StrictlyVC: October 26, 2017

Thursday (already!).

Top News in the A.M.


Twitter said today it could turn its first-ever profit, and its shares surged on the news.<

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Women of DFJ Push Back on Claims that “Predatory Behavior” is “Rampant”

Several women who either work at venture firm DFJ or have worked for the 30-year-old outfit in the past are pushing back against new allegations that founders should be wary of approaching the firm owing to “predatory behavior” that is “rampant.”

Yesterday, The Information reported that Steve Jurvetson, a cofounder of DFJ, is being investigated for sexual harassment, as told to it by the Menlo Park-based firm. DFJ says it launched an investigation in August after rumors began swirling about him.

Said longtime DFJ employee Carol Wentworth to the outlet, “[E]arly this summer we became aware of indirect and secondhand allegations about Steve Jurvetson and we immediately opened an independent investigation, which is ongoing at this time,” she added.

Asked for comment earlier today, Wentworth would only share the same statement.

It isn’t clear if the investigation is tied — or tied exclusively — to Keri Kukral, founder of a company called Raw Science. But she wrote on Tuesday on Facebook post that “women approached by founding partners of Draper Fisher Jurvetson should be careful. Predatory behavior is rampant.” She added that “silencing behavior ranges from security w/in the firm creating files on women, to potential violations of revenge porn laws, to grotesque threats.”

Kukral also wrote, somewhat cryptically, that “women have been banned by heads of TED from attending conferences. I have experienced some (not all) of these things along with many others. The situation I found myself in is personally atypical and I’ve not been in any other situation remotely like it. I was not seeking investment or trying to further my career. My investment rounds have occurred entirely outside of Silicon Valley both before and after this experience. I will not step foot in SV for investment.”

Kukral had a personal relationship with Jurvetson a couple of years ago, a source tells us. Kukral had added in subsequent comments to her post that her experience was not in a professional context.

The founding partners of DFJ are Tim Draper, who left the firm two years ago, Steve Jurvetson, and John Fisher, who remains on DFJ’s growth team.
In the meantime, writing on her personal site this morning, Heidi Roizen, who has been a partner with the firm since early 2012, didn’t mince words about the firm’s culture, saying that “[S]imply put, I would not work for DFJ if I felt the culture was not one of high integrity and opportunity for all — including women.  Including me.”

Two other women — Annie Hazlehurst, a former DFJ employee who today runs her own science and software-focused venture firm in New York, and another former DFJ employee named Courtney McColgan, who is today the cofounder and CEO of Runa, a Mexico City-based HR software startup — have also weighed in to come to DFJ’s defense, and that of Jurvetson.

More here.

New Fundings

Amastan Technologies, a three-year-old, North Andover, Ma.-based company whose microwave plasma tech aims to disrupt traditional chemical processes for producing advanced powders and materials, raised $13.85 million in Series B funding. Anzu Partners led the round, with participation from Material Impact,RKS VenturesKLP Ventures and LaunchCapitalMore here.

Amperity, a year-old, Seattle-based company using machine learning to create customer profiles for global brands, has raised $28 million in Series B funding. Tiger Global Management led the round, and was joined by Madrona Venture Group. GeekWire has more here.

Brainly, an eight-year-old, Kraków, Poland-based peer-to-peer learning platform for students, has raised $14 million in new funding led by Kulczyk Investments, with participation from earlier backers NaspersGeneral CatalystPoint Nine Capital, and Runa Capital. VentureBeat has more here.

Connatix, a four-year-old, New York-based video tech provider and syndication platform for content publishers, has raised $15 million in growth equity funding led by Volition CapitalMore here.

Credit Sesame, a seven-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based personalized credit service, has raised more than $42 million in equity and venture debt, including from new and earlier backers Menlo VenturesInventus CapitalGlobespan Capital,IA Capital, and SF Capital. Crowdfund Insider has more here.

Current, a two-year-old, New York City-based startup selling a debit card and companion smartphone app for teens, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by QED Investors, with participation from Cota Capital and ExpaMore here.

Genus AI, a London-based artificial intelligence startup (that hasn’t been super specific about what it’s working on), has raised $1 million in funding led by Picus Capital, with participation from numerous angel investors. has more here.

Homelyfe, a year-old, London-based insurance product purchase manager, has raised $2.8 million in seed funding co-led by Talis Capital and Peterson VenturesMore here.

JazzHR, an eight-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based recruiting software startup for small and medium-size businesses, has raised $6.6 million in funding led byVolition Capital, with participation from Birchmere Ventures and Rincon Venture PartnersMore here.

Ninebot, a five-year-old, Beijing-based short-distance electric transportation maker, has raised $100 million in Series C funding, including from SDIC Fund Management Company and the China Mobile Fund. In 2015, Ninebot merged the Segway, the U.S. company. China Money Network has more here.

Menusifu, a four-year-old, New York-based restaurant software startup, has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by Amino Capital and joined by Jubilee Capital Management. DealStreetAsia has more here.

Orchid Labs, a months-old, San Francisco-based developer of a new blockchain-based protocol, has raised $4.7 million in seed funding from an investor group that includes Sequoia CapitalAndreessen HorowitzDFJPolychain Capital,MetastableBlockchain CapitalCrunchfundStruck CapitalCompound andOpen Ocean (a newer European VC fund). Axios has more here.

