Monthly Archives: July 2017

StrictlyVC: July 25, 2017

Hi, happy Tuesday, everyone!

As some of you know, we’ve begun quietly planning our next StrictlyVC event, coming up Wednesday evening, September 27, at the beautiful Autodesk Gallery in downtown San Francisco.

We’re already very excited to be hearing from institutional investors Michael Kim and Beezer Clarkson on a range of topical issues, including the role that limited partners do and perhaps should be playing in determining whether bad actors get bounced from the venture industry sooner.

In response to popular demand for an ICO discussion, we’re also very happy to announce one of our newest guest speakers: banker Stan Miroshnik, who after a decade with Morgan Stanley is focusing exclusively on cryptocurrency- and token-based capital markets at his L.A.-based bank, Element Group. (You may have seen Miroshnik’s name popping up increasingly in Forbes and CNBC and in other reporting about ICOs.) He managed the crowdsale of the Blockchain Capital Fund and the ICO of distributed storage company Storj, and has six other things in the pipeline. Miroshnik, a UC Berkeley and MIT grad, has been ahead of this wave for some time, he speaks plain English (which we appreciate), and we’re going to be talking about a whole range of issues facing VCs in particular; you won’t want to miss this.

More announcements to come. As always, we’ll also have great food, delicious drinks, and plenty of networking.:)

Seats are available here. About a third of them vanished the previous time we mentioned this event, so don’t wait too long to get yours.

Endless thanks to our partners in the evening: Europe-based Ballou PR, which has long helped firms and funds navigate the European media landscape; Rosebud Communications, an L.A.-based firm helping tech startups up and down the California coast; and Bolt, a hardware-focused venture firm that counts longtime Sequoia investor Greg McAdoo among its newest partners.

Top News in the A.M.

SoftBank is already a big investor in Asian ride-hailing companies Grab, Ola and Didi Chuxing. Now the WSJ confirms an earlier report that SoftBank wants to buy a huge stake in Uber, too.

Slack is in talks to raise a large, new round co-led by SoftBank and its longtime backer Accel Partners, says Axios. Seemingly, this new round has been in the works since June.

Sponsored By . . .

Betts Recruiting is the top recruitment firm for high growth B2B and B2C companies specializing in revenue-generating roles, from entry level positions to VP. With more than 100 recruiters and six offices worldwide, in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Austin, New York and London, we have an expansive network of top talent. We take a consultative approach to your hiring process and provide guidance to scale your team or find your strategic hire. Are you or one of your portfolio companies looking to scale your organization? Check out our 2017 Salary Trends Report, or connect with our Global Head of Partnerships, Allison Andrade.

This Modular Construction Company Just Assembled a $4.2 Million Round of Funding

Building blocks are a fascination that most people eventually outgrow. Not Noel Maxam, an Emmy-award-winning producer, director and writer who more recently leapt into the world of modular construction with Emagispace, a company that’s looking to give stick-frame construction the brush.

Because the LA outfit just raised $4.2 million in Series A funding led by Alpha Edison — with participation from Circle Ventures, United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer, 54 Madison and others — we thought we should talk with Maxam about his interesting career arc, and what he’s planning to build with Emagispace. Our conversation has been edited for length.

You’d gone to film school and were producing daytime soap operas when the idea of Emagispace came to you. What happened?

One of the things I was doing in my job was looking at line items: how much it takes to build and install and store sets, which is an incredibly difficult process. You’re moving around irregular sizes and weights. At some point, I decided to apply for a patent. After that, things just snowballed. I partnered with an MIT engineer to create this building product with a life cycle. I wanted it to be sustainable and regular-sized. I wanted to be able to configure a wall that could be taken down by one person and that would never need to be “broken” or thrown out entirely. I wanted to be able to apply a different “skin” or wall covering that was separate from the blocks themselves.

Basically, I wanted something that was sustainable, reusable, could be repurposed and that could be recycled, once someone is done with it.

What are these modules made of?

The product is medium-density fiberboard panels that are made of sawdust, wood chips and recycled newspaper, and we use lightweight ABS plastic interlocking blocks to connect them.

I understand that Sony and Maker Studios are using them for their movie and show sets. What are some of the other ways that customers are using them?

They’re being used in office build-outs, commercial retail, trade shows, rock concerts, college theaters, convention halls, in living spaces, for disaster relief by NGOs that are using them for shelter. There’s really no difference between our product and a standard wall, and because you can build it up and take it down and re-use it, the cost savings multiply over time.

More here.

New Fundings

B-Secur, a 14-year-old, Northern Ireland-base company whose biometric authentication technology uses an individual’s unique heartbeat pattern, has raised roughly $4.5 million in seed funding from Accelerated Digital VenturesKernel CapitalWoodford Investment Management, and British Business BankMore here.

Convoy, a two-year-old, Seattle-based tech-enabled trucking network, has raised $62 million in Series B funding led by the YC Continuity Fund (the fund’s first investment not involving a YC alum). Other participants in the round include Cascade Investments (Bill Gates’s private vehicle), Mosaic Ventures, and Barry Diller, along with earlier backers Reid HoffmanSimon Rothmanof Greylock Partners; Salesforce CEO Marc BenioffBezos Expeditions; investor-twins Hadi and Ali Partovi; former Starbucks president Howard Behar; and others. We have more on this round here.

Duolingo, a six-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based popular language learning service, has raised a $25 million in Series E funding led by Drive Capital. The round assigns the company a post-money valuation of $700 million, it says. TechCrunch has more here.

Grabr, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based marketplace enabling consumers to buy unique or hard-to-find international goods, has raised $2.7 million in funding led by SignalFire, with participation from Founders FundNFX GuildGlobal Founders Capital and numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Leesa, a three-year-old, Virginia Beach, Va.-based direct-to-consumer online luxury mattress retailer,  has raised $23 million in Series B funding led by One Better Ventures, an investment company led by Seventh Generation CEO John Replogle. More here.

Maven, a three-year-old, New York-based digital clinic for women, has raised $10.8 million in Series A funding led by Spring Mountain Capital, with participation from 14W, DGNL, and Colle Capital. Earlier backers 8VCGreat Oaks Venture CapitalThe Box Group, and F3 also joined the round. Fortune has more here.

Node, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based platform that uses artificial intelligence to help its customers find sales leads, has raised $10.8 million in funding led by Avalon Ventures, with participation from Mark CubanNew Enterprise Associates, and Canaan Partners. The company has now raised $15.8 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

PerimeterX, a 2.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based provider of behavior-based threat protection technology, has raised $23 million in Series B funding led by Canaan Partners, with participation from earlier backers Vertex Venturesand Data CollectiveMore here.

Iguazio, a three-year-old, Herzliya, Israel-based company that has built an “edge data” analytics platform targeting IoT, finance and other services that require real-time processing, just raised $33 million in Series B funding. Pitango Venture Capital led the round, with participation from Verizon VenturesRobert Bosch Venture CapitalCME Ventures and Dell Technologies Capital, along with earlier backers Magma Venture Partnersand Jerusalem Venture Partners. The company has now raised $48 million altogether. More here.

Prospera, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv-based startup that uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to help farmers analyze data gathered from their fields, has raised $15 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Qualcomm Ventures, with participation from Cisco InvestmentsICV, and returning investor Bessemer Venture Partners. The company has now raised $22 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

SimilarWeb, a 10-year-old, Tel Aviv-based company that sells analytics and insights about the performance of websites and apps, as well as competitive intelligence about how other apps and sites are doing, has raised $47 million in new funding. Viola Growth led the round, with participation from Saban VenturesCE Ventures, and other unnamed investors. The company has now raised $112 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Urbanbase, a three-year-old, Seoul-based startup that makes virtual reality tools for interior planning and design, has raised $1.8 million in Series A funding from CKD Venture CapitalMagellan Technology and Capstone Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Also Sponsored By . . .

Draper University, a residential entrepreneurship bootcamp founded by Tim Draper, is accepting applications for its Fall Hero Training Class, a seven-week residential program located in downtown San Mateo that allows students to develop a product and pitch to 80+ investors. Our next class kicks off September 11th; two blockchain companies, Qtum.org and Bitclave.com, have pledged to give crypto tokens to those who apply, as well as those who attend the program.

The program looks for entrepreneurially minded founders who run pre-seed companies who are between the ages of 18 and 28. Draper University has launched 280+ startups that have raised $50M+, and a number of them have since been acquired. Apply by August 11th at draperuniversity.com/application.

New Funds

The venture firm Canaan Partners just closed its eleventh fund with $800 million in commitments — the largest in its 30-year-history. Rich Boyle, a formerly operating partner at Khosla Ventures who joined Canaan last year, becomes a general partner with this newest fund. More here.

Exits

Facebook has acquired three-year-old, New York-based based content rights management startup Source3, including its team and technology, for undisclosed terms. Source3 had raised more than $4 million in funding, including from Contour Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Publicly traded HubSpot is announcing that it has acquired Kemvi, a two-person startup applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to help sales teams.The financial terms of the acquisition haven’t been disclosed. Kemvi previously raised $1 million in funding from Seabed VCNeotribe VenturesKepha Partners and others. TechCrunch has more here.

Michael Kors has agreed to buy shoemaker Jimmy Choo for a little more than $1.2 billion in an effort to recover some of its lost cachet. It’s the fifth time that Jimmy Choo has changed hands since it was founded in the East End of London in 1996 by Choo and Tamara Mellon. Fortune has more here.

Synthesio, an 11-year-old, New York-based social intelligence platform company, has acquired Social Karma, a five-year-old, Belgium-based company that uses social data to help marketers understand consumers. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

People

Julie Bornstein, who spent the last two years as COO of Stitch Fix, an online retailer that’s widely expected to go public, quietly left the company last week. Recode wants to know: why.

Elon Musk just fired back at Mark Zuckerberg over his grasp of the future of AI, claiming that the Facebook CEO’s “understanding of the subject is limited.” The apparent dig comes roughly a week after Rodney Brooks, the founding director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab and the cofounder of both iRobot and Rethink Robotics, made very similar comments to us about Musk.

Jobs

Comet Labs, a young venture fund focused on robotics and AI startups, is looking to hire an investment associate. The job is in San Francisco.

Essential Reads

Inside Hampton Creek‘s empty boardroom.

Facebook is reportedly building its own smart speaker.

Lyft‘s business is now growing faster than Uber’s.

Detours

The inventor of Monopoly was trying to warn us.

Justin Bieber is reportedly “just over it.” (We feel you, Biebs.)

Retail Therapy

The Effeffe Berlinetta. Viva l’Italia!


StrictlyVC: July 24, 2017

Hi, happy Monday, everyone! No column today — we’ve been on back-to-back calls — but more tomorrow.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Online health publisher WebMD Health said earlier today that it has agreed to be bought by the private equity firm KKR in a deal valued at about $2.8 billion. More here.

Sponsored By . . .

Betts Recruiting is the top recruitment firm for high growth B2B and B2C companies specializing in revenue-generating roles, from entry level positions to VP. With more than 100 recruiters and six offices worldwide, in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Austin, New York and London, we have an expansive network of top talent. We take a consultative approach to your hiring process and provide guidance to scale your team or find your strategic hire. Are you or one of your portfolio companies looking to scale your organization? Check out our 2017 Salary Trends Report, or connect with our Global Head of Partnerships, Allison Andrade.

New Fundings

Aire, a three-year-old, London-based AI-powered credit scoring startup, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Sunstone Capital, with participation from earlier backer White Star CapitalMore here.

BentoBox, a four-year-old, New York-based startup that helps restaurant owners quickly build full-featured sites for their businesses, has raised $4.8 million in Series A funding. Bullpen Capital led the round, with participation from Launch Capital, Seamless founders Jason Finger and Paul AppelbaumRiverPark Ventures, and Invision CEO Carl Valberg. TechCrunch has more here.

