Monthly Archives: May 2018

StrictlyVC: December 5, 2017

December 5, 2017


Happy Tuesday, all! We’re bathed in the warm green glow of Disrupt Berlin again today, where the Battlefield Winner was just announced. (VCs, psst, it’s Lia Diagnostics.) You can find loads of coverage from the event here.



Top News


The Federal Communications Commission will move ahead with its vote to kill net neutrality rules next week despite an unresolved court case that could strip away even more consumer protections.



Sponsored By …


Today’s StrictlyVC is sponsored by EquityZen. We operate a secondary market for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock. Founded in 2013, EquityZen has already closed more than 3,000 investments in 80-plus companies. For as low as $10,000 on your first investment, you can gain access to proven private companies like Spotify, Lyft, and more! Join for free, and begin investing in the private markets:



Hope Grows That a Larger SEC Crackdown on ICOs is Coming — and Soon 


More than $3 billion has been raised through so-called initial coin offerings so far in 2017. Yet while numerous of these have already proven to be good old-fashioned scams, regulators in Washington have remained relatively quiet aside warning issuers that at least some coins sold in ICOs could be considered securities; publishing a statement saying celebrity endorsements of ICOs may be unlawful without appropriate disclosures around compensation; and bringing two cases against fraudulent coin offerings.


That wait-and-see stance looks to evolve into much more action 2018, suggest those who’ve either spoken with the Securities & Exchange Commission or otherwise have a vested interest in its rulings. (The SEC isn’t commenting publicly on its specific plans.)


Just Friday, a new division of the agency that’s focused on ICOs filed charges against an outfit called PlexCoin that reportedly raised $15 million from thousands of investors by promising a 1,354 percent return in 29 days or less. The person spearheading the effort — Dominic Lacroix — is a serial violator of SEC laws, says the agency, which describes him in its filing as a “recidivist securities law violator in Canada,” so this one might have been easy pickings.


Still, Ethereum cofounder Joe Lubin told us on stage last month that he is among other blockchain experts who has spoken to the SEC, and he described the staffers with whom he has spoken as  “very interested people who are trying to understand the context that’s evolving around them . . . They are certainly in information-gathering mode.”


I fought the law and the law won


Without question, the SEC isn’t blind to the ICO fever that’s sweeping the globe and has already prompted regulators in China and South Korea to ban them outright — and regulators in Switzerland and Singapore and Japan to meanwhile welcome them with open arms.


Former Wall Street attorney turned SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said at a recent meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that the agency is planning to pursue offerings that violate securities laws, telling those gathered that, “Where we see fraud and where we see people engaging in offerings that are not registered, we are going to pursue them because these types of things have a destabilizing effect on the market.”


It’s a stronger statement than Clayton offered in September, when, speaking at an event in Washington, he said it “would shock me if you don’t see pump-and-dump schemes in the initial coin offering space . . .This is an area where I’m concerned about what’s going to happen to retail investors.”


In these coin offerings, investors typically pay using Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. In the PlexCoin case, Lacroix was accepting credit card payments via PayPal, Stripe, and Shopify, but he raised the bulk of the $15 million via ethereum, Litecoin and other cryptocurrencies, which can be harder to trace and recoverbecause they’re sent outside the traditional financial system.


In addition to past violations, Lacroix was an easy target for the SEC owing to the sensational language PlexCoin used to entice potential investors, telling them to obtain its “tokenized currency” so they could “Take control of [THEIR] money!”


Equally suspect: telling investors that that the identity of PlexCorps’ executives had to be kept hidden to avoid poaching by competitors and for privacy concerns.


Words do concern those who’d like to see regulators work with — and not shut down — ICOs more broadly. Lubin, who today runs Consensys, a studio building decentralized applications, told us on stage, for example, that his “legal team and all of our legal advisors are not comfortable with the term ICO,” because it sounds a lot like IPO.


More here.



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New Fundings


Earny, a two-year-old, L.A.-based automated assistant that automatically gets consumers’ money back on purchases that are discounted soon afterward, has raised $9 million led by Mayfield, with participation from Comcast Ventures and Science Inc. The company has now raised $11.5 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Joy, a year-old, San Francisco-based HD touchscreen that can sync photos from a range of services, has raised $7 million in fresh funding led by Obvious Ventures and consumer investor David Heller. The round brings total funding for the company to $9.5 million. TechCrunch has more here.


Kespry, a three-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based industrial drone startup, has raised $33 million in Series C funding led by G2VP, with participation from Shell Technology VenturesCisco Ventures and ABB Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Pi Charging, a Bay Area company that won at TechCrunch Disrupt SF with its wireless charging tech, has closed a $11.4 million Series A round led by Foundry Group, with participation from Silicon Valley Bank and earlier backers Uncork CapitalNextview VenturesENIAC, and E14 Fund. The company has now raised $14.4 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


VirtualHealth, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based care coordination and workflow management platform, has raised $7 million in funding led by Edison Partners.More here.



New Funds


Rise of the Rest, a fund created by AOL cofounder Steve Case to invest in startups derided by elites as “flyover states” has raised $150 million from a list of heavy hitters, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz, and fashion mogul Tory Burch. Dealbook has more here.





Apple has acquired five-year-old Pop Up Archive, an Oakland, Ca.-based online platform focused on building tools to transcribe, organize, and search audio files. Terms aren’t known. More here.


Intuit, the company behind products like QuickBooks and TurboTax, says it has acquired TSheets, an 11-year-old, time-tracking service and employee scheduling app for $340 million in cash and stock. TSheets had raised roughly $15 million, including from Summit Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Banking giant J.P Morgan Chase has officially closed its acquisition of WePay, a payments startup that powers payments for crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe and competes with the likes of Stripe to provide payments infrastructure to businesses that make transactions online. TechCrunch sources confirm the price of the deal is just over $300 million with up to $400 million, including retention bonuses and earn-outs. More here.


A ten-year-old, New York-based marketing tech company, Zeta Global, is making good use of its recent $140 million Series F funding round, acquiring Disqus, a ubiquitous online commenting service for close to $90 million, says TechCrunch. Ten-year-old Disqus had raised $10.5 million from investors, including North Bridge Venture PartnersMore here.





Early next year music-streaming service Spotify is due to mount what is arguably the greatest challenge to the Wall Street IPO machine since Google went public in 2004. The WSJ takes a quick look at the risks here.



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Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is warning that “too many social media sites are fever swamps of extremist foreign and domestic invaders” and replacing inclusiveness nationalism with tribalism. More here.


Democratic Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker say they’re giving money they’ve received from venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar to charities after Bloomberg reported on multiple women who say Pishevar sexually harassed or assaulted them. More here.


It pays to get fired if your Aetna CEO Mark Terolini, who could walk away with at least $88.3 million if he’s terminated after CVS buys the insurer, says Bloomberg.





Kaiser Permanente is looking to add an associate to its corporate venture unit. The job is in Oakland, Ca.





Consumer spending on all mobile app stores will surpass $110 billion in 2018, according to a new report from App Annie. That’s about a 30 percent increase over the year prior. TechCrunch has more here.


98,750,067,000,000 reasons to be worried about 2018, in Bloomberg.



Essential Reads


Facebook reportedly wants to spend a “few billion dollars” for streaming sports rights.


Student loan debt is now as big as the junk market.


The case against buying an Amazon Echo.





The strange case of the look-alike credit cards.


Last night, John Oliver confronted Dustin Hoffman about the various sexual misconduct claims that have surfaced against him over the past few weeks. Hoffman was not pleased.


Yummy holiday food (and drink) recipes by Susan MacTavish Best.



Retail Therapy







StrictlyVC: December 4, 2017

December 4, 2017


Hi, happy Monday, everyone. We’re just left TechCrunch Disrupt a bit ago, where we finished up a couple of panel discussions earlier today despite only sleeping four hours over the last three days. (Our brain is an unwilling participant in changing time zones this time around.) Thankfully, we had very stimulating panelists in both sessions — one of which centered around the various adventures in fundraising that three European founders have had (Ana Izquierdo of Barcelona-based Talent Clue, Alicia Navarro of London-based SkimLinks, and Johannes Reck of Berlin-based GetYourGuide). You can check that out here if you’d like to hear about the differing expectations of U.S. versus European VCs.


We also had a fun sit-down with Andy McLoughlin of Uncork Capital, Thomas Korte of AngelPad, and Timo Rein of the Pipedrive concerning the various considerations European founders need weigh when it comes to scaling internationally — and into the U.S. in particular.