Pollen Metrology, a Moirans, France-based maker of smart process-control software to accelerate the manufacturing high performing materials, has raised £2.4 million ($3.2 million) in funding, including from XAnge and KREAXIMore here.

Scoutible, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based video game-based artificial intelligence for hiring, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Learn Capitaland Mark Cuban, with participation from Great Oaks, New Enterprise AssociatesStanford StartX Fund, and Mindset VenturesMore here.

Skybox Security, a 15-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based cybersecurity analytics company, has raised $150 million in new funding led by CVC Capital Partners. Reuters has more here.

Snapcart, a two-year-old, Indonesia-based cashback app, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Vickers Venture Partners, with participation from earlier backers Wavemaker Partners and SPH Ventures and new investors Social CapitalKickstart Ventures and Endeavor Catalysts. Tech in Asia has more here.

Stardog Union, a 12-year-old, Arlington, Va.-based enterprise data unification platform, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Grotech Ventures, with participation from Core Capital and Boulder Ventures.

Umbo Computer Vision, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based AI startup and maker of autonomous video security products, has raised $6.8 million in Series A funding led by CDIB Venture Capital Corp, with participation from AppWorks VenturesMesh Ventures, and Substance CapitalMore here.

Ursa Space Systems, a three-year-old, Ithaca, New York-based satellite analytics-as- a-service company, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Paladin Capital Group, with participation from New Enterprise AssociatesRRE VenturesS&P Global, and other strategic investors. Space News has more here.

New Funds

GSR Ventures, a firm set up by Chinese tech entrepreneurs in 2004, is looking to raise up to $325 million for its sixth fund, shows an SEC filing.

ING Ventures has raised €300 million ($354 million) for its fourth, fintech focused, fund. Banking Technology has more here.

Fifteen-year-old, L.A.-based Kayne Partners says it has closed its fourth growth equity fund with $385 million in capital commitments. More here.


Legacy Acquisition, a blank check company formed by former Proctor & Gamble executives, filed for an IPO yesterday. The Cincinnati, Oh.-based company plans to raise $300 million. Nasdaq has (a little) more here.

scPharmaceuticals, a three-year-old, Burlington, Ma.-based company behind a subcutaneous delivery device and drug candidate, intends to raise $100 million in an IPO according to an S-1 filing. The company is part of a new trend around repurposing existing drugs for easier delivery. 5AM VenturesLundbeckfond Invest, and OrbiMed are among its biggest outside shareholders.

Unraveling the world’s largest IPO, Saudi Aramco (video). And more here, in the New York Times.


Apple acquired PowerbyProxi, a New Zealand-based company that designs wireless power products for consumers and industry, for undisclosed terms. PowerbyProxi had raised approximately $9 million in venture funding, including fromSamsung VenturesMovac, and TE Connectivity. Reuters has more here.

The publicly traded cloud service provider ServiceNow is acquiring SkyGiraffe, a five-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based enterprise mobility platform that had raised at $10.5 million, shows Crunchbase. Its backers include SGVC and Trilogy Equity Partners. ZDNet has more here.

Smith & Nephew, the London-based multinational medical equipment company, is buying Rotation Medical, an eight-year-old, Plymouth, Mn.-based sports injury business, for up to $210 million. Rotation Medical had raised $56 million in funding, including from New Enterprise Associates, Pappas Ventures, and Life Sciences Partners. Seeking Alpha has more here.


David DeWalt, former CEO of the cybersecurity software company FireEye, has joined Allegis Capital as its newest managing director. Allegis is also changing its name to Allegiscyber and opening up an office in Maryland, where it can more actively invest in East Coast companies.

The plot thickens: Hong Ge, the vice president of Airbnb’s China division, who resigned earlier this week after just four months on the job, appears to have left owing to allegations about an inappropriate personal relationship between him and a subordinate, reports The Informatiion.

The California Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that determined billionaire Vinod Khosla must allow public access to Martins Beach in San Mateo County. (Thank you, judges. Khosla should have ended this fight a long time ago. What a PR disaster.)

Keith Noreika, the first banking regulator installed by the Trump administration, is reportedly undoing consumer protections to help his former, and future, clients. The agency chief is a “temporary employee,” an unprecedented twist that protects him from scrutiny over conflicts of interest. The WSJ has more here.

Billionaire Peter Thiel said earlier today at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that people are “underestimating” bitcoin, which he sees as a reserve form of money. “[I]t’s like gold, and it’s just a store of value. You don’t need to use it to make payments,” Thiel said. “If bitcoin ends up being the cyber equivalent of gold it has a great potential left.”

Essential Reads

A new lawsuit claims that Uber pays female engineers, and some engineers of color, less than male, white, and Asian-American counterparts. The complaint states that Uber’s biannual “stack ranking” system is invalid, arbitrary, and forces different outcomes between employees “regardless of whether there are meaningful performance differences between individual employees within a particular peer group.” Ars Technica has more here.

More on how FacebookGoogle and Twitter employees helped Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election.

Now you can buy a car on Facebook.


Couples’ costumes so bad, they’re good.

Director James Toback is now being accused of sexual harassment, too.

Retail Therapy

$1.3 million bathtub, when you have more money than you know what to do with, evidently.

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