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.

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


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.


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.


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


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.


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).

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