StrictlyVC: October 16, 2017

Happy Monday!:)

Quick, before we jump into things: if you live in or near San Francisco, do go check out “South of Market, The Musical” before it ends its run next Sunday afternoon. We had a quick cameo in the show yesterday, which was extremely fun (thank you, Sam O’Keefe). More to the point, we realized what we might have missed otherwise — an incredible cast and hilarious writing. Get thee there. You’ll thank us. (A portion of the proceeds goes to the vital Center for Investigative Journalism, another bonus.)

Also, we have to share some nice feedback (largely for marketing purposes, which is not one our strong suits). From one our most recent advertisers, who wrote us this morning: “Checking in now that our 2 weeks with StrictlyVC have ended. For starters, we wanted to first say thanks again for having us. We got plenty of positive feedback from both new and old users who mentioned our spot in your newsletter. More importantly though, our returns have been phenomenal! We’re thrilled with the results and we’d love to immediately start looking ahead to our next sponsorship slot with StrictlyVC. When you can, please let us know what opportunities you have open for the next few months.”  (Very happy to have you back and if you’ve written us recently about advertising and we haven’t responded, we will; we’re just a little behind on all at the moment.)

Top News in the A.M.

Zoinks. A new exploit can allow attackers to read Wi-Fi traffic between devices and wireless access points, and even modify it to inject malware into websites. More here.

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Eric Ries to Big Companies: Turn Every Unit into a Cash-Strapped Startup

All companies are startups until they aren’t. Many struggle to find their way back, too. It’s not the days of constrained resources or terrible pay or the heart-stopping uncertainty that they’re missing, of course. Instead, the problem is that it’s a lot harder to implement change at an “established” organization, particularly one that’s making money. Yet the smartest companies know change is crucial. As journalist Alan Deutschman wrote a dozen years ago, including in a book of the same title: “Change or die.”

Because that’s easier said than done, CEOs are always seeking out new ideas. Enter the brand-new book of engineer and entrepreneur Eric Ries, whose last tome, The Lean Startup, became an instant best-seller when it was first published in 2011.

In his latest effort, The Startup Way, Ries says the way to stay on top can be traced to two things: treating employees like customers, and treating business units like startups — replete with their own constrained budgets, and even their own boards. Ries offers fairly concrete suggestions regarding how to implement both, too. “A lot of people write manifestos and basically say, ‘Do what I say,’” says Ries. “I try to get away from that. The details matter a lot.”

We caught up with Ries on Friday to learn more about the book, which will be available to buy beginning tomorrow.

More here.

New Fundings

Blue Hexagon, a months-old, Bay Area-based startup at work on machine learning-based threat-detection software, including for mobile phones, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led byBenchmark. The company’s cofounders include Nayeem Islam, who spent the previous eight years with chipmaker Qualcomm, where he founded its Silicon Valley-based R&D facility. TechCrunch has more here.

The Chope Group, a six-year-old, Singapore-based restaurant booking platform, has raised $13 million in new funding led bySquare Peg Capital, with participation from C31 VenturesMoelis Australia and earlier investors NSI VenturesSusquehanna International GroupDSG Consumer Partners and Singapore Press Holdings. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Compeon, a five-year-old, Dusseldorf, Germany-based business finance platform, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led byTengelmann VenturesMore here.

Court Buddy, a three-year-old, Miami-based company that matches consumers with solo attorneys for on-demand legal services, raised $1 million in seed funding led by LDR Ventures, with participation from XFactor VenturesGingerBread CapitalLSS Fund,Uphonest CapitalEquipo Ventures, and 500 StartupsMore here.

InflaRx, a 10-year-old, Thuringia, Germany-based drug startup focused on chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, has raised $55 million in Series D funding from Bain Capital Life SciencesCormorant Asset Management and RA Capital Management.

JustCo, a two-year-old, Singapore-based co-working space startup, has closed an undisclosed amount of funding from one of Thailand’s largest property developers, Sansiri, reportedly growing its valuation to $200 million in the process. Digital News Asia has more here.

Lefit, a two-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based startup that provides membership-based access to fitness clubs and instructors, has raised $45 million in Series C funding led by Hillhouse Capital. China Money Network has more here.

