.

OMG Digital, a year-old, Ghana-based media startup dubbed the “BuzzFeed of Africa,” has raised $1.1 million in seed funding from Kima VenturesSoma CapitalComcast Ventures Catalyst FundSocial CapitalM&Y Growth Partners, and Macro Ventures, and a long list of angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Outschool, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based platform for live online classes catering to children in grades K through 12, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding led by Collab+Sesame, a venture vehicle involving Sesame Workshop (the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street) and Collaborative Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Provention Bio, a year-old, Lebanon, N.J.-based developer of therapeutics for preventing immune-mediated diseases, has raised $28.4 million in Series A funding co-led by Johnson & Johnson Innovation and JDRF T1D FundMore here.

Satellogic, a seven-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based space tech company that sells high-resolution satellite images, has raised $27 million in Series B funding led by Tencent, with participation from Pitanga (a São Paulo-based firm) and CrunchFund. TechCrunch has more here.

Silvernest, a 1.5-year-old, Denver-based roommate-matching service for baby boomers and empty nesters, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding, including from Halogen Ventures1843 CapitalRockies Venture ClubInvestor’s Circle and 500 StartupsMore here.

SparkCognition, a four-year-old, Austin, Tex-based company that makes cognitive security analytics software, has raised $32.5 million in Series B funding led by Verizon Ventures, with participation from Boeing’s HorizonX VenturesMore here.

TechSee, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv-based AI-powered app that aims to expedite call resolution for customer support centers, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding. Planven Investments led the round, with participation from innogyComdata Group, and earlier backer OurCrowd, among others. More here.

Tizeti, a five-year-old, Menlo Park Ca.- and Lagos, Nigeria-based high-speed wireless networking company, has raised $2.1 million in funding from Western Technology InvestmentSocial CapitalVy CapitalPicus CapitalAce & Co.Lynett Capital PartnersZeno Ventures and individual angels. TechCrunch has more here.

Upstream Security, a months-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cloud-based cyber-security platform for connected and autonomous vehicles, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Glilot Capital PartnersMore here.

Vineti, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of cell and gene therapy software, has raised $13.75 million in Series A funding from GE VenturesMayo Clinic VenturesDFJ and LifeForce Capital. Vineti was previously known as Vitruvian Networks. TechCrunch has more here.

Yoyo Wallet, a four-year-old, Lonon-based  mobile payment and customer loyalty platform, has raised a £12 million in Series B funding led by the food retail giant Metro Group. Other participants in the round include Woodford Investment Management and Touchstone Innovations. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Applied Ventures, the venture-capital arm of Applied Materials, is partnering with the government-backed fund of funds Korea Venture Investment Corporation on a $40 million fund that will be used to invest in Korean startups. More here.

TLcom Capital, an 18-year-old, London and Nairobi-based venture capital firm, says it had raised $40 million for its new Africa fund, TIDE Africa Fund. The outfit is targeting $100 million. More here.

In May, we told you (courtesy of Axios) that Dropbox’s head of corporate development strategy, Xuezhao Lan, had left the company to launch a new venture capital firm with two corporate development pros from elsewhere. Looks like that firm is called Basis Set Ventures, and it’s targeting $136 million for its debut fund. Here’s the SEC filing, which also lists as a director Richard Peng, formerly a corporate VP and head of M&A for Tencent.

IPOs

Best, a ten-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based logistics company founded by Google China’s former co-president, Johnny Chou, has filed plans to raise $750 million via a U.S. public offering. Alibaba Group owns 23.4 percent of the company; the next biggest outside investor is IDG-Accel China, which owns 6.2 percent. Reuters has more on the company — and other Chinese logistics companies that have been going public — here.

Ten companies are expected to go public on U.S. exchanges this week; of the most interest to VC investors: Blue Apron. Renaissance Capital has more here.

Exits

Pearl Automation, a year-old, Scotts Valley. Ca.-based maker of a wireless rear-view mirror camera for cars, has shut down, reports Axios. The company had quietly raised $50 million in Series A and B funding, rounds that Accel PartnersShasta VenturesVenrock and Wellcome TrustMore here.

JustGiving, a 17-year-old, peer-to-peer online fundraising platform, has been acquired by Blackbaud, a U.S.-based software and services provider for not-for-profit organizations. Blackbaud is paying £95 million ($120 million) to procure “all outstanding equity interests of JustGiving,” it tells VentureBeat. More here.

Last week, JPMorgan analysts wondered whether Wal-Mart might make a rival bid to acquire Whole Foods; the company doesn’t plan to get in Amazon‘s way, though, reports Bloomberg. More here.

Hobbled by a deadly air bag scandal, Japanese auto supplier Takata filed for bankruptcy protection late yesterday. The company’s air bags — which are prone to erupting — are used on vehicles for nearly all of the world’s major automakers, affecting about one-quarter of all vehicles on the road in the U.S. More here.

People

Revolution CEO and co-founder of AOL Steve Case is investing a fresh $500,000 across five startups in regions that include Ann Arbor, Mi., and Columbis, Oh. as part of his “Rise of the Rest” bus tour. More details here.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday pitched 21 top U.S. CEOs on investment in his country, ahead of a meeting with Donald Trump today. At the meeting: Apple’s Tim Cook and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who was spied lunching afterward with Uber cofounder Travis Kalanick.

Joanna Rees, the founder of VSP Capital, a venture firm that was plagued by in-fighting and dissolved roughly a decade ago by its limited partners, is in the process of raising a new venture fund, we’re told. Rees has more recently been working in marketing at the agency West.

Pandora founder and CEO Tim Westergren plans to step down, says Recode. Westergren only returned to the company last year after a decade-long absence.

Wendy Tan White, an entrepreneur turned general partner at Entrepreneur First since late 2015,  has joined the U.K.-based early-stage firm BGF Ventures as a partner. White previously cofounded Moonfruit.com, a site builder that was sold to Yell Group (now Hibu) in 2012 for $37 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Is it just us? Other than Susan Wojcicki (and Sheryl Sandberg, who has seemingly already said no), we can’t get excited about this list of Uber CEO candidates.

Jobs

Eniac Ventures, an eight-year-old, seed-stage firm that just closed its fourth fund with $100 million in April, is looking to hire an analyst. The job is in San Francisco.

Data

After a steep fall in 2016, India is on track for a record funding level this year. Tech in Asia has more here.

Essential Reads

Facebook is getting into the scripted content business now, too.

Amazon is trying to  patent a multi-level beehive-like tower that would deploy and receive delivery drones.

Amazon’s Echoa review.

Detours

T.J. Miller on leaving “Silicon Valley”: it felt like a break-up.

Where the world’s wealthiest spend their weekends.

Preet Bharara’s second act.

Retail Therapy

Oh, Ken, you’ve changed (too much).


StrictlyVC: June 23, 2017

Friday! And not a minute too soon.

Before we wish you a wonderful weekend — and we do hope you’ll have one! — we want to address something that readers have been asking us, which is why we haven’t weighed in yet on The Information’s report about venture investor Justin Caldbeck, a report to which we linked yesterday morning. (It’s here if you missed it.)

It’s a detailed account about six female founders who say Caldbeck made unwanted advances toward them, several of whom allowed the outlet to publish their names. Are we outraged by the report? Disgusted? Absolutely. Do we think one individual represents his industry more broadly? You may be disappointed here, but we do not.

There are rotten people everywhere who take advantage of their positions: in academia, the arts, advertising, sports, finance. These people should be outed and they should lose their standing. In fact, we hope that if The Information’s report is correct, Binary’s limited partners will take action, and swiftly. (We’re guessing Caldbeck is a “key man,” which complicates things, but a firm’s investors always have options.)

In the meantime, we’re very thankful that smart entrepreneurs, particularly women founders, have a growing number of funding options so that they can speak out about an unethical investor in the industry without fear of burning their bridges to future capital. That wasn’t always the case. It’s not easy now, we’re sure. But that door is open at last.

Sponsored By . . .

This week’s StrictlyVC is being brought to you courtesy of Crowded Ocean, the 2-person marketing agency that specializes in positioning and launching startups (46 to date, including Palo Alto Networks, Nimble Storage and Sumo Logic—as well as 10 exits). We help develop your positioning and messaging, turn that into content (website, white papers, use cases) and hire the resources (PR, web design, demand gen, etc.) to launch your company. We then help hire our successor and depart. To learn more about our services, see our book, The Ultimate Startup Guide, or contact us.

As Uber’s Value Slips on the Secondary Market, Lyft’s is Rising

It’s been happening for months. The value of Uber’s shares has been falling on the secondary market, hammered by a barrage of press attention paid to its real and perceived misdeeds.

That slip is widely seen as the reason Uber investors strong-armed CEO Travis Kalanick out of his role as CEO on Tuesday night. As numerous sources confirmed to us yesterday (and The Information first reported in late April), Uber is right now valued at roughly $50 billion by secondary shareholders — a far cry from the $68 billion that its primary investors have assigned it. Such a fall is especially notable given that last year, secondary investors were willing to pay full freight — even a premium — for any Uber shares they could lasso.

Meanwhile, Lyft’s stock is on the rise. Specifically, say our sources, the typical 20 percent discount assigned to shares by secondary purchasers has, in Lyft’s case, dropped to between 13 and 9 percent, as buy-side interest grows and existing shareholders hang on for the ride. “We’ve definitely seen pricing in Lyft go up,” says one source who asked not to be named in an article about related trades.

“Part of that is the clouds around Uber have made Lyft relatively more attractive,” says this person. But that rise is also a function of Lyft’s recent round of fundraising, he says, noting that in April, Lyft closed on $600 million in fresh funding, at a $7.5 billion valuation.

It’s hard to know if these trend lines will continue, obviously. Much depends on how quickly Uber is able to fill out its executive ranks and with whom.

But sharks are circling, with prospective buyers trying to gauge fear in the market — and how much it might buy them.

More here.

New Fundings

Alert Logic, a 15-year-old, Houston, Tex.-based company that sells Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, has locked down a $70 million syndicated credit facility that was spearheaded by Square 1 Bank. FinSMEs has more here.

Algorithmia, a four-year-old, Seattle-based marketplace that allows developers to easily tap into its catalog of 3,500 algorithms, functions and machine-learning models, has raised $10.5 million in funding led by Google’s new AI-focused fund. Other participants in the round include new investor Work-Bench and previous backers Madrona Venture Group, Rakuten Ventures and Osage University Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Centriq Technology, a 1.5-year-old, San Rafael, Ca.-based maker of a home management platform, has raised $4.8 million in seed funding led by Office Depot, which is partnering with the company to develop an app for its own customers. The SunSentinel has more here.

Datometry, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based virtualization platform that makes databases interchangeable by intercepting and converting an application’s communication with the database in real-time, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Redline Capital, with participation from Dell Technologies Capital and Acorn Pacific Ventures. FinSMEs has more here.

Duocaitou, a three-year-old, China-based crowdfunding platform for hotel and apartment projects, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. DCM Ventures led the round, and was joined by Shunwei Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Elevate Security, a months-old, San Francisco-based behavior-focused security platform, has raised $2 million in funding, including from Costanoa Ventures and Webb Investment Network. Newscenter.io has more here.

Hosco, a six-year-old, Geneva, Switzerland-based job recruitment platform for the hospitality sector, has raised €6.44 million ($7.2 million) in Series A funding, including from Athos Capital, along with other unnamed funds and earlier backers. Tech.eu has more here.

