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.
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|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.
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 Fund, Shasta 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 Ventures, First Round Capital, BoxGroup 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 Collective, Prelude Ventures, East Ventures, IDATEN Ventures and New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. More 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 Ventures, Costanoa 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 Ventures, Red 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 Partners, Global 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.
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.)
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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.
Adams Street Partners is looking to add a senior associate to its strategy and risk team. The job is in Chicago.
A 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.
The hardest move in ice dancing? The twizzles.
People who don’t apologize probably aren’t nice to themselves, either.
The 2019 Mercedes Sprinter vans revealed!