Top News in the A.M.
Steve Jurvetson, a cofounder of DFJ, is being investigated for sexual harassment, according to The Information. A spokeswoman tells that outlet that it has “never received a complaint about the professional conduct of any of our partners or investment professionals” but based on “indirect and second-hand allegations about Steve Jurvetson” opened an “independent investigation, which is ongoing at this time.” It isn’t clear if the investigation is tied to founder Keri Kukral, but she wrote yesterday https://www.facebook.com/keri.kukral in Facebook post that “women approached by founding partners of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful. Predatory behavior is rampant.” Kukral had a personal relationship with Jurvetson, a source tells The Information. She added in subsequent comments to her post that her experience was not in a professional context.
Tesla just fired hundreds more workers, this time at SolarCity, citing performance reviews. But the workers say planned performance reviews never happened. CNBC has more here.
Donald Trump does not intend to appoint National Economic Council Director (and former Goldman Sachs president) Gary Cohn to lead the Federal Reserve, three people tell Bloomberg this morning. In fact, says Bloomberg, Trump has remarked in at least one private meeting that Cohn has no chance. (So, who knows, basically.)
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Social Capital is Now Investing in Startups Sight Unseen
There’s little question that former Facebook executive and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya thoroughly enjoys challenging the way that startups are funded. Because he has the hot hand, so to speak, he’s able to get away with it, too.
Last month, for example, Palihapitiya’s firm, Social Capital, took the unusual step of raising $600 million in an IPO for a SPAC called Social Capital Hedosophia. The shell company will use the money to acquire all or part of a privately held tech company, thereby taking it public and circumventing what Palihapitiya sees as the unnecessarily long, expensive and distracting process of going public.
Now, Social Capital has another trick up its sleeve. It’s beginning to invest in far-flung startups, sight unseen.
Entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world can fill out a questionnaire, then submit revenue figures and either raw engagement or transaction logs (or both) to Social Capital, including sometimes by granting the firm direct access to the cloud services they use. It’s entirely self-serve. If Social Capital likes what it sees, it will write a check of up to $250,000. If it doesn’t, it will at least deliver feedback to the startup regarding tweaks it might make to its business model. (Entrepreneurs interested in applying can let the firm know here.)
How can Social Capital possibly know how to improve a company’s business model when it hasn’t even met its founders?
AMOpportunities, a four-year-old, Chicago-based platform that brings international medical trainees to the U.S. for short-term medical training, has raised $1.1 million in financing led by OCA Ventures and HealthX Ventures. More here.
ChowNow, a seven-year-old, L.A.-based online food ordering service, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Catalyst Investors. The round brings ChowNow’s total funding to nearly $40 million. TechCrunch has more here.
Convargo, a 1.5-year-old, Paris-based marketplace for shippers and carriers that enables both sides to connect and send goods across France more efficiently, has raised $19 million in Series A funding led by Inventure Partners and Earlybird, with participation from numerous individual investors, including Nest Labs cofounderTony Fadell. TechCrunch has more here.
Deserve, a 4.5-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company that makes credit products for international students and college-age teeneagers, has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Accel Partners, with participation from Aspect Ventures, Mission Holdings and others. The company was formerly called SelfScore. TechCrunch has more here.
Echo, a two-year-old, London-based startup whose app helps users manage their medication and order repeat prescriptions for delivery, has raised £7 million in Series A funding led by White Star Capital, with participation from MMC Ventures, LocalGlobe, and Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital. More here.
GuestReady, a year-old, London-based service for Airbnb hosts wanting to manage their property, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Impulse VC (a Russian fund that’s backed by billionaire Roman Abramovich), with participation from Australia’s Xponova and Boost Heroes, a VC led by Lastminute founder Fabio Cannavale. Existing backers also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.
Jiko, a 1.5-year-old, Oakland, Ca.-based debit card banking startup, has raised $7.7 million in Series A funding from Upfront Ventures, Radical Impact, Social Capital and others. TechCrunch has more here.<
Klook, a three-year-old, Hong Kong-based travel startup that specializes in helping travelers book trip activities and logistics for when they are overseas, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by earlier backer Sequoia Capital, with participation from Matrix Partners (also an earlier backer). The money comes just six months after Klook closed its Series B round with $30 million. TechCrunch has more here.
Reflektion, a five-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based marketing startup that uses predictive analytics to increase conversion rates on e-commerce sites, has raised $12 million in additional Series B fund. SAP founder Hasso Plattner led the round, with participation from returning investors Battery Ventures and Clear Ventures. Reflektion has now raised $41.3 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
Draper Espirit, the publicly listed venture firm in London, has said it planned to invest in other early-stage venture firms in Europe. Now it has taken those plans a step further, buying outright the first two funds of Seedcamp, an investing outfit in the U.K., for $23.6 million. It will manage out the assets from both, reports TechCrunch. More here.
Not a new fund exactly, but it’s worth noting that Weibo, the Beijing-based, Twitter-like Chinese social network, is raising $700 million as it looks for acquisitions to continue the growth its business has seen this year. The publicly traded company, which is majority owned by Alibaba and the media company Sina, is listed on Nasdaq and currently enjoys a $21 billion market cap. TechCrunch has more here.
DoorDash CFO Mike Dinsdale has left the company less than a year after he joined, TechCrunch has learned. The food ordering and delivery startup is actively looking for a replacement. More here.<
Ronnie Gurion — whose LinkedIn profile states that he has been leading Airbnb’s international business development efforts since April of last year — has quietly stepped down to become the chief strategy officer at the competing vacation rental platform HomeAway. More here.
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is claiming that his Vision Fund has already bagged $3 billion in profit. It’s all on paper at this point, but hey, no one likes a stickler.
Grab, Uber’s chief rival in Southeast Asia, finally has a new CTO more than two years after its previous one departed. Today the company introduced Theo Vassilakis, a former Googler who also spent time with Microsoft, as its second ever CTO. TechCrunch has more here.<
Foundry Group, the Boulder, Co.-based early-stage venture firm, is hiring a general counsel. This individual will be responsible for all legal activities of the fund and work with portfolio companies on select issues. More here.
The Silicon Valley executive search firm Lonergan Partners has just published a new “Who Runs the Valley” type survey, focused on C-suite execs at the biggest publically traded companies in the region. It has some interesting info, including the average age of incoming CEOs, how long CEOs who were replaced last year had been in their roles, and what percentage had previous experience running public companies. One alarming observation: all incoming CEOs were male. You can check it out here.
Uber just launched a credit card.
Square, the Twitter boss’s other company, could soon pass it in value.
The art world star you’ve never heard of.
“Tiny House Hunters” and the shrinking American dream.
The surprising history of “OMG.”
Smallbirds, for those too young to work in tech (for now).