And now for a bite and a stiff cocktail (it’s okay; it’s nearly 8 pm here). We’ll have much more for you tomorrow..:)



Top News


Steel yourselves, parents. Facebook just launched “Messenger Kids.”



Sponsored By …


Today’s StrictlyVC is sponsored by EquityZen. We operate a secondary market for company-approved transactions in pre-IPO stock. Founded in 2013, EquityZen has already closed more than 3,000 investments in 80-plus companies. For as low as $10,000 on your first investment, you can gain access to proven private companies like Spotify, Lyft, and more! Join for free, and begin investing in the private markets:



Early Uber Advisor Bradley Tusk is Cashing Out – – and Finding Other Battles to Fight 


Bradley Tusk has long been known in political circles, including for managing the third campaign of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. He went on to make his mark in Silicon Valley by answering a call six years ago from former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who recognized he’d have regulatory battles to wage and enlisted Tusk as Uber’s first outside consultant to aid in navigating them.


Fast forward and Tusk, who’d accepted his Uber pay in equity and today oversees both a political strategy firm as well as a venture fund, tells us that he’s cashing out his shares as part of the new investment being made by a SoftBank-led consortium of investors who are buying both primary and secondary shares.


It’s time, he says. “We’ll see where it lands, but I’ve been in this thing forever, and it’s hard to see Uber [go public] for more than 1.5 x at where this lands. It would be an historic IPO, but you’re looking at two-years, plus a [standard] six-month lock-up [post IPO]. Can I do better than 1.5x in my other [investments]? Probably so.”


While Tusk hasn’t worked with Uber in some time, he’s still involved in plenty of regulatory clashes on behalf of other clients. We chatted with last week to find out which battles he expects to be fighting in 2018.


Some of the issues he envisions getting involved in include:


Dockless bike sharing. “I think it’ll blow up,” says Tusk, and he isn’t using the word to suggest explosive growth, either. “Where the streets are crowded and you already have significant homeless populations, piling up bikes on the ground isn’t going to work. I do think you’ll see regulations enforced against it. It’s hard to see how it becomes ‘natural’ in really dense cities in the U.S. (Worth noting: Tusk is an investor in Bird, a Santa Monica, Ca.-based scooter-share company whose CEO, Travis VanderZanden, worked previously as Uber’s vice president of driver growth.)


E-sports betting. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing Christie et al vs NCAA et al, the crux of which is whether the state of New Jersey can legalize sports betting in its state, despite a 1992 federal law that banned sports betting everywhere in the U.S. except Nevada. As Yahoo Finance reported recently, no matter the outcome, the gaming industry is optimistic that change is coming soon to America’s stringent gambling laws, including because President Trump is a former casino owner.


More here.



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New Fundings, the non-profit organization that aims to increase access to computer science education, has raised $12 million in philanthropic funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Infosys Foundation USA  and PricewaterhouseCoopers. TechCrunch has more here.


Contentful, a six-year-old, Berlin-based content management developer platform, has raised $28 million in Series C funding led by General Catalyst, with participation from earlier backers Benchmark CapitalBalderton Capital, andPoint Nine Capital. The company has now raised $45 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.


Onefootball, a nine-year-old, Berlin-based platform for football fans that features live scores, news, stats, video and live broadcasts from 140 leagues, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B and C funding, including from Adidas. Founder and CEO Lucas Von Cranach declined to share new number on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin earlier today. TechCrunch has more here.


Qvella, an eight-year-old, Ontario, Canada-based molecular diagnostics companythat aims to dramatically reduce the time to results in the diagnosis of infections, has raised $20 million in Series B financing. New strategic investor bioMérieuxparticipated in the round; so did Qvella’s earlier backers RA CapitalWhitecap Venture PartnersHatteras Ventures, and Sands CapitalMore here.


TravelNest, a three-year-old, Edinburgh, Scotland-based travel tech startup, has raised £3 million in seed funding from PentechMangrove Capital Partners,Frontline Ventures, and former Skyscanner COO Mark Logan. has more here.





Xiaomi wants to go public — at a $50 billion valuation (at least). Bloomberg has more here.





SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, its most powerful reusable rocket to date, is all set to have a spectacular first launch that will include Elon Musk‘s very own Tesla. While playing “Space Oddity” by David Bowie. Because Elon Musk.





Amazon is hiring a senior manager to add to its corporate development team. The job is in Seattle.



Essential Reads


Researchers are furiously combating racial and gender bias in artificial intelligence.


A new ICO-focused division of the SEC filed its first charges on Friday, targeting a scam that reportedly raised $15 million from thousands of investors by promising athirteen-fold profit in less than a month.





People have spent more than $1 million, buying virtual cats on the Ethereum blockchain.


The “House of Cards” is coming back, without Kevin Spacey.



Retail Therapy


Twenty-six gift ideas for the furrier members of your family.




StrictlyVC: December 1, 2017

Hi, all, greetings from beautiful Berlin! We’re here for TechCrunch’s newest Disrupt event, coming up Monday and Tuesday, from which we’ll shoot you anything/everything noteworthy.


We’re running out the door for dinner here, but we’ll have more for you Monday. Hope you have a terrific weekend.:)



Top News


BlackBerry has just been ordered to pay Nokia $137 million by an international court in a payment dispute, though the Canadian company says it will continue to pursue a separate claim over patent infringement. Reuters has more here.



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New Fundings


Graphic India, a four-year-old, Bangalore, India-based new media startup trying to build a comics empire, has raised $5 million in new funding from earlier backers Start Media and Backflip Studios’ co-founder Julian Farrior, among others. TechCrunch has more here., a five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based artificial intelligence company that says it’s trying to democratize the technology, has raised $40 million in Series C funding co-led by Wells Fargo and NVIDIA, with participation from New York LifeCrane Venture PartnersNexus Venture PartnersTransamerica Ventures and Aegon Group. TechCrunch has more here., a Vancouver-based startup whose hardware and software system that acts as a WiFi hotspot for vehicle passengers and can also remotely identify a vehicle’s location, detect if it has been in an accident, and alert drivers about mechanical problems, has raised $30 million in funding led by Toronto’s Kensington Capital. Other participants in the round include Trend Forward Capital, German electric-car power supplier Innogy Ventures and earlier investors Amazon Alexa Fund,BDC CapitalDeutsche Telecom Capital Partners and Relay Ventures. The Globe and Mail has more here.


NanoCellect Biomedical, an eight-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based developer of microfluidic cell sorting technologies for cell-based assays, has raised $10 million in Series B financing, inclding from Illumina VenturesAnzu PartnersVertical Venture Partners5 Prime VenturesFusionX Ventures and Agilent TechnologiesMore here.


ReversingLabs, a nine-year-old, Boston-based provider of real-time file analysis and classification tools, has raised $25 million in Series A funding co-led by Trident Capital Cybersecurity and JPMorgan ChaseMore here.





Diane Bryant is permanently leaving her position at Intel after spending her entire 32-year career there to become Google Cloud’s new COO. Bryant was most recently the head of Intel’s Data Center Group. Business Insider has more here.


Vine founder Dom Hofmann says he’s working on — and self-funding — a follow-up to Vine. The popular service, acquired by Twitter in 2012, was shut down last year. He tweeted out the news yesterday.


Pinterest’s longtime president and top business exec, Tim Kendall, is leaving to launch a startup aimed at curbing tech device addiction. Kendall had joined Pinterest in 2010 from Facebook, where was the company’s director of monetization. Recode has more here.


Silicon Valley investor Shervin Pishevar, who was arrest in London in May (then released) following a rape allegation, is now being accused of sexual misconduct by a handful of women who’ve shared their stories with Bloomberg.


Following a volatile few months as a publicly traded company, the meal-kit outfit Blue Apron announced yesterday that CFO Brad Dickerson will replace co-founderMatt Salzberg as CEO. Salzberg will become executive chairman. TechCrunch hasmore here.


The couple behind the embattled Tezos cryptocurrency tech project wants the Swiss-based Tezos Foundation to cover their costs for lawsuits accusing them of fraud related to an online fundraiser it ran. Reuters has more here.


Randi Zuckerberg, a sister of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, publicly complained this week about being repeatedly harassed by a male passenger on her recent flight to Mexico; now a prominent flight attendants’ union is calling the issue a “silent epidemic” that airlines have failed to solve, says Bloomberg.





GE Ventures, is looking to hire a senior associate to add to its growth equity team. The job is in San Ramon, Ca.



Essential Reads


Bitcoin is headed to Wall Street, whether regulators are ready or not.


Google has a long history of interoffice romance by top execs, a history it’s reckoning with now, reports The Information.