Hubdoc, a six-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based cloud accounting platform, has raised $4.85 million in seed funding co-led by BDC Capital and Round13 Capital, with participation from Hyde Park Venture Partners.

Kalray, a nine-year-old, Rhone-Alpes, France-based developer of low-power microprocessors, has raised $26 million in new funding from Safran and Penpai, along with earlier investors ACE Management, CEA Investissement, EUREKAP, Héléa Financière and INOCAP Gestion. More here.

MOL Global, a 17-year-old, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based online payment firm that traded on (then was delisted from) Nasdaq, has raised $20 million in funding from the gaming company Razer. Razer bought the equity from earlier backers in a deal that values the company at $100 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Synthio, a six-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based customer data platform, has raised $10.5 million in new funding led by Fulcrum Equity Partners, with participation from Vocap Investment Partners, Spinnaker VC Direct, Bahns Stanley, Stanley Partners, Ellis Capital, Buckhead Investments, the AIM Group and Silicon Valley Bank. More here.

Westwell Lab, a two-year-old, Shanghai-based AI chipmaker specializing in “neuromorphic” engineering, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Fosun Group. China Money Network has more here.

Exits

Between Blue Apron’s plans to go public and Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Whole Foods, a Chicago-based meal kit company called Home Chef has reportedly begun exploring strategic options that could include a sale, which could be worth around $600 million, says Reuters. According to Crunchbase, Home Chef has raised $57 million in funding, including from L Catterton, Agility Capital, Shining Capital and Guild Capital. More here.

Speaking of Amazon and Whole Foods, JPMorgan research analysts suggested in a note yesterday that Walmart could still step in as a rival bidder. More here.

People

Waymo has hired Satish Jeyachandran, Tesla’s former director of hardware engineering, as it moves closer to commercializing its self-driving vehicle technology. Bloomberg has the story here.

Ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who remains on the company’s board, owns more than 30 percent of the company’s shares, says The Information, despite the company’s many, many (many) rounds of funding to date.

Jobs

Omidyar Technology Ventures is looking to hire an associate. The job is in Redwood City, Ca.

Essential Reads

Tesla is reportedly in talks to create its own streaming music service to ensure “maximum happiness” for its car customers. (Tweets Pandora’s cofounder and former CTO, Tom Conrad, “Finally Elon is tackling something truly difficult.”)

It’s looking like Theranos might run out of cash if shareholders don’t loan it $50 million.

Target represented a third of Hampton Creek‘s retail business; now Target is pulling all of its products over allegations of potential health issues.

It’s not just a problem on the secondary markets; a large cap mutual fund also marked down the value of Uber‘s stock last month.

Detours

It’s offal, but an “ugly food” boot camp is enticing chefs and diners alike.

How you can take photos while recording video on your iPhone.

Oh, Goop.

Retail Therapy

The new-and-improved Super 8 is coming.


StrictlyVC: June 22, 2017

Hi, everyone! Another day, another dramatic turn (actually two). In unrelated developments, Benchmark’s Bill Gurley has resigned from his role as a director at Uber. More on this below.

The morning, The Information also published a shocking piece about investor Justin Caldbeck, a former Lightspeed Venture Partners investor who in more recent years cofounded his own venture firm, Binary Capital, with Jonathan Teo (formerly of General Catalyst). The piece reports that at least six women have fended off unwanted advances from Caldbeck, all in meetings that they say they believed to be business discussions. Binary responded to the accusations, telling The information that while the outlet had  “found a few examples which show that Justin has in the past occasionally dated or flirted with women he met in a professional capacity, let’s be clear: there is no evidence that Justin did anything illegal and there is no evidence that any of his investing decisions were affected by his social interests.”

Top News in the A.M.

Imagination Technologies, the British firm that lost 70 percent of its value after being ditched by its biggest customer Apple, put itself up for sale this morning in a disappointing end to a once-great European tech success story. Reuters has more here.

Sponsored By . . .

This week’s SrictlyVC is being brought to you courtesy of Crowded Ocean, the 2-person marketing agency that specializes in positioning and launching startups (46 to date, including Palo Alto Networks, Nimble Storage and Sumo Logic—as well as 10 exits). We help develop your positioning and messaging, turn that into content (website, white papers, use cases) and hire the resources (PR, web design, demand gen, etc.) to launch your company. We then help hire our successor and depart. To learn more about our services, see our book, The Ultimate Startup Guide, or contact us.

Kalanick is Out, But Uber’s VCs Screwed Up Royally, Too, Industry Watchers

Travis Kalanick, who last night resigned from his post as CEO of ride-share giant Uber, has taken the blame for the company’s very long list of problems, from allowing a culture of sexual harassment to thrive, to skirting the law with its Greyball program, to mishandling the medical files of a customer raped by one of the company’s drivers (for starters).

But many view the VCs who pushed Kalanick from his role are nearly as culpable for what’s gone wrong. Indeed, while Benchmark, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments all reportedly pressed Kalanick to quit last night, it was also their fault the company drove into trouble, say industry observers.

“The investors were really caught with their pants down here,” says Jeff Cohn, a succession planning expert at the New York-based leadership development firm Elevate Partners, who’d immediately predicted that the leave of absence taken last week by Kalanick wouldn’t work.

“The fact that Uber is right now being led by 14 internal people is absolutely insane,” says Cohn of the company’s current status as without a CEO, CFO, COO or general counsel, among other executive openings. “It’s not uncommon for leaders to suddenly depart for whatever reason; that [the company and its board] weren’t developing any viable candidates in recent years in case Kalanick were hit by a bus … for a company with 14,000 employees and a $70 billion market cap, that’s nuts.”

There have been changes since Kalanick announced to employees late yesterday that he was relinquishing his role. The New York Times is reporting tonight that longtime director Bill Gurley of the venture firm Benchmark is leaving the board; Gurley’s colleague, Matt Cohler, will replace him. David Trujillo, a partner at the private equity firm TPG Capital, also is joining the board, as Bloomberg reported earlier today; Trujillo is replacing colleague David Bonderman, who resigned as a director last week after making a sexist remark at a company presentation.

That’s perhaps as it should be.

More here.

New Fundings

Aproplan, a five-year-old, Brussels-based company that bills itself as the “Salesforce for construction,” has raised €5 million ($5.6 million) in Series A funding. The round was led by Fortino Capital, with participation from earlier backers, including Inventures, Matexi, and the co-founders of a company called Showpad. TechCrunch has more here.

Blockchain, a nearly six-year-old, Luxembourg-based bitcoin currency service provider, has raised $40 million in funding led by Lakestar, with participation from GV and earlier backers Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sir Richard Branson. Bloomberg has more here.

Celta, an 11-year-old, Boston-based management platform for digital advertising, has raised $15 million in funding led by Unilever Ventures and WPP. Ad Exchanger has more here.

Cloudbeds, a 4.5-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based maker of hospitality management software, has raised roughly $9 million in Series B funding led by PeakSpan Capital. Other investors in the round include Nashville Capital, Cultivation Capital, ClearVision Equity, and TTCER Partners. The company has now raised $20 million altogether. More here.

Dafengshou, a three-year-old, China-based agriculture e-commerce platform that sells pesticides, fertilizer and other tools to farmers across the country, has raised $29 million in Series B funding co-led by Orchid Asia Group and China Growth Capital, with participation from Matrix Partners China. China Money Network has more here.

Deliver, a three-year-old, Moscow-based online freight service company, has raised $8 million in seed funding led by Inventure Partners, with participation from A&NN Group and Singapore-based Amereus Group. TechCrunch has more here.

Farfetch, a nine-year-old, London-based marketplace for luxury brands, has raised $397 million in funding from J.D.com, itself China’s second-largest e-commerce company after Alibaba. Unsurprisingly, the deal makes JD.com one of the company’s biggest shareholders. TechCrunch has more here.

FloQast, a four-year-old, Sherwood Oaks, Ca.-based startup whose software helps accountants close their books faster and more accurately, has raised $25 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from current investors Toba Capital, Polaris Partners and the company’s earliest investor, L.A.-based Amplify. More here.

Nuvolo, a four-year-old, Jersey City, N.J.-based enterprise asset management company, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by GE Ventures, with participation from earlier backers New Enterprise Associates and ServiceNow Ventures. More here.

PingCAP, a two-year-old, Beijing-based commercial entity created by the developers of the open source TiDB database project, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by China Growth Capital. Previous backers Matrix Partners China, Yunqi Partners, FreeS Fund, and K2VC also joined the round. More here.

Samsara, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based fleet tracking management company, has raised $40 million in a round that values the company at more than $530 million, says TechCrunch. The round was led by General Catalyst Partners, with Andreessen Horowitz participating. More here.

Sense, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup that sells software as a service to staffing agencies so they can automate communication throughout workers’ job cycles, has raised $10 million. Investors include Accel Partners, GV, and Khosla Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.

Tantan, a three-year-old, Beijing-based dating app that’s frequently compared to Tinder, has raised $70 million in Series D funding as it looks to monetize its business for the first time and explore overseas expansion options. Genesis Capital and the video social network YY co-led the deal, with participation from SAIF China and Zhongwei Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Yello, a nine-year-old, Chicago-based talent acquisition platform, has raised $31 million in Series C funding led by JMI Equity, with participation from previous investor First Analysis. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here.

New Funds

The 31-year-old, Paris-based venture firm Iris Capital has closed its newest fund with €250 million in commitments. The vehicle will be used to invest primarily in seed- to growth-stage Europe-based companies, though its founders say they will also make some investments in the U.S. Tech.eu has more here.

IPOs

Altice climbed in its trading debut yesterday, after raising $1.9 billion in the second-biggest U.S. initial public offering of the year. Bloomberg has more here.

Exits

Snapchat’s newest feature, Snap Map, is based on its latest acquisition, a Paris-based social mapping startup called Zenly. According to TechCrunch, Snapchat bought Zenly for between $250 million and $350 million in mostly cash and some stock in a deal that closed in late May. According to Crunchbase, the company had raised roughly $35 million from investors, including Benchmark and Idinvest Partners. More here.

Modern Times Group, a Swedish digital entertainment company, has agreed to buy nine-year-old games publisher and developer Kongregate from its current owner GameStop for $55 million. Broadband TV News has more here.

People

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is reportedly not interested in a job with Uber. Recode is reporting on three other possible CEO candidates to replace Travis Kalanick, including, most interestingly, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. Our own sources have floated Recode’s other two names: Thomas Staggs, the former COO of Walt Disney Co., and Alan Mulally, the former Ford CEO who retired in 2014. (In short, people expect the company to appoint someone from either the tech, hospitality, or automotive industry.)

Syed Zain Gilani, CEO of a fairly new Boston-based ride-share company that’s focused on women’s safety, was reportedly arrested based on a warrant from the Virgin Islands, where he is “wanted for defrauding the government of more than $2 million,” says the Boston Globe. His lawyers say the charges stem from a contract dispute. More here.

As Spotify inches its way to a public listing, the streaming music company has made some significant changes to its board of directors. More here.

Jobs

Lead Edge Capital, a growth equity firm, is hiring an associate to join its investment team. The job is in Santa Barbara, Ca.