Colorescience, a 16-year-old, Carlsbad, Ca.-based aesthetic makeup products line, has raised $15 million in funding from undisclosed investors. More here.

eFFECTOR Therapeutics, a five-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based company whose technology modifies how proteins are manufactured according to instructions carried in DNA, has raised $38.6 million in Series C financing. The round was led by Pfizer Venture Investments, with participation from Alexandria Venture Investments and earlier backers U.S. Venture PartnersAbingworthNovartis Venture FundSR OneThe Column GroupAltitude Life Science VenturesSectoral Asset ManagementAbbvie Biotech VenturesBioMed Ventures, and Astellas Ventures. The San Diego Union-Tribune has more here.

Epet, a nine-year-old, e-commerce platform for pet products that’s based in China’s Heilongjiang Province, has raised $53 million in Series B funding led by IDG Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Expert360, a four-year-old, Sydney, Australia-based online marketplace that provides access to freelance consultant talent for enterprises, has raised $10 million in fresh funding, led by AirTree Ventures, Australia’s largest VC fund. The company has now raised $21 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Exporo, a three-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based real estate crowdfunding startup, raised an €8 million ($9.3 million) in funding, including from e.venturesHoltzbrinck VenturesSunstone Capital and BPO CapitalMore here.

Grab, the five-year-old, Singapore-based ride-sharing company competing with Uber for dominance in Southeast Asia, is closing on $2.5 billion in a new funding, including a combined $2 billion from Didi and SoftBank that will reportedly value Grab at more than $6 billion. (As says the New York Times, “In East Asia, Uber’s biggest rivals smell blood.”) More here.

Hinge Health, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that provides health kits to people suffering from musculoskeletal injuries, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Atomico. Earlier seed investors Eleven Two CapitalThe Vertical Group, and SwiftKey CEO Jon Reynolds, also participated. Business Insider has more here.

Niuniuqiche, a two-year-old, Shanghai-based business-to-business new car transaction platform, has raised $17 million in funding led by Kaitai Capital, with participation from earlier backer Zhongjun Fund. China Money Network has more here.

Nyotron, a five-year-old, Santa Clara, Ca.-and Herzliya, Israel-based cyber-security company, has raised $21 million in fresh funding led by DGB Investments, with participation from numerous individual investors. More here.

Power Survey and Equipment, a 69-year-old, Montreal, Canada-based manufacturer of power factor correction and harmonic filtering products and services, has raised $24 million in Series A2 funding led by EnerTech Capital and Investissement Québec, along with participation from Cycle Capital ManagementFonds de solidarité FTQ and BDC CapitalMore here.

Rimilia, a 10-year-old, U.K.-based maker of cash management software for enterprises, has raised $25 million in funding co-led by Kennet Partners and Eight Roads Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Tamara Mellon Brand, a four-year-old, New York-based lifestyle brand that sells shoes and handbags, has raised $13 million in fresh capital, shows an SEC filing. The company had previously raised a little more than $15 million from investors, including New Enterprise Associates and Arab Angel Fund.

The Town Kitchen, a two-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based industrial catering company that services corporate customers and employs urban youth, has raised $1 million in seed funding. Urban Innovation Fund led the round and was joined by Better VenturesRose Culinary VenturesSlow Money, and SheEOMore here.

Vixiar Medical, a three-year-old, Annapolis, Md.-based company that’s developing non-invasive devices and systems for monitoring cardiopulmonary diseases, has raised roughly $1.5 million in seed funding, including from the Abell Foundation, and the Maryland Technology Development CorpMore here.

New Funds

Venktesh Shukla, a former TiE chairman and the founder of the three-year-old, early-stage venture firm Monta Vista Capital, is looking to raise up to $30 million for his second fund, shows an SEC filing.

Also Sponsored By . . .

Draper University, a residential entrepreneurship bootcamp founded by Tim Draper, is accepting applications for its Fall Hero Training Class, a seven-week residential program located in downtown San Mateo that allows students to develop a product and pitch to 80+ investors. Our next class kicks off September 11th; two blockchain companies, Qtum.org and Bitclave.com, have pledged to give crypto tokens to those who apply, as well as those who attend the program.

The program looks for entrepreneurially minded founders who run pre-seed companies who are between the ages of 18 and 28. Draper University has launched 280+ startups that have raised $50M+, and a number of them have since been acquired. Apply by August 11th at draperuniversity.com/application.

People

Ben Horowitz is helping define the modern tech age. His father shaped the ’60s radical left — before taking a hard right turn.

Larsen Jensen has joined Lightspeed Venture Partners as a partner, reports Axios. Jensen was previously a summer associate at both Andreessen Horowitz and (the following summer) Lightspeed. He was also a Navy SEAL officer for four years, which is not a claim that most VCs can make.

Sarah Kunst, a female entrepreneur who is among others who’d accused 500 Startups founder Dave McClure of sexual misconduct, has joined the board of the Michigan State Foundation. The idea is to help it identify both promising venture firms that are also diverse and focused on ethics, she tells Axios.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is joining parent company Alphabet’s board of directors.

SoFi’s chief revenue officer, Michael Tannenbaum, just became the latest exec to leave the company, following a string of departures in its senior ranks.

While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues his listening tour around the U.S., struggling cafeteria workers at Facebook wonder whether he knows what’s happening in his own backyard.

Essential Reads

Why America’s tech giants should be broken up.

How Venmo breeds pettiness.

VCs wanting to dive into the digital currency market are facing a novel challenge: the hottest tech startups that sell the coins don’t need their money.

Detours

Some of the coolest trailers from Comic-Con 2017.

How St. Andrews became a top American school.

The accent whisperers of Hollywood.

Retail Therapy

Perfect for when you finally sell your company.


StrictlyVC: June 21, 2017

Friday!  [Shoots streamers from office confetti cannon.] Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone.:)

No column today.

Top News in the A.M.

Y Combinator is reportedly raising up to $1 billion for a new fund.

Sponsored By . . .

Did you know that 31 percent of paid SaaS licenses go entirely unused? We’re talking about BILLIONS of dollars in annual waste, compliance failures, and security problems. Meta SaaS solves these problems with an end-to-end SaaS service management application in the cloud for companies spending at least $1 million annually. Are you a VC? Get a VC discount! Have more than one portfolio company that needs Meta SaaS? Your portfolio companies get a 15 percent discount by mentioning that you heard about Meta SaaS on StrictlyVC.

New Fundings

Arzeda, a nine-year-old, Seattle-based protein design company, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by OS Fund, with participation from Bioeconomy CapitalSustainable Conversion Ventures and WRF Capital. Xconomy has more here.

Betterment, a nine-year-old, New York-based online financial advisor, has raised $70 million in funding as an extension of last year’s Series E round. Kinnevik led the round, with participation from Bessemer Venture PartnersMenlo Ventures, and Francisco Partners. The company is reportedly now valued at $800 million. Business Insider has more here.

Entier, a nine-year-old, Westhill, Scotland-based catering company that serves meals to more than 4,500 people on oil and gas rigs and other remote installations around the world, has raised £6.5 million ($8.4 million) in funding from Business Growth FundMore here.

Fox Rent A Car, a 28-year-old, L.A.-based rental car company, has raised $25 million in funding from NewSpringKemper Corp, and Star Mountain CapitalMore here.

Genicon, a 19-year-old, Winter Park, Fla.-based medical device maker focused on minimally invasive instruments (it makes a disposable clip to facilitate wound closures, for example), has raised $6.6 million in funding, including from Rand CapitalAdvantage Capital and Coastal EnterprisesMore here.

Lvl5, a year-old, San Francisco, Ca.-based developer of crowdsourced HD maps and computer vision software for self-driving vehicles, has $2 million in seed funding, including from Max Altman’s 9Point Ventures and Y Combinator partner Paul Buchheit. (The company had passed through YC earlier year.) More here.

Klarna, a 12-year-old, Stockholm-based company that works with e-commerce businesses and retailers to provide financing and other payment services, has sold a 10 percent stake in its business to Permira, the private equity firm whose shopping habits we’d discussed earlier this year. Klarna and Permira are not confirming the size of the investment, but TechCrunch was told that it’s more $225 million. The capital comes on the heels of another cash injection worth at least $225 million from Brightfolk, an investment firm tied to fashion retail magnate Anders Holch Povlsen, which closed in early June. More here.

NeuroVia, a 1.5-year-old, Bay Area-based biopharmaceutical company that’s working on treatments for a range of rare genetic neurological diseases, has raised $14 million in Series A funding co-led by Novartis Venture Fund and Sanofi-Genzyme BioVenturesMore here.

Playkey, a three-year-old, Moscow-based game streaming service, has raised a fresh $2.8 million from Russia’s Internet Initiatives Development Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

TickSmith, a five-year-old, Montreal, Canada-based company whose data platform is used by trading and risk groups, regulators, exchanges and data vendors who need to accumulate, transform, analyze and disseminate larger scales of financial data from multiple sources, has secured C$2 million ($1.6 million) in funding. The capital comes from Illuminate Financial ManagementMore here.

Xiaomai, a three-year-old, Beijing-based automated convenience store operator that lets users scan their face or phone to enter the store, has raised $18.5 million in Series A funding led by Aplus Capital, with participation from Chenshan Capital. It’s the latest in a series of cashier-free convenience store chains to be funded or created recently in the country. China Money Network has more here.

Also Sponsored By . . .

With StrictlyVC in Boston this week for TC Sessions: Robotics, we’re also coming to you courtesy of Boston HQ’d Beantown Media Ventures. When venture-backed AI startups like TellusLabs and publicly traded machine learning companies like Mattersight look to build compelling media narratives and scale content marketing, they turn to BMV.

BMV’s growth approach to PR has helped hundreds of startups with services designed to drive inbound leads and valuations. In fact, it has supported several successful exits to date, including SinglePlatform ($100M), Runkeeper ($85M) and ByteLight. Looking like this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when it comes to your own startup’s digital PR & content strategy? Get in touch with BMV today!

IPOs

ADT, the home-security company, is reportedly preparing for an IPO, just 17 months after being taken private by Apollo Global Management. Apollo paid $6.9 billion for the company. The WSJ said the IPO could come at the end of this year and value the company at more than $15 billion, which is kind of amazing. (How has a Nest not made a dent in this company by now?) The WSJ has more here.

Ancestry.com, the 34-year-old, Lehi, Utah-based genealogy website that filed for a confidential IPO in June, is close to hiring banks to lead the deal, says Bloomberg.

PetIQ, a seven-year-old, Eagle, Id.-based pet medication maker that was named True Science until last year, priced 6.3 million shares at $16 last night, the high end of its proposed range; they closed above $23 on their first day of trading today. More here.

Exits

Shyp, the on-demand shipping service launched in 2013, has announced that it’s withdrawing from all but one city and “reducing headcount at headquarters” in an effort to  prove its business model. The company will suspend operations in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, and only operate in San Francisco. TechCrunch has more here.

Rapid7, a two-year-old, Boston-based startup provides software tools for automating security tasks, has acquired Komand, a 1.5-year-old, Boston-based security orchestration and automation platform company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Xconomy has more here.

People

Aditya Agarwal, who joined Dropbox in 2012 and was given the CTO role just nine months ago, is leaving the company.

Bank of America Vice Chairman Anne Finucane has reportedly been approached about the role of Uber CEO.

AngelList cofounder Babak Nivi says he left the outfit recently to work on something new, though TechCrunch’s Josh Constine suggests that there’s more to the story.

Vinod Khosla suggests that he’s dubious when it comes the growing claims of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley: “It’s a reality because it’s perceived as a reality.”

Richard Liu, CEO of Chinese e-commerce leader JD.com, says he expects revenue to soar 1,000 percent of the next ten years; he also thinks headcount will fall from 120,000 employees to 80,000 over the same period, thanks to unmanned warehouses, self-driving trucks, delivery robots and more.

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says she doesn’t want to become a full-time investor; she wants another CEO role.

