Monthly Archives: August 2018

StrictlyVC: February 16, 2018

Friday!

 

Monday is President’s Day here in the U.S., but we’ll be publishing because we can’t quit you. (Also, sponsors.) Hope you have a stellar weekend, everyone.:)

 

Top News

 

Swiss pharma giant Roche is spending $1.9 billion to acquire Flatiron Health, a start-up that gathers and analyzes data on cancer treatments and sells software based on those insights. Flatiron was founded by ex-Google employees Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg and had raised more than $300 million from investors, including Roche and Alphabet’s venture arm, GV. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Uber is preparing to sell its Southeast Asia business to Singapore’s Grab in exchange for a sizable stake in the company, according to CNBC sources. (Things are heating up fast there. You might recall that Google announced an investment in Grab and Uber rival Go-Jek a couple of weeks ago as part of a bigger, $1.2 billion round.)

 

Sponsored By …

 

StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by Meld Valuation, a premiere independent valuation firm. We care about understanding the unique risk profile of your situation and most importantly making the quantitative reflect the qualitative story. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you everything from cap table management to complex valuation engagements.

 

Founders Co-Op Goes for Fund Four 

 

Founders Co-op, a Seattle-based seed-stage venture firm, is looking to close its fourth and newest fund with $25 million, according to an SEC filing that shows the outfit has raised at least $10.7 million toward that end.

 

The firm — now a fixture on Seattle’s venture scene — was created 10 years ago and closed its last fund in 2015 with $20 million.

 

More here.

 

New Fundings

 

Adaptive Studios, a five-year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based upstart studio that’s focused on short-form content for digital platforms, has raised $16.5 million in Series B funding, including from AMC Networks and Atwater Capital. The company has now raised $24.9 million altogether. Variety has more here.

 

Algorand, a new, Boston-based blockchain-based payments platform cofounded by Silvio Micali, an MIT computer engineering professor and cryptographer who has won the prestigious A.M. Turing Award, just raised $4 million in seed funding. Investors include Pillar and Union Square Ventures. Xconomy has more here.

 

BlockFi, a year-old, New York-based non-banker lender to crypto-asset owners using their bitcoin and ether holdings as collateral, has raised $1.55 million in funding, including from ConsenSys VenturesSoFi and Kenetic Capital. CoinDesk has more here.

 

Celularity, a nearly two-year-old, Warren, N.J.-based company spun out of biotech giant Celgene with the aim of developing cells from placentas to attack tumors and to treat Crohn’s disease, has raised $250 million led by Celgene. TechCrunch hasmore here.

 

CentralReach, a five-year-old, Pompano Beach, Fla.-based developer of electronic health record and practice management software for clinics, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Insight Venture Partners​. More here.

 

Harry’s, the five-year-old, New York-based razor subscription service, has raised $112 million in Series D funding co-led by Alliance Consumer Growth andTemasek, with participation from Tao Capital Partners and insiders. Dealbook hasmore here.

 

onXmaps, a nine-year-old, Missoula, Mt.-based mobile mapping startup for outdoor adventurers, has raised $20.3 million in funding led by Summit Partners, with participation from Bessemer Venture PartnersMillennium Technology Value PartnersNext Frontier Capital and NBCUniversal CEO Steve BurkeMore here.

 

Reflektive, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based employee engagement and performance platform, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by TPG Growth, with participation from earlier backers Andreessen Horowitz andLightspeed Venture Partners. Forbes has more here.

 

Roostify, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based web and mobile service that aims to simplify and accelerate the home-buying experience, just raised $25 million in Series B funding from Cota CapitalPoint72 VenturesSantander Innoventures and earlier backers JPMorgan ChaseColchis Capital, and a subsidiary of USAAMore here.

 

TactoTek, a seven-year-old, Oulu, Finland-based company that produces 3D structural electronics by integrating printed circuitry and discrete electronic components into injection-molded plastics, has raised $23 million in funding. Investors include Ascend Capital PartnersNanogatePlastic OmniumConor Venture Partners and Faurecia VenturesMore here.

 

Zoomcar, a 5.5-year-old, Bangalore, India-based on-demand car rental service, has raised $40 million in Series C funding led by car manufacturing corporationMahindra & Mahindra. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Are you an entrepreneur, startup founder or CEO? Norwest Venture Partners wants to hear about your company-building journey and invites you to participate in a brief opinion survey. Your response will remain anonymous. The survey is being conducted by Wakefield Research, an independent research firm.

 

New Funds

 

In a first of its kind, half a dozen ICO companies have come together to collaborate on a new fund that promises to pay out more than $100 million to promising projects in the Ethereum crypto space. It’s called the Ethereum Community Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Exits

 

Bynder, a five-year-old, digital asset management company, is acquiring another digital asset management service called Webdam that publicly tradedShutterstock had acquired in 2013 for undisclosed terms. Bynder, based in Amsterdam, says it’s paying Shutterstock $49.1 million for the business. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Favor, a 3.5-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based on-demand delivery service, is being acquired by H-E-B, a privately held supermarket chain that’s based in San Antonio and operates hundreds of stores in Texas and northeast Mexico. Favor had raised roughly $38 million from investors,  according to Crunchbase. Terms of the deal aren’t being made public. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Google says it’s acquiring the Xively IoT platform of LogMeIn, a publicly traded maker of remote access software, for $50 million. The deal aims to complement the company’s Google Cloud efforts. LogMeIn had acquired Xively in 2014 for $12 million. ZDNet has more here.

 

OpenText, an acquisitive Canadian content management company, has gobbled up Hightail, a 14-year-old, Campbell, Ca.-based cloud service for file sharing that was once known as YouSendIt. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Hightail had raised more than $90 million in venture funding from investors, including Adams Street PartnersEmergence CapitalSigma Partners and Western Digital Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Walmart is in talks to buy more than 40 percent of the Indian e-commerce juggernaut Flipkart, says Reuters. It would be a direct challenge to Amazon in Asia’s third largest economy. More here.

 

People

 

Adam Brotman, a Starbucks executive who helped mold the Seattle coffee giant into one of the most technologically advanced retailers, is leaving after nine years for J.Crew, where he’s becoming president and chief experience officer.

 

In case you were curious: JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon was the best-paid Wall Street CEO for the second straight year in a row.

 

Snap cofounder and CEO Evan Spiegel yesterday reportedly told those gathered at Goldman Sachs’s annual internet and technology conference that he likes to have an executive team that operates “just below the boil. . . Like when you heat water, and it’s really f_cking hot, but it’s just below the boil.” Spiegel also doubled-down on Snapchat’s unpopular new redesign, saying user complaints only “validate” the changes it has made.

 

Hours after being pink-slipped from Amazon’s “Transparent,” actor Jeffrey Tambor yesterday took aim at the streaming service for its handling of an investigation of sexual harassment claims against him last year.

 

Data

 

Malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016, the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated in a report published this morning.

 

Jobs

 

Frontline Ventures, is looking to add an analyst to its investment team. The job is in Dublin, Ireland.

 

Essential Reads

 

While the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has had its fair share of technical issues the last few months, it seems the latest one may not be its fault.

 

Google has removed the “view image” button from its search results to make pics harder to steal.

 

Virtual currencies are now becoming an issue in divorce cases, too.

 

The tyranny of convenience.

 

Detours

 

Ronan Farrow’s latest blockbuster piece in the New Yorker.

 

How to be better at being wrong.

 

There was some barfing. People fell down. It was a very dramatic night at the Olympics.

 

Retail Therapy

 

Daniel Craig’s 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish. Bids start at $400,000.




StrictlyVC: February 15, 2018

Thursday! This week has flown for us (we are not complaining).

 

Top News

 

Bitcoin just hit $10,000 again.

 

Biggish news in today’s WSJ: “Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is relocating his home and personal investment firms to Los Angeles from San Francisco and scaling back his involvement in the tech industry, people familiar with his thinking said, marking a rupture between Silicon Valley and its most prominent conservative.

 

“Mr. Thiel has also discussed with people close to him the possibility of resigning from the board of Facebook, the people familiar with his thinking said. His relationship with the social-networking company—where he has been a director since 2005, the year after its founding—came under strain after a dispute with a fellow director [Netflix’s Reed Hastings] over Mr. Thiel’s support for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and a related confrontation over boardroom leaks with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg last summer, the people said.​”

 

Thiel reportedly purchased a 7,000-square-foot home overlooking the Sunset Strip six years ago that he’s now planning to use as his primary residence. Of greater interest, to us: the WSJ piece also notes that Thiel plans to create a new, right-leaning media outlet. (Maybe he’s trying to beat to the punch Donald Trump, who reportedly wanted to, and perhaps still wants, to launch his own cable empire.)

 

Sponsored By …

 

StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by Meld Valuation, a premiere independent valuation firm. We care about understanding the unique risk profile of your situation and most importantly making the quantitative reflect the qualitative story. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you everything from cap table management to complex valuation engagements.

 

New Fundings

 

Boost.ai, a 1.5-year-old, Norway-based maker of chatbots and virtual assistants, has raised $5 million in funding from Alliance VentureMore here.

Catalyte, a nearly 18-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based company that uses AI to identify, train, and assemble software development teams, has raised $27 million in Series A funding. Investors include Rise of the RestCross Culture Ventures,Expon Capital and Palm Drive Capital. Technical.ly Baltimore has more here.

 

CommonSense Robotics, a three-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based company that’s building an on-demand supply-chain to allow retailers to offer sustainable, one-hour delivery service to their online customers, has raised $20 million in Series A funding.Playground Global led the round, with Aleph VC and Innovation Endeavorsalso participating in it. TechCrunch has more here.

 

DroneBase, a 3.5-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based drone operations company, has raised $12 million in Series B funding co-led by Union Square Ventures andUpfront Ventures, with participation from DJIHearst Ventures and Pritzker Group. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Gr8 People, a 7.5-year-old, Newtown, Pa.-based talent hiring platform, has raised $8 million in Series B funding led by Ascent Venture Partners, with participation from Delancey Street Partners and Randstad Innovation Fund. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more here.