Essential Reads

In the ongoing legal case between Uber and Waymo (formerly the Google self-driving project), a new filing suggests Uber knew that engineer Anthony Levandowski possessed Google information as of last March, before he sold his company to Uber.

Facebook just introduced new group admin tools.

Detours

The rise of 56 Leonard in New York.

Mocktail recipes for summer.

A pro athlete workout for lunchtime warriors. (We’ll stick with watching “Late Night with Seth Myers” on the elliptical.)

Retail Therapy

The Porsche Dark Knight 911 Turbo S. Vroom.


StrictlyVC: June 21, 2017

Wednesday (though given the news cycle, it feels like it should be Sunday already!).

No doubt you’re aware that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is out as CEO (though remains as a board member). As we kind of suspected would happen, his decision to take a leave of absence, yet actively back-channel with managers, didn’t seem to go over so well with the company’s investors, who pressured him to resign last night. We’ll be working on follow-up stories about this today (along with half of Silicon Valley) so stay tuned. In the meantime, power VC and Uber board member Bill Gurley, tweeted last night: “There will be many pages in the history books devoted to @travisk – very few entrepreneurs have had such a lasting impact on the world.”

Today’s StrictlyVC is being brought to you courtesy of Crowded Ocean, the 2-person marketing agency that specializes in positioning and launching startups (46 to date, including Palo Alto Networks, Nimble Storage and Sumo Logic—as well as 10 exits). We help develop your positioning and messaging, turn that into content (website, white papers, use cases) and hire the resources (PR, web design, demand gen, etc.) to launch your company. We then help hire our successor and depart. To learn more about our services, see our book, The Ultimate Startup Guide, or contact us.

Top News in the A.M.

Uber‘s CEO is gone, but the many lawsuits and other challenges that embroil the company aren’t going away any time soon.

Uber is Implementing Tipping; How Well it Works Will Be Critical

On the heels of what must feel to employees like the longest six months in Uber‘s eight-year history, the company last week tried ending relentless news reports about its corporate misbehavior by encouraging its CEO, Travis Kalanick, to take a leave of absence. (He obliged before coming under increased pressure and resigning last night.)

Yesterday morning, Uber took things a step further, introducing an initiative that it’s calling “180 days of change” and announcing, most notably, that it will start allowing riders to tip drivers in the app.

This is no small thing. Uber has long rejected the idea of tipping for numerous reasons. The company had suggested, for example, that tips could lead to unpleasant consequences, such as drivers who might forego pick-ups in poorer neighborhoods in favor of wealthier enclaves where they might generate heftier tips.

Tipping also threatened to make a very clean experience too messy for Uber’s liking. (In the company’s words, it said it would create a confusing measure of uncertainty for customers.)

While its change of heart has been welcome by most, others were quick to assign ulterior motives to the company, whose business has been impacted — at least in the U.S. — by its abundance of poor publicity in recent months.

More here.

New Fundings

Cybereason, a five-year-old, Boston-based endpoint protection company, has raised $100 million in new funding from earlier backer SoftBank.  The start-up has raised a total of $189 million in funding to-date, and its backers also include CRV, Lockheed Martin and Spark Capital. CNBC has more here.

Fuzic, a year-old, Indianapolis, Ind.-based marketing technology startup that engages with customers via customized music playlists fused with on-demand audio announcements, has raised $3 million in seed funding that brings its total funding to $3.52 million. The round was led by High Alpha, Allos Ventures and Hyde Park Venture Partners. The Indianapolis Business Journal has more here.

GreatHorn, a two-year-old, Belmont, Ma.-based security platform for post-perimeter threat detection and response, has raised $6.3 million in Series A funding co-led by Techstars VC Fund and .406 Ventures, with participation from ff Venture Capital, SoftTech Ventures and RRE Ventures. More here.

Growbots, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based machine-learning startup meant to kickstart the outbound sales process, has raised $2.5 million in funding from Buran VC, Lighter Capital and a number of angel investors. The round brings the company’s total funding to $4.2 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Hubdoc, a six-year-old, Toronto-based accounting technology company that automates financial document collection and processing, has raised roughly $5 million in seed funding co-led by BDC IT Venture Fund and Round13 Capital, with participation from Hyde Park Venture Partners. Newscenter.io has more here.

Keypr, a four-year-old, L.A.-based guest experience and management platform for hotels, casinos and luxury residences, has raised $12.8 million in Series A1 funding. Karlani Capital led the round and was joined by individual angels. VentureBeat has more here.

Lingokids, a three-year-old, San Francisco- and Madrid-based English learning platform, has raised $4 million in new funding led by Holtzbrinck Ventures, with participation from JME Venture Capital and Bessemer Ventures Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Mic, a six-year-old, New York-based millennial-focused online content company, has raised $6.5 million in additional Series C funding from WPP PLC, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Time Warner Investments, kyu Collective and You & Mr. Jones. The round, initially announced in April, has now reached $28.4 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Petasense, a three-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based industrial IoT startup that helps with asset reliability and predictive maintenance, is coming out of stealth today and revealing that it earlier raised $1.8 million in seed funding led by True Ventures, with participation from Felicis Ventures and several angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Rinse, a 3.5-year-old San Francisco-based dry cleaning and laundry delivery service, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led by Partech Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Javelin Ventures, Arena Ventures, Accelerator Ventures, and Structure Capital. The company has now raised $23.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Rubius Therapeutics, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma-based developer of red blood cell therapies, has raised $120 million in new funding, including from earlier backer Flagship Pioneering. Xconomy has more here.

Scalable Capital, a 2.5-year-old, Munich, Germany-based robo-advisory outfit, has raised €30 million ($33.4 million) in funding led by BlackRock, with participation from earlier backers Holtzbrinck Ventures and Tengelmann Ventures. Reuters has more here.

Sequent, a 6.5-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based company that helps banks, transit agencies and other issuers digitize their credit, debit, transit, loyalty or ID cards and distribute them via their own applications, has raised $16 million in funding led by TIS of Japan. Earlier investors Opus Capital Partners, SBT Ventures and Jado Investments also participated. Finextra has more here.

Soldo, a two-year-old, London-based fintech startup that offers a multi-user spending account, has raised $11 million in Series A funding. Accel Partners led the round, with participation from Connect Ventures, InReach Ventures, U-Start and R204 Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Syntimmune, a 3.5-year-old, New York-based biotech startup focused on autoimmune diseases, has raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Apple Tree Partners, with participation from earlier backers. The company has now raised $78 million altogether. Xconomy has more here.

Textio, a nearly three-year-old, Seattle-based company whose intelligent machine learning platform analyzes job listings and hiring outcomes and helps recruiters to better word their job postings, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Scale Venture Partners. Earlier backers Bloomberg Beta, Cowboy Ventures, Emergence Capital and Upside Partnership also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

TrueLayer, a year-old, London-based startup that’s built a developer platform to make it easier for fintech companies to access bank APIs, has raised $3 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Anthemis Group, with participation from existing investor Connect Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

TPG, an investor in Uber and Airbnb (and guitar maker Fender), is seeking $3 billion for its fourth growth-equity fund, reports Bloomberg. The unit, led by investor Bill McGlashan, last raised $3 billion for its third fund in 2015. More here.

Sorenson Capital, a Salt Lake City-based private equity firm with roughly $1 billion in capital under management, has formed Sorenson Ventures, a new investment group focused on early-stage enterprise software and security investments. Ken Elefant, formerly of Intel Capital, has been brought aboard to lead the group, which will be based in the Bay Area. More here.

Seven Peaks Ventures, a Bend, Ore.-based VC firm that was founded in 2013 by longtime investor Dino Vendetti, is looking to raise up to $30 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. As readers might remember, ate last year, Docusign Tom Gonser joined the firm as a partner.

IPOs

Sizing up BuzzFeed. Could this unicorn ever go public? Variety takes a look.

People

Bessemer Venture Partners has promoted Charles Birnbaum, Kristina Shen, and Amit Karp and to partner. The three joined the firm in 2012, 2012, and 2013, respectively. More here.

Andreessen Horowitz is making an even bigger push into healthcare IT, bringing aboard serial entrepreneur Jorge Conde as a general partner. Conde, who officially starts in September, has spent the last 15 years working largely in genomics, including cofounding the genome analysis company Knome (acquired in 2015 for undisclosed terms) and more recently becoming chief strategy officer at a small biotech company, Syros Pharmaceuticals, which staged an IPO last year. We have more here.

Etsy is reorganizing, including layoff 15 percent to its global workforce. Fortune has more here.

Tesla has hired deep learning and computer vision expert Andrej Karpathy in a key Autopilot role. Karpathy most recently held a role as a researcher at OpenAI, the artificial intelligence nonprofit backed by Elon Musk. TechCrunch has more here.

In related news, Chris Lattner just quit Tesla, tweeting last night, “Turns out that Tesla isn’t a good fit for me after all. I’m interested to hear about interesting roles for a seasoned engineering leader!” Lattner had joined the company in January, after an 11-year run at Apple, where one of his chief contributions was creating the programming language Swift. “Chris just wasn’t the right fit for Tesla, and we’ve decided to make a change,” Tesla had said in a statement earlier in the day.

Y Combinator is adding three new team members: Gustaf Alstromer, formerly product leader of Airbnb’s growth team, is joining as a partner. Meanwhile Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky is taking a visiting partner role, and Jocelyn Robancho, formerly the head of business operations at Hack Reactor, is coming aboard to assist with organizing YC’s startup batches. More here.

Essential Reads

And the battle intensifies: Wal-Mart is now telling some tech companies that if they want its business, they can’t run applications for the retailer on Amazon’s leading cloud-computing service, Amazon Web Services. The WSJ has more here.

Detours

To the class of 2050.

Retail Therapy

Cradle outdoor bed. We wouldn’t mind crawling into one of these right now.


StrictlyVC: June 20, 2017

Happy Tuesday!:)

No column today.

Today’s StrictlyVC is being brought to you courtesy of Crowded Ocean, the 2-person marketing agency that specializes in positioning and launching startups (46 to date, including Palo Alto Networks, Nimble Storage and Sumo Logic—as well as 10 exits). We help develop your positioning and messaging, turn that into content (website, white papers, use cases) and hire the resources (PR, web design, demand gen, etc.) to launch your company. We then help hire our successor and depart. To learn more about our services, see our book, The Ultimate Startup Guide, or contact us.

Top News in the A.M.

Google just jumped into the business of jobs search.

New Fundings

Aera Technology, a 12-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company that crawls the enterprise systems of its customers, then refines, indexes, and augments their data, has raised $50 million in funding led by New Enterprise Associates. More here.

AimBrain, a 1.5-year-old, London-based startup that sells biometric identity as a service to help fintech companies and other financial institutions fight fraud, has raised £4 million ($5 million) in Series A funding. BGF Ventures led the round, with participation from Episode 1, Entrepreneur First, and a number of angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Agentology, a two-year-old, San Diego-based startup aiming to deliver qualified real estate leads to brokers, has raised $4.5 million in funding led by Freestyle Capital, with participation from Entry Ventures Group and OurCrowd. Techcrunch has more here.

Alight, an 11-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose cloud-based apps aim to help enterprises understand the ripple effects of real and potential events, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Caterpillar Venture Capital. More here.

Bigger, a 1.5-year-old, Beijing-based co-working space startup that was launched by Modern Land (a regional property developer), has raised $18 million in Series A funding. Commercial real estate firm Hongfu Group led the round and was joined by Beijing incubator First Care. China Money Network has more here.