Longtime TechCrunch writer Catherine Shu reports that in 2015, she was aggressively groped and propositioned by 500 Startups venture partner Tristan Pollack, who remains with the investment group following an investigation that was led by . . . ousted founder Dave McClure.

Arielle Zuckberberg has left Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which she had joined as an associate partner in late 2015, reports Axios. Her next move is seemingly TBD.

Jobs

Publicly traded New Relic is looking for a corporate development manager. The job is in San Francisco.

Spotify is looking for a corporate development manager. The job is in New York.

Essential Reads

Verizon says it has been capping traffic as part of a temporary video optimization test. The move is considered by many to be a violation of net neutrality laws that (for now) outlaw throttling.

Lyft has launched a new self-driving division, where it plans to develop its own autonomous ride-hailing technology.

Apple is reportedly working on electric car batteries with China’s biggest battery maker.

Detours

Where the world’s elite get their shirts made.

Adios, Sean Spicer.

Crying.

Retail Therapy

The five best language learning apps.


StrictlyVC: July 20, 2017

Hello, and happy Thursday.:)

Top News in the A.M.

The U.S. has now lifted entirely a controversial ban on laptops in hand luggage for passengers flying to the country from the Middle East or via certain Middle Eastern airlines. TechCrunch has more here.

Sponsored By . . .

Did you know that 31 percent of paid SaaS licenses go entirely unused? We’re talking about BILLIONS of dollars in annual waste, compliance failures, and security problems. Meta SaaS solves these problems with an end-to-end SaaS service management application in the cloud for companies spending at least $1 million annually. Are you a VC? Get a VC discount! Have more than one portfolio company that needs Meta SaaS? Your portfolio companies get a 15 percent discount by mentioning that you heard about Meta SaaS on StrictlyVC.

Here’s What Robotics Investors Say They Look for in Founding Teams

Robotics investing has taken off in recent years. Though it still represents a small fraction of overall VC spending, related deals are increasing in both frequency and size, with roughly $520 million invested across 40 deals in the first quarter alone, compared with roughly the same amount invested in 130 companies across all of 2014.

This week, we sat down with top robotics investors Josh Wolfe of Lux Capital, Helen Zelman Boniske of Lemnos and Manish Kothari of SRI Ventures to ask what they’re shopping for right now and what they hope to hear in startup pitches. You can see our sit-down below. In the meantime, some highlights from that conversation:

On why robotics investing has taken off:

Wolfe pointed to the “outpouring of engineers,” many of whom have been trained at “amazing places” like MIT under the tutelage of professors who themselves have started companies. He also cited the ebbs and flows of capital markets, noting that “any time the hype increases, the cost of capital gets low,” meaning more founders are able to raise money right now.

Wolfe further noted that robotics companies are making other robotics companies possible. Specifically, he pointed to the satellite company Planet, which captures photos that are then analyzed by the geospatial analytics company Orbital Insight, which then sells that research to its own customers, including retailers wanting a better idea of how many cars are in their parking lots.

Kothari meanwhile talked a bit about falling component prices and GPUs — or specialized electronic circuits — that are now a “big part of the game” and without which the  uptick in robotics investing “would not be possible.”

Kothari also talked of the importance of software becoming far more sophisticated and thus easier for founders to use as a building block.

On whether there’s enough follow-on funding for the many young robotics startups that have snagged seed and Series A-stage funding:

“At the moment, cash is abundant,” said Wolfe. “There are new angels coming [into the industry]. There are new venture firms forming. There are corporate guys coming in. SoftBank is making a huge impact on this stuff [including with its huge new Vision Fund].” All of it means that the risk of raising early rounds and follow-on funding is “very low,” in his view — as long as founders make products that are also “good businesses.” (The funding picture will invariably change, said Wolfe.)

Boniske said that in terms of later-stage funding, she’s seeing venture firms in Series A and B deals and that for later-stage deals, “strategics” — i.e., corporations with deep pockets and a need for new technologies — are more commonly involved.

Like Wolfe, she, too, stressed that founders better make certain the unit economics of their robots work, given that a slowdown is inevitable.

What the VCs want to see in founding teams:

More here.

New Fundings

Ada Support, a 1.5-year-old, Toronto-based customer support chatbot developer, has raised $2.5 million in funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Version One VenturesMore here.

Cubyn, a three-year-old, London and Paris-based startup that offers on-demand logistics to online businesses (picking up their customers’ orders on-site, packaging them and shipping them to any destination globally for €1 per parcel), has raised $7 million in Series A funding. DN Capital led the round, with a participation from BNP Paribas Developpement and follow-on funding from original backers Partech Ventures and 360 Capital PartnersMore here.

Dote, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile shopping app that acts as a virtual mall, featuring the products of a wide range of women’s brands, has raised $7.2 million in funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Dynamic Yield, a six-year-old, New York-based company that uses machine learning to help online marketers personalize customer experiences on their site, has added $9 million to its Series C financing, bringing the round to to a total of $31 million. Its new investors are Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners and La Maison; earlier investors in the round include ClalTechBaiduVertex Ventures, and Bessemer Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Graphcore, a year-old, Bristol, England-based machine learning startup that plans to ship its first AI-focused computer chips later this year, has raised $30 million in new funding led by Atomico, with participation from numerous high-profile individuals, including Google DeepMind cofounder Demis Hassabis. The company has now raised $62 million altogether. Business Insider has more here.

Gravie, a four-year-old, Minneapolis, Mn.-based health benefits marketplace, has raised $14.1 million in Series C funding led by GE Ventures, with participation from earlier backers FirstMark CapitalAberdare Ventures and Split Rock PartnersMore here.

Insight Engines, a two-year-old San Francisco-based company that aims to let anyone ask questions of machine data and get insights in seconds, has raised $15.8 million in Series A funding led by August Capital, with participation from SplunkReal VenturesData Collective, Erik Swan and Simon CrosbyMore here.

James, a five-year-old, Lisbon- and New York-based company whose artificial intelligence tool is used by credit risk teams, has raised $2.7 million from BigStart Ventures, along with a group of angels that include Gaël de Boissard, ex-CEO of Credit Suisse, and Henry Ritchotte, ex-COO of Deutsche Bank. More here.

LendKey, a 10-year-old, New York-based white-labeled lending platform for banks and credit unions, has raised $13 million in Series C funding. North Atlantic Capital led the round and was joined by DFJUpdata PartnersGotham Ventures, and TTV CapitalMore here.

Lever, a five-year-old, San Francisco-based recruiting software company, has raised $30 million in Series C financing led by Adams Street Partners, with participation from earlier investors Matrix Partners and Scale Venture Partners. Business Insider has more here.

Molekule, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based, sleekly designed molecular air purifier manufacturer, has raised $10.1 million in Series A funding led by Crosslink Capital, with participation from SoftTech VCTranslink Capital, and FoxconnMore here.

PebblePost, a three-year-old, New York-based startup that uses online data to target consumers with printed mail, has raised $47 million in a combination of equity and debt, including from RRE VenturesHorizon Technology Finance, and Silicon Valley Bank. TechCrunch has more here.

Protenus, a three-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based cloud-based analytics platform that helps healthcare organizations monitor and protect patient privacy, has tacked on $3 million to a previously closed Series A financing, money that brings the round to $7 million. Kaiser Permanente Ventures and F-Prime Capital Partners led the round. More here.

Receipt Bank, a seven-year-old, London-based bookkeeping software startup that caters to small businesses, has raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Venture Partners. Business Insider has more here.

SkySafe, a 1.5-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based company whose technology can disable drones that are flying where they shouldn’t, has raised a $11.5 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz. AH had previously provided the company with $3 million in seed funding. More here.

Slidebean, a three-year-old, New York-based app that wants to take on Prezi and PowerPoint, has raised $850,000 in seed funding from 500 Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Tomorrow, a year-old, Seattle-based financial and legal planning app for families, has raised $2.6 million in seed funding, including from MaveronCFSIEchelon CapitalClocktower Technology VenturesAllianz LifePlug And PlayFlying Fish Partners, and Curious CapitalMore here.

Trevi Therapeutics, a six-year-old, New Haven, Cn.-based late-stage clinical development company focused on treating uremic pruritus, has raised $50.5 million in Series C funding. New Enterprise Associates led the round and was joined by Lundbeckfonden VenturesOmega FundsAperture Venture Partners, and TPG BiotechMore here.

Vets First Choice, a seven-year-old, Portland, Me.-based company that provides e-commerce services to veterinary practices, has raised $223 million in funding to grow its business. Investors include Clayton, Dubilier & RiceHillhouse Capital GroupViking Global Investors, Wellington Management CompanyRock Springs Capital, and Sequoia Heritage. The Portland Press Herald has more here.

New Funds

Summit Partners, the Boston-based private equity and venture capital firm, has raised roughly $806 million in commitments for its second Europe Growth Equity fund. The 33-year-old firm says it will look to invest between €20 million and €60 million in “category-leading companies.”

Also Sponsored By . . .

With StrictlyVC in Boston this week for TC Sessions: Robotics, we’re also coming to you courtesy of Boston HQ’d Beantown Media Ventures. When venture-backed AI startups like TellusLabs and publicly traded machine learning companies like Mattersight look to build compelling media narratives and scale content marketing, they turn to BMV.

BMV’s growth approach to PR has helped hundreds of startups with services designed to drive inbound leads and valuations. In fact, it has supported several successful exits to date, including SinglePlatform ($100M), Runkeeper ($85M) and ByteLight. Looking like this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when it comes to your own startup’s digital PR & content strategy? Get in touch with BMV today!

IPOs

Kala Pharmaceuticals, an eight-year-old, Waltham, Ma.-based biotech whose lead drug aims to address inflammation and pain following ocular surgery, as well as temporarily relieve the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease, has raised $90 million in an IPO, after pricing shares at $15. The company had attracted roughly $115 million from private investors, including via a $68 million Series C round early last year from Longitude CapitalOrbiMedVivo CapitalCAM CapitalRA Capital ManagementWellington ManagementPolaris Partners, and Lux Capital. Its shares, which began trading this morning, are up 18 percent as of this writing.

YogaWorks, a 30-year-old, Culver City, Calif-based yoga studio chain that was purchased by the private equity firm Great Hill Partners (which had bought it from venture firm Highland Capital Partners for about $45 million in 2014),  has postponed its IPO. The WSJ cites an apparent lack of investor interest.

Exits

According to the L.A. Times, Amazon quietly shelled at “at least tens of millions of dollars” to acquire Graphiq, an eight-year-old, Santa Barbara, Ca-based data analysis and search engine start-up. The outlet says the deal closed in May. According to Crunchbase, Graphiq had raised at least $32 million from investors, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Pritzker Group Venture CapitalMore here.

After raising $55 million last year to build its business beyond its existing help desk services, Freshworks (the parent company of Freshdesk) has made an acquisition to help it fill out that strategy, acquiring Joe Hukum, a startup out of India that offers a platform for businesses to build their own chatbots. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. Joe Hukum, formerly called Speedy, had raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding. TechCrunch has more here.

Ten-year-old Lucid Motors, an electric car company that’s been trying to compete with the likes of Tesla and is reportedly low on cash, has talked with Ford about a sale, along with two other, unnamed companies. Recode has more here.

Messaging app Viber earlier this year made its first foray into shopping services with Instant Shopping, a feature that lets users search for sale items via a special keyboard. Now, it has acquired Chatter Commerce, whose tech powers that feature. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but Chatter had raised $1.25 million led by Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce giant that also owns Viber. TechCrunch has more here.

Zeta Global, a New York-based SaaS marketing automation platform (and “unicorn”), has acquired Boomtrain, a San Francisco-based marketing platform that leverages machine learning, for reportedly $35 million to $40 million. According to Crunchbase, Boomtrain had raised just less than $15 million, including from Sierra VenturesStreamlined VenturesLerer Hippeau VenturesCorrelation VenturesCrosslink Capital and TechSquare Labs. TechCrunch has the story here.