HeartFlow, a nearly 11-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company whose technology creates personalized 3D models of the heart, has raised $240 million in Series E funding from Wellington ManagementBaillie Gifford and earlier backers, including HealthCor. Mass Device has more here.

 

IdentityMind Global, a five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based digital identity-based SaaS platform for online risk management and compliance, has raised $10 million in Series C funding co-led by Benhamou Global Ventures and Eastern Link Capital, with participation from Hanna VenturesOverstock.com and Zanadu Capital PartnersMore here.

 

JD Logistics, a subsidiary spun out of the Chinese online retailer JD.com last April, has raise a stunning $2.5 billion from investors at a reported $13.5 billion valuation ahead of an anticipated IPO later this year. Backers include Hillhouse Capital,Sequoia ChinaChina Merchants Group, TencentChina LifeChina Development Bank Capital FOFChina Structural Reform Fund and ICBC International, among others. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Kakao Games, a three-year-old spin-off of the South Korean messaging app maker Kakao, has raised $130 million in pre-IPO funding, including from Tencent HoldingsPremier GrowthActozsoft and Bluehole Studio. TechCrunch has more here.

 

LimeBike, a year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based dockless bike-share startup, has raised $70 million in additional Series B funding that brings the round to a healthy $132 million altogether. New backers include Fifth Wall Ventures. TechCrunch hasmore here.

 

LiveLike, a nearly three-year-old, New York-based startup that powers VR streaming experiences for broadcasters like FOX Sports and Sky, has raised $9.6 million in Series B funding led by Greycroft and Lepe Partners. The company has now raised just more than $23 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Lydia, a seven-year-old, Paris, France-based mobile payments company, has raised $16.1 million in funding led by CNP Assurances, with participation from earlier backers XAngeNew Alpha AMOddo BHF, and Groupe Duval. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Miso Robotics, a two-year-old, Pasadena, Ca.-based robotics company that last year rolled out a burger-flipping robot named Flippy, has raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Acacia Research. Other investors include Levy, a Chicago-based hospitality company, and OpenTable CTO Joseph Essas. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Primary Kids, a 3.5-year-old, New York kids clothing startup that was founded by former Diapers.com execs and which intentionally eschews logos, has raised nearly $20 million in new venture capital funding, according to an SEC filing. The company previously raised around $8 million, including from Homebrew and USVP. Axios has a bit more here.

 

SaltStack, a seven-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based systems management platform for enterprises, has raised $15.5 million in Series A funding led byMercato Partners, with participation from earlier backers Peak CapitalEpic Ventures and Deep Fork CapitalMore here.

 

Signallamp Health, a three-year-old, Scranton, Pa.-based personalized care management company, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Sopris CapitalMore here.

 

Singularity University, a nine-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based public benefit corporation that markets educational programs, has raised $32 million in Series B funding co-led by WestRiver Group and Boeing, with participation from Silicon Valley BankTAL Education GroupMukita, and PeopleFund. TechCrunch has more here.

 

StreamLoan, a nearly three-year-old, San Francisco, Ca.-based mortgage lending startup, has raised $2 million in seed funding, including from Acorn Pacific VenturesMore here.

 

Uncommon.co, a three-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based hiring platform, has raised $18 million in Series A funding from Canaan PartnersSpark Capital, and Zeev Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

Vivino, a 7.5-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile wine app and online wine marketplace, has raised $20 million in Series C funding. SCP Neptune International led the financing; earlier backers also joined the round, including Balderton CapitalCreandumSEED Capital Denmark and Iconical. VentureBeat has more here.

 

Workast, a year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based Slack app for team management, has raised $1.85 million in seed funding led by Greycroft, with participation from Spider CapitalMucker Capital and Dream IncubatorMore here.

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Are you an entrepreneur, startup founder or CEO? We want to hear about your company-building journey! Norwest Venture Partners invites you to participate in a brief opinion survey. The survey is being conducted by Wakefield Research, an independent research firm, and all responses will remain anonymous. Thank you for your time!

 

New Funds

 

1315 Capital, a three-year-old, Philadelphia-based healthcare growth equity firm, says it has raised more than $300 million for its second fund. More here.

 

Activant Capital Group, a Connecticut-based growth-stage venture firm focused on commerce infrastructure and IoT startups, has closed its second fund with $129 million. More here.

 

Mucker Capital, an L.A.-based pre-seed and seed-stage firm, is raising $90 million for a pair of new funds, shows an SEC filing first flagged by Axios. More here.

 

True Wealth Ventures, an Austin, Tex.-based venture capital firm, has raised $19.1 million for its debut fund. The outfit was founded by women, to invest in women founders. More here.

 

IPOs

 

99 Designs, a 10-year-old, Melbourne, Australia-based crowd-sourced design marketplace that has raised more than $40 million in funding — including from Accel Partners, Slack cofounder Stewart Butterfield, and investor Michael Dearing — is planning an IPO in Australia, though exactly when isn’t clear, says its CEO. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Farfetch the 10-year-old, London-based online fashion retailer, is reportedly planning to talk with bankers in upcoming weeks to discuss an IPO here in the U.S. The company is aiming for a valuation as high as $5 billion, reportedly. It may need to aim high; according to Crunchbase, Farfetch has raised more than $720 million from investors, including JD.comDST Global and Index Ventures. CNBC has more here.

 

BioXcel Therapeutic, an eight-month-old(!) subsidiary of BioXcel Corp., has filed with the SEC to go public this year.  Seeking Alpha has more here.

 

People

 

Andrew Chen, a popular blogger and founder who’d joined Uber’s growth team in 2015, has left the ride-share company to become a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz (which lost a general partner last week, when Lars Dalgaard left to spin up his own thing). The venture firm is an investor in Uber’s rival, Lyft, though it reportedly sold part of its position two years ago. Chen writes more about the move here.

 

Axovant, a subsidiary of the biotech holding company Roivant, saw a major exodus this week, when its prized CEO David Hung resigned and was followed out the door by three board members and the company’s COO. Last September, roughly one month after SoftBank committed to invest $1.1 billion in Roivant, Axovant received news that its much-hyped, experimental Alzheimer’s drug, intepirdine, doesn’t work. It was a huge blow for Axovant and for Hung, whose last company, Medivation, sold to Pfizer for $14.3 billion in 2016. Roivant CEO Vivek Ramaswamy came to a StrictlyVC event last year to talk about the company’s promise — and its growing pains.

 

Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi perfectly summed up how CEOs feel about taking money from SoftBank at this week’s Goldman Sachs tech conference. “I’d rather have their capital cannon behind me.”

 

Victor Echevarria has joined Jackson Square Ventures as a principal. Echevarria was previous a VP of biz dev at TaskRabbit and more recently founded a seed-stage company called Remedy Labs that aimed to protect people from errors and overcharges in their medical bills. More here.

 

Adam Levin has joined Bain Capital Ventures as a Boston-based partner focused on growth-stage investing. Levin was previously a vice president with the investment firm Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors.

 

Jobs

 

SOSV, the seed, early- and growth-stage venture firm, is looking to hire an in-house venture capital counsel to oversee its global legal operations and team. The job is in Cork, Ireland, with the opportunity to travel extensively.

 

Essential Reads

 

Don’t respond to the texts you receive from Facebook.

 

Why it’s getting harder to tell banks from tech companies.

 

Detours

 

Before Kehinde Wiley’s striking depiction of Barack Obama, another presidential portrait stood out from the rest.

 

Retail Therapy

 

Why light your cigar — so pedestrian! — when you can toast it instead?




StrictlyVC: February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day! [Parisian double kiss.]

 

Top News

 

Ugh, ugh, ugh!

 

Sponsored By …

 

StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by Meld Valuation, a premiere independent valuation firm. We care about understanding the unique risk profile of your situation and most importantly making the quantitative reflect the qualitative story. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you everything from cap table management to complex valuation engagements.

 

New Fundings

 

Ditto, a year-old, Manchester, U.K.-based startup that has developed AI-powered software bots that solve queries and provide the reasoning behind their decisions to create a kind of audit trail, has raised £4 million from IP Group and Parkwalk Advisors. Tech.eu has more here.

 

Duetto, a 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of revenue optimization software for hotels (the software aims to optimize demand, maximize rates, and minimize costs), has raised $80 million in Series D funding led by funds affiliated with Warburg Pincus. Duetto’s other backers include Icon VenturesAccel PartnersBattery Ventures and Spectrum 28More here.

 

Frank and Oak, a 5.5-year-old, Montreal, Canada-based direct-to-consumer menswear brand, has raised $16 million in Series C funding. Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec led the round; Goodwater Capital and Investissement Québec also participated. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Homesnap, a 10-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based platform for up-to-the-minute real estate data, has raised $14 million in Series B funding led by Updata Partners, with participation from Moderne Ventures. The company has now raised $32 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Jupiter, a 1.5-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based startup selling data and analytics services to better predict and manage risks generated by climate change, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Ignition Partners, with participation from seed investor Data Collective and others. The company has now raised $10 million altogether. More here.

 

Lumi, a three-year-old, L.A.-based startup that supplies the packaging for a growing number of direct-to-consumer e-commerce businesses, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital, with participation fromForerunner Ventures and earlier backers HomebrewLowercase Ventures, andLudlow Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Neptune Financial, 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based online commercial lending platform for mid-sized U.S. businesses, has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Sands Capital VenturesMore here.

 

Ocean Solutions Accelerator, a new, San Francisco-based program that aims to help advance startups in tech and conservation relating to the “ocean economy,” has raised $1 million in funding from an outfit called the Pineapple Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Overtime, a 1.5-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based sports media startup that aims to become an ESPN-like brand for high school sports, has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with additional investment fromGreycroft, basketball star Kevin Durant and several other investors. Former NBA commissioner David Stern is among the company’s seed investors.Variety hasmore here.