Uber’s Indian rival Ola has just begun offering a bicycle-sharing service, too.





On-demand soup.


Signs that you are a Gen-Xer going through menopause.


The mock neck shirt is back (but you don’t have to buy one!).



Retail Therapy


seat belt for dogs.


StrictlyVC: November 30, 2017

November 30, 2017


Happy Thursday from SFO, where we just went through security — twice! (Don’t ask.) We have a super abbreviated newsletter for you today but more soon!



Top News


Google is reportedly considering folding home-automation unit Nest Labs into its hardware team, says the WSJ, reversing a major element of Google’s split two years ago into various businesses under holding company Alphabet. More here.




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Europe’s Tech Game Gets Stronger 


Atomico, the 11-year-old European venture firm, has released the third edition of its State of European Tech report in an effort to shine a light on what’s happening in Europe, and it’s full of interesting data, beginning with the fact that 2017 has been a record year for Europe, with more than $19 billion invested in regional startups, a huge jump from last year, when $14. 5 billion was invested.


Apparently, 2017 is also proving a record year for giant rounds of $50 million or more, with more than 50 sewn up so far this year, which beat the previous all-time high of 43 in 2015 (and, hey, it’s still November).


And Europe has been minting unicorns. In fact, seven European companies founded since 2003 joined the billion dollar club this year, which brings the continent’s total to 41.


Some of the newest entrants include publicly traded Purple Bricks in the U.K., which is an online marketplace for real estate agents; the Finnish mobile games studio Rovio, which went public earlier this year; and Slovenia-based Outfit7, which develops mobile apps and games for the iOS and Android platforms and was reportedly acquired this year by a Chinese chemical firm for $1 billion.


Authored by Atomico partner Tom Wehmeier, who is also Atomico’s head of research, the report’s findings come in large part from 3,500 founders and investors who were surveyed for the effort.


It also incorporates data from a number of partners, including LinkedIn, StackOverflow and Dealroom to draw its conclusions. They’re worth reading if you’re trying to get a handle on what’s happening overseas, even while the upshots are slightly rosy sounding.


The study points, for example, to strong international interest in Europe from global investors, noting that more than 200 U.S. funds have done at least one deal in Europe this year — more than double the number in 2012.


Sequoia Capital is among these, having recently led a $50 million investment in Graphcore, a Bristol, England-based semiconductor company that develops accelerators for AI and machine learning. Accel Partners in Silicon Valley also made a related bet, on MessageBird, a competitor to Twilio in Amsterdam. Other examples of U.S firms diving into European startups include Obvious Ventures’ recent investment in the Bayern, Germany-based jet company Lilium Aviation.


Atomico separately reports that European venture fund sizes are getting bigger.


More here.



New Fundings


Akouos, a 1.5-year-old, Boston, Ma.-based biotechnology company focused on restoring and preserving hearing, has raised $7.5 million in seed funding led by5AM Ventures and New Enterprise Associates led the round, and was joined by investors including Partners Innovation Fund. More on the company here and more on companies trying to treat hearing loss with medicine here.


electroCore, a 12-year-old, Basking Ridge, N.J.-based bioelectronic medicine company that’s right now commercializing its headache product, has raised $70 million in Series B funding, including from the venture wing of Merck, which had co-led the company’s Series A round. Other participants include Core Ventures,Gakasa, and investment vehicles associated with former Fidelity Magellan Fund manager Jeffrey Vinik. FierceBiotech has more here.


Farmers Business Network, a three-year-old, San Carlos, Ca.-based social network and e-commerce network farmers that invites them to share their data, pool their know-how, and bargain more effectively for better pricing from third parties, has raised $110 million in Series D funding led by T.Rowe Price and Temasek. Earlier investors GV, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Campbell Soup’s Acre Fund also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to roughly $200 million. We have much more on the company here.


Fractyl Labs, a seven-year-old, Lexington, Ma.-based startup developing treatments for diabetes, has raised $44 million in Series D financing from a slew of VC firms, including GVTrue Ventures, the IDO FundGeneral Catalyst,Bessemer Venture PartnersDomain AssociatesMithril Capital ManagementEmergent Medical Partners, and Deerfield Management Company, TechCrunch has more here.


HeartFlow, a seven-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company whose medical device helps doctors detect coronary artery disease, is raising $150 million in new funding, according to a new regulatory filing in Delaware uncovered by PitchBook. At a price of about $25.33 per share, HeartFlow will have a valuation of $1.4 billion. The company didn’t respond to questions from Recode about its newest backers, but earlier investors include U.S. Venture PartnersGE Ventures and the venture fund of insurer Blue Cross Blue ShieldMore here.


Replika, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based consumer AI that enables people to build a digital friend, has raised $6.5 million in Series A2 funding, including Khosla VenturesSherpa CapitalPhil Libin, and Richard SocherMore here.


Semma Therapeutics, a two-year-old,  Cambridge, Ma.-based biotechnology company focused on the development of novel regenerative medicines, raised $114 million in Series B funding. Eight Roads Ventures and Cowen Healthcare Investments co-led the round, and was joined by MPM Capital, F-Prime Capital PartnersARCH Venture PartnersNovartisMedtronic,  JDRF T1D FundORI Healthcare FundWu Capital6 Dimensions Capital and SinoPharm Capital. (Whew.) Business Insider has more here.


Uptake, a three-year-old, Chicago-based SaaS startup that uses machine learning to read and understand how machines are working, and also anticipate when they may break down or need other attention, has closed a Series D round of $117 million at a post-money valuation of $2.3 billion. Baillie Gifford led the round, with participation also from earlier investors Revolution Growth and GreatPoint Ventures. The company, founded by serial entrepreneur Brad Keywell, has now raised more than $250 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.





A favorite food stub at tech startups is worth a whole lot of money, according toMars Inc., which just acquired a minority stake in Kind, the maker of those ubiquitous snack bars, at a valuation of more than $4 billion. Dealbook has more here.





Meet the man who deactivated Trump’s Twitter account.


The 50 people who defined global business this year.





Honor, the venture-backed in-home care startup, is looking to hire a VP of business development. The job is in San Francisco.



Essential Reads


The U.S. tax authority is starting to get savvy to this whole bitcoin thing. On Wednesday, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that Coinbase must supply the IRS with identifying information on users who had more than $20,000 in annual transactions on its platform between 2013 and 2015. TechCrunch has more here.


A deep dive into the low-profile, high-stakes world of venture lending.


An FDA-approved Apple Watch band can tell you if your heart isn’t working properly.





Matt Lauer has apologized for being a dirtbag.



Retail Therapy


The new 2018 Panamera Hybrid Sport Turismo hatchback. Sigh.



StrictlyVC: November 29, 2017

November 29, 2017


We heart you, readers. Thanks very much to the many of you who offered up great suggestions regarding where to host our next StrictlyVC event. It’s so appreciated. We’ll have more for you once we lock up one of these spots and get a date on the calendar.:)


No column today; also, StrictlyVC may arrive really early tomorrow (or really late) as we have to jump on an all-day flight fairly early and never know if we’ll have WiFi on these things.



Top News


Apple released a security update for macOS High Sierra this morning, and you should update right now if you haven’t already.


Benchmark and Menlo Ventures, two firms that this summer pushed for the ouster of former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, will sell some of their positions in the company as part SoftBank‘s tender offer, a SoftBank spokesperson told media outlets late yesterday. But the deal, which values Uber on secondary markets at 30 percent less than its last private fundraising round, has already driven away one buyer that had been expected to be part of SoftBank’s consortium, says Recode, and that’s General Atlantic, which felt the price of the deal was still too high, among other concerns.


One of these concerns may center on Uber‘s growing losses As TechCrunch reports, the company lost $1.46 billion in just the third quarter — which compares to a $1.06 billion lost in the second quarter.



Sponsored By …


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New Fundings


ALO7, a 13-year-old, Shanghai, China-based online tutoring company specializing in English language learning products, has raised $37.5 million in Series D funding.Legend Capital led the round; other participants include GuoHe CapitalUG InvestmentQualcommNew Oriental and Vickers Venture Partners. DealStreetAsia has more here.


Drawbridge Health, a new, Menlo Park, Ca.-based developer of a single device for drawing, collecting and stabilizing blood samples, has been launched by GE Ventures. No financial information is being disclosed right now. TechCrunch hasmore here.


ElectroCore, a 12-year-old, Basking Ridge, N.J.-based developer of a bioelectronic device for treating pain associated with episodic cluster headaches, has raised $70 million in Series B funding led by Core Ventures. Other participants in the round include Merck Global Health Innovation FundGakasaAmerican Investment Holdings and the Vinik Family FoundationMore here.