CirrusMD, a five-year-old, Denver, Co.-based text-based communication platform for large health systems and insurers, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Colorado Impact Fund, with participation from Bootstrap Incubation, Three Leaf Ventures, Rockies Venture Fund, Service Provider Capital, Sand Hill Angels, and New York Angels. More here.

CloudPost Networks, a two-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-based maker of real-time analytics and risk management software, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Wing Venture Capital, with participation from numerous individual investors. More here.

Cosmo Tech, a seven-year-old, Lyon, France-based maker of decision-management software, has raised $3 million in funding led by Sofimac Partners, with participation from BNP Paribas and Aster Capital. More here.

EaseCentral, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based SaaS platform for managing employee benefits, onboarding, and compliance, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding led by Propel Venture Partners, with participation from Freestyle Capital, Compound, Upside Partnership, and Transmedia Capital. More here.

FinalPrice, a year-old, L.A.-based subscription-based travel app, has raised $4 million in funding from Almaz Capital, Sistema VC and unnamed private investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Freshly, a two-year-old, New York-based meal delivery startup, has raised $77 million in Series C funding led by Swiss-based food giant Nestle. Earlier backers also joined the round, including Highland Capital Partners, Insight Venture Partners, and White Star Capital. The company has now raised $107 million altogether. Fortune has more here.

Graduway, a four-year-old, London-based provider of alumni networking platforms, has secured $2 million in credit from SaaS Capital, an outfit that provides credit facilities to SaaS companies. More here.

Hero K12, a 3.5-year-old, Miami Lakes, Fl.-based student behavior analytics platform, has raised $150 million in funding from the private equity firm BV Investment Partners. EdSurge has more here.

Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems, a six-year-old, Pensacola, Fl.-based maker of early detection systems for diabetic eye disease, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B financing led by Ballast Point Ventures, with participation from healthcare system funds Providence Ventures and CoxHealth. More here.

M.Gemi, a two-year-old, Boston-based women’s footwear brand, has raised $16 million in Series C funding led by Burda Principal Investments. Previous investors Accel Partners, General Catalyst Partners and Forerunner Ventures also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to date to $47.2 million. The Business of Fashion has more here.

Misty, a new Boulder, Co.-based robotics company at work on hobbyist robots (it later wants to develop mainstream devices but isn’t saying much about any of its products for now), has raised  $11.5 million in Series A funding. Venrock and Foundry Group co-led the round. TechCrunch has more here.

Modacruz, a three-year-old, Istanbul, Turkey-based mobile marketplace of second-hand women’s fashion, has raised $2 million in Series B funding led by Middle East Venture Partners, with participation from Hummingbird and Nevzat Aydin. More here.

Simply Wall St., a three-year-old, Sydney, Australia-based investment advisory firm, has raised $1.8 million in funding from it own high-net-worth clients. TechCrunch has more here.

SLIPS Technologies, a three-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company that makes slippery coatings for commercial and residential customers, has raised $8.6 million in funding from Anzu Partners, BASF Venture Capital, Hansjörg Wyss, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. More here.

Unbxd, a six-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company whose machine learning software helps its e-commerce customers present products to shoppers that they’re more likely to buy, has raised $12.5 million in Series C funding led by Eight Roads Ventures, the investment arm of Fidelity. Earlier backers IDG Ventures, Inventus Capital Partners, and Nirvana Ventures also joined the round, along with Infosys cofounder Kris Gopalakrishnan. More here.

Xpertdoc Technologies, a 17-year-old, Montreal-based company whose customer communications platform aims to help companies more effectively engage with their clients, has raised $1.7 million in funding from BDC Capital. More here.

New Funds

Adams Street Partners, the Chicago-headquartered investment firm, has just closed on $475 million in commitments across its venture and growth equity fund programs. The firm typically writes checks of between $5 million to $30 million in IT and healthcare companies and deploys between $125 million and $150 million per year. Its team has nine investment pros across a Menlo Park and Chicago office, and they focus on SaaS, mobile, cloud, security, fintech, healthcare IT, medical device, and biopharma sectors. More here.

New Enterprise Associates has raised the largest-ever venture fund with $3.3 billion in capital commitments. The fund, the firm’s 16th, is just larger than NEA’s last pool of $3.15 billion, which it closed in 2015 and that included a $2.85 billion main fund and a $350 million opportunity fund for investing in growth stage companies. The WSJ has more here.

IPOs

Aileron Therapeutics, a 12-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based cancer treatment biotech, has revealed IPO plans to offer 3.75 million shares between $15 to $17, raising about $60 million at the offering’s midpoint. The company’s biggest outside shareholders include Apple Tree Partners, Novartis BioVentures, and Glaxo Smith Kline’s S.R. One. Nasdaq has slightly more here.

Ancestry.com, the 34-year-old, Lehi, Ut.-based genealogy research service, says it’s preparing to go public and has made a confidential filing with the SEC. The company, whose owners include Permira and Silver Lake, says it hasn’t decided how many shares to issue or at what price. Bloomberg wrote a bit more about the company’s ownership history back in March.

Exits

Meltwater, a 16-year-old, San Francisco-based media monitoring company, has acquired Klarity, a four-year-old, Hong Kong-based social media analytics platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

Consumer products giant Unilever has agreed to acquire Hourglass, a 13-year-old, Inglewood, Ca.-based “luxury performance” cosmetics brand. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. More here.

People

Tony Bates, formerly the president of GoPro, has joined Social Capital as CEO of its new growth unit.

In a new Medium post, Uber co-founder Garrett Camp says recent events have left him upset and “deeply reflective.” (Somewhat notably, he doesn’t mention CEO Travis Kalanick.)

Mark Cranney, long an operating partner at Andreessen Horowitz, has joined SignalFx, an AH-backed cloud application monitoring company, as its new chief commercial officer.

Todd Steinberg, an early investor in the cannabis delivery startup Eaze, says he was about to sell $500,000 in shares to Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, but the brothers backed out; now he’s suing them.

Iris Ostermaier has joined the Munich-based venture firm Target Partners has a venture partner. Ostermaier was previously CEO of 1-2-3.tv, a teleshopping channel that was backed by Target Partners and which sold last November.

Joe Tucci, formerly chairman and CEO of EMC, has joined 83North as a special adviser.

Jobs

Two Sigma Ventures is looking to hire an associate. The job is in New York.

Data

Instagram Stories is widening its lead over Snapchat.

Essential Reads

Inside Apple‘s global war on leakers.

Amazon is testing a service that gives Prime members seven days to try on clothing orders at home before deciding on what to buy.

Tesla Motors is reportedly close to signing an agreement with the city of Shanghai to produce electric cars in China for the first time.

Detours

“I feel like I found New York City when I found the bike.”

How to make the perfect lemon bar.

Thirteen amazing hotel suite views.

Retail Therapy

Depict Digital Canvas. Why not change it up a little?


StrictlyVC: June 19, 2017

Hi, all, hope you had a great weekend! Apologies for the very late send. It’s been a busy day on our end, including an exchange with one of San Francisco’s notoriously obstinate parking enforcement officers. (Predictably, we lost that argument.)

Today’s StrictlyVC is being brought to you courtesy of Crowded Ocean, the 2-person marketing agency that specializes in positioning and launching startups (46 to date, including Palo Alto Networks, Nimble Storage and Sumo Logic—as well as 10 exits). We help develop your positioning and messaging, turn that into content (website, white papers, use cases) and hire the resources (PR, web design, demand gen, etc.) to launch your company. We then help hire our successor and depart. To learn more about our services, see our book, The Ultimate Startup Guide, or contact us.

Top News in the A.M.

Juno promised drivers equity. When it was acquired by Gett for $200 million in April, the equity program was extinguished. Now those drivers are suing Juno.

Vice Media revealed today that it has raised $450 million in new funding from the private equity firm TPG in a deal that assigns the 23-year-old, Brooklyn company a stunning $5.7 billion post-money valuation.

Why Stackshare is Quietly Becoming a Secret Tool for Devs and CTOs

On Stackshare, Airbnb lists over 50 services in its “stack,” Slack lists 24, and Spotify lists more than 31; these stacks are collections of different pieces of software that each company is using to run their operations, and range from infrastructure tools to communications tools to container tools to email services.

Why are companies beginning to share the specific mix of apps that’s enabling their businesses to grow? Because they know it’s the missing piece of the puzzle for developers, many of whom struggle to learn which tools certain companies use and why, says Stackshare founder and CEO Yonas Beshawred.

In fact, Stackshare is quietly becoming a go-to platform for numerous players in the startup ecosystem for a few reasons, Beshawred argues.

The benefits are clearest for developers. “If you’re trying to build a new on-demand service,” he notes, “you can come to Stackshare and see all the tools that Instacart uses.” Stackshare also benefits companies; when big or small startups volunteer what tools they’re using, they have a better shot at attracting developers who are well-versed in those very same technologies.

Meanwhile, Stackshare is attracting the attention of SaaS vendors, a small but growing number of which are beginning to sponsor sections of the platform and that now have a new place for their communities to evangelize their products.

Certainly, something seems to be clicking. Stackshare, founded in San Francisco in 2014, currently features the “verified” tech stacks of 7,000 companies. More, it claims that more than 150,000 developers are now using the service, where they not only see which companies are using what but they’re also invited to (and do) comment on the tools, helping their peers understand what they should be using and avoiding.

Investors like it, too. At least, today, Stackshare is announcing that it had raised $1.5 million in seed funding late last year, led by Cervin Ventures. Other participants include Precursor Ventures, Square exec Gokul Rajaman, and former VMWare and Facebook exec turned VC Jocelyn Goldfein. The round follows $300,000 in earlier seed funding from 500 Startups; MicroVentures; Airbnb’s first employee, Nick Grandy; Heroku’s former engineering manager Glenn Gillen, and others.

Beshawred — an Ethiopian-American from Maryland and former Accenture analyst — has some competition, as you might guess.

More here.

New Fundings

Augury, a five-year-old, Haifa, Israel and New York -based industrial IoT startup focused on mechanical diagnostics, has raised $17 million in Series B funding. Eclipse Ventures and Munich Re/HSB Ventures co-led the round; other participants include Sound Ventures, First Round Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Pritzker Group Venture Capital. Globes has more here.

Casper, the three-year-old, New York-based mattress startup, has raised $170 million led by Target, at a pre-money valuation of $750 million, reports Dealbook. (If this sounds familiar, it’s because of reports in late May that the company had raised $75 million from Target.) Target yesterday also began selling Casper mattresses, pillows, sheets and more in its stores and on its website. More here.

ClassPass, a four-year-old, New York-based subscription service for fitness classes and gyms, has raised $70 million in Series C funding led by Temasek. Earlier investors that include Acequia Capital, CRV, General Catalyst, GV, M13 and Thrive also joined the round. More here.

FuboTV, a three-year-old, New York-based over-the-top video startup dedicated to premium live sports, has raised $55 million in Series C funding led by Northzone, with participation from 21st Century Fox, Sky and Scripps Networks Interactive. The company has now raised $75 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Gamida Cell, a 12.5-year-old, Jerusalem -based genetic disease company, has raised $40 million in funding led by Shavit Capital. Other participants in the round include VMS Investment Group, Israel Biotech Fund, Novartis, and earlier backers Clal Biotechnology Industries and Israel HealthCare Ventures. Globes has more here.