 

Payfone, a 10-year-old, New York-based digital identity authentication network, has raised $23 million in funding  led by an undisclosed institutional investor, with participation from Synchrony FinancialMassMutual Ventures, and the founders of the Money20/20 conference, among others. More here.

 

RealWear, a 1.5-year-old, Vancouver, Wa.-based maker of a head-mounted tablet for connected industrial workers, has raised $17 million in  Series A funding led byColumbia Ventures Corporation. TechCrunch has more here.

 

SecFi, a year-old, San Francisco-based startup that provides financing to option holders and shareholders of late-stage private companies without forcing them to sell their shares, has raised $1 million in seed funding from Social Leverage,FJLabs and CoVentureMore here.

 

Spryker Systems, a 3.5-year-old, Hamburg, Germany-based startup behind a “commerce operating system,” has raised $22 million in growth equity funding led by One Peak Partners, with participation from Project AMore here.

 

Stealth Security, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based startup that says it detects and mitigates bot attacks without affecting legitimate user traffic, has raised $8 million in Series A funding from Shasta Ventures. The company has now raised $12.5 million altogether, according to Crunchbase. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Templafy, a four-year-old, Copenhagen, Denmark-based SaaS company focused on enterprise governance, has raised $17.2 million in Series B funding led byInsight Venture Partners, with participation from SEED CapitalMore here.

 

Ucommune, a nearly three-year-old, China-based co-working space company (it had to change its name from UrWork after rival WeWork filed an infringement lawsuit against it), has raised a fresh $17.4 million at a reported $1.42 billion valuation from earlier backer Qianhai Wutong M&A Funds. China Money Network has more here.

 

Unacast, a three-year-old, New York-based location-based data platform, has raised $17.5 million in Series B funding led by White Star Capital, with participation from Telia and earlier investors Open Ocean Capital and Investinor. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Varsity Tutors, an 11-year-old, St. Louis, Mo.-based live learning platform, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Learn Capital, with participation from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and earlier backer TCV. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Are you an entrepreneur, startup founder or CEO? We want to hear about your company-building journey! Norwest Venture Partners invites you to participate in brief survey here. Your response will remain anonymous. The survey is being conducted by Wakefield Research, an independent research firm. Thank you for your time! Follow us on Twitter: @NorwestVP

 

New Funds

 

Norwest Venture Partners, the multi-stage investment firm backed by Wells Fargo, just closed its largest fund ever with $1.5 billion, up from the $1.2 billion fund it closed in January 2016. TechCrunch has more here.

 

People

 

In an interview with AxiosBill Gates warns Apple and other tech giants that they risk the kind of nightmarish government intervention that once plagued Microsoft if they act arrogantly.

 

VC Bill Gurley thinks startup board members have grown too obsequious, he told a crowd today at the annual Goldman Sachs Internet an Technology Conference. (We would have far preferred to get his views on cryptocurrencies, but he declined to share these.)

 

Foursquare’s president, Steve Rosenblatt, is leaving to launch his own venture. Rosenblatt, who has spent the last six years with the location-based company, looks to be starting an early-stage investment firm or accelerator, reports Fortune.

 

Lisa Wu has been promoted to partner on the venture capital team at Norwest.  She joined the firm in 2012, and focuses on consumer internet, digital commerce, and next generation marketplace opportunities. Wu worked previously at Bessemer Venture Partners, where she spent roughly two-and-a-half years.

 

Jobs

 

Pantera Capital, one of the first and largest institutional investors in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, is looking to hire a full-time associate. The job is in San Francisco.

 

Essential Reads

 

Hedge funds are dumping Google and Facebook.

 

Here’s how many Model 3s Tesla is really making.

 

Netflix is getting huge. But can it get great?

 

Should Congress to create a “crypto cop“?

 

Detours

 

The new website of “Black Mirror” will reveal your relationship’s expiration date.

 

Here are the new handmaid costumes for Season Two of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

 

Retail Therapy

 

Six very expensive ways to say, “I love you. I really, REALLY love you.”

 




StrictlyVC: February 13, 2018

Hi,  all! We’ve at a Startup Grind event and in between a few interviews so shooting out SVC to you before we get caught up in the next talk. Today’s issue is a little abbreviated, as you might notice, but more tomorrow. Happy Tuesday.:)

 

Top News

 

Apple CEO Tim Cook told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting today to expect higher dividends and stressed that succession planning is a priority.

 

Sponsored By …

 

StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by Meld Valuation, a premiere independent valuation firm. We care about understanding the unique risk profile of your situation and most importantly making the quantitative reflect the qualitative story. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you everything from cap table management to complex valuation engagements.

 

This Former Uber and Lyft Exec Just Landed $15M in Funding for Bird, a Controversial E-Scooter Startup

 

Travis VanderZanden. If you’ve been following the fast-changing transportation industry, it’s a name that may sound familiar. Until September 2016, VanderZanden was VP of growth at Uber and before that, COO of its fierce rival Lyft, which had acquired his on-demand car wash company, Cherry, in 2013.

 

It was a dramatic few years for VanderZanden, once he joined the ride-hailing race. Not only were his employers experiencing growing pains, but Lyft sued him for allegedly breaking a confidentiality agreement when he joined Uber, with the two sides later settling for undisclosed terms. Little wonder that after leaving Uber, VanderZanden wanted to take some time off to decompress with his wife and two daughters.

 

That was the idea, anyway. The thing is, VanderZanden, whose mother drove a public bus for 30 years, says he couldn’t stop thinking about transportation. Within six months, he was testing out different short-range electric vehicles. By last summer, he’d quietly launched his newest company, Bird.

 

Now, VanderZanden’s dockless electric scooter company is the talk of Santa Monica, Ca., where it’s based. That’s largely because over the last six months, Bird has plunked roughly 1,000 “Birds” on the streets of the city — and people are riding them: 50,000 people so far have taken 250,000 rides, he says.

 

But Bird, which just moved into Westwood and is easing its way into San Diego, also has local officials in all three places somewhat flummoxed — and not entirely delighted. A Washington Post piece published Saturday characterizes Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer as highly irked that VanderZanden reached out to him — via a LinkedIn message — after putting Bird’s scooters on the streets.

 

The message reportedly offered to introduce Winterer to Bird’s “exciting new mobility strategy for Santa Monica.”  Winterer says he responded: “If you’re talking about those scooters that are out there already, there are some legal issues we have to discuss.”

 

Legal issues and other complications, as it turns out. For example, according to that same Post story, local police officers issued 97 citations involving Bird scooters in the first six weeks of this year; the city’s fire department has responded to eight related accidents, some including minors and adults; and according to a senior marketing and communications manager for downtown Santa Monica, there have been numerous complaints of the scooters being left in front of doorways, in the middle of driveways and on wheelchair ramps.

 

Despite outward appearances, VanderZanden suggests he hasn’t stolen from the playbook of his last employer, which under the leadership of longtime CEO Travis Kalanick taught employees to ask forgiveness — not permission.

 

He paints a rosier picture of that exchange with Winterer, for example.

 

More here.

 

New Fundings

 

HackerRank, a 5.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based platform that helps companies evaluate technical talent based on skills, has raised $30 million in Series C funding led by JMI Equity, with participation from earlier backers Khosla Ventures,Battery VenturesRandstad Innovation Fund, and Chartline Capital Partners. The company has now raised $58.2 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

 

InfluxData, the startup built on top of the open source time series database platform, has raised $35 million in Series C funding led by Sapphire Ventures, with participation Harmony Partners and earlier backers Battery Ventures,Mayfield Fund and Trinity Ventures. The company has now raised nearly $60 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Loopio, 3.5-year-old, Toronto, Canada-based maker of  RFP (request for proposal) response software, has raised $9 million in Series A funding led by the expansion-stage firm OpenViewMore here.

 

Perception Point, a nearly three-year-old, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cybersecurity firm, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Pitango Venture Capital, with participation from State of Mind Ventures and Korea Investment Partners.More here.

 

UJET, a three-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that makes software to improve customer support, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by GV, with participation from Citi Ventures and earlier backers Kleiner Perkins and DCM Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Are you an entrepreneur, startup founder or CEO? We want to hear about your company-building journey! Norwest Venture Partners invites you to participate in a brief opinion survey. The survey is being conducted by Wakefield Research, an independent research firm, and all responses will remain anonymous. Thank you for your time!

 

New Funds

 

Southeast Asia has a new venture capital fund on the scene after Victor Chua, formerly a vice president at Gobi Ventures, launched Vynn Capital.The Kuala Lumpur-headquartered venture is founded by Chua and Singaporean Darren Chua, previously with IE Singapore, and it’s looking to raised $40 million in capital commitments. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Essential Reads

 

Get ready for the long goodbye to car culture, many domestic flights, and insurance premiums.

 

Detours

 

Now people are using FaceApp to see what they’d look like as a person of the opposite gender.

 

You’ll never love songs so much as the songs you loved at 13.

 

The case for the self-driven child. (Amen.)

 

Why we are quitting StrictlyVC to become AI experts instead.

 

Retail Therapy

 

Dress like a postman. This look also works you’re young and English and planning a bank heist with your friends per what we’ve learned in movies.

 

 




StrictlyVC: February 12, 2018

Monday! Hope your week is off to a great start, everyone.:)

 

We are going to be at Startup Grind in Redwood City, Ca., for much of tomorrow so SVC may come either really early or kinda late. Hope to see some of you there.:)

 

 

Top News

 

Good news(?). Stocks just recorded their biggest two-day rally since 2016.

 

Sponsored By …

 

StrictlyVC is sponsored this week by Meld Valuation, a premiere independent valuation firm. We care about understanding the unique risk profile of your situation and most importantly making the quantitative reflect the qualitative story. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you everything from cap table management to complex valuation engagements.