Enjoius, a two-year-old, L.A.-based online platform that aims to make it easier for hosts to plan their events, from weddings to dinner parties, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from a long list of individual investors, including Nancy Tellem, a former president at CBS; Angela Mathes, a former president at ABC; and Dollar Shave Club’s CFO, Daniel Murray. TechCrunch has more here.


Seebo, a five-year-old, Israel-based Iot platform for launching “smart products,” has raised $8 million in additional Series A funding that brings the round to $16.5 million altogether. Its newest investors include TPY CapitalViola Ventures,Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Global IoT Technology Ventures.


SenseTime, a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based artificial intelligence company specializing in facial and image recognition technology, has just received $227 million in funding from Alibaba Group Holdings, reportedly at a post-money valuation of $3 billion. That number is double the valuation the company was assigned when it raised $410 million in Series B funding just four months ago. DealStreetAsia has more here.


Spot.IM, a six-year-old, New York-based provider of social engagement solutions for publishers, has raised $25 million in Series C funding. Insight Venture Partners led the round, with participation from earlier backers Altair VC andNorma Investments.


Terbium Labs, a four-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based dark web intelligence company, has raised $6 million in financing led by Glasswing VenturesMore here.


Thrive Global, a year-old, New York-based “behavior change media and technology company” founded by entrepreneur Arianna Huffington, has raised $30 million in Series B funding led by IVP, reportedly at a $120 million valuation. Other participants in the round (and warning, there are many!), include Salesforce CEOMarc Benioff and earlier backers Lerer Hippeau VenturesGreycroft Partners,Blue Pool CapitalAdvancit CapitalCanvas VenturesFemale Founders Fund, Indigo founder and CEO Heather Reisman, Oak Investment Partners’ Fred Harman, Bridgewater founder Ray DalioMichael Huffington and entrepreneurSean Parker. Also joining the round as a new investor is Marketo co-founder and former CEO Phil Fernandez. The company has now raised $37 million altogether. Recode has more here.



New Funds


Lux Capital, the 17-year-old venture firm known for making bets on emerging technologies in the physical and life sciences, is raising a $300 million  co-investment fund, shows a filing with the SEC. Lux closed its fifth early-stage fund with $400 million earlier this year.





A favorite food stub at tech startups is worth a whole lot of money, according toMars Inc., which just acquired a minority stake in Kind, the maker of those ubiquitous snack bars, at a valuation of more than $4 billion. Dealbook has more here.





Maina Bhaman has joined the Paris-based venture firm Sofinniva Partners as a partner. She was previously the director of healthcare investments for London-based Touchstone Innovations.


Facing a significant revenue shortfall this year, BuzzFeed is laying off about 100 employees — or 8 percent of its staff — and reorganizing its advertising sales and business operations as it moves away from relying purely on native advertising. The WSJ has more here.


General Catalyst Partners has added another managing director to its West Coast offices: Kyle Doherty. He joins from Coatue and will be focused on making investments in later-stage companies, in areas including financial services, e-commerce, deep tech, and healthcare IT.


Former Golden State Warrior David Lee is reportedly in talks to join the venture capital firm Social Capital, whose cofounder Chamath Palihapitiya, owns a stake in the NBA team.


Elon Musk’s tunnel through L.A. just happens to go from his house to his office.


Refinery29, an online publisher that targets millennial women, has hired Sarah Personette, a top Facebook marketing executive, to be its chief operating officer.


Andy Rubin, the widely admired creator of Android and a key executive at Google for nine years, left the company in 2014 shortly after an internal investigation determined that he had carried on an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, reports The Information. Rubin has taken a leave of absence from his current smartphone startup, Essential, following calls from The Information (for, yes, more information). More here. In an unsurprising aside: Rubin has hired Mike Sitrick, the damage control expert, who we profiled last year.)





Impossible Foods (whose CEO, Patrick Brown, came to one of our events last year), is looking to hire a VP of corporate development. The job is in Redwood City, Ca.



Essential Reads


Expect GM Cruise self-driving vehicles to arrive in “quarters, not years,” says the company.


Snap is “separating the social from the media” to fight fake news, says CEO Evan Spiegel.


An Uber lawyer says an ex-employee who made allegations about the company’s security practices was trying to extort the company. Uber went on to pay the employee as a consultant. Recode has more here.





The official trailer for “Avengers: Infinity War.”


At the Department of Homeland Security, the cops, say authorities, became the robbers.


Both Garrison Keillor and Matt Lauer are out of jobs today, and surprise, our commander-in-chief has weighed in on the development. (If you voted for thisasshat, please never tell us. We’ll still love you, but, like, a lot less.)



Retail Therapy


For those of us who don’t have AirPods just yet.


StrictlyVC: November 28, 2017

November 28, 2017


Hello and happy Tuesday! So sorry for the late send; it’s parent-teacher conference week in our world.


Also! Quick mention: with the year quickly coming to a close, it’s time to start planning our first StrictlyVC event of 2018 in earnest. If you happen to have or know of a space that’s elegant enough for a cocktail party but big enough to accommodate between, say, 150 and 200 people, we’d love to hear from you. For what it’s worth, we’re hoping to host something in San Francisco as it’s a bit easier for us to juggle, but we’re open to any and all ideas. Thank you.:)



Top News


At a hearing today in San Francisco federal court, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said it would be a “huge injustice” to force Alphabet’s Waymo to go to trial withUber beginning next week as previously planned, citing new evidence discovered by Waymo that Uber had withheld. CNBC has more here.


Picking up from yesterday’s top news, a Trump-appointed judge decided today that Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, can lead the Consumer FinancialProtection Bureau into the ground for now.


SoftBank has bid to buy Uber shares for 30 percent less than their current value,says Bloomberg. If successful, this SoftBank-led coalition would buy at least 14 percent of the shares from existing Uber investors. The purchase, along with an additional $1 billion direct investment in the company, would make the group one of Uber’s biggest shareholders. (Sources tell TechCrunch that Sequoia Capital is also looking to increase its stake as part of this syndicate, and that other investors on the list include Tencent and TPG.)



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NFX Guild Gets More Serious About Investing with a $150 Million Fund


Roughly two years after emerging on the scene as a new Bay Area accelerator, NFX Guild, an outfit run by several seasoned founders, has raised $150 million for a full-fledged venture fund.


It’s quite a ways from the $10 million that NFX used to get started, but as is often the case with these things, the firm’s ambitions have grown with time. “The bigger vision here is, we want to build a significant institution at NFX,” says Pete Flint, who cofounded the real estate site Trulia, which sold to Zillow in 2015 for $2.5 billion — after which Flint joined NFX.


Indeed, NFX, originally founded by angel investor Gigi Levy-Weiss and serial operators James Currier and Stan Chudnovsky, started out small but with a very specific premise in mind: that with the partners’ help, a good many startups could grow so-called network effects businesses. (The idea, broadly, is that the more users a product has, the better the product becomes for future users.)


Certainly, Currier and Chudnovsky had seen network effects up close at Tickle, a popular purveyor of personality quizzes that they’d cofounded in 1999 and whichsold to the jobs giant Monster in 2004.


Chudnovsky — now an advisor to NFX — has also spent the last three years as the VP of Product for Messaging at Facebook, a company that has benefited so greatly from network effects that it now has a $532 billion market cap.


It’s still a bit early to declare NFX’s approach a success. The accelerator program it has built originally plugged $120,000 into startups, all of which were referred to the outfit by “scouts,” including at Greylock Partners, CRV, Mayfield, and Shasta Ventures.


In some cases, the startups were already funded in part by the venture firms but looked to NFX to help grow their businesses.


In all cases, there was no way for an outsider to apply to NFX Guild.


More here.



New Fundings


BetterLesson, a nine-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based professional development platform for teachers, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Owl Ventures, with participation from New Markets Venture PartnersReach Capital and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. Xconomy has more here.


Doctolib, a four-year-old, Paris-based mobile booking platform and management software provider for doctors in Europe, has raised $42 million (€35 million) fromEurazeo and existing investor Bpifrance. TechCrunch has more here.


Fullerton Healthcare, a six-year-old, Singapore-based company that specializes in designing customized medical services for corporate and insurer clients, has raised $121 million from investors, including Ping An Capital Co. China Money Network has more here.


InstaCarro, a two-year-old, Sao Paulo, Brazil-based marketplace for buying and selling used cars, has raised $22 million in Series A funding co-led by FJ Labs(which had led the company’s $3.5 million seed round in 2016) and new investorLumia Capital. TechCrunch has more here.