Julia Computing, a two-year-old, Berkeley, Ca.-based open source computing language for data, analytics, algorithmic trading, machine learning and artificial intelligence, has raised $4.6 million in seed funding from General Catalyst Partners and Founder Collective. More here.

Pivotal Commware, a year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based spin-out of Intellectual Ventures whose communications products employ what the company is calling “holographic beam forming,” has raised $17 million in funding, including from The Thermo Companies, DIG Investment, Bill Gates, Lux Capital, the family office of Barry Sternlicht, and others. More here.

Reddit, the 12-year-old, San Francisco-based self-proclaimed “front pate of the internet,” is reportedly raising $150 million in fresh round of funding that will give the company a valuation of $1.7 billion. Bloomberg has more here.

Samba TV, an 8.5-year-old, San Francisco-based TV audience data and analytics company, has raised $30 million in Series B funding. Union Grove Venture Partners led the round; other participants include Disney, Interpublic Group, MDC Ventures, Time Warner, A+E Networks, TGM, Draper Associates and Ambition VC. Broadcasting & Cable has more here.

Snips, a four-year-old, Paris-based company whose new voice platform aims to give hardware makers an alternative to Google’s Home and Amazon’s Alexa, has raised $13 million from investors, including MAIF Avenir, BPI France, Eniac Ventures, and an unnamed Korean-French venture fund. The company has now raised a total of $21 million. VentureBeat has more here.

Talla, a two-year-old, Boston-based startup whose service assistant bot aims to help IT and HR departments field and answer inquiries, has raised $8.3 million in Series A funding led by Glasswing Ventures, with additional participation from PJC and previous investors Avalon, Pillar, and Launch. More here.

New Funds

Aspect Ventures, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm, is looking to raise up to $175 million for its second fund, shows a new SEC filing. The firm, cofounded by longtime VCs Jennifer Fonstad (formerly of DFJ) and Theresia Gouw (formerly of Accel Partners), had closed their debut fund with $150 million in 2015. More here.

Health Velocity Capital, a 10-month-old, San Francisco-based outfit, is looking to raise up to $150 million for its first fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm is managed by Bruce Crosby, formerly an executive at Nashville-based Compassus (a network of acute-care services), and Martin Felsenthal, previously an investor at the healthcare IT focused firm HLM Venture Capital. More here.

Luminate Capital Partners, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based private equity fund founded by former Silver Lake managing director Hollie Haynes, has closed its debut fund with $265 million in commitments. The firm, which invests in enterprise software companies, says it was targeting $200 million. More here.

Weathergage Capital, an 11-year-old, Palo Alto-based investment firm that was early to back numerous micro VC  firms, has closed on $296 million in commitments for its fourth fund of funds — capital that it says has come from international pension funds, endowments, foundations, and family offices. Weathergage had closed its third fund of funds with $230 million in 2015. More here.

IPOs

According to a new SEC filing, meal-kit delivery company Blue Apron plans to raise as much as $586.5 million in an IPO to help it compete in the increasingly crowded marketplace for on-demand food. (Some might say the move is a matter of survival.) The company will market 30 million shares at $15 to $17 each; the sale can be increased to 34.5 million shares if there’s enough demand, which would boost the IPO to $586.5 million, according to the filing. Bloomberg has more here.

Online food takeaway company Delivery Hero priced its IPO today, signaling it could raise it as much as 995.6 million euros ($1.1 billion). The German firm set the price range at 22 euros to 25.50 euros per share and is expected to begin trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on June 30. CNBC has more here.

Exits

The Mode Media story continues. Following the abrupt shut-down of the 13-year-old company last year (after it raised roughly $225 million from investors), its  assets have been acquired for undisclosed terms by a wedding-focused advertising company called BrideClick. More here.

People

Ars Technica talks with Shiva Ayyadurai —  who has spent nearly six years publicly proclaiming himself the “inventor of e-mail” — and who is currently trying to sue Techdirt into bankruptcy over its dozen-plus articles attacking that claim.

EQT Ventures, a Stockholm-based venture firm that closed on a $633 million fund last year, has brought aboard Alastair “Ali” Mitchell as its fourth partner, and he’ll be based in San Francisco. Mitchell — who will specialize in business-to-business software opportunities — formerly cofounded and served as CEO of Huddle.com.

Three thirty-somethings are right now running Uber’s global operations; Bloomberg takes a look at each.

Stitch Fix, an online retailer that ships personalized fashion assortments to customers’ doors, has hired a new chief financial officer, Paul Yee, in what looks like another step toward an IPO. Recode has more here.

Jobs

Viacom is hiring a VP of digital partnerships and audience development to join its mobile and emerging platforms team. The job is in New York.

Data

Disappearing profits: Snap is currently the worst performing VC-backed tech IPO of the year, says Renaissance Capital. (In seemingly better news for the company, it just signed a $100 million deal with Time Warner, which will create up to 10 original shows a year for the platform.)

Uber’s share of the U.S. ride hailing market was 77 percent at May’s end, down from 84 percent at the start of the year according to a study of credit card data. (New tipping prompts from rival Lyft could drive that percentage lower, too.) The Financial Times has more here.

Essential Reads

Media companies are getting sick of Facebook.

Inside the booming world of initial coin offerings.

The FTC plans to try and block the proposed merger of FanDuel and DraftKings, dealing a major blow to daily fantasy sports sites.

Detours

Can power cause brain damage?

A new study finds that employees work together more effectively when pay is transparent.

Retail Therapy

America Online co-founder Steve Case is selling Merrywood, a childhood home of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The cost of the McLean, Va. property: $49.5 million. (Case will reportedly be setting a record if he gets anywhere near that asking price.)


StrictlyVC: June 16, 2017

Well, hello!

Today’s StrictlyVC is being brought to you courtesy of Rosebud Communications: Media attention is often showered on one company in any given space. If this company is yours, congrats. If it’s not, consider using Rosebud. We’ll get you the press you deserve, and for roughly half the $10K-plus per month that the bigger guys charge. Send us an email, operators are standing by: dave@rosebudpr.io

Top News in the A.M.

Perhaps you’ve heard? Amazon — the everything store —  announced this morning that it’s buying 431 actual stores across the country by purchasing upscale grocer Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion in cash.

Meanwhile, Walmart  – which has more than 5,000 stores and clubs nationwide — just snapped up the online men’s retailer Bonobos for $310 million in cash.

Investor Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz summed up the situation nicely in a tweet: “Amazon buys Whole Foods, Walmart buys Bonobos. Tanks on the lawn.”

Our colleague over at TechCrunch, Sarah Perez, has also chimed in with a smart piece, writing that Amazon wants to become Walmart before Walmart can become Amazon.

Other grocers’ stocks have plummeted on the news of Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. Observers think this is also bad news for Blue Apron and Instacart.

The Atomico Partner Who U.S. Founders Should Know

If you’re a U.S.-based founder and you’ve ever wondered how to pitch the London-based firm Atomico or, more specifically, who to pitch, Hiro Tamura is someone you might get to know better. Though he’s based in London, Tamura is the general partner who spends the most time in the U.S. — about one week a month on average.

How does it  work? Tamura says he gets ample help from Atomico’s executive-in-residence, Carter Adamson, who lives in Brooklyn and formerly cofounded one of the first modern music streaming services, Rdio. (Atomico backed the company, which shut down in 2015.) Adamson was also formerly the head of product at Skype, which was famously cofounded by Atomico founder Niklas Zennstrom.

Earlier this week we talked with Tamura about leading a fresh, $64 million investment in Clutter, an L.A-based on-demand storage company. We also asked what else Atomico has cooking stateside.

You’ve been with Atomico for the past decade — so since its start, essentially. How did land at the firm?

It’s an equal opportunity employer; I’m a Japanese guy. [Laughs.] I’ve been in different markets doing tech since 1996; I worked on Asian internet companies like China.com at Lehman in New York; afterward, a bunch of us left and launched a pan-Asian investment firm [focused on media and telecom] that covered Tokyo, Seoul, Greater China. I then started my own investment firm in Tokyo and I started working with Niklas and the board of Skype as an adviser [given that] I knew something about the region and how to help make scalable Internet companies effectively grow and navigate regulatory issues.

After eBay acquired Skype [in 2005], Niklas asked a few us to come along with him to focus on Atomico. In 2010, I moved from Tokyo to London to permanently reside in the U.K. and help grow the business.

For some reason, I thought you actually ran a Silicon Valley outpost for Atomico.

No, I love living in London, though I’m frequently seen in airports, hopping on and off flights to the U.S.

While Atomico looks at the European opportunity as being incredibly robust, we have a heritage of being global investor by virtue of who we were in our past lives, and there’s obviously a lot of innovation still happening in Silicon Valley and L.A. and New York and a number of other U.S. hubs that have emerged over the last five, six years. We feel like those trends will have a long-lasting impact, and we should be a part of them.

How does a VC from London cover the U.S.?

More here.

New Fundings

Atrium LTS, a new, San Francisco-based company that was founded by serial entrepreneur Justin Kan and aims to “disrupt the legal industry” (the company isn’t being much more specific for that right now), has raised $10.5 million in funding in a gigantic party round that includes dozens of firms and investors. TechCrunch has much more here.

Bright Greens, a 1.5-year-old, Rockville, Md.-based frozen smoothie company, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Eighteen94 Capital (a unit of Kellogg Co.), with participation from Blue Venture Investors. Fortune has more here.

Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, a 2.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based immunotherapy company focused on treating skin cancer, has raised $27 million in Series B funding led by F-Prime Capital Partners, with participation from earlier backers Sofinnova Ventures and VenBio Partners. Xconomy has more here.

Codota, a four-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based maker of workflow optimization software for developer communities, has raised $2 million in seed funding from Khosla Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Common Networks, a year-old, San Francisco-based wireless internet service provider, has raised $7 million in Series A funding from Eclipse Ventures and Lux Capital. More here.

Covr Financial Technologies, a four-year-old, Boise, Idaho-based digital personal insurance platform, has raised $5 million in funding from Nyca Partners, Commerce Ventures, Connectivity Capital Partners and Contour Venture Partners. More here.

Dingxiang Technology, a Beijing-based cybersecurity startup focused on risk control systems, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital China. China Money Network has more here.

Entelo, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based recruiting software company, has raised $20 million in Series C funding led by U.S. Venture Partners, with participation from Battery Ventures, Shasta Ventures and Correlation Ventures. More here.

Evasc Neurovascular Enterprises, a nine-year-old, Vancouver, Canada-based medical device company focused on treating cerebral aneurysms, has raised $7.6 million in Series A funding led by Yonghua Capital. More here.

Fairy, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup that offers 30-minute, daily, “hotel like” cleanings, has raised $4.1 million in funding from investors that include CrunchFund, Naval Ravikant, Flight Ventures’ Gil Penchina, Cyan and Scott Bannister, and others. TechCrunch has more here.

FraudScope, a year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based enterprise SaaS platform aimed at reducing healthcare billing claims fraud, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding, including from Spider Capital, GRA Venture Fund, TechSquare Labs, and Mosley Ventures. More here.

Goodera, a three-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based company that connects businesses with nonprofits that help them reach their sustainability goals, raised $5.5 million in Series A funding from Nexus Venture Partners and Omidyar Network. The Economic Times has more here.