 

Outdoorsy, the ‘Airbnb of RVs,’ Just Rolled Up $25 Million in Fresh Funding

 

According to serial entrepreneur Jeff Cavins, more than 35 million people each year look to rent an RV — 38 percent of them so-called millennials. Yet they often walk away from the experience empty-handed. The reason, he says: there are fewer than 100,000 commercial owned vehicles available from traditional rental services.

 

Cavins says that his San Francisco-based company, Outdoorsy, is beginning to address this issue by enabling owners of the 14 million privately owned RVs in the United States to rent them to users, à la Airbnb.

 

The vehicles are mostly sitting around collecting dust anyway, says Cavins, who cofounded the company in late 2014 after heading up seven previous companies — two of which were  publicly traded.

 

“Americans desperately want time off, but what happens is they’ll buy a camper van, they’ll use it year one, then use it again maybe one week that second year,” says Cavins. “In the meantime, it’s sitting in storage, with the owner often dealing with both a mortgage and insurance payment. By year three, people go back to the dealership and say, ‘We’re done,’ and the dealer says, ‘I’m sorry but that vehicle you paid $100,000 for three years ago is now worth $40,000.’”

 

Intuitively, the platform would seem to make sense. RVs are unaffordable for most people. Storing them is a hassle. And people are increasingly interested in reaching places where home-sharing sites and hotels cannot take them. Think Burning Man, for example, or the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

 

But Cavins said venture investors “didn’t get it,” when he began pitching the idea to them several years ago. While he secured meetings with with all the right firms, he said he was repeatedly ushered politely out the door by people who deemed the idea too risky.

 

In fact, Cavins says that he and his cofounder Jen Young wound up funding the company for its first year and creating a sufficiently compelling platform with two “phenomenal” developers that within a year, VCs had produced four term sheets — all of which he turned down. (“I didn’t want to give my company to them,” he says.)

 

More here.

 

New Fundings

 

Ant Financial Services Group, the 3.5-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based fintech company that originated from the escrow service Alipay, is aiming to raise as much as $5 billion in a new funding round, according to media outlets. The affiliate of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group last secured $4.5 billion from a slate of investors, including the sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. and the private equity firm Primavera Capital Group. The deal, closed in 2016, had valued Ant at about $60 billion at the time, notes the WSJ.

 

DataVisor, a five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based maker of financial crime prevention software, has raised $40 million in Series C financing led by Sequoia China, with participation from New Enterprise Associates and GSR VenturesMore here.

 

Go-Jek, a nearly eight-year-old, Jakarta, Indonesia-based ride-hailing company, is raising $150 million in funding from the Indonesian conglomerate Astra International, as well as an undisclosed amount of funding from PT Global Digital Niaga, a unit of venture capital firm GDP Ventures. Reuters has more here.

 

HomeCare.com, a 3.5-year-old, McLean, Va.-based marketplace that connects families with caregivers, has raised $11 million in funding, including from 3TS Capital PartnersBlue Heron CapitalMaryland Venture Fund and Private Access NetworkMore here.

 

Jobcase, a nine-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based social platform focused on work, has raised $11.5 million in Series A-1 funding led by Providence Equity Partners. The company had previously closed on $7 million in Series A funding led by Savano Capital PartnersMore here.

 

nOCD, a nearly four-year-old, Chicago-based company whose app helps people treat their own obsessive-compulsive disorder, has raised $1 million in seed funding from the early-stage healthcare investment firm 7wire Ventures. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Stash, a three-year-old, New York-based investing app that let’s people begin building a portfolio with just $5, has raised $37.5 million in Series D funding led byUnion Square Ventures. Earlier investors Breyer CapitalCoatue Management,Entree CapitalGoodwater Capital and Valar Ventures also joined the round. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Volantio, a 4.5-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based maker of revenue and capacity optimization software for airlines, has raised $2.6 million in funding led byIngleside Investors, with participation from International Airlines Group,JetBlue Technology Ventures and Qantas VenturesMore here.

 

XebiaLabs, a 10-year-old, Boston-based software company that helps companies automate DevOps functions, has raised $100 million in Series B funding co-led bySusquehanna Growth Equity and Accel Partners. The round brings the company’s total funding to $121.5 million. TechCrunch has more here.

 

YapStone, a 19-year-old, Walnut Creek, Ca.-based company that provides payment services to marketplace-style businesses, has raised $71 million in Series C funding in a round that the company expects to close with $100 million. Premji Invest, the venture arm of the Premji family office, led the round; other participants includeMasterCard and earlier investors Accel Partners and Meritech Capital Partners. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Are you an entrepreneur, startup founder or CEO? We want to hear about your company-building journey! Norwest Venture Partners invites you to participate in a brief opinion survey. The survey is being conducted by Wakefield Research, an independent research firm, and all responses will remain anonymous. Thank you for your time!

 

New Funds

 

Homebrew, the nearly five-year-old, San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm, has closed on $90 million for its third fund. More here.

 

Wave, a six-month-old, San Francisco-based venture firm, has raised $31.5 million for its debut fund, shows an SEC filing that lists a $35 million target. The firm was cofounded by David Rosenthal, a former principal at Madrona Venture Group, andRiley Newman, a former director of data science at Airbnb.

 

People

 

In a rare move for Amazon, the retail giant is reportedly laying off hundreds of corporate workers in its Seattle headquarters and elsewhere.

 

NFL great Tom Brady has cofounded a new sports media startup called The Religion of Sports. The company, which is raising $3 million from investors, aims to create a multi-platform storytelling business that functions like an old-school studio — one that happens to be dedicated to sports.

 

In a rare move for Amazon, the retail giant is reportedly laying off hundreds of corporate workers in its Seattle headquarters and elsewhere.

 

Lars Dalgaard, who sold SuccessFactors to SAP for $3.4 billion in 2011 before going into venture capital, is stepping down from his general partner role at Andreessen Horowitz to found his own investment firm.

 

Snap’s VP of Sales, Jeff Lucas, has reportedly left the company after joining less than two years ago. Lucas was previously head of sales and marketing at Viacom.

 

National Geographic watched Elon Musk watch his Falcon Heavy rocket take off last week.

 

Essential Reads

 

Amazon is the latest major tech company, after Google and Apple, to design its own AI chips in hopes of differentiating its products — from Alexa to AWS — from those of rivals.

 

Another day, another scam: an emerging cryptocurrency startup more commonly known as LoopX has suddenly vanished out of thin air along with millions worth of its investors’ savings.

 

Inside the two years that shook Facebookand the world.

 

Detours

 

Olympics medal count (interactive map).

 

The secret brunch party for billionaires.

 

Alternatives to resting bitch face.

 

Retail Therapy

 

How to spend your bonus.

 




StrictlyVC: February 9, 2018

Friday! [Uppercut. Counterpunch.] We’ve been crazed today with both work and non-work, so we’re having to shoot out an abbreviated version of SVC today, but more Monday!

 

Also, a quick, exciting note: Vlad Tenev, the cofounder and CEO of the commission-free trading platform Robinhood, has joined the already amazing line-up of speakers for attendees of our first StrictlyVC event of 2018. Unfortunately, we’re essentially out of seats, and because of space constraints, if you do not have an Eventbrite, you won’t be allowed into the venue. (Our hosts at NEA can’t mess around with this, owing to building codes.) We do promise to feature plenty of coverage from the night so that you those of you who can’t make it don’t miss out.

 

Thank you, Mofo and Anduin for partnering with us on the evening and helping to make the whole thing possible!

 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone.:)

 

Top News

 

That was fast. Uber has reached a settlement agreement with Alphabet over its lawsuit against the ride-hailing company claiming theft of trade secrets. As part of the deal, Uber will pay Alphabet the equivalent of $245 million in equity. Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi went so far as to called Alphabet a “partner.” As Recode notes, the engineer at the heart of the lawsuit, Anthony Levandowski, was expected to be called by Alphabet’s attorneys this morning.

 

We like New York Times reporter Daisuke Wakabayashi’s take on things. “Gotta say this whole thing was played pretty well by Google,” he tweeted earlier. ” 1) Embarrass a potential competitor 2) An unspoken warning to current/former employees about walking out w Google info 3) a small (additional) chunk of Uber — “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

 

Gizmodo also has an interesting look at some of the horse trading that happened behind the scenes.

 

Sponsored By …

 

Raising capital is hard. Foundersuite makes it 143.2 percent easier via SaaS tools for fundraising and investor relations. Foundersuite makes the leading investor CRM, used by startups to raise more than $500 million in seed and VC since 2016. Foundersuite’s platform also includes a searchable database of 50,000 angels and VCs, as well as an investor update tool to engage stakeholders and “warm up” prospective investors. StrictlyVC readers get 30 percent off for 6 months using code “StrictlyVC,” or email us to set up a demo.

 

New Fundings

 

Apical Technology, a brand-new, Carlsbad, Ca.-based portfolio of artificial intelligence technologies that was formed by NextWave Ventures, a venture firm that specializes in commercializing early-stage tech, has raised an undisclosed amount from NextWave. More here.

 

CultureIQ, a nearly five-year-old, New York-based maker of “cultural engagement” software for employers, has raised $2.25 million in funding, including from Pritzker Group Venture CapitalLerer Hippeau Ventures and Founder CollectiveMore here.

 

Grove, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based personalized financial planning platform, has raised $2.1 million in funding, including from First Round Capital,Lowercase CapitalUpside PartnershipSV AngelCFSI, and Jake Gibson. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Honest Buildings, a 5.5-year-old, New York-based maker of construction management software, has raised $8 million in new Series B funding. Oxford Properties Group led the new tranche, with participation from The Durst Organization and DivcoWest Real Estate Investments. The Real Deal has more here.

 

MineralSoft, a 3.5-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based software company focused on mineral rights and royalty management, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Cottonwood Venture Partners, with participation from Blue Bear Capitaland Y CombinatorMore here.

