StrictlyVC: August 23, 2017

Well, hello, and happy Wednesday.:)

Top News in the A.M.

VIPKid, an online education company that matches Chinese students with North American teachers and has been exploding as parents seek out high-quality education for the children, just raised $200 million, exactly one year after raising $100 million. Investors include Sequoia Capital China and Tencent Holdingssays Bloomberg, The company is reportedly now valued at $1.5 billion. (Worth noting: Founder and CEO Cindy Mi is speaking at TechCrunch’s upcoming Disrupt event next month.)

Wall Street banks are warning that a downturn is coming.

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StrictlyVC is brought to you this week by Rosebud Communications. We’re small, scrappy, and get the job done. Our retainer is $6,250 per month, and we love going up against the bigger guys who charge $12K or more. Reach us at; operators are standing by.

This Purveyor of “Human Grade” Pet Food Just Raised $12.6M from VCs

Ollie, a two-year-old, New York-based subscription service that sells what it calls human-grade pet food, has raised $12.6 million in Series A funding.

The round was led by Canaan Partners, with participation from WME Ventures, Rosecliff Ventures, RiverPark Funds, Correlation Ventures and earlier backers Primary Venture Partners and Lerer Hippeau Ventures. It brings the company’s total funding to roughly $17 million, including a $4.4 million seed round led by Primary and Lerer Hippeau last fall.

The company certainly takes dog food seriously, promising to customize recipes based on each dog’s “unique needs” as well as recommending the perfect portion and delivering that precise amount of food to its customers’ doors.

It uses a third-party USDA kitchen in Pennsylvania to produce its meals, which include chicken, beef, and lamb heart dishes with butternut squash, rutabaga, chickpeas, potato, cranberries, kale, strawberries, and cod liver oil, among other ingredients that you probably do not associate with dog food (yet!).

More here.

(Other) New Fundings

Art19, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based podcast technology company, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding led by Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and DCM Ventures. Other investors participating in the round included United Talent AgencyGallo DigitalZach Coelius and Array Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Baozhunniu, a two-year-old, Beijing, China-based customized insurance products company, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led by the venture firm Marathon Venture Partners. Other investors in the round include Matrix Partners ChinaXinyi CapitalZhongguancun Dahe Capital, and Denise Peng, a venture partner at GGV Capital. China Money Network has more here.

Forward Networks, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company whose technology aims to help engineers and operators visualize and search complex networks to debug problems, verify network-wide policy correctness, and predict network behavior prior to making major changes, has raised $16 million in Series B funding. DFJ led the round; it was joined by investors that include Andreessen Horowitz and A.Capital Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

ICEYE, a two-year-old, Espoo, Finland-based satellite-based service aiming to provide access to near-real-time imagery from space, has raised $8.5 million in funding led by Draper Nexus, with participation from True VenturesLifeline VenturesSpace AngelsDraper Associates and Finnish Funding Agency for Innovations. ICEYE has now raised $18.7 million altogether since its founding. TechCrunch has more here.

Innowatts, a four-year-old, Houston, Tex.-based energy analytics startup, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Shell Technology VenturesMore here.

Lumity, a three-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based HR benefits startup that aims to help employers optimize and simplify health care costs, has raised $19 million led by DFJ. TechCrunch has more here.

Memphis Meats, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based “clean” meat startup (it uses animal cells versus actual animals), has raised $17 million in Series A funding led by DFJ. Other investors to join the round include CargillBill GatesRichard BransonAtomicoNew Crop CapitalSOSVFifty YearsKBW VenturesInevitable VenturesSuzy WelchKyle Vogt, and Kimbal Musk. VentureBeat has more here.

Raised Real, a year-old, San Francisco-based subscription meal delivery service designed for growing babies, has raised $5 million in funding from privately held food delivery giant Schwan’s CompanyMore here.

Roost, a three-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based smart home technology startup, has raised $10.4 million in Series B funding led by Aviva Ventures, with participation from Desjardins Insurance and Fosun RZ CapitalMore here.

Shanghai Distributed Technologies, a young, Shanghai-based company behind Onchain, a local version of blockchain technology, has raised its first round of institutional funding from Fosun Group, says Reuters. The size of the investment is not being disclosed. More here.

Sliver.TV, a two-year-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based esports entertainment platform in 360-degree VR, has raised $9.8 million in Series A funding led by Danhua Capital, with participation from Heuristic Capital PartnersZP CapitalDCMSierra VenturesThe VR FundSamsung Next Fund and Sony Innovation Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

Square Roots, a year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y. -based urban farming accelerator that invites applicants to participate in a yearlong program where they’re trained in urban farming, has raised $5.4 million in seed funding. Collaborative Fund led the round for the company, which was founded by Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal Musk. TechCrunch has more here.

SquadLocker, a six-year-old, Warwick, R.I.-based startup that allows athletic teams to build and launch custom online gear stores quickly and easily, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding led by Causeway Media PartnersMore here.

StoryStream, a five-year-old, U.K.-based platform that helps marketers centralize and display all their best social media content, has raised roughly $1.5 million in funding led by MMC VenturesMore here.

Truss, a year-old, Chicago-based commercial real estate tech platform, has raised $7.7 million in Series A  led by Navitas Capital, with participation from Hyde Park Angels. TechCrunch has more here.


Snap‘s lead IPO underwriter, Morgan Stanley, just lowered its price target for the stock — again.


Okay, so this is more like an attempted exit, but: Match Group, the parent company of a variety of dating apps, offered to acquire Bumble for $450 million over the summer, according to TechCrunch. A source close to the company suggests that Bumble is valued at over $1 billion. More here.


James Damore,  the engineer who was fired by Google after he criticized the company’s diversity policies for ignoring differences between the sexes, has hired civil rights lawyer Harmeet Dhillon to explore filing a lawsuit.

Former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson has launched a campaign to buy Twitter to kick off the president.

Donald Trump is reportedly eyeing his potential opponents in 2020 and at the top of his list of possible challengers: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Also Sponsored By . . .

StrictlyVC is also brought to you by the Financial Solutions Lab at CFSI, which is laser-focused on fintech solutions that can help more Americans become financially healthy. FinLab alums have raised $130 million in follow-on funding, and you may know some of them: Digit, Even, PropelEARN, Albert, EarnUpWiseBanyan + more. Don’t miss a thing: Sign up for blog updates.

Essential Reads

Google and Walmart are partnering to challenge Amazon.

Why Apple has scaled back its ambitions for a self-driving car.

Uber drivers can now choose what specific types of trips they are willing to accept.

Snapchat‘s first scripted fare is coming by year end.

All the companies from day two of Y Combinator‘s Demo Day.


Fake shadows in Redwood City.

The SpaceX space suit revealed.

Why you should eat an enormous breakfast.

Retail Therapy

Here’s how to make your own “Game of Thrones” cape, before it’s too late.

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