HLTH, a year-old, New York-based industry event focused around how healthcare companies can reduce costs, has raised $5 million in funding led by Primary Venture Partners and Launch Capital. More here.

Mindstrong Health, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.- based maker of mobile-based cognitive-function diagnostic tests, has raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Foresite Capital and ARCH Venture Partners. Other partipants in the round include Optum Ventures, Berggruen Holdings, and the One Mind Brain Health Impact Fund.

Mobike, a 1.5-year-old, Shanghai-based on-demand bike rental company, has raised $600 million in Series E funding led by Tencent Holdings, with participation from Sequoia Capital, TPG, and Hillhouse Capital, BOCOM International, ICBC International, and asset manager Farallon Capital. TechCrunch has the story here.

Regroup Therapy, a six-year-old, Chicago-based company that enables mental health professionals to virtually meet with patients at a variety of institutions, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by OSF Ventures, with participation from Hyde Park Angels, OCA Ventures, HLM Venture Partners, Furthur Fund, and Impact Engine. The Chicago Tribune has more here.

Scopely, a six-year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based mobile game publisher, has raised $60 million in Series C funding at a valuation north of $600 million led by Revolution Growth. Other participants in the round include Greenspring Associates, Sands Capital Ventures, Cross Creek Advisors, and Pritzker Group Venture Capital. Variety has more here.

Spry Health, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that makes health management technologies and remote patient monitoring software, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding led by Grove Ventures, with participation from Stanford-StartX Fund, OVO Fund, and Think+. More here.

Voiceitt, a five-year-old, Ramat Gan, Israel-based startup that develops apps for people with speech impairments, has raised $2 million in funding, including from Cahn Capital, Technion, Quake Capital Partners, Dreamit Ventures, and Buffalo Angels. More on the company here.

ZineOne, a three-year-old, Milpitas, Ca.-based analytics platform that aims to help brands engage with their customers contextually, has raised $2.5 million in funding led by Golden Seeds Angels and Hyderabad Angels. More here.

New Funds

Medicxi Ventures, a London-based early-stage venture capital firm focused on early- to later-stage biotech companies, has raised $300 million for its latest fund, says FierceBiotech. Among its limited partners: Novartis and Verily. More here.

Middle East Venture Partners is set to raise a new and much bigger fund than the vehicle its current investing. According to The National, founding partner and chief executive Walid Hanna said yesterday that the firm, which right now has $120 million under management, is poised to triple that amount with its next fund, noting that venture capital had “taken off” as an asset class regionally. (Hanna also pointed to the announcement last month that Saudi Telecom’s STC Ventures is creating a $500 million fund.) More here.

Exits

Samsung quietly bought a New York-based startup called VRB, which has developed several apps to capture and view 360-degree content. Sources tell TechCrunch that Samsung, an investor in the company, paid $5.5 million in the deal. (VRB never publicly disclosed exactly how much it raised or from whom.) TechCrunch has more here.

Tencent is considering a takeover of “Angry Birds” maker Rovio for close to $3 billion, according to The Information. More here.

Also Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC is also sponsored today by the Financial Solutions Lab at CFSI, which just announced the eight winning startups selected for its 2017 FinLab class. Each gets $250,000 plus other resources most startups only dream of, including executive-level mentors at CFSI and JPMorgan Chase. FinLab’s first two classes of innovators have collectively raised more than $110 million in follow-on capital since joining the program, and today serve more than 1.2 million American consumers. Who made the cut this year? Blueprint Income, Dave, EverSafe, Grove, Nova, Point, Token Transit, and Tomorrow.

People

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is looking for some ideas about where to focus his shorter-term philanthropic efforts.

After dipping its toe into the water with “Planet of the Apps,” Apple is apparently pushing more aggressively into original content, hiring Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who since 2005 had been co-presidents of Sony Pictures Entertainment. More here.

Alda Leu Dennis has joined Initialized Capital as an investing partner and its COO. Dennis was last an investor with the secondaries firm 137 Ventures; she was also previously the COO of Airtime, general counsel at Founders Fund, and assistant general counsel at Clarium Capital Management. We talked with her yesterday.

Astasia Myers has joined the early-stage enterprise team of Redpoint Ventures as an associate. Prior to Redpoint, Myers worked at Cisco Investments, where she focused on cloud-infrastructure M&A and investments. She also spent two years as an equity research analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co.

These Twitter VPs are leaving the company.

Jobs

23andMe, the genetic testing company, is looking for a corporate development associate. The job is in Mountain View, Ca.

Essential Reads

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma may team up with SoftBank Group Corp.’s Masayoshi Son in a $1.5 billion investment in ride-hailing startup Grab, according to Bloomberg. The investment would be part of Grab’s previously reported $1.5 billion fundraising, led by SoftBank and aimed at giving the Singaporean startup cash to battle Uber in Southeast Asia.

Slack, the popular business communications company, is in the midst of raising $500 million at a $5 billion post-money valuation, an effort that has attracted several potential buyers interested in taking out the company ahead of the funding (including, as reported yesterday, Amazon). Recode has more here.

Oh, the irony. Amazon was recently granted a patent that could be used to prevent in-store shoppers from comparing prices to what’s available online. TechCrunch has more here.

Detours

The U.S., where the rich are the richest.

The stylish, sophisticated Ibiza that even club kids can’t ruin.

Fingers crossed.

Retail Therapy

“Die Hard,” the coloring book. Yippee ki yay, %#@&*s.


StrictlyVC: June 15, 2017

Hi, happy Thursday, all.:)

Today in Austin, Tex., today’s sponsor —  the Financial Solutions Lab at CFSI — is announcing the startups selected from more than 350 applicants for its next FinLab class. The eight winning startups are set to receive $250,000 each, plus incredible access to resources and mentors that can help them scale. Put your hands together for Blueprint Income, Dave, EverSafe, Grove, Nova, Point, Token Transit, and Tomorrow — each of which offers a solution that can improve Americans’ financial health. Who says fintech can’t be a force for good?

Top News in the A.M.

Slack, the enteprise messaging startup, has reportedly received interest about a potential acquisition from Amazon. According to Bloomberg’s sources, the company could be valued at a jaw-dropping $9 billion in such a deal. More here.

The price of bitcoin is plunging after a record run.

The Federal Reserve said yesterday that it’s raising its benchmark interest rate to a range of 1 percent to 1.25 percent in a widely expected move. More here.

Now Trucker Path is Getting into the Lending Business, Too

Trucker Path, a  three-year-old, Mountain View-based platform that helps connect drivers, brokers, shippers, and carriers, has just lined up $30 million in debt funding so it can start loaning some of those truckers money right after they deliver their freight.

It’s seemingly a win-win. It means truckers needn’t wait 30 to 60 days to get paid by the vendors who hire them. In the meantime, the loans are a new revenue opportunity for Trucker Path, which is charging its customers slightly more in interest than it’s paying its debt provider: Flexible Funding, a lower-flying, 25-year-old lending institution in San Francisco.

It’s the latest twist in the war to win over the hearts of the 1.6 million long-haul truckers in the U.S., 550,000 of whom are already using Trucker Path’s app, according to cofounder and CEO Ivan Tsybaev.

Why do they use it? Well, partly to communicate to their peers where parking is, and isn’t, available. In fact, it’s one of the stickiest features of the app, which began as a navigational tool but now features everything from crowdsourcing to the ability to track shipments from dispatch to delivery.

While people outside the industry might not grasp what a pain in the butt it is to park a truck, a survey by the Department of Transportation has shown that 75 percent of drivers say they regularly have trouble finding a safe place to park when they need to rest. Meanwhile, using Trucker Path, drivers save 11 hours, or $600, each month, insists Tsybaev. And you can imagine the savings for enterprise customers like Pepsi and FedEx that send out thousands of trucks every day.

Trucker Path is not the only shiny new option in the industry, of course. You’ve probably read about the growing spate of startups looking to elbow aside traditional trucking companies, including Turvo, which we wrote about here, and Uber Freight — a freight broker that’s eventually expected, like Trucker Path, to offer a single platform where brokers, shippers, and carriers can work together in real time.

Tsybaev says his company already has the kind of network effect that can mean the difference between barely surviving and thriving, though, and investors apparently buy his argument. The 60-person company — which has already raised $21.5 million from Renren and Wicklow Capital of Chicago, among others — says it’s right now talking with investors about a Series B round. (It says it’s already fielding sheets, actually.)

More here.

New Fundings

BeauCare Clinics, a four-year-old, Beijing-headquartered plastic surgery clinic franchise, has raised $29 million in Series B funding led by GP Capital, a Shanghai-based investment firm backed by state-owned Shanghai International Group. China Money Network has more here.

Bowery Farming, a two-year-old, New York-based indoor farming company, has raised $20 million from investors, including General Catalyst Partners and GV. The round brings the company’s total funding to $27.5 million. Forbes has more here.

Careem, a five-year-old, Dubai-based ride-hailing company that’s currently operating in 80 cities across the Middle East, has added $150 million in financing to a previously announced Series D funding, bringing to the round to $500 million. The lastest capital infusion was led by Dubai’s Kingdom Holding, which also owns a stake in Lyft ; German automaker Daimler (which itself has acquired Hailo in the UK, Taxibeat in Greece and MyTaxi in Germany); and venture firms DCM Ventures and Coatue Management. TechCrunch has more here.

Conviva, an 11-year-old, Foster City, Ca.-based company that delivers metrics to brands like HBO, Sky and ESPN so they can create better in-screen viewing experiences for their customers, has raised $40 million in fresh funding. Investors include Australia’s sovereign wealth fund Future Fund, New Enterprise Associates, Foundation Capital, and Time Warner Investments. Altogether, the company has raised $121 million so far. TechCrunch has more here.

Cybrexa Therapeutics, a months-old, New Haven, Ct.-based cancer therapeutics startup, has raised $6 million in funding from Connecticut Innovations; an investment vehicle affiliated with HighCape Partners; and a group of unnamed angel investors. More here.

Guazi.com, a two-year-old, China-based online used car trading platform, has raised $400 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital China. A number of other participants also joined the round, including H Capital, CMB International, Jingxin Venture Capital, a fund management company established by Chinese steel maker Shougang Group, and Dragoneer Investment Group, along with earlier backers Matrix Partners China and BlueRun Ventures. China Money Network has more here.

Highspot, a 5.5-year-old, Seattle-based startup whose sales software analyzes various communications with prospective clients, then provides data about their effectiveness, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Shasta Ventures, with participation from Salesforce Ventures and earlier backer Madrona Venture Group. TechCrunch has more here.

MobiKwik, an eight-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based mobile payments company that’s number two to Paytm in India, is reportedly in talks to raise $100 million to $150 million from investors in a round that would value the company at more than $1 billion. TechCrunch has more here.

Ocugen, a four-year-old, Malvern, Pa.-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing treatments for sight-threatening diseases, has raised $7.5 million in Series B funding co-led by Abdi Ibrahim, a Turkish pharmaceutical company, and the JSC Lancaster Group, which is a diversified holding company based in Kazakhstan. Individual investors also joined the round. More here.

Ola, the 6.5-year-old, Bangalore, India-based mobile app for cab booking in India (and Uber’s biggest rival there), has reportedly raised about $50 million in fresh funding from hedge fund Tekne Capital Management, as an extension of an ongoing round. The capital brings Ola’s total funding to date to about $2.4 billion, says the outlet Inc 42.