 

Property Brands, a Knoxville, Tn.-based company that sells a SaaS platform focused around property management to multifamily, single family residential, student housing, and affordable housing companies, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Insight Venture PartnersMore here.

 

Syndesi Therapeutics, a new, Belgium-based neurology drug discovery startup, has raised €17 million in first-round funding from V-Bio VenturesNovo Nordisk,Fountain HealthcareWalloon Investment FundVIVES Louvain Technology Fund and Johnson & JohnsonMore here.

 

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Treble was built in 2013 to elevate brand visibility for venture backed startups. We partner with VC firms across the U.S. to expedite exits. Our scalable model aligns with new rounds of venture capital funding to win early – and often – across your startup investment portfolio. Treble executes news announcements with precision, trendjacks breaking news, and transforms ideas into articles. Our roster is ready to expand. Contact us here.

 

Exits

 

Tencent Holdings is investing $474 million in Shanda Games, the China-based online gaming company. The move, says Reuters, is designed to boost Tencent’s lead in the local video game market.

 

Toyota will invest $69 billion in JapanTaxi, a Japan-based Uber-like service. Toyota is also an Uber investor and it previously backed JapanTaxi via $4.5 million investment from its Mirai Creation Fund. TechCrunch has more here.

 

People

 

Mary Grove, a founding director of Google for Entrepreneurs, is joining the investment firm Revolution as a partner on its startup initiative Rise of the Rest.

 

Nest co-founder Matt Rogers announced yesterday that he’s leaving the smart home company now that it’s rejoining Google. The plan: to focus on his venture firm Incite.org.

 

Jennifer Salke was named the new head of Amazon Studios today, ending a nearly four-month search that began when Roy Price was ousted after a sexual harassment allegation.

 

Essential Reads

 

Amazon is preparing to launch a delivery service for businesses, positioning it to directly compete with UPS and FedEx.

 

Uber’s tangled relationship with investors Didi and SoftBank is about to get more complicated after the duo inked an agreement to introduce taxi-hailing services that will compete directly with Uber in Japan.

 

SpaceX aims to make history three more times this year.

 

Did you know: Snapchat almost acquired the anonymous app Secret (but shhh, it was too expensive).

 

A sleeping Alexa can listen for more than just her name.

 

Detours

 

Timothy Affleck (father to Ben and Casey) on Hollywood: It’s a “disgusting place.”

 

The games have officially begun.

 

 

Retail Therapy

 

Louis Vuitton sneakers: $1,090 a pair. Not for the flat-footed, apparently.

 




StrictlyVC: February 7, 2018

Happy Thursday! We love Thursdays. By the way, we’ve had a phone glued to our ear most of today, so please forgive any and all typos.

 

Top News

 

Qualcomm just told Broadcom to buzz off.

 

The dread that gripped equity markets earlier in the week re-emerged today as U.S.stocks plunged again on concerns that rising interest rates will drag down economic growth.

 

Twitter shares soared the most today since its market debut in 2013, after the company posted the first revenue growth in four quarters. The social network credited improvements to its app, efforts to fight spam, and the added video content that’s persuading advertisers to boost spending with the company.

 

Sponsored By …

 

Raising capital is hard. Foundersuite makes it 143.2 percent easier via SaaS tools for fundraising and investor relations. Foundersuite makes the leading investor CRM, used by startups to raise more than $500 million in seed and VC since 2016. Foundersuite’s platform also includes a searchable database of 50,000 angels and VCs, as well as an investor update tool to engage stakeholders and “warm up” prospective investors. StrictlyVC readers get 30 percent off for 6 months using code “StrictlyVC,” or email us to set up a demo.

 

When It Comes to the Crypto Wealthy, Wealth Managers May be Out of Luck

 

It’s a half-serious joke among people who bet early on cryptocurrencies and have watched their values soar. At some point, it’s time to buy a Lamborghini, as did Peter Saddington, an Atlanta-based coder and self-described serial entrepreneur who says he cashed out 45 bitcoins last fall to purchase a $200,000 Lamborghini with race exhaust features.

 

Saddington tells CNBC that he paid less than $115 for the bitcoins in 2011 and that he’s been buying bitcoin every Friday for the last five years, suggesting he has more bitcoins in his possession.

 

In the world of cryptomillionaires, that’s diversification, and it should be worrying for wealth managers beginning to eye those whose high net worth has risen along with the price of bitcoin. Though financial advisors have converted plenty of wealthy tech founders and employees into loyal clients over the years, the largely young and male participants in the cryptocurrency gold rush seem decidedly uninterested in traditional banking and traditional money management. They’re preferring to pour their new digital riches in more cryptocurrencies and blockchain ideas — as well as the occasional impulse purchase.

 

“Liquidity still remains a question in many people’s minds,” says Ben Jorgensen, the chief operating officer of Constellation, a San Francisco-based outfit that describes itself as a blockchain microservice operating system. But “reinvesting into blockchain and leveraging social and technical knowledge of companies is the most popular [approach to] wealth management,” he says.

 

It’s not so unlike successful startup founders going on to invest in their friends’ startups, Jorgensen suggests. “Individuals are forming strong syndicates that share deal flow much like the venture world,” he offers. “Nearly the whole community is reinvesting in the industry as it’s still in its early stages, and there are brilliant companies and projects coming out the gate.”

 

To non-believers, it all seems like an insane gamble. In 2017, Bitcoin went from $830 to $19,300, then dropped below $6,000 this week before zooming past $8,000 again yesterday.

 

The broader market for cryptocurrencies is even more stomach churning. Some who are bullish on the growing number of cryptocurrencies in existence believe they could collectively pass the trillion-dollar mark this year in terms of value. Meanwhile, the head of investment research at Goldman Sachs reportedly issued a note this week comparing the current market to the “internet bubble of the late 1990s” and suggesting that most cryptocurrencies will likely “trade to zero.”

 

All the ups and downs can impact less certain cryptocurrency holders, some of whom have begun cashing out their stakes.

 

Lorraine Fox, a principal with the San Francisco-based wealth management firmAspiriant, says the firm is starting to hear from a small but growing number of people wanting to lock in their cryptocurrency gains.

 

More here.

 

New Fundings

 

Agrinos, a nearly nine-year-old, Oslo, Norway-based company whose biological crop inputs aim to help farmers increase and improve their yield, has raised $14.7 million in funding, including from Manor Investment SAHavfonn AS andEuroChem Group AGMore here.

 

Appili Therapeutics, a three-year-old, Halifax, Nova Scotia-based developer of anti-infective drugs, has raised more than $4.3 million in funding, including from Innovacorp. BetaKit has more here.

 

Attentive, a 1.5-year-old, New York-based personalized mobile messaging platform for e-commerce and retail businesses, has raised $13 million in Series A funding, including from Bain Capital VenturesEniac Ventures and NextView Ventures. As TechCrunch notes, the company’s founders previously founded TapCommerce, which Twitter later acquired for $100 million. More here.

 

Autobooks, a nearly three-year-old, Detroit, Mi.-based company that makes integrated invoicing, payment and accounting software for small businesses, has raised $10 million in funding, including from Draper TriangleBaird Capital,Detroit Venture PartnersInvest Michigan and CU Solutions Group. Crain’s Detroit Business has more here.

 

BurnAlong, a two-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based streaming fitness class platform, has raised $1 million from Baltimore AngelsBrown AdvisoryMachem Capitaland Johns Hopkins UniversityMore here.

GOAT, a nearly three-year-old, Culver City, Ca.-based online sneaker marketplace, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by Index Ventures, with participation from earlier investors Accel PartnersMatrix Partners and Upfront Ventures. The company is also merging with sneaker retailer Flight Club, which has established a reputation over its 12-year history for featuring highly rare and coveted sneakers. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Icertis, a nine-year-old, Bellevue, Wa.-based company that sells cloud-based contract lifecycle management software, has raised $50 million in Series D funding led by Meritech Capital Partners. Other investors in the round include PSP GrowthCross Creek Advisors and earlier backers B Capital GroupIgnition PartnersGreycroft and Eight Roads Ventures. The Seattle Times has more here.

 

Instacart, the 5.5-year-old, San Francisco-based grocery delivery company, is apparently raising up to $250 million in Series E funding (H/T: Axios). The company may well need the firepower, with Amazon and Whole Foods introducing free two-hour deliveries of Whole Foods products through Prime Now (in four markets). More here.

 

Niche, a 16-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based platform for helping people choose schools and neighborhoods, has raised $6.6 million in Series B funding co-led by Allen & Co. and Grit Capital Partners. GeekWire has more here.

 

ParentPowered, 1.5-year-old, Belmont, Ca.-based startup whose text messaging app texts parents of young children facts and tips on literacy, math and social and emotional skills three times a week, has raised $2.65 million in seed funding led by the Omidyar Network. EdSurge has more here.

 

Stadium Goods, a nearly three-year-old, New York-based consignment sneaker and apparel marketplace, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from LVMH Luxury Ventures. Footwear News has more here.

Swiggy, a nearly four-year-old, India-based food delivery company, has raised $100 million in new funding from Naspers and Meituan-Dianping. The company has now collected $255 million from investors altogether. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Tilray, a nearly five-year-old, Toronto-based medical cannabis research, cultivation, and distribution company, has raised a whopping C$60 million ($47.6 million) in Series A funding from undisclosed investors. Previously, the company had been solely funded by Privateer HoldingsMore here.

 

Zenflow, a four-year-old, South San Francisco-based medical device company whose focus is on addressing prostrate enlargement, has raised $31.4 million in Series A funding from Invus OpportunitiesF-Prime Capital Partners andMedical Technology Venture PartnersMore here.