People

Intel laid off about 80 percent of the team that made the Basis smartwatch in November; now it has eliminated its wearables division entirely, says CNBC.

Ken Gonzalez is joining the two-year-old firm Trident Capital Cybersecurity as its fourth managing director. Previously, he was a senior corporate development exec at both FireEye and McAfee.

IAC-owned streaming video site Vimeo promoted Anjali Sud to CEO. She previously led the company’s creator business.

Data

The world’s 500 largest companies generated $27.7 trillion in revenues and $1.5 trillion in profits in 2016. They also employ 67 million people worldwide and are represented by 34 countries. Here they are, ranked by revenue (and topped by Walmart).

And here is the latest funding snapchat for Canada, courtesy of PWC and CB Insights.

Jobs

LinkedIn is looking to hire a corporate development manager. The job is in San Francisco.

Essential Reads

Superpreneur Elon Musk tweeted this morning that has received “verbal” government approval to dig an East Coast hyperloop tunnel that will get commuters from New York to Washington in just 29 minutes.

Now AlphaBay and Hansa Market are gone, dealing a major blow to the online drug trade.

Uber is raising salaries for all employees following complaints that its system for calculating compensation was unfair.

Detours

Half of all plastic in the world was made in the last 13 years, reports a new study. (Yikes.)

Washington’s most expensive homes sold in 2017.

How to talk to your teen about colluding with Russia.

Retail Therapy

tie for your favorite math geek.


StrictlyVC: July 19, 2017

Hi, everyone, happy Wednesday.:)

Top News in the A.M.

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a setback to Donald Trump’s travel ban earlier today, forcing his administration to accept people with grandparents, cousins and other relatives in the U.S.

Four more smartphone makers have joined Apple‘s battle against Qualcomm, claiming it charges excessive patent licenses and violates antitrust laws.

Sponsored By . . .

Did you know that 31 percent of paid SaaS licenses go entirely unused? We’re talking about BILLIONS of dollars in annual waste, compliance failures, and security problems. Meta SaaS solves these problems with an end-to-end SaaS service management application in the cloud for companies spending at least $1 million annually. Are you a VC? Get a VC discount! Have more than one portfolio company that needs Meta SaaS? Your portfolio companies get a 15 percent discount by mentioning that you heard about Meta SaaS on StrictlyVC.

This Famous Roboticist Doesn’t Think Elon Musk Understands AI

Earlier this week, at the campus of MIT, we had the chance to sit down with famed roboticist Rodney Brooks, the founding director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, and the cofounder of both iRobot and Rethink Robotics.

Brooks had a lot to say about AI, including his overarching concern that many people — including renowned AI alarmist Elon Musk — get it very wrong, in his view.

Brooks also warned that despite investors’ fascination with robotics right now, many VCs may underestimate how long these companies will take to build —  a potential problem for founders down the road.

Our chat, edited for length, follows.

You started iRobot when there was no venture funding, back in 1990. You started Rethink in 2008, when there was funding but not a lot of interest in robotics. Now, there are both, which seemingly makes it a better time to start a robotics company. Is it?

A lot of Silicon Valley and Boston VCs sort of fall over themselves about how they’re funding robotics [now], so you [as a founder] can get heard.

Despite [investors who say there is plenty of later-stage funding for robotics] , I think it’s hard for VCs to understand how long these far-out robotics systems will really take to get to where they can get a return on their investment, and I think that’ll be crunch time for some founders.

There’s also more competition and more patents that have been awarded, and a handful of companies have most of the world’s data. Does that make them insurmountable?

Someone starting a robotics company today should be thinking that maybe at some point, in order to grow, they’re going to have to get bought by a large company that has the deep pockets to push it further. The ecosystem would still use the VC funding to prune out the good ideas from the bad ideas, but going all the way to an IPO may be hard.

Second thing: On this data, yes, machine learning is fantastic, it can do a lot, but there are a lot of things that need to be solved that are not just purely software; some of the big innovations [right now] have been new sorts of electric motors and controls systems and gear boxes.

You’re writing a book on AI, so I have to ask you: Elon Musk expressed again this past weekend that AI is an existential threat. Agree? Disagree?

There are quite a few people out there who’ve said that AI is an existential threat: Stephen Hawking, astronomer Royal Martin Rees, who has written a book about it, and they share a common thread, in that: they don’t work in AI themselves. For those who do work in AI, we know how hard it is to get anything to actually work through product level.

More here.

New Fundings

Brain Corp., an eight-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based software company licensing artificial intelligence technology to multiple OEMs to convert their manual equipment into intelligent robots, has raised $114 million in Series C funding. SoftBank Vision Fund led the deal, with participation from Qualcomm Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Clara Labs, the three-year-old, San Francisco-based creator of the Clara AI assistant, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Basis Set VenturesSlack Fund also joined in the round, along with earlier investors Sequoia Capital and First Round. TechCrunch has more here.

DataRails, a two-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based company that’s trying to transforming Excel into a more modern organizational tool, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Vertex Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Cyrus Angel FundOryzn Capital and Joey LowMore here.

Embark, a two-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based doggie DNA startup offering genetic kits to determine pups’ pedigrees, has raised $4.5 million in funding led by Founder Collective. Other participants in the round include Freestyle CapitalThirdKind, Bill Maris’s new Section 32 fund, 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki, and SV Angel. The company has now raised $6.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

Gravity, a five-month-old, London-based startup at work on an Iron Man-like flight suit, has raised $650,000 in funding from longtime VC Tim Draper and his son Adam Draper. TechCrunch has more here.

Integrate, a seven-year-old, Phoenix, Az.-based enterprise software startup for marketers that was founded by former U.S. Olympian Jeremy Bloom, has raised $8 million in funding from Iron Gate Capital and earlier backers, including Foundry GroupComcast Ventures and Liberty Global. ExactTarget founder Scott Dorsey and DocuSign CEO Dan Springer also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $35 million. TechCrunch has more here.

Karmic, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup at work on payments infrastructure and applications to enable the faster and more secure issuance of card accounts, has raised $17.2 million in Series B funding. Investors include Alsop Louie PartnersArbor VenturesGreycroft PartnersMarketplace FundsStartup Capital Ventures and others. More here.

Leverton, a five-year-old, Berlin, Germany-based intelligent information extraction and document management platform for corporate documents at companies like Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, has raised €10 million ($11 million) in funding from DAH Beteiligungs and Anyon HoldingMore here.

LiveStories, a four-year-old, Seattle-based company that works with governments, education institutions and other public entities to structure and visualize civic data, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Ignition Partners, and included participation from True Ventures and Founders Co-Op. TechCrunch has more here.

Nauto, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based autonomous vehicle technology company, just raised $159 million in Series B funding, led by a subsidiary of SoftBank Group and Greylock Partners. Other participants include previous strategic investors BMW iVenturesGeneral Motors VenturesToyota AI Ventures, the venture unit of global financial services and insurance provider Allianz GroupPlayground Global and Draper Nexus. TechCrunch has more here.

Plenty, a three-year-old, South San Francisco-based indoor farming company that says it has figured out how to efficiently grow crops indoors, has raised $200 million in Series B funding round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund, making it the largest agriculture technology investment in history. Note, this is the second humongous deal that Softbank Vision Fund announced today. (See Brain Corp, above.) Bloomberg has more here.

Rentomojo, a 2.5-year-old, Bengaluru, India-based company that invites consumers to rent appliances furniture, motorbikes and other urban living essentials, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. Bain Capital Venturesled the round, with participation from LendingClub founder Renaud Laplancheand earlier backers Accel Partners and IDG. TechCrunch has more here.

Shift, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based used car marketplace, has raised $38 million in Series C funding led by BMW iVentures, with participation from new investors DCM Ventures and G2VP, as well as continued participation from DFJHighland Capital, and Goldman Sachs Investment PartnersMore here.

StackRox, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based cybersecurity startup that secures the contents of “containers,” or stacks of software that make it more efficient to run multiple applications atop a single operating system, has raised $14 million in funding. The round was led by Sequoia Capital. Reuters has more here.

Zego, a year-old, London-based startup offering pay-as-you-go insurance to on-demand workers, has raised a little more than £1 million in seed funding from investors, including LocalGlobe. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Luxembourg-based Mangrove Capital Partners, one of Europe’s leading early-stage venture capital firms, has raised $170 million for its latest fund. Mangrove V will be used to invest across Europe and Israel. The amount matches that of its previous funds. TechCrunch has more here.

Also Sponsored By . . .

With StrictlyVC in Boston this week for TC Sessions: Robotics, we’re also coming to you courtesy of Boston HQ’d Beantown Media Ventures. When venture-backed AI startups like TellusLabs and publicly traded machine learning companies such as Mattersight look to build compelling media narratives and scale content marketing they turn to BMV.

BMV’s growth approach to PR has helped 100’s of startups with services designed to drive inbound leads and valuations. In fact, it has supported several successful exits to date, including SinglePlatform ($100M), Runkeeper ($85M) and ByteLight. Looking like this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when it comes to your own startup’s digital PR & content strategy? Get in touch with BMV today here!

Exits

Church & Dwight, a household goods manufacturer that owns the Arm & Hammer brand, is acquiring the water flosser maker Water Pik for about $1 billion in cash. The private equity firm MidOcean partners had acquired Water Pik in 2013 for undisclosed terms. USA Today has more here.

Sizmek, an ad tech company owned by the private-equity firm Vector Capital, has agreed to acquire ad tech peer Rocket Fuel for $125.5 million, or $2.60 per share. When Rocket Fuel went public in 2013, its shares traded as high as $66, giving it a market valuation of roughly $2 billion. The WSJ has more here.

McCormick and Co., the spice and flavorings giant, said it’s acquiring RB Foods, maker of Frank’s RedHot Hot Sauce, French’s Mustard and other brands, in a $4.2 billion deal. The Baltimore Sun has more here.

People

Apple just named its first managing director in China.

Elon Musk tried to manage expectations earlier today about SpaceX’s new rocket designed to carry private citizens into space, saying whoever chooses to be among the first passengers will need to be “brave.”

You think Uber was mismanaged; Silicon Valley’s first founderWilliam Shockley, was much, much worse, observes Wired.

Data

Female, black and Latino student participation in Advanced Placement computer science exams has more than doubled in the past year, according to a new report. USA Today has more here.

Jobs

Invesco, a fund-of-funds with stakes in more than 400 venture capital and buyout partnerships, is looking to hire an associate. The job is in San Francisco.

Polychain Capital, a young cryptocurrency hedge fund backed by Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, is looking to hire a cryptocurrency analyst. The job is in San Francisco.

Essential Reads

Google now has a Facebook News competitor, except rather than show users what interests their friends, it shows what users themselves are interested in.

NBC has lauched a daily news show on Snapchat.

Snap is now worth less than half its peak value.

Detours

Why Americans eat so much cheese.

Retail Therapy

Hazy Train pale ale: “smooth, velvety” and with “fruit-forward mouthfeel.” (They had us at “beer.”)


StrictlyVC: July 18, 2017

Hi, happy Tuesday, all.:) We’re on a plane with good-but-not-great WiFi; if we missed anything major, we’ll catch you up tomorrow.

Top News in the A.M.

An investigation into alleged sexual misconduct at an event in 2013 has now led AngelList to place a sales employee, Lee Jacobs, on indefinite paid leave of absence, TechCrunch is reporting. A complaint lodged with AngelList alleges that Jacobs sexually assaulted a woman during an event attended by others in the tech industry in March 2013.

Hampton Creek’s entire board quietly left last month, except for CEO Josh Tetrick. Bloomberg has more here.

Also, Ethereum‘s cofounder is now saying that the crypto coin market is a ticking time bomb.

Sponsored By . . .