Optoscribe, a seven-year-old, Livingston, U.K.-based maker of glass-based integrated photonics components, has raised £1.8 million ($2.3 million) led by the Scottish business angel investment syndicate Archangels, with participation from Par Equity, Scottish Investment Bank, unnamed individual angels and the Optoscribe management team. More here.

Ridibooks, an eight-year-old, Seoul-based e-book provider that claims to be Korea’s biggest, has raised a $20 million Series C funding, including from Praxis Capital Partners, ShinHan Finance Investment, and Company K Partners. The company has now raised $35 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Twist Bioscience, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup specializing in synthetic DNA, has raised $27 million, completing a $60 million round it began raising in March. The company’s newest investors include Biomatics Capital, Reinet Fund, NFT Investment Limited, Kangmei Group, Bay City Capital GF Xinde Life Science Investment Fund, 3W Partners Capital, and Ditch Plains Capital Management. The company has now raised $181 million altogether. More here.

Unikey, a seven-year-old, Orlando, Fl.-based smart lock startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of  funding from ff Venture Capital, Asset Management Ventures and Samsung NEXT. More here.

New Funds

500 Startups has closed its first Japan-focused fund with $35 million, thanks to help from a government fund, Cool Japan Fund, along with other investors that include camera-maker Nikon, Meizhou Bank, Mitsubishi Estate and the Japanese social network Mixi. TechCrunch has more here.

Foresite Capital, a six-year-old, venture and growth equity firm with offices in San Francisco and New York, is looking to raise up to $650 million for its fourth fund, shows an SEC filing first flagged by Axios.

Glynn Capital, a 47-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based venture and private equity firm, has raised $153 million for its fifth fund, according to an SEC filing that lists a $200 million target.

Hardware Club, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm focused on supporting hardware startups, has closed its debut fund with $28 million. Venture Pulse has more here.

MedMen, a year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based startup focused on legal cannabis businesses, has raised $60 million for its debut fund, shows an updated SEC filing. More here.

Palo Alto Networks is partnering with Greylock Partners and Sequoia Capital to set up a $20 million venture fund that provides early-stage capital investments for security applications to run on its security platform. The fund will be aimed at seed-, early- and growth-stage security companies with a cloud-based application approach. Computer Weekly has more here.

Technion in Haifa, Israel says it’s establishing a $200 million venture capital fund that will invest in science and technology companies, mainly related to the university and its alumni. Globes has more here.

Ventureast, a 20-year-old, Chennai, India-based early-stage venture firm, has scaled down the target for its sixth fund from $150 million to $100 million, reports the Times of India. The outfit held a first close on the fund last September. More here.

Also Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC is also being brought to you this week by Rosebud Communications:  You bring the steak, we’ll bring the sizzle. Our retainer fees are $5,500 per month versus $10,000+ for the other guys, and while we can’t make the news, we can ensure that yours gets heard. Reach us at info@rosebudpr.io.

People

Apple CEO Tim Cook talks with Bloomberg about Donald Trump, the HomePod, and the legacy of Steve Jobs.

Dave Famolari, formerly a director at Verizon Ventures, has left to joine Hearst Ventures as a managing director.

Kauffman Fellows just announced its newest class.

Turns out Peter Thiel does not want to suck teenagers’ blood.

Jobs

Nvidia, a publicly traded company whose chips are increasingly being used in engineering visualization and high-performance computing (they also helped the company design its new headquarters), is looking for a director of corporate development. The job is in Santa Clara, Ca.

Essential Reads

Hallelujah. The next iPhone will have wireless charging, says an Apple supplier.

Uber is facing a fresh probe from U.S. regulators over its privacy practices, says Recode.

Detours

You could be reading 200 books a year (yes, you!).

How your mind makes accidents inevitable.

Holy cow, Wells Fargo.

Retail Therapy

The “offensively wide” 4K widescreen TV that claims to be world’s largest.


StrictlyVC: June 14, 2017

Hi, happy Wednesday, all.:)

StrictlyVC is being brought to you this week by Rosebud Communications:  AR +PR = better market awareness and more sales. Our monthly public relations retainer of $5,500 includes a full-service analyst relations package. Forrester, Gartner, IDC, Frost & Sullivan — they matter to enterprise software companies, and we can help navigate the waters. Email us at info@rosebudpr.io; operators are standing by.

Top News in the A.M.

David Bonderman, an Uber board member and partner at private equity firm TPG, resigned from the board of the company last night, hours after he made a remark at an Uber meeting, insinuating that adding more women to a company’s board results in “more talking.” TPG, a major stakeholder in the company, is already looking for his replacement. The New York Times has the story here.

Element AI, a year-old, Montreal-based platform and incubator that wants to help companies of all sizes that are building or want to include AI solutions in their businesses but lack the resources to get started, has raised a mammoth Series A round of $102 million. In fact, the company says it’s the biggest round to date for a pure AI company. Data Collective led the round. TechCrunch has more here.

No Active CEO at Uber, No Problem?

Uber has bucked convention from the outset, so it wasn’t entirely surprising when yesterday, company cofounder and CEO Travis Kalanick announced that he’s taking a leave of absence from his San Francisco-based ride-hailing juggernaut —  without naming an interim CEO or disclosing a return date.

Instead, Kalanick told employees, the company will be run by his direct reports. Meanwhile, owing to the results of a probe led by former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder — who was hired to look into allegations of harassment, bullying, and discrimination at the company — some of Kalanick’s responsibilities will be shared or given outright to other senior executives when he does return.

Of course, it all begs the question of how long a 12,000-person company that’s valued at between $60 billion and $70 billion can operate without an active CEO.

Jeffrey Pfeffer, a renowned professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business who has written extensively about organization theory, suggests the answer is, pretty long, particularly given that Kalanick will still have his hand in executive decision-making.

“My sense is that most of what Uber has done is to ‘signal’ that they are changing,” says Pfeffer. “Whether they are [truly implementing change] is another matter.”

Consider: If there are disagreements between sales and operations, who will settle them? If one of Kalanick’s direct reports threatens to quit or takes another job, who has the authority to fill that role? Assuming Uber’s COO search continues, who is doing the interviewing? If it’s Kalanick — who said yesterday that he’ll “still be available as needed for the most strategic decisions ” — then he’s not really taking a leave.

Still, Uber had to do something, says one well-known crisis communications expert who asked not to be named. “As long as Travis was in the CEO role, the company would continue to be the focus of media attention and would be likely the focus of criticism. I think this maneuver puts an end to it, because the focus of all that media criticism is now gone.”

Uber’s move isn’t entirely unprecedented — though it comes close. Pfeffer notes, for example, that it’s not uncommon for CEOs to take a leave of absence, pointing to Oscar Munoz of United Airlines, who took a leave of absence in 2015 to have a heart transplant, and who returned to the role in 2016.

Another CEO who recently took a leave of absence: Ron Wainshal, the CEO of the commercial aircraft leasing company Aircastle, who was granted time away in January to focus on his health (and who announced yesterday that he’s now resigning entirely to “focus on a speedy recovery”).

Of course, both Munoz and Wainshal stepped aside for medical reasons. Jeff Cohn — a succession planning expert at the New York-based leadership development firm Elevate Partners —  says he has never before seen a CEO step aside when there wasn’t a medical reason for it.

“Perhaps it has happened,” says Cohn. “But I can’t think of any high-profile situations where a board has encouraged its CEO to step aside in the context of becoming a better leader.”

There’s a reason for that, says Cohn, who claims it “doesn’t work.”

More here.

New Fundings

AEye, a four-year-old, Pleasanton, Ca.-based robotic vision startup, has raised $16 million in Series A funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and an unnamed investor, with participation from Airbus Ventures, Intel Capital, and Tyche Partners. The WSJ has more here.

Art Medical, an eight-year-old, Netanya, Israel-based developers of smart intubation devices for use in intensive care, has raised $20 million in new funding led by Advanced Medical Technologies. Mobi Health News has more here.

CognitiveScale, a four-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based developer of industry-specific machine intelligence software, has raised $15 million in funding Norwest Venture Partners, Intel Capital, Microsoft Ventures, The Westly Group and USAA. The company has now raised $50 million altogether. Silicon Hills has more here.

Fortanix, a Menlo Park, Ca.-based cybersecurity company, raised $8 million in Series A funding from Foundation Capital and NeoTribe. More here.

Fusion Risk Management, a nine-year-old, Chicago-based company that makes subscription-based disaster recovery software, has raised $41 million in new funding led by Catalyst Investors. Crain’s Chicago Business has more here.

Futu Securities, a five-year-old, Hong Kong-based online brokerage, has raised $145.5 million in Series C funding led by Tencent Holdings, with participation from earlier investors Matrix Partners China and Sequoia Capital China. China Money Network has more here.

GeoQuant, a year-old, San Francisco-based platform for measuring political risk in real time, raised $4 million in seed funding, including from Aleph and XL Innovate. More here.

G.Network, a London-based startup that provides ultra-fast fibre connectivity to businesses, has raised roughly $5.9 million from Albion Capital. More here.

Grainful, a eight-year-old, Ithaca, N.Y.-based food company that makes frozen entrees and meal kits that are centered around steel cut oats, has raised $3.3 million in funding from Advantage Capital, Rand Capital and CircleUp. More here.

Humm Kombucha, an eight-year-old, Bend, Ore.-based maker of kombucha drinks, has raised $10 million in funding led by Velocity Made Good Partners. BevNet has more here.

Hurdl, a year-old, L.A.- and Nashville, Tn.-based experiential marketing company, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from a long list of angel investors that includes athletes and executives across the NBA, NHL, CBS, 300 Entertainment, LaCorte Ventures, Turner Sports, and CNBC, among other places. More here.

Inturn, a four-year-old, New York-based B2B retail marketplace that helps brands buy and sell excess inventory, has raised $22.5 million in Series B funding led by B Capital Group. TechCrunch has more here.

LabConnect, a 15-year-old, Seattle, Wa.-based company that provides laboratory services to biopharmaceutical organizations, has raised $24.5 million in Series A funding from ABS Capital Partners, Pablo Capital, and BroadOak Capital. More here.

Landed, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that offers to pay up to half of the 20 percent down payment on homes for educators with zero interest or monthly payments, recouping its investment when the home is sold or refinanced, has “landed” $5 million in funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. TechCrunch has more here.

NowRx, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Calif.-based on-demand pharmacy, has raised $2 million in seed funding from individual investors and via the crowdfunding platform SeedInvest.com. More here.

Osso VR, a year-old, Boston-based virtual reality surgical training technology company, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by SignalFire, with participation from Anorak Ventures. More here.

Peerfit, a six-year-old, Tampa, Fl.-based digital platform for employee health benefits, raised $2.3 million in funding from individual investors. More here.

PingCAP, a two-year-old, Beijing-based company that’s building a NewSQL database, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by China Growth Capital, with participation from Matrix Partners China, Yunqi Partners, Frees Fund and K2VC. China Money Network has more here.

Ponycar, a year-old, Shenzhen-based electric vehicle rental company, has raised $22 million in funding from Chinese smartphone maker OPPO Electronics and investment firm Huiyou Capital, with participation from investment bank China Peakedness. China Money Network has more here.

