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.)

 

 

Sponsored By …

 

StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by AngelLoop, a secure platform to centralize your portfolio and post-funding communications. Are you stuck managing your portfolio with clunky CRMs and spreadsheets? Leave outdated tools behind and try AngelLoop. It’s free for investors, and we’re offering StrictlyVC readers a complimentary setup service. It’s never been easier to see how streamlined tools can improve your founder relationships and your bottom line. Complimentary setup is limited, so sign up today.

 

 

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.

 

 

Exits

 

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.

 

 

People

 

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.

 

 

Jobs

 

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 ventures.recruitment@mubadala.ae. (You can find more on its plans here.)

 

 

Data

 

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.

 

 

Detours

 

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!)

 

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