 

 

New Funds

 

B Capital Group, the cross-border venture firm cofounded by Facebook cofounderEduardo Saverin, has closed its debut fund with $360 million — “substantially exceeding the original target,” the firm says. B Capital has offices in L.A., where firm cofounder Raj Ganguly is based, and in Singapore, where Saverin lives. It has also has people posted in San Francisco and New York. The Economic Times has more here.

 

Danhua Capital, the nearly five-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based venture firm that invests in both early and growth stage companies and whose founders have extensive networks in Silicon Valley and China, has raised $343.2 million for its second fund, shows an SEC filing. According to the document, the firm began raising the fund in 2016. More here.

 

Swan & Legend Venture Partners, a five-year-old, Leesburg, Va.-based investment firm known for backing many Washington area companies (it’s also a major investor in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals), is looking to raise up to $250 million for its fourth fund, shows an SEC filingMore here.

 

TrueBridge Capital Partners, an 11-year-old, Chapel Hill, N.C.-based asset management firm, just closed its fifth venture fund-of-funds with $450 million, it says. More here.

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Treble was built in 2013 to elevate brand visibility for venture backed startups. We partner with VC firms across the U.S. to expedite exits. Our scalable model aligns with new rounds of venture capital funding to win early – and often – across your startup investment portfolio. Treble executes news announcements with precision, trendjacks breaking news, and transforms ideas into articles. Our roster is ready to expand. Contact us here.

 

Exits

 

BitPesa, a nearly five-year-old, Nairobi-based online blockchain payment platform, has acquired TransferZero, a Spain-based online money transfer platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. CoinJournal has more here.

 

Goldman Sachs is reportedly in discussions to acquire Clarity Money, a New York-based personal finance app that was founded by Adam Dell and focuses on monthly bills. Clarity has $14.5 million from RRE VenturesBessemer Venture Partners,Maveron and Citi Ventures. Bloomberg has the story here.

 

LogMeIn, the company that offers conferencing services like GoToMeeting and join.me, says it’s acquiring Jive Communications for $342 million in cash, plus up to $15 million based on reaching specific milestones in the next two years. Jive, a 12-year-old enterprise communications company based in Orem, Utah, had raised around $31 million from investors. TechCrunch has more here.

 

People

 

The poet, essayist and digital civil rights pioneer John Perry Barlow passed away Tuesday night in San Francisco. Wired’s Steve Levy remembers him here.

 

Naomi Pilosof Ionita has joined Menlo Ventures as partner. Pilosof Ionita was most recently a VP with the mobile invoice app company Invoice2go.

 

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick completed his testimony in the Uber-Waymo trial yesterday. Here’s what he had to say.

 

Liza Landsman, who recently left her role as president of Jet.com, is joining New Enterprise Associates as a venture partner beginning this spring. She’ll be operating out of NEA’s New York office.

 

Lyft yesterday named Jon McNeill as its COO. McNeill was most recently Tesla’s global head of sales and service.

 

Former child actor-turned-crypto investor Brock Pierce is vowing to give away $1 billion.

 

Data

 

The jobs platform Hired has published a new report about what tech workers are making where.

 

Essential Reads

 

What it’s really like to live in a “smart” home.

 

You can now use Alexa to create music playlists.

 

Amazon delivery drivers have reportedly begun entering homes unauthorized. Said one man — who was in the master suite of his four-story home, when a deliveryman walked into his bedroom: “My mind started thinking bad thoughts. What could happen? How do I protect myself? Where the hell is my gun?”

 

SoftBank is reportedly in talks to take a minority stake in reinsurer Swiss Re, in what would be a major expansion into financial services. More here and here.

 

Detours

 

Who’s who at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

 

The first clip from Wes Anderson’s new stop-motion animation “Isle of Dogs.”

 

Have you read this Quincy Jones interview? (You have to read it.)

 

Retail Therapy

 

The iconic Eames lounge chair and ottoman — now in mohair, too.

 




StrictlyVC: February 6, 2018

Tuesday!

 

Top News

 

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick testified today at the Waymo-Uber trial (and will again tomorrow). Here’s some of what he had to say.

 

Snap Inc. just beat Wall Street’s expectations today for the first time with its Q4 2017 earnings report.

 

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 more than $500 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 an investor update tool to engage stakeholders and “warm up” prospective investors. StrictlyVC readers get 30 percent off for 6 months using code “StrictlyVC,” or email us to discuss volume pricing for your entire portfolio.

 

Battery Ventures Ups the Ante, Raising $1.25 Billion Across Two New Funds

 

Battery Ventures is a 35-year-old, global investment firm that tends to keep its nose down. Its bench of 10 general partners have mostly been operating quietly in the business for many years if not decades, yet none are household names.

 

Partly, that owes to the fact that Battery prefers to promote from within — often after many years of service. General Partner Neeraj Agrawal, who joined the firm in 2000, was made a general partner in 2007. A brand-new general partner, Morocco native Morad Elhafed, joined Battery in 2008.

 

Battery’s partners also more or less eschew social media, opting to rely instead on intensive research and aggressive behind-the-scenes networking to land the firm in interesting deals. In fact, its partners will proudly tell you that excluding seed-stage deals, Battery has invested in 385 companies since its founding and 59 of them have gone public while another 154 have merged or been acquired. Among its notable recent deals: last summer, the firm talked its way into the $108 million Series D round of the digital currency exchange Coinbase.

 

Certainly, its own investors approve. They’ve just committed to invest a fresh $1.25 billion with the firm across two funds: Battery Ventures XII, a stage-agnostic vehicle with $800 million to invest; and a side-fund — Battery’s seventh — which just closed with $450 million. The first fund will see the firm write checks of anywhere from $250,000 to $60 million. The latter is meant as a companion vehicle for giant growth rounds and private equity investments. (In other words, if Battery makes a bigger investment — say $50 million — the firm might write two checks totaling that amount from the main fund and its side fund.)

 

Yesterday, we talked with general partner Roger Lee — who joined Battery more than 16 years ago — about the firm’s new funds. We also talked about shifts in the industry and what they mean for the firm, from the rise of SoftBank, to ICOs, to a growing focus on diversity.

 

Congratulations on the new funds, which are a step up from your last set of funds, which Battery closed in 2016 with $950 million. Why raise more money this time? 

 

It allows us to write slightly bigger checks. We’ve seen more and more opportunities, including with mature companies, and having a larger fund and also a side fund lets us compete.  We just see tons of opportunities where industries are getting redefined before our eyes, from healthcare to transportation.

 

So readers are clear, you’re investing across all stages, from seed-stage rounds all the way through buyouts — and all of these investments come from that bigger, $800 million fund.

 

Yes, we’ve been investing [across the spectrum] from one fund over probably our last five or six funds, and it has worked out well for us. We take thematic deep dives into categories and find out where the best investments are, and sometimes they’re earlier stage. Sometimes, they’re Series C and Series D stage investments.

 

What are you looking for when it comes to gobbling up companies whole, which Battery does with some regularity? 

 

First, we believe that great companies are always expensive, and crappy companies are always cheap. Our job is to find out which are great and can be category-defining business that are worth their valuations, and which are crappy.

 

On the later-stage side, is that getting harder, with SoftBank writing the enormous checks that is out of its $100 billion Vision Fund? The values it’s assigning companies seem to be way ahead of where VCs would value them, taking the dog-walking company Wag as the most recent example. 

 

More here.

 

New Fundings

8th Wall, a 1.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based augmented reality platform, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Norwest Venture Partners. Other participants in the round include the Venture Reality FundShasta Ventures and Sparkland Capital. The company has now raised about $10.4 million to date. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Badi, a 2.5-year-old, Barcelona-based marketplace for room rentals in cities (it makes it easier to find roommates), has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Loris.ai, a months-old, New York-based spin-out product from the maker of suicide prevention organization Crisis Text Line, has raised $2 million to help companies navigate conversations around harassment and other charged topics. Loris.ai’s seed round was led by Floodgate with participation from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner,Kapor Capital and others. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Mirror, a year-old, New York-based startup whose not-yet-released, at-home device looks like a mirror but allows users to see a fitness instructor and classmates for routines like barre, yoga, and boxing, has raised $13 million in funding. Spark Capital is leading the round, with participation from Lerer Hippeau VenturesFirst Round CapitalBoxGroup and others. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Mixmax, a 3.5-year-old, San Francisco-based email productivity startup, has raised $10.35 million from Creandum and SaaStr Fund, with participation from earlier investors. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Nyriad, a 3.5-year-old, Cambridge, New Zealand-based startup that specializes in the use of GPUs for converging computing and IO to minimize data movement during the processing of large data sets, has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. Investors include Data CollectivePrelude VenturesEast VenturesIDATEN Ventures and New Zealand Venture Investment FundMore here.

 

Quizlet, a 12-year-old, San Francisco-based maker of education apps focused around modern-day flash cards, has raised $20 million in fresh funding led by Icon Ventures, with participation from Union Square VenturesCostanoa Venturesand others. The company had previously raised about $12 million. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Reonomy, a nearly five-year-old, New York-based commercial real estate platform that helps brokers and lenders analyze data points around tenancy and ownership, has raised $16 million in fresh funding led by earlier backer Bain Capital Ventures. Other participants in the round include  MMC Technology VenturesRed Apple Group and the family office of Barry Sternlicht, chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group. More here.

 

RigUp, a 3.5-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based online marketplace for services and labor for the energy industry, has raised $15.8 million in Series B funding, including fromQuantum Energy PartnersGlobal Reserve Group, and Founders Fund. The company has separately secured a $30 million credit line from Silicon Valley Bank. Silicon Hills News has a bit more here.

 

Robinhood, the three-year-old, San Francisco-based free-to-trade financial investment platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Roc Nation, the entertainment management company created by the music impresarioShawn Carter (better known as Jay Z). As TechCrunch notes, Carter is just the latest celebrity rapper plowing cash into Robinhood, whose other investors includeSnoop Dogg and Nasir Jones, also known as Nas. More here.