Proterra, a Greenville, S.C.-based maker of all-electric buses, has raised $55 million in new funding led by Generation Investment Management, with participation from BMW i Ventures. The financing follows a $140 million round that closed in January. Bloomberg has more here.

ROKT, a seven-year-old, Singapore-based digital marketing company, has raised $11 million in additional Series B  from Moelis Australia, Time Inc., Square Peg Capital, and individual investors, including Lachlan Murdoch. The round has now been closed with $26 million. The Australian has more here.

Shadow, a 1.5-year-old, Paris-based cloud computing company, has raised a humongous $57.1 million in Series A funding, and it has reportedly raised the capital from angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Shopmatic, a two-year-old, Singapore-based e-commerce company, has raised $5.7 million in funding led by ACP and Spring Seeds Capital. LiveMint has more here.

SnappCar, a six-year-old, Netherlands-based peer-to-peer carpooling platform, has raised €10 million ($11.2 million) from investors, including Europcar Group, Autobinck Group and Startup Studio Founders. Tech.eu has more here.

Sqrrl, a five-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based cyber security company, has raised $12.3 million in Series C funding led by Spring Lake Equity Partners. More here.

Sure, a 2.5-year-old New York-based on-demand personal insurance company, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by IA Capital, with participation from Menlo Ventures, FF Venture Capital, Nationwide Ventures, Assurant and AmTrust. VentureBeat has more here.

Trusona, a two-year-old, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based maker of online identity products, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Microsoft Ventures, with participation from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. VentureBeat has more here.

WhiteSource, a six-year-old, Woodbury, N.Y.-based maker of security and compliance management software, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by 83North led the round. Other participants in the round include Microsoft Ventures and David Strohm of Greylock Partners. More here.

Wonderschool, a year-old, San Francisco-based network of boutique early childhood programs, has raised $2 million in Series A funding led by First Round Capital, with participation from Cross Culture Ventures, SoftTech VC, Lerer Ventures, FundersClub, and Edelweiss. More here.

Xealth, a six-month-old, Seattle-based digital prescription service, has raised $8.5 million in funding led by DFJ. VentureBeat has more here.

XG Entertainment, a two-year-old, Shanghai-based TV entertainment production company, has raised $73 million in Series B funding led by the investment banking group China International Capital Co. China Money Network has more here.

ZenIQ, a two-year-old, Los Altos, Ca.-based company whose software is built for B2B marketers, has raised $4.6 million in funding led by Costanoa Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. More here.

New Funds

Extreme Venture Partners, a 10-year-old, Toronto-based venture capital firm and accelerator, raised closed on a third fund of an undicslosed size, saying it plans to invest the capital  in more than 30 international startups, writing initial checks of between $50,000 and $100,000. More here.

Grove Ventures, a two-year-old, Ramat HaSharon, Israel-based, early-stage venture firm focused on regional startups, has raised $76.8 million for debut fund, according to an SEC filing that lists a $100 million target. More here.

Exits

Amazon is in preliminary talks to buy the Indian grocery site BigBasket, as it steps up efforts to gain ground in the fast-growing market, says Bloomberg. BigBasket raised $150 million last year in a funding round led by Dubai’s Abraaj Group, and its backers also include Bessemer Venture Partners and Helion Venture Partners.

Also Sponsored By . . .

Calling all Data scientists! Android engineers! Full stack engineers! Content marketers! StrictlyVC is sponsored today by the Financial Solutions Lab at CFSI, which reminds you that they’re looking for brains, brains, brains. Or actually, the companies they support are — which is why FinLab has a job section where you can see who among the hottest fintech companies is hiring. Check it out.

People

Dylan Morris has joined venture firm CRV as general partner focused on bioengineering opportunities. (We’d written about the firm’s newfound attention to this ballooning sector here.) Morris was previously on the investment team of Innovation Endeavors.

Who’s in and out at Uber (pretty stark graph).

Jobs

Propel Venture Partners in San Francisco is looking to bring aboard both an analyst and an associate. Write to recruiting@propel.vc.

Essential Reads

Google owner Alphabet is finalizing an order to buy 300 modular apartment units from a startup for a building likely to serve as short-term housing for employees.

Instagram is making it clearer when influencer posts are really paid ads.

Box just made it a little easier to access your files while you’re at your computer.

Detours

The best of 1950s fashion.

The best 100 restaurants in the U.K.

People will like you more if you ask them questions.

Retail Therapy

Modify Watches. (Fun.)


StrictlyVC: June 13, 2017

Hi, happy Tuesday, all! We’re still smarting from last night; we were really hoping for another game this week. (Well, okay, fine, we were hoping the Cavs would win the Finals again.) Happy for the many Warriors fans in our lives, though, and what an amazing series to watch.

StrictlyVC is being brought to you this week by Rosebud Communications: Smart, on-message media coverage = higher valuations. We’re the hardest-working PR firm in the business. Send us an email; operators are standing by: info@rosebudpr.io

Top News in the A.M.

Travis Kalanick is maybe not going to follow all of the recommendations coming out of Eric Holder’s investigation into the company. According to Recode, Kalanick is still deciding whether or not to step aside from some period or ride out the storm. (For what it’s worth, members of our own household are divided on the issue.)

The ‘Instagram for Doctors’ Just Raised $10 Million More

Figure 1 isn’t for the squeamish, but investors apparently love it. The company, a kind of social network where more than a million healthcare professionals can view rare conditions, learn about novel treatments and even teach cases, has just raised $10 million in Series B funding.

Kensington Capital Partners led the round in Figure 1, which has also been called the Instagram for doctors. Other participants include Samsung NEXT, insurance conglomerate John Hancock/Manulife, the venture debt firm WTI, the Canadian investment firm Hedgewood, and earlier backers Union Square Ventures, Rho Canada Ventures, and Version One Ventures.

Last week, we caught up with Figure 1 founder and CEO Gregory Levey to learn the latest about the operations (ahem) of his four-year-old, 50-person, Toronto-based startup, which has now raised more than $20 million altogether. Our chat has been edited for length.

People are under the impression that only medical professionals can sign up to Figure 1, but that’s not so.

Anyone can join. In fact, we kid that it’s all journalists and VCs — people who are curious. But only medical professionals can post photos and make comments. Otherwise, you get a modified experience where you can see see stuff but you can’t post or comment. If we verify you as a healthcare professional, you get access to different stuff, as well.

When you say healthcare professional, that’s doctors and nurses. What about students?

We don’t want pre-med, but we make an exception for nursing students, and about 70 percent of med students around the country are members.

So your members are mostly in the U.S.?

About two-thirds are the in U.S. The second most engaged user base we have is in Latin America. We inadvertently [hired a lot of Brazilians] and have a whole Portuguese-speaking side of the office [laughs], so we make the app in both Spanish and Portuguese. We also have a lot of members in the U.K., and Australia is big. People also like us in emerging markets, but you get into bandwidth issues; the phones aren’t really at the level where you can keep [the Figure 1 app] on your phone because of storage issues.

How many registered and active users do you have?

We’re tracking toward a big user milestone now, but we’ve disclosed in the past that we have more than 2 million registered users and have hundreds of thousands of monthly active users. There are 800,000 doctors in the U.S.

In terms of engagement, what do you see? Is it like other social networks, where a small subset of visitors is active and everyone else is sort of playing the part of voyeur?

More here.

New Fundings

Clutter, a four-year-old, on-demand storage company, has raised $64 million in Series C funding led by Atomico, with participation from earlier backers Sequoia Capital, GV, and Fifth Wall. TechCrunch has more here.

Mrs. Wordsmith, a one-year-old, London-based edtech startup focused on high-quality visual content, has raised £2 million ($2.5 million) in seed funding. London-based Kindred Capital led the round, with participation from Reach Capital, SaatchiNvest and Ropart Asset Management. TechCrunch has more here.

Notion, a four-year-old, Denver-based maker of an all-in-one IoT smart home sensor, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Draper Nexus and TransLink Capital. Earler investors also joined the round, including XL Innovate, and Mesh VC. The company has now raised $15 million altogether. More here.

ShipBob, a three-year-old, Chicago-based company that helps ecommerce businesses with shipping and logistics, has raised $17.5 million led by Bain Capital Ventures. Earlier backers also joined the round, including Hyde Park Venture Partners, FundersClub, Hyde Park Angels and FJ Labs. VentureBeat has more here.

Snapsheet, a seven-year-old, Chicago-based maker of virtual claims software for the personal and commercial insurance industry, has raised $12 million in Series D funding led by Tola Capital. More here.

Submittable, a seven-year-old, Missoula, Montana-based startup that’s used by more than 9,000 companies to manage submissions, has raised $5 million in Series A funding from True Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Yofumo Technologies, a two-year-old, Denver-based cannabis storage and processing startup, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by MedScience Ventures, with participation from other, unnamed angel investors. More here.

Yumi, a 1.5-year-old, L.A.-based organic baby food delivery service, has raised $4.1 million in seed funding from Brand Foundry, August Capital and New Enterprise Associates. Several angel investors, including Ali Partovi, Automatic founder Matt Mullenweg, and Philip Krim, co-founder of mattress company Casper, also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Indonesia has a new venture fund; Intudo Ventures has raised $10 million for a debut fund that it intends to invest across 12 to 16 companies. TechCrunch has more here.

Exits

Hello, a sleep monitor maker that raised over $40 million in venture capital, including from Temasek, Facebook executives David Marcus and Dan Rose, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, and hardware executive Hugo Barra, is likely shutting down. More here and here.

Magazine giant Condé Nast has closed its experiment with e-commerce, Style.com, months after its launch. Now it’s joining forces with Farfetched — a venture-backed marketplace for high-end boutiques in which Condé is an investor.

Also Sponsored By . . .

This week’s StrictlyVC is also being brought to you by the same people who say crazy things like, “The internet would be better if we paid for things,” “Let’s bring fintech to the other 111 million,” and “Closing the women’s wealth gap is a billion-dollar opportunity.” (So not so crazy at all.) If you’re interested in everything from patents to fintech regulations to product marketing to nonprofit partnerships, you’re in luck: The Financial Solutions Lab has a blog.

People

Venture capitalist Jeremy Liew has read the criticisms of “Planet of the Apps” but he says it’s still worth watching for the pitch meetings in the latter half of each episode. “Anyone wanting to know what a real pitch process is like could do a lot worse then watch them to see what works.”

Marissa Mayer has officially resigned from Yahoo, following Verizon’s announcement that it has finally closed its acquisition of the company.

Jobs

BlueYard Capital, a young, primarily Europe-focused, early-stage venture firm, tells us it’s looking to hire a new analyst into a two-year-role. The job is in Berlin.

Data

These 50 companies are holding the biggest piles of overseas cash.

Essential Reads

Apple CEO Tim Cook has for the first time laid out exactly what the company is up to in the automotive market: It’s concentrating on self-driving technology. Bloomberg has more here.

Interesting stuff: When employees sell a small percentage of stock back to Uber, CEO Travis Kalanick gets 100 percent of the employees’ voting rights. The New York Times has the scoop here.

Detours

Sometimes, you’ve got to fly some cows to Qatar.

The man who stands in line for a living.

The seventh season of “Game of Thrones” will feature a couple of verrrry long episodes (which we be sitting through, one hand ready, always, to shield our eyes).

Retail Therapy

Sixty-six gifts for the stylish men in your life, just in time for Father’s Day.