Did you know that 31 percent of paid SaaS licenses go entirely unused? We’re talking about BILLIONS of dollars in annual waste, compliance failures, and security problems. Meta SaaS solves these problems with an end-to-end SaaS service management application in the cloud for companies spending at least $1 million annually. Are you a VC? Get a VC discount! Have more than one portfolio company that needs Meta SaaS? Your portfolio companies get a 15 percent discount by mentioning that you heard about Meta SaaS on StrictlyVC.

Secondary Marketplace EquityZen Draws $3M in Funding

The number of public companies in United States is at a 40-year low; that’s good news for EquityZen, a four-year-old, New York-based company that operates a secondary marketplace for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock.

The 20-person firm says it has already closed more than 2,000 investments in more than 70 private firms, and Draper Associates is betting that number will grow substantially. To wit, the early-stage venture firm just led a $3 million Series A round in EquityZen, with participation from earlier backer WorldQuant Ventures.

EquityZen had previously raised seed funding from 500 Startups, LaunchCapital, and Projector Ventures. It has now raised $6.5 million altogether.

Certainly, the company has been picking up momentum over the last year. According to CEO Atish Davda, EquityZen now serves 20,000 accredited investors, and roughly a quarter of those individuals have joined in 2017; he also says his company has, in the first six months of this year, already surpassed the transaction volume it saw in 2015 and 2016 — combined.

No doubt part of that pick-up can be tied to EquityZen reducing the check size required to invest, from what used to be $20 million to $20,000. (And it wants to get that minimum down further, Davda says.)

Among those companies whose pre-IPO shares EquityZen has helped to trade are Nutanix, Veracode, Cloudera, and AppDynamics. EquityZen has also helped facilitate the trade of shares of the real estate brokerage Redfin, which is currently in the midst of a pre-IPO roadshow.

More here.

New Fundings

Artsy, an eight-year-old, New York-based art discovery marketplace, has raised $50 million in Series D funding at a reported $275 million post-money valuation led by Avenir Growth Capital. The round also included earlier backers L CattertonShumway Capital and Thrive Capital, along with some high-profile individual investors, like Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia and Larry Gagosian of Gagosian Gallery. TechCrunch has more here.

Awake Security, a three-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based cybersecurity analytics startup, has raised more than $30 million in new funding from Greylock Partners and Bain Capital VenturesMore here.

Corelight, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based cybersecurity startup focused on helping enterprises fight ransomeware, has raised $9.2 million in Series A funding. Accel Partners led the round, with participation from Osage University Partners and Riverbed Technology co-founder Steve McCanne. TechCrunch has more here.

Embark, a year-old, San Mateo-based self-driving trucking startup started by a 21-year-old robotics enthusiast, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Data Collective, with participation from YC ContinuityMaven Venturesand SV Angel. Techcrunch has more here.

Enterin, a year-old, Philadelphia-based developer of drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease, has raised $12.7 million in Series A funding led by New Ventures. FierceBiotech has more here.

Freshbooks, a 14-year-old, Toronto-based cloud accounting service, has raised $43 million in Series B funding led by earlier backer Georgian Partners, with participation from other earlier investors Accomplice and Oak Investment Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Ironhack, a four-year-old, Madrid-based coding bootcamp with campuses in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris and Miami, has raised $3 million in financing led by Madrid-based JME Venture Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

NewStore, a two-year-old, Boston-based enterprise platform for mobile commerce, has raised $50 million in Series B funding from Activant CapitalGeneral Catalyst Partners and founder Stephen Schambach (who previously founded Demandware). The company raised $40 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

PegBio, a 10-year-old, Suzhou, China-based drug developer focused on diabetes and obesity, has raised $20 million in Series E funding led by Shanghai-listed Tasley Pharma. China Money Network has more here.

Privitar, a three-year-old, London-based startup building tools to help organization keep their data private, has raised $16 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Partech Ventures, with strategic participation from CME Ventures (the investing arm of derivatives marketplace CME) and Salesforce Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

ScaleFT, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based security company, has raised $2 million in seed funding from Fathom CapitalSpectrum 28Fuel Capital and Rackspace founder Graham WestonMore here.

Syte.ai, a two-year-old, Israel-based visual search startup focused on fashion products, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by NHN Ventures (the investment arm of Korean internet services giant NHN). Other participants in the round include Naver Corp., messaging app Line Corp.Magma VCRemagine VCKDC Ventures, and NBM Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Wellframe, a six-year-old, Boston-based startup behind a mobile patient engagement and care management platform, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by F-Prime Capital, with participation from earlier backer DFJ. MobiHealthNews has more here.

Workato, a four-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based maker of workflow automation software, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Storm Ventures, with participation from strategic investors Salesforce Ventures and Workday Ventures. The company has now raised $16 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

Insight Venture Partners, the 22-year-old, New York-based venture capital and private equity firm, has so far raised $3.6 billion from 66 investors for its tenth main fund, shows an SEC filing. (The filing also shows a tidy $12 million in sales commissions to Goldman Sachs, Magenta Capital Services, and Sparring Partners Capital, among others.) Insight had last closed on two funds (a main fund and a co-investment fund) totaling $4.75 billion in 2015.

Also Sponsored By . . .

With StrictlyVC in Boston this week for TC Sessions: Robotics, we’re also coming to you courtesy of Boston HQ’d Beantown Media Ventures. When venture-backed AI startups like TellusLabs and publicly traded machine learning companies such as Mattersight look to build compelling media narratives and scale content marketing they turn to BMV.

BMV’s growth approach to PR has helped 100’s of startups with services designed to drive inbound leads and valuations. In fact, it has supported several successful exits to date, including SinglePlatform ($100M), Runkeeper ($85M) and ByteLight. Looking like this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when it comes to your own startup’s digital PR & content strategy? Get in touch with BMV today here!

Exits

Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart has sweetened its takeover offer of up to $950 million for Snapdeal, improving the chances of a deal between the two rivals, though some sticking points are still being hashed out, reports Reuters. More here.

People

We mentioned yesterday that software company BetterWorks and its CEO, Kris Duggan, are being sued by a former employee for assault, harassment, and discrimination. Now, Penguin Random House has pulled plans to publish a book co-written by Duggan and VC John Doerr. Bloomberg has the story here.

Come. On. Private equity investor Michael Loeb — who owns the sprawling waterfront mansion featured in the series “Billions” — was arrested for allegedly breaking a teen’s nose. The 18-year-old, who is friends with Loeb’s son, says Loeb punched him after another of the boys’ friends drunkenly threw up in Loeb’s garage during a charity event on Saturday. The New York Post has more here.

Tesla has added two new independent directors to its board, a move CEO Elon Musk said he’d been working on since the electric vehicle manufacturer merged with his solar panel company SolarCity. Joining the now nine-member board are media executives, Linda Johnson Rice, who is CEO of Johnson Publishing Company and Ebony Media Operations; and 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch. Recode has more here.

Two USC seniors walked into Sequoia Capital with a prototype made out of a fishbowl and landed $1.5 million. Business Insider has more here.

Rachel Whetstone, who recently left her job as top public relations and policy exec at Uber, is joining the communications team at Facebook in a newly created role as VP of comms of its WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger products. Recode has more here.

Essential Reads

Google Glass‘s second act is here.

Snap‘s lock-up period ends July 29. Here’s what could happen.

Google is taking aim at the recruiting software market.

Everlane, founded in 2011 as a direct-to-consumer brand that sells clothing made in factories with humanitarian conditions at wholesale prices, is opening its first brick-and-mortar store, the latest in a growing string of e-commerce companies to make the same move.

Detours

Twelve “Game of Thrones” cameos you might have missed.

Instagram has ruined wedding season.

Farewell for now, Kermit thee Frog.

Retail Therapy

Brush your teeth in 10 seconds with this baby. (We can’t guarantee your dental hygienist will approve.)


StrictlyVC: July 17, 2017

Hi, happy Monday, everyone! We’re on the beautiful campus of MIT today, in between a few on-stage interviews. We’ll be traveling for much of tomorrow, so you might be receiving the low-calorie version of StrictlyVC, but we’ll be back in full swing by Wednesday.:)

Top News in the A.M.

It’s time for bitcoin traders to batten down the hatches.

Sponsored By . . .

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This 32-Year-Old Senator is Trying to Get Patent Trolls Out of Massachusetts

When the internet security company Cloudflare decided to engage in all-out warwith what it views as a “dangerous new breed of patent troll,” it found a receptive audience with Eric Lesser, who became the youngest state senator in Massachusetts when elected to office in 2014.

Senator Lesser, now a 32-year-old in his second two-year-term, was in the same Harvard fraternity as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but says he didn’t really think much about tech until after working on President Obama’s first presidential election campaign in 2007. “I was traveling around with him and carrying suitcases and handling logistics for his traveling team,” he explains.

When the campaign was over, he joined then-senior advisor David Axelrod at the White House as a special assistant; he also became involved with the Council of Economic Advisors and more specifically with the agency’s chairman at the time, economist Austan Goolsbee. “That’s really when I started to get exposure to a lot of tech policy and some of the issues,” he says.

Fast-forward and today, among the issues Senator Lesser has become most focused on — because he sees it as among the bigger threats to Massachusetts’s economy — is patent trolling. Indeed, while he’s not sure how much he can do to help Cloudflare, which has a Boston office, a bill that Senator Lesser helped craft will be heard in committee tomorrow, and it would put a serious crimp in what he calls “shakedown operations” more broadly.

More from a conversation we had Friday morning, edited for length:

You’re on the young side to be a state senator.

I’d gone to Harvard, then Harvard Law School, and in my third year, I decided to jump into a race in the community where I grew up, and I won. It was a five-way primary, and very close. I think I won by 192 votes out of around 17,000. [Laughs.]

When did you zero in on this patent problem?

In Massachusetts, you serve two-year terms, and after I was reelected to my second term, a friend who I was friendly with in college was at HBS and he sort of said, “There’s this thing that’s starting to create real issues,” and it was patent trolling. I’d had a very atmospheric knowledge of it from law school and IP classes, but I began realizing this was a very big deal.

More here.

New Fundings

AdQuick, a year-old, L.A.-based startup that’s looking to make billboard advertising easier and more transparent, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding from Initialized CapitalVTF Capital (founded by Tony Hsieh of Zappos), and Haystack. TechCrunch has more here.

Bright.md, a three-year-old, Roseville, Ca.-based company whose software acts as a virtual physician’s assistant, has raised $8 million in Series B led by B Capital Group, with early-stage investor Seven Peaks Ventures joining the round. More here.

Butternut Box, a year-old, London-based startup that delivers fresh meals specially tailored for its customers’ dogs, has raised $1.3 million in dseed funding from Passion CapitalMore here.

Desktop Metal, a 1.5-year-old, Burlington, Ma.-based metal 3D printing company, has raised $115 million in Series D funding, including from New Enterprise AssociatesGVGE VenturesFuture FundTechtronic IndustriesLowe’sLux CapitalVertex VenturesMoonrise Venture PartnersDCVC OpportunityTycheKleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersShenzhen Capital Group and Saudi Aramco. The company has now raised $212 million altogether. More here.

Learnerbly, a year-old, London-based startup whose software tries to help companies better develop their employees, has raised $2 million in seed financing led by Frontline Ventures, with participation from Playfair Capital, the Mayor of London’s London Co-Investment FundFuture Planet Capital and regional tech angels. TechCrunch has more here.

Leap Motion, a nearly seven-year-old, San Francisco-based software and hardware company developing 3D motion-control technology for virtual reality and additional platforms, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, with participation from Andreessen HorowitzFounders FundHighland Capital Partners and SOSventuresMore here.

Rapid Medical, an eight-year-old, Yokneam, Israel-based company that makes stroke prevention and treatment products, has raised $9 million in Series B funding led by BRM Group and Shanghai-Israel Investment Fund, with the participation of Winnovation and Gefen Capital. Globes has more here.