 

New Funds

 

David Sacks, the serial entrepreneur who cofounded Yammer and Geni.com and more recently served as CEO of the beleaguered HR software company Zenefits, is starting to take the wraps off his new venture firm: Craft Ventures. According to one source, the fund closed with $350 million. It also looks like it will focus in part (if not entirely) on crypto-related opportunities. We were in touch with its CEO of the firm’s first investment, Harbor, last night and should have more on the company for you shortly. (We also hope to talk with Sacks soon.)

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Treble was built in 2013 to elevate brand visibility for venture backed startups. We partner with VC firms across the U.S. to expedite exits. Our scalable model aligns with new rounds of venture capital funding to win early – and often – across your startup investment portfolio. Treble executes news announcements with precision, trendjacks breaking news, and transforms ideas into articles. Our roster is ready to expand. Contact us here.

 

 

People

 

Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced today that board member Marc Andreessen won’t seek reelection at its annual stockholder meeting in April 2. Andreessen reportedly informed the board earlier this month.

 

Isaac Choi, the founder and CEO of a shuttered start-up called WrkRiot, pleaded guilty on Monday for defrauding former employees, according to the Justice Department. As Axios reminds readers, Choi admitted to luring employees to work at his company based on false information about his background and forging documents to reflect salary payments that were actually never made.

 

Lylan Masterman has been promoted to general partner at the venture firm White Star Capital. He joined the firm in July 2014 as a principal and will lead its New York office.

 

Ulili Onovakpuri has been promoted to partner at Kapor Capital, the venture arm for the Kapor Center for Social Impact. Onovakpuri, who focuses on health and human resources tech, joined the firm in 2015, after spending two years as a venture partner with the firm Fresco Capital.

 

Marco Santori, a former Cooley attorney who co-authored the first SAFT contracts (and spoke at our last StrictlyVC event in September), has joined the digital token wallet startup Blockchain as its president and chief legal officer.

 

In a blog post this morning, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield announced the company is naming long-time employee Allen Shim as its first CFO.

 

Jobs

 

Adams Street Partners is looking to add a senior associate to its strategy and risk team. The job is in Chicago.

 

Essential Reads

 

driver’s suicide reveals the dark side of the gig economy.

 

As the Bitcoin bubble loses air, frauds and flaws are rising to the surface.

 

Detours

 

The hardest move in ice dancing? The twizzles.

 

People who don’t apologize probably aren’t nice to themselves, either.

 

Retail Therapy

 

The 2019 Mercedes Sprinter vans revealed!

 




StrictlyVC: February 5, 2018

Well, hello, and happy Monday.:)

 

Top News

 

U.S. stocks are plunging again, with the DJIA dropping more than 1,400 points and the S&P 500 enduring its steepest single-day decline since August 2015, erasing its gains for the year.

 

The price of Bitcoin fell below $8,000 for the third time in four days today, too.

 

Broadcom really wants to buy Qualcomm.

 

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 more than $500 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 an investor update tool to engage stakeholders and “warm up” prospective investors. StrictlyVC readers get 30 percent off for 6 months using code “StrictlyVC,” or email us to discuss volume pricing for your entire portfolio.

 

In “Brotopia,” Sex Parties are the Least of Silicon Valley’s Problems

 

Two years ago, Bloomberg TV journalist Emily Chang set out to write a book about gender discrimination in Silicon Valley. It wasn’t specifically prompted by that now-famous post of former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, wherein Fowler calmly recounted the many ways that Uber’s internal controls were either very messed up or nonexistent. But the national movement that Fowler unwittingly kicked off certainly gave more urgency to Chang’s work, and today, the product of that effort,Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley, hits bookshelves.

 

Vanity Fair was first to run an excerpt of the book, featuring Chang’s reporting about “exclusive, drug-fueled, sex-laced parties” where female founders are preyed upon. What we learned, once we had the book in our hands, is that there’s far more to it than that. We talked with Chang about Brotopia this past weekend. Our conversation has been edited for length.

 

Reading about these parties in Vanity Fair, it was hard to discern the scale of what you were describing and how much attention these nights should be paid — in part because no one was named. How big are these gatherings, and how frequent are they? 

 

I talked with more than three dozen people [about these parties] and more  since that excerpt was published — people who’d either gone and felt they couldn’t escape [or else risk access to the powerful people there] and people who were shut out of them. And I was told they happen every week.

 

In the Bay Area?

 

San Francisco. Napa. Malibu. Ibiza. New York. Women entrepreneurs will get invited and they aren’t sure if the gatherings will be shady or not. They don’t realize what they’re getting themselves into. This includes young women who’ve come from other countries and immediately wonder: ‘Is this something that I need to get used to? Is this Silicon Valley?’ You can imagine how alienating that might be for someone new to the U.S.

 

We’ve already seen a number of VCs leave their firms. Do you think we’ll see more fallout from these parties?

 

People who are part of the scene have told me it has taken a bit of a pause since the excerpt was published. But the problem is not just sex parties. We all know how much work bleeds into personal life in this industry. I’ve talked with female Uber engineers who were routinely invited to strip clubs and bondage clubs in the middle of the day. As I recount in the book, I went to the famous San Francisco strip club Gold Club and it was packed with tech workers eating lunch.

What we’re talking about is bad behavior that’s not just tolerated but that’s been normalized.

 

Do you regret that this bit of reporting was the first excerpt published? It grabbed the country’s attention, but Elon Musk, who was in attendance at one of the parties included in the book, has called your conclusions “salacious nonsense.”

 

More here.

 

New Fundings

Fair, a two-year-old, Santa Monica, Ca.-based flexible car-ownership startup, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by next47, the venture arm of Siemens. It has also acquired Los Angeles-based Skurt, a service that delivers rental cars directly to users. Terms of the acquisition aren’t being disclosed, but Fair just last week acquired a service that Uber established in 2015 to lease new and nearly new vehicles to drivers. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Infarm, a five-year-old, Berlin-based vertical farming startup, has raised $25 million in Series A funding led by Balderton Capital, with participation from TriplePoint CapitalMons Investments and seed backers Cherry Ventures,QUADIA and LocalGlobe. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Lightful, a three-year-old, London-based social media and campaign management platform for charities and social enterprises, raised £4 million ($5.6 million) in Series A funding. Tech.eu has more here.

 

Lightmatter, a year-old, Boston-based startup that makes photonic chips that essentially perform calculations at the speed of light (it’s aiming to leaving transistors in the dust), just raised $11 million in Series A  led by Matrix Partners and Spark Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Lino, an eight-month-old, Cupertino, Ca.-based decentralized autonomous video startup (TechCrunch calls it a kind of crypto YouTube), has raised $20 million via a token sale led by ZhenFund. Other investors in the pre-sale included the crypto-currency focused investment vehicles FBG CapitalDFund, and INBlockchain. TechCrunch has more here.

 

MDClone, a two-year-old, Beersheba, Israel-based medical data company, has raised $10 million from OrbiMed Israel Partners and earlier investor Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company has now raised $15 million altogether. Globes has more here.

 

Medopad, a seven-year-old, London-based health tech AI company whose app connects patients with health care professionals, has raised $28 million in funding, including from NWS Holdings. CNBC has more here.

 

Paige.AI, a relatively new, New York-based startup that’s building an AI system specifically to help understand cancer pathology, has raised $25 million in Series A funding led by Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital, along with other investors who “wish to remain anonymous,” the company tells TechCrunch. More here.

 

Zebra Fuel, a 1.5-year-old, London-based startup that wants to deliver fuel directly to users’ vehicles, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by LocalGlobe, with participation from Firstminute Capital and Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman. TechCrunch has more here.

 

New Funds

 

The San Francisco-based secondary investment firm 137 Ventures is looking to raise up to $200 million for its fourth fund, shows a new SEC filing. The seven-year-old firm makes loans to founders and early employees, using their stock as collateral. The firm had closed its third fund with $200 million in 2016.

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Treble was built in 2013 to elevate brand visibility for venture backed startups. We partner with VC firms across the U.S. to expedite exits. Our scalable model aligns with new rounds of venture capital funding to win early – and often – across your startup investment portfolio. Treble executes news announcements with precision,trendjacks, breaking news and transforms ideas into articles. Our roster is ready to expand. Contact us here.

 

People

 

Alison Bush Delgado has joined venture firm SeventySix Capital as a managing director and head of strategic development. She was formerly the global head of consultant relations for Neuberger Berman.

 

Ripcord CEO and former Apple engineer Alex Fielding is a piece of work, according to a former and current employees, who reportedly say the venture-backed founder keeps a bazooka displayed next to his desk and has a penchant for sexually-charged conversation. Business Insider has more here.

 

Former Intel president Renee James has launched a new chip company.

 

A South Korean appeals court has Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Lee walk free from prison after suspending his sentence for bribery.

 

Bucky Moore has joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a principal from Costanoa Ventures, where he spent three years as a principal. Moore had also spent less than a year as an associate with Battery Ventures several years ago.

 

Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin abruptly resigned today from the athletic-apparel seller, which says his behavior didn’t live up to its standards. (This one is breaking.)

 

Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar has dropped his lawsuit against political opposition research firm Definers Public Affairs, reports Axios. As readers might remember, Pishevar — who stepped away from his firm, Sherpa Capital, in December, amid sexual harassment allegations — had sued Definers last year, claiming it had launched a smear campaign against him. More here.

 

Storm Ventures has two freshly minted partners: Arun Penmetsa and Paul Willard. Penmetsa joined storm as a principal more than three years ago and worked previously as an engineer at both Oracle and Google. Willard was previously a partner at Subtraction Capital. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Jobs

 

Splunk, an intelligence software company that went public in 2012, is looking to hire a corporate development director. The job is in San Francisco.

 

Sponsored By . . .