LimeBike, a nine-month-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based dockless bike sharing company, has raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Coatue Management, with participation from other new and earlier backers, including Andreessen HorowitzDCMGGV CapitalSection 32Yuri MilnerThe Durant Company, and others. TechCrunch has more here.

onQ, a 1.5-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based video technology company, raised $7 million in funding. The investors were not named. More here., a China-based site for students looking to temp, has raised $9.1 million in Series B funding led by Anche Capital, with particpation from the classifieds platform, and Liang Weiping, founder of property listings platform Anjuke, which was acquired by in 2015. More here.

RenewBuy, a two-year-old, Gurgaon, India-based online insurance aggregator, has raised $9.2 million from Amicus Capital. The Economic Times has more here.

SidelineSwap, a three-year-old, Boston-based online marketplace for sports gear and equipment, has raised $2 million in new seed funding from Global Founders CapitalHaystack PartnersRiverpark VenturesFullstack Sports Ventures and The Players’ ImpactMore here.

New Funds

Venture capital firm Draper Esprit plans to funnel $100 million (£75 million) into European seed funds over the next five years, helping to fill a funding hole exacerbated by Brexit. Business Insider has more here.

Precursor Ventures, a San Francisco-based seed and early-stage venture firm founded by Charles Hudson, looks to be targeting $25 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing. We talked with Hudson about his young firm earlier this year, when he closed his debut fund with $15.3 million.

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Four Seasons Education, a seven-year-old, Shanghai, China-based math education company, filed for an IPO of $120 million. It plans to list on the NYSE. Nasdaq has more here.

A second China-based company also announced plans to go public on the NYSE: Sogou, a Beijing -based company that has grown into China’s third-biggest search engine. It disclosed in a filing that it’s looking to raise $600 million in an offering. Tencent Holdings is among its biggest outside shareholders, with a 43.7 percent stake. Investors Business Daily has more here.

One Madison, a SPAC based out of New York formed to acquire a consumer-facing business, has filed for an IPO of $300 million. One of the outfit’s biggest shareholders is Jonathan Soros of JS Capital Management, which holds a 21 percent pre-IPO stake. Nasdaq hasmore here.

Vincom Retail, a mall operator, today launched Vietnam’s largest-ever initial public offering, in a deal that could be worth up to $680 million. Warburg Pincus and Credit Suisse are among its biggest shareholders. Bloomberg has more here.


L.A.-based Fandango is acquiring, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based site for movie ticketing and news. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.

Publicly traded, Israel-based NICE, which specializes in telephone voice recording, data security, and surveillance, has acquiredWorkflex, a Cincinnati, Oh.-based company that makes workforce engagement software, for undisclosed terms. Workflex had raised  $4.5 million in venture funding, including fro CincyTechMore here.

That was fast. Weinstein Co. has reportedly entered a negotiating period with Thomas Barrack’s Colony Capital for a potential sale of all or a significant portion of the company’s assets. Variety has more here.


Renowned tech journalist Walt Mossberg, who recently retired from Recode, is writing a book about people and products that changed the world.

Investor Steve Schlafman has left RRE Ventures after a four-year run, he announced on Twitter late Friday. Schlafman says he plans to remain in venture but to take some time off for now. (We think that’s probably code for, “I’m raising money for my own fund like everyone else right now,” but we’ll see.)

Tesla fired hundreds of workers last week, including engineers, managers and factory workers, even as the company struggles to expand its manufacturing and product line. It said the dismissals were the result of a company-wide annual review, and not layoffs. The SJ Merc has more here.


Lyft is looking to add a financial analyst to its corporate development team. The job is in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, Facebook is reportedly looking for employees with national security clearances (if you happen to fall into this camp). Bloomberg has more here.

Essential Reads

Another day, another industry-rattling move by Amazon. This time it’s making a foray into private-labeled sportswear.

Bitcoin’s seemingly unstoppable surge to record highs isn’t deterring competitors. Former Silicon Valley developers are working on at leasttwo new versions of the digital currency.

Richly-funded Docker turned down an opportunity to work with Google. It may regret it, suggests a new report by The Information.


Woody Allen warned over the weekend that revelations about Harvey Weinstein could lead to a “witch hunt atmosphere.” LOL.

Police in Dubai are getting some crazy-looking hovercrafts.

A penguin that fell in love with a cardboard cutout has died next to it.

Retail Therapy

Nerf’s tennis ball blaster for dogs.

Chairs for paranoid startups.

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