Sensome, a three-year-old, Paris-based company developing a micro-sensor technology for smart medical devices, has raised $5.4 million in seed funding led by Kurma Diagnostics, with participation from Paris-Saclay Seed Fund and ID Invest, as well as a group of business angels. More here.

Tsunami VR, a three-year-old, L.A.-based company that develops immersive software applications using augmented reality and virtual reality for enterprise customers, has raised $7.5 million in second round funding, shows an SEC filing.

Venus Concept, an eight-year-old, Toronto-based maker of non-invasive devices devices for the medical aesthetics market, has raised $38 million in funding led by EW Healthcare Partners, with participation from HealthQuest Capital and Madryn Asset ManagementMore here.

WaveOptics, a three-year-old, UK startup that builds waveguide-based optics — technology based on hologram physics and photonic crystals — for augmented reality hardware, has raised $16 million in Series B round of funding from previous investors Octopus VenturesTouchstone Innovations and Robert Bosch Venture Capital, along with new investor Gobi Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Yimidida, a two-year-old, Shanghai-based logistics services platform for small cities in China (it focuses on last-mile delivery services), has raised $44 million in Series B funding led by CDH Investments, with participation from Global Logistic PropertiesSource Code CapitalK2VC and Tuofeng Investment. China Money Network has more here.

New Funds

Evolution Equity Partners, a New York-based investment firm, has raised $125 million for a new cybersecurity-focused fund. The Prague-based outfit was founded by a group of former executives and investors from antivirus software maker AVG Technologies. Dealbook has more here.

Also Sponsored By . . .

With StrictlyVC in Boston this week for TC Sessions: Robotics, we’re also coming to you courtesy of Boston HQ’d Beantown Media Ventures. When venture-backed AI startups like TellusLabs and publicly traded machine learning companies such as Mattersight look to build compelling media narratives and scale content marketing they turn to BMV.

BMV’s growth approach to PR has helped 100’s of startups with services designed to drive inbound leads and valuations. In fact, it has supported several successful exits to date, including SinglePlatform ($100M), Runkeeper ($85M) and ByteLight. Looking like this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when it comes to your own startup’s digital PR & content strategy? Get in touch with BMV today here!

IPOs

Blue Apron‘s shares dropped as much as 12 percent again today after Amazon filed a trademark application for prepared food kits. More here.

Sienna Biopharmaceuticals, a Westlake Village, Ca.-based biopharmaceutical company at work on topical products for medical dermatology and aesthetics, has sets terms for its IPO, revealing plans this morning to raise up to $69.3 million. More here.

Exits

Uber has acqui-hired Swipe Labs, a three-year-old,San Francisco-based social product studio. Swipe Labs had raised $8.2 million in funding from Binary CapitalFirst Round CapitalGreylock PartnersKhosla VenturesLowercase CapitalSherpa Ventures, and SV Angels. TechCrunch has more here.

The Financial Times reported yesterday that Wells Fargo will be spinning off a number of its products “worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to CFO John Shrewsberry, though he didn’t specify what products those would be. More here.

People

Performance management software company BetterWorks and its CEO, Kris Duggan, regional VP Matt Hart and VP of People Operations, Tamara Cooksey, have been sued by a former employee for assault, harassment, and discrimination.

Longtime VC Fred Destin is facing challenges in raising his new fund, owing to allegations by a female founder who says he behaved inappropriately after she pitched him on her startup at a technology conference. Bloomberg has more here.

Two of the best-known pioneers in private equity, Henry Kravis and George Roberts, named their potential successors earlier this morning, naming Joseph Bae and Scott  Nuttall, as its co-presidents and co-chief operating officers.

SoundCloud’s CEO Alex Ljung has said the company is “here to stay” in a post intended to quash rumors of a shutdown.

Yasmin Razavi has joined Spark Capital’s growth team. She was most recently a product manager at Snapchat and worked previously with Index Ventures.

Essential, the new smartphone startup headed up by Android founder Andy Rubin, has lost its top marketer before the phone has even launched. Vice president of marketing Brian Wallace left to become CMO of Will.i.am’s i.am+ lifestyle brand.

Jobs

Siemens is hiring a venture capital associate. The job is in Boston.

Data

Companies with at least one female founder grew from 9 percent in 2009 to 17 percent since 2012 — a stat that has not changed for five years.

Ad spending on mobile video will reach $18 billion next year, surpassing desktop for the first time.

Essential Reads

There are signs that we could see Amazon enter the messaging fray, alongside more established services from Facebook, Snapchat, WeChat and more. TechCrunch has more here.

Benchmark has reportedly had discussions to sell part of its stake in Uber to Softbank or other potential investors.

Snapchat is shopping for ad tech companies to help bolster its appeal to marketers.

Here’s what Atari’s upcoming Ataribox console will look like.

Detours

Employees who stay in companies longer than two years get paid 50 percent less over their lifetimes.

An overdose, a young companion, drug-fueled parties: The secret life of a USC med school dean.

A study says that yes, artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain. (Dammit!)

Retail Therapy

Vertical House.


StrictlyVC: July 14, 2017

Friday! Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

We’ll be writing you on Monday from Boston, where, among other things, we’re excited to be interviewing several top robotics investors, including Helen Zelman of Lemnos, Josh Wolfe of Lux Capital, and SRI Ventures President Manish Kothari. We’ll report back to you what they say in case it’s useful for your own work.

We also wanted to offer a quick bit of advice to the one Binary Capital portfolio CEO who has expressed his enthusiasm to us regarding keeping Jonathan Teo at the helm, and who we have been very responsive to(!), yet who keeps writing usMarc Kasowitz style.

You’d think a CEO might know better, but it’s not a good idea to talk to a reporter like this, or anyone for that matter.

Dear impassioned CEO, we understand that you are very important, with a very important startup to run. We looked it up; we wish you luck. And now, goodbye . . . forever. [Smoke machine envelops speaker. End scene.]

No column today.:)

Top News in the A.M.

AlphaBay, an online marketplace that sold illegal goods on the so-called Dark Web, was shut last week following action by international authorities, reports the WSJ, which says that unlike Silk Road, whose primary focus was on drug sales, AlphaBay was more diverse, selling guns, stolen credit card numbers and more.

Uber’s biggest rival in Southeast Asia , GrabTaxi, is poised to raise as much as $2 billion from Softbank and China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, in a deal that would value the company at more than $5 billion. The deal would make the company the region’s most valuable startup. The WSJ has the story here.

DraftKings and FanDuel, the two biggest daily fantasy sports platforms that originally announced their intention to merge last year, have called it quits. TechCrunch has more here.

Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC has been brought to you this week by First Democracy VC, a registered equity crowdfunding portal formed through a partnership between Indiegogo and MicroVentures. It’s worth checking out. Due to recent changes in U.S. law, startups can now raise money from anyone, not only accredited investors (i.e. wealthy individuals). Moreover, startups can use an equity crowdfunding raise to carve out a piece of a current raise with VCs and/or other institutional investors for their community of customers and fans.  Interested in raising money for your startup?  Apply now. Interested in investing? You can see a list of current investment opportunities here.

New Fundings

Actinobac Biomed, an eight-year-old, New Brunswick, N.J.-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing therapeutics for multiple indications, including blood cancers, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and HIV, is raising up to $4.4 million from Kairos VenturesMore here.

Assent Compliance, a 12-year-old, Ottawa-based company that helps enterprises collect the data needed to keep their global supply chains in compliance with local and international regulations, has raised roughly $31.4 million. Greenspring Associates led the round; other participants include earlier investors Volition CapitalOpen Text Enterprise Application FundBusiness Development Bank of CanadaNational Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program, and Royal Bank of Canada. TechCrunch has more here.

Bespin Global, a two-year-old, Seoul- and Beijing-based cloud IT solutions company, has raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Legend Capital, with participation from Premier PartnersAltos VenturesHyosung ITX, and other investors. More here.

Bevi, a four-year-old, Boston-based “smart” water cooler that makes custom beverages, has raised $16.5 million in Series B funding led by Trinity Ventures, with participation from Horizons Ventures and Tamarisc. The company has now raised $27.5 million altogether. Xconomy has more here.

Collectly, a year-old, Walnut Creek, Ca.-based app that aims to provide people who owe money with repayment solutions that enable lenders to recoup some of their losses, has raised $1.9 million in seed funding. GoAhead Ventures led the round, with participation from Lightspeed Venture PartnersIndex VenturesWTIIT-FarmCabra.vcGranatus Ventures, and OnWave Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Imsight Medical, a months-old, Beijing-based start-up developing artificial intelligence-assisted medical imaging analysis tools, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by Lenovo Group’s venture capital arm. China Money Network has more here.

Insticator, a five-year-old, New York-based startup that allows online publishers to add quizzes, polls, and other interactive elements that can include advertising, has raised $5.2 million in Series A funding led by Associated Venture Management. Other participants include Mintz & Co. and The Beatson Companies. Insticator has now raised more than $8 million total. TechCrunch has more here.

Plum, a 2.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based startup whose appliance preserves, chills and serves wine by the glass, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Khosla VenturesLas Olas Venture Capital and angel investors across the tech, wine and hospitality industries also joined the round. More here.

Synthio, a six-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based software company that automates the data cleansing process for B2B marketing contacts, has raised $8.5 million in growth funding from Fulcrum Equity PartnersMore here.

Vroom, a four-year-old, New York-, Dallas and Houston-based online auto retailer that delivers reconditioned vehicles to customers’ door, just raised $76 million in Series F funding. Backers include certain funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price AssociatesL CattertonGeneral Catalyst Partners and PICO Venture Partners. The company has now raised $295 million altogether. More here.

New Funds

Flagged by Axios: Longtime VC Warren Weiss is raising $35 million for a new venture fund called WestWave Capital. Weiss has spent the past 17 years with Foundation Capital. You can find the SEC filing here.

IPOs

Roku, maker of a streaming media player, is reportedly planning an IPO by year end and seeking a valuation of roughly $1 billion.

Since its IPO, Snap did exactly what it said it would, so why is its stock struggling?

People

Another member of Congress is urging fellow lawmakers to take a closer look at Amazon and its $14 billion bid to buy Whole Foods. (The first was U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California.)

A Goldman Sachs co-president and a leading contender to become the investment bank’s CEO has a surprising hobby.

Here’s who reportedly doesn’t want the Uber job.

Jobs

Index Ventures is looking to hire two pre- or post-MBA associates. One role is in San Francisco, the other in London.

Data

Investments in China-based companies more than tripled in the second quarter, hitting $10.7 billion up from the $3.5 billion recorded in the first three months of the year. The huge difference reflects in part two massive deals, notes China Money Network: Didi Chuxing’s $5.5 billion funding round from SoftBank and others, and Toutiao’s $1 billion founding round from Sequoia Capital and CCB International. More here.

Essential Reads

Amazon‘s next Echo will be more like Apple’s HomePod.

Tesla is offering a secret special deal to some owners.

If you care about sexual harassment and female founders, you may want to watch this Sunday night. (It’s worse than we’d realized.)

Detours

What Disney’s “Star Wars Land” will look like.

How to protect your kid from identity theft.

Fake news articles may just be the tip of the iceberg. New research shows it’s possible to create fake news videos, too.

Retail Therapy

Cool! The NES Power Glove. Apparently it doesn’t work very well, but who cares?


StrictlyVC: July 13, 2017

Happy Thursday, everyone.:)

Binary Capital: Everyone is weary of hearing about it, we know, but we did want to correct an earlier report that we’d gotten wrong. We’d told you that LPs of the venture firm Binary Capital had accepted co-founder Jonathan Teo’s resignation in late June. That’s inaccurate, and we regret the error.

As you may know, last weekend, Jonathan Teo wrote two emails to Binary’s portfolio companies and to its LPs. In one of those notes, he said that LPs have not yet accepted his resignation. According to our original sources, who we pressed on this, Binary’s LPs had told them they were still planning to move forward with plans to find a new general partner to manage out the firm’s investments, but these sources had been told the process could take longer than expected, up to 90 days from 30, as originally explained to them.