Omniex Holdings, a months-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based institutional operating platform for investment managers and active traders focused on crypto-assets, has raised $5 million in seed funding led by Wicklow Capital, with participation from Sierra VenturesDigital Currency GroupClocktower Ventures, andThirdStream PartnersMore here.


Prognos, a seven-year-old, New York-based company whose AI-related software aims to identify patients who suffer from conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and non-small cell lung cancer by analyzing laboratory and diagnostics records, has raised $20.5 million in Series C funding. The round includes CignaGIS Strategic Ventures (the venture capital arm of the Guardian Life Insurance Company);Hermed Alpha Industrial; London-based Hikma Ventures (the venture arm of Hikma Pharmaceuticals), and numerous others. Xconomy has more here.


Qool Therapeutics, a four-year-old, Menlo Park, Ca.-based company developing a non-invasive targeted temperature management system, has raised $8 million in Series A-1 funding. Investors include Zhongji Holdings LTD/Join Medical TechnologyTAMCAPBrilliMedical International Corp.BioPacific Investors,Western Technology Investment, and FundRxMore here.


Reliam, a six-year-old, Los Angeles-based seller of managed services, has raised $17 million from Great Hill Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


Rx Savings Solutions, a nine-year-old, Overland Park, Ks.-based software-as-a-service that collects medication claim information, runs it through some algorithms, then spits out custom savings suggestions, has raised $18.4 million led byMcCarthy CapitalMore here.


TuSimple, a two-year-old, China-based autonomous truck technology startup, has raised $55 million in a Series C funding round led by Composite Capital. Earlier backers Sina (operator of China’s biggest microblogging site Weibo), and ZP Capital also participated in the round. Fortune has more here.



(Other) New Funds


Noah Heller, most recently Hulu’s VP of business development for emerging technology and VR, has founded an early-stage firm called 3Rodeo that he reportedly plans to run as managing partner with some help from RYOT Studio co-founder Molly DeWolf Swenson and former Picasa CEO Lars Perkins (both venture partners). Variety has more here.


NeoTribe Ventures, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based venture firm, has so far raised $113.5 million for its debut fund, shows an SEC filing that lists a $130 million target.


NIO Capital, a Shanghai, China-based investment firm founded by leading Chinese electric vehicle maker NIO, is reportedly in talks with investors to raise a $500 million fund aimed at the country’s auto sector. Reuters has more here.


Root Ventures, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based venture firm focused on hardware startups, is raising up to $75 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing. We’d talked with founder Avidan Ross back in 2015 when he closed Root’s debut fund with roughly $31 million. More here.


UnitedHealth‘s Optum health-services business unit is branching into venture capital with a $250 million fund focused on investing in startups that improve the healthcare delivery and payment systems, along with consumers’ access to care. Modern Healthcare has more here.





Co-working space giant WeWork will acquire 14-year-old, New York-based community platform Meetup, according to Crunchbase News. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but the report says Meetup CEO and co-founder Scott Heiferman shared the news with employees at a company-wide meeting yesterday. Meetup had raised roughly $19 million over the years, including from DFJ, which led two of its rounds. More here.





TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington just announced that he’s helping launch a new $100 million cryptocurrency hedge fund called Arrington XRP Capital and that it has secured $50 million in capital commitments already. He also says the fund is denominated in the cryptocurrency Ripple and that all distributions, fees, and other transactions will also “generally” be paid in Ripple, “with some exceptions for LPs desiring different currency distributions.” Much more here.


There is now a scholarly journal for studying photos of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.





The venture arm of Mubadala, the sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates, is looking to hire an associate. The job is in San Francisco. Applicants should direct their resumes and cover letters to (You can find more on its plans here.)





Millennials ages  25 to 34 were the biggest spenders during the long Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. They shelled out $419.52 during the five-day stretch, 25 percent more than the overall average. Bloomberg has more here.


An inaugural report conducted by the Angel Capital Association and Wharton Entrepreneurship that surveyed 1,659 U.S.-based angel investors about their demographics and preferences has found that 77.9 percent of angels in the U.S. are male, while 22.1 percent are female. Of newer angel investors — those who started in 2014 or later — 30 percent are women. Geekwire has more here.



Essential Reads


The price of a single Bitcoin crossed $10,000 on some exchanges for the first time yesterday — less than two months after it crossed $5,000 for the first time. Dealbook has more here.





Google has a new site for tracking your investments.


Saturday Night Live has quietly scrubbed its “creepy Safelite guy” sketch from existence.


Rhaegar Targaryen: love or fate?



Retail Therapy


The best luxury spas in the world. (One can dream!)


StrictlyVC: November 27, 2017

November 27, 2017


Happy Monday! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, everyone. We so loved seeing our own out-of-town guests, as did Brodie the Wonder Dog (when he wasn’t trying to tunnel to the center of the earth via our our backyard).


We’re off to Berlin later this week for TechCrunch’s newest Disrupt event, by the way. If you’re thinking of going and haven’t bought a ticket yet, it’s a good day to do that.



Top News


The White House’s budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, arrived at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with donuts this morning to assume the job of acting director after agency official Leandra English sued to block the Trump administration from taking control of the agency —  which Mulvaney has characterized as a “sad, sick joke” and reportedly aims to dismantle. (English also showed up at the agency this morning.)


We wrote this weekend why this drama may not impact venture-backed online lenders so much much as a separate move to reduce the CFPB’s power last month.(Funny aside: an employee for the agency told the Times as he approached the bureau today, “I knew on Friday who my boss was. But thanks to this idiot, I don’t know.” He did not clarify which idiot.)


Last night, a sale agreement was struck that puts Time Inc., publisher of once-prestigious magazine titles like Time, Sports Illustrated and People, into the hands of The Meredith Corporation, owner of Family Circle and AllRecipes, for $3 billion in cash — $650 million of which is coming from the ultraconservative billionaire Koch brothers. As notes the New York Times, the deal could well “represent the beginning of the end for one of the country’s most celebrated magazine publishers.”



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New Fundings


Biolinq, a five-year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based digital health company with a wirelessly enabled biosensor patch capable of continuously monitoring multiple biomarkers, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by M Ventures. Other participants in the round include Hikma VenturesGrey Sky Venture Partners,Three Leaf VenturesLifeSci Venture Partners, and numerous individuals. More here.


ClimaCell, a two-year-old, Boston-based weather forecasting technology that uses wireless networks to create granular predictions, has raised $15 million in funding led by Canaan Partners, with participation from Fontinalis Partners. TechCrunch has more here.


LabGenius, a five-year-old, London-based synthetic biology startup, has raised $3.66 million in seed funding co-led by Kindred Capital and Acequia Capital, with participation from Backed VCBeast VenturesBerggruen Holdings andSystem.OneMore here.


Libra, a nearly four-year-old, New York-based startup that sells financial software for the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, has raised $7.8 million in Series A funding. The round was led by an unnamed “multibillion dollar European family office,” with participation from Liberty City VenturesXBTOBoost VC, and angel investor Lee LindenMore here.


Lyft, the five-year-old, San Francisco-based ride-share company, is raising up to $500 million in new funding, as an extension to the $1 billion round recently led byCapitalG. Axios has more here.


Medeor Therapeutics, a three-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based clinical-stage biotechnology company working on personalized cellular immunotherapies that help reduce transplant rejections, has raised $57 million in Series B funding led by RA Capital Management. Other participants in the round include Sofinnova Ventures and 6 Dimensions Capital, as well as earlier backers Vivo Capital andWuXi Healthcare VenturesMore here.


Niantic, the six-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile AR game-maker behind Pokémon Go, has raised $200 million in Series B funding. Spark Capital led the round, and was joined by Founders FundMeritech Capital PartnersJavelin Venture Partners and NeatEase. The WSJ has more here.


Victoria Beckham Ltd., a nine-year-old, London-based luxury fashion retailer and e-commerce company, has raised £30 million (roughly $40 million) in new funding from NEO Investment Partners, according to Business of Fashion. The deal reportedly values the company at £100 million ($133 million). More here.



New Funds


Balderton Capital, the London-based early-stage venture firm, has closed its sixth fund with $375 million in commitments, says TechCrunch, which reports the capital has already been used to make ten investments. More here.


Adam Jackson, the former CEO of telemedicine startup Doctor on Demand, has co-founded a cryptocurrency hedge fund called Cambrian Asset Management, says Axios. His co-founders are Martin Green, formerly the president of Meebo, and Jay Posner, formerly of Blue Cub Capital.


