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 …

 

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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.

 

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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?



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