 

Online classes to build your dream career. With over 3 million members and 18,000 classes, Skillshare is basically Netflix for online learning. For an affordable $8.25 per month, you can learn everything from business analytics and photography to marketing and graphic design. Skillshare is also offering the first 100 StrictlyVC readers 2 months for just $0.99. Just click here to redeem. Unlock your potential, invest in your career, and start learning today.

 

Essential Reads

 

Intel has made smart glasses that look normal.

 

Lightspeed Venture Partners is trying to hold its more than 300 portfolio companies accountable by asking them to sign a new diversity letter, though Recode wonders if it has enough teeth.

 

Four investors in a $1 billion health-care fund managed by Dubai’s Abraaj Group have hired a forensic accountant to examine what happened to some of their money, people familiar with the situation said. Among these: Bill and Melinda Gates. The WSJ has the story here.

 

Detours

 

The most beautiful coffee shop in every U.S. state.

 

Four of the world’s best Olympians, as you’ve never seen them before (in augmented reality).

 

Retail Therapy

 

“Lady-friendly” Doritos for women. Not a joke, much as we wish it were.

 




StrictlyVC: February 2, 2018

Friday! [Behind-the-back dribble; shoots.] Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

 

Quick mention: seats are very nearly sold out at this point for our evening event, coming up a little more than three weeks from now on Tuesday, February 27, at New Enterprise Associates‘ space in San Francisco’s South Park. If you RSVP’d on our event page, just a reminder/clarification that this doesn’t secure a ticket.

 

If you can’t make it, don’t worry; we’ll have coverage about what goes down afterward. In the meantime, much thanks again to NEA for generously playing host. We’re also very thankful for the support of Mofo, the global law firm, and Anduin, the platform focused on making private market transactions safe.

 

Top News

 

Yikes. As of a bit ago, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was on track today to shed more than 1,105 points for the week. That’s the steepest weekly slide since Oct 2008, when it shed 1,874 points. An upbeat jobs report (and related fears over inflation) appears to be the culprit. MarketWatch has more here.

 

HQ Trivia, the 2.5-year-old, New York-based popular trivia gameshow app, plans to raise money in a new round of financing that values the company north of $100 million, according to Recode. Founders Fund, the venture firm founded by controversial billionaire Peter Thiel, is expected to lead the $15 million round, and though firm partner Cyan Banister is spearheading the investment, the mere association with Thiel had some deleting the app today. More here and here.

 

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Science, the L.A.-based Incubator, Just Closed its First Official Venture Fund with $75 Million 

 

Science Inc, the Santa Monica, Ca.-based incubator and investment firm, has closed a new venture capital fund with $75 million in commitments, shows a new SEC filing.

 

According to the six-year-old firm, the vehicle is its first official venture fund — with traditional limited partners, including a fund of funds, sovereign wealth funds, foundations, and other institutional investors.

 

The capital will be used to back breakaway companies coming out of its incubators, as well as to co-invest in deals that were not seeded by Science, and it comes on the heels of a few other vehicles that Science has raised over its relatively short history.

 

Those other entities include its Science Incubator, which raised $40 million from investors; its Science Incubator II, which raised $8.2 million; and Science Blockchain, which raised $12.3 million from roughly 400 individuals through an initial coin offering last fall. (Science Blockchain is an incubator focused on creating and funding companies in the blockchain space. In December, for example, Science announced that it planned to use some of the capital raised to launch Blockchain Delta, a renewable energy bitcoin mining operation headquartered in the U.S.)

 

The new venture fund will be used to co-invest alongside other venture investors, as happened recently when Science teamed up with Greylock Partners to provide Series A funding to Mammoth Media, a company Science incubated at its offices.

 

We weren’t able to talk last night with Science’s team, which includes Mike Jones, Peter Pham, Greg Gilman and Tom Dare. But the fund is a bit of a departure for the ambitious outfit.

 

More here.

 

(Other) New Fundings

 

BigBasket, a six-year-old, Bangalore, India-based online grocery company, has raised $300 million in new funding at a $950 million post-money valuation led by Alibaba Group, with participation from Abraaj Group and Bessemer Venture Partners. Bloomberg has more here.

 

Blueday, a year-old, Boston-based company whose software aims to help retail store managers meet their daily revenue goals, has $6 million in funding, including from Radian CapitalMore here.

 

Bustle, the nearly five-year-old, New York-based online media company for millennial women, is reportedly trying to raise $30 million in fresh funding. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Figma, a 5.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based  open design platform, has raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Kleiner Perkins, with participation fromGreylock Partners and Index Ventures. VentureBeat has more here.

 

Furnishare, a three-year-old, New York-based furniture sharing service, has raised $2 million in seed funding, including from Lerer Hippeau VenturesCorrelation Ventures and Max Ventures. AlleyWatch has more here.

 

Harmless Harvest, a nine-year-old, San Francisco-based food and beverage company that markets refrigerated coconut water and probiotic drinks, has raised $30 million in funding led by Danone Manifesto Ventures. BevNet has more here.

 

Honeycomb, a two-year-old, Bay Area-based startup that helps users find out where things are going wrong with their web services, has raised  $11.5 million in funding led by e.ventures, with participation from earlier investor Storm Venturesand new investors NextWorld Capital and Merian Ventures. The company has now raised $15.5 million altogether. GeekWire has more here.

 

Joby Aviation, a nine-year-old, Santa Cruz, Ca.-based maker of so-called air taxis, has raised $100 million in Series B funding led by Intel Capital. Other investors in the round include EDBIJetBlue Technology VenturesToyota AI Ventures,Allen & Co., AME Cloud VenturesRon ConwayCapricorn Investment Group8VC, and entrepreneurs Sky Dayton and Paul Sciarra. Bloomberg has more here.

 

Lambda School, a year-old,San Ramon, Ca.-based startup that provides free computer science education training until someone is hired (graduates then pay back a percentage of their salary), has raised $4 million in seed funding, including from Y Combinator and Tandem Capital. More here.

 

Lightelligence, a six-month-old, Boston-based startup that’s trying to accelerate artificial intelligence workloads with a new technology based on light, has raised $10 million in seed funding led by Baidu Ventures. SiliconAngle has more here.

 

Moderna Therapeutics, a nearly eight-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based mRNA drug discovery and development company, has raised $500 million, at a valuation of $7.5 billion, says Pitchbook. Investors Abu Dhabi Investment AuthorityBB BiotechJulius BaerEDBI and Sequoia Capital China were joined by earlier investors FidelityPictetViking Global InvestorsArrowMark Partners andAlexandria Venture Investments. Xconomy has more here.

 

nCino, a six-year-old, Wilmington, N.C.-based cloud banking startup, has raised funding of an undisclosed amount led by Salesforce Ventures. The company, spent out of Live Oak Bank, has raised $140 million altogether to date. More here.

 

Nuro, a Mountain View, Ca.-based developer of a self-driving delivery vans, raised $92 million in Series A funding co-led by Banyan Capital and Greylock Partners. Reuters has more here.

 

Owl, a 1.5-year-old, Palo Alto, Ca.-based company that’s making an automobile security camera, has raised $18 million in funding, including defy.vcKhosla VenturesMenlo VenturesSherpa CapitalMoment VenturesManiv Mobility and CSAA Insurance Group. Fortune has more here.

 

QuVa Pharma, a 2.5-year-old, Sugar Land, Tex.-based platform for sterile compounding pharmacy services, has raised $40 million in debt and equity funding. The financing ncludes $15 million from investors, including Bain Capital Private Equity; a $20 million loan from Silicon Valley Bank; and a $5 million lease facility from Farnam Street FinancialMore here.

 

SaaSOptics, a nine-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based B2B subscription management platform, has raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Fulcrum Equity PartnersMore here.

 

 

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Are you an entrepreneur, startup founder or CEO? We want to hear about your company-building journey! Norwest Venture Partners invites you to participate in a brief opinion survey. The survey is being conducted by Wakefield Research, an independent research firm, and all responses will remain anonymous. Thank you for your time!

 

(Other) New Funds

8VC, the San Francisco-based venture firm led by Joe Lonsdale, is raising $640 million for its second fund, according to an SEC filing. We talked with Londsdale last year about the firm’s debut fund and approach.

 

Exits

 

Shutterfly says it’s acquiring Lifetouch, the leader in school photography, for $825 million in cash. TechCrunch has more here.

 

Soothe, an L.A.-based on-demand massage service, has acquired another L.A.-based rival called Melt. L.A. Biz has more here.

 

People

 

Talia Goldberg has been promoted from vice president to principal at Bessemer Venture Partners. Goldberg joined the firm more than five years ago after brief stints with First Round’s Dorm Room Fund and as a business development associate at Foursquare.

 

Kazuoa Hirai is stepping down as the CEO of Sony five years after taking the job.

 

Softbank just poached Sequoia Capital’s longtime head of communications, Andrew Kovacs. Before jumping into the venture world, Kovacs spent more than five years as a senior communications manager at Google.

 

David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of Messaging Products, responded to the backlash against Messenger Kids when he spoke at the Upfront Summit in Los Angeles yesterday. “Families will be better off because it exists,” said Marcus. “I firmly believe that it is a good product.”

 

Jobs

 

Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI) is looking to hire an analyst to its team. The job is in New York.

 

Essential Reads

 

A growing number of big U.S. credit-card issuers are deciding they don’t want to allow cryptocurrency transactions on their credit cards.

 

There’s a disconnect among investors eyeing what could be the largest initial coin offering ever. Some of the biggest venture capital firms have signaled interest in an ICO from Telegram, while long-time cryptocurrency investors are skipping it.

 

Airbnb’s CFO quit after he didn’t get the strategy role he sought, but some investorshave questions.

 

How WeChat came to rule China.

 

Detours

 

How our fixation with capturing the perfect image has homogenized our creativity.

 

Now you can skip the Super Bowl without missing the commercials.

 

What your favorite composer says about you.

 

Retail Therapy

 

How to leave an impression (on your bathroom visitors).