Techstars Ventures, a Boulder, Colo.-based venture capital firm, is raising $400 million for a new venture capital fund, shows an SEC filing processed earlier this month.





WeLab, a four-year-old, Hong Kong-based online mobile lending start-up that’s backed by Credit Suisse Group, local tycoon Li Ka-Shing, and Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, is planning an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, where it aims to raise as much as $500 million. China Money Network has more here.





Barracuda Networks, a cloud computing and data security company, said today that it has agreed to be taken private in a $1.6 billion deal. Private equity firmThoma Bravo will pay all cash. Barracuda shareholders will receive $27.55 per share, which represents a 17 percent premium from its last closing price. Forbes hasmore here.


McAfee, one of the world’s best-known independent cybersecurity companies, says it’s acquiring Skyhigh Networks, a six-year-old, Campbell, Ca.-based cloud-service protection platform that had raised a whopping $106.5 million, including fromSequoia PartnersGreylock Partners, and ThomVest Ventures. Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. TechCrunch has more here.


Mingbike, a Chinese bike-share company, appears to have gone bust, according to the South China Post. It has laid off 99 percent of its staff, according to reports, and some of those employees say they haven’t received their salary in several months.  Mingbike is the third dockless bike-share company in China to shut down in recent months, following Bluegogo and Coolqi. China’s bike-sharing market, overcrowded with more than 40 platforms, has attracted $2 billion in funding over the last 18 months, notes the Post.





Bhaskar Ghosh is joining the venture firm 8VC as a partner and chief technology officer. Ghosh has been an investor and member of outfit’s advisory board since 2015. He was previously the VP of engineering, operations and security at the startup NerdWallet.


David Karp, founder of Tumblr, is resigning finally from the company (which was famously acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion in cash, which itself was more recently acquired by AOL, before it became Oath). Here’s the letter Karp sent to his team.


Snap CEO Evan Spiegel is still very much a billionaire, despite the long slide in Snap’s share price since the company’s March IPO. Why mention this? Because we’d written a widely read piece yesterday, reporting that he was “clinging to billionaire status by his fingernails.” Alas, we’d wrongly overlooked Spiegel’s series B and series C shares. We couldn’t learn the strike price of these, but combined with his series A shares, now valued at $1.07 billion, Spiegel is still worth “well north of $1 billion,” a source close to the company tells us.


In other billionaire news, Peter Thiel may be trying to buy Gawker so he can destroy its archived stories.



Essential Reads


Amazon just announced Amazon Sumerian, a new platform for developers to build and host VR, AR and 3D apps quickly and with minimal coding, for smartphones and tablets, head-based displays, digital signage and web browsers. TechCrunch has thestory here.





Engaged! (More here, for royal watchers.)


Laptops are great, but not during lectures or meetings.


The White House may ban its employees from using personal mobile phones while at work.


The “only good thing left in this world.”



Retail Therapy


secret shoe for Ian Fleming fans.


must-see movie, according to Rotten Tomatoes. (It might be the best-reviewed movie of all time, it says.)

StrictlyVC: November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017


Wednesday! Quick mention: as you might guess, we aren’t publishing StrictlyVC tomorrow or Friday in observance of Thanksgiving. We’ll be too busy trying to figure out how to cook a dozen different dishes without ruining them, then recovering from that failed effort (because who are we kidding) on Friday.


We do wish you a very happy Thanksgiving with your own families! See you early next week.:)



Top News


Uber paid hackers to delete stolen data on 57 million people. Now the New York State Attorney General has launched an investigation into the cover-up.



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AltSchool Wants to Change How Kids Learn, But Fears That It’s Failing Kids are Surfacing


Earlier this week, Business Insider reported that numerous families have grown frustrated with the education their children are receiving at AltSchool, an ambitious San Francisco-based ed tech company that four years ago began opening physical grade schools and promising a personalized learning approach that would far surpass the standardized education most kids receive.


It’s not just parents who have growing concerns about AltSchool, however. Educators also question whether AltSchool is the next best thing in education, or whether instead the for-profit company could hamper the prospects of the children with which it works, and those it might impact down the road.


Seemingly, exasperation with AltSchool has been building over the last year. It was then that the company — which had originally touted plans to expand its network of schools and classrooms —  publicly switched gears, announcing it would instead license its nascent program to other schools that want to embrace more individualized techniques.


Frustration has more recently reached a boiling point, with one mother comparing her children to “guinea pigs” in conversation with BI.


You got the right to be mad


The term echoes conversations that we’ve also had with a handful of  AltSchool families in recent months. At a September birthday party attended by numerous families, one mother told us she’d pulled two children out of the program and placed them in a neighborhood public school; the rest of the parents in attendance said they were actively working to place their children elsewhere next fall. The biggest reason they cited was that their kids are falling behind academically. One mother, who asked not to be named, told us that in addition to paying yearly tuition of roughly $30,000, “We’re all spending a fortune on tutoring to supplement what our kids aren’t learning.”


Another mother of two at AltSchool told us she spoke recently to the head master of one of San Francisco’s toniest private schools, and he suggested to her that she transfer her children elsewhere if she’s hopes to see them admitted to the institution he oversees.


Compounding their anger these days is AltSchool’s more recent announcement that its existing network of schools, which had grown to seven locations, is now being pared back to just four — two in California and two in New York — leaving parents to wonder: did AltSchool entice families into its program merely to extract data from their children, then toss them aside?


Asked about such unhappiness, Max Ventilla, the former Google executive who founded and runs the company, tells us the decision to shrink AltSchool’s physical footprint can be traced to “greater demand than we were expecting” for AltSchool’s software — which it has already licensed to half a dozen private and public school systems, and for which it’s charging between $150 and $500 per student per year, depending on the size of the school.


“Our motivation for reducing the number of schools is so we can deliver the highest-quality experiences at schools that remain and with our limited resources, grow [the software side of AltSchool’s business] faster than originally planned,” says Ventilla.


He adds that the decision to close locations in Palo Alto, San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, and New York City’s East Village, has nothing to do with the company’s finances, as recently reported in Bloomberg. On the contrary he says, AltSchool is about to close its Series C round. It also has “$60 million in the bank and additional debt and funding we can draw on.”


They say you gotta let it go


Still, it’s probably valid to ask whether AltSchool should be productizing and selling its software to other schools already.


More here.



New Fundings


ADAY, a two-year-old, U.K.-based direct-to-consumer fashion company, has raised $2 million in funding, including from H&M CO:LABADG, and SoGal Ventures.More here.


Buildup, a four-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based mobile collaboration and task management platform for construction job sites, has raised $7 million in Series A funding from TLV PartnersUpWest Labs01 Ventures and Abstract Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.


Candid, a months-old, New York-based teeth-straightening startup that 3D prints aligners, has raised $15 million in Series A funding from Greycroft Partners,Bessemer Venture Partners and, among others. TechCrunch hasmore here.


Divergent 3D, a three-year-old, L.A.-based developer of 3D printing technology for auto manufacturing, has raised more than $65 million in funding. O Luxe Holdingsof Hong Kong led the round, with participation from Horizons VenturesShanghai Alliance Investment and Altran Technologies. Forbes has more here.


Kona Deep, an 11-year-old, Hawaii-based bottled water company, has raised $5.5 million from the venture arm of Danone and Grand Crossing Capital. CNBC hasmore here.


LeafLink, a two-year-old, Denver, Co.-based marketplace for wholesale cannabis, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Nosara Capital, with participation from Lerer Hippeau VenturesCasa Verde CapitalWisdom VCPhyto PartnersTIA Ventures, and Brand New Matter. Business Insider has more here.


Letus Legend, a China-based fresh produce chain supermarket operator that provides fresh food and kitchen supplies, has raised $30 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital China. China Money Network has more here.


Overclock Labs, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that says it’s developing protocols, tools, and infrastructure to make foundational elements of the internet open, decentralized and secure, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding from CrunchFund and individual angels. TechCrunch has more here.


PacketZoom, a four-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based mobile application performance company, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Baseline Ventures, with participation from First Round CapitalTandem Capital andArafura Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.


Step Pharma, a three-year-old, Paris-based developer of CTPS1 inhibitors for autoimmune disorders, has raised €14.5 million in Series A funding led by Kurma Partners, with participation from BpifranceInserm Transfert Initiative,IdinvestSygnature Discovery and the Imagine Institute. FierceBiotech hasmore here.



New Funds


Ten-year-old Seedcamp has closed its new pan-European seed fund with £41 million ($54.6 million) in capital commitments. TechCrunch has more here.