Another source even closer to the fund planning now says the LPs have not made a final decision and that, in the meantime, they want to keep Teo in place for the sake of Binary’s employees and portfolio companies that are relying on the firm to continue functioning. Further, one CEO of a Binary-backed company has reached out to us to let us know he is fighting to keep Teo on as the firm’s managing director.

Obviously, there are clearly a lot of confusing elements and players involved in this story; again, we’re sorry for our part in advancing that confusion.

Top News in the A.M.

Uber is handing over the keys to its business in Russia, with the San Francisco-based company and Yandex merging their ride-hailing businesses. Specifically, Uber will invest $225 million and take a 36.6 percent stake in a new, yet-to-be named venture that will be valued at $3.73 billion, the companies said in a statement earlier. Bloomberg has more here.

Snap shares received a much-needed Wall Street upgrade today, after falling to a post-IPO low. Investment bank Stifel upgraded the shares to buy from hold, with analyst Scott Devitt saying in a note that some of the worries surrounding Snap could be overblown.

Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC comes to you this week courtesy of First Democracy VC, a registered equity crowdfunding portal that’s powered by Indiegogo and MicroVentures. Equity crowdfunding lets anyone invest in innovative startups and growing companies. Interested in raising money for your startup?  Apply now. Interested in investing? Check out current investment opportunities here.

Saucey Raises $5.4M More from Investors to Delivery Booze On Demand

Saucey, an L.A.-based alcohol delivery company, has raised $5.4 million in Series A funding led by Bullpen Capital, with participation from earlier and new investors, including Blumberg Capital, Structure Capital and HashtagOne.

Saucey, which has now raised $10.2 million altogether, is competing against a dizzying number of alcohol-delivery companies. In addition to direct rivals like DrizlyThirstie, and Swill, delivery companies like Postmates and Instacart are increasingly focusing on new categories, including alcohol delivery. Amazon is also beginning to offer beer and wine delivery in a growing number of cities.

Some CEOs might find the landscape daunting. In a chat with us yesterday, Saucey CEO Chris Vaughn didn’t seem deterred by his company’s many challengers, partly because the market opportunity these companies are chasing is humongous, and partly because he thinks Saucey can become the favorite of regulators in the states where it operates.

We chatted with Vaughn yesterday about the company. Our conversation has been edited for length.

You were working for a series of startups in L.A.; what motivated you to leave and start Saucey?

I guess I caught the tech bug in college, so after school, I wound up going to work for a couple of startups, including a company called textPlus, where I met and became super good friends with my Saucey cofounders.

As for the idea, my girlfriend at the time — now my wife — is an operating room nurse, and she’d come home and want something to drink. We’d be halfway through dinner and she ask, “Can you get some wine?” I found I was always running out to get this stuff, and that maybe 80 percent of the time, it was last minute, on impulse. I talked about that with Dan [Leeb, now Saucey’s chief product officer] and Andrew [Zeck, its CTO], and they were like, yes, let’s do it.

Were liquor stores easy to convince?

It was fall of 2013 when we got started, and we met with at least 40 to 50 liquor retailers who said no. Finally, a guy in his early 30s who’d inherited his dad’s West Hollywood store said within a minute, “Yeah, that’s awesome.” So we [started working with him]. He was doing about $300,000 a year in sales, and in that first year, we brought him an additional $600,000 in sales.

We were working night and weekends and eventually made the move and left textPlus. We were doing all the deliveries ourselves. Sometimes, there would be a spike in demand and we’d only realize afterward that, oh, “The Bachelor” season had started.

How many employees do you have today?

We have 25 full-time employees and work with 2,300 couriers.

Are these Uber and Lyft drivers and people who drive for other services?

Most have a professional courier background or drive for Postmates or Instacart and are used to interacting with customers and navigating around cities. We spend a lot of time optimizing our courier routes, so the average courier [delivers] substantially more orders than with these other services. When they’re going to the [liquor] store, the chances are they aren’t picking up one order but three or four, so they can be efficient with their time.

How are drivers paid?

On a per order basis; it’s a flat fee per order, plus a percentage based on how big the cart is. If they’re delivering a big order, they’ll get 50 cents for every additional item in the cart.

If we open a new territory or new zone, couriers are still paid per order, but we’ll guarantee an hourly minimum to ensure we have coverage no matter what.

Do you insure them? 

They bring their own insurance. We also do background checks on everybody.

What about your customers? How do you make certain they’re of legal drinking age?

We require an ID to be checked and scanned on every single order. It doesn’t matter if you’re a super loyal customer of ours or you’re 100 years old.

More here.

(More) New Fundings

Applitools, a four-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.- and Tel Aviv-based provider of cloud-based automated visual testing of web and mobile applications, raised $8 million in funding. Sierra Ventures led the round, with participation from Bessemer Venture PartnersMagma Venture PartnersiAngels and La MaisonMore here.

BloomAPI, a two-year-old, Seattle-based startup that says it’s connecting patients, providers, and payers to data in thousands of previously disconnected systems, has raised $2.4 million in seed funding. The capital comes from Y CombinatorSlow VenturesFounders’ Co-OpSection 32 (Bill Maris’s new fund), Liquid 2 VenturesFifty Years FundTWB Investment PartnershipWei Fund, Zenefits cofounder Parker Conrad and other angels. TechCrunch has more here.

Cover, a five-year-old, New York-based app that recommends homeowner’s insurance to users based on what’s photographed in their home, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Social Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Entrupy, a five-year-old, New York-based company whose machine-learning-driven software as a service enables businesses to quickly authenticate high value goods, has raised $2.6 million in Series A funding led by Digital Garageand Daiwa Securities GroupMore here.

Framebridge, a three-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based custom framing startup, has raised $16.7 million in Series B funding, with Crate & Barrel cofounder Gordon Segal joining in as an investor. The company has now raised $37 million altogether, including from New Enterprise AssociatesRevolution Ventures, and SwaN & Legend Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

Geek+, a two-year-old, Beijing-based developer of logistics robots, has raised $60 million in Series B funding led by Warburg Pincus, with participation from earlier backers, including Volcanics Venture. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Makeblock, a four-year-old, Shenzhen, China-based robotics construction platform for makers and STEM learners, is reportedly raising $60 million in Series C funding with SoftBank in talks to invest. The company’s current backers include Sequoia Capital and the startup accelerator Hax. Bloomberg has more here.

Mendel.ai, a year-old, San Francisco-based artificial intelligence engine provider for the medical industry, has raised $2 million in seed funding co-led by DCM Ventures and Bootstrap Labs. Other investors in the round include Launch CapitalDeNa Strategic Investments, and Mark GoldsteinMore here.

Open Listings, a three-year-old, L.A.-based startup that lets buyers purchase homes and receive a 50 percent refund on whatever fee their real estate agent would normally make, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding. Matrix Partners led the round, with participation from Initialized Capital and Arena Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

OwnBackup, a five-year-old, Fort Lee, N.J.-based startup that makes backup and restore software as a service, has raised $7.5 million in Series B funding led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers, includingInnovation EndeavorsOryzn Capital and Salesforce Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Pendo, a four-year-old, Raleigh, N.C.-based platform that aims to help businesses better understand their customers by tracking key customer metrics, has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by Meritech Capital Partners. The company had closed on $20 million in Series B funding just seven months ago. TechCrunch has more here.

Quill, a six-year-old, London-based digital content production company, has raised an undisclosed amount in funding, bringing the total funding raised to date to £10 million ($13 million). Its investors include Smedvig Capital and Panoramic Growth EquityMore here.

Rover.com, a six-year-old, Seattle-based network of pet sitters and dog walkers, has raised $65 million in new funding led by Spark Capital. Other participants in the round include Bespoke StrategiesStepStone Group and earlier backers Madrona Venture GroupMenlo VenturesFoundry GroupOMERS Ventures and Technology Crossover Ventures. Earlier this year, as readers might recall, Rover.com acquired direct rival DogVacay. TechCrunch has more here.

Stash, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based micro-investing app, has raised $40 million in Series C funding led by Coatue Management, with participation from earlier investors Breyer CapitalGoodwater Capital and Valar Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

New Funds

HarbourVest Partners has closed its fourth co-investment fund with $1.75 billion in capital commitments. The firm was targeting $1 billion initially. Pensions & Investments has more here.

Samsung’s venture capital arm said yesterday it is expanding into Europe to invest in the continent’s start-up scene. Samsung NEXT will use a $150 million global fund raised in January to target early stage start-ups in Europe for investment or acquisition, focusing on tech companies working on artificial intelligence, the internet of things, augmented reality and virtual reality, says CNBC. More here.

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IPOs

London’s latest ploy to attract the world’s largest IPO.

Exits

Cisco is acquiring Observable Networks, a six-year-old, St. Louis-based network security company. No financial terms are being disclosed. According to Crunchbase, the startup had raised less than $5 million from investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Dev Bootcamp, the original “coding bootcamp,” is shutting down, the company said yesterday. Its last cohort of students, who begin the program next week, will graduate in December and receive job search help before the school permanently shuts down. The company was acquired by education services company Kaplan in 2014. Axios has more here.

Luxury phonemaker Vertu has collapsed. The company made $50,000, jewel-encrusted handsets, so it was pretty much a matter of time. The BBC has more here.

People

WeWork has promoted its chief legal officer and chief cultural officer Jen Berrent into the role of COO in what could be a pre-IPO maneuver. We talked with Berrent and WeWork cofounder Miguel McKelvey yesterday.

Serial entrepreneur Jason Golberg, cofounder of famed flameout Fab and now founder of a newer chat app called Pepo, is planning to stage an ICO for the business in the last quarter of the year.

Pinterest has scooped up two Google execs as it looks to build out its advertising team. AdWeek has more here.

Revolution Growth added Todd Klein as a partner, promoted Steve Murray to a managing partner, named Evan Morgan as a special partner, and hired Luisa Sucre as an analyst.

Jobs

Lockheed Martin Ventures, the venture capital arm of Lockheed Martin Corp, is looking to hire an investment analyst. The job is in Bethesda, Md.

The healthcare investment firm Versant Ventures is looking to hire a principal. The job is in Basel, Switzerland. Write to executive headhunter Christine Mathews if interested, at cmathews at versantventures.com

Data

The top 10 tech startups cooking in Cleveland.

Essential Reads

A wireless Oculus VR headset is coming.

Despite the scandals to rock Uber this year, competition for the CEO position is robust.

A source tells Fast Company that Apple is working hard to add a rear-facing 3D laser system to the back of one of the new iPhones to be announced this fall. The new sensor system would enable better depth detection for augmented reality apps.

Detours

Emmy nominations 2017.

Harvard is considering doing away with its social clubs.

Retail Therapy

Now you can decorate your place like a Gucci ad (assuming you haven’t already).


StrictlyVC: July 12, 2017

Aha! You didn’t realize that we hadn’t published yet today! Gotcha.:)

Top News in the A.M.

Shares of PayPal hit an all-time high today of $56.99, thanks to a new company partnership with Apple.

Another VC bites the dust. Frank Artale, who, over the last decade, worked as a VP of biz dev at Citrix Systems, then joined Ignition Partners in 2011 as a managing director, has resigned from the firm. In a tweeted statement yesterday, Ignition said it had learned of a complaint of misconduct about Artale from a third party. His resignation this past Sunday night was “effective immediately,” says the firm.

Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC comes to you this week courtesy of First Democracy VC, a registered equity crowdfunding portal that’s powered by Indiegogo and MicroVentures. Equity crowdfunding lets anyone invest in innovative startups and growing companies. Interested in raising money for your startup?  Apply now. Interested in investing? Check out current investment opportunities here.

AutoTech Ventures Just Landed $120 Million from Transportation Companies for Its Debut Fund

Transportation is a huge category. Just some of the players include automakers and motorcycle manufacturers and trucking firms and logistics companies and dealership groups and repair shop chains and truck rental companies and car leasing companies and telematics companies and energy companies with big networks of gasoline stations around the world.