Scale Up Venture Capital, a two-year-old, Palo Alto-based early-stage venture firm, is looking to raise a second fund, shows an SEC filing that doesn’t list a target. The firm was cofounded by Alex Lazovsky, a co-founder of CIRTech Fund and a former investor at Rusnano. According to LinkedIn, the new fund is targeting investments in AI and robotics, Ar and VR, insurance and finance, data and analytics, and next-generation infrastructure. More here.





Apple has acquired Vrvana, a 12-year-old, Canada-based maker of a virtual reality headset for the gaming community, for approximately $30 million, says TechCrunch. According to Crunchbase, Vrvana had raised just $350,000 in funding. More here.


Ion Investment Group  will buy a controlling stake in Dealogic, a U.K.-based provider of financial content and analytics, from Carlyle Group and Britain’s Euromoney Institutional Investor, says Reuters. More here.



Essential Reads


Facebook says it will help some users figure out if they saw Russian propagandaduring the 2016 U.S. presidential election.


Why the tech giants’ secret war against fake news is still too secret.





Is your personality right for your job?


How to decorate your Thanksgiving table in style.


Butterball helpline.



Retail Therapy


Ira Glass’s Chelsea apartment.


The “ultimate driving jacket,” brought to your courtesy of Jaguar and the menswear label Private White V.C.


StrictlyVC: November 21, 2017

November 21, 2017


Hi. Happy Tuesday.:)



Top News


The Trump administration earlier today set in motion its plan to repeal virtually all of the U.S. government’s existing net neutrality rules — a move that will soon deliver another major deregulatory win to telecom giants like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon. Perhaps unsurprisingly, FCC Chair Ajit Pai didn’t mention anything about the 22 million comments that the proposal had attracted, the majority of them against it.


John Lasseter, the chief creative office of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios, is taking a leave of absence from Pixar after acknowledging “painful” conversations and unspecified “missteps,” in his behavior toward employees and others in the entertainment community, he wrote in a memo to staff earlier today. More here.


Both PBS and CBS News have fired Charlie Rose, veteran interviewer of many in tech and beyond, after it was reported yesterday that he has routinely worked around young female employees while in various states of undress, amid other sexual misconduct.


And Meg Whitman is leaving her role as CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. More here.



Sponsored By …


The best way to raise capital is to “run a process.” The best way to run a process is to use FoundersuiteFoundersuite makes the leading Investor CRM, used by startups to raise $444 million in seed and VC since Q1:16. Foundersuite’s platform also includes a searchable database of 50,000 angels and VCs, as well as a beautiful investor update tool to engage stakeholders and “warm up” prospective investors. StrictlyVC readers get 30% off for 6 months using code “StrictlyVC,” or email us to discuss volume pricing for your entire portfolio.



New Fundings


GreenRush, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based online marketplace for legally purchasing cannabis, has raised $3.6 million in Series A funding from numerous individual investors. More here.


LightStep, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based provider of application performance management for enterprise software, says it has quietly raised $29 million in funding, including from Redpoint VenturesSequoia CapitalCowboy Ventures and Harrison Metal. (Redpoint led the Series A; Sequoia led the Series B, according to the company.) More here.


HopSkipDrive, a three-year-old, L.A.-based ride service designed expressly for kids, has raised $7.4 million in fresh funding led by Student Transportation Inc., a school bus transportation company. Earlier investors Upfront Ventures andFirstMark Capital also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $21.5 million. TechCrunch has more here.


Medigate, a months-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based medical device security platform, has raised $5.35 million in seed funding, including from YL Ventures andBlumberg CapitalMore here.


Natilus, a 2.5-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based maker of large autonomous aircraft drones that aim to reduce the cost of global air freight, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding, including from Starburst VenturesSeraph GroupGelt VCOutpost Capital and Draper AssociatesMore here.


Quantum Circuits, a two-year-old, New Haven, Cn.-based company whose long-term goal is to develop, manufacture, and sell the first practical and useful quantum computers, has raised $18 million in Series A funding. Canaan Partners andSequoia Partners co-led the round, with participation from Tribeca Venture PartnersMore here.


Pet Circle, an Australia-based e-commerce provider of pet food, raised funding of an undisclosed amount from investors including Francisco Partners and AirTree VenturesMore here.


Pixvana, a two-year-old, Seattle-based mixed reality production platform, has raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Vulcan Capital, with participation fromRaine VenturesMicrosoft VenturesCisco InvestmentsHearst Venturesand earlier investor Madrona Venture Group. GeekWire has more here.


SAM Labs, a four-year-old, London-based edtech startup that provides teachers with lessons plans about “complex skills of the future,” has raised $6.75 million in Series A funding co-led by Touchstone Innovations and E15 VenturesMore here.


Shippeo, a three-year-old, Paris-based supply chain visibility platform, has raised roughly $11.8 million in Series A funding led by Partech Ventures and Otium VentureMore here.


Shouqi Limousine & Chauffeur, a China-based offshoot of the state-owned Shouqi Group (which was Beijing’s first licensed ride-hailing app), has raised $195 million in Series B funding led by the Chinese internet giant BaiduNIO Capital, the investment arm of billion-dollar electric car startup NIO, and Silk Road Huachuang, also joined the round, which adds to $88 million in Series B funding that the company had announced in July. TechCrunch has more here.


TuSimple, a two-year-old, China-based maker of autonomous truck software company backed by Nvidia, has raised $55 million in Series C funding. Fuhe Capital led, and was joined by earlier shareholders Sina Corp. and Zhiping Capital. China Money Network has more here.


VidMob, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based video creation platform that pairs marketers with video creators, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding, including from Manifest Investment PartnersInterlock PartnersStampede VenturesAcadia Woods Partners and Macanta InvestmentsMore here.


The Wing, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based women-only club and co-working space, just raised $32 million in Series B funding from WeWork and New Enterprise Associates. Forbes has more here.



New Funds


Crosslink Capital, an 18-year-old, San Francisco-based stage-independent venture firm, is raising up to $250 million for its eighth fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm closed its seventh venture fund with $170 million in 2015. More here.





Boku, a U.S. company, just went public in London. Crunchbase looks at why, and what other U.S. companies can learn from the move.


Denali Therapeutics, a two-year-old, South San Francisco, Ca.-based neurodegenerative disease treatment maker, has filed to raise up to $100 million in an IPO. Its biggest outside shareholders include Bratton CapitalARCH Venture Fund and Flagship Venture FundMore here.


Odonate Therapeutics, a year-old, San Diego, Ca.-based oral chemotherapy drug maker, has filed to raise up to $173 million in an IPO. The company’s biggest outside shareholders include Tang Capital PartnersBoxer Capital, and Janus Capital Management. FierceBiotech has more on Denali and Odonate here.





DMM, one of Japan’s largest Internet and e-commerce conglomerates, is poised to pay about $62.2 million for pawn shop app Cash. Launched this summer, Cash’s software automatically appraises an item’s value based on user photos and offers a cash advance using it as collateral. TechCrunch has more here.


Marvell Technology, a publicly traded producer of storage, communications and consumer semiconductor products, has agreed to buy rival Cavium for about $6 billion as it tries to expand beyond semiconductors that control hard disk drives. More here.


Publicly traded Upland Software is paying $50 million to acquire Qvidian, a 40-year-old, Chelmsford, Ma.-based cloud RFP and sales proposal automation software platform. Qvidian had raised roughly $31 million in venture funding over the years, including from North Bridge Venture PartnersHillStreet CapitalKodiak Ventures, and Commonwealth Capital. Austin Business Journal has more here.





SoulCycle co-founder Julie Rice, who resigned from the spin startup in 2016, is joining WeWork as their chief brand officer. She’ll focus on promoting community at the billion-dollar company. Axios has more here.


HTC’s top female design leader, Nichole Rouillac, who helped create several of the mobile giant’s smartphones (along with designing Vive and Fitbit), has left to found her own San Francisco-based consultancy, level design.


Janet Yellen will leave the Federal Reserve’s board once her term as chairwoman expires in February. NPR has more here.


Lessons in knuckle-headed CEO behavior.



Essential Reads


Amazon Web Services has launched a product that’s allowed to handle material that is classified at the “secret” CIA level.


TED, the company made famous for its viral 18-minute talks, has for years been wrestling with sexual harassment at its flagship conference and within the company,The Washington Post reports. (Business Insider has more here, for those of you who aren’t Post subscribers.)


Uber is rolling out ride-hailing for people without smartphones.


A $2.5 billion stake in Nvidia stock has vanished into thin air.





The science of Thanksgiving.


Meet a man who has lived alone on an island for 28 years.


Here’s exactly how much money you need to be happy.



Retail Therapy


Move over Hawaii, here comes Okinawa.


StrictlyVC: November 20, 2017

November 20, 2017


Hi, happy Monday, everyone! Hope you had a terrific weekend. Sorry for the late send. We’re just back from Washington. (We’re still catching up on emails, btw, so know that if you wrote us, we didn’t forget you but it may take a minute).



Top News


The U.S. Justice Department is suing to block AT&T’s $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner. The action is “sure to stir controversy because of President Donald Trump’s adversarial relationship with CNN, which is owned by Time Warner,” notes CNBC. Trump has repeatedly criticized CNN’s reporting, calling it “fake news.” More here.



Sponsored By …


The best way to raise capital is to “run a process.” The best way to run a process is to use Foundersuite. Foundersuite makes the leading Investor CRM, used by startups to raise $444 million in seed and VC since Q1:16. Foundersuite’s platform also includes a searchable database of 50,000 angels and VCs, as well as a beautiful investor update tool to engage stakeholders and “warm up” prospective investors. StrictlyVC readers get 30% off for 6 months using code “StrictlyVC,” or email us to discuss volume pricing for your entire portfolio.



New Fundings


aCommerce, a four-year-old Bangkok, Thailand-based startup that helps brands break into e-commerce and digital media in the fast-growing region, has raised $65 million in Series B funding led by Emerald Media, an Asian firm backed by global investor KKR. Earlier investors Blue SkyMDI Ventures and DKSH also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $94 million. TechCrunch hasmore here.


Code2040, a five-year-old, San Francisco nonprofit working to increase diversity in the technology industry, has raised $5.6 million to advance its diversity and inclusion efforts in technology. The funding comes from The Knight Foundation, The Sara and Ev Williams Foundation and others, and brings Code2040’s total funding raised to more than $7 million. TechCrunch has more here.


Deliveroo, the five-year-old London-based restaurant ordering and delivery platform that at September’s end raised $385 million in Series F funding, has added another $98 million to the round led by T. Rowe Price Associates and Fidelity Management & Research Company. The new cash brings the round to $480 million altogether and Deliveroo’s total funding to nearly $1 billion. TechCrunch hasmore here.


Kabbage, an eight-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based company that makes loans to small businesses using machine learning to determine an applicant’s eligibility, has secured $200 million in funding from Credit Suisse in the form of a revolving credit facility that it will use for loans. The company had raised a separate $250 million in equity funding from Softbank earlier this year. TechCrunch has more here.


Locus Robotics, a three-year-old, Wilmington, Ma.-based maker of autonomous, mobile robots for use in e-commerce fulfillment warehouses, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Scale Venture Partners. Earlier (unnamed) backers also joined the round. More here.


Oviva, a three-year-old, Switzerland-based digital dietician looking to help patients across the U.K., Switzerland, and Germany improve their health, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Albion CapitalEight Roads VenturesF-Prime Capital PartnersPartech Ventures and Walking Ventures participated in the round. More here.


Peanut, a 1.5-year-old, London-based app that seeks to connect new mothers based on common interests, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding co-led by Sweet Capital Investment and Female Founders Fund, with participation from Greycroft Partners and Sound Ventures. UKTN has more here.


Scalyr, a six-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based cloud-based service for high-speed log management and server monitoring, has raised $20 million in new funding investment led by Shasta Ventures, with participation from previous investorsBloomberg BetaSusa Ventures and Heroic Ventures. Today’s money brings the total investment to $28 million, according to company CEO and co-founderSteve Newman. TechCrunch has more here.


Tech In Asia, a six-year-old, Singapore-based media and events startup, has raised $6.6 million in fresh funding led by Hanwha Investment and Securities, an affiliate of Hanwha, a Korean conglomerate. TechCrunch has more here.


Sun Art Retail Group, a publicly traded, Hong Kong-based supermarket conglomerate with a market cap of more than $10 billion, has sold a 36 percent stake in its business to Alibaba Group for roughly $2.9 billion, says The Information. As the outlet notes, the deal accelerates Alibaba’s expansion into the offline world. More here.


Zego, a 1.5-year-old, London-based startup that insures on-demand workers, has raised £6 million ($7.9 million) in Series A funding led by Balderton Capital, with participation from earlier backers, including LocalGlobe. TechCrunch has more here.



Sponsored By . . .


Socks that add a little color to your life. We know you like stories that brighten your day. How about socks that do the same? With targeted cushioning and sure fit cuffs,Bombas will be the most comfortable socks you’ve ever worn. And for every pair purchased, Bombas donates one pair of socks to a homeless shelter. Use the code STRICTLYVC, and get 20% off your first order.



New Funds


Space Capital Partners, a year-old, New York-based early-stage venture firm that invests in the commercial space industry, is looking to raise up to $50 million for its debut fund, suggests a new SEC filing. According to its site, the firm is led by Chad Anderson, formerly of JPMorgan. Former Skybox Imaging president and CEO Tom Ingersoll is also a general partner. (We’re still hoping some team might name themselves Space Cowboys. Would someone please do this?)





Casa Systems, a 13-year-old, Andover, Ma.-based company that provides infrastructure for cable companies to enhance broadband speeds, filed on Friday with the SEC to raise up to $150 million in an IPO. Nasdaq has a bit more here.


Stitch Fix, a mail order clothing service, finished its first day of trading up just 1 percent on Friday, raising $120 million after pricing at $15, below the expected range of $18 to $20. (Today, it closed at $14.85 per share.) As TechCrunch notes, the company is growing at a healthy clip; it also has a growing number of competitors. More here.


SailPoint Technologies also traded for the first time this past Friday, closing up 8.3 percent at $13. The Austin, Tex.-based cybersecurity company had priced its IPO at $12 per share late Thursday, above the expected range of $9 to $11. Today its shares closed at $13.50. MarketWatch has more here.





Sarah Catanzaro has joined Amplify Partners in Menlo Park, Ca., as a principal. Catanzaro was previously a data partner at Canvas Ventures, which she’d joined last year.


Mark Danchak has joined the three-year-old, early-stage firm WorldQuant Ventures as managing director; Danchak, who previously was a partner with Carbon6 Ventures, will co-run the firm with another managing director, Steven Lau. (WorldQuant is a private investment vehicle for WorldQuant’s founder and CEO, Igor Tulchinsky.)


FanDuel CEO and co-founder Nigel Eccles is leaving to start an eSports company,says Recode.


Steve Jurvetson was elbowed out of his firm, DFJ, over concerns that his professional and personal lives intersected in messy ways at too many points,reports Recode.


Inside the wedding last Thursday of Reddit cofounder and investor Alexis Ohanianand tennis great Serena WilliamsIn Vogue.


Pact Coffee founder Stephen Rapoport is resigning his role as CEO and becoming chairman of the five-year-old, U.K.-based, venture-backed subscription service, which delivers freshly roasted “specialty coffee” to customers’ doors. The company traces the move to its decision to focus more on the B2B side of its business. TechCrunch has more here.


Shasta Ventures, the early-stage venture firm formed in 2004, has promoted three of its principals — Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Jacob Mullins and Nitin Chopra — to partner. TechCrunch has more here.


Peter Thiel, the powerful tech investor who was an early and vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, is no longer working with the startup incubator Y Combinator. Neither side is saying why, says Business Insider.


23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki talks with Maureenn Dowd of the New York Times about a couple of terrible, no good years —  and how she has fought her way back from them.





Tencent just became the first Chinese company to be valued at more than $500 billion. The 19-year-old company is trailed closely by Alibaba, valued right now at $474 billion. TechCrunch has more here.


Eegh. Almost half of all drivers working for a private hire or taxi operator that were convicted of a sexual offense in London last year were driving for Uber, new data from the Metropolitan Police has revealed. Business Insider has more here.



Essential Reads


Uber plans to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo, marking the transition of the U.S. firm from an app used to summon a taxi to the owner and operator of a fleet of cars.


While he thinks through his next robotics company, driverless-car pioneer (and central figure in Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber) Anthony Levandowski is pitching a new god.


And last but not least in Uber news, it just added live location sharing, so you can share with your driver exactly where you are.





Why Northern Lights tours are the trip of the moment.


People who speed-listen to broadcasts.


Instead of pardoning two turkeys this year as is the presidential tradition, President Donald Trump will be executing the turkeys pardoned last year by former President Barack Obama. With his own hands.



Retail Therapy


Send a message (we’re not sure which) with these leather trash bags.