Given the dramatic changes underway in the way that people travel, you can imagine these industries are acutely interested in knowing what technologies are on the horizon so they can adapt and adjust their strategies.

Enter Autotech Ventures, a three-year-old, Bay Area-based venture fund that’s focused on ground transportation startups and which is promising its limited partners — most of them transportation companies — introductions to the latest and greatest startups.

It’s also offering to make key connections for the startups that make room for it at the table.

The firm’s vertical approach is reminiscent of Fifth Wall Ventures, a real-estate focused fund that recently raised its debut fund from a long line of heavyweights in the real-estate world who also want access to the tech that might impact their industry.

Autotech’s strategy is seemingly working already, too. The firm, which is today announcing the close of its debut fund with $120 million in capital commitments, has already funded six companies, including the growing ride-share giant Lyft.

More here.

New Fundings

Aptrinsic, a year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based company whose software aims to help companies acquire customers by providing them with real-time product usage data, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding co-led by Storm Ventures and Opus CapitalMore here.

Astronomer, a two-year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based collaborative data platform developer, has raised $3.5 million in funding led by Wireframe Ventures. Other participants in the round include Frontline VenturesGrand VenturesDrummond RoadCore NetworkM25 Group, and Silicon Valley Bank. TechCrunch has more here.

CAILabs, a four-year-old, Rennes, France-based company that develops and manufactures a range of light shaping components, has raised around $5.7 million in funding, including from Safran Corporate VenturesMore here.

Care/of, a year-old, New York-based company that makes subscription-only vitamin supplements that it says are tailored specifically to user’s needs, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Goodwater Capital led the round, with participation from Tusk VenturesRRE Ventures, the co-founders of the prototyping tools company InVision, and earlier investor Juxtapose. TechCrunch has more here.

Bitly, a nine-year-old, New York-based link management and analytics platform, has taken $63 million in funding from Spectrum Equity in a deal that sees the growth equity firm take a majority stake in the business. TechCrunch has more here.

Clear Ballot, an eight-year-old, Boston-based company that makes voting machines and accompanying software, has raised $18 million in new funding from Bessemer Venture PartnersVentureforgoodDN Capital, and individual investors. Boston Business Journal has more here.

Deep Instinct, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cybersecurity startup, has raised $32 million in Series B funding led by CNTP, with participation from NVIDIA and Coatue ManagementMore here.

E-Scape Bio, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based biopharmaceutical company that’s developing therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases, has raised additional Series A funding that brings the round’s total to $63 million. OrbiMedled the funding; it was joined by Novo Holding A/SJohnson & Johnson InnovationNovartis Venture FundOsage University PartnersLilly Asia Ventures and Sutter Hill VenturesMore here.

Evelo Biosciences, a two-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based biotech company focused on monoclonal microbials, has raised $50 million in Series B funding, including from Flagship PioneeringGVCelgeneMayo Clinic, and Alexandria Venture Investments. FierceBiotech has more here.

Flashpoint, a seven-year-old, New York-based business risk intelligence company, has raised $28 million in Series C funding led by Georgian Partners. Earlier backers Greycroft PartnersTechOperatorsLeaders FundJump CapitalBloomberg Beta, and Cisco Investments also joined the round. More here.

Gong.io, a two-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based AI-based language tool to help sales and customer service reps, has raised $20 million in Series A1 funding. Norwest Venture Partners and Shlomo Kramer led the round; they were joined by Wing Venture Capital and NextWorld Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

Hutch Interiors, a nearly -year-old, Los Angeles-based interior design tech startup, raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Zillow Group. TechCrunch has more here.

iCapital Network, a four-year-old, New York-based platform offering access to curated private equity funds, hedge funds and more to registered investment advisors and others, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from UBS Financial ServicesMore here.

Lianshang, a two-year-old, Beijing-based online fabric trading platform where customers can purchase fabric and fabric manufacturers can bid on orders, has raised $30 million in what it’s calling pre-Series C funding. China Renaissance Private Equity Fund and Fengshang Capital co-led the round, with participation from IDG Capital and China Growth Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Lightbend, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based company whose platform enables developers to create message-driven applications that scale on multicore and cloud computing architectures, has raised $15 million in funding from Bain Capital VenturesBlue Cloud VenturesIBMIntel CapitalJuniper Ventures and Shasta VenturesMore here.

Nok Nok Labs, a six-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based online security and authentication company, has raised $8 million in Series D funding led by Motorola Solutions Venture Capital. Earlier backers DCM VenturesDDSDOCOMO InnovationsKorea Information Certificate AuthorityLenovo Group, and ONSET Ventures also joined the round. More here.

Petainer, an eight-year-old, U.K.-based maker of high performance and sustainable packaging, has raised €10 million ($11.4 million) from Next Wave PartnersMore here.

Qloo, a five-year-old, New York-based cultural artificial intelligence data science platform, has raised $6.5 million in funding, including from AXA Strategic Ventures and Sir Elton John. TechCrunch has more here.

RecordGram, a Miami-based music collaboration app developer that won TechCrunch’s “Battlefield” competition in New York in May, has raised $1 million in seed funding from New World Angels and other, undisclosed investors. The Miami Herald has more here.

Revere, a year-old, New York-based startup that makes a line of ready-to-mix pre and post workout powder formulas, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures, with help from SterlingVC and Brand Foundry VenturesMore here.

Revolut, a three-year-old, London-based “banking alternative,” has raised $66 million in funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from earlier backers Balderton Capital and Ribbit Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

RiskLens, a six-year-old, Spokane, Wa.-based company that helps businesses understand how much cyberattacks could cost them, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Osage Venture Partners. Other participants in the round include Paladin Capital GroupDell Technologies Capital and Kick-Start. GeekWire has more here.

Sendence, a three-year-old, New York City-based platform for building and running real-time applications, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Boldstart VenturesGreycroft PartnersContour Venture PartnersNotation Capital, and Resolute Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

SenseTime, a three-year-old, Hong Kong-based artificial intelligence startup focused on face, language, and vehicle recognition, along with other object recognition and image processing, has raised a whopping $410 million in Series B funding. The round includes two portions: a Series B1 round, led by the Chinese private equity firm CDH Investments, and a B2 round led by Chinese investment firm Sailing Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Shanghai Slamtec, an eight-year-old, Shanghai, China-based maker of laser sensors for robot localization and navigation, has raised $22 million in new funding led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with participation from ChinaEquity Group and Shenzhen Guozhong Venture Capital Management. China Money Network has more here.

Sonoma Creamery, an 86-year-old, Sonoma, Ca.-based maker of deeelicious cheeses and cheese snacks, has raised $10 million in funding from Svoboda Capital Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. The Sonoma Index-Tribune has more here.

Transfix, a four-year-old, New York-based transportation startup that matches customers needing interstate freight shipping with truck drivers needing to make deliveries, has raised $42 million in Series C funding. Previous backer New Enterprise Associates led the round, with participation from unnamed strategic investors. TechCrunch has more here.

Zently, a year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based app for renters that helps them pay rent on time, flag maintenance issues to their landlords, and split shared expenses with roommates, has raised $1.6 million led by Montage Ventures, with participation from unnamed angel investors in the real estate industry. TechCrunch has more here.

ZeroFOX, a four-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based cybersecurity company focused on the particular risks associated with social media and digital channels, has raised $40 million in funding co-led by Redline Capital Management and Silver Lake Waterman. Earlier backers New Enterprise AssociatesHighland Capital Partners, and Core Capital, also joined the round. More here.

Zhenkunhang, a 21-year-old, Shanghai City, China-based e-commerce platform for industrial products, has raised $52 million in Series B funding. Eastern Bell Venture Capital led the round, and was joined by Shenzhen Cowin Venture Capital Investments. China Money Network has more here.

New Funds

Fifth Wall Ventures, a new real-estate-focused venture firm that we’d written about in May, has launched an accelerator program. More here.

FlyBridge Capital Partners has raised $3 million for XFactor Ventures, a new venture fund that will invest $100,000 into 30 companies that are raising pre-seed or seed stage rounds. The companies must have at least one female founder. More here.

Toyota is the latest Fortune 500 company to launch an AI focused venture capital fund. The initial early-stage fund will deploy $100 million and operate as a subsidiary of the Toyota Research Institute. More here.

IPOs

Albertsons, the national grocery-chain, has put its IPO plans on hold again, according to Bloomberg, which says Amazon looked at the company before agreeing to acquire Whole Foods.

Razer, the U.S.-based gaming firm, is looking to stage an IPO that would value it at up to $5 billion, says Bloomberg. More here.

Exits

Logitech is one of the best-known brands of keyboards, mice, headphones and webcams. Now, it wants to expand its product line into the game console market and to do it, it’s acquiring headset maker Astro Gaming in an all-cash deal. According to Crunchbase, Astro Gaming had raised at least $3.5 million from Triangle Peak Partners. Cnet has more here.

Security software giant Symantec is continuing its recent spate of acquisitions with the news that it plans to buy the five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based cybersecurity company Skycure, which specializes in predicting, detecting, and preventing a range of attacks, including malware, network, and vulnerability exploits. Skycure had raised around $28 million in funding prior to this acquisition, including from Pitango Venture CapitalFoundation Capital, and Shasta Ventures. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. VentureBeat has more here.

People

YC President Sam Altman wants to find and support a slate of candidates for the 2018 California elections.

AG Gangadhar, the head of the engineering department where former Uber employee Susan Fowler worked, has left the car-hailing startup. The circumstances of his departure are unclear, says Recode.

Andrew Hedin has been promoted to vice president at Bessemer Venture Partners, which he joined in 2015. Before joining Bessemer, Hedin worked in venture capital with F-Prime Capital Partners.

Former Kleiner Perkins spokeperson Christina Lee has joined Amazon as VP of worldwide consumer PR, according to Dan Primack of Axios.

Michael Ronen will join Softbank’s Vision Fund as a partner. Previously, Ronen was the co-chief operating officer of Goldman’s global technology, media and telecom group. Softbank says he’s moving from New York to San Francisco for the role.

Twitter is bringing aboard a new CFO: Ned Segal, a longtime Goldman Sachs banker who was most recently SVP of finance at Intuit. He’s receiving around $15 million in stock the process.

BlackRock’s global chief investment strategist, Richard Turnill, thinks Bitcoin and Ethereum prices are officially in bubble territory. “I look at the charts, and to me that looks pretty scary and reminiscent of what we’ve seen before.”

Lyon Wong has resigned as a general partner of Spectrum 28, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm he co-founded in 2015 and that closed its debut fund with roughly $170 million. Axios, which has the scoop, was told the official reason is “urgent personal and family matters.” Because Wong’s resignation has triggered a key-man provision, the fund has temporarily shifted into limited operations as cofounder Kent Ho works to take over as sole general partner.

Mark Zuckerberg is trying to understand America, so he’s embarked on a journey to meet people who don’t typically cross his path. But there are rules to abide by if you’re about to meet him . . .

Jobs

Serial entrepreneur Max Levchin says his San Francisco-based startup studio is launching a new company and looking for a founding CTO. Write to info@hvflabs.com if you’re interested.

Essential Reads

VCs are still debating whether or not to dive into ICOs.

SoundCloud is sinking.

Le uh-oh. Last summer LeEco announced it intended to purchase the U.S.-based TV maker Vizio for $2 billion. The deal fell through in March amid myriad problems surrounding LeEco, including a major cash crunch. Allegedly the deal included a $100 million buyer-termination fee and now Vizio has filed suit in a California court to collect payment. TechCrunch has more here.

Detours

Climate change; it’s much worse than you think.

United wants to sell your seat to someone else.

Sounds like quite a party.

Retail Therapy

Buy your own island off the coast of Portland, Maine. It’s $8 million and probably won’t be around long (see climate change article above). But, your own island!